Friday, December 9 2022
NFL: Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants
USATSI

Good morning to everyone but especially to…

THE DALLAS COWBOYS

All he does is win, win, win no matter what. Cooper Rush is a perfect 3-0 as a starter — including 2-0 this season — after the Cowboys beat the Giants 23-16 last night on the back of Rush’s steady play, a strong rushing attack and a terrific defensive effort.

  • Rush, starting for the injured Dak Prescott for the second straight week, threw for 215 yards and a go-ahead touchdown to CeeDee Lamb. Rush did not take a sack or have a turnover.
  • Lamb more than made up for a brutal first-half drop with a magnificent one-handed catch to put Dallas up 20-13. He finished with eight catches for 87 yards and the score.
  • Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott combined for 178 rushing yards, with Elliott scoring his first touchdown of the season.

While the offense has stayed afloat during Prescott’s absence (he could be back in Week 4), the defense has stepped up in a major way. Dallas had five sacks (three by Demarcus Lawrence) and have had five-plus sacks in consecutive games for the first time since 2008. Trevon Diggs — who led the NFL with 11 interceptions last year — had his first of the season to clinch the victory.

It wasn’t pretty. Far from it, in fact. The Cowboys will, eventually, need more from their offense. But until then, their outstanding defense and Rush’s ability to manage games have proved twice they can get the job done.

Honorable mentions

And not such a good morning for…

USATSI

THE NEW YORK GIANTS

The Giants’ opportunity to start 3-0 for the first time since 2009 was there for the taking: at home, against a backup quarterback. This was when the Giants would show their two wins were legit. This was when Daniel Jones would get the prime-time monkey off his back. This was… none of that. Instead, the Giants’ issues were on full display.

Jones was constantly running for his life behind an offensive line the team just can’t seem to fix despite taking first-round tackles in two of the last three drafts. As for wide receivers, even before Shepard’s injury, 2021 first-rounder Kadarius Toney and 2022 second-rounder Wan’Dale Robinson were inactive, and Kenny Golladay — who publicly complained about his playing time last week — did not have a catch (he did have a drop though).

A solid defense and the spectacular plays of Saquon Barkley can only carry a team so far. The Giants found that out Monday.

MLB Power Rankings: Another contender in the AL? ⚾

The Guardians clinched the AL Central over the weekend, and while it might not have been the hardest division, Cleveland won it in the most impressive of fashions, notes MLB expert Matt Snyder.

  • Snyder: “Holy smokes. For the overwhelming majority of the season, it looked like the woeful AL Central would be a race to something like 84 wins. On Sept. 3, the Guardians and Twins were tied for first at 68-64 with the White Sox sitting at .500 and only two games back. Since then, the Guardians have gone a sizzling 18-3. Eighteen and three! They should breeze past 90 wins now and are actually a threat to make a run in the playoffs. Kudos to them.”

That has vaulted them to eighth in Matt’s latest MLB Power Rankings. Here’s the top five:

  • 1. Dodgers (prev: 1)
  • 2. Astros (prev: 2)
  • 3. Mets (prev: 4)
  • 4. Braves (prev: 3)
  • 5. Yankees (prev: 5)

The Rays, meanwhile, tied for the largest fall, have gone from eighth to 10th while right in the middle of the Wild Card race. And things don’t get any easier, Matt notes.

  • Snyder: “They’ve gone 6-11 in their last 17 games and now have to finish with a very difficult road trip. They’ll play three in Cleveland, three in Houston and then three in Boston before maybe having to hit the road for the wild-card round.”

NFL Week 3 notes: Raiders running out of time; significant injuries for Chargers, others 🏈

USATSI

The Raiders made all the moves this offseason that signaled they wanted to contend for the playoffs, and maybe more. Their performance on the field, though, has not signaled anything of the sort. Las Vegas, at 0-3, is the only team to lose all of its games this season, and it’s getting late early in Sin City, writes NFL insider Jonathan Jones.

  • Jones: “The common thread seems to be that they just can’t play a good, full 60 minutes of ball. … In Week 1 against the Chargers, Derek Carr played about as poorly as any established starter has in a game this season. The defense gave up 16 points in the final nine minutes of regulation against the Cardinals in Week 2. And Sunday against the Titans, the Raiders offense went 2-for-6 in the red zone and the second level of the defense played poorly in the first half without Denzel Perryman.”

As Jonathan notes, this is also a regression to the mean. Last year, the Raiders went 7-2 in games decided by eight or fewer points and 5-1 in games decided by three or fewer points. This year, they’re 0-3 and 0-1, respectively, in those types of games.

Davante Adams — one of those big-name, win-now offseason acquisitions — said he’s “frustrated and angry.”  The glass-half-full Raiders fan will see the close losses and a team that should improve with time as reasons for hope. The glass-half-empty fan will note this: The Raiders are the 158th team since 1990 to start 0-3; only four of the previous 157 made the playoffs.

Elsewhere around the league:

NBA media days: Celtics discuss Udoka, hype in Cleveland builds 🏀

USATSI

Monday was Media Day for NBA teams, and there were plenty of storylines to follow. The most recent one that’s emerged is Celtics head coach Ime Udoka being suspended for the entire 2022-23 season for “violations of team policy.” According to reports, Udoka had a consensual but improper relationship with a staff member, who later alleged he made unwanted comments towards her.

When asked Monday, multiple Boston players expressed their surprise regarding the situation and said even they don’t know many details.

Elsewhere around the league:

Aaron Judge watch: Stuck on 60 ⚾

Getty Images

Aaron Judge‘s homerless streak kept going, but his team’s seven-game winning streak did not as the Blue Jays beat the Yankees, 3-2 on Vladimir Guerrero Jr.‘s 10th-inning walk-off single.

  • Judge went 1 for 3 with two walks.
  • His six-game homerless streak is tied for his third-longest this season.
  • Will No. 61 happen tonight? Judge is 6 for 18 with a home run in his career against probable Blue Jays starter José Berríos.

What we’re watching Tuesday 📺

Saudi Arabia vs. United States, 2 p.m. on FS1

Source: CBSSports.com

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