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Cowboys coach, owner not talking desperately

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Cowboys coach, owner not talking desperately

IRVING, Texas (AP) Cowboys coach Jason Garrett talked about some good things that happened for Dallas in its last game. And owner Jerry Jones said during his weekly radio show that his team could be evolving into one that can compete for a championship this season.

Wait, aren't these the same Cowboys who have lost three of their last four games and are at the bottom of the NFC East?

"There were a lot of things to feel good about. There are no moral victories as we know," Garrett said Wednesday. "But there were some positive things we can build on and there were certainly a lot to correct as well."

The Cowboys (2-3) did pile up 481 total yards, their most in two years, and matched a franchise record with 79 offensive plays while holding the ball for 40 minutes at Baltimore. They had an 18-play drive of 110 yards, overcoming 30 yards in penalties, for a touchdown in the final minute. After missing a tying 2-point conversion try, they recovered an onside kick and had a chance at a winning field goal.

The bottom line, though, is Dallas lost to the Ravens and now has the same record it had at this point last season, when the Cowboys finished 8-8 and missed the playoffs.

"We need a victory, bad," fullback Lawrence Vickers said. "This is very critical to get this win."

Dallas plays Sunday at Carolina (1-4), the only NFC team other than the Cowboys that hasn't yet scored 100 points this season.

That 31-29 loss at Baltimore is eerily similar to what happened last October. Like this year, the Cowboys were coming off their bye week when they lost a close road game against one of the AFC's best teams (20-16 at New England) and then played a struggling team the next week.

After Carolina, the Cowboys play their only home game in a six-week stretch - a rematch against the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants, who have won four of five since losing the season opener to Dallas.

During his appearance Tuesday on KRLD-FM, Jones said the Cowboys played physical at Baltimore and "did things that we can win with in the future."

The owner, who turned 70 on Saturday, also reiterated what he has said all year about the Giants becoming Super Bowl champions after winning only nine games in the regular season.

"We don't have time to have a bad time here. We've got to have some wins to make sure we're in the hunt," Jones said. "We know that you want your team as healthy and as in sync as it can be as we get on into the end of the season.

"We know that we've played one division game and won it. We've got those guys, the Giants, coming back in here. We know that's going to be a big game for us," he said. "All of those things give us a chance to take a team that is evolving into, if you look at this plusses (Sunday), evolving into a team that can compete for the championship. Not next year, this year."

Then Jones emphasized that he indeed was talking about this season.

"I'm not into everybody getting better, learning for years to come," Jones said. "It's this year."

When asked about those comments, Garrett called Jones an outstanding owner and said the team appreciates everything he does. The coach then said his team's focus was solely on preparing to play Carolina.

"He believes in us, just like we believe in ourselves," Vickers said about Jones. "Whatever happens this week, that's what I'm focused on. At the same time, when you hear your owner talking about things, that's good and enlightening."

Notes: K Dan Bailey says he's moving forward and trying to forget as quickly as possible the missed 51-yard field goal attempt at Baltimore that he hooked just left of the upright. "I didn't miss it by much," he said Wednesday. That came after the Cowboys managed only a 1-yard pass with 26 seconds and one timeout left. Asked if an extra 5 yards would have made the difference, Bailey responded, "Maybe. I don't know." ... CB Mike Jenkins, who had an MRI on Monday after he banged up his surgically repaired right shoulder against Baltimore, wasn't listed on the practice report Wednesday. That indicates he is OK.

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Wizards vs. Sixers: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

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USA Today Sports Images

Wizards vs. Sixers: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, Jr. and the Washington Wizards battle Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, J.J. Redick and the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday night.

Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch:

WASHINGTON WIZARDS VS. PHILADELPHIA 76ERS

Where: Capital One Arena
Tip-off: 8 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington (coverage begins at 7 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Radio: 1500 AM

Another test

The Wizards continue their difficult stretch coming out of the All-Star break against a very dangerous Sixers team. Philly has proven to be very streaky this season, but right now they are rolling. They come to Washington having won their last seven games dating back to Feb. 6 when they beat the Wizards at the Wells Fargo Center. The Wizards are also playing well, having won eight of their last 11, despite their loss to the Hornets on Friday.

