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Steelers-Giants provide relief in Sandy aftermath

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Steelers-Giants provide relief in Sandy aftermath

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) The Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Giants gave a region left reeling by Superstorm Sandy just what it needed after days of dealing with devastation, power outages, no heat and long gas lines.

For a few hours Sunday, people in the New York metro area could watch two good football teams play a hard-fought game. It was chance to cheer and yell and scream and forget about the past six days.

The Steelers' 24-20 victory probably didn't please the majority of fans at MetLife Stadium, but this game was about more than football. It was about life and helping people cope with it.

It was sports at its best.

``There are so many bigger things going on around here that what we do is not as important as real life,'' Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said after throwing for two touchdowns. ``My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone else who are going through so much. There were so many emotions going on, I didn't know what to expect from it. But maybe we were able to take their minds off their problems just a little.''

The Giants (6-3) had come into the game hoping to use it as a platform to raise the spirits of the millions of people in New York and New Jersey who lost their homes, been displaced and had a lifetime of dreams shattered by the worst storm to hit the area in decades.

For three quarters they gave them hope, building a 20-10 lead on the play of its defense, highlighted by a 70-yard fumble return for a touchdown by linebacker Michael Boley.

The Steelers (5-3), however, dominated the final quarter. A 51-yard pass and run by Mike Wallace got them within a field goal and Issac Redman capped a career-best 147-yard rushing performance with a game-winning 1-yard touchdown run with 4:02 to go.

New York's final attempt to win one for the region ended with a three-and-out, and the Steelers ran out the clock.

``We had a lot riding on the game,'' Giants defensive captain Justin Tuck said. ``Everybody knows what has taken place this past week in this area. A lot of us have been affected ourselves. We wanted to come out and give this region a reason to put some smiles on people's faces. That's frustrating in itself and knowing you had the opportunity to beat a great football team at home, and let that slip through your hands.

``We've been a team known for finishing and when we take the lead into the fourth quarter and we don't sustain that, that's frustrating,'' Tuck added. ``That's not us. We have to look at this thing tomorrow and come back next week and try to get to 7-3.''

The Steelers had a lot to do with the Giants problems. Their defense limited Eli Manning to 125 yard passing, held the running game to 68 yards and did not allow New York to gain a first down in the final quarter.

Pittsburgh accomplished that despite traveling to New Jersey on Sunday - with the league's blessing - so those displaced by the storm would not be kicked out of their rooms.

Outside, folks tailgated and tried to blunt some of the devastation from the week's superstorm. As Giants fan Courtney Davis, whose town of Sea Bright was washed away by Hurricane Sandy, said in response to holding the game: ``We need this.''

``Coming in the day of the game was tough and we had to deal with that adversity,'' Redman said. ``But the Giants had to deal with adversity all week. We just had to come in here and be ready to play.

When Pittsburgh came on relentlessly, the one-quarter of the 80,991 seats occupied by Terrible Towel-waving Steelers faithful could celebrate an impressive comeback victory, coach Mike Tomlin's 60th win.

``''We didn't talk much about the travel,'' Tomlin insisted, although Roethlisberger said teammates were in the hallways of the hotel sleeping after morning meetings.

``This is a game,'' Tomlin added. ``What happened here is life and reality.''

Giants coach Tom Coughlin called the loss as disappointing as any in recent years.

``Not to be overly reactionary or emotional, to play against a very good football team like that ... we wanted emotionally to win the game so badly for obvious reasons, for our neighbors who are struggling, who needed some type of inspiration and we didn't provide it,'' Coughlin said.

The Steelers weren't perfect. Roethlisberger's fumble after being sacked by Osi Umenyiora resulted in Boley's TD and an interception by Corey Webster led to the second of Lawrence Tynes' two field goals and penalties led to the other 10 points for the Super Bowl champions.

Another gaffe was a fake field goal from the New York 3 early in the fourth quarter on which kicker Shaun Suisham lost a yard. That wasted a 63-yard punt return by Sanders on his first such runback all season.

However, the Steelers still found a way to win.

Giants tight end Martellus Bennett was philosophical about the loss.

