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Jerry Jones gets chippy in defending Dallas Cowboys: ‘Just shut up and let me answer it’

Chalk it up, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said, to his disappointment.

“If I were a little abrupt there, then I really don't want to start our day like that,” Jones concluded his Tuesday morning interview with Dallas radio station 105.3 The Fan. “You’re too good of men for that. This certainly isn't my most tactful time, you might say, with this thing as we discuss these matters. I’m disappointed for our fans. I can't tell you how disappointed I am.

“We haven’t spent the time, the years, the money, the effort and everything for the Dallas Cowboys to be where we are right now.”

Prior to this mea culpa, Jones analyzed the woes plaguing his 2-5 Cowboys. Injuries have sidelined roughly 45% of the team’s salary cap, he said during his weekly radio appearance. Dallas’ run defense—which has allowed more than 200 yards by ground in three of the last four games—needs to “change some personnel for sure,” added Jones, who also is the team’s general manager. Experience and talent voids concern Jones more than any effort problem. And he was emphatic: He does not believe this group has a leadership void.

“Where, in the offensive line?” Jones asked. “Seriously, where would you have a leadership void? Is it an experience void, is it a talent void? I’m not trying to be cute here. The answer is no.”

The radio hosts attempted to clarify whether Jones believed his players, who have lost their last two games by an average of 25 points, lacked sufficient leadership.

“Just shut up and let me answer it: no,” Jones snapped. “You’re not asking me that. I gave you the answer. When I go into the locker room, there’s no leadership void in my eyes. Now that’s your answer.

“Let’s move on.”

COWBOYS: DeMarcus Lawrence calls out team for weak 'backbone' after loss

MORE: Mike McCarthy questions Cowboys players' response to hit on QB Andy Dalton

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones walks on the field before the game against the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium. (Photo: Kirby Lee, Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

Jones also dismissed doubts that Mike McCarthy, in his first year as Dallas’ coach, has lost control of the team. Jones had reiterated Friday that McCarthy is a Super Bowl-caliber coach—he won one title a decade ago amid a 13-year stint leading the Packers—but was asked Tuesday whether those credentials were commanding the respect and creating the structure this team needs.

“Do I think he has control of the situation to the extent that no one ever controls to some degree what is happening out here with us today?” Jones asked. McCarthy can’t control the injuries decimating the Cowboys’ starting lineup, the owner said. But he does believe McCarthy is in charge of his staff, players and the pursuit of adjustments within the confines of available assets and tools. The Cowboys hired McCarthy with aspirations to win now behind a roster boasting Pro Bowl-caliber pieces in quarterback Dak Prescott, running back Ezekiel Elliott, receiver Amari Cooper and multiple standout offensive linemen.

Instead, Prescott and both starting offensive tackles are among a lengthy list of players out for the season. Prescott underwent surgery for a compound fracture and dislocation of his right ankle sustained on Oct. 11. Two weeks later, backup quarterback Andy Dalton suffered a concussion at Washington that puts in question his status for this week’s trip to Philadelphia. Dalton absorbed a head-first blow from Washington linebacker Jon Bostic, losing his helmet before his unprotected head hit the FedEx Field grass. Rookie seventh-rounder Ben DiNucci will start if Dalton doesn’t clear protocol.

It’s an unexpected unraveling. Jones believes McCarthy’s experience has prepared him to rally.

“I am confident, and I have a note here in big red letters, one of the reasons Mike McCarthy is the coach is because he’s had tough times,” Jones said. “We wanted someone that, in case the you-know-what hit the fan, that had the credibility and doability to stand strong and tall as head coach. He’s doing that. To answer your question, he’s doing that. He’s doing that in the case of adversity.

“Anybody without a résumé, without experience can do it when it’s all going good. But that’s not football. It’s never going all good.”

Jones promised fans that his front office is putting their head down to improve. Better days lie ahead, he said. But don’t tempt him.

“There’s one thing,” Jones said. “There’s an old adage: ‘Don’t piss an old man off with little money. He’ll get you.’”

Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Jori Epstein on Twitter @JoriEpstein 

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Cowboys defensive coordinator Mike Nolan pauses interview after getting Tabasco sauce in eye

Mike Nolan apologized.

“That wasn’t good,” the Cowboys defensive coordinator told reporters Monday evening. “Ugh. Terrible. Jeez, I’m sorry.”

Nolan wasn’t talking about the Cowboys’ 25-3 loss at Washington, their 2-5 record or the league-worst 34.7 points per game his defense has allowed.

Rather, Nolan needed to stop the burn.

“I’ve got something in my eye,” he said. “Just had some Tabasco on my finger and it went in my eye.”

Nolan excused himself for 2 minutes and 30 seconds before questions in his weekly news conference resumed.

Upon return, Nolan explained his defense’s struggles with gap integrity that have yielded more than 200 rushing yards three of the last four games. Nolan explained the discipline and division of responsibility he thinks his flailing unit must employ to clog the big plays they have consistently allowed. Friday, Nolan had lamented 80- and 69-yard touchdowns ceded to Arizona in a 38-10 loss. This time, Nolan also addressed Washington receiver Terry McLaurin burning rookie cornerback Trevon Diggs for a 52-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Diggs admitted afterward he was "lazy" with his eyes.

