Jerry Jones: We haven’t seen last of Rolando McClain

By Nick Shook
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Rolando McClain‘s comeback tale was nearing its peak as he headed toward Year 3 in Dallas. Then he was suspended for 10 games.

That’s how Cowboys owner Jerry Jones sees it right now.

“This was quite a setback, that suspension,” Jones said in an interview during Monday’s NFL Total Access. “We’ll see how things evolve, see how the weeks go.” Continue reading

Super Bowl Anthology: Super Bowl X

By Nick Shook
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Lynn Swann’s Pittsburgh Steelers sat atop professional football’s throne in America’s 200th year of existence, 1976. Coming off a 16-6 victory over the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IX, the Steelers were the defending champions and one of football’s two most-popular franchises. Along with wide receiver John Stallworth, Swann was the star of a passing attack led by quarterback Terry Bradshaw.

Pittsburgh took the Miami Orange Bowl turf prepared to win a second straight world championship. At the other end of the field stood America’s Team, the Dallas Cowboys. After three quarters, Dallas looked poised to take home the title.

An unseating of the reigning champions wasn’t going to come easy.

After kicking a 36-yard field goal to grab a slim 12-10 lead, Pittsburgh took the field with 4:25 left to play. The Steelers faced a third and 6 from their 36-yard line when Bradshaw dropped back and heaved a deep pass to Swann. The acrobatic receiver caught the ball at the 5-yard line as defensive back Mark Washington fell in a vain attempt at a tackle and Swann trotted into the end zone, tossing the ball over his shoulder and raising his arms in celebration.

Swann finished the game with 161 receiving yards and a touchdown, good for Super Bowl X Most Valuable Player.

Swann recalled the Steelers’ second world championship to Nick Shook at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in August.

‘Well for us, it was staying in the routine. We had learned that from the first Super Bowl, that having a good routine helps youin your preparation. You don’t really have to think about a lot. You just stick to the routine, stick to the plan, and things will take care of themselves.’

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Nick Shook on fantasy football: Forget about Washington running game and look ahead to better days

By Nick Shook
Beacon Journal copy editor
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I loved the way the Washington Redskins were running the ball the first two weeks.

Then Thursday night happened.

The Redskins were an atrocity to professional football, epitomized by Matt Jones’ fumble as he soared toward the end zone, resulting in a touchback. It was depressing for someone who had bought a considerable amount of stock in the hype surrounding Jones.

And Alfred Morris scored one point for my team.

Let’s all take a moment to let our frustrations out before we look closer at our lineups before Sunday’s kickoff.

Feel better? Good. Time to salvage your week. Continue reading

Nick Shook on Fantasy Football: Last-minute picks and some surprises

By Nick Shook
Beacon Journal copy editor
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Week 1 is just about here, finally, which means it’s time to set your lineups. If you’ve yet to draft, you still have time, and I still have some advice for you, for both now and a few weeks later.

We’ll keep this opening section brief this week, because you won’t struggle too much with setting your lineups. Your drafts, projections, and countless hours of studying will help you with that. Continue reading

Joe Flacco helps Ravens top Steelers in Wild Card

By Nick Shook |
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NFL teams spend all season battling for the right to go to the postseason. Once a berth is locked up, the prime objective through Week 17 is to secure the best possible seed. Why?

Because the highest seed gets home-field advantage in the playoffs, and there’s no better place to play postseason football than at home. Crowds are raucous, stakes are high and historical records are in the favor of those wearing the home uniforms.

Postseason football on the road is often the most difficult, a fact proven by Wild Card weekend. Visiting teams went 1-3, and only one game was a one-possession contest inside two minutes.

That matchup — Cowboys vs. Lions — and its controversial end will likely be debated for days, before the collective attention of fans and media alike turns to Packers/Cowboys. The clock is ticking on that one.

But despite the loss, Detroit still featured at least a couple commendable performances. We’ll get to those later.

