COWBOYS RIVAL HEADLINE: Aaron Rodgers listed as out for Sunday’s game vs. Dallas Cowboys | Green Bay Journal Sentinel
Green Bay – Highlights from Mike McCarthy‘s Friday news conference …
- (On Rodgers) Frankly it’s been a difficult morning going through conversation with Dr. McKenzie and Aaron. He feels ready to play. …He’s very disappointed. He’s frustrated. Speaking with Dr. McKenzie, this is the right decision. He was not scanned this morning — whens, ifs, buts will continue to go on . The hurdle Aaron wanted to get over, he felt he achieved it. Listening to all the facts, it’s in our best interest as a team for him not to play.
- (On Flynn’s week) Thought Matt had his best practice today. Matt Flynn was very sharp today and he obviously took the reps.
- (On Lacy) Ready. Looks good. All of those guys look good.
- (On maybe letting this play out for strategy) I’m not very good at that. …Minnesota last year with Christian Ponder not playing was about as well-kept as I’ve ever seen. Had researched Joe Webb earlier.
- (On if he was OK with decision) I’m definitely OK with it. …Aaron feels he’s ready to play. With what he did Wednesday and Thursday, he feels ready to go. It’s not easy to tell your franchise quarterback he can’t play. But this is in the best interest of Aaron Rodgers.
- (On Starks maybe seeing reps) I have no problem giving the ball to James 20 times if that’s the way it worked out. Like our running back situation.
Courtesy: Tyler Dunne | Journal Sentinel
RELATED: Green Bay Packers official website announcement
GREEN BAY–Aaron Rodgers will not play in Dallas on Sunday.
“Aaron Rodgers is declared out for Sunday’s game. It’s been a difficult morning going through the conversation with Aaron and Dr. McKenzie. He’s very disappointed. He’s frustrated. He was not scanned this morning. He felt like he was ready to play. It’s in our best interests as a football team for Aaron not to play,” Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy said on Friday.
“I’m definitely OK with it. (Aaron) feels he’s ready to play,” McCarthy said.
More from McCarthy:
“(Rodgers) feels based on what he’s accomplished physically, what he was able to do at practice on Wednesday and Thursday, he’s ready to go. Hey, it’s not the easiest thing to sit there and tell your franchise quarterback he can’t play in the game when he wants to play in the game. This is clearly a decision that’s made in the best interests of Aaron Rodgers.”
Matt Flynn, obviously, will start his third straight game on Sunday.
“I thought Matt had his best practice today of the two weeks of preparation,” McCarthy said. “I thought Matt was very sharp today, and he obviously took all the reps.”
Other than Rodgers and DE C.J. Wilson (knee), who is also out, everyone else on the Packers’ injury report is probable. That includes RB Eddie Lacy (ankle) and inside LBs Brad Jones (ankle) and Jamari Lattimore (knee), who practiced for the first time this week on Friday.
“I felt like we got healthy as the week went on,” McCarthy said. As for the inside LB situation, which looked tenuous all week, McCarthy said, “We have different packages. We feel we’re prepared to do what we need to do.”
Based on Lacy’s limited practice work, it’s possible RB James Starks will play a larger role in the offense on Sunday, though McCarthy remains confident Lacy will be ready to go.
“I have no problem giving the ball to James 20 times if that’s the way it shakes out. I like our running back situation right now.”
Courtesy: Green Bay Packers website
COWBOYS RIVAL HEADLINE: With Jerry Jones running Cowboys, Dallas in for Doomsday | New York Daily News | Cowboys vs. Giants rivalry
The Boys Are Back editor comments: This is an example of the crap spread around by clueless so-called NFL experts. This homers point of view is complete with quotes and opinions from unnamed sources. It includes all of the standard talking points used by jealous and bias sports reporters jockeying for attention and headlines from more respected sports journalists.
A former NFL general manager who is identified as someone who helped his team to a Super Bowl told the New York Daily News reporter that Jerry Jones is a “horrific” GM who “undermines his head coaches with his antics.”
“What makes him bad is everything he does is based on perception, star power, making a splash. Fourth or fifth on the list is soundness. Everything revolves around him,” the unnamed GM said.
In the story, Daily News columnist Gary Myers suggests Jones should relinquish his GM duties and stick to his strengths as an owner and marketer, a common theme among pundits.
Dallas, who’s 5-5 this season, plays at the New York Giants (4-6) on Sunday at 3:25 p.m.
PHOTO: While the Cowboys owner is a shrewd business man, some of his football moves leave many scratching their heads. With owner Jerry Jones calling the football shots, it is no wonder the Cowboys struggle to regain their Super Bowl championship form of the 90s.
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is an incredibly bright and creative businessman, a real marketing genius, and he has helped turn Dallas into the most valuable franchise in American sports. So many of his ideas have contributed to the NFL now being a $9 billion-a-year industry.
But if the Cowboys ever want to win their sixth Lombardi Trophy, then Jones must shake up his front office.
He needs to call himself in for a little talk.
“Sit down Jerry,” says Jones the owner.
“Yes, sir, Mr. Jones,” says Jones the GM.
PHOTO: Eli Manning and the Giants find much more success than their division rivals in recent years.
You’re fired,” says Jones the owner.
See, it’s that easy. Painless.
America’s Team is the best nickname in sports, but it no longer fits the Cowboys and needs to be revoked until they get back to a Super Bowl — if they ever get back to a Super Bowl.
Of course, they are worth $2.3 billion according to Forbes, the television networks can’t get enough of them, they have the best stadium in the world, but, as one executive with another team (who?) laughed Monday about the nickname, “America likes winners,” and the Cowboys just don’t win championships anymore.
The Dallas Cowboys will be at MetLife Stadium to play the New York Giants on Sunday in a game with big implications on the mediocre NFC East race. Dallas is 5-5, which is not unusual since they are 109-109 since the turn of the century. The Giants, after their 0-6 start, have won four straight as Tom Coughlin implores his players “to keep the dream alive.” They are both chasing the Eagles, who have won three in a row to get to 6-5.
PHOTO: Since taking over as GM, Jones has seen more than his share of flops from Tony Romo.
But, really, how ‘bout them Cowboys?
They have endured 17 consecutive seasons without making it to the Super Bowl after winning three in a four-year period. During the Dallas drought, the longest in franchise history, longer than its expansion years, 20 different teams have been to the Super Bowl, including the Patriots six times and the Giants, Steelers and Packers three times each. In that time, the Cowboys have made the playoffs seven times and have two wild-card victories.
I was there on Feb. 25, 1989, in the Cowboys team meeting room at their Valley Ranch headquarters, when Jones announced he had bought the team, fired the legendary Tom Landry and replaced him with Jimmy Johnson. It was called the Saturday Night Massacre and it was an unforgettable moment in NFL history.
The most famous line that came out of that news conference was when Jones proclaimed he would be in charge of everything from “socks to jocks.”
