Nationals

Romo: Cowboys 'playing for our playoff lives'

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Romo: Cowboys 'playing for our playoff lives'

IRVING, Texas (AP) The Dallas Cowboys barely beat two teams going nowhere and couldn't hang with Robert Griffin III in a loss during their three-game home stand.

Now the schedule features winning teams fighting for the playoffs, and the Cowboys need those games and probably some help in getting to the postseason.

Dallas visits Cincinnati on Sunday before returning home to play Pittsburgh. The Bengals and Steelers are tied for second in the AFC North at 7-5, and are probably in the wild-card hunt because they trail Baltimore by two games.

The Cowboys (6-6) spent the past few weeks figuring they needed to win the NFC East to get in, though they could be in the wild-card mix, too.

``Each game, obviously, we're playing for our playoff lives,'' said Tony Romo, who had three touchdown passes to break Troy Aikman's franchise record in Sunday's 38-33 victory against Philadelphia. ``We put ourselves here. We've got to figure out a way to play better ball. Some ways, we did that tonight and other ways, we've got to continue to get better.''

Start with Romo on the positive side of that equation. He completed all 10 of his second-half passes, which included two tying touchdowns and the go-ahead toss to Dez Bryant midway through the fourth quarter. An earlier touchdown to Bryant was the 166th of Romo's career and broke the record held by Aikman, a three-time Super Bowl winner.

Romo was 22 of 27 for 303 yards and has gone without an interception in four of the past five games. He has 10 touchdowns and just two interceptions after throwing 13 picks in the first seven games.

``I thought he did a really good job of playing within himself, playing within the system when things weren't there and he was able to make some plays,'' Dallas coach Jason Garrett said.

The Dallas defense didn't make many plays before rookie Morris Claiborne followed Romo's go-ahead score by picking up a fumble and returning it 50 yards for his first NFL touchdown.

Before that play, the Cowboys had no sacks or turnovers and had allowed the Eagles and rookie quarterback Nick Foles to score on four straight possessions, including a 58-yard drive to a field goal in the final 35 seconds of the first half and another march to a tiebreaking kick in the fourth quarter.

``We just have to stick it out,'' Claiborne said. ``We've been doing a good job fighting this whole year with our backs against the wall. Last night, the defense, it felt like our backs were against the wall.''

Brown had 169 yards rushing and almost matched the Eagles rookie record of 178 he set a week earlier against Carolina in his first start. He had several long runs and scored untouched twice, including up the middle from the 5.

``He's had a couple of good weeks running it, and we just didn't defend it well enough: the inside runs, the outside runs,'' Garrett said. ``Obviously we have to defend the run better.''

The Cowboys might have their own running game back for the playoff push after struggling without DeMarco Murray. He returned from a six-game absence due to a sprained right foot and rushed for 83 yards and a touchdown. His per-carry average still wasn't great - 3.6 yards, just a tick better than the team's season average - but part of that was an 11-yard loss late in the game.

The Dallas offensive line is getting healthy, too. Ryan Cook started at center after missing two games with a knee problem, which allowed Mackenzy Bernadeau to return to guard. Tyron Smith was back at right tackle after missing almost two full games with a sprained ankle.

``I think it's an encouraging sign compared to weeks past,'' Cook said. ``We had a couple of negative plays. Those definitely contributed to that a little bit, but we look forward for encouraging signs as far as getting that average up.''

Jerry Jones is always looking for encouraging signs, and the owner was slightly more upbeat 10 days after a demoralizing loss to the Redskins that had him questioning whether the Cowboys could make the playoffs.

``I am very hopeful, but I am realistic,'' Jones said. ``I know that we play teams that if we make some of the miscues that we made out there tonight ...''

He didn't have to finish the thought.

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Follow Schuyler Dixon on Twitter athttps://twitter.com/lschuylerd

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Nationals Roundup: Washington splits four-game stand with Diamondbacks

Nationals Roundup: Washington splits four-game stand with Diamondbacks

The Washington Nationals moved to 33-38 after splitting the four-game series with the Arizona Diamondbacks over the weekend. Now, Bryce Harper and the rival Philadelphia Phillies come to town for a four-game stretch that can prove vital to Washington and the team's better play.

Player Notes:

Stephen Strasburg gave up six runs over five innings on nine hits over five innings in a loss to the Diamondbacks on Saturday. His ERA is now 3.75 with 115 strikeouts in 96 innings with a 1.06 WHIP, but can rebound Thursday against the Phillies.

He's not yet 21, but Juan Soto is playing like he's been in the league for years. The outfielder went 2-for-4 with his 11th homer on Saturday. He now has 41 RBI on the season to go along with an OPS of .885 over 62 games.

Adam Eaton went 3-for-3 with an RBI, two walks and a run scored in the Nationals’ lopsided 15-5 win on Sunday. The 30-year-old outfielder is fully healthy, hitting .280/.365/.398 with 41 runs scored, 19 RBI and five steals in 302 plate appearances.

