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Redskins, WR Cody Latimer reach agreement on deal

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The Washington Redskins have agreed to terms on a deal with wide receiver Cody Latimer, a source confirmed to ESPN’s John Keim.

Latimer had 24 receptions, 300 receiving yards and two touchdowns in 15 games (10 starts) for the New York Giants last season.

Before 2019, Latimer had started only five games since being a second-round draft pick of the Denver Broncos in 2014. But Latimer was able to get into the Giants’ lineup and make the most of his opportunities last season because starters Sterling Shepard (concussion) and Golden Tate (suspension for performance-enhancing drugs, concussion) missed time.

Latimer, 27, spent his first four seasons with the Broncos before signing with the Giants in 2018. For his career, Latimer has 70 receptions, 935 receiving yards and six touchdowns.

The NFL Network first reported the news about Latimer.

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Judging Week 2 NFL overreactions

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If there’s a fan base anywhere in the world that knows it’s not enough to be up 20-0 at the end of the first quarter, or 29-10 at halftime or even 39-24 with five minutes left in the game, it would be the Atlanta Falcons‘ fan base. So when Greg Zuerlein‘s field goal split the uprights with time expired to give the Dallas Cowboys the improbable 40-39 victory on Sunday, Falcons fans still stinging from Super Bowl LI couldn’t have been surprised. Angry? Sure, but not surprised. They are seasoned veterans of disappointment. We will get back to them in a moment.

The rest of us could feel free to be stunned. Dazzled. Left to wonder if what we’d just seen was something that had never happened before. Which it was.

Yes, seriously. There has never been a game like the one the Cowboys and the Falcons played Sunday. The Falcons didn’t just have all of those big leads, they possessed the ball for 33:48 and won the turnover battle 3-0. According to the Elias Sports Bureau research, since 1933 — when team turnovers were first tracked — teams that scored 39 or more points and had no turnovers in a game were a combined 440-0. Until Sunday.

A lot went into this, and what will be dissected the most as everybody on both sides of the Cowboy Hot Take battle goes to their respective corners, is how badly the Falcons messed up on the onside kick that set the Cowboys up to kick the winning field goal. If there’s one team on the planet that should know the onside-kick rules, it’s the Falcons, who execute them successfully more than any other team. Yet there they stood, watching the ball bounce as if they didn’t know they were allowed to touch it before it went 10 yards while the Cowboys (who weren’t) were happy to pick it up once it had.

The result will inevitably be arguments about whether the Cowboys really won this game or if the Falcons lost it. But that takes away from what Dak Prescott accomplished, and nothing should.

The Dallas quarterback had 312 passing yards, a touchdown pass and three rushing touchdowns in the second half of this game. His full-game passing numbers were 34-for-47 for 450 yards and no interceptions. Playing for a team that fumbled four times in the first quarter, failed on two fake-punt attempts in its own territory and trailed by seemingly impossible margins all game long, Prescott kept his cool, delivered a signature comeback win and — perhaps most importantly — put himself in position to lead this week’s overreaction column.

Dak Prescott will be the NFL’s highest-paid player next year

You might have heard, but over the offseason, Prescott and the Cowboys were unable to come to an agreement on a contract extension, which means Prescott is playing this season on a $31.4 million franchise tag and will be eligible for unrestricted free agency in March. Per the league’s franchise player rules, because no deal was done by July 15, the Cowboys and Prescott are not allowed to negotiate again until after their season ends. If the Cowboys don’t sign him to a long-term deal or franchise him again between their last game and the start of the league year in March, he will be a free agent, and any team can sign him.

The verdict: NOT AN OVERREACTION. The main issue between the Cowboys and Prescott this summer was the length of the contract extension. He wanted a shorter-term deal that would have allowed him to hit the market again sooner. The Cowboys wanted a long-term deal that would help them manage their salary cap. But make no mistake: Dallas was willing to pay. At the time Prescott was tagged — before new deals came in for Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson — the highest-paid player in the league was Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson at $35 million per year. The Cowboys’ offer was in that neighborhood. They were willing to pay him at the top of the market.