Maybe Jones was running just about every department including the laundry department back then, but Johnson was running the personnel department and he brought in enough great players to win the Super Bowl following the 1992 and 1993 seasons and then left when he and Jones fought over who deserved the credit. There was enough of the core remaining that the relatively clueless Barry Switzer came off his couch to win a Super Bowl with Johnson’s players in 1995.
PHOTO: Jason Pierre-Paul and the Giants should be happy to see the Cowboys late in the year.
Yet, once Johnson and then his players eventually departed, Jones was on his own to restock as the undisputed general manger. And while nobody in the NFL is better at making money, the Cowboys can’t compete in the front office. Jones hired a bunch of puppets as head coaches following Johnson — Switzer, Chan Gailey, Dave Campo, Wade Phillips and now Jason Garrett — with one exception.
Jones tried to get it right when he hired Bill Parcells in between Campo and Phillips, and he allowed Parcells more input in their four seasons together than anybody since Johnson. But he still forced malcontent Terrell Owens on Parcells and Dallas was the only one of Parcells’ four head coaching jobs where he didn’t win a playoff game.
It’s startling that Jones the owner has put up with Jones the GM this long.
“As a general manager, he’s horrific. Just horrific,” said a former GM who once helped his team get to a Super Bowl. “What makes him bad is everything he does is based on perception, star power, making a splash. Fourth or fifth on the list is soundness. Everything revolves around him. He undermines his head coaches with his antics. They don’t have a lot of real harmony and he creates a lot of the storms.”
Jones gave Tony Romo a six-year, $108 million contract in March even though he’s won just one playoff game in seven years as the starter. He dumped defensive coordinator Rob Ryan after last season and replaced him with Monte Kiffin, who was one of the best — 10 years ago.
After the Saints torched the Cowboys for 625 yards in their 49-17 victory with Ryan on the opposite sideline as the New Orleans defensive coordinator, Jones admitted the switch “doesn’t look good right now.” He initially called a 51-48 loss to the Broncos a “moral victory,” which was then refuted by his son Stephen, a team vice president, and Garrett.
Jones is ultra-competitive and is willing to spend to win. He is clearly one of the smartest people in the NFL. So why isn’t he smart enough to fire himself as GM and hire somebody as good at making football decisions as Jones is at making money? “His ego is so big,” one personnel director said. “He’s had so many chances to do it and won’t. He’s going down with the ship.”
How ’bout them Cowboys?
Written by: Gary Myers | New York Daily News
Tony Romo has turned into a star after going undrafted 10 years ago. Romo’s spring of 2013 was a tad more lucrative than his spring of 2003.
Eight months ago, the Dallas Cowboys quarterback signed a six-year, $108 million extension with $55 million in guaranteed money.
And 10 years before that?
“I was a very sought-after [rookie] free agent,” Romo, tongue firmly in cheek, told Twin Cities reporters on Wednesday.
Romo said he had nibbles from 15 to 20 NFL teams immediately after the 2003 draft. Of course, as Romo noted, that interest level came from 15 to 20 teams, “that really didn’t like [me] enough the previous 48 hours.”
So, Tony, what did the Cowboys have to fork over to get the late-bloomer from Eastern Illinois? Five hundred bucks?
“Yeah, I made a little more than that,” he said. “I think it was 10 grand, actually, which felt like a year’s paycheck coming out of college. It was nice.”
Say what you want about Romo. He has been labeled as a guy who can’t win the big game. A guy who is prone to mistakes late in games. A guy who is 1-3 in the postseason. But there aren’t too many teams, the Vikings obviously included, who wouldn’t swap quarterbacks for Romo.
Heading into Sunday’s game against the Vikings, Romo ranks fifth in passer rating (101.7) behind only Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers.
Romo is 59-42 heading into his 102nd NFL start. Among quarterbacks through 100 starts, Romo ranks No. 1 in completions (2,262) and passing yards (27,485). He also ranks third in touchdown passes (189) behind only Dan Marino (214) and Brett Favre (194).
In that 2003 draft, 32 teams made 262 selections. Thirteen quarterbacks were selected. Only one of them — Carson Palmer, selected No. 1 overall by the Bengals — ever made a Pro Bowl. Romo has made three.
The other quarterbacks selected in the first round that year were Byron Leftwich (seventh), Kyle Boller (19th) and Rex Grossman (22nd). Later rounds saw names such as Chris Simms, Senaca Wallace, Brian St. Pierre, Brooks Bollinger, Drew Henson and Kliff Kingsbury.
“I think more than anything, I was just very raw,” Romo said. “[The scouts] were all right. But at the end of the day, they just didn’t see the things that can separate you.”
Romo was asked what it is about quarterbacks and the draft selection process that can lead to No. 1 overall picks flopping and undrafted free-agents flourishing.
“I think sometimes only certain people can evaluate the quarterback position at a high level,” Romo said. “I think it’s a very tough thing to do because there are so many things that go into it. And I think it’s a difficult position to gauge. Just [the offensive] system alone dictates differing decision-making processes and I think that unless you’re really the guy coaching him and teaching him, you don’t necessarily know his strengths and negatives.”
So what’s the one trait Romo would look for if he were in charge of drafting a quarterback coming out of college?
“Instincts,” he said. “Just their ability to get through progressions at a fast rate. You can always work on accuracy, you can always work on footwork. You can get guys to do the right things and be leaders and all that stuff. But inherently what you can’t teach him is to see the field quickly, react quickly and get through stuff fast. That’s where I find that [teams] just miss the mark the most times with young guys.”
Courtesy: MARK CRAIG | Minnesota Star Tribune
COWBOYS RIVAL HEADLINE: Detroit Free Press | Lions QB Matthew Stafford’s 1-yard TD caps improbable comeback
Matthew Stafford was yelling, screaming like his house was on fire, and figuratively it was.
Riley Reiff was 30 yards downfield celebrating what he thought was a game-winning touchdown pass to Calvin Johnson as the precious final seconds ticked off the clock in a game the Detroit Lions couldn’t afford to lose.
Twenty-two, 21, 20 …
Stafford waved his arms maniacally for his starting left tackle, the one playing through a hamstring injury, to get to the line of scrimmage. He motioned with his right arm to spike the ball and told his offensive linemen — everyone within earshot, really — that he was about to do just that.
As Reiff raced into his three-point stance — “I think he probably ran a 4.3,” Reggie Bush said — Stafford surveyed a Dallas Cowboys defense trying to catch its breath, called for the snap from Dominic Raiola, climbed over his center’s back and extended his arms across the goal line as a few stunned linebackers made a last-ditch effort to swat the ball away.
The clock froze at 12 seconds and Stafford booked around left end into the middle of the end zone where he celebrated a touchdown so unexpected he had to explain what happened to several linemen in the locker room after the game with the most ferocious spike you’ve ever seen.
Ballgame. Lions win 31-30. Another amazing comeback complete.
