Redskins

Cowboys beat Browns 23-20 in wild OT finish

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Cowboys beat Browns 23-20 in wild OT finish

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) Tony Romo and Dallas coach Jason Garrett spend a lot of time talking about protecting the ball when chaos surrounds the Cowboys quarterback.

They have another good teaching point from Sunday's 23-20 overtime win against Cleveland.

Just when it looked like Romo would persevere through a career-high seven sacks to lead a Cowboys comeback, he lost a critical fumble that sparked a wild finish and sent Dallas scrambling to find a way to win.

The Cowboys ended up extending the Browns' road losing streak to 12 games when Dan Bailey kicked a 38-yard field goal with 6:07 left in the first overtime game at Cowboys Stadium. Dallas gave up the lead after Romo's miscue, but Bailey forced the extra period on a tying kick with 2 seconds left in regulation.

``Tony didn't protect the ball the way he needed to,'' Garrett said. ``Obviously a big play in the game, one that we had to overcome both the rest of those six minutes of regulation and obviously through overtime.''

Dallas (5-5) appeared ready to lock up consecutive wins for the first time this season when Romo put the Cowboys up 17-13 in the fourth quarter on a 28-yard scoring pass to Dez Bryant, who had a career-high 145 yards receiving. Anthony Spencer sacked Browns rookie Brandon Weeden on the next drive, forced a fumble and recovered it at the Cleveland 18 with 5:45 remaining.

Romo gave it right back, though, fumbling two plays later, making his first turnover in three games when he was hit by Frostee Rucker while trying to avoid Cleveland's sixth sack. Dallas' offensive line didn't have left tackle Tyron Smith for most of the game because of an ankle injury.

``I obviously need to hold onto the ball and not let the guy come from behind and let the ball come out,'' Romo said. ``That could have been a big one.''

The Cowboys made one goal-line stand in the final minutes, but the Browns (2-8) got another chance and went ahead 20-17 on Weeden's 17-yard pass to Benjamin Watson with 1:07 remaining.

Dallas drove to the Cleveland 9 in the dying seconds, keyed by 50 yards from a pair of defensive penalties, including a 35-yard pass interference call against Sheldon Brown. The Cowboys tried to throw into the end zone twice, then settled for Bailey's tying kick.

Dallas won for the first time in six games when Romo is sacked at least five times. Despite the constant pressure, he finished 35 of 50 for 313 yards with the touchdown to Bryant.

``Tony did a really good job of playing with poise,'' Garrett said. ``When you play quarterback and you have a lot of negative plays ... it's easy to kind of get out of yourself and do some things you shouldn't be doing.''

Referee Ed Hochuli carried on a running commentary in explaining replays and other rulings on the huge video board, and the most critical came in overtime when the officials ruled an incompletion on a throw that Miles Austin dropped.

The Cowboys were in position for a winning field goal, and replays appeared to show Austin had possession and took two steps before the ball was knocked out. The Browns recovered the loose ball, and called timeout to allow more time for a review. Hochuli announced that the play wasn't reviewable, although that was one time he didn't explain his reasoning; it wasn't reviewable because a whistle had blown the play dead.

``I pretty much knew by the way they called it that it was not reviewable,'' Browns coach Pat Shurmur said. ``But I wanted to make sure they had time to get it all right.''

Cleveland looked like the winner at halftime, leading 13-0 while Romo ran for cover and the crowd booed repeatedly. But Dallas scored on its first three possessions of the second half, capped by Romo's toss to Bryant.

After Weeden and Romo traded fumbles, Weeden took the Browns to the Dallas 1, but bruising running back Trent Richardson was stuffed on third down and Weeden threw incomplete with 1:42 remaining.

The Browns weren't finished, though. They used all three timeouts and forced a Dallas punt. The Cowboys' John Phillips was penalized for a horse collar tackle on Joshua Cribbs, even though a replay showed Phillips grabbing Cribbs' hanging dreadlocks rather than his jersey. With the ball at the 17, Weeden found Watson in the middle of the end zone on the next play, just as he did on a 10-yard play for the game's first score.

The Cowboys had finally scored on a 44-yard field goal with 5:44 remaining in third quarter, then abandoned an ineffective running game. Romo completed passes on the first seven plays, including a 30-yarder to Bryant, before Felix Jones went the final 2 yards on the ground to get Dallas within 13-10 early in the fourth quarter.

Dallas got the ball back quickly when safety Gerald Sensabaugh stuffed Richardson a yard short of a first down in the open field, and the subsequent drive to Bryant's touchdown included two more of the seven penalties on Cleveland's secondary. The Browns had 12 penalties for 129 yards.

