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Romo and the Cowboys get it done in the fourth quarter

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Tony Romo didn’t throw an interception in the fourth quarter this time.

Romo was 6-for-9 on the Cowboys’ final offensive possession, including third down completions to Dez Bryant and Cole Beasley to set up Dan Bailey for a 34-yard field goal try with two seconds to play. Bailey knocked it through and the Cowboys beat the Giants 24-21 to move to 6-5 on the season. That’s enough for a share of first place in the NFC East and Romo should get full credit for steering the team to the win.

After a Giants touchdown and two-point conversion completed a comeback from 15 points down, Romo calmly moved the Cowboys down the field despite a false start on third down and an apparent completion to Bryant getting called incomplete without any booth review to make sure the call was correct. Romo finished the day 23-of-38 for 250 yards and two touchdowns, hitting Jason Witten for both scores and eight receivers overall in a mostly mistake-free performance.

Eli Manning didn’t make any big mistakes on Sunday, but the offense’s failure to score a touchdown in the first half came back to haunt them. Andre Brown and Brandon Jacobs combined to run for 202 yards and they had great success on the ground all day, but Manning completed just 16-of-30 passes in another frustrating outing for the team’s passing game. The Giants’ four-game winning streak masked the continued ineffectiveness of the offense, but there’s no way to do that now that the Giants have returned to the loss column.

At 4-7 with three divisional losses, the Giants are realistically going to have to run the table and get help to make it to the playoffs. There was nothing about today’s performance that makes their half of the equation seem likely.

There is still plenty to dislike about the Cowboys, starting with that horrendous run defense, but there was also a lot to like about the way they played on the road in a game that got tight in the fourth quarter. That’s not always something we find ourselves saying about the Cowboys, which could make this a significant win for them when all is said and done this season.

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Tom Jackson receives Hall of Fame’s Pete Rozelle Award

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At a time when Sunday Ticket and Red Zone Channel make it possible to watch every NFL game, and big plays instantly get tweeted as GIFs, it’s easy to forget just how big an innovation NFL Primetime was.

Primetime, which aired Sunday evenings on ESPN beginning in 1987, was the one and only way for NFL fans to see all the best highlights from the day’s NFL action. Before Primetime, most fans only got to see a couple of games shown on their local network affiliates, and then maybe a few minutes of highlights from other games. Primetime was a full hour of highlights. You didn’t just see the touchdown, you saw the two third-down conversions that kept the drive alive before the touchdown. You didn’t just see the sack, you saw another angle that showed why the quarterback couldn’t find an open receiver. When you watched Primetime in those pre-Internet, pre-DirecTV days, you felt like a whole new world of football had been opened up to you.

And you heard expert analysis that ventured far beyond the ordinary highlight-reel shtick. That expert analysis, provided by former Broncos linebacker Tom Jackson, may have been the best thing of all about NFL Primetime. Jackson, who has just been named as the recipient of the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Pete Rozelle Award, could be overshadowed at times by Primetime host Chris Berman, whose boisterous personality and array of nicknames made him ESPN’s first star. And Primetime had other co-hosts as well, including Pete Axthelm, Robin Roberts, Bill Pidto, and Stuart Scott. But it was Jackson’s steady hand that kept Primetime focused. Jackson had fun with the highlights while also remembering that the types of people who were watching Primetime were hard-core football fans who didn’t need to be entertained by anything other than football.

Eventually, Primetime faded away (although it still exists, in a different format as a Monday follow-up show) because a pure highlights show just isn’t necessary anymore. Jackson, however, remains a staple of ESPN’s NFL programming, having been there for 28 years — twice as long as his 14-season career with the Broncos. The Rozelle Award, which the Hall of Fame awards each year to recognize longtime exceptional contributions to radio and television in professional football, couldn’t go to a more deserving recipient.

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Brett Favre says he’ll probably “wing it” during his Lambeau speech

File photo of Brett Favre in New Orleans Reuters

When Brett Favre was playing, some of his most memorable moments were on the fly.

