ARLINGTON, Texas — Maybe the game’s outcome was already decided, since the Dallas Cowboys were leading by 14 points in the fourth quarter and the New York Giants were without quarterback Daniel Jones, running back Saquon Barkley and wide receiver Kenny Golladay, but Dak Prescott still had a message.
The Cowboys had the ball at their 2-yard line with 12:22 left to play and were up 27-13.
“This is 98 yards,” the Cowboys quarterback told his offensive teammates in the huddle. “This is a challenge. … One play at a time. Focus in on your job. Be disciplined and we’ll look up and we’ll be in the end zone.”
On first down, running back Ezekiel Elliott picked up 10 yards. Two plays later, wide receiver CeeDee Lamb had an 18-yard catch, but offensive tackle Terence Steele was penalized for unnecessary roughness after the gain. No problem. Wide receiver Cedrick Wilson completed a 22-yard pass to Noah Brown, missing an open Lamb for a potential touchdown on the trick play.
On third-and-1 from the Dallas 48, Wilson was on the receiving end of a Prescott throw for 35 yards. Two plays later, Elliott had a 13-yard touchdown run.
Ninety-eight yards on nine plays, chewing up 4 minutes, 48 seconds. Game really over. The Cowboys won 44-20.
Aside from the Steele penalty, the drive was the epitome of the Cowboys’ offensive dominance that has been on display this season and especially during their four-game winning streak.
“When we’re focused and when we’re all playing and doing our one job, that’s what we expect,” Prescott said, “and that’s why our standards are so high.”
In their past three games, the Cowboys have scored 121 points, their most in a three-game span since Weeks 15-17 in 2014 (124).
In their four-game winning streak, the Cowboys lead the NFL in rushing yards (804) and are second in yards per rush (5.54).
In his past three games, Prescott has 10 touchdown passes. Against the Giants, he had a 49-yard touchdown pass to Lamb and a 24-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Amari Cooper. After missing on five passes in the first quarter, he missed on just five passes over the last three quarters.
Elliott had his second straight 100-yard rushing game, finishing with 110 yards on 21 carries. For the eighth time in his career he had a rushing and receiving touchdown in the same game. Running back Tony Pollard had 75 yards rushing and 28 yards receiving, marking the first time since 2019 both of the Cowboys’ backs topped 100 scrimmage yards in the same game.
“Correct me if wrong, this is our third week of running for 200 again,” Elliott said. “So, I think the O-line came out there and dominated and everything fell [into place] after that.”
Elliott is not wrong. It is also the first time in franchise history the Cowboys have had more than 200 yards rushing as a team in three straight games.
Against the Giants, the Cowboys put up 515 yards on offense, marking the first time since 1983 a Dallas offense had more than 200 yards rushing and 300 yards passing in the same game.
Whichever way an opposing defense wants to attempt to slow the Cowboys, offensive coordinator Kellen Moore can counter. If defenses want to stack the box, Prescott can throw it all over the field. If the defenses choose to sit back in coverage, the Cowboys will run it effectively.
“Kellen has so much great stuff,” Prescott said, “and he knows when to call it.”
As good as it has been, the Cowboys have not been perfect. Two first-quarter turnovers by Prescott led to a slow start against the Giants. They also have not had receiver Michael Gallup (calf strain) or right tackle La’el Collins (suspension) since the season opener, so they feel like they have room to grow.
“It’s great to be on an offense this talented,” Lamb said. “We know you don’t always have to make the play or you don’t have to stretch yourself to make the play because you know your brother has your back. We have so many offensive weapons and we feel like we can score from any point. Any point on the field it’s like we’re in the strike zone.”
Even from 98 yards away.
Two-interception game caps memorable week for Philadelphia Eagles corner Darius Slay – Philadelphia Eagles Blog
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — During his news conference following Sunday’s come-from-behind 21-18 win over the Carolina Panthers, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts was asked about one of his key late-game runs. But Hurts had something else entirely on his mind, and directed the conversation to it.
“I don’t want to talk about that. I want to talk about how the defense played. How Darius Slay came out, added another munchkin to the bunch this week, came out here and got two picks,” he said.
That was a concise summary of a chaotic and memorable week for Slay. The cornerback’s wife gave birth to their son, Desmond Demetrius, on Thursday — the couple’s fifth child together. Understandably busy, Slay missed Thursday’s practice and wasn’t able to dedicate as much time to preparation as he normally would.
Desmond Demetrius slay is here❤️❤️❤️ another future king!!!🙏🏾
— Darius Slay (@bigplay24slay) October 7, 2021
All he did was come out and have his best game in an Eagles uniform. He intercepted quarterback Sam Darnold twice and limited the Panthers’ DJ Moore, one of the most productive wide receivers in the league, to five catches for 42 yards. It was the 30-year-old Slay’s first game with multiple interceptions since Week 15 of 2017.