Now, the top of the market has soared much higher. The new money in Watson’s deal averages $39 million per year. Mahomes’ deal is harder to synthesize, because it’s 12 years long and heavily backloaded, but assuming he plays out the whole thing, you can say he’ll make $45 million a year in new money. Prescott’s floor has to be $40 million if Dallas wants him to talk extension again in February, and if he wants to play hardball he can easily go higher. Franchising him again in 2021 will cost them about $37.7 million, and then franchising him again in 2022 would cost them about $54.3 million. That’s roughly $92 million over two years, which averages out to $46 million per year.

Prescott is very much in the driver’s seat here. The Cowboys will need to sign him in order to drop that potential 2021 cap number in a year in which the cap is projected to drop to $175 million per team. If he has another great year and hits the open market, his price could easily soar past Watson’s and maybe challenge Mahomes’. Multiple teams bidding on a 27-year-old star quarterback? Tell me you can put a cap on where the market might value that.


Dan Quinn will be the first head coach fired this season

The Falcons are 0-2 and have allowed a combined total of 78 points in their first two games. Quinn was on thin ice with a 1-7 record at midseason last season and saved his job with a 6-2 finish. His background is on the defensive side of the ball, and so far his defense has been a sieve in 2020. Perhaps most damning of all is the fact that his team looked unprepared for the most important play of the game, which turned out to be that onside kick.

This is Quinn’s sixth year as Atlanta’s coach. He’s 46-41 counting postseason play and took the team to the Super Bowl in his second year. But he has been 7-9 two years in a row and is off to a brutal start in a tough-looking division. Not looking great.

The verdict: OVERREACTION. Falcons owner Arthur Blank is close with Quinn and thinks highly of him, and Blank has shown plenty of patience through some major disappointments. It’s possible — even likely — that Quinn won’t be back in 2021 if the Falcons have another losing season, but it would be a surprise to see Blank move on while a season is still in progress.

Elsewhere, Matt Patricia isn’t on the thickest of ice in Detroit, and Adam Gase doesn’t look as if he’s about to turn things around with the Jets. There are other candidates for this distinction, and it’s too early for anyone — especially in a year as weird as this one has been — to be firing coaches right now.


The New York teams will pick first and second in the 2021 NFL draft.

The Giants lost to the Bears 17-13 and almost certainly lost superstar running back Saquon Barkley to a season-ending knee injury. The Jets lost 31-13 to the injury-ravaged 49ers. Both teams are 0-2, neither was expected to contend this season anyway, and it’s really hard to map out a road to a successful season for either one of them.

What the Giants and the Jets need to do is find out as much as they can about their young quarterbacks so they’re in position to make long-term decisions in the offseason based on how they feel about Daniel Jones and Sam Darnold, respectively. The only question is how long they can go relative to the other non-contenders.

The verdict: NOT AN OVERREACTION. Heading into the week, the ESPN Football Power Index projected the Giants to pick No. 2 and the Jets to pick No. 6 in next year’s draft. So heck yeah, it’s possible.

I’ve been thinking since the spring that Carolina was the most likely team to pick first next year, but without Barkley, I don’t see what’s keeping the Giants from making a real run at it. They play the 49ers, Rams and Cowboys the next three weeks, and the last two are long road trips. In the second half of the season, they have road games in Seattle and Baltimore.

The Jets’ schedule still includes games against the Colts, Chargers, Chiefs, Seahawks, Rams and two each against the Bills and Patriots. And don’t forget — those are only the tough-looking games. Right now, as they have been for several years, the New York teams are the easy-looking games on other teams’ schedules.


You guys. Seriously. Is Josh Allen, like, really, really good? He came out of Sunday’s lightning delay in Miami as if he’d been struck by lightning and gifted with enhanced superpowers. Allen finished the day 24-for-35 passing for 417 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions for the 2-0 Bills.

Allen is the fourth quarterback in NFL history to throw for more than 700 yards and at least six touchdowns without an interception in his first two games. The others are Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes, who have combined to win nine MVP awards.

