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Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott help save Cowboys’ season — for now

The Dallas Cowboys’ storylines entering Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles weren’t exactly positive.

The list included: a coach’s job security, a quarterback struggling to make plays, an offensive coordinator perhaps on his last chance and a defense left wobbly after its previous game. All in all, it added up to a season on the line.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

But the Cowboys left Lincoln Financial Field with a 27-20 victory that seemed improbable after losing their first four road games of the season, and they find themselves alive and breathing, if not entirely well just yet.

“When you’re feeling low and you’re seeing the Grim Reaper and then come in and have your team perform the way these guys did, I promise you it’s a special feeling,” owner and general manager Jerry Jones said. “I won’t need any wings on that airplane getting back to Dallas.”6

They left Philly with a win after Jason Garrett rallied a young team that had been rattled and a coaching staff that had been questioned.

They left with a win after Dak Prescott threw two touchdown passes in a road game for the first time this season. After Ezekiel Elliott rushed for more than 150 yards against the NFL’s second-best run defense and scored twice.

“I don’t know that I learned anything new [about his team],” Garrett said. “You try to build a team of guys who love football, who are mentally tough, and I think those things get revealed when you have to go through some adversity over the course of the season.

“I thought they did a great job coming back after [the Cowboys’ 28-14 loss to Tennessee the previous week], just getting back to work, not blinking. Just going back to work and understanding the importance of what this next opponent is and playing 60 minutes. Thought we did a better job of that in this game than we have in the last few games. Dealing with the adversities of the game and keep playing. Dealing with the successes of the game and keep playing.”

At times early in the game, Prescott was bad. He held on to the ball too long, which resulted in sacks — including a 13-yard sack in the second quarter.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

At times, Prescott was brilliant: At the end of the first half, he connected on five passes for 79 yards and sneaked in from a yard out with 19 seconds left for the Cowboys’ first touchdown.

Mahomes, Mayfield, Brees and more: Texas QBs having their moment

“In Texas, football is heavily funded,” said Greg McElroy, a former Texas high school quarterback who had a brief NFL career before moving to ESPN and ABC as a college football analyst. “It’s prioritized. Quarterback is an expensive position to learn. A lot of these guys have private coaches. These guys are trained at a young age to become college players and eventually NFL players. Part of being a great quarterback is loving the game, being obsessed with the game. You can never work too hard at your craft and in Texas, football is king. There’s nothing more important than football. Guys are so well coached in high school in Texas.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

“Your development is accelerated in the state of Texas. Usually you can play a little earlier in college. If you play earlier and play more in college, you’re going to be ready when it comes time to get to the NFL.”6

Mahomes, from the small Texas town of Whitehouse, and the Kansas City Chiefs finish a three-game stretch against former Texas quarterbacks on Sunday when they face Mayfield, from Austin, and the Browns in Cleveland. Two weeks ago the Chiefs defeated Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton of the Houston suburb of Katy. Last week, the opposing QB was Denver’s Case Keenum, from the West Texas town of Abilene.

The list of NFL quarterbacks from Texas includes former No. 1 overall draft picks in Detroit’s Matthew Stafford (from the Dallas area), Indianapolis’ Andrew Luck (Houston) and Mayfield as well as future Hall of Famers such as Drew Brees (Austin). Others, such as Keenum and Chicago’s Chase Daniel, weren’t drafted at all.

Texas QBs have stolen the spotlight in the past year, considering they have the reigning Heisman winner and No. 1 pick in Mayfield, the Super Bowl MVP in Nick Foles (Austin) and the newly-minted all-time passing leader in Brees.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

And they are bonded together by some strong, unique Texas roots.

“It’s a way of life [in Texas],” Keenum said. “There are a lot of people who care a lot about it. It’s kind of what you do growing up, especially in my hometown, and I know it’s that way in a lot of hometowns. When you have that many people who care about it that much and have great coaches — I think I’ve heard of other places where it’s similar [and] not to say anything bad about coaches anywhere else, but when you’re in a coach in Texas, you’re a coach. You might teach some in the school, but you don’t go work at Home Depot or at the bank, or [as a] lawyer, doctor, financial guy. You’re a coach.