“I think Trevon's yesterday was strictly his eyes. His eyes got him in trouble,” said Nolan. “He's looking inside, he stopped his feet and then the guy went right by him. The guy didn't even stutter, he was just running vertical. I thought in the game that he kind of gave him a stutter or something to get him to stop, but he didn't. Trevon's eyes were just bad on that play.

“If you don't have good eyes, you can get in trouble in this game real quick – no matter what position you play.”

Nolan, mere minutes removed from the Tabasco fiasco, could relate.

Your Mike Nolan Tabasco video

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COWBOYS: DeMarcus Lawrence calls out team for weak 'backbone' after loss

MORE: Mike McCarthy questions Cowboys players' response to hit on QB Andy Dalton

Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Mike Nolan stands on the field while the team warms up before an NFL football game against the New York Giants in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Oct. 11, 2020. (Photo: Ron Jenkins, AP)

He did not share what he was eating just after 5 p.m. Monday evening but did confirm he was on the mend.

“My eye feels a lot better right now,” Nolan said, “but it was burning.”

Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Jori Epstein on Twitter @JoriEpstein

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Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy questions his players’ reaction to nasty hit on Andy Dalton

Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy was left less than pleased with his team’s response to Jon Bostic’s vicious hit on Andy Dalton in Sunday’s loss to Washington. 

The backup Cowboys quarterback was knocked out of the game with a concussion in the third quarter after Bostic delivered a cowardly head-first hit that removed Dalton’s helmet as he was sliding to avoid a collision.

It prompted next to no reaction from Dalton’s Cowboys colleagues, raising further questions surrounding the atmosphere amid the team’s recent slump.

“We speak all the time about playing for one another and protecting each other,” Mike McCarthy said after the 25-3 defeat. “So, definitely it was probably not the response that you would expect.”

The Cowboys fell to their fourth defeat of the campaign as the Philadelphia Eagles finished the weekend top of the NFC East with a matching 2-4 record following Thursday’s win over the New York Giants.

Defensive coordinator Mike Nolan finds himself under more pressure after his unit, ranked last in scoring in the NFL, gave up 25 points to Washington’s bottom three offense.

With a depleted offensive line and running back Ezekiel Elliott continuing to struggle, the Cowboys managed just 142 total yards on offense compared to Washington’s 397.

“We’re not doing the basics. Let’s quit candy-coating it,” McCarthy said. “I can’t stand up here and keep talking about taking care of the football, taking the ball away and just the fundamentals.

“Whether we haven’t had enough time together or whatever the case is, at the end of the day, the schedule is set and we need to continue to work because we need improvement each day, each week especially before we go to Philadelphia.”

On-field disappointment follows a week of turbulence away from it, with anonymous quotes emerging from the Cowboys locker room pointing towards discontent with the team’s coaching staff.

At this rate, one-and-out is looking a possibility for McCarthy, who enters the Week Eight matchup with the Eagles in desperate need of a win.

“The only ones who are going to get us out of the hole are us as a football team,” McCarthy said. “We’ve got to be able to keep playing, keep playing to win, not playing to not make mistakes. I felt like I saw some of that today.

“We’re not cutting it loose. We look like we’re holding back at certain points. So, we’ve got to execute better obviously. We knew we needed to play the game a certain way today and we did not get that done.”

Dalton was replaced by Ben DiNucci in the game, with the 2020 seventh-round pick out of James Maddison finishing two of three for 39 yards. He is now in contention to start for the Cowboys against the Eagles.

“I haven’t really thought that far down the road yet,” said DiNucci. “I just got out of the shower and put my warmup gear on. I’m not sure how all the protocols work and stuff of that nature.

“But if my number is called, shoot, I’ll be the first one in the building tomorrow and the last one to leave. I’ve got to prepare like I have been for the last two months; nothing changes.

“I’ve learned more from sitting in a room with Dak and Andy the last two months than I have playing the last eight years.

“You can’t say enough good things about those guys. Again, you hate that injuries have to happen for me to be on the field, but this is an opportunity that everyone wants playing football.”

Sky Sports NFL is your dedicated channel for NFL coverage through the season – featuring a host of NFL Network programming, a new weekly preview show as well as at least five games a week and NFL Redzone, you won’t miss a moment. Don’t forget to follow us on skysports.com/nfl, our Twitter account @SkySportsNFL & Sky Sports – on the go!

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Wilson says ‘I have to be better’ after 3-INT night

Entering Sunday night, Russell Wilson hadn’t thrown multiple interceptions in a regular-season game since the 2018 opener. Only three times in his nine-year career had he thrown more than two.

His uncharacteristic performance led to an uncharacteristic postgame news conference after the Seattle Seahawks’ 37-34 overtime loss to the Arizona Cardinals. Wilson is rarely as down on himself as he was after the Cardinals picked him off three times, the last of which set up their game-winning field goal in the extra period.

“I thought we played a great game except for those three plays, honestly,” Wilson said. “Those are my fault. There’s so much that we can do, and we have so much confidence. Our confidence is not going to waiver. They’re a great football team, too. We knew it was going to be a battle. It always is down here and whenever we play. So nothing really changes except for the fact that we just have to tighten up some things. I have to be better, which I’m looking forward to.”

