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Instant observations: five things about the Ravens 27-17 loss

Instant observations: five things about the Ravens 27-17 loss

ARLINGTON, Texas – Five observations after watching Cowboys (9-1) roll to their ninth straight win, 27-17, over the Ravens:

1. The Ravens (5-5) stepped up in competition and it showed.

This could be a preview of what faces the Ravens down the stretch. They didn’t play poorly, but it wasn’t good enough. They still have three tough road games on their schedule – at New England, at Pittsburgh, at Cincinnati. The AFC North is clearly up for grabs, but the Ravens saw what the team with the NFL’s best record looked like, and looked overmatched in the second half.

2.  Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott is unflappable whether Tony Romo is in uniform or not.

Prescott keeps showing why this is his moment, his team. He was off target on several throws early, but once he settled down, he was superb. The Cowboys scored on every second half possession, and Prescott (27 for 36, 301 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions) was the catalyst. He can throw on the run, he reads defenses calmly, and he scrambles when necessary. Most of all, he wins, and he is surrounded by tremendous talent. Romo was dressed for the first time all year after a back injury, but on this team, he is simply the backup quarterback. Prescott is the man, and the in the second half, the Cowboys’ offense took over the game and wore down the Ravens’ defense. 

3. Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant owned the red zone, without Jimmy Smith (back) in action.

The Ravens sorely missed Smith, their best and most physical cornerback. Bryant caught two touchdown passes, and on both of them, he simply outmuscled or outmaneuvered Ravens corners. On his first touchdown, Bryant basically boxed out Shareece Wright like he was an undersized point guard. On his second touchdown, Bryant muscled past Tavon Young to reach the end zone after Young tried to tackle him. The Ravens need a healthy Smith to matchup with top receivers. They must hope Smith’s back problems do not linger.

4. Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. is a player for the ages, regardless of his age.

Smith (eight catches, 99 yards, one touchdown) did everything in his power to bring the Ravens back. Not only did he surpass 1,000 catches for his career, Smith played with the passion he always brings. On the Ravens’ final scoring drive, he was hit hard twice after making the catch, but popped up each time unfazed. Smith cannot be intimidated. He should have a bust in Canton in his future, because his career is Hall of Fame worthy.

5.  There were some encouraging signs for the Ravens’ offense. 

Their 90-yard drive in the second quarter was probably their best of the season, and their 75-yard drive in the third quarter was nice as well. Joe Flacco (23 for 25, 269 yards, one TD, no interceptions) had a solid game at QB, but the Ravens’ offense didn’t have the ball enough in the second half. But the Ravens look like a better offensive team in November than they did in September and October.

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A very good day for NFL tight ends George Kittle and Travis Kelce

A very good day for NFL tight ends George Kittle and Travis Kelce

It’s been a good day for tight ends in the NFL.

To start the day George Kittle became the highest-paid tight end in the league. Shortly after, Travis Kelce signed an extension keeping him in Kansas City for an additional four years. Now it’s hard to talk about NFL tight ends and not mention either Kittle or Kelce’s name as two of the best in the league. It was only fitting that the two get paid on the exact same day.  

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Kittle and the San Francisco 49ers reached an agreement on a five-year, $75 million contract extension. Kittle deserves every penny of that deal as he’s racked up 2,945 receiving yards, the most by any tight end in NFL history after three seasons. He’s a do-it-all tight end who has great hands, blocks like a guard, and is a huge asset to the locker room.  

Meanwhile, the Kansas City Chiefs and Travis Kelce agreed to a four-year, $57.25 million extension. Kelce is a huge part of the Chiefs offense and his stats show that he’s one of the best in the league. He’s the only tight end to ever record four straight 1,000 yard seasons and he’s the fastest tight end ever to 425 career catches and 5,500 receiving yards.  

Kittle and Kelce have set the bar high with their play on the field, but they have now also set the bar for the price tag at their position that comes along with it. 

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Hard Knocks L.A. Episode 1 Recap: Anthony Lynn tested positive, Justin Herbert shines

Hard Knocks L.A. Episode 1 Recap: Anthony Lynn tested positive, Justin Herbert shines

Football is back on TV as the new season of HBO's Hard Knocks premiered Tuesday evening. It’s the first time in the documentary's 15 seasons that the show will follow two teams, the Los Angles Chargers and Los Angles Rams. In case you missed it, here are some highlights from episode one. 

Anthony Lynn tested positive

Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn revealed in the opening scene that he had tested positive for coronavirus earlier this year. Lynn is the third known NFL head coach to have contracted the virus, joining New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Peyton and Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson.

Justin Herbert shines

The Chargers first-round draft pick was the star player of episode one showing off his arm skills. He nailed almost every one of his targets during accuracy drills. The episode didn’t show too much of any player, but the former University of Oregon signal-caller stole the show in small amount of camera time he had

Rams head coach Sean McVay

Sean McVay’s introduction to the show had fans jealous of the panoramic views from his home in Los Angeles. McVay’s jokes were also a highlight of the episode. 

COVID-19 precautions and safety

Training camp is off-limits to fans in order to decrease potential exposure of the virus for players and staff. With that in mind, Hard Knocks is fans and media members first look at what an NFL training camp in 2020 looks like. From the frequent testing to the outdoor facilities that both the Rams and Chargers have invested in, it's a different type of training camp. It’s also a different type of Hard Knocks, but because of our desire for anything football-related, it has the potential to be one of the best seasons yet.
 
It will be tough to top the excitement of episode one but with two teams in action, there's no shortage of storylines. Episode two airs on HBO next Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET. 

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