Patrick Mahomes’ third straight four-TD game fuels Chiefs

The Kansas City Chiefs have as many touchdown passes, 26, through a half-season as they had through all of 2017.

The most significant change is at quarterback, of course, where Patrick Mahomes has replaced Alex Smith.cheap nike nfl jersey

“We’ve put together an interesting offense over the offseason with the pieces we grabbed,’’ Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce said. “Pat is 100 percent a part of that. You can’t say he’s not.’’

The Chiefs still have respect for Smith, a popular player in their locker room in his five seasons as their starter. But it’s just as obvious their offensive capabilities with Mahomes at quarterback are far greater.6

That was again on display Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium, where the Chiefs beat the Denver Broncos 30-23 to raise their record to 7-1. Mahomes threw four touchdown passes, something that for him is becoming routine. He has five games with at least four touchdown passes, including the last three.

Putting that into perspective from a team standpoint, the Chiefs had 21 such games in their 58 seasons before Mahomes became their starter. From an NFL perspective, just two quarterbacks have thrown more than 26 touchdown passes in the first eight games of a season.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Both players, Tom Brady in 2007 and Peyton Manning in 2013, went on to become the NFL MVP and will be in the Hall of Fame.

“I wouldn’t just say it’s the quarterback,’’ Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “That’s not fair to Alex. He did a great job when he was here. But (Mahomes) is a part of it. Patrick has done a nice job. I’m not slighting that at all.’’

Packers squander what could’ve been season-changing win over Rams

Either way, those two sequences could be what prevents the Packers from salvaging their season.

And the shame of it is, they ruined what could have been a season-changing victory.

Maybe the Packers will take their near-takedown of the unbeaten Rams and use it as a galvanizing moment but the way this season has gone, that looks less and less likely with each passing week.

“It better be,” Clay Matthews said. “That’s the best team in the NFL, we hung toe to toe with them and had a chance at the end to win it. We’ve got to take that moving forward. I know we lost, but we’ve got to take that capability moving forward.”cheap nfl jerseys china nike

The Packers, twice in control of the game, let it get away from them not just at the end of the first half but in crunch time, too, in a gutting 29-27 loss.5

The final blow was Ty Montgomery’s fumbled kickoff return that the Rams recovered with 1 minute, 56 seconds to play.

But before that, it was former Packers cornerback Sam Shields’ tip-toeing in front of the goal line to down a punt and pin the Packers. Then, whatever you think of coach Mike McCarthy’s play call — a run with Aaron Jones up the middle — it didn’t work, and the snowball kept rolling downhill. An improbable 10-0 lead over the NFL’s only unbeaten team was all but lost after Jones got stuffed for a safety with 2:47 left and the Rams scored on their ensuing possession.

Just when it looked like they survived that — and regained the lead thanks to more second-half magic from Aaron Rodgers — a Packers’ defense that played perhaps its best game in years, couldn’t hold it. To be sure, they didn’t get much help at the end from rookie punter JK Scott, whose 25-yard kick gave the Rams a short field for the go-ahead score. And just to make sure the Packers would have no chance at all, Montgomery fumbled it away.cheap nike nfl jersey

To that point, almost everything had come up green and gold.

From a Los Angeles Coliseum that was close to half Packers fans to a dominant start by defensive tackle Kenny Clark (two first-half sacks) to pass breakup after pass breakup from first-round pick Jaire Alexander (an NFL-high five) to Jones’ fast start (eight carries for 44 first-half yards), the Packers looked poised for a hallmark victory. That’s just what they needed to start a bruising stretch that takes the Packers to New England next and then to Seattle and Minnesota after a home game against Dolphins.

