Sunday Night Football: Three takeaways from depleted Giants’ upset win over Broncos

Despite being a two-touchdown underdog, the injury-ridden Giants shocked the Broncos Sunday night in Denver for their first win of the season.

The Cubs, meanwhile, did not change their plans at starter; Jake Arrieta, who has battled a hamstring injury, will take the mound as had been planned before the postponement.

“Jake’s really primed for this opportunity,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “He’s done a great job of rehabbing his leg. He feels very good arm- and leg-wise right now. I’m real eager to watch him play.”

“This city is so much more than The Strip,” said Golden Knights winger James Neal, who is just the second player to score five goals in an expansion team’s first three games. “We all live by the practice facility in Summerlin and a lot of people live here. It’s not just a city where you come and party and leave. We’re making this our home and making this a hockey town — and I think we’re off to a great start.”

Big Ben has it again: Shock. Turns out Ben Roethlisberger may have been ribbing us when he suggested he maybe doesn’t have it anymore. The Steelers handed the Chiefs their first loss, and Roethlisberger subsequently said: “I guess this old cowboy’s got a little left in him.”

Smith fired up at late hit: One of the low points of the Steelers’ victory came as Mike Mitchell dived at Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith’s knees on a late hit. Not usually one to lose his cool, Smith lashed out at Mitchell after the play and said postgame: “Certainly when I got fired up, I thought [the hit] was pretty late. I mean, when you get hit in the back of your knee like that, I didn’t understand how that happened.”
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Expect EJ Manuel and Matt Cassel to be taking snaps for the Raiders and Titans, respectively.

Aaron Jones (7:30 a.m.): With Ty Montgomery doubtful to play because of his rib injury, expect Jones — who was reported to have been taking first-team reps this week in practice — to get a chance to handle a lot of Green Bay’s rushing offense today.

Adam Schefter’s overnight update (7:15 a.m.): Our ESPN NFL Insider reports that wide receivers John Brown, Martavis Bryant, Tyrell Williams and Marqise Lee, despite being listed as questionable, are all expected to play today. As for quarterbacks, Marcus Mariota and Derek Carr are both likely to be sidelined. Expect EJ Manuel and Matt Cassel to be taking snaps for the Raiders and Titans, respectively.

Jones, one of seven NFL owners who donated to Trump’s inaugural committee, spoke with the president after the Cowboys played the Cardinals. According to Jones, Trump said the entire issue could have been avoided if the NFL enforced a rule stating that players must stand for the national anthem. However, that requirement is not included in the NFL’s game operations manual.

According to the manual, “During the National Anthem, players on the field and bench area should stand at attention, face the flag, hold helmets in their left hand, and refrain from talking.”

NFL players who have demonstrated during the national anthem over the past year have said that they are protesting police brutality and racism — not the flag or the anthem itself.

“If it comes between the impression or the perception that we’re not standing together, supporting each other or the perception that we’re disrespecting the flag, the perception that we’re not together will be secondary to not respecting the flag,” Jones said. “Respecting the flag is first.”x (9)

Reid said the 49ers’ actions during the anthem Sunday were not as planned as last week’s display in Arizona.

“These were guys that felt compelled to continue to protest. I think it is gaining ground,” Reid said. “… I will continue to say and encourage people to educate themselves on how we got to where we are today because it didn’t happen overnight and it’s not going to happen overnight to fix these issues. So we’re going to keep talking about it. I know that I will keep doing what I feel is necessary to use the platform I have to make those changes.

Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams: He’s human after all. Gurley, the top PPR scorer in fantasy football entering the week (119.6 points), couldn’t get anything done against the Seahawks’ defense on Sunday, turning 16 total touches into a mere five PPR and three non-PPR fantasy points. It was the fifth- and second-worst totals of his 34-game NFL career to date, but for more perspective, only once in 2016 did he have fewer PPR fantasy points in a game (4.6, Week 15), in a season that most of his owners declared a complete disappointment. Gurley was the third-most-started running back in ESPN leagues in Week 5 (99.6 percent), behind only Le’Veon Bell (99.9) and Ezekiel Elliott (99.7).

Sammy Watkins, WR, Rams: For the second consecutive week, Watkins failed to perform for his fantasy managers, and on Sunday he was nearly invisible if not for his four targets (none of which resulted in a catch). It was only the second time in his 42-game career that he was shut out, as he failed to score on two targets in 2015 Week 1.x (1)

Jerry Jones: Cowboys will bench any player who ‘disrespects’ flag

Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones said emphatically that his players will stand for the national anthem and not disrespect the flag, and if they do, the player or players will not play.

