Redskins

Seahawks QB Wilson ready for big stage in playoffs

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Seahawks QB Wilson ready for big stage in playoffs

RENTON, Wash. (AP) The auditorium is usually reserved for coach Pete Carroll during the season and the occasional first-round draft pick being introduced in the spring.

After months of standing behind a small circular table and in front of a makeshift cereal box-shaped backdrop, Seattle rookie quarterback Russell Wilson got the auditorium Thursday - with the big podium, the microphone stands and an entire wall adorned with the Seahawks logo.

``A change-up,'' Wilson said as he entered the room.

He's certainly earned the big stage after going from Seattle's third-round pick to a starting quarterback who's won five straight games and seven of his last eight going into the playoffs.

``He's allowed us to do everything we could think of. We trust him in everything that we're calling,'' Carroll said. ``It doesn't matter what play it is, what concept it is, we trust him to be able to handle it. If it gets off of the practice field on to game day, then we trust that he could do anything. That's a wonderful feeling for a coach that you can trust your quarterback like that.''

Wilson will go into his first playoff game Sunday at Washington coming off one of the finest regular seasons ever by a Seattle quarterback. While passer rating has its flaws as a statistical measure, Wilson's final rating of 100 is the best ever for any Seahawks signal-caller.

That would be the best mark ever for a rookie quarterback if not for Sunday's playoff opponent - Washington QB Robert Griffin III - barely bettering Wilson's final total.

Wilson did get the better of Griffin in touchdown passes, tying Peyton Manning's rookie record with 26.

More important, Wilson led Seattle to 11 wins, becoming the third quarterback in franchise history to win at least 11 games in a season, joining Matt Hasselbeck (13-3 in 2005) and Dave Kreig (12-4 in 1984). That record becomes more impressive when considering Wilson got just a third of the snaps during offseason minicamps and early in training camp as he attempted to win the job in competition with Matt Flynn and Tarvaris Jackson.

Jackson was traded and spent the year as a backup in Buffalo. Flynn didn't see the field until Week 14 when Seattle led 45-0 on its way to a blowout victory.

And Wilson is in the middle of the offensive rookie of the year discussion with Griffin and Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck.

``I didn't come here to be a backup quarterback or a third-string quarterback. I came to be a starter for a long time, and that's my mindset. That's always been my mindset, that competitive edge that I try to bring to the table,'' Wilson said. ``I think the great quarterbacks - and I'm trying to work to get there - if you really look at and I always study the best quarterbacks to play the game, they have tremendous leadership, they have great attention to detail, and they have that competitive relentless nature where they are just competitive all the time. I think that's what's helped me a little bit.''

Among the rookies, most of the attention this season has gone to Luck and Griffin - and rightfully so. Tucked away in the Northwest, the spotlight only started to find Wilson a month ago after he led consecutive long drives at the end of regulation and again in overtime when Seattle won 23-17 at Chicago. Wilson had his finest day as a pro, throwing for 293 yards and two touchdowns.

Almost universally, those final moments in Chicago are being referenced by Wilson and his teammates as a turning point of the season. The Seahawks proceeded to outscore their final four opponents by a combined 170-63 margin.

``That was huge. To be able to do that in the type of circumstances that we were in was pretty awesome,'' Wilson said. ``That really pushed our offense forward and pushed our defense forward to have confidence in what we do.''

While this is his first time in the NFL playoffs, the feel and sense around the team's facility reminded Wilson of his preparations a year ago when he was getting ready to lead Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl against Oregon, a game the Badgers lost 45-38. Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell didn't hesitate earlier in the week when asked if he was worried about Wilson getting too wrapped up in the noise of the postseason.

``I just expect him to be very poised, have everything under control and play well,'' he said.

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NFC East Update: Division race tightens as Redskins stumble, Cowboys surge

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USA Today Sports

NFC East Update: Division race tightens as Redskins stumble, Cowboys surge

When the sun came up Sunday morning, the Redskins held a two-game lead in the NFC East and looked to have a clear route to a division title. 

By the time the sun went down, a lot changed. 

Washington lost at home in a crazy game to Houston, but big picture, the more important outcome was the broken leg for Alex Smith. The Redskins now turn to backup Colt McCoy, and while the Burgundy and Gold remain in first place, their lead shrunk.