The clear front-runner for MVP through the Seahawks’ (5-1) first five games, Wilson had some brilliant moments Sunday while completing 33 of 50 attempts for 388 yards and three touchdowns. He also led Seattle with 84 rushing yards on six attempts.

Wilson’s three touchdowns give him 22 on the season, tying Peyton Manning’s record from 2013 for the most in NFL history through a team’s first six games.

All three TDs were to Tyler Lockett. The second, a 47-yarder in the second quarter, was another display of Wilson’s deep-ball proficiency. Per NFL Next Gen Stats, it had an air distance of 58.8 yards, and Lockett had 0.73 yards of separation when he caught it, making it the longest tight-window touchdown pass (less than 1 yard of separation) in the NFL the past two seasons.

Wilson’s third touchdown pass to Lockett gave the Seahawks a 34-24 lead with 6:50 left in the fourth quarter. But they couldn’t convert on a third-and-2 Carlos Hyde run after Arizona scored a touchdown on its ensuring possession. Seattle punted on its first OT possession after nearly reaching midfield, then had a game-winning touchdown pass to DK Metcalf negated by a penalty one play before Wilson’s third interception.

“We had some mistakes as a team, and just you can’t have those mistakes in close matchups like this,” Wilson said. “We had the lead and kinda lost it there in terms of just not staying on schedule, especially for us on offense. We had an opportunity to close out the game really kind of twice, and we just didn’t do our job as a team. So it’s a team effort, and it starts with me. I look at me first. I’ve got to be better, and I’m looking forward to being better.”

Of his first interception, Wilson said he was trying to zip a pass to Chris Carson, but the defensive end affected the trajectory of his throw. Metcalf saved a touchdown by chasing down Budda Baker in what Wilson called “one of the most remarkable plays I’ve ever seen.”

“Just the play, the effort by DK … I really respect him for that,” Wilson said.

Of his final interception, Wilson said he thought he had an angle to fit a quick throw to Lockett with a blitz coming.

The second interception, Wilson said, was the result of miscommunication with Metcalf, who broke off his route in the end zone.

“We do such a good job in those scramble situations, and I thought he was spinning out to go deep, and as soon as I threw it, he stopped on a dime,” Wilson said. “That’s just timing, and Patrick [Peterson] made a good play. But we’re confident in those. I don’t think you can be frustrated about those because we’ve made so many of those great plays in moments like that. That was just an unfortunate play, and that was on me.”

Lockett tied Steve Largent’s franchise record with 15 catches and became the only receiver in franchise history other than Largent with 200 receiving yards in a game. He finished with 200 even.

“We can always help him out more,” Lockett said of Wilson. “We can always get open more. We can always make those blocks more to move the chains more. It’s not on him. It’s on all of us. We put ourselves in a hole, and like I said, we could have won this game. We could have won this game at the fourth quarter if we got the third down. We wouldn’t have even had to go to overtime. But these are learning experiences, and it might turn out to be one of the best things to happen to us if you really think about it. We could have been 6-0, or we could have been 5-1, and sometimes you’ve got to have a wake-up call.”

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NFL Week 7 takeaways: Big days for Baker, Rodgers — but not the Cowboys

Week 7 in the NFL was wild. The Steelers survived a late comeback attempt from the Titans to move to 6-0 on the season. The Browns edged by the Bengals on a huge go-ahead TD with 11 seconds remaining — Baker Mayfield’s fifth of the game. A Panthers tying field goal attempt from 65 yards came up just short, helping the Saints get a big division win. The Lions beat the Falcons with a touchdown pass on the final play of the game after an eight-play, 75-yard drive in the final 64 seconds. Washington kept the Cowboys to three points, and Green Bay dropped 35 on Houston thanks to another strong day from Aaron Rodgers.

All that and more in Week 7’s biggest takeaways from NFL Nation.

Pittsburgh Steelers 27, Tennessee Titans 24

Standout performer for PIT-TEN: Diontae Johnson, 9 catches, 80 receiving yards, 2 TDs

Thanks to a fast start and scores on their first four possessions, the Steelers outlasted a Titans fourth-quarter comeback to remain undefeated and set up a huge AFC North showdown next week in Baltimore. But even with an unblemished record, the Steelers have glaring things to fix after the late-game meltdown, beginning with limiting splash plays by the opponent. “We have goals so high for ourselves because we know what we can do when we feel like we can be a truly special defense,” linebacker T.J. Watt said. “And that’s why no one’s really satisfied after today. We need to do a lot better job, especially in the second half. But it starts with the run. And even though we did a good job in the first half, we got to continue and roll it over into the second half.” — Brooke Pryor

Next game: at Ravens (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

The Titans made a valiant effort in the fourth quarter to make the game close, but their inability to stop the Steelers early in the game was too much to overcome. Tennessee couldn’t force the Steelers to punt in the first half. It gave up seven first downs on all seven of Pittsburgh’s third-down opportunities in the first two quarters. Now the Titans sit at 5-1, which is still best in their division, but they need drastic improvement on third downs — starting with the Bengals next week — before they get into the tougher part of the schedule. — Turron Davenport

