Flyers Outlast Penguins 6-5 in Instant Classic

Flyers Outlast Penguins 6-5 in Instant Classic

Warning in advance: there is no way a summary of Wednesday
night’s tilt between the Flyers and Penguins could ever do the action justice – particularly the wild third period that
had fans of every allegiance on the edge of their seats literally until the final
horn sounded a 6-5 victory for Orange & Black in Pittsburgh – but you couldn’t possibly ask for more from a regular season
hockey game.

This was two bitter rivals – a pair of evenly-matched heavyweights
at that – engaged in a physical, high-scoring confrontation with all of the drama and
atmosphere of an Eastern Conference Final.

We jump right to the 7:36 mark in third period, where Philadelphia
appeared to have the game in hand on Wayne Simmonds’ second goal of the night.
Already responsible for a Gordie Howe hat trick [watch], Simmer’s center feed for Claude
Giroux instead tipped off of Pittsburgh defenseman Matt Niskanen’s stick, the
deflection fooling goaltender Tomas Vokoun to put the Flyers ahead 5-3.

But this is the Pittsburgh Penguins after all, for whom
12-plus minutes is more than enough time to score two or more goals –
especially when they have eight minutes of power-play time to work.

A series of unfortunate-to-thoughtless penalties put
the Pens on one- and usually two-man advantages for over four minutes straight. First Mike
Knuble caught Deryk Engelland with a bloody high stick for four,
followed a short time later by a Ruslan Fedotenko shaft to the head of James
Neal. Max Talbot shattered his stick on the ensuing
5-on-3, and it was elementary from there for Neal as he cut the deficit in half
with his 12th tally of the season, tying him for the league lead.

One minute later Talbot joined the parade to the box after not-so-subtly
covering the puck with his glove while it was on the ice – a new infraction for
2013 – and for a moment Flyers’ fans worst fears were realized.

All initial indications were Tyler Kennedy had knotted the
score from a scrum in front of Ilya Bryzgalov during Pittsburgh’s eternal
5-on-3 (Knuble is still serving for his double-minor, as is Fedotenko). The puck rested peacefully behind Ilya Bryzgalov across the goal line, the official signaled, and the
reaction inside the CONSOL Energy Center was rocking.

Replay showed Kennedy came into the fray
with a distinct kicking motion however, so that goal was disallowed. Such drama!

Even though you knew the Penguins would draw even anyway. Brandon Sutter found himself holding the pill
behind the Flyers’ net right before the two-minute warning, the defense giving chase, but the space in front of Bryzgalov vacated as
well.
Bryz tried to block the wrap-around as Sutter powered the puck through his weak stick attempt and right into the netminder’s five hole.

That familiar sinking feeling wouldn’t last for long. The Bullies went right back on the attack. Jakub Voracek
gained the Pittsburgh zone, sending the puck along the boards as he took a
walloping from Brooks Orpik below the goal line. Giroux gathered the pass in and rewarded Jake, sending
the play right back. With Orpik continuing to harass him, Voracek whipped around so he could just throw the rubber on Vokoun – only Vokoun wasn’t tight to the post.

A shot from an
impossible angle that had absolutely no right slipping past a 36-year-old NHL veteran did precisely that, banking in off of Vokoun to give the 23-year-old Voracek his first-career hat
trick.

With 1:28 remaining, it also proved to be the game-winner. Vokoun's blank stare as he lay on the ice was priceless.

Pittsburgh mounted one last gasp with an extra skater, but
the Flyers survived to pick up an enormous two points on their Atlantic-leading foes – and it was punch-for-punch right to
the finish.

Much of the talk from the players leading into the game was about Pittsburgh
being a measuring stick. If this result was any indication, Philadelphia can
still hang with the big dogs in East. They overcame an early 2-0
deficit, then refused to allow the action completely slip away from them when things
started going south late.

The Flyers have now earned 13 points out of the last 20 points
possible, going 6-3-1 in these 10 compared to 2-6 over the first eight.
That pace is no slouch.

