Commanders honor Sean Taylor, extend winning streak

There is something poetic, in a melancholy sort of way, about Washington Commanders running back Brian Robinson Jr. leading his team to a hard-fought 19-13 victory over the Atlanta Falcons on the day the franchise honored the late Sean Taylor — the playmaking All-Pro safety who was murdered in an attempted robbery in 2007.

Just three months after Robinson was shot twice in an attempted carjacking, the 23-year-old rookie eclipsed 100 yards rushing in a game for the first time as a pro and added a 14-yard catch-and-run touchdown on a rainy and miserable afternoon when offense was difficult to come by. 

Burgundy and gold clad fans arrived at the stadium with their thoughts on a physically-imposing player who was taken from us all far too soon. A few hours later, those same supporters headed home with ample cause for celebration, in large part to another hard-hitting youngster who is incredibly fortunate to be here today.

Against the Falcons, Washington also benefitted from a swarming defense playing aggressive and confident football. By smartly leaning into a dynamic ground game and a rejuvenated defense, the Commanders have won six out of seven games for the first time since 2012 and are firmly in playoff contention — a drastic turnaround after their dismal 1-4 start. This is an identity that has proven successful countless times over the years in the National Football League.

Led by Robinson, Washington amassed a season-high 176 rushing yards, which means less is asked of quarterback Taylor Heinicke and the passing game. On the other side of the ball, dynamic tackles Jon Allen and Daron Payne generate enough consistent pressure up front, that it frees up the rest of the defense to just go out and make plays. Related: With the outcome very much in the balance and the Falcons just four yards away from a victory, cornerback Kendall Fuller saved the day by intercepting a deflected pass in the end zone with roughly one minute remaining in regulation.


Ice Nine Kills at Chesapeake Employers Insurance Arena

Let’s not beat around the proverbial bush, an Ice Nine Kills show can absolutely be hazardous to the health of the uninitiated. That’s because the Boston-based band has a bit of an obsession with horror movies, so it’s commonplace to see a butcher knife, chainsaw or an outright massacre during their set. Consider this a disclaimer that “graphic” images are involved any time a camera is pointed in the general direction of an Ice Nine Kills performance.

Frontman Spencer Charnas and the gang began their set by paying a gory tribute to feature films such as Steven King’s Pet Sematary, Eli Roth’s torture-heavy Hostel and Mary Herron’s American Psycho with their opening three songs, which meant unsuspecting concert-goers might have looked up as the lead singer took to the stage with a microphone in one hand and a bloody shovel in the other and immediately had a question or two.

By the time Charnas assumed the role of Patrick Bateman, the investment banker-turned-serial killer portrayed by Christian Bale in the 2000 cult classic, it was readily apparent that no one has more fun on stage than the well-dressed gentlemen of Ice Nine Kills. Over the years they have carved out a unique niche for themselves and are simply slaying it these days.

Their full 50-minute set featured a fun mix of tracks from their 2018 album, The Silver Scream, and 2021’s The Silver Scream 2: Welcome to Horrorwood, and included crowd favorites such as “Stabbing in the Dark,” “The Shower Scene” and “A Grave Mistake.”

Ice Nine Kills setlist // inspirational movies

Funeral Derangements // Pet Sematary
Wurst Vacation // Hostel
Hip to Be Scared // American Psycho
Ex-Mørtis // The Evil Dead
IT Is the End // It Chapter One
Stabbing in the Dark // Halloween
The Shower Scene // Psycho
A Grave Mistake // The Crow
Farewell II Flesh // Candyman
The American Nightmare // A Nightmare on Elm Street


Motionless In White at Chesapeake Employers Insurance Arena

Like an iconic movie franchise, the Trinity of Terror tour was destined to be immortalized as a trilogy.

Three of hard rock’s heaviest hitters have been performing together for close to a year now and are showing no signs of slowing down. Co-headliners Black Veil Brides, Ice Nine Kills and Motionless In White rolled into Baltimore, in the midst of the third leg of the aptly named Trinity Of Terror tour, and put on one helluva show for those who braved a cold and dreary evening to get to Chesapeake Employers Insurance Arena.

Regardless of the order, all three acts command a stage as if they’re the headliner so in spite of the early start time, Motionless In White immediately sent the sellout crowd into a frenzy as soon as lead singer Chris Motionless implored those in attendance to “Get up! Get up!” with the opening line of “Disguise.”

For the next 50 minutes, the pride of Scranton, Pennsylvania, had the entire building eating out of their proverbial hands as they performed tracks such as “Werewolf,” their smash-hit “Masterpiece” and their unique rendition of The Killers’ “Somebody Told Me.”

According to the band, which was formed in 2005, their name is derived from a song called “Motionless and White” by Eighteen Visions. Regardless of their initial inspiration, they are a well-oiled machine at this stage of their musical careers. And, after seeing Motionless In White live for the first time, it makes perfect sense why they would lend one of their tracks to World Wrestling Entertainment for Rhea Ripley’s entrance music. Chris Motionless and friends have a similar charisma and stage presence to those world-class entertainers, so the pairing is an all-time no-brainer. As soon as their set came to a close, concert-goers could be heard already looking forward to the next time they would be able to see Motionless In White in concert again.


