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Numb Cowboys beat Bengals 20-19 on last-second FG

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Numb Cowboys beat Bengals 20-19 on last-second FG

CINCINNATI (AP) Dan Bailey's 40-yard kick went straight through the uprights. The Dallas Cowboys had won an important game on a last-second field goal.

They weren't sure how to react.

Numb. Grieving. Distracted. The Cowboys were all those things on Sunday, dealing with the death of one teammate and the tribulations of another.

Winners, too, though they hardly felt like it.

Bailey's kick gave Dallas a 20-19 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals that ended a tough afternoon with the Cowboys' playoff chances enhanced and their heads full of so many thoughts.

``You think about everything,'' quarterback Tony Romo said. ``Like I said, it's a roller coaster of emotions. I don't know what's right; I don't know what's wrong. I don't know what you're supposed to feel.

``It's a hard, hard situation we're in. There's no playbook for this sort of thing in life.''

With a late comeback on Sunday, they got a momentary reprieve from their grieving.

The Cowboys overcame a nine-point deficit in the closing minutes behind Romo, who held his hand over his heart during a moment of silence to honor teammate Jerry Brown before the kickoff. The linebacker died in an auto accident early Saturday.

Defensive lineman Josh Brent, who was driving, was released from jail on Sunday in Texas about an hour after the game ended. He's charged with intoxication manslaughter.

The Cowboys (7-6) learned about Brown's death during their flight to Cincinnati on Saturday. Coach Jason Garrett told his team that the best way to honor him was to play well in a game with playoff implications for both teams.

One of the visitors' metal lockers at Paul Brown Stadium had a strip of white athletic tape with ``53 JERRY BROWN'' printed on it, a wooden stool inside sitting upside-down. Brown's No. 53 jersey was on the sideline during the game - defensive tackle Jason Hatcher held it up after Bailey's kick decided it.

There wasn't much of a celebration by an emotionally spent team.

``I don't remember crying this much other than maybe the day I was born,'' defensive lineman Marcus Spears said. ``With Josh's situation and Jerry being gone, you felt it.''

Players couldn't keep the tragedy out of their thoughts during the game, finding their minds wandering on the bench.

``I rarely let my emotions get the best of me,'' fullback Lawrence Vickers said. ``Today they did, but this was the place to do it.''

Owner Jerry Jones described his team as grieving when it took the field. It was the second consecutive week that an NFL team was playing a day after losing a teammate. Last Sunday, Kansas City beat Carolina 27-21 one day after linebacker Jovan Belcher shot his girlfriend and then himself at the Chiefs' practice complex.

``There was a feeling of numbness on the field,'' Garrett said.

The Cowboys salvaged the game by scoring on their last two drives against the Bengals (7-6), who had won four in a row and had a chance to move into position for an AFC wild-card berth with a victory.

Romo threw a 27-yard touchdown pass to Dez Bryant with 6:35 to go. Anthony Spencer's sack of Andy Dalton forced a punt, and Romo led the Cowboys in range for Bailey's winning kick. Romo finished 25 of 43 for 268 yards with a touchdown, an interception and three sacks.

Newcomer Josh Brown kicked field goals of 25, 33, 25 and 52 yards for Cincinnati, which wasted an opportunity to move ahead of Pittsburgh (7-6) for the second AFC wild card.

``They came here in an emotional situation, and you knew they were going to fight all the way,'' Bengals offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth said. ``That game meant a lot to them. They played great.''

Dallas played a sloppy game until the closing minutes - nothing out of character there - and had a few especially bad moments.

Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan went onto the field and yelled at a Bengals player who had said something toward the Cowboys bench, drawing an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in the third quarter. Dallas also was penalized for 12 men on the field during the drive, which ended with Brown's third field goal and a 16-10 Cincinnati lead.

In the end, a defense that has allowed only three touchdowns in the last four games couldn't hold on. And the Bengals made it tough on themselves by using all three of their timeouts early in the second half, leaving them unable to stop the clock on Dallas' final drive.

Dalton was 20 of 33 for 206 yards with five sacks, one touchdown and an interception that Brandon Carr returned 37 yards to set up DeMarco Murray's 1-yard touchdown dive in the second quarter.

NOTES: Bailey's game-winner was his second of the season. His 38-yarder beat Cleveland in overtime. It was Bailey's sixth game-winning FG, second in Cowboys history behind Rafael Septien's seven. ... Bryant caught four passes for 50 yards, leaving him with 1,028 yards for the season. It's his first 1,000-yard receiving season and the first by a Cowboy since 2009 (Miles Austin and Jason Witten). ... Bryant has caught a TD pass in five straight games, the longest streak of his career. ... Romo's 25 completions gave him a club-record 349 for the season. He completed his last 12 throws the previous game and his first five on Sunday, setting a club record with 17 straight completions. ... Bengals RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis ran for 89 yards on 12 carries, breaking his streak of three straight 100-yard games.

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Dwight Howard shares his first health update since back surgery

Dwight Howard shares his first health update since back surgery

Three weeks removed from back surgery to take care of his nagging gluteal injury, Dwight Howard rejoined the Washington Wizards for their Tuesday night contest with the Atlanta Hawks inside State Farm Arena. 

