Cowboys need win at Philly in battle of 3-5 teams


Cowboys need win at Philly in battle of 3-5 teams

IRVING, Texas (AP) Dallas coach Jason Garrett insists the Cowboys aren't desperate. Evidence suggests otherwise.

The Cowboys (3-5) have lost four of their past five games heading into Sunday's matchup at Philadelphia. The Eagles have the same record, so logic suggests the loser won't have realistic playoff hopes the rest of the season.

``A desperate football team? I wouldn't say that at all,'' Garrett said Wednesday. ``You've heard me use the word urgent a lot around here. We believe in urgency 365 days out of the year. That's where we are right now. We have to be urgent in our preparation ... getting ready for the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.''

Defensive end Jason Hatcher agreed it's a game the Cowboys have to win, but like his coach dismissed the term desperate.

``We've dug ourselves a hole and we just got to keep fighting,'' Hatcher said. ``We've got the right guys to do it, we just have to go out there and believe and do it, stop talking about it and be the team that we're supposed to be.''

After the Eagles, the Cowboys play five of their next six games at home. And only one of their remaining eight games, Pittsburgh, is against a team with a winning record.

Dallas is still dealing with some serious injury issues.

Running back DeMarco Murray missed practice again Wednesday because of his sprained foot and could miss his fourth consecutive game. Felix Jones has been hurting, too, bothered by a bruised knee and a shoulder ailment, though he was listed on the team's practice report as a full participant.

Linebacker Dan Connor, who initially took over for Sean Lee after the leading tackler's season-ending big toe injury, missed the last game with a neck issue. He was limited in practice Wednesday.

After Connor got hurt, the Cowboys signed free agent Ernie Sims, and he wound up starting Sunday night's 19-13 loss at undefeated Atlanta.

With Connor's status still uncertain, the Cowboys signed linebacker Gary Guyton after placing linebacker Orie Lemon on injured reserve with a hamstring injury. Guyton plays four seasons in New England, but hadn't played this season after being released by Miami at the end of training camp.

``We're hoping that Dan Connor will be back,'' Garrett said. ``We're a little thin there with the injuries so we just got to make sure we have another guy who can go in and play defense for us. We're hopeful at some point that (Guyton) can help us on special teams as well.''

Undrafted rookie running back Lance Dunbar shared the carries with Jones in Atlanta. Dunbar was cut at the end of camp, added to the practice squad then signed to the roster a month ago.

``He has a little something to him as a runner,'' Garrett said. ``Some quickness, some burst to him, a good feel, had good vision, so we just wanted to give him a chance in the game the other night, and I thought he did reasonably well.''

Dunbar denied he was feeling any extra pressure to step up.

``You got to be comfortable, relax, have confidence in yourself and just do your job,'' he said. ``You do best when you don't put pressure on yourself.''

Quick Links

Wizards lose again, this time to Nuggets as offense falls flat

USA Today Sports Images

Wizards lose again, this time to Nuggets as offense falls flat

The Washington Wizards lost to the Denver Nuggets 108-100 on Friday night. Here's analysis of what went down...

Another loss: It is becoming more and more clear that the Wizards need a shot in the arm, something to change the direction of where they are currently heading.

Whether that will come in the form of All-Star point guard John Wall coming back, an adjustment to their lineup or strategy or something else entirely, the losses are piling up and at a tough time in the season.

With another loss on Friday night, their seventh in their last 11 games, the Wizards are now 40-32 on the season. They have plenty of room to still clinch a playoff berth, as their magic number stands at two, but they only have 10 games left to secure their all-important playoff seed. 

The Wizards lost their second straight game and again offense was their problem. They scored 100 points, six below their season average, and committed 17 turnovers.

Big third quarter: The Denver Nuggets have emerged as a team on the rise, a young squad with burgeoning stars that could someday soon make some noise in the Western Conference. The reason is because they are very good on offense. Defense is a much different story.

