Cowboys @ Eagles 1st Half Live Blog

Cowboys @ Eagles 1st Half Live Blog

Earlier today I get a text message from friend and long time Level reader Sid who was tailgating all day.  It included this picture of none other than the Andy Reid impersonator, Stevey A.  Not gonna lie, it made us entirely jealous that we weren't down in the lots all day with our fellow Eagles fans.  Instead, we're going to sit back and watch this one from the couch and post some thoughts as they happen.

Kick off in about 30 minutes.  Follow along after the jump.

Pregame: The Eagles wear green.  Apparently, NBC cares about the environment.

So I guess turning the lights out means you're being nice to the environment???   And when you're operating like normal -- you know, with the lights on -- your just killing baby seals.

Here's my drinking game for the night.  Take a shot every time you hear one of Andy's kids mentioned, ever time you see the Liberty Bell or a shot of the skyline, or one of the announcers talk about Owens/McNabb BS.  Double shot if T.O. does a good TD dance.

Yes! Jim Johnson uses Rocky to inspire the Eagles defense.

Loyal commenter Gootman writes in with our first breaking news, "Tony Romo is queer.  More thoughts to come..."

1st Quarter

Alright, first play from scrimage... let's see if the Eagles can get Bri... Jesus! Donovan McNabb fumble.  Great start Eagles!

Tony Romo finds T.O. right in the middle of the field.  Terrell Owens proceeds to stroll down to the 10 yard line on a speedy RAC.  Thunderlips brings up a good point in the comments, can't the Eagles come up with a different movie to use to motivate themselves, like maybe The Mighty Ducks or something?

And just like that it's 7-0 Dallas.  When does Curb Your Enthusiasm start?

Some football commentary: could the Eagles return game do any less?  I think Reno Mahe may have had one return this season that was like, "oooh, not bad."  Other than that our return game provides zero.  Nada.

Reggie Brown gets the Eagles a first on a nice route, Brian Westbrook runs for another... and the Eagles cheerleaders are there, showing off their, uh, their pink pom-poms for breast cancer awareness.

Reggie Brown with another nice route and a great RAC down to about the two yard line.  Madden seems to think this Jacques Reeves guy couldn't play in your flag football league.  TOUCHDOWN BWEST!  7-7

Commercial analysis: Ha!  In a new commercial, Samsung says it's new JUKE phone is "leading the music phone revolution." LOL! Ha!  And then an iPhone iPod touch commercial that kicks ass is aired about a minute later.  The iPhone ad was actually created by a fan.

Okay, back to football: Terrell Owens is pretty good and Tony Romo -- on a broken play -- dumps a ball to Barber that simply kills the Eagles.  Nice play by Romo there.  And damn, he dumps it to Barber again on the next play.  The D-Line is getting pressure, but Romo is simply making plays.

Romo hits Tony Curtis in the endzone to put Dallas up 14-7.  A couple tough bounces for the D on that drive, but Romo looked sharp.  Never heard of this Tony Curtis guy... Kevin's cousin?

START OF THE 2nd QUARTER: Dallas 14 Eagles 7

Phew, more Rocky music.  I don't know what I would do if the world didn't remind us that Rocky was from Philadelphia every time we play on national television.

Random thought: If Terrell Owens was a mute, he would have made an amazing Eagle for a number of years.

Madden paraphrased: "Donovan doesn't throw a lot of interceptions because he throws horrible passes in the dirt a lot." Not bad, John, not bad.  Eagles can't get much going on this drive and look pretty bad.  Rocca punts a nice one that puts the 'Girls inside their own 10.

Romo gets a first down to Owens and then another to Barber.  May have to send Gocong for Romo's knees or something at this point.  Damnit, on another 3rd and 6, Romo finds Owens again.  Ugh.

Thinking about naming my first child Flozell.  And the Eagles finally stop the 'Girls on a third down.  Bout time.

Eagles take over with 7:49 left on their own 19. 

BOOOOOOYAH!  Jim Cramer is there and is a big Eagles fan.

And the Eagles, with 2nd and 2, can't get a first down.  WTF.

Tony Romo, as my dad would say, has enough time to make a sandwich back there.  Lot's of protection.

YES! Eagles get a pick.  Lito Sheppard reads a Tony Romo pass and takes it right out of the Cowboys hands.  That could be a huge play, keeping the game at least within one score going into the half.  Especially since the 'Boys are getting the ball in the second half.

And Donovan gives the ball back to the Cowboys deep in the Birds territory.  Five hasn't looked impressive this evening.

Things are looking bleak for the Birds as the Cowboys punch in another TD on the shoulders of Marion Barber. 21-7 Dallas.

And that's how the first half ends.  Donovan McNabb and company trot to the locker room with their tail between their legs.

Click here for our thoughts on the second half.

Team USA overpowers Argentina in 1st Olympic exhibition

Team USA overpowers Argentina in 1st Olympic exhibition

LAS VEGAS -- New team. Same old result.

Full of new star power -- and dominant on the inside -- the U.S. men's basketball team opened its bid for a third straight Olympic gold medal Friday night with a 111-74 exhibition romp over Argentina.

