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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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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49ers go all black, Rams all yellow for Color Rush on ‘Thursday Night Football’

This week’s Thursday night NFL matchup pits two of the league’s weaker squads, but at least the uniforms might make for something nice to watch.

The 49ers (0-2) will host the rival Rams (1-1) in Santa Clara, Calif. (8:25 p.m. ET, NFL Network). On Tuesday, we got a glimpse of the teams’ Nike Color Rush uniforms for the NFC West contest.

Both uniform sets remind us a little of college football. The Rams are going with a look similar to that trotted out by Michigan in its season-openning win over Florida. The 49ers’ all-black look is a bit of a flashback to last weekend when Louisville dialed up the hype for its eventual blowout loss to Clemson with a blackout (and those awesome helmets).

The concern for the Lions, though, remains a defense that might be entirely dependent upon forcing takeaways. Teryl Austin’s defense was only able to force Atlanta to punt on its two final drives, and even those trips came within 2 yards of a first down. The nine preceding meaningful possessions ended in either a touchdown, field goal or pick. The Lions struggled against Atlanta’s running game, with Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman averaging in excess of 5.6 yards per carry while racking up 10 runs of 9 yards or more, with two 15-yard runs wiped out via penalty.

Detroit now has eight takeaways after racking up just seven through their first nine games last season. They finished 2016 with a mere 14 turnovers, a number that was likely to regress toward the mean on sheer luck alone. But after the bizarre final play of this game, it’s difficult to imagine a clearer example of luck in close games simultaneously regressing to the mean. Detroit won’t be going 8-5 in one-score games again. The only reason I’m saying difficult and not impossible is because of another game I’ll get to in a minute.
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