``I understand that we may have had calls in our secondary that went against us,'' Brown said. ``But I think their secondary had no calls. So you're telling me they were playing clean? I think you have to call it both ways.''

NOTES: Richardson fell just short of becoming the first Browns rookie with three straight 100-yard games. He finished with 95 yards rushing, and added 49 yards receiving. ... The Cowboys are 125-125 in the regular season since 1997. ... Browns K Phil Dawson, who grew up in the Dallas area, extended the NFL's longest active field goal streak to 25 by hitting from 51 and 47 yards. He's 19 of 19 this year. ... Browns WR Josh Cooper didn't return after injuring a knee in the second quarter. ... CB Buster Skine, who started in place of Joe Haden, sustained a concussion on a play when safety T.J. Ward was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct on a hit on Cowboys WR Kevin Ogletree.

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Zach Brown says Redskins defense will 'have it out' for Terrelle Pryor during joint practices

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Zach Brown says Redskins defense will 'have it out' for Terrelle Pryor during joint practices

Terrelle Pryor made a number of highlight reel catches last year during training camp, and it appears the Redskins defense didn't like it. 

Washington's marquee free agent signing last season, Pryor came into Richmond with sky-high expectations. Throughout the training sessions last August, Pryor put on one-handed displays at the Jugs machine and often made big catches in team drills. It's also important to remember there was never any live tackling during these drills, leaving defenders at a distinct disadvantage. 

Zach Brown remembers the scene quite well, and thinks it will look very different this summer when Pryor comes to Richmond as a member of the New York Jets. 

"That’s going to be something right there. The boys are gonna have it out for him. We can put hands on him now," Brown said on Inside the Locker Room on the Team 980 (full audio here).

Brown explained that Redskins coach Jay Gruden would not allow the defense to hit Pryor last year, even when the wideout did some showboating. 

"Jay ain't here to protect you anymore," Brown said.

The Redskins linebacker explained that he tried to explain to Pryor that the one-handed catches from training camp would not translate in the NFC East, where players get hit hard. It doesn't seem like Pryor listened, as he finished the season with only 240 receiving yards on 20 catches in nine games. 

"The boys were already hot for what he was doing last year," Brown said. He added, "Try to one-hand something while you’re with the Jets, you’re gonna catch a forearm."

One incident that supports Brown's comments came when Bashaud Breeland got thrown off the practice field last training camp. Breeland got mad that he wasn't allowed to get physical with Pryor at the line of scrimmage, and the scene blew up. Breeland eventually got sent off the field after arguing with coaches. 

The Jets visit the Redskins for three days of practices beginning August 12th. The two teams then square off in the second preseason game on August 16th. 

Brown will get his chance at Pryor, assuming the wideout plays. Pryor finished the 2018 season on the injured reserve, but is expected to be fine once training camp begins in New York. 

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Fantasy Baseball Outlook: Week 12

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Fantasy Baseball Outlook: Week 12

We're just a couple of weeks away from the midway point of the 2018 Major League Baseball season, which means many casual fantasy baseball players have collectively turned their attention to the gridiron. This is good news for those of you still interested, because outside of the truly competitive leagues, it's about to get much easier to navigate the waiver wire and make winning trades.

That said, we'll still be here all season long, providing advice for anyone looking to gain a competitive edge in their fantasy leagues. There's a lot to digest in the upcoming week, as many teams (including the Washington Nationals) will play a full seven game slate. It's an especially great time for stars in baseball, as a whopping six players are on pace to record seasons with 8.7 Wins Above Replacement or higher, but there's still plenty of great options beyond the obvious guys.

NOTE: Don’t expect to see guys like Bryce Harper or Trea Turner mentioned too often. They are clear must-starts every week. Don’t overthink it.

Week 12 (6/18-6/24)

One Nationals pitcher to start: Max Scherzer

We won't often include a guy on the level of Mad Max in our recommendations, but consider this a statement against the other pitchers. With Stephen Strasburg on the DL, Gio Gonzalez is really the only other startable option in the rotation, and while he's a fine play against the Orioles, he's not a sure thing. Scherzer is the best pitcher in baseball, so when in doubt, it's easy to fall back on his name. For now, feel free to use Gonzalez if needed, but the only clear, recommendable one this week is Scherzer.

One Nationals position player to start: Adam Eaton, OF

Consider this your reminder to not get cute and just start Adam Eaton whenever he's healthy. When he can manage to avoid time on the disabled list, he's consistenly been one of the best players in Washington, and an absolute must-start in fantasy. Yes, he's hitting "just" .286 in five games since returning from the DL, but there's no reason to believe he won't bounce back to one of the top hitters in the National League once he gets back in the swing of things. As long as he's hitting at the top of the Washington lineup, he'll be one of the top run producers in baseball.