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In the final minute of the first half on third-and-8, Josh Allen avoids the sack, then simply refuses to go down as he fights through multiple Dolphins defenders.

The verdict: NOT AN OVERREACTION. There has never been any doubt about Allen’s physical gifts. The questions about him have been about accuracy and consistency — whether he can improve the former and maintain the latter. He still seems to do one or two things every game that make it look as if he’s playing his first game ever, but so far this season he has been as impeccable as anyone in the league.

On paper, Buffalo has the best roster in the AFC East by far. Coming into the season, the only major question mark was Allen. If he has truly taken a major step forward and can maintain this level of performance throughout the season, he’s in the discussion, because the Bills are going to win a lot of games.


The Vikings’ season is already over

Woof. Outside of the Jets, has any team looked worse in its first two games than Minnesota? In Week 1, Aaron Rodgers treated the Vikings’ defense like a piñata with Brian Gutekunst’s face on it. In Week 2, the Colts absolutely smothered the Vikings’ offense. Kirk Cousins on Sunday was a Peterman-esque 11-for-26 passing for 113 yards and three interceptions. He was the first Vikings quarterback with a sub-50 completion percentage in a game since Brad Johnson in 2006. You don’t hear a lot of Vikings fans pining for a return to the Brad Johnson era.

Minnesota was outgained by Indianapolis 354 yards to 175. It had 12 first downs to the Colts’ 24. It possessed the ball for just 21:35 out of a possible 60:00. NFL offenses don’t look much more inept than Minnesota’s did in Week 2, and there’s no sugarcoating it.

The Packers are 2-0 and so, somehow, is a Bears team that was outscored 23-6 in the first three quarters of its first game and 13-0 in the second half of its second. So the Vikings are already two games behind the defending division champs and some sort of Mitchell Trubisky magic show. Not the way you want to start a season.

The verdict: OVERREACTION. First of all, there are seven playoff teams per conference this year. So the otherwise troubling fact that only four of the 108 teams to reach the Super Bowl started 0-2 is no longer relevant.

Second of all, Mike Zimmer hasn’t had a losing record since he went 7-9 in his first season as Vikings coach in 2014. His team has a young secondary and a defense that has gone through a lot of change for the first time in years, but there’s still plenty of talent there. They will need time to get their feet under them.

Cousins has had a stinker or two before but tends to bounce back, and he seems to be driven by the doubters. It’s a tough climb back, but I’m willing to bet Sunday was the worst game the Vikings will play in 2020.

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Seahawks’ Russell Wilson, DK Metcalf connect on 54-yard TD

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SEATTLE — DK Metcalf scored a game-changing touchdown in the Seattle Seahawks‘ season opener last week when he blew by Atlanta Falcons cornerback Isaiah Oliver on a fourth-and-3 play.

The victim on Metcalf’s second touchdown of the season: reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year in New England Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore.

The Seahawks’ second-year wide receiver showed he’s got strength to go along with his blazing speed when he fought through contact from Gilmore to haul in an over-the-shoulder throw from quarterback Russell Wilson, leading to a 54-yard touchdown.

The play tied the Seahawks-Patriots Sunday night matchup at 14 all midway through the second quarter. According to ESPN Stats & Information, that was the first touchdown Gilmore has allowed as the nearest defender in coverage since 2018. Last season, Gilmore had a league-high 96 targets without allowing a TD.

Gilmore has been shadowing Metcalf for much of the game’s first half.



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Mike McCarthy’s first win with Dallas Cowboys a comeback for the ages

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ARLINGTON, Texas — There is something about AT&T Stadium that agrees with Mike McCarthy.

He won Super Bowl XLV there with the Green Bay Packers and was 4-0 entering his first home opener as the Dallas Cowboys‘ head coach on Sunday. He improved to 5-0 after the Cowboys’ 40-39 victory against the Atlanta Falcons that even he could not believe.

“I had one on the other sideline, but it’s not like this,” McCarthy said when asked if he had been part of a game like Sunday’s.

