Redskins

Cowboys can't shake gloom of late-season flops

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Cowboys can't shake gloom of late-season flops

IRVING, Texas (AP) Tony Romo sat alone on the Dallas bench, his stare frozen at the ground on a cold night in Washington.

Any number of things could have been going through the mind of the Cowboys quarterback in the final minutes of a 28-18 loss to the Redskins on Sunday night - his third playoffs-or-bust failure in five years in a finale against an NFC East rival.

Maybe it was his latest big mistake in a huge moment, an interception that helped Washington clinch the win. Or his famous flub on the hold for what could have been a game-winning field goal in his first playoff game six years ago at Seattle. Or that the Cowboys still had a chance so late in a season notable for the death of a teammate and injuries to so many key players.

``It stings,'' said Romo, who dropped to 1-6 in elimination games with Dallas. ``You put your heart into this thing for so long, throughout the year, this offseason. We had to overcome a lot of stuff just to get ourselves in this situation.''

The words of tight end Jason Witten when he arrived at training camp - ``can't be the same old story'' - haunt the Cowboys now because it was. Mistakes and poor game management cost them some wins early in the season. Interceptions - nine of them - piled up on Romo in two losses. After winning five of six to regain control of their playoff fate, the Cowboys dropped the last two.

In the recent series of winner-take-all finales, the Cowboys have been swept by their three division rivals. Philadelphia blew them out in 2008, and the New York Giants took a 21-0 lead in a 31-14 victory last season.

Romo had the ball 85 yards from the end zone against the Redskins, with plenty of time to lead a scoring drive that could have ended a two-year playoff drought. Instead, he floated a pass that leaping Redskins linebacker Rob Jackson grabbed, and now Dallas is missing the postseason for the fourth time in Romo's six full seasons as the starter.

Dallas has become the definition of mediocrity, finishing 8-8 for the second year in a row and now holding a record of 128-128 since the start of the 1997 season. That means 2013 will be the third straight year with a record that starts at an even .500 going back more than a decade. Dallas has one playoff win in that span.

``If we don't do a good enough job then it is the same old story,'' Witten said Monday in a quiet and mostly empty Cowboys locker room. ``We've just got to stomach it up and get better because of it. That's the only way to get to the top.''

Much has changed since Dallas was 3-5 and facing early playoff elimination. In the midst of the 5-1 stretch that vaulted them to a tie for the division lead, the Cowboys had to play through the death of practice squad linebacker Jerry Brown in a car accident that led to intoxication manslaughter charges against nose tackle Josh Brent.

The wreck happened hours before Brent was supposed to be on the team plane to Cincinnati, where he was expected to start in place of injured Jay Ratliff. Dallas scored 10 points in the fourth quarter and beat the Bengals 20-19 on a field goal by Dan Bailey as time expired.

That turned out to be the first of three straight games decided on the final play, with the Cowboys splitting back-to-back overtime games at home by beating Pittsburgh and losing to New Orleans.

Questions about coach Jason Garrett's job disappeared as he steered the team through the death of Brown and the wins kept coming. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones lauded Garrett's leadership, and while Jones hasn't directly said Garrett will return, he has said he was never really considering an alternative.

Now the question is whether these Cowboys will be remembered for perseverance or another failure.

``I think we'll probably remember it for both of those things,'' Garrett said. ``These players and coaches went through a lot this year, overcame a lot of adversity, handled things the right way, got stronger as a result of it and that's really a special thing to be a part of.''

Injuries picked part the Dallas defense most of the season, but it was the offense's turn against the Redskins. Receivers Dez Bryant, Miles Austin and Dwayne Harris were sidelined at various times, and Bryant spent the night in a hospital after injuring his back late in the game.

Bryant, who had a breakout season with 1,382 yards and 12 touchdowns, was moving gingerly on crutches at team headquarters Monday. Austin and Harris had sprained ankles.

The defense, which gave up 200 yards rushing to Washington rookie Alfred Morris, will eagerly await the return of inside linebackers Sean Lee and Bruce Carter, along with three other starters who missed significant time. Several waiver wire pickups played plenty of snaps late in the season.

``Eventually, we're going to get this thing right,'' said cornerback Brandon Carr, who signed a $50 million free agent contract this year. ``This offseason is going to be turned up a few more notches than last offseason. I don't accept losing and none of the guys in this locker room accepts losing and we're tired of this feeling.''

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Need to Know: A random walk through the Redskins past for edition No. 2000

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Need to Know: A random walk through the Redskins past for edition No. 2000

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, January 21, 52 days before NFL free agency starts.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL franchise tag deadline (3/6) 44
—NFL Draft (4/26) 95
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 231

Need to Know No. 2000

This is a special edition of Need to Know. It was 2,000 days ago, on July 31, 2012, that this post designed to give Redskins fans the news and views they need to get their days started was posted for the first time. And it has gone up every single morning since that day, 2,000 mornings in a row.

