McCourty shrugs off injury, pressure to bounce back

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McCourty shrugs off injury, pressure to bounce back

FOXBORO -- Devin McCourty is on the hot seat in 2012.
The cornerback's sophomore year was almost as bad as his rookie year was good. From Pro Bowler to near-bust: a late-season move to free safety in 2011 signaled him a liability.
It's because he set the bar so high to start that his fall was impossible to comprehend.
Even when McCourty did stay with his man, if the footwork was good, he just couldn't make a play on the ball. Only one player surrendered more yardage last season (Green Bay'sTramon Williams) than McCourty's 1,004. Opponents caught 62 balls of the 101 they were targeted for against him. And the average quarterback rating against McCourty? 106.2.
But he kept his head up through it all.
A first-year captain, McCourty remained accountable after every game no matter what the damage.
Negativity only would have made things worse.
"It's football; you've got to keep playing," he said Thursday. "Once you doubt yourself, you might as well just ask not to be on the field.
"Same approach I had last year and coming into my rookie year is the same now: I'm just trying to improve each day here. So far, that's worked for me, just improving and learning form other guys. I think that's what I'll stick to and just keep working on."
It's fair to wonder if the shoulder separation McCourty suffered in New England's Week 5 tilt against the Jets dogged him for the rest of the season.
But when offered the excuse, he waved it off.
McCourty said he knew immediately upon colliding with teammate Sterling Moore that something was very, very wrong. Still, he insists the worst of the pain was felt on the walk back to the locker room -- that, after that moment, it just kept getting better.
"It hurt to move probably the first week," he admitted. "But after that it was just kind of strengthening it and going through the whole process of building it back up. I think the biggest thing that's helped me is the time and steady working at it.
"It was tough, but I thought I was fortunate that it wasn't something really serious that could have ended the season or something like that. I try to see the positive in every situation."
What about those post-game moments when he looked pained just reaching into his locker?
"That's just the way it looked," he said tightly. "It felt alright."
McCourty can dismiss the injury if he wants -- the analysts will only be harder on him. Not that he cares. The cornerback shrugged at the pressure being put on him in print.
"I see it as, everybody has a job. Our job is to play football; your guys' job is to watch and judge on what you see, and make opinions, and talk on what's out there. I just think about it that way: everyone has their own job to do. "
The Patriots only care McCourty does his.

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Reaction to weekend protests

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Reaction to weekend protests

0:41 - Tom Giles, Tom Curran, Kayce Smith, and Michael Holley discuss the National Anthem protests across the NFL over the weekend and the reactions to players kneeling.

10:07 - Michael Hurley joins the BST crew to talk about the Patriots' thrilling last-minute victory over the Texans and how concerning the Patriots' issues on defense are.

18:13 - Michael Holley and Kayce Smith discuss Kyrie Irving and LeBron James' comments about one another during Media Day, including LeBron referring to Kyrie as "The Kid" instead of his name.

22:30 - Evan Drellich joins BST to talk about Mookie Betts and Eduardo Nunez both leaving with injuries during the Red Sox's Monday night loss to the Blue Jays, and other concerns surrounding the team heading into the postseason.

MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Prescott, Cowboys pull away to beat Cardinals, 28-17

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MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Prescott, Cowboys pull away to beat Cardinals, 28-17

GLENDALE, Ariz. , Dak Prescott kneeled with his teammates and team owner before the game, flipped head over heels for a touchdown in the first half and capped his night with a 37-yard TD pass that proved to be the game winner.

The Dallas Cowboys erased last week's ugly memory on Monday night, with their young quarterback leading the way.

"He just kept battling," Dallas coach Jason Garrett said.

"He kept making good decisions. Obviously he made some good plays, big-time throws, but as much as anything else he's got an amazing spirit and our players follow him."

The Cowboys (2-1), bouncing back from a 42-17 pummeling in Denver, began the game kneeling at midfield with owner Jerry Jones in a show of unity that followed widespread protests across the NFL of critical comments by President Donald Trump over the weekend.

After they kneeled, they stood and walked to the sideline and stood for the anthem.

"We planned and it was executed that we would go out and kneel," Jones said, "and basically make the statement regarding the need for unity and the need for equality."

Prescott, 13 of 18 for 183 yards, broke a 14-14 tie with a 37-yard scoring pass to Brice Butler with 11:52 to play.

"I immediately scrambled and when I scrambled Brice took the right angle and the right initiative going to the back of the end zone," Prescott said.

Arizona, with a spectacular catch by Larry Fitzgerald for 24 yards on a third-and-18 play, moved downfield but the drive stalled. Phil Dawson's 37-yard field goal cut the lead to 21-17 with 6:35 left.

Ezekiel Elliott, who gained 8 yards on nine carries against Denver and drew criticism for not hustling after a couple of late interceptions, was bottled up much of the game, but still gained 80 yards on 22 attempts, 30 on one play. He ran 8 yards for the final Cowboys touchdown.

The Cardinals (1-2), in their home opener, got a big game from Fitzgerald, who caught 13 passes for 149 yards, in the process moving ahead of Marvin Harrison into eighth in career receiving yards. The 13 receptions tied a career high.

"That's Fitz. It's Monday night," Arizona coach Bruce Arians said. "He's a money player. It was a great performance by him. It's a shame we couldn't play better around him."

Carson Palmer had a big first half, completed 15 of 18 for 145 yards and finished 29 of 48 for 325 yards and two scores. He was sacked six times, a career-high three by DeMarcus Lawrence.

The Cardinals dominated the first half statistically, but were deadlocked with the Cowboys at 7-7. Arizona had a 152-57 advantage in yards and dominated time of possession 19:34 to 9:41.

Arizona took the opening kickoff and went 82 yards in eight plays. Palmer was 5-for-5 on the drive, capped by a 25-yard touchdown pass to Jaron Brown.

Before Dallas even had a first down, Arizona mounted a nearly nine-minute drive but a touchdown pass to Brown was negated by a holding penalty and Phil Dawson's 36-yard field goal try was wide right. It was the third mid-range miss for the 41-year-old kicker this season.

And the miss left the door open for the Cowboys to get back in it.

Prescott scored on a 10-yard run, flipping head-first over the goal line to tie it at 7-7 with 3:33 left in the half.

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