``You always want to win and it was great as to how many people showed up with what was going on in the city and it was a hard-fought game,'' Bennett said. ``I don't think they were let down. We did the same thing the city has been doing, which is fighting, fighting, fighting. Everybody has come back and we have to continue to fight. People in the city are continuing to fight and you can't win every battle, but you live to fight again.''

NOTES: Pittsburgh lost leading receiver Antonio Brown in the first half with a left ankle sprain and kick returner Chris Rainey in the third quarter with a rib injury. Rainey had 173 yards on five runbacks ... The Steelers held the ball for more than 35 minutes ... Boley led the Giants with 10 tackles. ... New York had four sacks, with Tuck getting two.

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Caps push Lightning around in Game 6 with physical game plan

Caps push Lightning around in Game 6 with physical game plan

As the NHL continues to focus more on speed and skill, the Capitals took a very old-school approach to Game 6 against the Tampa Bay Lightning. From the moment the puck dropped until the clock hit zero, it was clear Washington came into Monday with a very physical game plan.

"It made a big difference," T.J. Oshie said. "I think in these games, everyone’s bringing energy and you kind of want to control that and direct it towards some positive play, some momentum building for your team, and tonight I think we handled that and did that pretty well."

"We just wanted to throw everything we had at them," Stephenson said. "It was a do or die game and we don't want our season to end."

It worked.

The scoresheet officially credited the Caps with 39 hits for the game. The Lightning had only 19. The physical play seemed to wear down Tampa Bay as the game went on.

After an even first period, Washington took a 1-0 lead in the second. Then, very fittingly, a physical fourth line extended that lead to 2-0 in the third to finish the Lightning off.

"All of a sudden now we turn a puck over, you’re back in your end, they’re feeling it, they’re being physical, crowd’s behind them and we’re spending way too much time in our D zone," Tampa Bay head coach Jon Cooper said. "That’s what hurt us."

What made it so effective was the fact that the entire team bought into it. Alex Ovechkin was certainly the most noticeable player as he threw himself around like a wrecking ball against everyone wearing a white jersey. But it was not just his line. Tom Wilson and Brooks Orpik each led the team with six hits, Devante Smith-Pelly recorded five of his own while Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom both had four.

The Lightning faced a constant barrage from the Caps from every line and defensive pair. There was no respite.

The hits also gave the fans plenty to cheer for.

The Caps were playing an elimination game at home and Tampa Bay goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy was standing on his head. Even with the score locked at 0-0 through the first period, the crowd was still very much into the game. There was no apprehension, there was no quiet tension. There was just a loud crowd cheering on its team.

"[The fans] were loud right from the start, which I think we fed off of and wanted to give them something back," Brooks Orpik said. "We didn't get a goal early. I think some of the physical play kind of helped carry that. They were great for us."

Now in the third round of the playoffs after six intense games between the Caps and Lightning, the hope is that Game 6's physical play will continue to take its toll on Tampa Bay heading into Game 7.

"We need to do that every game," Nicklas Backstrom said. "That's our forecheck. Hopefully, we can keep it going here in Game 7."

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2018 NBA Mock Draft: What's changed after the combine

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2018 NBA Mock Draft: What's changed after the combine

Something that used to be a rare occurrence has now happened four years in a row.

The Phoenix Suns had the best odds of winning the NBA lottery, and they did, landing the number one pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. 

Over the last four years, the team with the NBA's worst record has landed that top spot each year. Before this stretch though, dating back to 1985, only four teams that had the worst record still won the lottery.

Nine teams have also jumped at least five spots to get to No. 1 during that period as well.

Now the order is set (until any trades of course) and teams have had a chance to check out many of the top players at the combine.

CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST 2018 NBA MOCK DRAFT 

This draft is loaded with big man prospects too, from DeAndre Ayton, Jaren Jackson Jr., Marvin Bagley, and Mohamed Bamba, along with countless others likely going in the top-14. 

There's also the very intriguing Luka Doncic, who most still believe won't go back to Real Madrid, even with him leaving the door open. 

A few names jumped into the first round since the last mock draft, which is something we always see after the combine. 

As for the Wizards, we know they need an athletic big man, and sitting at pick No. 15, they may just get one, although he brings a lot of mystery. 

CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST 2018 NBA MOCK DRAFT