Nick Foles Makes First NFL Start Against RG3-Led Redskins

Nick Foles Makes First NFL Start Against RG3-Led Redskins

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It’s safe to say the Eagles aren’t going anywhere this year
after losing five consecutive games, and their season appeared to be circling
the drain weeks ago. You can’t complain that there is no intrigue left for the
Birds in 2012 though. Nick Foles is set to make his first NFL start in
Washington today, and both the immediate and long-term futures of the franchise
could be at stake.

Foles took over for Michael Vick during the second quarter
of last week’s game against the Cowboys, playing quite well at times, looking
very much like a rookie others. He did several things well: threw the ball
quickly and decisively, anticipated receivers getting open, and showed poise
running the offense. He also turned the ball over twice – nearly more – had
some issues with his accuracy, and still needs to adjust to the speed of the game.

That said, you can only take so much from the kid’s debut,
particularly coming off the bench cold after taking limited reps since
preseason ended. This is a much better opportunity for Foles, who worked with
the first-team offense all week, and thus was able to prepare as the starter.

Which of course does not mean anybody should expect the
Arizona product to come in and play lights out football right away, instantly
proving he is the Eagles’ quarterback of the future. The evaluation process is
going to take weeks, if we are even able to tell at all before season’s end. There
will be bumps in the road, and it’s important not to treat every throw as if
the Super Bowl were on the line.

But the Redskins are the perfect opening act. Washington
owns the league’s 30th ranked pass defense, 29th overall.
Injuries have claimed their best pass rusher, Brian Orakpo, and decimated their
safety corps – even if Brandon Meriweather returns to the secondary today as
anticipated, he’s on to his third team, and hasn’t played yet this season.

Obviously Foles will have his chance to attack the Redskins’
secondary. After all, it’s not like Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg are going to
adjust the offense to feature more of LeSean McCoy – especially when they see
Washington is ranked seventh against the run.

Nor can you count on Philly’s defense coming to the offense’s
aid. The Eagles have been an absolute mess since Todd Bowles took over following
the bye week, and look like they’ve got a lot of quit in ‘em. They face an
immense challenge today in rookies Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris.

Don’t think Vick when you say RG3 just because the
second-overall pick in this year’s draft can also run. He’s an accomplished
passer as well, completing 65.6% of his attempts for 1,993 yards, throwing eight
touchdowns to three picks, all of which is good for a 93.9 efficiency rating. Those
numbers have come largely with a cast of misfits for wide receivers, but help
is on the way. Pierre Garcon has missed all but three games this year, but
Griffin’s most dangerous target could return today.

But Griffin can run, too, a big reason why the Skins have
the second-ranked rushing offense in football. He’s already racked up 529 yards
and six scores on the ground. However, RG3 is not even Washington’s scariest
ball carrier. Sixth-round pick Alfred Morris has been punishing tacklers with
his 5-9, 218-lbs. frame, gaining 4.8 yards a pop on his way to 793 yards so
far.

All of which means Foles will probably need to put points on
the board today to give the Eagles a chance to win, both of which they’ve
struggled to do all season. He won’t be coddled by a strong offensive line, nor
hidden with a power rushing attack. He’ll be operating the 29th-ranked
scoring offense in the NFL.

In other words: good luck, kid.

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Sixers draw high praise from Warriors after loss to NBA leader

Sixers draw high praise from Warriors after loss to NBA leader

BOX SCORE

The Warriors are the blueprint of a total team in the NBA. They have a star-studded starting lineup and a top sixth man with the positional versatility that creates hard-to-combat matchups.

Yet, as the Warriors notched their 50th win of the season, 119-108, in a collaborative effort against the Sixers, they gave credit to the potential they see in their opponent, even when Brett Brown didn't have his key pieces on the court Monday (see Instant Replay).

"They play hard," Stephen Curry said. "They have some talent to work around. Hopefully they have some consistency with their roster going forward and getting guys healthy. One thing about them, you've got to compliment their energy and effort and fight every night they play."

Facing the Warriors with a full squad is challenging enough. The Sixers did it shorthanded without Joel Embiid, who is out indefinitely with a left knee contusion (see story). They also are less than a week removed from trading starting power forward Ersan Ilyasova and the defensive-minded Nerlens Noel.

"You've got to give this team a lot of credit," Draymond Green said. "They're going to be really, really, really good. I mean, they're missing Embiid and Ben Simmons and they're really on their way."