The Sixers are currently seventh in the East and appear on track to make the playoffs. If they keep rising the standings, they could meet the Wizards, who are currently fourth, in the first round. 

PODCAST: BIGGEST STORYLINES COMING OUT OF ALL-STAR BREAK

Season series

Speaking of the playoffs, this game could end up looming large for postseason seeding. The Sixers have won two of the three matchups between these teams this year. If they win on Sunday, they will take the season series and own the tiebreaker over Washington.

If the two teams tie head-to-head and end up with the same record at the end of the season, it will then come down to conference record. The Sixers currently have a better record against East teams than the Wizards. But if they can beat Philly this time, the Wizards will have a chance to secure the conference tiebreaker down the stretch of this season.

RELATED: BEAL IMPRESSED BY LEBRON AT ALL-STAR GAME

Sixers are tough to guard

The Wizards have found out the hard way this season just how difficult it can be to match up with the Sixers, who are led by two emerging stars in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Embiid is 7-foot-1 with rare abilities to stretch the floor and beat opponents off the dribble. Simmons is 6-foot-10, yet can lead the fastbreak with rare speed and vision to find his teammates with crisp passes.

The mobility for their size is almost unmatched and it has not been easy for the Wizards to answer. In their last meeting earlier this month, Simmons had 15 points, eight assists, six rebounds and three steals. Embiid had 27 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks. The Wizards have to try to limit those guys while also dealing with other challenges like Robert Covington, Dario Saric and J.J. Reddick.

RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKING

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Need to Know: Five Redskins who must step up in 2018

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Need to Know: Five Redskins who must step up in 2018

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, February 25, 17 days before NFL free agency starts.

I’m out this week so I’ll be re-posting some of the best and most popular articles of the past few months. Some may have slightly dated information but the major points in the posts still stand. Thanks for reading, as always.

Five Redskins who will have to step up in 2018

Originally published 12/26/17

WR Josh Doctson—This list is in no particular order but if it was, Doctson would be right here at the top. The watchword for Doctson is consistency. He makes some incredible catches and then there are throws that he drops or doesn’t quite seem to make enough of an effort to catch. There is promise there. The first-round pick has shown his ability and his teammates say he has a chance to be elite. But the potential must translate into production on the field, week in and week out.  

RB Samaje Perine—There is plenty of chatter about the Redskins’ need to sign or draft a top running back. But a look at this team’s recent history tells us that they are unlikely to invest major assets in the position. That means that Perine, a fourth-round pick in 2017, will have to become a more consistent runner. It’s not all his fault that he hasn’t done much since he had back-to-back 100-yard games in Weeks 11-12; tough defense, offensive line issues, and game score situations have slowed his production. But he needs to be consistently productive in 2018 no matter who he lines up against.

CB Josh Norman—Unless he gets a pick against the Giants, he will go through the year without any interceptions. Sure, they don’t throw his way all that often and INT’s don’t give you the complete picture of his play. But a CB taking up $20 million in cap room needs to get a couple of picks almost by sheer accident. Norman battled some injury problems and if he wants to justify the final two years and $23 million of salary remaining on his contract, his age 30 2018 season needs to be more impactful.

OLB Preston Smith—The third-year player started strong, with at least half a sack in the first five games. And he’s finishing strong, with three sacks, an interception, and a forced fumble in the last two games. But in between, he had a total of just half a sack in eight games. This follows the pattern he displayed his first two years in the league of being dominant in some games and invisible in others. If he can develop some consistency in his 2018 contract year, he could cash in huge in free agency the following year.

Head coach Jay Gruden—Normally I only include players on lists like this one but if Gruden doesn’t do something to get the Redskins out of their near-.500 rut then nothing else will matter. He needs to change up something, whether it’s pushing the players hard in training camp or perhaps fine tuning his friendly approach to the players. Sure, better luck regarding injuries and a schedule that right now appears to be a bit less challenging will help. But Gruden needs to look at what he can change, too.

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.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 4
—NFL Draft (4/26) 60
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 196