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Seattle gets tested, holds off Rams 20-13

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Seattle gets tested, holds off Rams 20-13

SEATTLE (AP) Fueled by their frenzied fans, the Seattle Seahawks closed out a perfect run at home.

Hope they enjoyed it. Unless the NFC playoffs get thrown for a loop, the Seahawks won't be back until next season. Then again, with the roll the Seahawks are on, it's not inconceivable that somehow the breaks fall in their favor and they get one more home game.

``I'm really proud. I'm proud of the organization, I'm proud of the fans, I'm proud to be part of the movement that we made in the three years that we've been here,'' Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. ``Eleven-and-5 is a good season, that's a big season when you're coaching in the NFL and playing in the NFL.''

Russell Wilson tied Peyton Manning's record for most touchdown passes by a rookie with 26, and his 1-yard TD run with 1:39 left gave Seattle a 20-13 victory over the St. Louis Rams on Sunday and an 8-0 home mark for the Seahawks.

Seattle (11-5) had hopes of winning the NFC West entering the day, but needed Arizona to pull off a stunning upset of San Francisco. For a while, it looked plausible with Arizona holding an early 6-0 lead and trailing just 7-6 at halftime. But San Francisco pulled away in the third quarter and with it went Seattle's hopes of being any more than just the No. 5 seed with a road trip for the first round of the playoffs.

Seattle will travel to Washington for the first round of the playoffs next Sunday.

``I'm so excited, I'm ecstatic. It's a great opportunity,'' Wilson said. ``We've got 11 wins so far in the regular season, and now the whole season starts over. The mindset doesn't change, though. Go 1 and 0 every week. Continue to compete throughout the week.''

Wilson capped his remarkable first regular season by joining Manning in the NFL record books. And that was before he led the Seahawks on a fourth game-winning drive in the final minutes of regulation or overtime this season.

Wilson finished 15 of 19 for 250 yards and his 10-yard touchdown pass to Michael Robinson in the third quarter pulled him even with Manning for the rookie TD record. He added another 58 yards rushing, while Marshawn Lynch finished with 100 yards on 18 carries, his 10th game of the season reaching the century mark. Golden Tate had three catches for 105 yards.

Once again, Wilson found a way in the fourth quarter. Starting at his 10 with 5:11 left, Wilson took Seattle 90 yards in 10 plays. After Tate recovered a fumble by Lynch on the second play of the drive, Wilson found Tate for 44 yards, racing to the St. Louis 29, putting the Seahawks in prime position to close out a perfect home record.

Wilson was given the shot at the rookie TD record by himself on second-and-goal from the 1. All his receivers were covered, and Wilson was left to scramble in for his fourth rushing touchdown of the season and another game-winning drive.

``He deserved a chance to try to get it. We needed to get in the end zone one way or another,'' Carroll said. ``We thought it would be an easy way to get in, but they covered it, they did a nice job. So, he scrambled his way in.''

Wilson's numbers when compared with Manning's record-setting 1998 season are startling. Manning had 182 more pass attempts than Wilson and threw 28 interceptions compared to Wilson's 10. Still, Manning didn't have the complement of players around him that Wilson does in Seattle.

``The football team has really sparked throughout the whole entire season, the coaching staff has done a really great job of preparing me and it's a whole team effort,'' Wilson said.

St. Louis quarterback Sam Bradford tried to put together a final drive, converting one fourth down and getting to the Seattle 29 with 40 seconds left. But on fourth-and-10, Bradford forced his throw and Richard Sherman stepped in front for his eighth interception of the season. Wilson took a knee and Seattle headed for the playoffs winners of five straight and seven of eight the second-half of the season.

The interception capped a perfect week for Sherman, who won his appeal of a four-game suspension for using banned substances and will be available in the playoffs.

``I think we needed this test heading into the playoffs to help us know how it's going to feel in the playoffs, to know it's going to be a grind every week, it's going to be tough opponents every week, and it's only going to get tougher,'' Sherman said.

Bradford was 25 of 42 for 242 yards and a touchdown pass to Austin Pettis. Greg Zuerlein kicked field goals of 25 and 39 yards. Steven Jackson also went over 1,000 yards rushing for the eighth straight season, becoming just the sixth player in NFL history to accomplish that feat.

The Rams were trying to finish with a winning record for the first time since 2003. Still it was a noteworthy turnaround Jeff Fisher put together in his first season with the Rams, going from 2-14 to the verge of a winning season.

``I'm very, very proud of the professional approach that the guys took, not only all year, but this year in preparation and understanding that this is a difficult place to play, understanding what we needed to do to win the game,'' Fisher said. ``I'm disappointed that we fell short, but it was a tremendous effort by our guys and they have nothing to be disappointed about.''

NOTES: Lynch finished with 1,590 yards rushing, the third-highest total in Seahawks history. ... Seattle led the NFL in scoring defense at 15.3 per game. ... St. Louis tied a franchise record with 52 sacks, including six on Sunday. Chris Long had three sacks.