Next game: at Bengals (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

New Orleans Saints 27, Carolina Panthers 24

Standout performer for CAR-NO: Alvin Kamara, 83 rushing yards, 65 receiving yards

No Michael Thomas. No Emmanuel Sanders. No problem for the Saints’ offense — which had its prettiest performance of the season from start to finish. New Orleans’ defense still has major problems preventing big plays and stopping teams in the red zone, but this was an awfully nice way for the Saints (4-2) to reboot their offense after the bye, something they’ll need to carry over into an even stiffer test next week at Chicago. — Mike Triplett

Next game: at Bears (4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Another amazing day from quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was spoiled by the defense’s inability to make plays on third down. The Saints started 8-of-8 on third down, and at one point, they were 11-of-12 before finishing 12-of-14 in the victory. That’s inexcusable, even with a secondary depleted by injuries. The worst was a third-and-14 pass to running back Alvin Kamara that should have been stopped for a short gain. The Panthers entered the day ranked 29th on third-down defense, and if they can’t solve this problem, there’s no way they can keep pace with New Orleans and Tampa Bay in the NFC South. — David Newton

Next game: vs. Falcons (8:20 p.m. ET, Thursday)

Green Bay Packers 35, Houston Texans 20

Standout performer for GB-HOU: Davante Adams, 13 catches, 196 receiving yards, 2 TDs

It wasn’t the criticism the Packers faced after their blowout loss to the Buccaneers last week that drove them to their win Sunday at the Texans. “It was more so we felt like we owed it to ourselves,” said receiver Davante Adams, who had a career-high 196 yards receiving. Yes, it came against a one-win team and a bad defense that Aaron Rodgers picked apart. And next week they face another one-win team in the Vikings. But Sunday’s game got the Packers (5-1) back to doing what they did on the way to their 4-0 start and gave them confidence they can win without the likes of star running back Aaron Jones and All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari. — Rob Demovsky

Next game: vs. Vikings (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

With another loss that dropped the Texans to 1-6, the team is likely in sell-now mode headed into the bye with trade deadline on Nov. 3. While Houston’s front office is not interested in a firesale without getting the proper value in return, it is at the point where this team needs to look toward the future, even after just signing quarterback Deshaun Watson to a lengthy contract extension. — Sarah Barshop

Next game: at Jaguars (1 p.m. ET, Sunday Nov. 8)

Detroit Lions 23, Atlanta Falcons 22

Standout performer for DET-ATL: Matthew Stafford, 340 passing yards, 1 TD

For years, Matthew Stafford had been building the reputation as a comeback king, among the quarterbacks you wanted to face least with him holding the ball and time winding down. It had gotten away from him a bit the past two-plus seasons, with Detroit struggling to win games and too often losing leads in the fourth quarter instead of pulling off improbable comebacks. Then came Sunday, when Stafford drove Detroit 75 yards in 64 seconds, capping it with an 11-yard touchdown pass to T.J. Hockenson with no time remaining to set up the extra point that gave Detroit the win. The comeback king, picking up fourth-quarter comeback No. 30 and game-winning drive No. 36, pulled it off at a time when Detroit needed it the most, to get back to 3-3 and keep his team relevant toward midseason. — Michael Rothstein

Next game: vs. Colts (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Is it bad luck, poor decision-making or execution that has hurt the Falcons the most this season? Regardless, the Falcons are now the only team with three losses in a season — over the past 20 seasons — after having a win probability of at least 98%, according to ESPN Stats and Information. Atlanta could have won its second consecutive game if Todd Gurley II would have gone down before scoring an ill-fated touchdown that left the Lions enough time to come back and win the game. And Gurley realized it after running 10 yards to the end zone. “Ah f— it, I shouldn’t have scored,” Gurley said postgame. The Falcons had a 98.7% chance to win after Stafford’s incompletion with 57 seconds left, per ESPN’s win probability model, and still managed to lose. — Courtney Cronin

Next game: at Panthers (8:20 p.m. ET, Thursday)

Buffalo Bills 18, New York Jets 10

Standout performer for BUF-NYJ: Cole Beasley, 11 catches, 112 receiving yards

This may have been Buffalo’s most impressive defensive performance to date. After a shaky first half, the Bills allowed just four yards of total offense, holding the Jets scoreless while their own offense continued to score, three points at a time. Factor in five sacks and two takeaways, and for the first time this season, the Bills’ defense carried the load — a burden that had fallen on their offense through the first six games. It’s a positive sign that both sides of the ball are capable of winning games. — Marcel Louis-Jacques

Next game: vs. Patriots (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

New playcaller, same result. Coach Adam Gase handed the playcalling to offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains, but the Jets managed only 25 yards on 23 plays after taking a 10-0 lead. They made no adjustments, resulting in six total sacks. It will get worse for the Jets (0-7), who face the Super Bowl champion Chiefs on the road next week. — Rich Cimini

Next game: at Chiefs (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Cleveland Browns 37, Cincinnati Bengals 34