Superstar Anthony Rendon went 3-for-5 with a two-run homer and three runs scored in the Sunday win, which included his 16th longball of the season. He'shitting .321/.415/.660 with 52 runs scored, 50 RBI and one stolen base across 246 plate appearances this season.

Injuries:

SP Jeremy Hellickson: Shoulder, out indefinitely 

RP Justin Miller: Shoulder, out indefinitely 

1B Ryan Zimmerman: Foot, could return mid-June

RP Koda Glover: Elbow, out indefinitely 

RP Austen Williams: Shoulder, out indefinitely 

C Kurt Suzuki: Clavicle, sidelined

RP Kyle Barraclough: Biceps, 10-day IL

Coming Up:

Monday 6/17: Nationals vs. Phillies, 7:05 p.m., Nationals Park

Tuesday 6/18: Nationals vs. Phillies, 7:05 p.m., Nationals Park

Wednesday 6/19: Nationals vs. Phillies, 7:05 p.m., Nationals Park

Thursday 6/20: Nationals vs. Phillies, 7:05 p.m., Nationals Park

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Source: Rotoworld

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Now that the Lakers got Anthony Davis, could the Knicks and others turn to Bradley Beal?

Now that the Lakers got Anthony Davis, could the Knicks and others turn to Bradley Beal?

With all but one of the brick-and-mortar movie stores closed down, there are really only two instances that you hear the word 'blockbuster' these days: when describing Marvel movies and for the type of trade we saw this weekend between the New Orleans Pelicans and Los Angeles Lakers.

The Anthony Davis deal is a blockbuster trade in every sense. It is big in the number of pieces involved and because Davis is one of the best players on the planet.

It is important because it could immediately vault the Lakers into title contention. And it provides a new superteam for the league to revolve around and for people to loathe with the Golden State Warriors currently licking their wounds.

But it is also the type of deal that will have major consequences around the league, one that will affect far more than just the teams at the top. It will force a collection of other teams to redraw their blueprints.

The obvious ones are the Knicks and Celtics, the two teams most closely linked to Davis in trade rumors. Now, it is New York that has more urgency, if not desperation, to strike in free agency. Boston to regroup and will probably need to ponder other trades if they want to reassert themselves in the Eastern Conference.

The Davis trade would be a major deal no matter the year, but it is fascinating to evaluate in the context of Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson's injuries. The league went from being very predictable to a wide open pasture of possibilities.

Now, the Warriors are good still but are also a beatable team. A window of NBA parity is cracking open and surely the Lakers won't be the only team to pounce.

Houston, Philadelphia and Oklahoma City are always aggressive and will clearly be thinking big. Portland and Denver could see this as the year to go all-in.

Not all teams looking to make a splash will have money to spend in free agency. That points to an aggressive trade market this summer, but there is arguably one big problem. After Davis, it doesn't seem likely many other stars will be available.

Teams seeking stars via trade have enjoyed plenty of options in recent years between Davis, Kawhi Leonard, Chris Paul, Kyrie Irving, Paul George and Jimmy Butler. The formula is generally fairly simple: an All-Star player on an underachieving team with the end of his contract in sight. Recently, the supply has met the demand.

But currently, few fit that description. There are some like Mike Conley Jr. of the Grizzlies, and Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside of the Heat. But none of those players are All-Stars in their prime.

All of that makes it easy to connect the dots to the Wizards and Bradley Beal. They are in an interesting spot, needing to decide whether to retool for playoff contention or take the long view and undergo some degree of a rebuild.

Beal, as their best player, is the catalyst. There are logical reasons to keep him or to trade him. He is one of the best players in franchise history, is only 25 and he's on a team-friendly contract in the era of the supermax. But the Wizards are going to have a tough time improving their roster with John Wall's Achilles injury and contract, which starts at 35 percent of the salary cap. 

The Wizards have held a stance of not wanting to trade Beal and still do. They also likely wouldn't make such an important decision without a long-term team president in place.

But that won't stop teams from calling and there is already speculation around the league about whether Beal will be dealt. One front office executive told NBC Sports Washington that Beal could be the top prize in the trade market if made available now that Davis is gone. 

For a lot of these situations, trades are more likely when a player is entering his walk year. Beal is signed through the 2020-21 season and, even if he grows unhappy, will say the right things.

He won't create necessary drama. And, if you take him at his word in a February interview with NBC Sports Washington, he wouldn't request a trade himself.

Also, there is a reason to believe keeping Beal wouldn't hurt their ability to rebuild through the draft. With the new lottery system, bottoming out doesn't offer the guarantees that it used to. And even with Beal playing all 82 games last season, the Wizards still lost 50 of them and finished with the sixth-best odds.

Just like some have argued the Wizards have reasons to trade Beal, they also have reasons not to. But that won't stop other teams from picking up the phone.

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