“If there’s anything that is disrespectful to the flag, then we will not play,” Jones said after the Cowboys’ 35-31 loss to the Green Bay Packers. “Understand? We will not … if we are disrespecting the flag, then we will not play. Period.”

This was supposed to be TankFest 2017, but the Jets have ruined the story line. It doesn’t matter how they’ve won or who they’ve beaten: Todd Bowles has wrung two wins out of this team when it wasn’t obvious they’d get two all season. How ready are the Browns to suck up the roster-wide weaknesses and DeShone Kizer’s apprenticeship? The signs of progress just aren’t there yet.

This was not supposed to be TankFest 2017 … and technically it’s not, just Underachieve-Fest 2017. The Chargers might need a long road trip like this to forget the lack of home-field edge they have. They also need to face a team even unluckier than them, although the Giants are making their own bad luck with their lousy offense, even when Odell Beckham Jr. is doing spectacular things through an alarming string of nagging injuries.

It takes just two plays for Green Bay to move into Dallas territory. The Packers currently have it at the Dallas 48 with under a minute to play.

Green Bay will get the ball back at its own 25 with one timeout, needing a field goal to tie.

Touchdown Dallas. The Cowboys swing the scoreboard back in their favor with 1:13 to go and they currently hold a 31-28 advantage. Prescott fakes a handoff to Ezekiel Elliott, keeps the ball himself and runs into the end zone for an 11-yard score. x (6)

Vote: Are these Rams for real?

What a difference a year — and a new coaching regime — has made for the Los Angeles Rams.

Through three games, including Thursday night’s 41-39 thriller over the San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium, the Rams have looked like a team that can score in bunches and make crucial defensive stops when needed most. Quarterback Jared Goff is looking like a guy who deserved to go No. 1 overall in the 2016 draft, while RB Todd Gurley has looked far more like the 2015 AP Offensive Rookie of the Year than the 2016 sophomore dud. Sean McVay might be the youngest head coach in NFL history, but so far his offense — which worked wonders with Redskins QB Kirk Cousins — looks pretty sharp with Goff, Gurley and receivers Tavon Austin and Sammy Watkins.

Zampese was in his second year as coordinator, having spent the previous 13 seasons as quarterbacks coach. The Bengals ranked 13th in total offense in 2016 but 24th in scoring (20.3 ppg).

Lazor, who becomes Lewis’ fifth offensive coordinator in Cincinnati, takes over an offense that has scored just nine points on three field goals. Before joining Lewis’ staff last season, he had served as offensive coordinator and/or quarterbacks coach with the Redskins, Seahawks, Eagles and Dolphins.

The Lions defensive line never gave an inch, and the secondary played the Giants receivers tight with the exception of one wide-open touchdown in the second quarter.

But the Giants defense played well too. Stafford hasn’t been held under 150 receiving yards since 2010 but managed just 122 yards against the stingy New York defense. Had he needed to throw more, he definitely could’ve added to his total, but it was still an impressive — albeit frustrating — night for the Giants defense

There’s a lot of way to show displeasure with your football team. But Giants fans nailed it with a thumbs down seemingly every time one got on camera.

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J.J. Watt wasn’t sure his finger was still attached after Texans’ win vs. Bengals

Following his team’s 13-9 win at the Bengals on Thursday night, Texans defensive end J.J. Watt said he wasn’t sure the finger he injured in Houston’s Week 1 loss to the Jaguars will still attached to his hand.

“It was really great until the last three plays and then I was literally adjusting it and feeling it as I was running around and trying to chase that guy on the last play,” Watt said of his finger, per ESPN.com. “I’m honestly kind of scared to take my glove off. I honestly don’t know what it looks like.”

“He looks better than ever,” the Jets coach said Wednesday. “He actually looks quicker. Laterally, he looks just as good as he always has.”

Fantasy football owners should be on alert, because Bowles’ Jets gave up 110 rushing yards to Bills running back LeSean McCoy last week. Week 2 could provide another long afternoon for a New York defense in the midst of a rebuild.

“It’s not much of a change schematically,” Bowles explained when asked about the transition of thinking when it comes to defending Lynch a week after defending McCoy. “You still have to be gap conscious in your gaps as far as running the defense, but a great back is a great back.

“(McCoy) is great in a different way, and then you have Marshawn, great in a different way. You have to prepare for them all the same. They’re good backs and they are going to be tough every week, so we just have to get ready.”
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