So it makes sense that when he’s inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame on July 18, that he’s not planning on having it all written down.

“I think what I’ll probably say initially is, ‘I thought about writing something down. I thought about writing a script, but you know what? I figured I’d wing it sort of like I played, so just bear with me,'” Favre said, via Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. “It’s only fitting.

“I don’t want to sit there and make it longer than the whole event is anyway — and it’s going to be long — but I do want to acknowledge a lot of people and just maybe tell a few funny stories, kind of keep it as lighthearted as possible. It could be 20 minutes, it could be an hour, I don’t know.”

Of course, if the speech truly reflects his playing days, he’ll finish his talk, accept a round of applause, decide to tell another story, then leave the stage again, before coming back on a different stage altogether before wrapping it up.

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Victor Cruz: Everyone’s under the assumption that I’m ready to go

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The Giants have spent the last few days trying to figure out when defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul will be able to return to the team after his fireworks injury over the weekend.

It doesn’t sound like they expect to deal with much uncertainty about wide receiver Victor Cruz, however. Cruz has maintained all offseason that he expects to be ready to go for training camp after tearing his patellar tendon last season and said on Tuesday that everyone with a say in the matter also feels confident that Cruz will avoid the physically unable to perform list when the team reports to training camp.

“From the training staff, the coaches and the front office people, I think everyone’s under the assumption that I’ll be ready to go,” Cruz said on Sirius XM NFL Radio with Bruce Murray and Rich Gannon. “I don’t think PUP will be an option. Obviously, if it comes about then that’s a conversation I have to have with my superiors. It seems like I’m on track to be ready for training camp and, God willing, be out there Week One.”

Cruz’s return to the field is a major milestone, obviously, but how he looks while on the field will be more significant to Giants hopes for the 2015 season. Torn patellar tendons have robbed some players of the speed and agility they rode to the NFL altogether and others have needed extended time before they return to form. Neither outcome would be a plus for the Giants, who are looking for Cruz to be part of a potent passing attack in offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo’s second season.

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McNabb makes statement about latest DUI arrest

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Former NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb currently works in the media, on TV with FOX and on radio with NBC Sports Radio.

His weekday show with Mark Malone follows PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio, running from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. ET. On Tuesday, McNabb addressed the report that he was arrested for a second time in Arizona on DUI charges at the top of the first hour of the program.

“There was a story that was released, and I want everybody to be cognizant of it, because I am very aware of it, handling the matter at this particular point,” McNabb said. “But at this point, I have no further information, and as we continue on with the situation, then we’ll let it handle as it will handle itself.”

Obviously, McNabb isn’t going to address the substance of the allegation, given that anything he says can be used against him in court. And with second-offense DUI in Arizona entailing a mandatory sentence of 90 days in jail, McNabb should do nothing to undermine his right to mount a vigorous defense in court.

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Steelers, Vikings head to camp in 18 days

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We’ve reached the point in the offseason where more and more fans are wishing the next two months of their lives away, so that football will be back. They don’t have to wish much of it away to get training camp, which opens in full for two teams in 18 days.

The Steelers, under ninth-year coach Mike Tomlin, and Vikings, under second-year coach Mike Zimmer, launch training camp on July 25, in advance of their meeting in Canton for the Hall of Fame game.

The full list of all reporting dates for all teams can be seen here. (The Ravens actually will be the first team to open its doors, with rookies showing up on July 22. The veterans get there a week later.)

The real date to target is September 10, when the regular season begins. But for those who just can’t wait for football to return, 65 glorified scrimmages to be played in the month of August and early September will have to serve as the appetizer.

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The Marshawn Lynch biopic will never be released

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As if there were any doubt held by anyone who saw the abysmal trailer that appeared online in February, the movie about the life of Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch will never be released.

Yes, Family First: The Marshawn Lynch Story, directed by family friend Mario Bobino, has been deemed to be a bombino. (I did what you see there.)

“He did a terrible job, and the film will never be released,” agent Doug Hendrickson told Rolling Stone.