Kirk Cousins proving to be ‘real deal’ as new leader of Vikings

“I was surprised by how much my teammates gave me that license to lead quickly,” Cousins said at the start of training camp. “I thought they were going to want to have me prove myself a little bit longer than maybe I had to. They were very supportive and said, ‘No, man. It’s your show. Let’s go.’”

Cousins’ personality doesn’t always lend itself to him being the most vocal person on the team. At times, he says he’ll speak up and share his opinion if he feels compelled to, but Cousins considers himself more of a “reluctant” leader.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Two weeks ago in Philadelphia, Cousins was given a chance to step outside of his comfort zone. Prior to the Vikings’ rematch of the NFC Championship Game against the Philadelphia Eagles, defensive tackle Linval Joseph, a locker room leader and captain, asked Cousins to break down the pregame huddle.3

It was a responsibility the Vikings had rotated among several players over the first four games but had often been the job bestowed upon Everson Griffen. The Pro Bowl defensive end excelled in playing off raw emotion and expletive-laden passion to get his guys ready to run through a wall, a la the speech he delivered ahead of the Vikings’ win in Washington last season, a game he missed because of a foot injury.

With Griffen away from the team dealing with issues related to his mental health, the opportunity became Joseph’s. And he passed the baton to Cousins.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

“It was important because Linval asked me to, and you don’t say no to Linval,” Cousins said.

Cousins, whose fiery personality is seen often by his teammates but seldom in public, dove into an impassioned pregame speech, emphasizing finishing every block, every tackle, every play, and above all else, the need to “finish the damn game.”

How the Chiefs coached the recklessness out of Patrick Mahomes

One of the third-quarter throws that Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes made recently against the Denver Broncos broke a lot of the NFL’s unwritten rules for a successful pass.

The right-handed Mahomes was drifting to his left. He threw the ball late to the middle of the field. The pass was made across his body.

But Mahomes still made it work. Tight end Travis Kelce was open and the Chiefs got a 29-yard gain on the play and, eventually, a field goal on the drive.

This was a case, and there have been others this season with Mahomes, when the Chiefs have benefited from letting their quarterback use his uncommonly strong arm.

“They never encourage that,” Mahomes said of coach Andy Reid and the other offensive assistants. “As long as you complete it and you get the first down, they’re fine with it. At the same time, you have to know when not to do that.
Mahomes has yet to get himself or the 5-0 Chiefs into trouble with any of his daring passes. The Chiefs have tamed Mahomes, who arrived with a reputation for making some reckless passes, without taking away the qualities that attracted coach Andy Reid to him in the first place.

That’s a big reason why Mahomes, in his first season as a starter, has 14 touchdown passes with only two interceptions heading into Sunday night’s game against the Patriots in New England.

“Most guys are told not to do that,” said fullback Anthony Sherman, who was referring to the Kelce pass but could have been talking about other unconventional Mahomes passes. “He goes out there and executes it and it’s like, ‘OK, I guess you can do that.’ … Coach Reid gives him the ability that if he thinks he can get it there, throw it and get it there. He knows he’s going to have to get the ball into some tight windows, but he trusts his arm enough.

Raiders CB Gareon Conley may lose spot in starting lineup

And while Conley has been relatively healthy — he came back earlier than expected from a strained hip suffered in the first practice of training camp — and has been a mainstay on defense this season, his snap total dropped off dramatically last weekend. And with Daryl Worley returning from an NFL-mandated four-game suspension last week, Conley is in jeopardy of losing his starting gig at right cornerback.nike replica nfl jerseys

Besides, defensive coordinator Paul Guenther said Tuesday that Conley is “basically a rookie player” and a “work in progress” for a defense still trying to find its identity heading into this weekend’s game in London against the Seattle Seahawks.

