Capitals

Titans' D hopes to prove Miami game no fluke

Titans' D hopes to prove Miami game no fluke

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) The Tennessee Titans went from being on record pace for most points allowed in an NFL season to stifling the Miami Dolphins with their best defensive performance in nearly a year.

Now they must prove that was no fluke.

The Titans had allowed at least 30 points in seven of their first nine games and an average of 34.2, which put them on target to pass the 511 points allowed by the Baltimore Colts in 1981. After a 37-3 win in Miami, they still remain on pace for surrendering the most points in franchise history.

Defensive back Jason McCourty hopes a light bulb clicked on and stays on for the rest of the season for the Titans (4-6), who visit Jacksonville (1-9) on Sunday.

``We just looked bad,'' McCourty said. ``We looked like we weren't being coached. Guys didn't know where to be; we weren't making the plays we needed to make. But there's nothing we can do about that now. We've got six more games, and let's do our best to win all six of them and see where we are at the end.''

Before the Dolphins game, the defense had been heavily criticized for the poor play, and McCourty said it made players mad.

``You can't get mad at the people saying it because they're just watching the game and calling what they see,'' McCourty said. ``You put bad stuff on tape, and people are going to call you out for it.''

They finally did something about it against Miami.

Tennessee forced a season-high four turnovers with each of the starting linebackers picking off a pass, didn't allow a touchdown for the first time since Nov. 13, 2011, and also had two sacks. The 37-3 win trimmed the Titans' average to 31.1 points per game, but they remain on track for a franchise record in points allowed at 497.6.

The turnovers helped the Titans' offense enjoy short fields and turn in a 34-point margin of victory that was Tennessee's biggest on the road since a 47-10 win at Detroit on Thanksgiving in 2008.

``Hopefully that's something we can continue to do,'' Titans coach Mike Munchak said.

Part of the Titans' improved play came because several key defensive players healed up: tackles Jurrell Casey and Sen'Derrick Marks and middle linebacker Colin McCarthy. Casey played with an injured right elbow, while Marks missed the first two games this season as he recovered from an injured knee. McCarthy has been trying to play through a right ankle he sprained in the opener.

This defense also is very young with six starters in their third NFL season or less. The three starting linebackers include Akeem Ayers and McCarthy in their second season, while Zach Brown is a rookie. Defensive coordinator Jerry Gray said they didn't have any big mental errors in Miami. Players weren't trying to do more than their own job against the Dolphins, either.

``A lot of times young guys seem to think they have to put a Superman cape on to be a football player, and you don't,'' Gray said. ``If you do your job to the best of your ability, more than nine out of 10 times you're probably going to be right. That's all we ask you to do. We're not asking you to make great plays, just make your plays.''

The Titans should have a chance to show they can be consistently stingy on defense on Sunday in Jacksonville, at least. The Jaguars rank last in the NFL in total offense, managing just 283 yards, and are 29th with 16.4 points per game.

Jaguars coach Mike Mularkey has noticed the Titans' defensive improvement.

``At this time of year, you want to see progress, and I see that from that team,'' Mularkey said. ``Defensively, you know, Miami's played well this year, and to go down there and hold them to three points and get four turnovers, pretty much a dominant performance. I see improvement, and that's what you want from your team, and Mike (Munchak's) getting that.''

Notes: TE Craig Stevens (hamstring) practiced Thursday after sitting out Wednesday. McCarthy was held back a bit. RB Jamie Harper (ankle) and S Al Alfalava (ankle) did not practice. LB Xavier Adibi (knee) was limited.

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3 things to watch in Caps vs. Panthers

3 things to watch in Caps vs. Panthers

The Capitals play their last home game of October on Friday as they host the Florida Panthers (7 p.m., NBC Sports Washington). Here’s what you need to watch.

Dmitrij Jaskin is back in

Todd Reirden has made one adjustment to the lineup for Friday’s game, putting Dmitrij Jaskin back in on the fourth line in place of Nathan Walker. Jaskin has yet to record a point since joining the Capitals, but that has a lot to do with where he was coming from.

“This team is based on being creative and it's probably something that I missed in the last few years,” Jaskin said following Friday’s morning skate.

In St. Louis, Jaskin was coached by Mike Yeo and, before him, Ken Hitchcock. Both coaches preach a hard-nosed offensive style based more on effort and being defensively responsible than skill. Coming to a team like Washington then, a team that encourages skill and creativity on offense, is a pretty dramatic change.

Jaskin has played a very safe style since coming into the lineup. It’s good to be defensively responsible, but not if it completely chokes the life out of the offense. Jaskin is hardly generating any offense at all thus far since coming to Washington.

After a few more practices, can it finally spark some skill and creativity from Jaskin?

Can the Caps get the bottom six back on track?

The Caps have gotten only two goals in six games from their bottom six and both came in the team’s blowout opening win against Boston. The third and fourth lines generated some chances on Wednesday, but afterward, Reirden stressed that the team needed to see more production from its depth forwards.

“We've got to continue to get scoring depth wise if we want to have success in this league,” he said. “That's where everything's headed is you can't rely on your top guys to come through for you every night and we'll continue to focus on finding the right chemistry with that third and fourth line to be able to give us some added offense there as well.”

Florida could provide a good opportunity for those players to get some points on the board.

Starting goalie Roberto Luongo is out with an injury and James Reimer will get the start on Friday. In three games, Reimer has a GAA of 3.62 and save percentage of .885.

As a team, the Panthers currently rank 24th in goals against per game with 3.50.

Two teams in need of a win

Florida is still searching for its first win of the season with a 0-2-2 record. It is still early, but this is a Panthers team with playoff aspirations and you don’t want to dig yourself in too deep a hole to start or it becomes very difficult to dig out.

The Caps, meanwhile, will be playing in their final home game of October. They leave Saturday for Vancouver to kick-off a three-game Western Canada trip. They then will face the Canadiens in Montreal on Nov. 1 before finally returning home.

Washington’s next home game will not come until Nov. 3. That makes Friday’s game a big one for the Caps as they try to secure two points before hitting the road.

“It's definitely a big game,” Reirden said. “We want to build on some of the things we were able to accomplish last game. It's difficult anytime you go out west with time changes and different stuff. We know that [Florida is] going to be a desperate team that hasn't had the start that they want and they're talented so it's an important game for us to go on the road on a winning note.”

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Redskins need to stop Cowboys' Cole Beasley to win in Week 7

Redskins need to stop Cowboys' Cole Beasley to win in Week 7

When the Redskins take on the Cowboys on Sunday in Week 7, there's one player NBC Sports Washington's resident GM Charley Casserly says they need to contain in this week's "Matchup to Watch."

The player: Wide receiver Cole Beasley

The comparison: Randall Cobb (Packers), Jamison Crowder (Redskins)

Who will cover him: Casserly's guess? Fabian Moreau

The key for the Redskins: Get physical with him. "Jam Beasley off the line of scrimmage," Casserly says, "reroute him and be physical with him."

Click "Play' in the video box above to watch Charley Casserly's full Redskins vs. Cowboys Matchup of the Week.

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