As if playing a Tuesday night NFL game wasn’t odd enough, the matchup between the Ravens and Cowboys was shaken up just minutes before kickoff. Veteran WR Dez Bryant was pulled off the field from his pre-game routine in what was set to be a revenge game. Bryant was told he had tested positive for COVID-19 and would not be playing. He did what many would do in 2020 and took to Twitter, breaking the big news before Adam Schefter or Ian Rapoport had a chance.
With only minutes before kickoff, there was immediate uncertainty as to whether the game would be played. After all, not only has Bryant been active at practice but he was already on the field taking part in warmups. The reported league procedure anytime a player tests positive is to conduct contact tracing to determine if anyone qualified as a high-risk close contact. If that was the case, other players were at risk of being pulled from the game. Ultimately, no close contacts were discovered, and all other tests came back negative, meaning the game was on.
Meanwhile, Bryant continued to tweet through his frustration, notably suggesting he would not return to the field. Bryant’s tweet that he is “going to go ahead and call it quit for the rest of the season,” was certainly said out of frustration. His absence, however long it might be, would further hurt the Baltimore offense.
While the pre-game was a confusing distraction, once the game kicked off, the Ravens took control. After an early Dallas field goal, Ravens QB Lamar Jackson was in 2019 MVP-form. Getting aggressive early, Baltimore went for it on fourth and two, with Jackson rushing straight up the middle for a 37-yard score. Dallas answered quickly with a touchdown strike to WR Michael Gallup before the Ravens really took over.
While Dallas was missing multiple field goal attempts, Jackson and the Ravens running game was controlling the game. Baltimore finished with 294 yards on the ground as RB Gus Edwards led the way with 101 yards on just seven carries. Jackson rushed 13 times, a team-high, for 94 yards while rookie J.K. Dobbins added 71 yards and a late touchdown rush.
Second-year WRs Marquise Brown and Miles Boykin caught touchdown passes from Jackson as Baltimore built their lead, while WR Amari Cooper added a late touchdown to make the final score more respectable. Brown led Baltimore with five grabs for 39 yards as he was targeted on eight of Jackson’s 17 pass attempts. Gallup (7/86/1), Cooper (5/43/1) and rookie WR CeeDee Lamb (6/46) each caught at least five passes as QB Andy Dalton spread the ball around throughout the night.
Eagles Turn to Hurts
Eagles HC Doug Pederson put off the inevitable announcement as long as possible, but finally made it official on Tuesday. Philadelphia will turn their offense over to rookie QB Jalen Hurts, who gets his first start Sunday against the Saints. Hurts replaced QB Carson Wentz in Week 13, leading a scoring drive and breathing a bit of life into the struggling offense. Hurts has a tough matchup for his starting debut as the Saints Defense has been steadily improving throughout the season, though the rookie from Oklahoma does offer upside as a rusher along with his passing ability.
For Wentz, the obvious question is what’s next? He signed a massive contract with the Eagles 18 months ago and that likely means that team will not be able to trade or cut him. If Hurts succeeds, Wentz becomes the league’s highest-paid backup for the remainder of the season and likely in 2021, as well.
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Arizona activated veteran WR Larry Fitzgerald from the reserve/COVID-19 list. Fitz missed two games but is expected to return to the field in Week 14. … The Titans placed WR Adam Humphries on the injured reserve list with a concussion. Humphries missed a month on IR with a head injury before returning last week. After his symptoms returned, Humphries season is likely done. … Broncos DB A.J. Bouye is facing a six-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy for PEDs. This is reportedly connected to the suspension of Texans WR Will Fuller and DB Bradley Roby last week. … The Browns placed OL Wyatt Teller on the COVID-19 list, though he could still be eligible to return in time for Sunday’s game. … Steelers RB James Conner, currently on the COVID list, reportedly plans to play against the Bills on Sunday. … Buccaneers WR Chris Godwin missed Tuesday’s practice after undergoing a procedure to remove pins in his finger. He’s still expected to play in Week 14. … The Panthers, who have 10 players on the COVID list, reported no new positive tests on Tuesday.