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3 Caps who impressed against the Blues in preview of the season opener

3 Caps who impressed against the Blues in preview of the season opener

Nicklas Backstrom scored with less than seven seconds remaining to give the Capitals the 3-2 win over the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday in a preseason preview of the regular-season opener. Radko Gudas and Richard Panik also scored.

Here are three players who impressed for the Caps.

1. Richard Panik

Panik got plenty of practice on the penalty kill with 4:16 of shorthanded ice time shorthanded. In that time he gave a glimpse of why he was so coveted by the Caps as a free agent.

In the first period, Panik pounced on a loose puck at the top of the faceoff circle in the defensive zone. Seeing he had room to work with, he did not just clear it down the ice and instead elected to skate up with it. He fought off the backcheck from Tyler Bozak through the neutral zone, drew an additional two Blues players to him, then drew a holding call from Bozak because he would not give up the puck.

Panik's 4:16 of penalty kill time was more than top penalty killer Carl Hagelin's 2:26, though the fact that Hagelin took two minors on the night probably had something to do with it.

Late in the game, Panik was also added to the power play as a sixth attacker with the goalie pulled. He would score the game-tying goal with just 1:09 left in regulation.

2. The goalies

Vitek Vanecek and Ilya Samsonov both played about a half of the game. It is really hard to evaluate a goalie on just 30 minutes of work, so I will give a shoutout to both as both played very well.

Vanecek got the start. He looked a little awkward at first, but settled in as the game went along for a solid performance. He stopped 13 of the 14 shots he faced with the only goal he allowed a weird deflection off of Brett Leason’s skate.

Samsonov took over about halfway through the second period and within minutes found himself defending the net on a 5-on-3 penalty kill. The penalty killers helped out their young netminder allowing only one shot on goal, but it was a good one. Colton Parayko one-timed a slap shot, but Samsonov was there to stop with no rebound. Soon after the penalty was over, Vladimir Tarasenko was all alone in front of the net, but was denied by Samsonov’s who stretched the blocker to deny the high shot.

Sanford scores on the PP. Samsonov wasn't tight against the post. Showed him too much daylight and Sanford made him pay.

Samsonov finished with 11 saves on 12 shots.

3. Connor McMichael

Boy, somebody got a confidence boost from Monday’s game. 

McMichael was given a second preseason game as a reward for his solid performance on Monday and he definitely showed off the confidence that comes along with being a first-round draft pick.

In the first period, McMichael found himself all alone with the puck on a mini-breakaway on Jordan Binnington. Just a reminder, this is the Binnington who was the starting goalie for the Stanley Cup champions.

So what did McMichael do? He skated to the front and tried the stick between the legs shot. It may not have worked, but you have to respect the confidence this kid had just to try, though no doubt the coaches probably had a few words for him in the locker room about it.

There was one area in which McMichael struggled, however, and that was on the faceoff where he lost all five draws he took on the night.

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WNBA Semifinals: Aces at Mystics - Game 2: Date, time, TV channel, live stream how to watch

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WNBA Semifinals: Aces at Mystics - Game 2: Date, time, TV channel, live stream how to watch

After a thrilling back-and-forth contest to start the WNBA Semifinals, the Washington Mystics and Elena Delle Donne are back in action to host the Las Vegas Aces for Game 2.

Washington took Game 1 97-95 over Las Vegas in their first game in nine days to start the series. Rusty and stuttering out of the gate, the Mystics were able to gut out a win after an explosive run in the third and early fourth quarter. 

Emma Meesseman (27 points) led the charge for Washington. In the third quarter, she took over the game totaling 13 of the team's 26 points and got the Mystics back in control of the contest. Elena Delle Donne finished with 24 points and hit the game-clinching basket in the final minute of regulation.

A'ja Wilson had 23 points in a losing effort, despite playing all but three minutes. Off the bench, Kelsey Plum emerged with 16 points to give the Aces an additional spark. 

Game 2 is on Thursday, Sept. 19 at 8:30 p.m. ET at the Entertainment and Sports Arena. The best-of-five series features the high-powered and No. 1 seeded Mystics against the most defensively sound squad in the No. 4 seeded Aces.

The Aces entered the series with a ton of momentum, fresh off one of the craziest wins in WNBA history. They gut-punched the top seed in the opening half and nearly stole it in the closing seconds. Nevertheless, it appears the Mystics with the third-best offense in the WNBA's existence found their footing and will be better prepared for Game 2. 

ACES VS. MYSTICS GAME 2:

Who: Las Vegas Aces at Washington Mystics

What: WNBA Semifinals Game 2

When: Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019, 8:30 p.m. ET

Where: Entertainment and Sports Arena, Washington D.C.

TV Channel: ESPN2

Live Stream: WatchESPN

MYSTICS vs. ACES WNBA SEMIFINALS SCHEDULE:

Game 1: Mystics 97, Aces 95 (Mystics lead 1-0)

Game 2: Thurs, Sept. 19: Aces at Mystics, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2

Game 3: Sun, Sept. 22: Mystics at Aces, 5:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2

Game 4: Tue, Sept 24: Mystics at Aces, Time TBD, ESPN2 (if necessary)

Game 5: Thurs, Sept. 26: Aces at Mystics, Time TBD, ESPN2 (if necessary)

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