"Physically, I'm a lot better than I was before the surgery. The nine games I played, I basically played on one leg. So, you know, I'm just happy that that's out the way and I can rehab and get ready for the second half of the season," Howard told NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller. 

During those nine games, the 33-year-old averaged 12.8 points, 9.2 rebounds, while shooting over 62% from the floor. 

Howard is no stranger to back surgery. In 2012, the then Orlando Magic center underwent a procedure to repair a herniated disk which ended his season and took him out of Summer Olympics (London) participation. 

The veteran now deals with a slow recovery process before returning to basketball activities. 

Right now, the only I can do for rehab is just walk. Anybody who has had back surgery, they understand that. You know, for the first month and a half, you can't lift weights. You can't run. You can't do anything but basically walk. 

Howard plans to remain in Atlanta for rehab. Three weeks ago, Washington said it would re-evaluate Howard after two or three months. 

"Every day I try to sit down, and you know, spend at least an hour visualizing, you know, getting healthy, but also returning to the court."

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Wizards fold late, fall to Trae Young and Hawks in Trevor Ariza's debut

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Wizards fold late, fall to Trae Young and Hawks in Trevor Ariza's debut

The Washington Wizards lost to the Atlanta Hawks 118-110 on Tuesday night. Here are five observations from the game...

1. When the Wizards smashed the Lakers on Sunday night and John Wall dropped 40 points, the team's social media naysayers collectively yawned, 'Let's see them do the same against Atlanta on Tuesday.' Sure enough, those people were right.

Wall and the Wizards did not bring anything close to the same energy against Atlanta that they had vs. L.A. Because the Hawks are terrible, the Wizards were able to hang around until the fourth quarter, but Atlanta pulled away with 36 points in the final frame.

There was plenty not to like about this game from the Wizards' side of things. They shot just 33.3 percent from three (13-for-39) and missed 11 of their 36 free throw attempts.

Wall had one of his worst games. He shot just 33.3 percent from the field and went 3-for-11 from three to the tune of 15 points and six assists. He played only 26 minutes due to foul trouble.

It wasn't as lopsided as their worst defeats this season, but this ranks up there with some of the Wizards' most inexcusable losses of the year so far. Even after making trades to shuffle their bench and team chemistry, the results remain the same. They let a bad team sneak up on them once again.

2. Trevor Ariza made his debut and essentially picked up right where he left off in 2014. He ended up with 19 points, eight rebounds, four assists and six steals, making a noticeable impact on both ends of the floor. His six steals tied a career-high.

Ariza went 4-for-11 from three with just about all of them on wide-open looks. Ariza was excellent  in his last tenure in D.C. at drifting away from the defense and making them pay from beyond the arc. Wall and Bradley Beal seemed to remember that, as they consistently found him for outside shots. 

The Wizards' overall defensive effort was up-and-down, as they allowed 35 points in the first quarter and 118 for the game. But Ariza was mostly not to blame, as he played smart and measured defense. With the exception of an early play where Kent Bazemore hit an open three, he did a good job closing out on perimeter shots.

The trade of Kelly Oubre Jr. for Ariza may ultimately prove short-sighted, and many fans seem to strongly disagree with the decision. But those are the things we should see over the course of the season that show why Ariza could be an upgrade in the short-term. He will play solid, structured defense with few mistakes or lapses in focus.

3. The fans who paid the price of admission in Atlanta to watch the referees go to work got their money's worth. It was hard to hear Steve Buckhantz with all the whistles.

Seriously, there were so many fouls. The two teams combined for 61 of them. Four Hawks players had four fouls or more and four Wizards players had five or more. That included Markieff Morris, who fouled out in only 17 minutes.

Even clean plays were fouls, like this one. Jeff Green got way up to deny Alex Len, only to have a foul called.

4. Otto Porter Jr. remains out with a right knee contusion, making this the fourth straight game he has missed. He hasn't missed five consecutive games since his rookie year.

With Porter out, head coach Scott Brooks rolled with Jeff Green to start alongside Ariza. Ariza is slated to be in the lineup moving forward, so that pushed out Satoransky, who had made eight straight starts.

Satoransky ended up playing mostly as a backup shooting guard with Sam Dekker at small forward. Chasson Randle, who was recently brought back on a non-guaranteed contract, backed up Wall at point guard. Though that may have had something to do with his defensive matchup on Trae Young, it was surprising.

Ian Mahinmi also got some burn after three straight DNP-CDs. That may have been due to the presence of Len, who is a lot to handle for small-ball fives.

Speaking of big men, Dwight Howard made an appearance on Tuesday. He didn't play, but sat on the bench with the team for the first time since his back surgery.

5. All of those lineup mentions should highlight one notable exclusion. That is Troy Brown Jr., who continues to be on the outside of the rotation looking in. Even with Porter out and Oubre now gone, Brown isn't in the mix.

Brown's inability to get playing time remains a head-scratcher. Yeah, he can't shoot, but he can do so many other things, things that the Wizards need. Whenever he gets spot minutes, he contributes with his passing, rebounding and defense. 

The fact he isn't playing a lot could be expected, as he was drafted outside the lottery by a deep, veteran team. But to not play at all, even when injuries pave the way? That's tough to understand.

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