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Seattle's problems in loss more than just Wilson

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Seattle's problems in loss more than just Wilson

SEATTLE (AP) Perhaps it should have been expected that if Seattle rookie quarterback Russell Wilson was going to endure an ugly performance early in his first season, it would be on the road against San Francisco's stellar defense.

What wasn't expected in Seattle's 13-6 loss to the 49ers on Thursday night was a number of dropped passes, some at critical moments, and a Seahawks defense that was gashed on the ground for the first time this year by the running of Frank Gore.

But it was another unimpressive offensive effort and some frustration began to show.

``We are going to come back Monday and watch this film, and we are going to be real critical,'' Seattle wide receiver Golden Tate said. ``We have to figure something out. It is not over, the season is not over. We still have a long way to go. We can't let this set us back.''

Wilson finished just 9 of 23 passing for 122 yards and one careless interception. He completed just 3 of 10 in the second half for 19 yards.

Sometimes when Wilson made a good throw, his receivers didn't make the catch. They finished with five drops.

There was backup running back Robert Turbin dropping a wheel route in the first quarter inside the 49ers' 15. Evan Moore juggled and dropped a throw down the sideline in the second quarter and Tate dropped a pair of passes, including a third-and-2 pass that would have given Seattle a key first-down on the opening drive of the second half.

``That's my focus now, just how can we fix it, how can we keep moving forward, how can we get some more completions when we need it,'' Wilson said. ``How can we keep the ball rolling, keep first downs going.''

Seattle coach Pete Carroll gave his team the weekend off after a trying stretch of five games in 25 days, three of them on the road. Seattle (4-3) returns to action on Oct. 28 at Detroit then plays consecutive home games against Minnesota and the New York Jets before arriving at its bye week.

While improving an offense that is averaging just 16 points per game will be a priority when the team returns next Monday, another will be making sure the Seahawks run defense is fixed.

San Francisco had just 58 yards rushing at halftime - and 54 of that came in the first quarter. They finished with 175 yards rushing. San Francisco's 117 yards rushing in the final 30 minutes marked the first time Seattle allowed a team to run for more than 100 yards in the second half since Dec. 26, 2010, in a loss at Tampa Bay.

Seattle's run defense allowed an opponent to top 100 total yards rushing for the first time this season. Gore's 131 yards were the most by an individual rusher against the Seahawks since Dallas' DeMarco Murray ran for 139 yards in Week 9 of last season, a span of 14 games.

Most of San Francisco's running success came in the second half and on quick-hitting inside traps where Seattle's defensive line was unable to clog gaps and give its linebackers freedom to make tackles.

The Seahawks had not allowed a run longer than 23 yards all season until Gore's 37-yard dash in the third quarter. Safety Earl Thomas saved a touchdown by making a shoestring tackle on that play. Gore also had bursts of 20 and 18 yards against a defense that had allowed just two runs of 20 or more yards all season entering Thursday night.

The fact Seattle held San Francisco to just 13 points and still felt the night was a defensive disappointment exemplifies the standard to which Carroll holds the Seahawks.

``It was a heck of a night by our defense, but I'm still frustrated that we didn't stop a couple of things. If we stop a couple of things, the game doesn't go like that. Now, it still was going to be close because we didn't score much, but we need to play better in the running game,'' Carroll said.

Gore has long tormented the Seahawks; he now has four games of at least 130 yards rushing against Seattle. And his numbers could have been even higher if not for bruised ribs that sidelined him for much of the fourth quarter.

``They attacked us where we didn't think they were going to attack us. They were able to sustain drives and controlled the clock a bit. It was disappointing because we didn't stop the run like we wanted to,'' Seattle linebacker Leroy Hill said. ``But there's nothing to be embarrassed about. Holding them to 13 points is nothing to be embarrassed about. It was a hard-fought game. It was how we thought it was going to be. But in the run game, we could've been better.''