There is no reliable way to measure how many have read the post since site redesigns and name changes have made reliable tracking difficult. But NTK page views are estimated in the tens of millions. Thanks to all of you for reading and commenting, both on the site and on social media. It’s the passion of Redskins fans that makes the job so enjoyable.

Here is a look back at some of the “landmark” editions of Need to Know. I can’t like to all of them because of the aforementioned changes but it’s an interesting, random walk through Redskins history.

No. 1, “Hits to the depth chart”, 7/31/12—The Redskins were trying to deal with the losses of LB Jonathan Goff, who had suffered a season-ending knee injury, and G Kory Lichtensteiger, who was out after getting his knee scoped. Also, the Saints, who were the Redskins’ opponent in the opener, were complaining about the Bountygate penalties. A lot. See, even during training camp in 2012, NTK was able to look beyond RG3 hysteria to get you to the other important stories of the day.

No. 500, “Nickel coverage—Jordan Reed misses practice”, 12/13/13—Yes, the more things change the more things stay the same. The talented tight end, then a rookie, was still trying to a recover from a concussion he suffered a few weeks earlier. Reed ended up going on injured reserve, missing the last six games. Also, Mike Shanahan said that didn’t pay any attention to all of the negative talk about the team in the media and Kyle Shanahan said that didn’t have any input into the decision to bench RG3 and play Kirk Cousins. Both claims were greeted with skepticism.

No. 1,000, “Can the Redskins draft an immediate O-line starter?”, 4/27/15—This was just a couple of days before the draft. Brandon Scherff, who ended up being Redskins’ top pick at No. 5 overall, is not mentioned but he did indeed become the team’s selection. This was Scot McCloughan’s first draft and the identity of the Redskins’ first pick was still a mystery. Although Scherff’s name often came up, most mocks had them going with edge rusher Dante Fowler, who ended up going to the Jaguars at No. 3.

No. 1,500, “Redskins searching for back to back playoff spots”, 9/8/2016—This was a “By the numbers” look at the team as it approached their season opener against the Steelers. They were coming off of a playoff berth in 2015 and, as we know now, their streak of consecutive seasons without going to the playoffs at least two straight years would continue. In 2016 were able to stop a 19-year streak of not having back to back willing seasons, just barely, by going 8-7-1. One more interesting number from the post—Kirk Cousins’ pass completion percentage at home in 2015 was 74.7 percent, the highest in NFL history.

Again, thanks for reading. See you tomorrow for edition No. 2,001.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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Game 48: Capitals vs. Flyers Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

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USA TODAY Sports

Game 48: Capitals vs. Flyers Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Philadelphia Flyers

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: 12:30 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Flyers will be broadcast on NBC

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Flyers game on NBC Sports' live stream page.

You can also stream the game online with no cable TV subscription on fuboTV (try for free!).

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-FLYERS GAME?

The Capitals (28-15-4) take on the Flyers (22-16-8) Sunday, January 21 at 12:30 p.m. ET in Washington.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-FLYERS GAME ON?

The Capitals-Flyers game will be broadcast on NBC. Coverage kicks off on NBC Sports Washington with Capitals FaceOff at  11:30 a.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 12:00 p.m. Check back with NBC Sports Washington for postgame coverage starting with Caps Extra following the game and Caps Overtime at 3:30 p.m. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

11:30 a.m. — Caps FaceOff
12:00 p.m. — Caps GameTime
12:30 p.m. — Capitals vs. Flyers on NBC
3:00 p.m. — Caps Extra
3:30 p.m. — Caps Overtime

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-FLYERS GAME?

The Capitals-Flyers game is available to stream live here through NBC Sports.  Caps GameTime and Caps Extra is available to stream live here through NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and is available to authenticated NBC Sports Washington subscribers on desktops, tablets, mobile devices and connected TVs anywhere in the United States.

The game is also available to stream, along with all the pregame and postgame shows, on fuboTV (try for free).

WHAT ARE THE PROJECTED LINES FOR THE CAPITALS-FLYERS GAME?

Here are the projected lines for the Caps-Flyers game:

Forwards
Alex Ovechkin - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Tom Wilson
Andre Burakovsky - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie
Chandler Stephenson - Lars Eller - Brett Connolly
Devante Smith-Pelly - Jay Beagle - Alex Chiasson

Defensemen
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Christian Djoos - John Carlson
Brooks Orpik - Madison Bowey

Braden Holtby starts with Philipp Grubauer as backup

Scratches: Jakub Vrana, Taylor Chorney

CAPITALS-FLYERS OPEN THREAD

Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.