That was not the case on Friday night, as the Wizards had all sorts of trouble scoring in three of their four quarters. They managed just 43 points by halftime, the fewest the Nuggets have allowed in a first half since Jan. 27.

The Wizards, though, did get cooking in the third quarter. They erupted for 33 points in the frame while shooting 63.2 percent from the field and 58.3 percent from three. Markieff Morris, who finished with 17, had 11 points in the third quarter and Bradley Beal (24 points) hit three threes.

The Wizards also found a solution for Jamal Murray, one of the Nuggets' brightest young stars. He had 20 points at halftime, but went scoreless in nine minutes in the third quarter. Kelly Oubre, Jr. (15 points) was among those who gave him trouble. Murry finished with 25.

The big third quarter reflected well on the Wizards' ability to make adjustments, but their 24-point fourth quarter flipped the script again.


Didn't force mistakes: The first time these teams squared off back in October, the Wizards forced the Nuggets into 23 turnovers. This game was a very different story. 

The Nuggets didn't commit their first turnover until midway through the second quarter and had only three by halftime. They had just 10 turnovers for the game.

Denver deserves some credit for limiting their mistakes, but all of it did not reflect well on the Wizards' defense. They didn't put enough pressure on the ball and failed to disrupt passing lanes like they usually do. It was uncharacteristic, as the Wizards entered the game 10th in average turnovers forced.

Not creating mistakes allowed the Nuggets to get way to many field goal attempts. Though they shot just 43.5 percent, Denver managed 108 points. And not getting turnovers offered the Wizards few opportunities for easy transition buckets.


Special night: Halftime offered a memorable moment in franchise history as legendary player and broadcast Phil Chenier had his No. 45 jersey retired by the team. His longtime broadcaster and friend Steve Buckhantz hosted the ceremony with about 20 friends and family members of Chenier's seated behind him. Buckhantz had opening comments, then majority owner Ted Leonsis spoke as everyone in the crowd stood and cheered.

Then, it was Chenier's time to talk. He thanked his former teammates, members of the organization and those close to him. He kept his composure until the very end when he brought up his mother, Peggy, who could not make the event. Chenier choked up and wiped away tears as he described what she has meant to him in his life.

It was a powerful moment and a great ceremony to honor a guy who has impacted the lives of many in the D.C. area. Now, his No. 45 will hang up in the rafters forever. That banner, by the way, features a picture of a microphone and the phrase '33 years,' signifying how long he was the color analyst for Bullets and Wizards games.


Up next: The Wizards do not have a game Saturday, though they are going to practice and Wall is expected to take a big step forward in his rehab. Their next game is Sunday at 6 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington when they host the Knicks. That will also be a special game, as the Wizards are set to honor the 40th anniversary of their 1978 NBA championship.

NBC Sports Washington is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Quick Links

Eagles' Michael Bennett allegedly injured elderly worker; arrest warrant issued

USA Today Sports Images

Eagles' Michael Bennett allegedly injured elderly worker; arrest warrant issued

Philadelphia Eagles lineman Michael Bennett has been indicted on felony abuse for allegedly pushing an elderly NRG Stadium worker during Super Bowl LI.

Bennett was indicted by the Harris County, Texas district attorney's office for injury to the elderly — which is intentionally and knowingly causing injury to a person 65 years or older, according to a press release from the Harris County Sheriffs' Office.

A warrant has been issued for Bennett's arrest.

The 66-year-old paraplegic stadium worker was attempting to control field access when Bennett allegedly pushed her. 

The maximum penalty Bennett faces is ten years in prison in addition to a $10,000 fine.


Bennett — whose brother Martellus played in that Super Bowl for New England — was a member of the Seattle Seahawks during the incident and was in attendance as a noncompetitive player.

The NFL has been made aware of the situation and is looking into the matter, according to Pro Football Talk.

The 32-year-old 10-year NFL veteran could potentially face NFL discipline under the league's personal conduct policy.