Titans end Jets' playoff hopes with 14-10 win

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Titans end Jets' playoff hopes with 14-10 win

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Chris Johnson went 94 yards for the longest touchdown run in the NFL since 2006 and the Tennessee Titans beat the Jets 14-10 on Monday night to eliminate New York from playoff contention.

Jake Locker's first touchdown run of the season put Tennessee ahead late in the third quarter and the Titans intercepted four passes by a struggling Mark Sanchez to snap a three-game skid.

The Jets (6-8) needed to win their final three games and get help elsewhere to earn an AFC playoff spot. Instead, the Titans sacked Sanchez three times and got a fourth on Tim Tebow. Jason McCourty and Michael Griffin each had two interceptions, keeping the Jets out of the playoffs a second straight season after reaching consecutive AFC title games.

Johnson, with the names of the victims of Friday's shootings in Connecticut written on his cleats, ran 94 yards for a franchise-record TD in the second quarter. Locker's 13-yard TD run at the end of the third put the Titans (5-9) ahead to stay.

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What will a Scott Brooks team actually look like?

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What will a Scott Brooks team actually look like?

Perhaps the simplistic, though at times accurate way to view a new head coach is thinking if he did this and that at a previous stop, that plan comes with him. Yet considering Scott Brooks had the unique superstar dynamic of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook at Oklahoma City, is it fair to wonder whether we're actually what truly defines a Scott Brooks team?

"That's a fair question," Brooks answered to a small group of reporters in the halls of Verizon Center following his introductory press conference Wednesday.

It's a question the new guy wasn't ready to answer seeing as he'd been on the job for about 24 hours. It's a process he's ready to figure out. 

"I'm excited to get to know all of our players first," Brooks said. "[Wizards president] Ernie [Grunfeld] and the staff will get together to add pieces along the way to make this a competitive team.

"We ultimately want to compete for championships. In order to do that, it's a process of going step by step and you can't skip steps. I learned that as a player. I was fortunate enough to be on a championship team in Houston. But I love the group that we have. I can't emphasize that enough. I love the players that we have."

No doubt the coach loved the players he helped groom with the Thunder. Durant and Westbrook emerged as among the elite players in the league. Lengthy forward Serge Ibaka provided a big man element and other key contributors including future NBA Most Valuable Player runner-up James Harden helped as Oklahoma City went from a 23-win team the season before Brooks took the head job to the NBA Finals three years later.

"I'm proud of what we accomplished as a group," Brooks said. "Three conference finals and an NBA Finals, one of the youngest teams in the [league] history to get there."

The focus typically centered on Oklahoma City's potent offensive stars. The Thunder ranked top five in scoring in each of Brooks' last five seasons, yet also were one of the top defensive teams in that stretch. Oklahoma City ranked top 10 four straight seasons in defensive efficiency before injuries hampered the squad in 2014-15, Brooks' final season. 

"We've always focused on being a two-way team," he said.

The focus with Washington starts with John Wall. Though a perennial All-Star guard like Westbrook, Wall offers a true pass-first presence while the Thunder standout looks for his own shot more often. That difference of styles will be part of Brooks' planning, as will Bradley Beal's perimeter shooting, Marcin Gortat's rim-to-rim running, Markieff Morris' athleticism, Otto Porter's 3-and-D progress and Kelly Oubre's potential. Then there are the other nine spots still open. 

There is work to do and Brooks says he's ready for the challenge. When it's all done, we might see what a Scott Brooks team looks like.

"This team that I have the privileged to coach," he said, "I'm looking forward to get to know the guys and to establish a system that we're successful night in and night out."

Showalter hoping to get Flaherty back from Norfolk soon

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Showalter hoping to get Flaherty back from Norfolk soon

BALTIMORE – Friday is the game for the Orioles with a three-man bench. Pedro Alvarez, Caleb Joseph and Hyun Soo Kim comprise manager Buck Showalter’s extra players. 

The Orioles have gone with a short bench since Monday when the team optioned infielder Ryan Flaherty to Norfolk in order to have an eight-man bullpen. 

Showalter is hoping that he’ll be able to have Flaherty back soon. He’s eligible to return next Thursday, 10 days after he was optioned. The only exception is if Flaherty replaces a player placed on the disabled list.

Flaherty accepted his demotion to Norfolk in stride, quickly reporting to the Tides. 

“We’ll do what’s best, but we know Ryan’s time down there is up on the fifth,” Showalter said.

“He’s done real well down there. I’m proud of that.” 

Norfolk manager Ron Johnson is glad to have Flaherty in Norfolk.

“R.J. said he looks like a big leaguer playing in the minor leagues,” Showalter said. 

The Orioles don’t pinch hit much, and haven’t needed an extra outfielder, but with his team ahead by eight runs after six innings, Showalter felt comfortable enough to rest a few of his regulars.

“It was quite a challenge last night to get Adam (Jones) and J.J. (Hardy) and Chris (Davis) off the field with a three-man bench and still have one left on the bench,” Showalter said.

RELATED: SHOWALTERS ANNOUNCE PLANS FOR OCTOBER KIDSPEACE RACE

Nationals turn to Strasburg as they start series with Cardinals

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Nationals turn to Strasburg as they start series with Cardinals

Nats (14-7) vs. Cardinals (12-10) at Busch Stadium

The Nationals will look to bounce back after getting swept by the Phillies as they head to St. Louis for a series with the Cardinals.

Stephen Strasburg (3-0, 2.17) will take the mound for Washington looking to continue his impressive start to the 2016 season. Strasburg has never started a season 4-0.

The Cardinals will turn to Mike Leake who has allowed at least four runs in each of his four starts this saeson.

First pitch: 8:15 p.m.
TV: MASN 2
Radio: 106.7 The Fan
Starting pitchers: Nats - Stepehen Strasburg vs. Cardinals - Mike Leake

NATS

CF Michael Taylor
3B Anthony Rendon
RF Bryce Harper
1B Ryan Zimmerman
2B Daniel Murphy
LF Jayson Werth
SS Danny Espinosa
C Jose Lobaton
RHP Stephen Strasburg

CARDINALS

3B Matt Carpenter
RF Stephen Piscotty
LF Matt Holliday
1B Matt Adams
CF Randal Grichuk
2B Jeed Gyorko
SS Aledmys Diaz
C Eric Fryer
RHP Mike Leake

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