“He is learning a lot of things,” Guenther said of Conley. “Unfortunately, he gives up the one play off the goal line and we are in a pretty good call to stop it.”1

Late in the third quarter of Sunday’s 26-10 loss at the Los Angeles Chargers, one snap after Derek Carr’s end zone interception, the Raiders had the hosts on their own 4-yard line. But Chargers receiver Tyrell Williams blew by Conley down the left sideline and Philip Rivers hit him in stride for a 48-yard gain.

“I don’t want to give (Conley) too much right now,” Guenther added. “If we can give him little by little by little, just like a normal rookie player, that’s how I’m viewing Gareon. He really only played one-and-a-half games last year and he sat out pretty much through the offseason. It’s no different than a young player. He’s a work in progress.“replica nike nfl jerseys

After playing 57 defensive snaps (90 percent) in the season opener against the Los Angeles Rams and then tying for the defensive lead with 64 snaps (97 percent) in Denver in Week 2, Conley played 31 snaps (70 percent) at Miami and 55 (68 percent) against the Browns.

But against the Chargers, Conley had just 12 snaps (19 percent), behind fellow corners Worley (49 snaps), Rashaan Melvin (40 snaps), Leon Hall (39 snaps) and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (19 snaps).

“Worley played good,” Gruden said Monday, when asked if Conley’s lack of playing time was related more to his struggles or to Worley playing well.

“Worley is a good player. Gareon had a couple of struggles … (and we’re) trying to find a right mix, trying to find a right mix at a lot of positions. Daryl Worley is a good player. I think he was second on our team in tackles. He earned a right to be out there.”

Josh Allen’s ‘clear mind’ in road test should encourage Bills

As Josh Allen stood on the sideline at U.S. Bank Stadium preparing to take the field with the Buffalo Bills’ offense Sunday, the circumstances alone of making his first career road start could have been overwhelming.

The rookie quarterback was playing without his top offensive playmaker, LeSean McCoy, and for a reeling team considered 17-point underdogs.cheap nike nfl jerseys from china

More rattling, though, could have been the synchronized “Skol” chant performed by Minnesota Vikings fans seconds before the opening kickoff.

“It’s intimidating to come out and hear the ‘Skol’ chant,” Allen said. “[It was] extremely loud, and it was continuous through practically the entire game. There are some good fans here.”

Perhaps their Scandinavian salute to good fortune was accidentally applied to the wrong quarterback.11

Allen, the No. 7 overall pick in April’s draft, presented himself in the Bills’ 27-6 victory as more polished and unfazed than Kirk Cousins, who became the NFL’s highest-paid player when he signed a fully-guaranteed $84 million deal in March.

If Allen can maintain his impressive composure longer than the Vikings retained their perceived advantage Sunday, the Bills might actually fare a chance as their brutal early-season schedule continues with three road trips in the next four weeks.

“[Allen] was decisive early and that’s important,” Bills coach Sean McDermott said. “It looked like he played with a clear mind, which is also important for our young players.”cheap official nike nfl jerseys

The environment Sunday — where the Bills’ blue and red merely dotted the sea of Vikings purple among a crowd of 66,800 — was almost entirely foreign to Allen. He was raised in a farming town of about 8,000 people outside of Fresno, California and, after not receiving any Division I offers, made his mark at Reedley College. The Tigers play their games at a high school stadium where out 350 people witnessed a Reedley win Saturday.

Allen played in front of a larger stage at Wyoming, but only two of his road starts — both blowout losses to Big Ten foes Nebraska and Iowa — came in front of more than 36,000 people.

Will Broncos’ Royce Freeman be an every-down back and fantasy threat?

The Broncos, in fact, haven’t had a running back top 250 carries or an average of a rather pedestrian 15.63 per game since Reuben Droughns had 275 in 2004. As a result, the football world, real or fantasy, might cast a skeptical eye on rookie starter Royce Freeman in the season opener against the Seattle Seahawks.