Standout performer for CLE-CIN: Baker Mayfield, 297 passing yards, 5 TDs

After throwing an interception on his first passing attempt for a second consecutive game, Baker Mayfield rebounded with one of the finest QB performances in Browns history. Mayfield broke a franchise record with 21 consecutive completions and threw three touchdowns in the fourth quarter alone, lifting Cleveland to a comeback victory. This version of Mayfield is what could elevate the Browns into more than just a fringe playoff contender. And Cleveland will need more of this from him — especially if wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.’s knee injury proves serious. — Jake Trotter

Next game: vs. Raiders (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Even though the Bengals failed to pick up the victory, Sunday was another reminder that Cincinnati has its quarterback of the future. With three offensive starters sidelined with injury, Joe Burrow was still able to post a career-high 406 yards on 35-of-46 passing, three touchdowns and one interception. He also had a rushing touchdown in the Bengals’ third consecutive defeat. Entering the game, the Bengals were without injured running back Joe Mixon (foot). Throughout the day, left tackle Jonah Williams (neck), center Trey Hopkins (concussion) and right tackle Bobby Hart (undisclosed) also went down at various points of Sunday’s contest. That didn’t stop Burrow from nearly pulling off the first comeback win of his career. — Ben Baby

Next game: vs. Titans (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Washington Football Team 25, Dallas Cowboys 3

Standout performer for DAL-WSH: Antonio Gibson, 128 rushing yards, 1 TD

Washington still has a lot of issues that won’t be resolved any time soon, but it can feel good about one thing: It’s a lot better than Dallas right now. Washington played its best all-around game. And the more running back Antonio Gibson matures, the more Washington can start to develop a consistent ground game, which it will need. But Sunday’s game also showed the kind of mindset coach Ron Rivera wanted to see. After five consecutive losses — four by 14 points or more — and a crushing one-point defeat a week ago, the team responded well. For Washington to truly generate momentum, it must come out the same way after the bye week. This was a good win, but if it’s just a one-game blip, then it won’t mean a whole lot. — John Keim

Next game: vs. Giants (1 p.m. ET, Sunday, Nov. 8)

The Cowboys are 2-5. Forget about how bad the NFC East is. Where do the Cowboys start to fix their problems? Is it on defense, which has been terrible since Week 1 and has been shredded on the ground? Or the offense, which has scored one touchdown in two games without Dak Prescott and can’t play a game without a turnover? Quarterback Andy Dalton was knocked out of the game in the third quarter because of a concussion, but he was not given much help by an offensive line that looked like a preseason group. This has turned into a nightmare scenario Mike McCarthy never envisioned when he was named coach last January. — Todd Archer

Next game: at Eagles (8:20 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Philadelphia Eagles 22, New York Giants 21

Standout performer for NYG-PHI: Carson Wentz, 359 passing yards, 2 TDs (and 1 rushing TD)

The Eagles aren’t a good football team, no matter their odds to win the NFC East, but the positive signs they’re getting from quarterback Carson Wentz hold significance. He has turned it on over the past three games after a sluggish start, and again showed a penchant for late-game heroics with a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown throws to save Philadelphia from an embarrassing loss to the Giants. The Eagles now have a 61% chance to win the division, per the ESPN Football Power Index. That’s nice, but what’s really important is that their franchise quarterback is once again beginning to play like one. — Tim McManus

Next game: vs. Cowboys (8:20 p.m. ET, Sunday)

The Giants still can’t beat the Eagles or Cowboys. And they still can’t compete in a division that appears destined to be historically bad. The Giants (1-6) lost their eighth straight to the Eagles and have now dropped 15 consecutive games combined to Dallas and Philadelphia. It’s hard to compete in the NFC East if you continually lose to those two teams. The Giants blew an 11-point lead in the final five minutes, committing three penalties on the game-winning drive. Had tight end Evan Engram not dropped what could’ve been the clinching pass with just more than two minutes remaining, the Giants win. But it all proves the Giants are still not good enough. — Jordan Raanan

Next game: vs. Buccaneers (8:15 p.m. ET, Monday, Nov. 2)

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Mayfield outduels Burrow as Browns nip Bengals

  • Covers the Big 12
  • Joined ESPN.com in 2011
  • Graduate of Washington & Lee University

Baker Mayfield’s first quarter Sunday against Cincinnati couldn’t have gone any worse.

But from then on, the Cleveland Browns quarterback was perfect.

Literally.

Mayfield rebounded from a 0-of-5 start, including an interception on his first throw, to break a franchise record with 21 consecutive completions, propelling Cleveland to a thrilling 37-34 comeback victory over the Bengals.

Mayfield finished 22-of-28 passing with 297 yards and five touchdowns, with three coming in a wild back-and-forth fourth quarter.

His final touchdown was a game-winning 24-yard strike to rookie Donovan Peoples-Jones with just 15 seconds remaining. His only incompletion after the first quarter was a spike to stop the clock on the final drive.

Mayfield passed Bernie Kosar (1989) and Kelly Holcomb (2003), who previously shared the Browns’ record with 16 straight completions. No other Cleveland quarterback in the past 30 seasons had tossed three touchdowns in a fourth quarter, either, according to ESPN Stats & Information, and none since Derek Anderson in 2007 had thrown five in a game.

Mayfield outdueled Cincinnati rookie quarterback Joe Burrow in a shootout of former Heisman Trophy winners and No. 1 overall picks.