“Shout out to my teammates because a lot of times I couldn’t go to practice,” he said. “I didn’t get any reps, just walking through, Zoom calls, my baby boy was born. Rod [Rodney McLeod], Ant [Anthony Harris], all the DB guys, I told them, ‘I’m going to need everyone today.’ I prepared as much as I could. I leaned on those guys. We cover each other. I appreciate them boys for having my back out there and putting me in position to make the plays that I made.”
Slay has been solid if unspectacular since the Eagles acquired him from the Detroit Lions in 2020 for third- and fifth-round picks, then signed him to a three-year, $50 million contract. He has frequently been asked to shadow the opposition’s top receiver and isn’t targeted as much as other corners, but had only one interception through 19 games with the Eagles. Quarterbacks had been completing 75% of their passes when throwing in his direction. On Sunday, he looked more like the shutdown corner he was in Detroit, earning him one of the better nicknames in the NFL.
“That’s ‘Big Play Slay,’ that’s what he do,” said rookie receiver DeVonta Smith. “He went out there and he made plays.”
Slay showed his value as a veteran leader as well. Following Smith’s third-quarter fumble, Slay went up to him on the sideline and told him, “S— happens, keep your head up”, “You’re a playmaker” and “We’re for you, as a team, as a unit.”
Smith finished with seven catches for 77 yards and a two-point conversion following the Eagles’ go-ahead touchdown.
“He said let it go,” Smith said, “and that’s what I did.”
The Eagles are now 2-3. It’s been a roller-coaster ride on both sides of the ball, with each unit taking turns dominating and being dominated. The defense is the more experienced unit of the two. If one unit is going to stabilize and become the more reliable partner, it’s the defense. As one of the secondary’s best players, Slay is key to making that happen.
There’s no rest for Papa Slay. Tom Brady and the Bucs come to town on Thursday night (8:20 p.m. ET, Fox/NFL Network).
NFL kickers have historically rough week with record-setting misses
From this moment forward, Week 5 shall be remembered as the week all the kicks were missed. One minute a slew of game-winning field goals — including Justin Tucker‘s NFL-record 66-yarder in Week 3 — were ensuring kickers got their flowers, the next they couldn’t seem to buy a make.
To be clear, Tucker got out of the Baltimore Ravens‘ Monday Night Football matchup with the Indianapolis Colts unscathed … because he’s Justin Tucker. But Colts kicker Rodrigo Blankenship wasn’t as lucky.
Blankenship’s name got added to the list of kickers who fell prey to the Week 5 curse when he delivered the 13th missed extra point of the week.
Rodrigo Blankenship’s missed PAT on #MondayNightFootball was the 13th miss across the NFL this week
That is the most missed PAT in a single week in the Super Bowl era
It is also the 25th missed kick in total this week (incl. 12 missed FG), most in a week since Week 11, 1987
— NFL Research (@NFLResearch) October 12, 2021
Not long after the above was tweeted, Blankenship missed a 47-yard field goal attempt on the final play of regulation (the 13th failed field goal of the week), bringing the grand tally to 26 muffed kicks since Thursday.
The influx of misses marks the first week with at least 10 missed field goals and at least 10 missed extra points since the point after touchdown was moved back from the 2-yard line to the 15-yard line in 2015.
It all started when Los Angeles Rams kicker Matt Gay missed an extra point on his team’s first touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks during Thursday Night Football. Things went downhill quickly from there.
On Sunday morning, the bad juju continued in London when New York Jets kicker Matt Ammendola missed an extra-point attempt on the Jets’ first touchdown of the day in their early loss to the Atlanta Falcons.
Then, on Sunday afternoon, Week 5 caught up with Mason Crosby. The Green Bay Packers‘ kicker entered the matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals having made 27 straight field goals. Week 5 appeared to take that personally as Crosby missed three crucial field goals and an extra point before eventually making the game-winner.
With Green Bay and Cincinnati tied at 22 with 2:12 left, Crosby shanked a 36-yarder wide left. The Bengals then drove into field goal range for their own go-ahead field goal attempt, but in a shocking turn of events, Evan McPherson’s 57-yard attempt also resulted in a miss.
WE’RE GOING TO OT IN CINCY.
— NFL (@NFL) October 10, 2021
In overtime, the Packers intercepted Joe Burrow to set up another winning field goal chance for Crosby. To the surprise of absolutely no one reading this, he missed. That gave Cincinnati’s McPherson another chance at the game-winner. One that he, too, missed.
It hit the flag?!
— NFL (@NFL) October 10, 2021
Crosby eventually redeemed himself with a 49-yard field goal to give the Packers the win.
But the collective kicking woes hardly stopped there.
The Los Angeles Chargers managed to pull out a win over the Cleveland Browns; however, it was hardly thanks to stellar kicking. Tristan Vizcaino missed a pair of extra points, including one that would have tied the game at 42 after Austin Ekeler took a screen pass to the house with just over three minutes left. Vizcaino has now missed four extra points on the season.
