Cowboys crush Eagles; Winners, losers after Shohei Ohtani signs with Dodgers

Cowboys crush Eagles; Winners, losers after Shohei Ohtani signs with Dodgers
Cowboys crush Eagles; Winners, losers after Shohei Ohtani signs with Dodgers

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???? Football Five
Sunday's best game also had the day's best ending: Tylan Wallace's walk-off overtime punt return touchdown lifted the Ravens to a 37-31 win over the Rams. It was the eighth lead change of the game and only the fourth overtime punt return touchdown in NFL history. How about Joe Flacco and the Browns?! The 38-year-old quarterback, added to the practice squad just three weeks ago, tossed three touchdowns in a 31-27 win over the Jaguars, and Kevin Stefanski named Flacco the starter for the rest of the season. The Browns also forced four turnovers, including two Martin Emerson Jr. interceptions. How about Jake Browning and the Bengals?! Browning threw for a pair of touchdowns and ran for another in a 34-14 win over the Colts that was huge in the AFC playoff picture. How big was the win? Cincinnati got an "A" in our weekly grades. Justin Jefferson (chest) left injured again, Joshua Dobbs got benched ... and the Vikings still pulled out a 3-0 win over the Raiders. It's the first 3-0 game since 2007! It's not looking good for Detroit. The Bears ran roughshod over the Lions' struggling defense, and Jared Goff threw a pair of interceptions and mishandled a snap in a 28-13 loss in Chicago. Here's the game in one play: On fourth-and-13, Aidan Hutchinson jumped offside, and Justin Fields still found a wide-open D.J. Moore for a 38-yard touchdown. Jeff Kerr says the Lions will be a one-and-done playoff team. ???? Good morning to everyone but especially ...
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THE DALLAS COWBOYS

For all of the records, the headlines and the big wins, we needed to see the Cowboys do it. Show us you can beat a top-tier team. Show us your league-leading point differential isn't just beating up on overmatched opponents. Show us that when it matters most, you can make a statement.

They showed it.

Dak Prescott submitted another MVP-worthy performance, the defense was stellar and Brandon Aubrey continued his historic start in a 33-13 domination of the Eagles that leaves the two teams tied atop the NFC East at 10-3.

Prescott delivered touchdown passes to CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup. Though he did have a fumble scooped up and returned for a touchdown, he's now up to 22 touchdowns passing since Week 8 -- eight more than anyone else. Dallas' aggressive defense came through and then some with three fumbles forced (and recovered): one each from Jalen Hurts, A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith, the Eagles' three biggest stars. It was the first time since 2017 the Eagles didn't have an offensive touchdown. Aubrey made kicks from 60, 59, 45 and 50 yards. He's the first player in the history of the league to convert with multiple makes from at least 59 yards in the same game. Cowboys fans know kicker struggles all too well, but Aubrey has yet to miss a field goal. He is outstanding, and he changes the complexion of the game.

The Cowboys are up to 15 straight wins at home. Prescott looks better than ever. The defense is among the league's best. It's music to Cowboys fans' ears (and tough to hear for anyone else), but this team is very much a Super Bowl contender.

And they showed it against top competition -- at long last.

???? Honorable mentions Bronny James made his USC debut ... though the Trojans lost to Long Beach State. Army beat Navy, 17-11, thanks to two great defensive efforts at the goal line in the waning seconds. Dillon Gabriel is transferring from Oklahoma to Oregon. Brenden Rice -- son of Jerry Rice -- declared for the NFL draft. The Fever won the WNBA Draft lottery for the second straight year. Could Caitlin Clark be the reward? No. 1 South Carolina held off No. 11 Utah, 78-69. Paige Bueckers passed 1,000 career points as No. 17 UConn beat No. 24 North Carolina, 76-64. ???? And not such a good morning for ...
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THE KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

Kadarius Toney pranced into the end zone, the Arrowhead Stadium crowd erupted, Travis Kelce came over to celebrate maybe the best touchdown in the Patrick Mahomes era, and the Chiefs had broken the Bills' hearts again.

Except there was a little yellow flag at the line of scrimmage. Toney had lined up in the neutral zone, negating Mahomes' bullet throw, Kelce's ingenious lateral and Toney's celebration. Three plays later, Mahomes threw incomplete, sealing the Bills' 20-17 win.

