Pass rush will be key vs. Falcons' Ryan

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Pass rush will be key vs. Falcons' Ryan

Amongthe more important matchups Sunday will be the Redskins pass rush vs. Falconsquarterback Matt Ryan.Ryanleads the NFL in passer rating (112.1), has tossed the second most touchdowns (11) and has three top-notch targets in Roddy White, Julio Jones and TonyGonzalez. The Redskins, meanwhile, have yielded the second most passing yards (1,305) and the most passing touchdowns (11).Those unsightly statistics are mostly result of big plays caused by blown coverage in the secondary and missed tackles downfield.The Redskins' pass rush, however, must shoulder some of the blame.TheRedskins linemen and linebackers a unit beset by season-ending injuries to starters BrianOrakpo and Adam Carriker has been solid against the run (10th) but has mustered a meager seven sacks (tied for 22nd).Lastweek in Tampa, Ryan Kerrigan recorded the Redskins' only sack in a 24-22 victory that saw Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman appear, at times, far too comfortable in the pocket, particularly in the second half. Freeman, in fact, was only hit one time while attempting a pass. And while the Buccaneers did employ max-protection and Freeman focused on getting the ball out of his hand quickly, defensive end Stephen Bowen said that's no an excuse.Peopleare starting to get the ball out quicker against us, Bowen said. Thats showing respect for us up front, but its frustrating. Allwe can do is affect what we canstopping the run and, when we get a one-on-onepass rush opportunity, we have to take advantage of it.Againstthe Falcons, there could be opportunities to get to Ryan. He's been sacked 11 times,which is tied for the ninth most in the league.Thisweek, Bowen said the Redskins linemen and linebackers worked on sharpening uptheir pass rush skills in practice.Sunday,obviously, would be a good time for some of that work to pay off.Thesecondary guys need to get tighter coverage to give us a little more time toget the quarterback, and we have to get there, beat the guy in front of us andmake a play, linebacker Rob Jackson said. If were not beating the guy infront of us, the quarterback can go anywhere with the ball. He has first,second and third read if were not getting any pressure on him.

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Why are Orioles firmly in the race? It's the pitching.

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USA TODAY Sports

Why are Orioles firmly in the race? It's the pitching.

For a supposedly one-dimensional club, which lives and dies by the home run, it’s the Orioles’ pitching that’s kept them in the postseason chase. 

Wednesday night’s win secured a winning September, and that’s Buck Showalter’s seventh straight non-losing September as Orioles manager. (The Orioles were 14-14 in Sept. 2013). 

RELATED: ORIOLES' PLAYOFF SCENARIOS

The Orioles are 14-11 this month, and even though the team is hitting .232 in September—lowest for any month this season, the pitching has prevailed.

Overall, the Orioles’ team ERA is a fine 3.09, by far the best month of the season. In June when the team slugged its way to a 19-9 record, the team ERA was 4.85, second highest of the season. The pitching excellence isn’t due just to the bullpen. Sure, their relievers are having their best month, too with a sparkling 1.46 ERA, but the starters have a 4.12 ERA, which is by far their best month of the season. 

September has brought concerns about Chris Tillman’s shoulder, Kevin Gausman’s intercostal muscle and Dylan Bundy’s innings, but it’s also brought some unexpected good performances. 

Ubaldo Jimenez recorded the Orioles’ first complete game in two years, and Wade Miley came within an out of the second, and Yovani Gallardo has pitched well recently, too. 

Gallardo will start Friday night at Yankee Stadium and Miley, who is with his newly born son and wife, is slated for Saturday. 
 

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Many changes in Redskins secondary but David Bruton healthy, ready to go

Many changes in Redskins secondary but David Bruton healthy, ready to go

 With DeAngelo Hall out for the year the Redskins secondary must adjust at one safety position, but on the other side, David Bruton feels just fine.

"I feel good," Bruton said on Wednesday. He explained that he has a few bumps and bruises, but that's normal for Week 4 in the NFL. Bruton added that after the game in New York he  iced his knee, but his hamstring felt just fine. 

The former Broncos special teams star has started three games for the Skins at safety this season. He almost grabbed two interceptions last week against the Giants, but has had other plays where he seemed out of alignment. That problem is not unique to Bruton, however, as in various spots the 'Skins defense has seem confused in different formations depending on down and distance. 

MORE REDSKINS: NEW PLANS FOR JOSH NORMAN AGAINST BROWNS 

As for the Redskins secondary expect to continue to see Bruton lined up at safety, now most often next to Will Blackmon. While Deshazor Everett and Duke Ihenacho should get more snaps than they had been, at this point, it seems unlikely Bruton's play will be reduced. Before Hall went down in New York on some third downs Blackmon replaced Bruton. Obviously, for the remainder of the season that plan won't work. 

"We have a lot of good options out there," 'Skins coach Jay Gruden said. "Not overly concerned about the defensive backfield."

Against the Giants on one near interception Bruton and rookie Su'a Cravens went for the same Eli Manning pass, and after the game in the locker room, the players joked about who was to blame for not getting the pick. On the other, it appeared Bruton pulled off a remarkable interception, stealing the ball from Giants running back Bobby Rainey in the end zone. Replay ruled the pass incomplete, prompting confusion from Gruden.

"I’ve heard that everybody says it was an interception except for the replay guy," Gruden said. "I thought his elbow was down, I thought his butt was down, I thought he had control of the ball. I thought it was a clear challengeable play, it just didn’t work out for us. I don’t know what a catch is anymore. I don’t know if anybody does."