A game that was over almost before it began showed the U.S. has to improve its shooting and conditioning. It also showed that there is plenty of talent among a group of players that seem to want to play well for each other and their country despite the absence of Olympic stalwarts Kobe Bryant and LeBron James.

"There's a willingness from these guys to work on anything we need and to work hard," coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "These are very good guys."

A U.S. team that hasn't lost a game in 10 years had little trouble with Argentina, which some consider a medal contender in Rio. Paul George scored 14 first-half points, Kevin Durant added 12, and the U.S. blew open the game early before an appreciative crowd on the Las Vegas Strip.

Even with Bryant retired and James taking this Olympics off, there was no real talent drop off on a team heavily favored to win gold once again. The depth of the U.S. showed as coach Mike Krzyzewski rotated players in and out, searching for the right combinations on a team with 10 new players from 2012.

"Nothing is for sure," Durant said. "We want to get this gold and right now we have a job to do. We have to prepare the right way."

Count the Argentines among those who were impressed at the first real game for the Olympic team.

"Obviously, they have the best talent and the best size in the world," Argentina's Luis Scola said. "That's a big difference in their favor."

The game was the first of five exhibitions the U.S. will play before traveling to Rio to defend the gold medal. The U.S. team has spent the last week practicing in Las Vegas in preparation for the tour and the games.

There weren't any opening night jitters, though the U.S. shot only 45 percent and missed all but 14 of 41 3-pointers. With DeMarcus Cousins pulling down 15 rebounds in just 16 minutes, the U.S. dominated inside, outrebounding Argentina 53-30.

"The big thing is getting in shape and they are not there where they will be," Krzyzewski said. "But we really have an inside presence on the boards."

For Durant the game was a chance to play with a pair of his new Golden State teammates, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. It was also a chance for Durant and Carmelo Anthony -- the only two players from the 2012 team -- to demonstrate that this will be their team in Rio.

Both players cheered from the bench as the minutes were spread around, jumping up to clap for teammates. Every U.S. player got quality time, with Green's 12 minutes the least played by any American.

"We're going to have fun and we're going to enjoy ourselves," Anthony said. "If it's not fun it's not worth it. We're going to enjoy ourselves but at the same time we're going to be focused in trying to get that gold medal."

Durant finished as the game's high scorer with 23 points, while George had 18 and Carmelo Anthony 17. Andres Nocioni had 15 for Argentina, while Manu Ginobili added 11 for Argentina, which lost to the U.S. in the semifinals of the 2012 Olympics.

Though at times little defense was played, there was plenty of offense to keep the crowd at the new T-Mobile Arena happy. The teams combined to put up 70 3-point attempts, 41 of them from the U.S.

Oddsmakers had made the U.S. a prohibitive 29.5-point favorite in what at times looked a lot like an NBA All-Star game. But while the U.S. team is loaded with 12 NBA players, the Argentines had only three on their roster and the talent difference showed.

While the team is full of new players, the gold medal run will be the last for Krzyzewski, the national coach for the last decade. His teams have lost only one game during his reign, which will end after the Olympics with San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich taking over.

Best of MLB: Yankees stay hot with win over sloppy Giants

Best of MLB: Yankees stay hot with win over sloppy Giants

NEW YORK -- Giants Gold Glove shortstop Brandon Crawford made three errors for the first time in his career, with his wild throw in the eighth inning giving the New York Yankees a 3-2 win Friday night that sent San Francisco to its season-worst sixth straight loss.

The Giants held the best record in the majors at the All-Star break, but haven't won since. They also lost catcher Buster Posey, who fouled a ball off his right foot and left with a bruise. X-rays were negative and he was listed as day to day.

Masahiro Tanaka shut out San Francisco for six innings, giving up four singles. Giants ace Madison Bumgarner went seven innings, allowing two runs.

The Giants nicked Dellin Betances in the seventh, pulling within 2-1 on a walk, a double by Denard Span and a wild pitch. That ended a streak of 31 scoreless innings by Yankees relievers.

A double by Giants pinch-hitter Mac Williamson off Andrew Miller (6-1) tied it in the eighth.

But the Yankees bounced back for the fifth win in six games, and didn't need to hit the ball hard to do it (see full recap).

Kemp homers twice in Padres' victory
WASHINGTON -- Matt Kemp homered twice and drove in four runs, rookie Luis Perdomo pitched seven solid innings and the San Diego Padres beat the Washington Nationals 5-3 on Friday night to snap a four-game losing streak.

Kemp hit a solo shot in the first inning and gave San Diego the lead for good with a three-run homer in the fifth. He has six homers in his last six games and the Padres have homered in 20 straight, the longest streak in the National League this season.

Perdomo (4-4) gave up two first-inning runs, then limited the National to two hits over the final six innings of his longest outing. Brandon Maurer pitched 1 1/3 innings for his fourth save.

Jayson Werth and Daniel Murphy homered for Washington. The Nationals have lost four of five.

Tanner Roark (9-6) turned in his shortest outing since June 5, lasting just five innings. He allowed five runs on four hits and surrendered two homers in a game for the first time this season (see full recap).

