Nationals

Cowboys have chance to make big move in NFC East

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Cowboys have chance to make big move in NFC East

IRVING, Texas (AP) This time, being a .500 team gives the Dallas Cowboys a chance to make a significant move in the NFC East.

Without that imperfect win at Carolina after consecutive losses, the Cowboys (3-3) really would have been in a scramble going into a stretch of four division games over the next six weeks.

``I looked at it last night, I saw the games we have coming up and how big they are for us,'' linebacker Anthony Spencer said Monday. ``If we can get a couple of wins here in a row, it's going to help us out more toward the end of the season.''

The Cowboys play Sunday against the NFC East-leading and defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants (5-2), who have won five of six since their season-opening home loss against Dallas.

It's the only home game in a six-week span for the Cowboys, against the only division opponent they've already played this season.

While acknowledging the importance of division games, coach Jason Garrett said his focus is solely on this week's matchup against the Giants. Not the upcoming stretch when Dallas has both of its games against Philadelphia (3-3) and plays division rival Washington (3-4) at home as well.

``That's how we do things around here. We're focused on cleaning up yesterday's game in our meetings today, getting our lifts in, our run in, and pointing our attention to the Giants,'' Garrett said. ``They're in our division, so there's no reason to look anywhere else but this game.''

The Giants have never lost at Cowboys Stadium, winning three games there. The facility opened in 2009 with New York winning the first-ever regular-season game.

DeMarcus Ware knows this is a big week for Dallas, and is aware of the significance of a potential sweep of the Giants.

``When you think about NFC East games, the way that they are playing, if you're not able to get wins early against big teams, it can come back to haunt you,'' Ware said. ``So when you have the opportunity to get big wins against NFC East teams, we have to do it.''

Dallas got a sorely needed 19-14 victory Sunday despite being outgained by the Panthers and scoring only one touchdown.

Dan Bailey kicked four field goals, including a go-ahead 28-yarder with 3:25 left. The defense stopped Carolina on fourth down with just over 2 minutes left, and Bailey added another field goal before Cam Newton and the Panthers got one more chance.

``Just lean on each other. We got to depend on each other,'' Spencer said. ``We know that our offense is going to have to put points on the board and we're going to have to stop teams from scoring. It's going to come down to when our offense is going to have to put points on the board to win the game and it just happened be that we had to stop them to win the game.''

Spencer was back after a strained pectoral muscle shelved him for two games over a three-week span when Dallas had its bye week. He said he felt good and was having fun, including a sack of Newton that set the Panthers up for a game-ending fourth-and-20 play.

The Cowboys got back to .500 for the season and improved to 123-123 in regular-season games since 1997, a span when they have won only one playoff game.

Running back DeMarco Murray missed the Carolina game because of a sprained left foot. There is a chance he could be back to practice in some capacity Wednesday.

``We'll wait and see on that. We're certainly optimistic,'' Garrett said. ``He's proven to be someone who heals quickly. We'll monitor him day by day but we'll have to wait and see.''

Garrett said the Cowboys were still waiting late Monday for results of an MRI on linebacker Sean Lee's sprained right toe that knocked him out in the third quarter of the Carolina game.

Center Phil Costa had to be taken off the field on a cart Sunday because of a right ankle injury. Garrett said the injury may not be as bad as it looked at first, but still didn't elaborate on the extent of what he called a sprain.

``We are more optimistic about Costa now than we were yesterday. When that injury happened during the game everybody was concerned as he was being carted off,'' Garrett said. ``By the end of the night last night and by today, we are a little more optimistic. It's a significant injury. We are not saying anything but that.''

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How to entice Bryce Harper in to re-signing with the Nationals? With food, of course!

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How to entice Bryce Harper in to re-signing with the Nationals? With food, of course!

They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach… and if that leads us to Bryce Harper’s potential landing spot, then I present to you the yummiest reasons he should stay with the Washington Nationals.

In a video from TMZ, a paparazzi follows Harper to baggage claim and implores him for any hints toward where he is signing this offseason. The only true answer he got was that Harper likes a place called Steak 48 in Chicago. This surf-and-turf hot spot in the River North neighborhood of downtown Chicago has the audacity to serve “Maryland STYLE lump crab cakes.” Really, Bryce? Will the real thing convince you?!

On that note, let’s start off with the seafood we have to offer. This is the Mid-Atlantic, after all.

