Ravens

Tuesday's Sports in Brief

Tuesday's Sports in Brief

A televised confession by Lance Armstrong isn't enough.

Anti-doping officials want the disgraced cyclist to admit his guilt under oath before considering whether to lift a lifetime ban clouding his future as a competitive athlete.

Armstrong has been in conversations with U.S. Anti-Doping Agency officials, touching off speculation that he may be willing to cooperate with authorities there and name names.

Interviewer Oprah Winfrey didn't say if the subject was broached during the taping Monday at a downtown Austin hotel. In an appearance Tuesday on ``CBS This Morning,'' she declined to give details of what Armstrong told her, but said she was ``mesmerized and riveted by some of his answers.''

Asked whether the disgraced cyclist appeared genuinely contrite after a decade of fierce denials, Winfrey replied, ``I felt that he was thoughtful, I thought that he was serious, I thought that he certainly had prepared for this moment. I would say that he met the moment.''

She was promoting what has become a two-part special, Thursday and Friday, on her OWN network.

Around the same time, World Anti-Doping Agency officials issued a statement saying nothing short of ``a full confession under oath'' would cause them to reconsider Armstrong's lifetime ban from sanctioned events.

The International Cycling Union also urged Armstrong to tell his story to an independent commission it has set up to examine claims that the sport's governing body hid suspicious samples from the cyclist, accepted financial donations from him and helped him avoid detection in doping tests.

The AP reported earlier Tuesday that Justice Department officials were likely to join a whistleblower lawsuit against Armstrong by former teammate Floyd Landis, citing a source who works outside the government and requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the record about the matter.

PRO FOOTBALL

SAN DIEGO (AP) The Chargers introduced Mike McCoy as their new coach, hiring the 40-year-old Denver Broncos offensive coordinator to replace Norv Turner.

Turner and general manager A.J. Smith were fired after the Chargers finished 7-9 and missed the playoffs for the third straight season.

McCoy's hiring came three days after the top-seeded Broncos were eliminated from the playoffs in a home loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

The coaching search was led by Tom Telesco, who was hired as Chargers GM last week. Telesco also is 40.

NEW YORK (AP) - From nearly unstoppable to nearly invisible.

Tim Tebow was two wins from the Super Bowl a year ago. Now, he's pretty much a player without a team - likely to be released by the New York Jets after one frustrating season and his hometown team in Jacksonville already pulling in the welcome mat.

Even Tebow doesn't know how this will unfold. A backup role on another NFL team? A position change? The Canadian Football League?

``I don't know what my future holds, but I know who holds my future,'' the devout Christian said in a recent interview with Fox Business Network, his only public comments since his strange Jets season ended.

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) - Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers says injuries to ``multiple lower extremities'' will keep him out of the Pro Bowl later this month.

TENNIS

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) - Novak Djokovic was all but perfect in his second-round match Wednesday against Ryan Harrison, beating the 20-year-old American 6-1, 6-2, 6-3 to stay on track for his third consecutive Australian Open title and the fourth of his career.

Maria Sharapova was even more convincing a few hours earlier, winning 6-0, 6-0 for the second time in two matches to set up a third-round encounter with Venus Williams. The second-seeded Russian beat Japan's Misaki Doi in just 47 minutes.

Williams beat Alize Cornet 6-3, 6-3 in the match preceding the Djokovic-Harrison encounter at Rod Laver Arena, which will be the likely venue for her big matchup Friday against Sharapova.

PRO BASKETBALL

NEW YORK (AP) -Days after Carmelo Anthony's overreaction to some bad words led to an NBA suspension, MSG chairman James Dolan had listening devices monitoring everything said to and by Anthony, according to a report in the Newark Star-Ledger.

The report Monday said Dolan had two MSG Network audio technicians stationed at opposite corners of the court during Friday's home game against Chicago. Holding umbrella-shaped parabolic microphones, they were told to record Anthony's interactions and send the tape directly to Dolan.

The Knicks did not comment on the report. The team left Monday night for a game Thursday in London against Detroit.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson says he has received approval from NBA Commissioner David Stern to present a counteroffer to the league from investors who would keep the Kings in California's capital city.

Speaking at the annual State of Downtown Breakfast, Johnson says the city is in a ``six-week sprint'' to put together a proposal for the NBA's Board of Governors to consider. The league's deadline for teams to apply for relocation is March 1.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

RENO, Nev. (AP) - Nevada athletic officials are trying to capitalize on ``Kap'' mania.

Ex-Wolf Pack quarterback Colin Kaepernick has the San Francisco 49ers one win away from their first Super Bowl since 1995. And university officials are hoping the man who is fast becoming one of the school's most famous alums will help them sell some football tickets next year.

They announced that anyone who purchases or renews at least two season tickets will be eligible to win up to four tickets and pregame field passes for the 49ers' 2013 season opener.