“I told everybody I was spiking it,” Stafford said. “I was screaming clock, I was going to spike it. It was a feel thing. I was yelling, ‘Spike.’ They knew I was yelling spike. I saw linebackers kind of standing like this (back off the line of scrimmage). Our guys didn’t fire off, they just stood up but I looked down and we were that far, shoot I’m going to figure I’ll get that. So I just need to go — shoot, I don’t know, I was making a play, man. I was trying to help my team win and sure am glad I got across.”
Stafford, who now has nine fourth-quarter comebacks in his career, completed 33 of 48 passes for a season-high 488 yards and got plenty of help from Johnson and a costly Cowboys holding penalty that left the Lions enough time for the game-winning drive.
Johnson caught 14 passes for a Lions record 329 yards, the second-highest single-game total in NFL history, and had his way with Dallas’ $10-million-a-year cornerback, Brandon Carr.
He opened the scoring with a 2-yard touchdown catch and made another of his signature jump-ball grabs amid two defenders, but until the final minute it looked like his heroics might be lost in a crush of Lions turnovers.
Dallas led, 27-24, with 1:24 to play and had a chance to run out the clock after stopping the Lions (5-3) on fourth-and-12 at their own 31.
But DeAndre Levy and Stephen Tulloch stuffed Joseph Randle for a 3-yard loss on first down, Travis Lewis dropped Phillip Tanner for a 1-yard loss on second down, and after the Lions used their final timeout, Cowboys left tackle Tyron Smith grabbed Devin Taylor for a holding penalty on third down that stopped the clock with 1:14 to play.
The Lions, who would have got the ball back with about 25 seconds left if not for the penalty, gave up a field goal and started their final drive at their own 20 with 1:02 on the clock.
“Our emotions, we were a little down, we were a little up. I think I experienced just about every emotion possible today,” Bush said. “Guys just keep fighting and then defense gave us a chance. When they got that holding penalty it stopped the clock and that gave us a chance. … Sometimes it just works out that way.”
Stafford completed 4 of 5 passes for 79 yards on the game-winning drive with one spike, and took advantage of a Dallas defense that lost starting safety Barry Church to a hamstring injury in the fourth quarter and played the entire day without its other starter at safety, J.J. Wilcox.
Kris Durham caught a 40-yard pass down the Lions sideline when backup safety Jakar Hamilton, who signed off the practice squad earlier in the week, was late helping Orlando Scandrick, and one play later Johnson split Hamilton and Carr down the right seam for a 22-yard gain to the Dallas 1.
Church said he felt “helpless” watching the final drive, and Lions coach Jim Schwartz said few quarterbacks other than Stafford could have engineered the series.
“We know what we got in him,” center Dominic Raiola said. “I just said earlier, Calvin had a huge day, player of the game and everything, but for Matt to come back and do what he did after what he went through early in the game it’s crazy. … I mean, what can you say about the guy? Love his toughness, love his moxie.”
Stafford threw two interceptions, both to Sean Lee, and all four of the Lions’ turnovers came in Cowboys territory.
Tony Romo completed just 14 of 30 passes for 206 yards for the Cowboys and threw second-half touchdowns of 50 yards to Dez Bryant and 60 yards to Terrance Williams.
Johnson’s 329 yards were the most ever by a receiver in regulation in NFL history. Flipper Anderson had 336 yards receiving in 1989, but 40 of those yards came in overtime.
Courtesy: Dave Birkett | Detroit Free Press
Detroit — Just another game, huh coach? Just one of 16? Not this one.
“Yeah, I might rethink my mantra on this one,” coach Jim Schwartz said after the Lions staged a thrillingly improbable 31-30 comeback victory against the Cowboys. “This was a big win for us. Going into the bye week at 5-3 instead of 4-4, I don’t care how you look at it, 5-3 is a successful first half of the season.”
The Lions were down 30-24 with 62 seconds left. They were 80 yards away from the winning score with no timeouts.
“People were leaving the stadium,” Calvin Johnson said. “Nobody thought we could pull it off in one minute. But we’ve got some firepower over here.”
Indeed. Quarterback Matthew Stafford (33 for 48, 488 yards and one touchdown) shook off two earlier interceptions and started dissecting the Cowboys’ injury-depleted secondary.
Stafford connected with Johnson for 17 yards, Kris Durham for 40 yards and then Johnson again, splitting two defenders, for 22 yards to put it at the 1 with the clock ticking down inside 15 seconds. Here’s where it got interesting.
First left tackle Riley Reiff, thinking Johnson had scored, was 40 yards behind the play celebrating as Stafford hurried to set the offense.
“He about gave the head coach a heart attack there,” Schwartz said. “He’s going to pay for that somewhere down the line.”
Once set, Stafford called out “spike, spike,” meaning he was going to clock the ball. Everybody on the field, offense and defense alive, thought he was going to spike the ball. Stafford didn’t spike the ball.
“It was a feel thing,” he said. “I was yelling spike. They knew I was yelling spike. I saw their linebackers standing still. Our guys didn’t fire off (the line). They just stood up. But I looked down. We were that far (inches); shoot, I’m going to get that. Just trying to make a play to help us win.”
Stafford stuck the ball over the goal line and for good measure rolled off the stack and ran it in. Replay upheld the winning score.
“He kind of caught us off-guard,” Cowboys defensive tackle Jason Hatcher acknowledged.
“This is an amazing win today,” said running back Reggie Bush, who had 92 yards rushing. “It’s a testament to the character of the guys on the team. We kept fighting. I think we made about every mistake possible in that game, but we kept fighting until the end. We just kept telling each other to keep fighting, keep going. Matt was amazing today.”
The Lions became the first team since 2007 to win a game with a minus-four turnover ratio. All four turnovers came in Dallas territory. Stafford threw two interceptions early, both to linebacker Sean Lee. Lee returned the second one 74 yards to set up a 5-yard touchdown pass to Dez Bryant.
Bush fumbled. Johnson fumbled.
The Lions gave up a 60-yard touchdown pass to Terrence Newman and a 50-yard touchdown pass to Bryant – in the fourth quarter.
“Our team has been resilient through a lot of things, and they needed to be today,” Schwartz said. “We certainly didn’t make it easy for ourselves.”
The Lions responded to every punch the Cowboys threw. Johnson caught 14 passes for 329 yards — the second most in a single game in NFL history.
“He had his way,” Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr said of Johnson. “And, we couldn’t find a way to keep him from rolling.”
“Just wait until he’s 100 percent,” Schwartz joked.
Joique Bell scored on a 1-yard run. Bush had a 1-yard touchdown run set up by a 54-yard pass to Johnson.
Still, with 1:07 left in the game, the Lions looked dead in the water. They were down 27-24. Their previous drive had stalled at their own 31. The timeouts had been exhausted. The Cowboys were called for holding rookie defensive end Devin Taylor on a third-and-14 run play.
That holding call probably saved the day for the Lions because it stopped the clock.