For weeks, I've thought the Chiefs would figure it out. Mahomes always does. Kelce always does. Andy Reid always does. Plus, this defense is the best Mahomes has ever had. But these Chiefs feel different. Here's why:

Mahomes -- never one to show much outward frustration or blame others (even when others deserved blame) -- slammed his helmet down after the game-sealing incompletion. Both he and the mild-mannered Reid vented about the call postgame, with Reid calling it "a bit embarrassing for the National Football League." Mahomes is the king of the comeback. His 15-13 record (including playoffs) in games he trails by 10+ is the best ever. But he's just 1-3 in those games this year. The Chiefs have lost consecutive games for the first time since Weeks 2 and 3 of 2021.

Mahomes and this franchise as a whole have set such a ridiculously high bar that these struggles seem very strange. The Chiefs are still 8-5. I will never count out Mahomes. But it's hard to feel confident in his team right now -- harder than I can ever remember.

Give the Bills major credit, too. Josh Allen was terrific. James Cook is becoming a very good, versatile weapon. The defense was great. Buffalo's playoff hopes were a big winner this weekend.

???? Not so honorable mentions ???? Shohei Ohtani signs 10-year, $700 million deal with Dodgers
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They wanted him in 2012. He spurned them -- and all of MLB -- to stay in Japan.

They wanted him in 2017. He spurned them for the other Los Angeles team.

The third time was finally the charm for Shohei Ohtani and the Dodgers, who agreed to a 10-year, $700 million deal -- the largest contract in professional sports. Ohtani, the reigning unanimous AL MVP (his second), bashed 44 home runs and led MLB in OPS (1.066) ... and went 10-5 with a 3.14 ERA. While Ohtani won't pitch in 2024, Dayn Perry wonders if Ohtani could be an even better hitter.

That makes the Dodgers' potential lineup (and potential 2025 rotation) absolutely loaded, notes R.J. Anderson, and both Ohtani and the Dodgers are huge winners, writes Mike Axisa.

Axisa: "Manager Dave Roberts will start his lineup with Ohtani, Mookie Betts, and Freddie Freeman in some order -- three players on the Hall of Fame track -- and back them up with Will Smith, Max Muncy, and others. ... Simply put, the Dodgers just landed the game's biggest star. They'll be better on the field and off the field too, because he's going to sell a lot of tickets and jerseys and sponsorships in addition to hitting dingers and, when healthy, striking out batters."

The Ohtani sweepstakes were madness. Rumors. Flight trackers. Restaurant reservations. For a while, it looked like the Blue Jays would be the choice. Now, they have to turn elsewhere. As for Ohtani's old team, the Angels should be in rebuild mode whether Mike Trout stays or goes, Perry opines. There's still work for the Dodgers to do, too.

Here's more on the biggest free agency ever coming to a close:

???? Lakers win inaugural NBA In-Season Tournament
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Add two more trophies to LeBron James' mantel, and $500,000 to his bank account. The Lakers won the inaugural In-Season Tournament, topping the Pacers, 123-109 in the championship in Las Vegas Saturday night. James was named tournament MVP.

If the honor was only for the title game, it easily would have gone to Anthony Davis, who had 41 points, 20 rebounds and five assists -- the first Laker to register a 40/20/5 game since Shaquille O'Neal in the 2001 NBA Finals. James, though, is thoroughly deserving. He had 24 points and 11 rebounds in the championship, and he averaged 26.4 points, 8.0 rebounds and 7.6 assists across the Lakers' 7-0 run through the IST. Sam Quinn says that considering we have trophies named after other all-time greats, why not name the In-Season Tournament MVP trophy after James? Austin Reaves had 28 points, and James jokingly (or not?) compared it to Michael Jordan's "Flu Game." Every Laker, along with coach Darvin Ham, will each pocket $500,000 for the tournament win.

The In-Season Tournament was fun. Props to commissioner Adam Silver and the league for trying something new. Reverting to the normal courts with a simple logo (similar to the NBA Finals) would make it feel less gimmicky, but in general, it delivered exciting finishes, big stages and a different feel from normal regular-season games. I think (and hope) it's only up from here.

???? Jayden Daniels wins Heisman Trophy
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Welcome to the most prestigious fraternity in college football, Jayden Daniels! The LSU star won the Heisman Trophy Saturday night, joining Joe Burrow (2019) and Billy Cannon (1959) as the only players in program history to do so. Daniels beat out fellow finalists Michael Penix Jr. (who finished

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