It will be tough for the Flyers to turn around and match the
intensity and effort from Wednesday night or even Monday’s 7-0 drubbing of the
Islanders in the second half of a back-to-back on
Thursday versus the Florida Panthers. This was one hell of a way to wrap up a six-game road trip though,
from which they’ll gladly take the split, and worry about the rest of the slate one night
at a time.

Game Highlights:

Your browser does not support iframes.

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:"Table Normal";
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-qformat:yes;
mso-style-parent:"";
mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin-top:0in;
mso-para-margin-right:0in;
mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt;
mso-para-margin-left:0in;
line-height:115%;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:11.0pt;
font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif";
mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";
mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast;
mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;
mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}

NFL Notes: Rams release former Eagles QB Nick Foles

NFL Notes: Rams release former Eagles QB Nick Foles

IRVINE, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Rams have released quarterback Nick Foles after failing to find a trade destination for the disgruntled quarterback.

The Rams announced the move Wednesday, one day before their veterans report to training camp.

Foles hasn't been around the Rams since they traded up to choose California quarterback Jared Goff with the No. 1 pick in the draft this spring. The veteran skipped offseason workouts while Los Angeles attempted to trade him.

Foles spent just one season with the Rams, who acquired him from Philadelphia in a trade for Sam Bradford. Foles started 11 games for St. Louis last season, throwing for 2,052 yards and seven touchdowns for the NFL's worst passing offense.

Goff and veteran Case Keenum are competing for the starting job at training camp.

Panthers: Former Eagles S Kurt Coleman extended 3 years
SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- The Carolina Panthers have signed safety Kurt Coleman to a three-year contract extension through the 2019 season.

Coleman led the Panthers and finished tied for third in the NFL with career-high seven interceptions in his first season in Carolina last year. He contributed to a team that ranked sixth in the NFL in total defense and led the NFL in interceptions (24), takeaways (39) and points off turnovers (148).

The 28-year-old Coleman finished third on the team with 103 tackles. Financial details were not released Wednesday.

Coleman called the contract a blessing, saying "when you go through situations you want what's best for your family and what's best for the team, and I'm really excited. I'm fortunate to be a part of this team for three more years."

Ravens: Jake Long signs 1-year contract pending physical
OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The Baltimore Ravens have reached an agreement with veteran offensive lineman Jake Long on a one-year contract, pending the condition of his oft-injured right knee.

Long played in four Pro Bowls after being selected by Miami as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 draft.

But he played sparingly in just four games with Atlanta last year after tearing his right ACL in back-to-back seasons.

The contract won't be official until the Ravens receive more information on Long's knee. He will visit Dr. James Andrews to receive an assessment of the knee, coach John Harbaugh said Wednesday.

The Ravens are willing to sign the 31-year-old Long if they're not on the hook to pay him for the entire season if he's forced out with another knee injury.

Baltimore has been looking for another tackle since releasing Eugene Monroe last month.

Vikings: 5-time All-Pro Kevin Williams to retire
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The Minnesota Vikings have signed five-time All-Pro defensive tackle Kevin Williams to a one-day contract so he can formally retire as a member of the team.

The Vikings announced the news Wednesday. Williams will finalize his retirement Thursday after 13 seasons, including 11 with Minnesota.

Taken with the ninth pick in the 2003 draft by the Vikings from Oklahoma State, Williams is eighth in team history with 60 sacks. His 171 regular-season starts are the most all time by a Vikings defensive tackle, and his five interceptions are tied for the most by a defensive tackle in NFL history.

Williams played for NFC champion Seattle in 2014 and New Orleans in 2015. He was picked for six Pro Bowls.

Jets: Bernard Pierce signed; Zac Stacy waived
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The New York Jets are signing running back Bernard Pierce and waiving running back Zac Stacy, who failed his physical after missing the last half of last season with a broken left ankle.

Pierce ran for just 11 yards on six carries in seven games last season with Jacksonville after spending his first three NFL seasons with Baltimore. He ran for a career-best 532 yards as a rookie with the Ravens in 2012 after being a third-round pick out of Temple.

Pierce was released by Baltimore in March 2015, when he was charged with drunken driving. He was claimed off waivers by Jacksonville the next day.

The NFL announced in May that Pierce will be suspended for the first two games of this season, likely stemming from the DUI arrest.