“If we don’t get called for a penalty, I think they probably had 20 seconds or so left,” Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo said.
“We had 40 more seconds than we were planning on at that point,” said Schwartz, who declined the penalty and allowed kicker Dan Bailey to make it 30-24 with a 44-yard field goal. “I thought that was a really key point in the game. Any time you got a minute, you got our offense, we like the odds that we can go put that ball in the end zone.”
Never a doubt, joked Stafford.
“I know it’s a tall order,” he said. “Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like I was sitting there comfortable in my boots like, ‘Oh, here we go, no timeouts and we got to go 80 against that defense.’ But there’s always a chance. Our guys believed, they battled, they made some great catches and plays.
“We won the game and that’s all that matters now.”
Courtesy: Chris McCosky | The Detroit News | Associated Press contributed
Photo: The Cowboys’ Terrance Williams dives in for a touchdown as Eagles cornerback Bradley Fletcher defends on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field. (Matt Rourke/AP)
Opportunities to take first place in the NFC East and for Nick Foles to push to become the Eagles’ starting quarterback were both spoiled in a 17-3 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.
The Eagles’ offense struggled in the team’s ninth consecutive loss at Lincoln Financial Field, and Foles appeared overmatched before leaving the game with a head injury at the end of the third quarter. Matt Barkley replaced Foles and proceeded to throw three interceptions.
Foles started in place of Michael Vick, who missed his second consecutive game with a pulled left hamstring. Vick never looked so good as he did when compared to the performances of Foles and Barkley.
One week after Foles starred in a win over the Buccaneers, Foles went 11 of 29 for 80 yards. Barkley finished 11 of 20 for 129 yards and three interceptions.
The running game did not help, either. LeSean McCoy was limited to 55 rushing yards. DeSean Jackson was held to three catches for 21 yards, shut down most the game by Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr and the ineffectiveness of the Eagles’ quarterbacks.
The offense’s issues overshadowed a relatively impressive game from the defense. Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo threw for 317 yards and one touchdown. He also had two interceptions. But most of his damage came in the second half, and the Eagles’ defense kept the team in contention.
The first quarter served as an insult to offensive football. Neither team could find the end zone, and there were six combined punts.
It didn’t get much better in the second quarter. There were seven more punts in that period, with the only score a 38-yard field goal by Dan Bailey as Dallas took a 3-0 lead.
The Eagles drove the ball to the Cowboys’ 42-yard line with 20 seconds remaining when Foles tried throwing a deep ball on third-and-1. It was incomplete, and Kelly elected to attempt a 60-yard field goal instead of going for fourth down. The Eagles had one timeout at the time. Alex Henery missed the field goal.
The Cowboys opened the second half by going 66 yards on 10 plays to take a 10-0 lead. On third-and-goal from the 4-yard line, cornerback Bradley Fletcher wrapped up Dez Bryant and was flagged for the pass interference to give the Cowboys a new set of downs. They scored on a 1-yard rush one play later.
The Eagles could not gain any momentum until late in the quarter, when DeMeco Ryans intercepted Tony Romo’s pass at the Eagles’ 34-yard and returned it 36 yards to the Cowboys 30. But Foles struggled throughout the drive, underthrowing a wide-open Jason Avant in the end zone and struggling to make decisions. On third-and-goal from the 9-yard line, Foles was sacked and the back of his head was knocked against the turf.
Foles was examined on the sideline and tried jogging around before he was taken to the locker room and declared out for the game. That’s when Barkley entered the game, and the struggles only continued.
Following a Cowboys touchdown drive to take a 17-3 lead, Barkley threw an interception. On the next drive, he threw another interception. He added his third interception late in the fourth quarter to ensure the Eagles would not score a touchdown.
The health status for Vick and Foles is unknown for next week’s game against the Giants.
Courtesy: Zach Berman | Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Writer
Photo: Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles is sacked by Dallas Cowboys defensive end George Selvie as defensive tackle Jason Hatcher helps on the play. (AP Photo/Michael Perez)
The Eagles’ quarterback controversy has turned into a quarterback conflagration. This, on the afternoon when Michael Vick could not play because of a pulled hamstring; Nick Foles could not play, period (and left the game at the end of the third quarter with a head injury, besides), and Matt Barkley finished up the game by throwing three interceptions that counted and another that did not (because of a penalty).
Other than that, things went well.
The Dallas Cowboys played like garbage for much of the afternoon at Lincoln Financial Field and still beat the Eagles, 17-3, which pretty much tells you how the Eagles played. A decent defensive effort against Tony Romo and the fellas was completely wasted by an offense that was neutered by the Dallas Cowboys and by Foles’ ineffectiveness.
Before he suffered the injury, which could conceivably keep him out for next week’s game against the Giants, Foles was indecisive and erratic. On a day when many believed he had a chance to win the starting quarterback job, he played his worst minutes of the season, going back to training camp. The numbers: 11-for-29 for 80 yards and a poor 46.2 passer rating.
Slow on the trigger, missing open receivers — it was Foles’ worst nightmare. This was a clear opportunity for him to make a statement, and the statement he made was an emphatic, “Not yet.”
Others will say that it was, “Not ever.”
Now we prepare for a week in which the injury report will be the most important news. Last week, Vick sounded a bit skeptical about being ready to play next Sunday against the Giants. We will see now how the imperatives of the situation affect the healing process. More than that, though, the conversation about who should be the quarterback when Vick gets healthy has been silenced.
The truth was, Foles had an opportunity against an iffy Dallas secondary — but he needed to grab it. A lot of people, including me, figured it was going to take a big number to beat the Cowboys — but the way the game turned out, as an early punt-fest, ended that thinking. Instead, it was just going to take a good second half. For Foles, the opportunity was still there, even as he struggled. There was risk but there also was reward if he came through.
He did not come through, and he got hurt besides. He held the ball forever on the last play of the third quarter, was sacked and driven into the ground. He got up slowly, tried to shake it off on the sideline, but was eventually led to the locker room by the medical staff. That is how it ended, with a slow, sad walk.
And now, besides the ending of the quarterback controversy, there also will be a pretty significant burial of the talk about winning the NFC East. Because the truth is, the Cowboys did not play very well and still won the game handily. The Cowboys are 4-3 now and the Eagles are 3-4, but the distance somehow seems greater than that.
Courtesy: Rich Hofmann | Philadelphia Daily News
ARLINGTON, Tex. — If the Washington Redskins thought their bye week would cure what ailed them in the season’s early stages, they were mistaken. They emerged from their time off resembling the same struggling team they’d been beforehand. Breakdowns on special teams proved particularly costly and the Redskins lost to the Dallas Cowboys, 31-16, here Sunday night.
Quarterback Robert Griffin III had his best running game of the season, rushing for 77 yards. Tailback Alfred Morris had a long third-quarter touchdown run. But the Redskins too often settled for field goals by place kicker Kai Forbath and their record plummeted to 1-4.