In the meantime, since we’ve reached the postseason and Baltimore is in said postseason, that one E word is going creep into consciousness.

But I have one pressing question: Is this column elite?

Here are Wild Card weekend’s greatest on the road:

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Referee Pete Morelli explains picked-up flag in Wild Card game

By Nick Shook |
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In the confusing aftermath of the final minutes of the Dallas Cowboys‘ 24-20 Wild Card win over the Detroit Lions, the officiating crew assigned to the game made an attempt to clarify just what happened.

Referee Pete Morelli spoke with reporter Todd Archer following the game and described how the officials decided to pick up a flag that had initially been declared as pass interference on the CowboysAnthony Hitchens. Continue reading

Dez Bryant leads explosive Cowboys to blowout win

By Nick Shook |
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Sunday of Week 17 offered us an appetizing slate of extremely important matchups for more than a few road squads. Some prospered, and some faltered.

Carolina’s defense played the game of its collective life, terrorizing Matt Ryan, the Atlanta Falcons‘ offense and the tri-county area of Fulton, DeKalb and Gwinnett on Sunday. If I could give the award to the Panthers‘ defense I would, but I have to pick names, and it’s hard to decide between Roman Harper‘s 31-yard pick six, Tre Boston‘s 84-yard pick six and Thomas Davis‘ 33-yard fumble return.

San Diego, on the other hand, choked away the simplest of paths to a playoff berth, falling to the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium when all they needed to do was win, and they were in.

And then, of course, there’s the career performance put on by Geno Smith in Rex Ryan‘s final stand, a statistical masterpiece in Ryan’s swan song.

I can tell you can’t wait to scroll down. Let’s get to the stars of Sunday, the best away from home. Continue reading

Bengals’ Jeremy Hill steamrolls Browns in road victory

By Nick Shook |
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It’s that time of the year. It’s that time when we all start to tire of holiday advertisements, get paper cuts from overpriced wrapping paper and develop a serious disdain for Scotch tape. It’s that time when bad football teams face equally awful football teams and they call it the “Top College Football Player X Bowl.” But most importantly, it’s that time when late-season divisional games populate the schedule, and suddenly, we have very, very important football on deck.

Such was the case across the league on Sunday. Indianapolis clinched the AFC South with a win over division rival Houston, Denver did the same to claim the AFC West crown against San Diego, Buffalo kept its playoff hopes alive in a stunning win over Green Bay, and Carolina somehow gained control of its previously unlikely playoff aspirations. Oh, and the Jets managed to win the Marcus Mariota Bowl in Tennessee, prompting Rex Ryan to tell reporters he doesn’t give a you-know-what about the Heisman Trophy winner or the No. 1 pick.

Meaningful football typically brings the best — and sometimes, the worst — out of players on all levels. You know the saying: Big-time players make big-time plays.

Here are this week’s best big time players on the road.

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Tony Romo calm, clutch in Dallas Cowboys’ win

By Nick Shook |
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This week was rough on the eyes.

Four road teams won games Sunday: Cleveland, Cincinnati, Green Bay and Dallas.

Three of those wins were pretty darn ugly.

Brian Hoyer attempted to toss away the Browns‘ postseason chances late in the Georgia Dome, but thanks to the inept clock management of one Mike Smith, Hoyer got one last shot and Cleveland escaped with a victory.

Andy Dalton threw a touchdown and a pick-six, but the Bengals controlled the game against a rookie quarterback making his second career start, and possibly his first career start with a serious pectoral injury. That muscle is pretty important for football players.

Green Bay beat Minnesota in a way you’d expect a superior team to handle a trap game: Not too well, but not poorly, either.

Dallas, on the other hand — that one was fun.

In all, it was a ho-hum Sunday for visiting squads. But we still had at least a few bright spots during an otherwise dreary afternoon.

Here are your stars of the suitcase for Week 12.

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