Stacy ran for 89 yards in eight games for the Jets last season, but he was lost for the rest of the season in November when he broke his ankle on a kickoff return.

Doug Pederson not worried about Eagles' young linebacker corps

Doug Pederson not worried about Eagles' young linebacker corps

With another one of his players, Nigel Bradham, landing himself in off-field trouble (see story), Doug Pederson was predictably peppered with questions about how he handles player conduct Wednesday after Day 3 of Training Camp at the Novacare Complex.

On the field, his resources at the linebacker position may become a larger concern depending on Bradham’s legal situation. After the Eagles cut linebacker Travis Long from the 90-man roster, Pederson insisted he still feels positively about the team’s linebackers.

“I love the fact that we got three starters coming in," Pederson said. "Of course you mentioned Nigel [Bradham], and Jordan Hicks is coming back healthy and ready to go, and Mychal Kendricks. And I tell you, Joe Walker has done a great job for us this offseason, and he’s going to put himself in a great position to be a solid backup. And we got some young guys there, but at the same time, we’re going to continue to monitor that position and just watch and see, and keep upgrading if we can. But right now, very pleased with the work these guys have done in the offseason, what the rookies have shown these last three days, and just look forward to putting the pads on.”

Pederson is right when he says the Eagles have “some young guys” at linebacker. In fact, backup Najee Goode, 27, is the oldest returning player at the position. Bradham, who the team signed to a two-year deal from Buffalo in the offseason, is 26 years old, while Kendricks is 25 and Hicks, the team’s leading tackler last year as a rookie before his season-ending pectoral tear, is only 24. Walker is an Oregon product and one of the team’s three seventh-round picks. He’s 23 years old.

Scanning over that depth chart probably makes the average fan a bit uneasy. Yet according to Pederson, he’d be content entering the season with his current personnel at linebacker, even if that means Goode, a player with 32 NFL games, one start, and 24 tackles, is his most experienced player.

“If you had to go into the season that way, yeah, I’m comfortable with [Goode]," Pederson said. "Would you like to continue to have more depth at that position, and at any position? Sure. But yeah, I’m very comfortable with him.”

After releasing Long, who Pederson says the Eagles wanted to “give an opportunity to catch on with another football team,” it left the team with 89 players. On Wednesday afternoon, the Eagles filled the 90th spot by signing wide receiver David Watford (see story).

Unless they pull off a surprising move, the Eagles will likely settle for the linebacker rotation they have. They may be young, injury-prone, and legally embattled, but Bradham, Kendricks, Hicks, Walker and Goode will probably be the players anchoring the middle of the Eagles’ defense this season.

Eagles put Ryan Mathews on non-football injury list, sign WR David Watford

Eagles put Ryan Mathews on non-football injury list, sign WR David Watford

Many fans are worried Ryan Mathews won't be able to stay healthy this season. 

Well, it's a day before the first full-team practice and the running back is already hurt. 

The Eagles placed Mathews on the Active/Non-football Injury list Wednesday. The Eagles say he hurt his ankle last week while training. 

Mathews, 28, can be activated at any time, but can't practice while he's still on the list. The severity of the injury is unclear, but seems to not be severe, as Mathews was seen walking into the team facility this afternoon without a noticeable limp. 

Without their starting running back, the Eagles will be giving more reps to Darren Sproles, Wendell Smallwood, Kenjon Barner and a couple of undrafted rookies as practice continues Thursday. 

The Eagles also filled out their roster, signing wide receiver David Watford. Watford, who was a QB at Hampton University, was with the Eagles during rookie camp on a tryout basis this spring. They're now at 90. 

Every Eagle on the roster has now reported to training camp, except long snapper Jon Dorenbos, who has been competing (doing magic) on the NBC show "America's Got Talent." His absence was excused and he's expected to make himself appear at the facility Thursday. 

Head coach Doug Pederson said he's pulling for Dorenbos in the show, but was asked about the show will conflict with the training camp schedule. 

"We've just got to see," Pederson said. "Obviously, he went through this show and he'll be back tomorrow for the conditioning test. We'll just go day-by-day and just see where it ends up in the next couple of days."