The Cowboys gave owner Jerry Jones a victory to celebrate on his 71st birthday and evened their record at 3-3, putting them in a first-place tie with the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC East. Dwayne Harris had a touchdown on an 86-yard punt return in the second quarter, and added a 90-yard kickoff return in the third quarter to set up a touchdown pass from quarterback Tony Romo to wide receiver Terrance Williams.
Tailbacks DeMarco Murray and Joseph Randle had rushing touchdowns for the Cowboys, with Randle’s one-yard run all but sealing the outcome with just less than nine minutes remaining after Griffin lost a fumble on a sack at his 3-yard line. Griffin threw an interception to end the Redskins’ next drive.
Romo threw an interception and managed a relatively modest 170 passing yards for the Cowboys. But that was enough for a win one week after he passed for 506 yards and five touchdowns in a 51-48 loss to the Denver Broncos. Romo threw a late interception in that game that led to the Broncos’ winning field goal and that, to some observers, raised all of the old, familiar questions about his ability to produce in crunch time.
The start was not particularly promising for the Redskins, as their defense had no answers for Romo and the Cowboys on the game’s opening drive. Romo had a key third-down completion to tight end Jason Witten and Murray got the touchdown on a four-yard run.
Griffin was sharp at the outset, with a 19-yard completion to wide receiver Leonard Hankerson and a 15-yard run on a scramble on the Redskins’ first two offensive plays of the night. Rookie tight end Jordan Reed had a pair of catches on the Redskins’ opening drive and they moved quickly into scoring position. But Griffin was stopped two yards shy of the end zone on a third-and-goal run on a quarterback draw from the Dallas 9-yard line — a play call from which the team seemed to shy in the season’s first few games as Griffin worked his way back from knee surgery in January — and the Redskins were left with the first of Forbath’s three field goals.
The Redskins generated a second-quarter turnover when blitzing cornerback Josh Wilson batted a pass by Romo into the air and linebacker Rob Jackson, playing in his first game of the season after serving a four-game suspension for a violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy, grabbed the ball on the deflection for an interception. But the Redskins failed to convert, punting on each of their next two possessions.
The second of those punts resulted in Harris’s touchdown. The Redskins initially had the Cowboys backed up in their own territory but had to re-punt because of an illegal-motion penalty on their first attempt. This time, Harris caught Sav Rocca’s punt at his 14-yard line, weaved his way through would-be tacklers and sprinted along the sideline to the end zone as the Redskins’ Darryl Tapp and Jerome Murphy collided with one another while in pursuit. The Redskins also received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty when special teams coach Keith Burns, standing on the sideline, made inadvertent contact with one of the officials who was running to try to keep up with the play.
The Redskins regrouped and used Griffin’s 29-yard completion to Reed to set up Forbath’s 32-yard field goal as time expired in the first half. Forbath connected again, this time from 33 yards, after Griffin’s 26-yard run on a scramble, plus 15 additional penalty yards for absorbing a late hit out of bounds, early in the third quarter.
No matter. Harris took the kickoff after that field goal and, from five yards deep in his own end zone, sprinted practically the length of the field before being knocked out of bounds by the Redskins’ E.J. Biggers at the 15-yard line. On second down from there, Romo eluded the blitzing Wilson and lofted a pass in the corner of the end zone to Williams, who made the grab and stayed in bounds for the touchdown.
Morris, given little running room to that point, had a swift reply by cutting across the field on his way to a 45-yard touchdown dash. But Forbath missed from 49 yards early in the fourth quarter and the Cowboys got a 30-yard field goal by their kicker, Dan Bailey.
Courtesy: By Mark Maske | The Washington Post
RIVAL HEADLINE: Here comes the mystery team – Dallas Cowboys still a puzzle as finale vs. Redskins approaches
ARLINGTON, Tex. – They were playing this week to decide the meaning of next week, and it’s now clear that it will be winner take all when the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys meet for the NFC East title. The next question for the Redskins is, which outfit should they scout with the playoffs on the line: the Cowboys who can’t solve the riddle of their dazzling but often fatally confused personality, or the terrifying Cowboys who know exactly who they are?
Do you expect the perplexing, dumbfounding Cowboys who suffered yet another upset loss to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday in overtime, 34-31? Or the touchdown-a-minute monsters who almost won a game that seemed unwinnable? Do you plan for the team that can look like a still life? Or the one that can leave you thunderstruck with feats like two touchdowns in the final 3 minutes 35 seconds against the Saints?
Do you expect the strangely complacent team that allowed the Saints to possess the ball for a staggering 41:59 out of more than 64 minutes? Or do you brace for the biting, snap-jawed team that is never, ever out of a game with Tony Romo, who threw for 416 yards and four touchdowns and can make so much happen in such a short period of time? Their late fourth-quarter drives took just 1:10 and 1:14, respectively, the second one ending with Romo’s 19-yard zing to Miles Austin on fourth and 10 with just 15 seconds remaining to force overtime.
“We had a lot of good plays,” Romo said. “But we didn’t get off the field on third down, and didn’t stay on the field enough on third down, and that’s not a good recipe. . . .We didn’t make a play or two that can determine it.”
The New Orleans Saints and Dallas Cowboys will meet for the first time since 2010 Sunday. The surging Cowboys (8-6) are in a three-way tie for first place in the NFC East and have won three straight games. The Saints (6-8) snapped a three-game losing streak with a win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last Sunday. The Saints have had their way with the Cowboys lately, having won six of the last seven meetings. The Saints took the last meeting 30-27 in Cowboys Stadium.
BEREA, Ohio — Cleveland Browns coach Pat Shurmur minced no words Wednesday afternoon when asked what quarterback Brandon Weeden needs to do better in these last seven games.
"Don’t throw interceptions. Done. End of story," said Shurmur. "I want to be right to the point."
But he still doesn’t want Weeden to lose the gunslinger mentality that he brought with him from Oklahoma State.
"The essence of a quarterback is you have to be a good decision-maker," Shurmur said. "And you decide when it’s important to try to be aggressive with a throw and then it’s also important to then be smart with the football. I’ve looked at all of those interceptions and there are times when he could’ve made better decisions. There’s of course things that have happened where a ball bounces off a guy’s chest. So you look at all of those things. You don’t want to play anxious football, but you also have to be smart."
He said despite Weeden’s chances, he still believes in him wholeheartedly.
"I think he’s got a chance to be an outstanding player. I don’t think there’s any question about it," Shurmur said. "He’s got to lead us to victories and don’t throw interceptions."
He said Weeden sees defenses well and understands concepts.
Shurmur addressed a number of other topics in his press conference Wednesday afternoon:
• On Greg Little addressing the team on Monday about making sacrifices: "I knew he was going to do it. He called me and asked if he could talk in the first team meeting. I thought his comments were very insightful and I was glad he did it. I’ve always appreciated Greg because he’s a competitor. He’s a tough guy. He’s fun to work with because he listens."