Perhaps McCarthy was referring to the 2014 NFC Championship Game loss to the Seattle Seahawks when the Packers were up 12 with four minutes to play and lost after failing to secure an onside kick.

On Sunday, McCarthy’s Cowboys recovered an onside kick with 1:46 to play and won on Greg Zuerlein‘s 46-yard field goal as time expired to overcome being down 20-0 in the first quarter, a 29-10 halftime disadvantage and a 15-point deficit with less than five minutes to play.

According to research by ESPN Stats & Information, teams were 1,875-6 when leading by 15 or more points in the final five minutes of regulation over the past 20 seasons. The previous team to overcome such a deficit was the New Orleans Saints against Washington in 2017.

Make that 1,875-7.

“We dug ourselves such a big hole in the first quarter and I just think the way the guys rallied and just kept going,” McCarthy said. “Especially since it’s a young season, we’re early in the process of our football team finding out about each other each and every day. So, it’s a big chunk of confidence that we’ll carry forward. I’m very proud of the team. I’m very proud of everybody. I can’t say enough about the way our players kept playing.”

It tied for the second-biggest comeback in team history. Three times the Cowboys have overcome 21-point holes, with the most recent coming in 2014.

For McCarthy, it was also the second-biggest comeback of his coaching career. In 2013, his Packers trailed the Cowboys by 23 at AT&T Stadium and won 37-36. Twice they overcame 20-point holes. In Week 13 in 2015, they beat the Detroit Lions, and in the 2018 season opener they came back against the Chicago Bears.

In a locker room running back Ezekiel Elliott described as “crazy,” and linebacker Jaylon Smith called “ecstatic,” McCarthy was given the game ball for his first win as the Cowboys’ coach. “That’s a helluva first win, especially at home,” tight end Dalton Schultz said. “I think it gives us a lot of momentum going forward.”

A loss could have been crushing. After losing the season opener to the Los Angeles Rams, McCarthy acknowledged the “honeymoon was over” but also said he felt the Cowboys were closer to winning than people had thought.

The first quarter told the opposite story. The Cowboys lost three of their four fumbles — one by quarterback Dak Prescott, two by Elliott and one by Schultz — to go down 20-0. The defense allowed scores on six consecutive first-half possessions, and the special teams contributed with a failed fake punt when Chris Jones‘ pass to C.J. Goodwin fell short.

The Cowboys closed to within five points in the third quarter, but the defense wilted again, allowing Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan to throw his fourth touchdown pass. McCarthy then chose to gamble again on fourth down, giving the go-ahead for a fake punt that saw Darian Thompson stopped short of a first down.

The Falcons (0-2) responded with a field goal to up the lead to 39-24 with 7:57 to play. Even when Prescott hit Schultz for a touchdown pass with 4:57 to play, McCarthy raised eyebrows by going for the 2-point conversion that failed.

That required two scores and a defensive stop.

“The decision to go for two there is simple mathematics where you’d rather know if it’s a two-score game at the earliest time instead of taking all the way it down to the end and playing for two points at the end,” McCarthy said. “I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve been involved in this particular situation. To go for two there is just to make it clear with a little over four minutes left if we were going to be in a one-score game or a two-score game was the thinking.”

The defense held, Prescott added his third rushing touchdown — a record for a Cowboys quarterback — and then came the play McCarthy absolutely needed: the recovery of an onside kick.

Zuerlein’s spinning squibber seemed to confound the Falcons’ hands team so much that it allowed Goodwin to jump on the loose ball after 10 yards.

“I have never used it before in a game,” Zuerlein said, “but we practiced it early in the year just because you have to have something.”

Prescott, who threw for 450 yards, hit rookie wide receiver CeeDee Lamb for 24 yards to the Atlanta 30 and the Cowboys used three more plays to set up Zuerlein for the winner.

“It’s an incredible game to be a part of,” Prescott said. “I think more than anything it showed our faith and resiliency.”

For McCarthy, it was career win No. 126 and his fifth in a row at AT&T Stadium.

“Let’s keep that going,” he said. “It’s a great place.”

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