BASEBALL

WASHINGTON (AP) - Reliever Rafael Soriano and the Washington Nationals reached agreement pending a physical on a $28 million, two-year contract that includes $14 million in deferred money, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press.

Speaking to the AP on condition of anonymity because the deal was not yet official, the person said Soriano's contract contains a $14 million option for 2015 that would become guaranteed if he reaches 120 games finished over 2013 and 2014 combined.

NEW YORK (AP) - Theo Epstein traded for Adrian Gonzalez and signed Carl Crawford following pressure from Boston Red Sox owners to build a ``sexy team,'' according to a book co-authored by former Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona.

Epstein, who left as general manager after the 2011 season to become a Chicago Cubs executive, said Boston owner John Henry, chairman Tom Werner and president Larry Lucchino made the team's image a priority, according to excerpts released Tuesday by Sports Illustrated.

``Francona: The Red Sox Years'' is co-written by the Boston Globe's Dan Shaughnessy and is scheduled for publication by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on Jan. 22.

Cleveland hired Francona as its manager in October.

GOLF

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) - Paul McGinley was chosen as Europe's Ryder Cup captain for 2014, ending a chaotic campaign marked by a late challenge from former captain Colin Montgomerie.

McGinley, a 46-year-old Irishman, replaces Jose Maria Olazabal, whose team rallied to victory over the United States in October at Medinah, outside Chicago. Europe will defend the trophy at Gleneagles, Scotland.

SKIING

FLACHAU, Austria (AP) - American teenager Mikaela Shiffrin won a World Cup night slalom, buoyed by a roaring crowd for her third victory in her first year on the circuit.

The Vail, Colo., skier was already the first American to win two World Cup races before turning 18. She is exactly the same age - 17 years, 308 days - as Austrian great Annemarie Moser-Proell was when she earned her third career victory in 1971. Moser-Proell holds the career record of 62 World Cup wins.

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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: Justin Tucker kept the game ball from his first missed extra point

Baltimore Ravens Roundup: Justin Tucker kept the game ball from his first missed extra point

It's Draft Day, baby!

Before the 2019 NFL Draft gets underway Thursday night in Nashville, Tn, here's the latest Baltimore Ravens news.

Player/Team Notes:

1. The Ravens made a VERY smart move Wednesday by signing kicker Justin Tucker to a four-year extension that will keep him in Baltimore through the 2023 season. In seven seasons, Tucker has experienced the highest of highs, and just last year, the low of his first missed extra point Week 7 against the Saints. Memorable as it is something we rarely see from Tucker, the 29-year-old has that game ball on display as a reminder of the ups and downs of his career.

“That’s a part of my story, and I want to be able to look at that and realize that was a learning moment,” Tucker said. “It was, perhaps, a pivotal moment for me as a professional.”

“I think it’s incredibly important for any football player, any athlete, anybody, to learn form both your successes and your failures,” Tucker said.

2. The Ravens are making one very special fans' dream come true this weekend during the NFL Draft. Mo Gaba, a 13-year-old superfan who's been blind since he was nine months old and is battling cancer for the fourth time, will announce the team's fourth-round pick from the Ravens' Draft Fest at the Inner Harbor Saturday. Gaba will be the first person ever to announce an NFL draft pick in Braille. 

3. General manager Eric DeCosta will lead his first-ever war room Thursday night, but he won't be kicking former GM Ozzie Newsome out of his usual seat at the head of the table. 

“I’ve been in that seat for a long time,” DeCosta said via the Ravens' website.

“The other reason is Ozzie doesn’t like change a lot,” DeCosta said. “He still gets his hair cut on Friday, he’s on a treadmill three times a day. He only started using an iPhone about six months ago. No, that’s not actually true

“But he definitely doesn’t like change, and I just feel like if we moved his seat, he’d be really flustered.”

4. The Ravens are showing increased interest in Alabama running back Josh Jacobs, according to ESPN's Jamison Hensley. John Harbaugh did mention earlier in the offseason that the team could add another playmaker in the Ravens' backfield.

5. Free agent pass rusher Ezekiel Ansah reportedly visited the Ravens Wednesday. Drafted fifth overall in the 2013 NFL Draft by the Lions, the Ravens could use Ansah after losing Terrell Suggs and Za'Darius Smith in free agency.


Looking Ahead:

April 25-27: 2019 NFL Draft in Nashville, Tn.

May 3-6 or May 10-13: Potential three-day rookie mini camp

July 15: 4 p.m. deadline to get long-term deal done with designated franchise tag player

The 2019 NFL schedule is set!  See the Baltimore Ravens defend the AFC North at M&T Bank Stadium this season. Get your tickets now at www.BaltimoreRavens.com/tickets.