• On Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo: "The game is never over when he’s got the ball in his hand. He’s got outstanding weapons to throw the football to. Jason Witten leads all tight ends with 66 receptions, he’s got explosive players on the outside, they run the ball well and he’s proven he can win games in this league. He makes big-time plays and that’s what makes him dangerous."
• He said tight end Ben Watson is the honorary fourth game captain this week.
• On right tackle Mitchell Schwartz: "I expected him to be a very good player from day one because he was the starter. I’m extremely hopeful he’s going to be a good player for a long time."
• He said Trent Richardson told him his ribs feel better after the bye week.
• On whether certain players will get more playing time after the bye-week evaluation: "Maybe yes, maybe no. Probably maybe yes."
• On Josh Cribbs: "We know what kind of an impact he has on special teams, which can’t go unnoticed. He does more than just the average punt returner and kick returner, because he’s involved in all of the coverage units and he’s an outstanding competitor in that phase and I really appreciate it."
• On Cowboys rookie cornerback Morris Claiborne: "We spent a lot of time evaluating him, had him in, he was one of the guys we talked to quite a bit. He’s an outstanding player. He plays very well in bump-and-run. He challenges all the time. A guy that challenges and is very talented has a chance to be successful."
Courtesy: Mary Kay Cabot | The Plain Dealer
Like everybody else, I’m trying to think about what the Eagles might do when this disappointing season ends and Andy Reid’s 14-year coaching tenure presumably ends.
I’ll be really surprised if the choice is some guy who won a Super Bowl elsewhere — Jon Gruden, Brian Billick, even Bill Cowher, who tends to be more highly regarded than Gruden or Billick in NFL circles. A couple of reasons there: 1. Jeffrey Lurie and Howie Roseman think of themselves as bold, innovative people; they are unlikely to settle for trying to recreate what someone did somewhere else, and more important, 2. IT NEVER WORKS. How many coaches have won a Super Bowl somewhere, then gone somewhere else and won another? The answer is nobody, never, ever. Not Vince Lombardi, not Bill Parcells, not Mike Holmgren, who came closest, not Mike Shanahan.
This last point is something too few people in the fan base seem to understand. The objective here is not to hire somebody who will give us entertaining press conferences, or somebody who once beat the Eagles in an important game.
One caveat: I’d make an exception for Sean Payton, who would be available under unique circumstances that might make him different from the other retreads. But I really don’t think Payton is leaving New Orleans, and if he does, he has strong ties to Dallas.
I’m pretty sure Lurie and Roseman will go for a "bright young man" type. Of course, that has its risks, too. A lot of those guys look less bright, once they’re in charge. See Steve Spagnuolo, Todd Haley, Ron Rivera, Tony Sparano, etc.
The guy that everybody is talking about, in regard to every potential NFL coaching vacancy, is Oregon coach Chip Kelly, who certainly is a successful innovator. I am leery. Kelly has never spent a minute in the NFL, as a player or coach. "Pure" college coaches have been really, really unsuccessful in the NFL lately — Steve Spurrier, Nick Saban, Bobby Petrino. Yes, Jim Harbaugh and Greg Schiano have been good hires, but both had strong NFL backgrounds, which they took to college coaching, before returning to the NFL.
Besides, Kelly is the guy who, when a disgruntled Ducks fan wrote him demanding a refund for traveling to a loss at Boise State, sent the guy a check for $439. The Eagles have a much larger, more critical fan base. I see looming bankruptcy for Chip if he comes here.
And it would be hard to keep up with uniforms that would change constantly.
More seriously, Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer is not a bright YOUNG man — he’s my age, 56 — but Zimmer, the longtime Cowboys d-coordinator, sure knows defense.
Dirk Koetter, the Atlanta offensive coordinator, is going to be a hot name if the Falcons’ success holds up into the playoffs. He’s 53, has been a college head coach, unlike Zimmer, who is a career assistant.
It also might be relevant that Roseman’s agent is Bob LaMonte, Reid’s agent, and the guy who sometimes seems to orchestrate NFL coaching moves. Jon Gruden is a LaMonte client, as is his brother Jay, the Bengals’ offensive coordinator.
But really, the hottest guys will be the top assistants on the teams that get to the Super Bowl. That game will be played more than a month after the Eagles’ season concludes. (I’m assuming, I think safely, there will be no Andy-job-saving run into the playoffs).
Will the Eagles have hired a coach by then? As somebody who’s going to have to cover this, I think that would be nice, but it’s unlikely. I would anticipate a meticulous search, with Lurie and Roseman seeking advice from people they know across the league, weighing variables, holding multiple interviews. One goal here is to go another 14 years without having to do this. There is no need to rush.
Courtesy: Les Bowen | Philadelphia Daily News
Editors Note: If you want to vote in the poll, click on the poll link above. You’ll be taken to their website. Site should open in another tab.
CHARLOTTE — The Panthers disappointing season took another bitter turn Sunday.
Dan Bailey kicked two late field goals to give Dallas a 19-14 victory over the Panthers in Bank of America Stadium, dropping Carolina to 1-5 with a trip to Chicago looming next week.
Trailing 16-14, the Panthers’ late attempt to drive for a winning score was thwarted twice on fourth down by the Cowboys.
Facing a fourth-and-two at their own 39-yard line, the Panthers appeared to get the first down on a completion from Cam Newton to Greg Olsen but officials nullified the play, saying the Cowboys had called timeout before it began.
After the timeout, Newton threw an incompletion to Louis Murphy who was hit by Dallas defender Morris Claiborne. Murphy and the Panthers thought it was pass interference but no call was made, turning the ball over to the Cowboys at the Carolina 39-yard line.
It led to a 38-yard Bailey field goal with 53 seconds remaining.
The Panthers got one more shot in the final 50 seconds but couldn’t get past midfield.
Cam Newton completed 20 of 36 passes for 222 yards and one touchdown. He also led the team with 61 rushing yards.
After a sluggish third quarter offensively, the Panthers found a spark late in the third quarter and turned it into a 75-yard drive that culminated with a two-yard touchdown run by Mike Tolbert that put the Panthers ahead 14-13 with 11:38 remaining.
The Panthers started the drive with a no-huddle offense. Jonathan Stewart broke a 20-yard gain then Louis Murphy caught a 26-yard pass from Newton to move the Panthers to the Dallas 19-yard line.
Two penalties against the Cowboys, an unnecessary roughness and a holding call, helped the Panthers keep the drive alive.
The Cowboys took a 10-7 lead on a 26-yard touchdown pass from Tony Romo to Miles Austin midway through the third quarter. Romo threw a beautiful pass to the back corner of the end zone where Austin was defended by Panthers rookie Josh Norman.
One play earlier, Austin and Romo had connected on a 36-yard pass to move the Cowboys into Carolina territory.
Romo completed 24 of 34 passes for 227 yards and one touchdown.
Dallas stretched its advantage to 13-7 on a 49-yard Dan Bailey field goal with 2:13 remaining in the third quarter.