Burrow completed 35 of 47 passes for 406 yards, the first 400-yard passing game of his pro career. Despite losing three starting offensive linemen to injury during the game, Burrow also threw three touchdowns and rushed for another. On fourth-and-1, he connected on a 3-yard, go-ahead touchdown pass to running back Giovani Bernard with just over a minute to play, which set up Mayfield’s late-game heroics.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the first game in NFL history with five go-ahead touchdown passes in a fourth quarter.

ESPN’s Ben Baby contributed to this report.

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Coronavirus: NFL fines Tennessee Titans $350k for violations after outbreak

The NFL has fined the Tennessee Titans $350,000 after an investigation into what led to a coronavirus outbreak within the organisation.

The Titans had at least 24 players or staff members test positive for COVID-19 and needed to reschedule a pair of games due to it.

  • Raiders-Bucs game moved after positive Covid tests
  • How Tannehill and Henry are writing their own narrative

The NFL and the NFL Players Association have since completed a review of the Titans’ actions amid the outbreak, which started in late September and stretched into early October.

And they have found incidents in which people were not wearing masks in the Titans’ practice facility while there was also insufficient communication about player workouts away from the facility.

However, no individual player, coach or staff member has been disciplined, nor has the Titans lost any draft picks as part of the punishment.

The team has been warned that future instance of protocol violations would lead to escalated penalties though.

The league and players union are now focused on investigating the Las Vegas Raiders, who had their entire starting offensive line on the reserve/COVID-19 list this week after right tackle Trent Brown tested positive for part of the week.

The Las Vegas Raiders’ Sunday Night Football showdown with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers has now been moved from its prime-time slot with the Seahawks at Cardinals now serving as the Sunday Night Football matchup.

Watch the Sunday NFL triple-header – Pittsburgh Steelers @ Tennessee Titans, San Francisco 49ers @ New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks @ Arizona Cardinals – live on Sky Sports NFL from 4.30pm.

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Raiders-Buccaneers game moved out of Sunday prime-time slot after positive Covid tests

The Las Vegas Raiders’ Sunday Night Football showdown with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers has been moved from its prime-time slot after Raiders players tested positive for coronavirus this week.

Raiders cornerback Damon Arnette went on the team’s reserve/COVID-19 list on Monday and right tackle Trent Brown was placed on the list on Wednesday.

Brown’s positive test resulted in the Raiders’ entire starting offensive line being sent home this week to isolate after contact tracing. Safety Johnathan Abram also is currently in isolation.

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported the players sent home Wednesday have been deemed “high risk” close contacts and will also be placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero added the Raiders had zero new positive cases from Wednesday’s round of testing, so the players’ placement on the COVID-19 list is related to potential exposure to the virus.

The Raiders’ game against the Buccaneers on Sunday is still scheduled to go ahead but it has been shifted out of its prime-time slot, replaced instead by the Seattle Seahawks’ trip to NFC West divisional rivals, the Arizona Cardinals.

The Raiders-Bucs game has been moved to an earlier time slot on Sunday (8.05pm, UK time), allowing the NFL some flexibility for the match to be rearranged to a later date if necessary and still ensuring a game remains in the SNF slot.

“These decisions were made out of an abundance of caution to ensure that a game would be available for fans on Sunday Night Football,” the league said in a statement.

“We expect the Buccaneers-Raiders game to be played on Sunday afternoon. Scheduling decisions are made to ensure the health and safety of players, coaches and game day personnel and in consultation with medical experts.”

Watch the Sunday NFL triple-header – Pittsburgh Steelers @ Tennessee Titans, San Francisco 49ers @ New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks @ Arizona Cardinals – live on Sky Sports NFL from 4.30pm.

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NFL Week 7 game picks: Giants top Eagles; Patriots edge 49ers

Gregg Rosenthal went 8-6 on his predictions for Week 6 of the 2020 NFL season, bringing his total record to 56-34-1. How will he fare in Week 7? His picks are below.

THURSDAY, OCT. 22

New York Giants 20, Philadelphia Eagles 19

8:20 p.m. ET (FOX/NFL Network/Amazon) | Lincoln Financial Field (Philadelphia)

Carson Wentz has played well the last three weeks. The Eagles’ defensive line still looks good on paper and solid in reality. So why am I picking the Giants when Daniel Jones has Baker Mayfield Year 2 disease, rolling right the minute his first read is taken away? Because cornerback James Bradberry is playing like an All-Pro, wideout Darius Slayton has improved and Leonard Williams is coming off perhaps his best game as a Giant. Because New York’s defense and special teams have quietly both improved. Because a Giants win and division title at 6-10 is the most chaotic result possible in this chaotic year. Because someone has to win.

SUNDAY, OCT. 25

Pittsburgh Steelers 28, Tennessee Titans 24

1 p.m. ET (CBS) | Nissan Stadium (Nashville, Tenn.)

It is disarming to realize Ryan Tannehill is the better quarterback in this matchup because Ryan Tannehill is the better quarterback in almost every matchup. While he’s kept up his insane efficiency on play-action and in the red zone, Tannehill’s ability to avoid sacks, throw against pressure and be productive on straight dropbacks has improved from 2019. That ability to thrive just before being hit will be tested against a Steelers front with too many players worthy of double-teams, like Stephon Tuitt and Cameron Heyward. Big Ben might not be what he once was, but he needs to do a lot less than Tannehill to win these days.