In keeping with the theme, the New England Patriots‘ close win over the Houston Texans featured three missed extra points in a row. The Texans’ Ka’imi Fairbairn missed the PAT on his team’s first score, and Patriots kicker Nick Folk answered with a missed PAT of his own on the Patriots’ first touchdown. When Houston responded with another touchdown, Fairbairn missed another extra point. You can’t make this stuff up, folks.
Elsewhere, Cody Parkey of the New Orleans Saints missed an extra point after a touchdown by Alvin Kamara against the Washington Football Team and Jacksonville Jaguars kicker Matthew Wright missed the extra point on the Jaguars’ first touchdown of the day.
Can’t help wondering if the word “missed” has ever been used more frequently in a story. Also, on a slightly unrelated note, that things can only get better from here for beleaguered kickers everywhere.
Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers puts Davante Adams on catch and repeat in win over Bengals – Green Bay Packers Blog
CINCINNATI – Why Davante Adams isn’t the highest-paid receiver in the NFL is a question for another day. The one that must be asked after the Green Bay Packers receiver caught pass after pass on Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals is this:
How does he keep doing this?
Play after play. Game after game. Season after season.
On another day when just about everyone in the stadium knew where Aaron Rodgers wanted to go with the football, another opponent found almost no way to stop him.
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Adams caught 11 passes for a career-high 206 yards and a touchdown in the Packers’ improbable 25-22 overtime victory that included five missed field goals in the final couple of minutes in regulation and overtime. It was the most yards in a game by a Packers receiver in more than seven years and the team’s first 200-yard receiving game since Jordy Nelson’s 209 against the Jets in Week 2 of 2014.
“I told at least three people outside the building – talking to family, one of my cousins, talking to my wife, I told her — ‘I feel like this could be my career high this game,’” Adams said. “So, either I’m clairvoyant or I know what I’m talking about.”
Clairvoyance might not be Adams’ only psychic ability.
Adams also claimed that during some of his catches he gets the feeling that he’s done the same thing before. Like on his 20-yard catch with seconds remaining in regulation to set up a potential game-winning field goal. It reminded him of what happened two weeks earlier in San Francisco, when Adams caught one over the middle to set up Mason Crosby’s 51-yard winning field goal. This time, Crosby missed from 51, but …
“I have this thing in games where I have déjà vu during the play,” Adams said. “It’s like a really weird thing.”
So weird that Adams once told fellow Packers receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling that he thought something was wrong with him.
“I’ll catch a ball and as I’m catching a football I’ll subconsciously have a quick flashback to something that’s happened before,” Adams said. “I don’t know. It’s like some weird ‘That’s So Raven’ s—. But when I get in those moments, it kind of helps me, because I know I’ve been there before so I turned up field, I started trying to take it all the way, I just didn’t know who was on that back side.”
But on Sunday’s déjà-vu play, Adams still had the presence of mind to snap out of it and realize if he didn’t get down, Rodgers might not have time to get everyone set for a clock-stopping spike.
“I decided to get down and give myself up,” Adams said. “But obviously we didn’t put that one through, but he came through at the end.”
It doesn’t happen without Adams, who was targeted 16 times (12 more than Rodgers’ next-highest-targeted receiver).
The reigning four-time Pro Bowler, Adams last season set the franchise record with 115 catches and tied the team mark for most receiving touchdowns (18) in a season. In the process, he became the first player in NFL history with 100-plus catches and 18 touchdowns.
Sunday was Adams’ second double-digit catch game and third triple-digit receiving yards game in the first five weeks of the season. Through Sunday’s games, Adams leads all NFL receivers in receptions (42), targets (61) and yards (579).
While Rodgers said Adams rarely does anything that surprises him anymore, they did connect on a deep ball for Adams’ season-long catch of 59 yards in the fourth quarter.
“Even when you know that I’m probably going to him, he still finds a way to get open and makes a big catch and breaks a tackle,” Rodgers said. “The guy is a special player. We had some coverages we hadn’t expected or run those plays against over the last couple of years. Hit that deep ball, hadn’t hit that type of reaction on that play since 2009 at Arizona.”
Adams wasn’t the only one who felt like he was headed for a big day.
“I could feel him early and I could tell,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said. “He’s a guy who’s hungry for the football and he shows good reason why. He’s got people draped all over him and it doesn’t matter. He finds a way to do it every time. There’s a reason he’s got that 99 rating in Madden. He is a baller. I don’t think there’s anybody better than him. We’re fortunate to have him.”
Adams said before the season that he deserves to be the NFL’s highest-paid receiver. Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst agreed, but they just can’t agree on what exactly defines the highest paid.
There’s also this: Does Adams want that to happen in Green Bay, where Rodgers’ future beyond this season is uncertain?
“It’s time to just …” Adams said before stopping himself. “I’m just catching balls now and just having fun. I’m not really thinking about that. That’s typically how it goes, but that’s not really my main focus when I’m out there.”
He’s too busy predicting his big games and having déjà vu in the middle of them.
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