One Nationals pitcher to sit: Erick Fedde

We likely would have advised against starting Fedde regardless of matchup, given his relative struggles in his two starts with the Nats this season. He's got a nice 9:2 strikeout-to-walk rate, but the ERA sits at an unsightly 5.91. What makes matters worse is the matchup; Fedde is once again slated to face the vaunted New York Yankees lineup. In New York, he allowed two home runs in just five innings, and while Nats park isn't the hitter's haven that Yankee Stadium is, the sluggers in their lineup make for a daunting matchup in any city.

Fedde probably isn't owned in most leagues, and there's no reason for that to change, even with his spot in the rotation likely secure as long as Strasburg isn't throwing.. 

One Nationals player to sit: Daniel Murphy, 2B

Nats fans were understandably rejoicing when Daniel Murphy returned to the lineup last week. It's always fun when one of your stars is back on the field after missing so much time. Still, like most players who haven't face in-game pitching in several months, Murphy has been slow to re-adjust at the plate. He's recorded just two hits in 15 at-bats, has only walked once, and has yet to notch an extra-base hit of any kind. His OPS is below-.200, and while no one should expect that to last, there's no need to rush him back into your lineups either.

It would be pretty tempting to slot Murphy into your 2B or middle infield spot now that he's healthy, since you likely drafted him to be one of your studs, but given his lengthy absence, the nature of his original injury, and his slow start since returning, it's probably a good idea to leave him on your bench for a week or two. Once he starts driving the ball again, he can start to return value for you, but there's no reason to let him drag you down in the meantime.

Any 2-start pitchers for the Nationals this week?

Given that the rotation is currently in a state of flux, we can't confidently say any starter will get two starts. Fedde looks like the most likely candidate, but as we outlined above, he's still a pitcher you want to avoid for now.

Any 2-start pitchers worth streaming around MLB this week?

One of my favorite sleepers this week is Domingo German. One of the most surprising stats in all of baseball right now is that among starting pitchers with at least 40 innings pitched, German has the second best swinging strike rate, behind only Max Scherzer. Swinging strike rate is a great stat to use when projecting future strikeout potential, and German's 15.9% is mighty impressive. German has a start at home against the Mariners and on the road against the Rays, so while it's not a cakewalk week, it's not especially daunting either. As an added bonus for those in points leagues, German is RP-eligible, giving you some extra roster flexibility.

The walks are a little high (21 in 53.3 innings) which has let to an elevated WHIP and ERA, but it's a good rule of thumb to follow the strikeouts when identifiying quality fantasy pitchers, and considering most of the two-start guys this week are obvious studs who are certainly already owned in your league, German is the exact type of option you should be looking to stream.

One player you might not realize you should pick up: John Hicks, C/1B (Tigers) 

This is a sneaky move, the kind that could easily get overlooked in most fantasy leagues but could provide a great return on investment. With Miguel Cabrera's unfortunate season-ending biceps injury providing an opening in the everyday lineup in Detroit, Hicks (who is catcher elgibile) will be taking most of the team's at-bats at first base going forward. While he's probably not worth rostering as a first baseman in most leagues, catcher is a notorious black hole in fantasy baseball in recent years, and this season might be the wost yet.

Hicks will maintain catcher eligibility all season long, yet he'll play the far less demanding first base every day, giving him less wear and tear on his legs, less concern with running the pitching staff, and most importantly, regular at-bats in a surprisingly not-atrocious lineup. Hicks isn't the type of guy you'd refer to as a league-winner prior to Opening Day, but he could make a real impact on a championship roster in the second half of the season.

One player you might not realize you should drop: Jake Junis, SP (Royals) 

Junis isn't the type of pitcher that I'd classify as a must-drop, but you shouldn't hesitate to move on if there's a clear better option on the waiver wire. Junis started the season strong and looked like a legitimate breakout player, but he's allowed six earned runs in each of his last two starts. A poor two-start stretch isn't the end of the world, which is why I'm not suggest that everyone jump ship regardless of team context. That said, he doesn't have the pedigree of a top pitching prospect, and he plays for one of the five worst teams in baseball, meaning you can't expect many wins even when Junis is throwing well.

At the very least, you prbably should leave Junis on the bench for the time being, and again, if there's an option you've been eyeing on the waiver wire, now is the time to strike. Don't feel bad if that means leaving Junis behind to free up a roster spot for your team.

MORE NATS NEWS:

- Nice Threads: MLB reveals All-Star jerseys
- Rankings Update: Where did the Nats fall?
- On the Farm: Latest Nats prospect report