Nationals

Seattle has perfect offensive finish to beat Bears

201212021511546922661-p2.jpeg

Seattle has perfect offensive finish to beat Bears

RENTON, Wash. (AP) The distances the Seattle Seahawks offense needed to cover late in regulation and then again in overtime left plenty of opportunity, as Pete Carroll put it, to ``really screw it up.''

Not with Russell Wilson at the controls. Not with the way this rookie is playing.

``There's really nothing to hold us back with what we can do and ask the quarterback to do with the system and all of that now. He can really handle the package,'' Carroll said. ``We're trying to benefit from that.''

With two drives on Sunday - one at the end of regulation and the other in overtime - Wilson kept Seattle firmly in control of the final playoff spot in the NFC with a 23-17 overtime win over Chicago. He led the Seahawks to touchdowns the final two times they touched the ball.

And they weren't short drives. Seattle went 97 yards on its final possession of regulation to take the lead, then another 80 yards in overtime to pull out the victory. Wilson accounted for 56 of Seattle's 80 yards on its overtime touchdown drive, including 28 yards rushing. Three times he converted third downs and capped Seattle's victory by hitting Sidney Rice on a 13-yard TD.

Combined over Seattle's final two possessions, the first of which was capped by Golden Tate sliding off tacklers for a 14-yard TD with 24 seconds left in regulation, Wilson accounted for 115 yards passing and 47 yards rushing.

His 71 total yards rushing turned out to be the most in Seahawks history for a quarterback. Most of those running yards came on designed zone-read plays where Wilson would fake the handoff to Marshawn Lynch, then dash around end for gains that gashed the Bears defense.

``He just has a tremendous level of awareness and poise and it's just surprising that anybody could be like that, not just a rookie or a young guy in his first shot playing in Chicago or what not,'' Carroll said. ``He just continues to be impressive in all of those ways.''

Closing out games has lingered as a significant problem for the Seahawks on the road. And lately because of their defense.

It started in Detroit, when the Lions scored with 20 seconds left after driving 80 yards to pull out a 28-24 win. Last week in Miami, the Seahawks gave up 17 fourth-quarter points and Dan Carpenter's field goal on the final play gave the Dolphins a 24-21 win.

And on Sunday, the Seahawks defense again let down when Jay Cutler scrambled free from pressure to find Brandon Marshall for 56 yards, setting up Robbie Gould's 46-yard field goal on the final play of regulation to force overtime. Carroll said when Cutler scrambled, Seattle's secondary briefly lost contain on Marshall and allowed him to come back toward the ball and make the play.

``We got a little out of whack. That's like playing in the park then, everything goes and Jay, that was a marvelous move to get free, a great throw, a great adjustment on the catch to get that done and it took all of that. That was a shocking play that it occurred like that. We thought we had it nailed,'' Carroll said. ``That gave them a great chance to come back in it, which just happened to set up a great chance for overtime and see a young kid win it all.''

For all the excitement about the Seahawks victory, there are injury concerns going forward. Rice was hammered on the game-winning touchdown at the goal line by Major Wright and was down on the field for a few minutes. He tweeted Sunday night that he was cleared by doctors but Carroll said Monday that Rice was going through concussion protocols in part because of his history with head injuries.

``It's based off the occurrence of it and his history, so it's a little bit of everything I guess,'' Carroll said. ``He feels good, he's not in bad shape at this point so we think he has a chance.''

Seattle is also unsure of the status of offensive lineman James Carpenter, who felt a sharp pain in his surgically reconstructed left knee and didn't play after the first quarter. Carroll said Carpenter was getting X-rays and an MRI, but was unsure of the results. He was also pessimistic about nickel cornerback Marcus Trufant, who has a hamstring pull.

Defensive end Red Bryant was in on 33 defensive plays despite a foot injury, but Carroll said he was sore Monday. He's also hopeful of getting back linebacker Leroy Hill, who did not play after being unable to make it through pregame warm ups with an ankle injury.

---

Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Quick Links

This time, closer Sean Doolittle costs the Nationals a game

This time, closer Sean Doolittle costs the Nationals a game

NEW YORK -- The Washington Nationals lost to the New York Mets, 6-1, Wednesday to drop their record to 19-30. Here are five observations from the game...