Washington Football Team 22, Dallas Cowboys 20

1 p.m. ET (FOX) | FedExField (Landover, Md.)

Kyle Allen giveth and Kyle Allen taketh away. His fumble produced the Giants’ go-ahead touchdown last week, then he led an impressive TD drive to get within a point, only to hesitate on a failed two-point conversion attempt that cost the team a win. Overall, the Washington offense looked better with him at the controls and its defense has performed like a top-10 unit all season. I don’t want to overreact to the Cowboys’ Monday night meltdown, but their injury problems and league-worst turnovers and takeaways are year-long trends.

Buffalo Bills 33, New York Jets 10

1 p.m. ET (CBS) | MetLife Stadium (East Rutherford, N.J.)

I’m not that worried about Josh Allen. He’s played better than the numbers show the last two weeks, with his QB20 ranking from PFF in those games sounding about right. I am that worried about the Bills’ defense, which is soft up front and tentative in the back, like a nightmare mullet. To be clear: I’m not they could struggle with the Jets worried because I’ve watched every Jets snap this season just so you don’t have to.

New Orleans Saints 30, Carolina Panthers 24

1 p.m. ET (FOX) | Mercedez-Benz Superdome (New Orleans)

Whether Michael Thomas returns or not this week, the Saints showed promising signs before their bye week. Their defensive line is healthier and more disruptive than it’s been all season after the return of Marcus Davenport. Emmanuel Sanders has emerged as an every-week threat out wide. I’m curious to see how former New Orleans assistant Joe Brady, now running Carolina’s offense, attacks Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen, who can get in his own way when trying to make his presence felt. When a team like the Panthers needs to win with scheme and coaching because their players aren’t as talented, it’s hard to pick them to win.

Green Bay Packers 38, Houston Texans 33

1 p.m. ET (FOX) | NRG Stadium (Houston)

Which defense do you trust more? Despite superior depth on the defensive line, the Packers are ranked 30th in defensive DVOA, three spots behind the struggling Texans. Packers pass rusher Preston Smith is not making much of an impact this year, safety Adrian Amos is being exposed in coverage and coordinator Mike Pettine’s group is struggling against the run, as usual. That sets up beautifully for Deshaun Watson, who has played terrific the last three weeks and has a deeper group of pass catchers than Green Bay has assembled for Aaron Rodgers. I expect Rodgers to bounce back strong in a similarly favorable matchup, but there should be a lot of fireworks along the way.

Cleveland Browns 27, Cincinnati Bengals 25

1 p.m. ET (CBS) | Paul Brown Stadium (Cincinnati)

It’s an open question as to which quarterback is better in this game, despite their records. It’s an open question as to which defense is better, too. The Browns have the edge when it comes to their offensive line, running game and coaching staff, but I wouldn’t blame Cleveland fans for approaching this meeting with a mix of caution and dread.

Atlanta Falcons 30, Detroit Lions 27

1 p.m. ET (FOX) | Mercedez-Benz Stadium (Atlanta)

Good luck figuring either of these teams out and good luck to the squad that enters the fourth quarter with a lead on Sunday. Both the Lions and Falcons were their best selves in blowout wins last week, a reminder for Atlanta that availability matters. It turns out that getting Julio Jones reinserted into the lineup helps. Detroit played swarming defense coming out of its bye week, but the surprisingly consistent meh play from quarterback Matthew Stafford has me spooked. Raheem Morris only needs to win this one and then nine more to guarantee his Coach of the Year award and Atlanta legacy.

Seattle Seahawks 34, Arizona Cardinals 27

4:05 p.m. ET (FOX) | State Farm Stadium (Glendale, Ariz.)

The Cardinals have faced the fourth-easiest schedule in the league thus far, according to Football Outsiders. This week will begin to test their staying power. Their scheme has covered up talent shortcomings on the offensive line and with their pass rush, especially now that Chandler Jones is out. The Cardinals’ rushing game figures to keep it going against Seattle because a Kyler Murray scramble is the most unstoppable play in football. But I worry about the Cardinals’ outside cornerbacks holding up against DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett in yet another Seahawks game that figures to be a shootout.

Los Angeles Chargers 27, Jacksonville Jaguars 21

4:25 p.m. ET (CBS) | SoFi Stadium (Inglewood, Calif.)

The best way for the Chargers to dodge their 3-13 record in one-score games since the start of last season would be to avoid them altogether, an attainable goal this week against the worst defense in football. The Bolts might get defensive starters Melvin Ingram and Justin Jones back from injured reserve. Keenan Allen and Joey Bosa had the bye week to get healthier. Yet nothing is ever simple for this team, and I don’t trust coach Anthony Lynn to stay aggressive with a lead, even when facing a Jaguars defense starting players signed off the street each week.

New England Patriots 22, San Francisco 49ers 20

4:25 p.m. ET (CBS) | Gillette Stadium (Foxborough, Mass.)