With 10 available players, including Justin Anderson, who has had just one shootaround to actually get a run in with the team, the Sixers fought until the final buzzer sounded. Dario Saric led the Sixers with 21 points and seven assists, while also collecting seven rebounds. Gerald Henderson scored 16 and both Robert Covington and Richaun Holmes added 15 (see feature highlight). Covington also grabbed a team-high eight rebounds.

"They play the right way," Klay Thompson said. "They made it tough on us tonight. I'm excited to see their team when Embiid and Simmons are healthy. It should be a scary frontcourt, and with Saric. They're heading in the right direction. They'll only get better this June because they have some high picks. It's a bright future in Philly."

The Sixers held the Warriors to 6 for 29 three-point shooting (20.7 percent), including an 0-for-11 outing by Curry. This was the third time this season and only the 37th time in his career Curry missed all of his three-point attempts.

"I think he had an off night," Brown said. "I think at times we got lucky with them as a team. They didn't shoot it the way the team normally would shoot it. Some of it is I give our guys credit."

Curry took his uncharacteristic performance, which included a pair of air-balls, in stride.

"The weatherman said it was a low-pressure system that was coming and I forgot to adjust," Curry said. "One thing, [I] don't ever get down on myself. Obviously that's why I got 11 of them up and not make one. You still have confidence the next one's going in."

Still, the Warriors turned to team basketball to pull away with the win. While they struggled from long range, they found other ways to run up the scoreboard, including shooting 33 for 39 at the free throw line.

Kevin Durant led all players with 27 points to go with eight rebounds. Green recorded a 14-point, 11-assist double-double and six boards. Thompson scored 21 points and Zaza Pachulia added 16. And at the end of the night, Curry still finished with 19 points in spite of his three-point woes.

"We've been doing this for a while together now and just try to find ways to get it done," Green said. "Obviously you've got to do a lot more on the defensive end to get stops, and try to create more offense. I think it was a good effort from everybody tonight to chip in."

Added Curry: "For us to still have the moxie to withstand that and still pretty much have the lead the whole game and allow our defense to get us a win tonight was kind of our M.O."

The Warriors are a perennial title contender thanks to their balanced roster and depth of weapons. The Sixers are in the beginning stages of working toward that goal. After Monday's game, the NBA's strongest example of "team" appreciated the direction in which Sixers are moving.

"Putting this franchise back together," Green said, "it's amazing to see."

Best of NHL: Ryan White scores in winning debut with Wild

Best of NHL: Ryan White scores in winning debut with Wild

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Mikael Granlund beat two defenders to find open ice and wrap the winning shot around goalie Jonathan Quick just 12 seconds into overtime, giving the Minnesota Wild a 5-4 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Monday night.

Granlund's 20th goal of the season gave goalie Devan Dubnyk his NHL-leading 33rd win and the Wild their 15th comeback victory. They answered all four goals in regulation by the Kings, from Nick Shore, Tanner Pearson, Jake Muzzin and Marian Gaborik.

Jason Zucker's spinning wrist shot midway through the third period tied the game for the Wild, who also had goals from Nino Niederreiter, Jordan Schroeder and Ryan White in his debut. White and Martin Hanzal were acquired in a trade with Arizona the night before (see full recap).

Kucherov's hat trick carries Lightning past Sens
TAMPA, Fla. -- Nikita Kucherov scored three power-play goals in the second period and the Tampa Bay Lightning kept their fading playoff hopes alive with a 5-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Monday night.

Kucherov had the second hat trick of his career and added an assist in the third period. Jonathan Drouin assisted all three of his goals and Victor Hedman assisted on two.

A day after trading goaltender Ben Bishop to Los Angeles and just hours after trading forward Brian Boyle to Toronto, the Lightning improved to 6-1-2 over their past nine games.

The Senators, who won at Florida on Sunday night, are 6-6 over their past 12 games (see full recap).

Galchenyuk lifts Canadiens over Devils in OT
NEWARK, N.J. -- Alex Galchenyuk scored on a power play at 2:54 of overtime and the Montreal Canadiens rallied from a two-goal third-period deficit to beat the New Jersey Devils 4-3 on Monday night.

Max Pacioretty scored twice in the final 11:23 of regulation to tie the game and Alexander Radulov added a goal for the Canadiens, who won consecutive games for the first time since early January. Al Montoya had 34 saves for Montreal.

Kyle Palmieri, John Moore and Travis Zajac scored for the Devils, who have lost four straight games (0-2-2), the past two in overtime. Cory Schneider made 29 saves.

Galchenyuk beat Schneider with a shot from between the circles less than a minute after Damon Severson was penalized for hooking (see full recap).