1.  What to say when the only person to trust can’t deliver?

That’s the status for these Washington Nationals, now 11 games under .500 after Sean Doolittle's worst outing since arriving in Washington, sliding further and further away, unable to stumble into wins and only capable of hunting down ways to lose.

A night after curious bullpen usage which delivered yet another wrenching loss, and was followed Wednesday afternoon by a pep-talk focused team meeting, manager Davey Martinez dispatched his knee-quaking posse of relievers in superior fashion.

Joe Ross opened the seventh with an out. Matt Grace followed with two. Six outs to go in a 1-0 game for the league’s worst bullpen.

Kyle Barraclough started the eighth. He struck out J.D. Davis. Adeiny Hechavarria doubled, though the ball should have been caught by Juan Soto. Pete Alonso grounded out. Todd Frazier came to the plate and options arrived. A mound visit was followed by a four-pitch walk to Frazier. Doolittle entered the game to face light-hitting veteran Carlos Gomez. Stomach-churning chaos followed.

Doolittle hit Gomez with his first pitch -- his first beaned batter of the year and first since May 29, 2018. Juan Lagares doubled two pitches later to clear the bases. Wilson Ramos was intentionally walked. Pinch-hitter Rajai Davis hit a three-run homer two pitches into his at-bat.

That was the end for Doolittle, who walked off the mound with a stunned look. The one reliable piece in the league’s worst bullpen had as disastrous a night as possible, flushing Max Scherzer’s start, throwing aside rare quality work from other relievers, sending the Nationals to their fourth consecutive loss in this can’t-get-right season.

What followed was a stupefied clubhouse beginning to process just how dire the situation is on May 22.

Adam Eaton wondered where answers are and said they need to come now.

“We need to do something different sooner rather than later,” Eaton said. “We've talked about this for weeks now. Just haven't been playing good baseball.”

Martinez said he was “shocked” by Doolittle’s off-kilter outing.

“I tell them all the time: This thing will turn around,” Martinez said. “It’s going to turn around. But we have to believe that it will. We have to will it. It’s time that we just believe that we’re good enough to play here, cause we are. And we’ve got to make it happen. We’ve got to make things happen. And stay strong. Stay together. Stay strong. Pull for your teammates. And this thing will turn around.”

Doolittle had a hard time wrapping his head around his rare 12-pitch crumbling.

“I don't know, it's tough and it's a tough spot to come in and the context of how our season's going it hurts you even more,” Doolittle said. “To have Max pitch so well tonight and the guys grind it out....shoot I don't know. I'm really frustrated. I'm disgusted with myself and I let the team down. And it hurts.”

Scherzer was stern in his comments about a spiraling season.

“When you face adversity, this is when you reveal yourself,” Scherzer said. “Whether you have the mental fortitude to come back and you can block out all the negativity that's probably going to surround us right now. You've got to come forward to the game with that positive attitude of knowing what you can control and that you have the right mindset that you're going to go out there and compete and compete at 100 percent. You have to think of all the little things you can do.”

There were those two words again: “little things.” They have conspired against the Nationals this year, undermining an-almost $200 million payroll, increasingly putting the manager’s future in jeopardy and ratcheting up calls for sweeping change. There’s been nothing little about them, and nothing the Nationals have figured out on the field or off to stop them from snuffing out the year before the season is even close to half done.

2. Scherzer needed 109 pitches to make it through six innings. The most important of those was his final one. The 11-pitch sixth gave the Nationals three fewer outs to pawn off on the bullpen. Scherzer opened the inning at 98 pitches before briskly working through Todd Frazier, Carlos Gomez and Juan Lagares.

He allowed four hits, struck out nine and walked two. The night drove Scherzer’s ERA down to 3.41. It all mattered little in the end.

“You just take it inning by inning, try to execute pitches,” Scherzer said. “I thought tonight I had a good inning out of the windup, had a good rocker step, and there were some pitches that I threw tonight that I executed well because I was nice and tall throughout my delivery. It kind of let me be able to pick up some consistency kind of early in the game and late in the game. When my delivery is right, and my slot is in the right spot, that’s when I execute all my pitches. So I felt like I was in better position tonight overall than I have been in the past.”