If I don’t trust a team’s passing game, I don’t trust that team at all in the year 2020. I don’t trust either of these teams’ passing games. Cam Newton was hesitant to throw to open receivers last week, while 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan is hesitant to call plays that require Jimmy Garoppolo to throw beyond the line of scrimmage. In a battle of running games and defense, the slight edge goes to the team with the running quarterback, the superior secondary and Bill Belichick. But Kyle’s dad often brought out the worst in Belichick, and a 2-4 start would be the worst in Foxborough since 2000, Belichick’s first season there.

Kansas City Chiefs 30, Denver Broncos 27

4:25 p.m. ET (CBS) | Empower Field at Mile High (Denver)

This is a dangerous matchup for the Chiefs. Their most convincing wins this season have been followed by letdowns, and Vic Fangio’s underrated defense will make it tougher for Patrick Mahomes to convert third-and-longs when Andy Reid’s new run-run-pass approach hits a roadblock. Drew Lock played better than his numbers showed last week, and the Broncos might be adding Melvin Gordon, Noah Fant and KJ Hamler to a potent offensive stew. Picking against the Chiefs is foolish, but I feel great picking the Broncos to keep the game closer than expected.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31, Las Vegas Raiders 24

8:20 p.m. ET (NBC) | Allegiant Stadium (Las Vegas)

This is a perfect Sunday night matchup between two improved teams that should both make the playoffs. The Bucs’ pass rush will be tested against the Raiders’ excellent offensive line. Jon Gruden and Derek Carr’s laudable aggression in Kansas City will be tested against a playmaking defense waiting to pounce on mistakes. One week after slowing Davante Adams, rising Bucs cornerback Carlton Davis gets an even faster test against Henry Ruggs III. I love the Raiders’ offense, but I haven’t seen enough out of their defense yet to trust it against a Bucs group improving slightly each week. The biggest mismatch here is Tampa Bay’s offensive line against Las Vegas’ defensive line, which should allow Tom Brady plenty of time to find open receivers.

MONDAY, OCT. 26

Los Angeles Rams 24, Chicago Bears 21

8:15 p.m. ET (ESPN) | SoFi Stadium (Inglewood, Calif.)

The Bears’ offense isn’t much better with Nick Foles behind center — something coach Matt Nagy bemoans every week — but it is different. Chicago went from extreme run tendencies with Mitchell Trubisky to a pass-heavy approach with Foles. That’s a smart move overall because Bears running back David Montgomery isn’t explosive, but it’s a tougher gambit this week against a deep Rams secondary that’s better at stopping the pass. Chicago defenders Kyle Fuller, Eddie Jackson and Khalil Mack are all playing well enough to earn All-Pro honors, but I still lean toward an L.A. team with the superior precision passing attack in a coin-flip matchup.

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NFL Predictions Week Seven: Brian Baldinger takes on Hannah Blundell and Caroline Barker

You’ve heard of the old ‘Killer B’s’ offence in Pittsburgh of Big Ben, Bell and Brown, well for Week Seven of NFL Predictions there an even more potent attack of Baldy vs Barker vs Blundell!

Every week, Sky Sports’ NFL experts take on representatives from the wider Sky Sports family and a guest from NFL UK. For Week Seven, regular Inside The Huddle guest, and former offensive lineman, Brian Baldinger, represents Team NFL.

2020 Prediction Results

  • Register to play NFL Pick’Em here.

Baldy’s opponents are Sky Sports Football League presenter, and Seattle Seahawks fan, Caroline Barker, as well as Chelsea and England footballer Hannah Blundell (NFL UK), with the pair attempting to reduce Team NFL’s lead at the top of the table.

Read on below to to see Baldy’s, Barker’s and Blundell’s picks for Week Seven…

Week Seven Predictions

New York Giants @ Philadelphia Eagles

Thursday Night Football, live on Sky Sports NFL, Friday, 1.20am

BALDY PICKS: Eagles

BARKER PICKS: Eagles

BLUNDELL PICKS: Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Tennessee Titans

Sunday, live on Sky Sports NFL, 5pm

BALDY PICKS: Steelers

“[Titans running back] Derrick Henry, he’s bigger than me – you can’t tackle him – but I love the way the Steelers are playing on defence right now.

“I know they’ve lost [linebacker] Devin Bush, but I just love the way their defensive front is playing – they’re dictating these games and getting to the quarterback.”

BARKER PICKS: Titans

BLUNDELL PICKS: Titans

San Francisco 49ers @ New England Patriots

Sunday, live on Sky Sports NFL, 8.25pm

BALDY PICKS: 49ers

BARKER PICKS: 49ers

BLUNDELL PICKS: Patriots

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Las Vegas Raiders

Sunday Night Football, live on Sky Sports NFL, Monday, 12.20am

BALDY PICKS: Raiders

BARKER PICKS: Buccaneers

BLUNDELL PICKS: Raiders

Chicago Bears @ Los Angeles Rams

Monday Night Football, live on Sky Sports NFL, Tuesday, 12.15am

BALDY PICKS: Bears

“I love this Bears defence. I think they’re as good as they were two years ago. Robert Quinn opposite Khalil Mack, and a healthy Akiem Hicks inside, they’re creating a lot of problems. They’re giving the offence short fields, and Nick Foles is doing enough.”

BARKER PICKS: Rams

BLUNDELL PICKS: Rams

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