Apparently, that’s not the end of the story, because Bobino is now writing a script for a movie about his struggles in making the film, and regarding the things that occurred after the trailer emerged — prompting Lynch to tell TMZ, “It doesn’t look like some sh-t nobody would want their name attached to.”

It’s too late for that, because Lynch’s name is now permanently attached to the movie. And it’s safe to say it’s just a matter of time before someone gets their hands on the finished product and puts the whole thing online.

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Shannon Sharpe: Antonio Gates “cheated the game”

Antonio Gates AP

When Chargers tight end Antonio Gates was suspended four games for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs, he said he “never knowingly ingested” a banned substance and suggested that a supplement with incomplete ingredients triggered the violation.

His longtime teammate Philip Rivers said this week that he believes Gates is being honest and that it was “tough knowing” that Gates’s reputation might take a hit in the wake of the news. Hall of Fame tight end Shannon Sharpe thought that Gates was a “slam dunk” to join him in Canton before last Thursday’s suspension, but he thinks Gates’s whole career is up for reconsideration now.

During an appearance on Sirius XM NFL Radio with Bob Papa and Vic Carucci, Sharpe said that he isn’t buying the latest explanation from a player that they accidentally took a banned substance and that he thinks Gates “cheated the game.”

“It calls into question everything that he’s ever accomplished,” Sharpe said. “If he does it at the beginning of his career because he was an undrafted free agent, people are gonna say he did it to get in the league. Now he did it Year 13, Year 14 — People are going to say he did it to remain in the league. It does, it makes you question everything someone has ever accomplished.”

If Gates were a baseball player, this suspension would likely leave him outside of the Hall alongside Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire and others who were tarred by admitted or suspected PED use. The NFL hasn’t seen Hall of Fame candidates at Gates’s level in the same boat unless you’re making room for Ray Lewis and his deer antler spray.

Voters will weigh the positive test along with the rest of Gates’s career when his name does come up for consideration in the future. The rest of that career hasn’t seen Gates suspended for violating league policies, but that might not matter if Sharpe’s view is shared by a wide audience.

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Donovan McNabb faces minimum sentence of 90 days for second DUI

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As Josh Alper noted in the initial post regarding former NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb’s second DUI arrest, he faces something more significant than the 24 hours he spent behind bars for his first offense in 2014. It looks like he now faces a minimum sentence of 24 hours, times 90.

The minimum sentence for second-offense DUI in Arizona is 90 days in jail, with a maximum sentence of six months.

The circumstances of the arrest, including McNabb’s blood-alcohol concentration, could increase the penalties. Also, McNabb could mount a successful defense to the new charges, obtaining an acquittal through the legal process.

However it turns out, McNabb didn’t seem too concerned about the situation in the aftermath of the arrest, which happened late on June 28. On June 29, he tweeted a picture of himself holding a new pair of shoes.

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Donovan McNabb arrested again for DUI

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Former NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb served a day in jail in Maricopa County, Arizona last year after being arrested on DUI charges and may be in line for more time in the custody of the state in the near future.

McNabb was arrested just before midnight on June 28 in Gilbert, Arizona and arrested on DUI charges after a traffic accident, according to a statement from the Gilbert Police Department that was provided to Deadspin.

“On 06/28/2015 at approximately 2335 hours, officers responded to a non-injury collision involving two vehicles which occurred just west of the intersection at E Chandler Heights Rd and S Higley Rd in Gilbert, AZ. Subsequent investigation revealed Donovan McNabb (11/25/76) was impaired by alcohol and collided in a rear-end fashion with another vehicle which was stopped at a red traffic signal. Donovan was arrested for DUI at 2358 hours and transported to the Gilbert/Chandler Unified Holding Facility for processing, after which, he was cited and released.”

If McNabb is prosecuted and convicted of the charge, his prior DUI may mean he has to spend more than 24 hours in jail this time since it seems the previous punishment didn’t serve as much of a deterrent.