Why was Scherzer back to the mound after 98 pitches in five innings? Because of losses six weeks ago, three weeks ago, last week and this week. A team 10 games under .500 has to squeeze everything it can out of its ace on May 22. Time for a margin of error has eroded. What happened back then (losing series to Miami, for instance) piles up to have a grand influence on later.

3. Grace has been used as a matchup left-hander recently. He’s found that life more appealing.

Grace matched up with Cubs left-hander Anthony Rizzo and recorded an out Sunday. He faced Robinson Cano on Tuesday to pick up a ground out. Wednesday, Grace was brought in to face left-handed pinch-hitter Dominic Smith. Smith grounded out to first. Grace remained in to face Amed Rosario and recorded another ground ball out.

The Nationals are trying to put Grace in spots to get his feet back on the ground after a night as the punching bag at the end of a blowout loss against the Chicago Cubs last Friday (and a down season overall). So far, this role has been better.

4. Remember the extended minor-league assignments for after players were hurt? That’s gone. And the results are not great.

Matt Adams was activated Wednesday. Adrian Sanchez was sent to Double-A Harrisburg to make room on the 25-man roster.

Adams did all his rehabilitation work with the major-league team. He took batting practice on the field and in the batting cages before that. He also took ground balls and infield practice. What he didn’t do was go on a minor-league assignment despite not playing since May 3. The Nationals judged him ready to play because his swing looked in place against a pitching machine.

Wednesday, he made a crucial error in the first inning. Robinson Cano rolled a small ground ball to first, Adams fielded, pivoted and threw toward second base, where the runner on first was heading. The ball never came close to the bag. It went to the outfield instead, which presented the Mets with runners on second and third and one out instead of a runner on first and one out (or a chance at a longshot double play). It, most importantly, cost Scherzer more pitches.

Scherzer pitched his way out of it as he often has this season. He came into the game leading the league in FIP (fielding-independent pitching).

Trea Turner played just two games for Triple-A Potomac after missing seven weeks. Asked how many games he would have preferred to play there, Turner said one. He made two wayward throws his first game back with the Nationals.

So, instantly putting these guys back on the field -- which is every player’s preference and a spot the Nationals’ record has leveraged them into -- is not ideal.

5.  Kyle McGowin will start Friday. His visit to the rotation is expected to be temporary.

McGowin will pitch in Jeremy Hellickson’s spot. He was up to give length in the bullpen. Like Erick Fedde, he’ll be drawn away from the relievers to fill a rotation spot.

McGowin is a sinker-ball pitcher. He made one start at the end of last season. He also is currently suspended by the Pacific Coast League after a substance was found in his glove following an inspection by umpires during his last outing.

MORE NATIONALS NEWS:

 

Quick Links

Redskins sign linebacker Jon Bostic to try and help make up for the loss of Reuben Foster

Redskins sign linebacker Jon Bostic to try and help make up for the loss of Reuben Foster

Two days after losing Reuben Foster for the year, the Redskins made a move to at least provide reinforcements to a weakened linebacker group.

On Wednesday, Washington announced that they have signed Jon Bostic, a six-year veteran. The 'Skins also officially placed Foster on injured reserve.

Bostic was a 2013 second-round pick of the Bears out of Florida. He's since bounced around to New England, Detroit, Indianapolis, and Pittsburgh, where he started 14 times for the Steelers in 2018 and posted 73 tackles. He's been traded twice in his career and missed all of 2016 with a foot injury. 

So, what does the move accomplish for the Redskins?

Well, Bostic — or any other free agent signing at this point — isn't going to have close to the level of talent and potential that Foster had. However, getting another option at linebacker was necessary for the Burgundy and Gold, and the 28-year-old has played in 30 contests over the past two years, so he's relatively established. 

Yes, he's far from a gamechanger, considering he has just one interception and 5.5 sacks as a pro. But he's regarded as a solid run defender and tackler and should at least push Mason Foster and Shaun Dion Hamilton. His presence also could alleviate some of the pressure that would've been on rookie Cole Holcomb. 

Signing a defender who's been with five franchises in six years isn't exactly inspiring, but Bostic has experience as a starter and could give the Redskins useful snaps on first and second down at a minimum. Now it's on him to take advantage of the opportunity he's been given.

MORE REDSKINS NEWS