  1. Washington Redskins (6-4, 2-0) - Talk about a roller coaster game. The Redskins got down early to the Texans, trailing 10-0 in the first quarter, but fought all the way back. In the process, the team lost Smith for the season, but McCoy played well when he entered the game. A veteran in Jay Gruden's system, McCoy should be able to step in and run the offense without any hesitation. Will that be enough? What isn't being talked about in Washington: a suddenly slumping run defense. A huge game looms Thursday against Ezekiel Elliott and a surging Cowboys squad. Up next: Nov. 22 @ Dallas, 4 p.m.
  2. Dallas Cowboys (5-5, 2-1) - It seemed like the Cowboys season was over a few weeks ago after a humbling home loss on Monday Night Football to the Titans. Two weeks later, the script has flipped. Dallas won their second straight game on Sunday, holding off a late Atlanta rally and winning the game on a last-second field goal. Elliott went for 201 total yards from scrimmage and the Cowboys young defense continued to make impressive plays. Jerry Jones' team struggles on the road, but at home, the Cowboys are 3-1 this season. Up next: Nov. 22 vs Washington, 4 p.m.
  3. Philadelphia Eagles (4-6, 1-1) - Fans waiting for the defending Super Bowl champion Eagles to get it together might want to stop waiting. Philly got boat raced in New Orleans on Sunday, losing 48-7 and dropping to two games below .500. Carson Wentz threw three INTs in New Orleans and really, while the QB was bad in the Superdome, it's hard to pin the Eagles' woes on any one thing. The offense hasn't been very good, and the defense hasn't either. Sitting just two games back of the 'Skins and one behind Dallas, don't count the Eagles out yet. But don't really count them in either. Up next: Nov. 25th vs New York Giants, 1 p.m.
  4. New York Giants (3-7, 0-3) - Don't look now but the Giants might be the hottest team in the division. Or at least not the coldest team in the division. The Giants won their second game in a row on Sunday, a nail-biting 38-35 victory over Tampa. New York got out to a big lead before the Bucs crept back in it, but powered by four combined TDs between Saquon Barkley and Eli Manning, the Giants did enough. Simple arithmetic suggests the Giants are closer to a Top 5 draft pick than a playoff run, but hey, they haven't been eliminated yet. Crazy things happen in this league. Up next: Nov. 25th @ Philadelphia, 1 p.m.

 

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Five observations from Wizards' 119-109 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, including Dwight Howard's injury

Five observations from Wizards' 119-109 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, including Dwight Howard's injury

The Washington Wizards lost to the Portland Trail Blazers 119-109 on Sunday night. Here are five observations from the game...

Not good: It just keeps getting worse. The Wizards have been playing a sleepy, uninspired brand of basketball in recent games and on Sunday they met a Blazers team that does just the opposite.

The result was probably predictable. Though the Wizards edged the Blazers last month in Portland, this time they lost a game that was nowhere near as close as the final score suggested. 

Portland led by as many as 29 points and the Wizards only cut that down late when head coach Scott Brooks emptied his bench. He brought in a host of young guys who were hungry and just happy to be playing like Troy Brown Jr. and Thomas Bryant. Hopefully the starters, who have been missing those qualities, were paying attention.

These teams are currently on two entirely different trajectories. The Blazers are trending up, while the Wizards, who have lost two straight, are sliding quickly.

Washington is now 5-11 on the season. That's worse than their mark at this point two years ago when they mounted the famous comeback.

Howard hurt again: Things were already going terribly for the Wizards when they got much worse. Dwight Howard, who was coming off a huge game against the Nets, left in the second quarter after aggravating his strained piriformis muscle injury. 

Howard, of course, missed the first seven games of the year with the injury, which has also been referred to as gluteal soreness. We knew he was still dealing with discomfort when he came back and it has never really gone away.

The injury affects his ability to run and jump. He can't even sit on the bench because of the pain. The fact it's bothering him enough to leave a game is a really bad sign.

Too many fouls: Just like last game, Howard found himself entangled in foul trouble and this time he got started earlier. By the midway point of the first quarter, he had two. By the 5:30 mark of the second quarter, he had three.

At least against the Nets on Friday, Howard was effective when he was on the floor. This time, he couldn't find a rhythm. His time on the court was basically a wash.

These two games show just how easy it is for Howard to rack up fouls and how much it hurts the Wizards when he gets in foul trouble. 

Horrid start: The Wizards have had some lifeless stretches this season, far too often for the talent they have on the roster. The way they began this game was them at their absolute worst.

They just couldn't keep up with the Blazers, who were zipping the ball around the court to find open shooters. Portland built a 20-point lead in the first quarter, 32-12, as they shot 7-for-9 from three. The seventh was a wide open look by C.J. McCollum.

That's C.J. McCollum, as in one of the best shooting guards in basketball. Somehow the Wizards completely lost him and paid for it. Those are the types of plays that are hard to excuse.

Bright spots: If there were any positives to draw from this game, it was the play of Kelly Oubre Jr. and Tomas Satoransky. Neither shot the ball well, but their energy and effort were noticeable on a night when most of their teammates just didn't have it.

They were among the few Wizards players active on defense and closing out on the three-point line. They helped key a 13-0 run to end the first quarter and helped the team show some life in the second half when the game was already out of hand.

Oubre finished with 19 points, four assists, four rebounds, and three blocks. He was +14. Satoransky had 10 points, seven assists and was +22. If Brooks wants some more energy from his team, those two could provide it.

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