How can you work here April-September without eating local crabs in some form? I think that’s impossible. You can choose from hard shell or soft shell, but no shame in either game.

Live Chesapeake blue crabs can be bought at Captain White’s Seafood and other vendors on The Wharf off Maine Avenue. Otherwise, you can sit down and have them steamed for you at Quarterdeck, Ivy City Smokehouse, Bethesda Crab House or Captain Pell’s.

If Harper is more of a soft shell guy, all of those places also serve out-of-the-park crab cakes, but you can’t go wrong with Hank’s Oyster Bar, Old Ebbitt Grill, Chris’ Marketplace, or Clyde’s.

If the star really wants to dive in to local taste, he should eat Chesapeake Bay oysters from the largest estuary in America. My personal favorite selection is at Whaley’s (seafood tower on me, Bryce), but Rapphanock Oyster Bar, The Dabney, Pearl Dive Oyster Palace and Black’s Bar & Kitchen can’t be beat.

I find it hard to believe the team hasn't had an outing at The Salt Line, the lively seafood spot just a short throw from Nats Park where teammate Ryan Zimmerman is an investor and co-owner.

Now that we’ve satisfied Harper’s iron intake, let’s break down his protein. In order to keep the superstar here, I want to make sure he knows that D.C. cares about providing a well-rounded diet.

Barbecued meats in general around here are delectable. Sitting in juxtaposition between the north and south, D.C. restaurants bring a mash-up of styles of smoked and sauced meats. Favorites are Federalist Pig, Hill Country, Fat Pete’s and Hardy’s BBQ truck.

However, if Bryce Harper show he’s as invested in authentic Nationals fans as our season tickets are in him, he should really pick up a half-smoke, the district’s original recipe for a spicy, thicker pork and beef dog that’s aggressively seasoned and sometimes served with chili sauce.

Could you imagine Harper making his announcement to stay over a half-smoke at Ben’s Chili Bowl? I think even the panda statue would cry tears of joy.

Another hyper-local taste is mumbo sauce. While proven not originally from here, D.C. natives are enthusiastic about the special sauce. Yum’s is pretty well-known for carrying it.

Time for dessert! I think we can all agree that in the past 10 years, cupcakes have become iconic in the district with Georgetown Cupcakes, Baked & Wired and Sprinkles all having a home in Georgetown. To settle the debate, Baked & Wired is best. They are ranked #1 on Yelp if you don’t believe my own palette.

But what if it’s game night, you ask? D.C. has it’s hearty share of restaurants that are open even after extra innings. The Diner, Kramerbooks, Mandu, New Big Wong, Old Ebbitt Grill, Oyamel Cocina Mexicana, Amsterdam Falafelshop and Jumbo Slice are all here to keep you warm at night no matter what you’re craving post-victory. Need I go on?

Bryce reassured Nats fans and TMZ that he is “still a National right now.” Better eat these while you can, Bryce, or you’ll be sorry you didn't sign in one of the best food cities in the MLB.

Do you have any local food or restaurants you think will convince Bryce Harper to stay with the Washington Nationals this offseason? Send them to @NBCNationals or @rmhopmayer. Maybe we can throw together a friends-giving or holiday dinner for those that want him to stay our beloved Guest of Honor.

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Josh Norman wants to play 'early Santa,' will give away Redskins tickets

Josh Norman wants to play 'early Santa,' will give away Redskins tickets

Josh Norman caused quite a stir with his comments Sunday about the atmosphere at FedEx Field, and the Redskins cornerback made it clear he plans to do his part in making sure the stadium is packed for Sunday's game against the Texans. 

Norman told reporters Thursday he's going to be giving away "40 or 50" free tickets for the Houston game, online and perhaps even in person.

"Yes, I will be giving out free tickets," he said. "I'll be doing it on my socials as well, I think I'll probably post tonight or something about it."

"Who knows, you may see me coming out and being an early Santa somewhere in the mall or something, just handing out tickets."

And if you are one of the lucky fans who gets a ticket from "Santa Norman," he has specific instructions on how you should behave at Sunday's game:

"Whoever get(s) them, we want them loud and just obnoxious. Just really obnoxious."

Norman joins several Redskins players who have promised to give away tickets to the Texans game.

It may be November, but the Christmas spirit is alive and well at Redskins Park. 

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