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Online:http://bigstory.ap.org/NFL-Pro32 andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

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Dominant defense earns Ravens' Za'Darius Smith AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors

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Dominant defense earns Ravens' Za'Darius Smith AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors

The defensive performance on display by the Baltimore Ravens Sunday against the Tennessee Titans in a 21-0 shutout win was flat out historic. So historic that it's earned linebacker Za'Darius Smith AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors.

A franchise-record 11 sacks were laid on quarterback Marcus Mariota during the Week 6 matchup, with Smith leading the way with three of them.   

So far this season the 26-year-old has 20 combined tackles, 5.5 sacks, and one forced fumble. As someone who is in the final year of his rookie NFL contract, he's certainly proving he is worthy of getting paid this offseason. 

"It feels great, man. It's big," Smith said of the honor during media availability Wednesday. "I know when I first found out I called my mom and she was already looking at it. But I called her and she was trying to congratulate me and was like 'who would've ever thought the guy that played one year of high school football would be where he at now and making so many goals.'"

But earning AFC Defensive Player of the Week isn't the only goal Smith has in mind. His performance through the first six weeks and assisting the No. 1 ranked scoring defense is just a stepping stone to the ultimate honor.

"I was telling her, 'Ma you know this is a good self-goal but my main goal is to get us to the Super Bowl.'" 

The road to the Super Bowl for Smith and the Ravens continues this Sunday vs. Drew Brees and the Saints. 

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4 things to watch as the Caps host the Rangers

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USA Today

4 things to watch as the Caps host the Rangers

The Caps return to action Wednesday as they host the New York Rangers (7 p.m., NBCSN) in a Metropolitan Division clash.

Here are four things you should be watching for in this game.

The schedule finally gives the Caps a break

The early season schedule for Washington has been bizarre to say the least. Finally, they will be catching a break on Wednesday as the Rangers will be playing in the second leg of a back-to-back.

That certainly does not guarantee a victory, but it is something the Caps are very aware of and they hope to take advantage.

“I think speed is a big part of the game and for them to be fatigued off the back-to-back is definitely going to help us whether we move the puck a little quicker than we would in other games just kind of knowing they are coming off that back-to-back,” Nathan Walker said.

“We've got to make them skate, we've got to make their D go back for pucks,” T.J. Oshie said. “I don't feel like they're going to look tired at the start of the game, usually that comes towards the end of the game, second half, and so you've got to work to drain them down a little bit and we've got to take advantage of that opportunity tonight.”

Top-line Stephenson

Stephenson was added to the top line on Saturday with no practice other than the morning skate that day. A few days between games has given him a chance to practice with Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov and it should pay dividends on Wednesday.

This game also should be a good opportunity for Stephenson who was added to the top for his speed. Playing a tired Rangers team is something he will need to take advantage of.

“It's always tough to play back-to-back and with the travel and stuff like that,” Stephenson said. “For the most part, I think that that's going to be important and just to play a full 60, that's something that we want to get consistent with and we haven't been so far … But for the most part, I think the start will really help us tonight.”

Nathan Walker returns

The Caps made a change to the lineup for Wednesday’s game as Nathan Walker will be in for Dmitrij Jaskin on the fourth line.

When asked why he made the change, Reirden said, “Just a different look. A team that's on a back-to-back, we wanted to really come at them with some speed, tenacity and intensity that we know we always get from Nathan so thought it was a good add into tonight's lineup.

The Caps have got to get more offense from their bottom six and adding the speedy Walker to the bottom six could provide a boost. He has had trouble playing within the system in the past and his play has been more frenzied than controlled at times, but with Tom Wilson still suspended, there’s definitely an opportunity for Walker to earn more playing time depending on how he plays Wednesday.

King Henry remains on his throne

In addition to a tired Rangers team, the Caps are also expected to face a tired goalie.

Henrik Lundqvist started New York’s game on Tuesday and is expected to start again on Wednesday against Washington. That is not confirmed as the Rangers did not have a morning skate because of the back-to-back, but it is believed Lundqvist will play again.

There was a time when Lundqvist was considered the best netminder in the NHL and he is off to a phenomenal start this season with a 1.99 GAA and .939 save percentage in five games thus far.

But how will the 36-year-old goalie handle a back-to-back?

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