Fowler sparks Cubs' win over Brewers in return
MILWAUKEE -- Dexter Fowler led off the first with a homer and drove in three runs in his first game back from the disabled list, powering the Chicago Cubs to a 5-2 win over the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday night.

Fowler went 3 for 4 with a walk and scored twice after being sidelined more than a month with a strained right hamstring. His two-run double to left with the bases loaded in the second drew rousing cheers from the bevy of Cubs fans visiting Milwaukee.

Jason Hammel (9-5) allowed four hits and two runs over five-plus innings for his second victory since the All-Star break for NL Central-leading Chicago. He never trailed after Fowler slugged a 3-1 pitch from Jimmy Nelson (6-8) over the center-field wall to lead off the game.

Hernan Perez had a run-scoring double for the Brewers, and Ryan Braun hit a solo homer.

There were so many fans in Chicago shirts that their boos drowned out cheers from Brewers backers when Braun stepped to the plate in fourth. Braun went deep to center on the first pitch of the at-bat from Hammel for his 14th homer of the year.

Hammel departed after allowing a leadoff double to Scooter Gennett in the sixth with the Brewers trailing 4-2. Reliever Carl Edwards Jr. then retired the Brewers' 3-4-5 hitters in order, capped by strikeouts of Jonathan Lucroy and Chris Carter on six pitches total (see full recap).

Zach Eflin tosses 1st shutout in Phillies' win over Pirates

Zach Eflin tosses 1st shutout in Phillies' win over Pirates

BOX SCORE

PITTSBURGH — Zach Eflin wasn’t the normal youth pitcher while growing up in Oviedo, Florida.

Though the lanky right-hander had the arm strength to overpower hitters, he concentrated more on pitching inside and keeping the ball low in the strike zone than trying to blow his fastball by everybody.
 
“I didn’t start throwing a slider or curveball until I was 16 or 17,” Eflin said. “I was taught at an early age that establishing the inside part of the plate allows you to throw your changeup effectively and opens things up so you can throw all your pitches. I wanted the changeup to be an effective pitch for me.”
 
The Phillies' rookie is showing in the early part of his major-league career that he learned his lessons well.
 
The 22-year-old had his best outing yet Friday night when he pitched a three-hit shutout — the first of his nascent career — to lead the Phillies to a 4-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates in the opener of a three-game series at PNC Park (see Instant Replay).
 
Eflin struck out six, had no walks and used an efficient 100 pitches to notch his second complete game. He also went the distance July 5 against the Atlanta Braves when he pitched a six-hitter and threw 92 pitches.
 
“One of the most exciting things about this season has been seeing the improvement of so many of our young pitchers,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. “Zach has made such great strides in a short period of time.
 
“I’m happy for him. He’s a hard worker and a personable kid. He’s done a really good job.”
 
Eflin made his sixth straight quality start and is 3-3 with a 3.40 ERA in eight outings since being recalled from Triple A Lehigh Valley. The consistency Eflin is showing at such a young age is quite surprising in light of getting rocked for nine runs in 2 2/3 innings in his major-league debut by the Blue Jays on June 14 at Toronto.
 
“What impressed me the most after that debacle in Toronto is that Zach came back the next day and knew exactly what he needed to do in order to be successful and that was keep the ball down,” Mackanin said. “He’s been keeping the ball down ever since.”
 
Mackanin then smiled.
 
“He’s becoming one of my favorite pitchers,” the manager said.
 
Coming off a 2-5 homestand, the Phillies started a stretch in which they play 16 of 19 games on the road. Elfin got them off on the right foot at a venue where the Phillies were a combined 0-6 during the previous two seasons.
 
“It was great to pitch a shutout, a lot of fun,” Elfin said. “Having been out on the mound in the ninth inning before really helped. I knew I could finish the game.”
 
All-Star centerfielder Odubel Herrera broke out of his slump with three hits and two runs scored and catcher Cameron Rupp hit a two-run home run.
 
Herrera had two singles and a double after going 4 for 41 in his previous 11 games.
 
Herrera singled to lead off the sixth inning and scored the game’s first run on a single by Rupp. Herrera then doubled and scored on Andres Blanco’s single in the seventh to make it 2-0.
 
Rupp’s two-run shot, his 10th of the season, off Jon Niese in the ninth inning capped the scoring. Rupp had two hits and three RBIs.
 
Second baseman Freddy Galvis also had two hits, as did Blanco, who replaced third baseman Maikel Franco in the bottom of the third inning.
 
Franco was hit in the left wrist in the first inning by a pitch from Pirates right-hander Gerrit Cole (5-6). He then singled in the top of the third before undergoing X-rays that were negative.

Eflin hit Pirates centerfielder Andrew McCutchen in the rear end with a pitch in the bottom of the first inning, causing home plate umpire Tony Randazzo to warn both teams. There were no further incidents.
 
Franco had his hand wrapped after the game and said he did not know if he would be able to play Saturday afternoon. The ball hit Franco in the same spot where he suffered a fracture last August that caused him to miss most of the last six weeks of the season.
 
“I was scared at first because it was sore and was getting puffy,” Franco said. “I felt better [after getting treatment], though. I think everything will be fine.”