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Ronald Darby wades into De’Andre Johnson debate, quickly retreats

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A current NFL player who may or may not know something about whatever former Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston may or may not have done to Erica Kinsman decided on Tuesday morning to share some opinions on Twitter about recently-former Florida State quarterback De’Andre Johnson, who was kicked out of school after video surfaced of Johnson brutally punching a female at a Tallahasse bar — a punch that came after the woman hit Johnson first.

The tweets were quickly deleted. I saw the first two before they disappeared: “What I want to know is whats happening to the girl that clearly his De’andre first? It’s never right to hit a girl at all. But they have to get some kind of consequence as well. Yall can’t keep letting females provoke guys in all ways then walk free. Like?”

The folks at WNY WaterCooler have the text of Darby’s responses to various Twitter handles, in which he says he was “speaking the truth,” that he “said nothing wrong,” that Johnson’s “career could be done,” and that he’s “confused” by the criticism he received.

Eventually, Darby became sufficiently confused (or unconfused) to punt, wiping out all of the tweets and his responses but not erasing this retweet of a response to his message: “bad tweet cuz your an NFL player and will take back lash. Both deserve punishment but he has to be a bigger/smarter person.”

And that’s the message that makes the most sense. Unless an elite athlete is under attack by another elite athlete (or by a non-elite athlete with a weapon), the elite athlete needs to disengage and, if necessary, flee. The non-elite athlete who punches or hits or otherwise strikes the elite athlete can then be prosecuted.

If punches are traded, both can be prosecuted, in theory. But the one who does the most damage is likely to suffer the greater consequence — especially if the one who inflicted the most damage ultimately suffered none.

The fact that Darby, who attended the Rookie Symposium last month, doesn’t understand this means that the NFL’s new domestic violence training protocol needs to do a better job of instructing players to disengage and, if necessary, to flee when under attack by someone who isn’t actually able to truly harm them.

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Brett Favre realizes he shares some blame for split with Packers

Brett Favre AP

If you were ever confused about how things between the Packers and Brett Favre got so weird, so fast in 2008, you’re not alone.

He is too.

“I think at some point what crossed my mind was, ‘How did it ever get to this point?‘” Favre said, via Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. “To be arguably one of the most successful players in Packers history, and I would think [a player who was] well-received by the fans, especially up to that point, you’re just thinking, ‘How did it get to this point?’

“Of course, we’ve talked about that, and I take my share of the blame as well, but it was just hard. It was a surreal feeling.”

That there was tension between the team and its star quarterback isn’t a far-flung idea, especially since they had his replacement parked there waiting to take over. But Favre said during his last round of meetings with coach Mike McCarthy and general manager Ted Thompson, it was clear his time there was done.

“It was for the most part cordial,” Favre said. “It was like, ‘What do we do?’ That was the million-dollar question, I guess. I got a sense that there wasn’t many options on my part. It was frustrating, and I know it was frustrating for them, as well.

“When I left, it was like, I don’t know if we’re any closer than where we need to be when I got there that morning. Emotions were running high, but all in all I think it was pretty cordial, considering the circumstances.”

Of course, Favre wanting to stay in the NFC North was something the Packers objected to, and refused to go along with.

“I felt like I wasn’t good enough to play there but was good enough to not play against them,” Favre said, “and that bothered me.”

It took a year with the Jets before he was able to get his wish and play for the Vikings, but time has been able to heal the wound sufficiently.

Favre will return to Lambeau Field next week to be inducted to the team’s hall of fame, and will also have his jersey retired on Thanksgiving night.

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Isaiah Battle’s pre-supplemental draft workout draws 26 teams

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In a sign that Isaiah Battle is viewed as the best supplemental draft prospect in years, his workout today is drawing a large crowd of NFL scouts.

Representatives from 26 teams are attending Battle’s workout today, Mike Reiss of ESPN reports.

Based only on his on-field abilities, Battle would be viewed as a very good pro prospect, likely somewhere in the second-round range. Unfortunately, Battle has a history of off-field issues that precipitated his departure from Clemson, where he started 11 games at left tackle last year. Those off-field issues will likely make him a late-round pick in the supplemental draft.