“He can carry the load from a physical standpoint and a mental standpoint,” Broncos coach Vance Joseph said. “ … That’s what he showed at Oregon. He was their main guy. He had a lot of work, and he stayed healthy through the work. That’s an issue for most young backs. Can they carry the load for 16 weeks? I think with his background, his body type, he should be able to carry the load for 16 weeks.”cheap authentic stitched nfl jerseys

When the Broncos trimmed their roster to 53 players this weekend, they kept three running backs in addition to fullback Andy Janovich, and two of them — Freeman and Phillip Lindsay. — were rookies. That was one fewer than a year ago, and it speaks to what Freeman presents.9

Broncos president of football operations/general manager John Elway hinted as much during the draft in April, when he said “it’s been a while” since the team had a back like the 6-foot, 229-pound Freeman, who ran 4.5 in the 40-yard dash in his pre-draft workouts. While some in the league took a pause at Freeman’s college workload before the draft — 947 carries in four seasons at Oregon to go with 79 career receptions — the Broncos saw it as a career compliment.

“I think they thought I had to be on the field, in the lineup, every week to have those carries,” Freeman said. “… That when my number was called, I was there.”are the nike nfl jerseys stitched

Freeman led the team with three rushing touchdowns in the preseason — he didn’t play in the preseason finale — and flashed both elusiveness and grind-it-out efficiency. It was clear two weeks into training camp, as the Broncos consistently rotated him with the starters, that he was on track to be the starter.

Now, it remains to be seen what that means in a Broncos offense, with Bill Musgrave calling plays. Musgrave called plays for the final six games last season after Mike McCoy was fired, but the Broncos came down the stretch in a hodge-podge of what they had been doing with McCoy and things Musgrave wanted to do.

This year’s playbook is Musgrave’s, and while Joseph has made it no secret he wants a team that can pound the ball, the Broncos’ biggest offseason investment came at quarterback, with the signing of Case Keenum.

Best of ‘Hard Knocks’: The human element of the Browns’ final cuts

The bulk of the show dealt with four players fighting for a job: Defensive linemen Nate Orchard and Carl Nassib, tight end Devon Cajuste and quarterback Brogan Roback. The stories humanized all the players, showing Orchard with his two young children, Roback with his girlfriend and Cajuste with his father.

Orchard actually got some instruction at one point from second-year end Myles Garrett, who marveled upon discovering that Orchard had different stances for run plays and pass plays.

“You ever try just having the same stance for both?” Garrett said.

“I haven’t,” Orchard said. “I should try it though.”8

When Orchard admitted it might take him a little longer if he had a run stance for a pass play, Garrett opined he only had 2½ seconds to get to the quarterback.stitched nfl jerseys cheap

Cajuste’s heartwarming story of the close bond with his father was central to the story. Gregory Cajuste could not make the trip to Detroit for the team’s final preseason game because of his heart issues. But he watched intently on TV.

Cajuste got off to a good start against the Lions, but late in the first half he rolled both of his ankles. It had to affect him, as he did not finish as strong as he started.

The impact of making the team or getting cut was evident, as Gregory Cajuste lived and died with each play. Likewise, Roback’s girlfriend, Ally Goff, wept at the sight of his touchdown pass.

Orchard did not make the team despite returning an interception for a touchdown in the preseason finale. Roback had an impressive scoring strike, but he also was released in the first wave of cuts. Nassib forced a fumble and made the initial cut, but when the Browns picked up another player at his position on waivers, he was released. Cajuste was released in the final cuts.

Players handled their release with class. All said they would stick with it and continue to pursue their dream of playing in the NFL.

When Mayfield told Cajuste on their way to the field in Detroit with Haley to “treat the ball like one of your rocks,” Haley chimed in with: “Block like you’re blocking for one of your rocks.”

During the game, Haley paced the sidelines and said: “Pray to the rock gods.”cheap authentic stitched nfl jerseys

It was good, but not as good as Haley earlier in the series telling Zane Gonzalez after a field goal: “Nice job, you f—ing kicker.”