Black Veil Brides at Chesapeake Employers Insurance Arena

In Roman Catholic terminology, a “black veil bride” is a woman who marries into the church and gives up all the pleasures of life in devotion to God. If that’s the case with the Hollywood-based band of the same name, they’re doing a splendid job of hiding it these days. The look, feel and sound of Black Veil Brides has changed since they initially formed back in 2006, but throughout that time they’ve always put on an entertaining live show that is anything but devoid of pleasure.

During their Baltimore show, Black Veil Brides captivated Chesapeake Employers Insurance Arena with an 11-song set that spanned seven different albums. Lead singer Andy Biersack, who looks like a cross between Cobra Kai actor Tanner Buchanan and international soccer star Christiano Ronaldo, moves about the stage and sings with an ease and confidence that is very Mick Jagger-esque.

While “Scarlet Cross,” “Fallen Angels” and “In the End” got the biggest pop from those in attendance, Black Veil Brides put on a highly-enjoyable showing that absolutely sent everyone happy. And probably exhausted. But definitely fulfilled.


Atreyu at Chesapeake Employers Insurance Arena

My first chance to cover Atreyu came when they visited Baltimore in November of 2021. My second chance to cover Atreyu came when they visited Baltimore in November of 2022, as the opening act for the Trinity of Terror tour.

It’s always a tough task to walk onto a cold and quiet stage as the opener, but Atreyu did a phenomenal job of setting the tone for the evening with a high-energy set that included several of the band’s biggest tracks and even a guest appearance from Zero 9:36, who joined the Orange County, California-based band on stage to perform their hit collaboration “Warrior.” And just when you thought you’d see it all, Atreyu decided to throw a curveball and play a little gag on the unsuspecting audience.

The band had a little fun with the crowd as they temporarily dove into Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)” before lead singer Brandon Saller killed the bit and reminded everyone they were still at a heavy metal show. Atreyu then finished their portion of the evening with “Blow,” a fun throwback of a track that seemed like the perfect ending to an enjoyable set.

If this is now an annual event, I absolutely look forward to covering Atreyu for the third time when they visit Baltimore in November of 2023.


Capitals run out of time in overtime loss to Vegas

When a front office constructs a veteran-laden roster, such as the case with the Washington Capitals, they are banking on smart and savvy established players rising to the occasion in key moments to guide their team to victory when it matters most. And make no mistake, Caps coach Peter Laviolette places a premium on experience and consistency when filling out his lineup card on game nights.

The downside to trotting out one of the oldest roster in the NHL is that players closer to the end of their careers than the beginning often times struggle to stay healthy. Case in point: Washington is without the services of Nicklas Backstrom, Tom Wilson, Carl Hagelin and Connor Brown as they all recover from long-term injuries.

Compounding matters, Washington hosted the Vegas Golden Knights without defenseman John Carlson and forward T.J. Oshie, after losing both to lower-body injuries against Nashville. Vegas arrived with plenty of momentum, riding a four-game winning streak, as well as the best record in the Western Conference. The beleaguered Caps probably wanted nothing more than a nap and a night off, playing the second half of a back-to-back.

And yet, for the briefest of moment, it appeared as the Capitals had stolen a much-needed win as forward Garnet Hathaway lit the lamp at the end of regulation. Sadly, a replay review showed Hathaway’s goal came after time had expired. Vegas scored a goal that actually counted less than a minute into overtime and escaped with a 3-2 win over the Red Rockers.

Backup goalie Charlie Lindgren played well, stopping 28 shots in his home debut for Washington, who drops to 5-4-2 on the season.


Taylor Heinicke’s blind faith in Terry McLaurin proves the difference

Washington Commanders receivers caught just one of quarterback Taylor Heinicke’s first seven attempts. The same can be said of Green Bay defenders. And honestly, Packers defenders could have, and likely should have, picked off two or three more wayward passes during a less-than-stellar first half for the burgundy and gold’s backup-turned-starter.

Mercifully for the hometown fans (who might have been outnumbered by cheeseheads at FedEx Field on Sunday), Heinicke settled down after a horrid start and played his way into a rhythm — spearheading a rally after Washington fell behind 14-3 less than two minutes into the second quarter.

For as bad as he played in the first half, Heinicke clearly must have been inspired after seeing Super Bowl winning quarterbacks Joe Theismann, Doug Williams and Mark Rypien — each with a Lombardi Trophy in hand — during the team’s halftime show. The Old Dominion product completed 13 of 16 attempts in the second half, including two huge passes to receiver Terry McLaurin, that turned the tides in Washington’s favor. The first was a 37-yard bomb down the right sideline in the early stages of the third quarter that gave the Commanders their first lead of the afternoon.

The second was a 12-yarder to his favorite target on third-and-9 with 2:13 remaining in the contest that Heinicke threw … with his eyes closed.

While the offense, led by their scrappy undersized quarterback will get the bulk of the headlines, the defense absolutely deserves to be recognized for their efforts. Back-to-back NHL MVP Aaron Rodgers looked downright miserable on the day as he settled for check down after check down. Green Bay’s top receiver on the day was running back Aaron Jones who had nine catches for 53 yards and two touchdown catches.

The Packers ground game, conversely, was nonexistent, as the team finished with just 12 carries for 38 yards. And, for the first time in Rodgers’ prolific career, his team failed to convert a single third down in a game. Other than that though, things are going swingingly for the future Hall of Famer.

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