THE COWBOYS REPORT

Cowboys head into bye week with 3-4 record after loss to Redskins; add Cooper in trade

Jason Garrett and the Cowboys get a week off. Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys lost another close one on the road, this time to their division rival Washington Redskins by the score of 20-17.  They now go into their bye week with a record of 3-4 (All four losses have been road games).

The score doesn’t really tell the story of the game though.  Dallas lost the most important battle of every game, the turnover battle (2-0).  The Redskins created two fumbles from Dak Prescott, including what was the game winning strip sack that they took back for a touchdown with less the five minutes remaining in the game and gave them a 20-10 lead.

The Cowboys offense had no answer for the Redskin defense when it came to getting the ball to Pro Bowl running back Ezekiel Elliott.  The NFL’s second leading rusher in the league was held to 33 yards on 15 carries and two catches for 9 yards which is Zeke’s second worst professional game ever.

With the Washington defense locked in on Elliott, head coach Jason Garrett had to find other ways to move the ball.  The Cowboys put game in quarterback Dak Prescott’s hands by running multiple play action fake passes and giving him the option to run the ball himself.   

Prescott was 22 of 35 for 273 yards and one touchdown which was a beautiful 49 yard pass to rookie receiver Michael Gallup to tie the game at 7 right before halftime.  He also ran the ball six times for 33 yards and another touchdown. He was able to spread the ball around and completed passes to seven different receivers. Top free agent acquisition Allen Hurns had his best game of the season with five catches for 74 yards and looks to finally be developing a good rapport with Prescott.  The issue was he was sacked four times and turned the ball over twice via fumbles.

The Cowboy defense was solid only giving up 305 yards of total offense and one touchdown early in the first quarter.  The teams were even in almost all categories of the game except for the most important one, turnovers.  

Dallas did have a chance to tie the game in the last few seconds but ended having to kick a field goal from 52 yards away instead on a 47 yard try due to a snap infraction on the long snapper.  Brett Maher’s kick was no good after hitting the left upright. He had made his previous 16 field goal attempts.

The loss leaves Dallas in a tie for second place with the Philadelphia Eagles and two games behind Washington.  The Cowboys now have a bye week to reload for the second half of the season that they will start with a Monday night game at home against the Tennessee Titans (3-4) on November 5th.  

The big news was the acquisition of former Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper. The Cowboys gave up a first-round pick in hopes he can step in and help the offense. They now have extra time to work him in.


 

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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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