If he’s drafted at all, Battle will be the first player chosen in the supplemental draft since Josh Gordon in 2012.

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Catch up on Jason Pierre-Paul and more with PFT Live at noon ET

Jason Pierre-Paul AP

Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul remains in a Florida hospital after suffering injuries to his hand while setting off fireworks last weekend and he’ll get some visitors from the team on Tuesday.

The Giants are trying to get a better handle on Pierre-Paul’s outlook for the early part of the 2015 season and their best path for working around his potential absence. Meanwhile, Pierre-Paul hasn’t signed his franchise tender and has some choices of his own to make about how to move forward on the contractual front.

On Tuesday’s PFT Live, Dave Smith, who is filling in for Mike Florio, will talk to Paul Schwartz of the New York Post about all of the possible paths that things can take once the full extent of Pierre-Paul’s injuries are known.

We also want to hear what PFT Planet thinks. Email questions at any time or get in touch on Twitter at @ProFootballTalk to let us know what’s on your mind.

It all gets started at noon ET and you can listen to all three hours live via the various NBC Sports Radio affiliates, through the links at PFT, or with the NBC Sports Radio app.

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Tony Dungy expects some young Lions players to “really take off” this year

Jim Caldwell AP

Lions coach Jim Caldwell spent many years as an assistant to Tony Dungy on the Colts’ coaching staff and the two men helped lead Indianapolis to a Super Bowl title during their time on the sideline together.

Dungy isn’t predicting that kind of run for Caldwell and the Lions this year, but he does think that the team is going to build on the 11-win season that they turned in during Caldwell’s first year on the job. Dungy saw his teams in Indy and Tampa win more games in his second year on the job, something he credited to setting a strong foundation right off the bat. He sees the Lions poised to make the same kind of growth in 2015.

“The first year is teaching what you want and really getting the guys to buy in,” Dungy said, via the Lions website. “I think that’s what happened with the Lions. They started winning some games they hadn’t won in the past, overcoming adversity, and you could see them really buying in. Now, this year, that foundation is there and now it’s building on it. Some of those young players, I think, are really going to come together and really take off.”

Dungy didn’t point out any specific players, but the Lions would surely like to see more from tight end Eric Ebron and linebacker Kyle Van Noy. Those two players were Detroit’s top two picks in the 2014 draft, but neither one added much to the Lions’ efforts as rookies. Growth from those players would make the Lions deeper on both sides of the ball and that would go a long way toward putting the Lions on the path for more wins in 2015.

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Terrelle Pryor says he’ll out-work other players, become a great WR

Terrelle Pryor, Michael Huff AP

After spending the last four years trying to make it as an NFL quarterback, Terrelle Pryor is now in Cleveland, trying to make it as a wide receiver. He says he has the talent not just to earn a roster spot, but to be a great wide receiver.

“I believe I can get great at anything,” Pryor told KDKA. “Just need the reps and just got to prove it.”

Pryor said he has the work ethic that only the great ones have.

“There’s not a lot of guys who work like I work,” he said. “I truly believe that. I believe somebody who works extremely hard is Antonio Brown. Definitely I’ve worked with him, I have had to opportunity to work out with him an awful lot. We spent a lot of time together in 2011 down in Florida, so I saw his work ethic. The drive, the nights we would run in the sand along the ocean, run 6 miles every night.”

Pryor has the athletic talent to play wide receiver and says he’s now just learning to put that talent together at a new position.

“Just athletic cuts, moves, catching the ball with people on me, practicing that big time,” said Pryor. “Working on cuts, getting out of breaks. Really getting defenders on you and then losing them, the footwork and the timing of a route. So there’s a lot of stuff.”

Whether Pryor has the ability to match his confidence remains to be seen, but signing him was a move that made a lot of sense for the Browns. They’ll have a few weeks of training camp and the preseason to see if he really can make it as a wide receiver in the NFL. If he can’t do it, they’ll cut him and he’ll go back to being unemployed, as he was last season. If he can do it, he has the potential to be a big addition in Cleveland.

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