After wasting some earlier opportunities, the Panthers got a five-yard touchdown pass from Newton to Brandon LaFell with 14 seconds remaining in the second quarter to take a halftime 7-3 lead.
The possession started with a takeaway when Thomas Davis knocked the ball free from Cowboys receiver Thomas Davis and it was recovered by linebacker Luke Kuechly, giving the Panthers possession at the Dallas 20-yard line after an illegal block penalty against Charles Godfrey.
The Panthers squandered good field position in the first quarter, failing to score after starting their first two possessions at the 40 and 45-yard line, respectively.
The Cowboys used a grinding 18-play, 91-yard drive to take a 3-0 early in the second quarter on a Bailey field goal. Dallas chewed up 10 minutes, 10 seconds with the possession. The Cowboys converted four third-downs on the drive before stalling at the Carolina 1-yard line.
The Panthers finally mounted a drive of their own behind Newton’s running and throwing.
Newton had a 24-yard scramble on third down to keep the drive alive at the Dallas 30-yard line. Two plays later, Newton kept the ball on a designed play and rumbled 21 yards to the Cowboys’ 7-yard line.
But the drive died suddenly when Newton was intercepted in the end zone by Cowboys rookie Morris Claiborne. Newton was looking for receiver Louis Murphy in the end zone when he was hit as began his throw. The pass came up well short and Claiborne made a diving catch to end the Carolina threat.
The Panthers were without starting middle linebacker Jon Beason and cornerback Chris Gamble, both inactive due to injuries. It was also their first game since losing Pro Bowl center Ryan Kalil to a season-ending foot injury.
Courtesy: Ron Green Jr | Charlotte Observer
The Dallas Cowboys may be America’s Team, but the Ravens have the football gods on their side.
Fate plays a part in every season as well as luck, but the Ravens seem to be getting divine intervention. And after the team’s 31-29 win against the Cowboys in Baltimore Sunday, even the Ravens were starting to have some fun with it.
"Before the game I said should I go into prayer in a closet for this one?" asked Ravens left guard Bobbie Williams. "I thought, ‘Why not? Well, why not?’ I think it plays a huge part."
It appears to be working because the Ravens have won four straight games, all going down to the last minute. It would be unfair to say the Ravens haven’t made big plays or had strong individual performances, but some of this stuff is unexplainable.
A week ago, the Kansas City Chiefs fumbled at the Ravens 1-yard line on a quarterback exchange in the third quarter, and that play changed the momentum of the game in the Ravens’ favor.
On Sunday, Dallas receiver Dez Bryant dropped a very catchable two-point conversion pass that would have tied the score in the final seconds. On the previous play, Bryant ran the same pattern and made the same catch for a touchdown.
Even though the Ravens may have lost middle linebacker Ray Lewis and cornerback Lardarius Webb to serious injuries, they’ve been reasonably healthy since the season started.
Here is some more:
In Kansas City last Sunday, the Chiefs’ Dwayne Bowe, one of the best receivers in the NFL, had one pass bounce off his chest and another off his helmet, both resulting in interceptions, one that killed a Kansas City drive.
Somebody over at The Castle is living right.
"We got a whole lot of guys who believe," said Williams.
The football gods are watching over the Ravens. They lost an onside kick Sunday with 30 seconds left in the game, but Dallas wasn’t able to get off another play after a 1-yard catch to the Ravens’ 33-yard-line with 26 seconds left and one timeout.
Dallas coach Jason Garrett said couldn’t get another play off because they couldn’t get players to the line of scrimmage fast enough. That should not have happened.
Bailey’s 51-yard field goal went wide left.
"Thank you, Jesus," Ravens running back Ray Rice said. "He may have pushed that thing a little to the left."
The Ravens are the anointed team. They have to be. They gave up 227 rushing yards Sunday and at one time didn’t have Ray Lewis,Haloti Ngata, Lardarius Webb and Terrell Suggs playing defense. Dallas had the ball for 40 minutes and the Ravens had it for just 20.
And they still won.
They are receiving favor from a higher being.
Courtesy: Mike Preston | Baltimore Sun
Shortly before the NFL draft three years ago, the Ravens flew in mercurial wide receiver Dez Bryant for a visit.
The Oklahoma State standout met with Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome and Harbaugh and went out to dinner with offensive coordinator Cam Cameron.
However, Bryant was drafted by Dallas with the 24th overall pick of the first round. And the Ravens subsequently traded their 25th overall pick to the Broncos, dropping out of the first round in exchange for second-round, third-round and fourth-round selections used to pick linebacker Sergio Kindle and tight ends Pitta and Ed Dickson.
It’s unclear if the Ravens would have drafted Bryant, a talented player whose character drew red flags on several NFL teams’ draft boards.
Although Bryant has been involved in multiple controversies off the field, he’s caught 129 career passes for 1,758 yards and 15 touchdowns.
“We liked him,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “Whether we would have taken him with that pick if we hadn’t traded out, I really don’t know. He’s a good player. He’s a really talented guy.”
IRVING, Texas — Danny O’Neil covers the Seahawks for the Seattle Times and he brings you this week’s version of The Other Side.
Archer: How did Russell Wilson win the job in camp? People expected some rookie starters at QB this year, but I don’t know if too many had him as one of the guys.
O’Neil: When the Seahawks drafted Russell Wilson in the third round, many assumed he would spend the year developing on the back-burner as the No. 3 quarterback. The Seahawks had signed Matt Flynn and still had Tarvaris Jackson, and they figured to be the two dueling for playing time. Well, it figured that way to everyone but coach Pete Carroll.
No sooner had the rookie minicamp finished than Carroll announced Wilson would be part of the competition, and from that moment forward, Wilson simply put together the best body of work. He had a bad day in practice during training camp, but that was one day. Singular. He was picked off three times, and showed an ability to correct it. He has a bigger arm than Flynn, more mobility and he was clearly more explosive in the exhibition games.
Wilson wasn’t given this job, he won it.
TA: Is there any buyer’s remorse on Matt Flynn if he’s not the starter?
DO: What, doesn’t every team want to pay its backup $8 million while starting a rookie? But seriously, there’s not necessarily remorse. Seattle wanted to come out of this with a starting quarterback capable of taking the team to the playoffs. If it’s Flynn, great. That was money well spent. If it’s Wilson, that’s fine, too.
Consider the Cardinals: They paid more in a contract for Kevin Kolb (five years, $63 million) than Seattle paid to Matt Flynn (three years, $26 million). Not only that, but the Cardinals gave up a second-round pick and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to get the privilege of playing that money while Seattle chose Wilson with a third-round choice. Seattle certainly appears to have acquired more talent at quarterback for a lesser investment.
TA: The Seahawks finished the year 5-3 after losing to the Cowboys last year and all of the losses were by less than a touchdown. Obviously, they started with a close loss to Arizona in Week 1. How does Pete Carroll get this team over the hump in close games?