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The Capitals’ reign as Stanley Cup champions is now officially over

The Capitals’ reign as Stanley Cup champions is now officially over

WASHINGTON – This was not the way it was supposed to end.

The feeling after the Capitals’ Game 7 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday was one of shock. There is always an element of that when a team gets eliminated from the playoffs in overtime, but it wasn’t how they lost that made it so stunning. It was when.

“Everything can happen in a seven-game series,” Nicklas Backstrom said. “We all seen that. But right now it's just disappointing. We would've liked a better outcome. ... It's tough to swallow"

“We fight through 82 games and in Game 7, they score one goal and it’s a kind of situation where you’re disappointed, you’re frustrated, especially after last year,” Alex Ovechkin said.

After winning the Stanley Cup in 2018 and returning with largely the same core intact, returning as the defending champs to win the Metropolitan Division for a fourth consecutive year, no one envisioned Washington’s defense of the Cup and its quest to repeat to end in the first round. That was especially true when the Caps drew Carolina as their first-round opponent, a plucky team with a first-year head coach that made it to the playoffs for the first time in a decade.

It looked like a favorable matchup for Washington. It wasn’t.

“All series long it was a game of mistakes,” Brooks Orpik said.

The Caps took a 2-0 lead in the series, Carolina battled back to tie it 2-2. Washington won the all-important Game 5 to push the Hurricanes to the brink, Carolina responded by winning Game 6 to force the all-or-nothing Game 7. The Caps even jumped out to a 2-0 lead in Game 7 and yet the Hurricanes just kept coming.

In the end, the overtime loss was shocking, but not surprising. Carolina had taken control in the second period and never looked back. They fired the first nine shots on goal in overtime and were controlling the play over a Washington team that just looked gassed. The Caps needed to get a favorable bounce, otherwise it was only a matter of time before Carolina would finish them off and that was exactly what happened as Brock McGinn deflected in a shot for the overtime winner.

There are many reasons Washington ultimately lost this series, but it was for none of the typical reasons we see in most upsets.

This was not a case of a goalie standing on his head to completely shut down Washington’s offense. Petr Mrazek made some key saves at times, but ultimately finished the series with a .899 save percentage. Take away the six-goal blowout of Game 5 and Mrazek’s save percentage rises to .919. That’s better, but still would rank only sixth among goalie with at least four starts this postseason.

This was not a case of a superstar forward putting the team on his back and carrying them to the improbable upset. Sebastian Aho tallied five points in seven games, Teuvo Taravainen had four. Both had fewer points that Jaccob Slavin who had nine assists and Warren Foegele who scored an improbable four goals and two assists.

This was not a case of Washington’s best players not showing up. Alex Ovechkin scored four goals and five assists to lead the team with nine points. Right behind him was Nicklas Backstrom with five goals and three assists. Evgeny Kuznetsov scored only one goal in seven games, but his one goal came in Game 7 to restore Washington’s two-goal lead in the second period.

Washington finished with a 25-percent power play and an 88-percent penalty kill, bot respectable numbers.

The Caps lost Michal Kempny and T.J. Oshie – both significant injuries – but Carolina had a number of significant injuries as well.

Really, the biggest reason the Caps felt they lost is because they were out-played, out-hustled and out-worked.

“I think we were all guilty of some mistakes at different times that were maybe a little uncharacteristic of us,” Orpik said. “Two two-goal leads at home within the same game is kind of a tough one to swallow. I don’t know if unacceptable is the right word but you have to be able to maintain those leads, especially on home ice and this time of the year. We made mistakes but they played great all series so it wasn’t just us. Eventually you have to give them credit at some point.”

Now instead of preparing for the quick turnaround of playing and starting a second-round series against the New York Islanders on Friday, the season is over and the Caps are left to wonder what could have been.

Already eliminated in the first round were the Tampa Bay Lightning, Calgary Flames, Winnipeg Jets and the Nashville Predators, all thought to be Cup contenders. Heck, even archrival Pittsburgh was out. Alex Ovechkin was playing at the top of his game as he claimed his eight Rocket Richard Trophy after leading the league in goals yet again. That performance carried over to the postseason and he was brilliant in Wednesday’s game.

But despite how favorable the road in front of them looked for another Cup run, despite the unreal performance the team’s top stars were delivering, none of it ultimately mattered.

The only thing harder than winning a Stanley Cup is winning it twice. Perhaps to expect a second championship was unrealistic. But a first round exit felt too soon. This wasn’t how it was supposed to end for a team that had finally learned how to win.

The 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs were already turning into the year of the upset. The Caps became the latest victim of that on Wednesday. And finally, a party that had begun in June 2018, came to an end officially meaning a new champion will be crowned.

“Every opportunity missed is devastating, really,” John Carlson said. “You only get to do this for so long and I've been fortunate to be on great teams. When you don't do well, it's more than we were up in a series or a game. It's everything. It hurts.”

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