DO: Let Wilson mature. This team is built to play to the strengths of a big, physically imposing defense and a punishing ground game. Wilson is the guy they’re depending on to be able to pull a game out in the fourth quarter. He came closer in Week 1 than Tarvaris Jackson ever did last year so that time may be coming.
TA: People really like the Seattle secondary, but where does the pass rush come from? How is Bruce Irvin’s progress going?
DO: Bruce Irvin has not been the immediate-impact pass rusher the Seahawks predicted when they chose him. Chris Clemons remains this team’s best pass rusher. Irvin will get a chance to see if Seattle’s home crowd can help give him an advantage in rushing off the edge.
TA: I can’t go without asking a Terrell Owens question even if he’s not on the roster. How did he look and why didn’t the Seahawks keep him?
DO: He was in great shape, still had the speed to get deep, but had two significant drops. He was acquired to provide a veteran alternative in case Sidney Rice wasn’t ready when the season began. Rice was ready, and Owens wasn’t so impressive the team was willing to carry him as a fourth or fifth wide receiver given the fact he doesn’t play special teams.
If Rice were to get hurt again, the Seahawks wouldn’t hesitate to bring Owens back.
After last season, when the Seahawks had Tarvaris Jackson starting at quarterback, they needed a leader who could make a last-chance push to the end zone.
So, during the offseason, the Seahawks picked up quarterback Matt Flynn in free agency and Russell Wilson in the NFL Draft.
One of them, the team brass hoped, could lead a big comeback of the kind seen so often in the NFL.
Well, the Seahawks on Sunday needed such a comeback in Arizona, and they had their chance — a few chances. Wilson, the rookie selected over Flynn to start the season under center, led Seattle downfield in the final two minutes of Seattle’s season opener, getting the Seahawks to the 31-yard line with four downs to use and under two minutes to play. Down 20-16 in enemy territory, the Seahawks needed a touchdown — a three-point field goal wouldn’t cut it.
TBAB EDITORS NOTE: Want to size up the Cowboys next opponent? Watch the Seattle vs. Cardinals game on NFL Game Rewind.
I’ll admit it: Pete Carroll has me all twisted up. When it focuses on the Seahawks coach, my brain resembles Marshawn Lynch’s hair.
Covering Carroll is like trying to watch a magic show while skydiving. It’s unhinging. It redefines "over the top." You have no idea what will happen when you hit the ground, and you have no idea how you feel about it, either.
The man is a 60-year-old contradiction: so energetic, so open-minded, so hip. He’s a great communicator despite defying the fundamentals of sentence construction. He’s an unconventional thinker who also abides without compromise by the button-down belief that games are won with defense and a power running game. And if your mind isn’t also doing Chubby Checker’s favorite dance yet, consider that even his most ordinary philosophy is becoming a nonconformist approach because football is so pass happy now.
Yeah, all twisted up.
Carroll sparks more conversation and inspires more trust than any coach who has ever opened a tenure with two losing seasons. With the help of a football operations staff led by general manager John Schneider, a first-time personnel chief who is already one of the best in the business, the Seahawks have stripped down an unimpressive roster and replenished it with a more talented, youthful and explosive version that gives Carroll his best chance at prolonged NFL success.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Giants players and coaches were adamant this past week that they had moved on. The Super Bowl victory was months ago, they said, and last season was in the past. Coach Tom Coughlin even invoked his pithy phrase-of-the-moment, “Build the Bridge,” more often than usual to remind everyone that the goal now is to link the 2011 title season to this one.
One can only imagine this was not exactly what he had in mind. After an odd pregame tribute to the Giants’ previous title teams that featured loud music, an inordinate amount of smoke and a ceremony that seemed to last barely more than a minute, the current version of the team put on a show that was eerily similar to the worst parts of last season.
A stilted running game. A porous offensive line. A battered secondary. Giants fans can surely be forgiven for finding it all a little bit too familiar. The only difference, it turned out, was that this time the Giants could not beat the Dallas Cowboys. And so nine months after knocking off the Cowboys twice on their way to a surprise Super Bowl championship, the Giants began their title defense with a dispiriting 24-17 loss to their rivals at MetLife Stadium.
“It takes a bite out of humble pie,” Coughlin said.
The game was supposed to be a coronation. Defending champions had been 8-0 in these special weeknight season openers, and the Giants had won seven of the last nine games between the teams. A stadium-record crowd of 82,287 showed up to celebrate former champions like Ottis Anderson, Phil Simms and Michael Strahan — all of whom appeared, albeit briefly, during the pregame pomp — but also to rejoice in the start of the chase for a repeat.
Instead, the fans left frustrated. Dallas quarterback Tony Romo passed for 307 yards and 3 touchdowns, including a sparkling hookup with Miles Austin late in the fourth quarter that essentially sealed the victory. Romo connected with Kevin Ogletree, a Queens native, for Dallas’s other two touchdowns on passes of 10 and 40 yards.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Eli Manning got a different look when he surveyed the Dallas defense in the season opener. For the most part, he did not like what he saw in a 24-17 loss to the Cowboys on Wednesday night.
Jerry Jones, the Cowboys’ owner, used the off-season to bolster a secondary that Manning had exploited in leading his team to victories in six of the previous eight meetings between the teams. Jones signed cornerback Brandon Carr to a five-year contract worth $50 million. Jones was so determined to pair him with the highly rated Morris Claiborne that the Cowboys traded up eight positions to draft Claiborne sixth over all.
Manning completed 51 of 80 passes for 746 yards and 5 touchdowns with 1 interception when the Giants downed their N.F.C. East rival twice in the final four weeks in 2011, including a 400-yard effort when the Giants prevailed, 31-14, to wrest the division from the Cowboys in the regular-season finale.
This time, Manning, the two-time Super Bowl most valuable player, found limited opportunities. He finished 21 of 32 for 213 yards and 1 touchdown, on a 9-yard strike to tight end Martellus Bennett with 2 minutes 36 seconds left. He went 8 of 14 for 83 yards in the first half, and the Giants trailed, 7-3, at halftime.
Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks, Manning’s top passing targets, also are accustomed to rousing performances against Dallas. Cruz turned six catches into a career-high 178 yards and danced the salsa after his touchdown grab in last year’s clincher.
Carr vowed after joining his new team that there would be no fancy stepping. For one game, at least, he backed up his braggadocio. Cruz totaled 6 receptions for 58 yards. Nicks, who made 8 catches for 163 yards when the visiting Giants outscored Dallas, 37-34, in Week 13, was held to 4 receptions and 38 yards.
Nicks appeared to be limited by more than the Cowboys. He continues to recover from a broken bone in his right foot. The injury kept him from preseason action until he participated in two series in the final tune-up for the regular season. Soreness in his foot also cost him practice time in the days before the opener, and the Giants’ offense was unusually quiet against Dallas.
Courtesy: TOM PEDULLA | New York Times