North Korea ‘guest workers’ could undermine Kim regime, defector says

SEOUL, South Korea, Sept. 19 (UPI) — North Korea is accelerating the development of nuclear weapons, but despite increased international scrutiny, staggering inattention is being paid to its 25 million people.

That could very well serve as the Achilles heel in U.S. policy toward the Kim Jong Un regime, according to Kang Chol-hwan, a prominent defector-activist who grew up in a North Korea prison camp and later wrote a memoir of his experiences.

Kang, 49, recently told UPI the key to resolving the nuclear standoff ultimately lies with the people of North Korea, who are the primary agents of change in the country.

“The power to stop nuclear weapons development is in the hands of the North Korean people,” The Aquariums of Pyongyang author said in the interview in Seoul. “North Korea is now in a different place than where it was during the Sunshine Policy era. People in North Korea now know what life is like in the South.”

Kang was referring to the period in South Korean history when former President Kim Dae-jung ended Cold War-era hostilities with the rival North through acts of reconciliation.

The notion ordinary North Koreans have the power to turn the fate of their country around is still hard to grasp.

North Koreans are often depicted as repressed or brainwashed, marching obediently under the watchful gaze of their leader in military parades during national holidays, or shouting chants, praising Kim Jong Un.

Refugees’ descriptions of human rights abuses, and far-reaching surveillance, have also left the impression that it may be impossible to stage an uprising.

But according to Kang, structural weaknesses of the regime are giving way to people power in new ways.

Not only are North Koreans more informed about the outside world because of media flows into the country, more people are likely to be disillusioned with the regime as they are being forced out of the country to serve as indentured laborers — and wind up seeing what the rest of the world has to offer.

It’s for this reason Kang says he sees overseas laborers as agents of transformation, and thinks the United States and the international community should be careful about banning North Korean labor.

“Overseas laborers can be agents of change,” Kang said. “At first they are grateful just for the three meals a day they receive as compensation, but once outside they will realize” what they are missing, he added.

In 2015, Lim Il, a defector who escaped a life of forced labor in Kuwait, said he was never paid for 12 hours of daily manual labor at insufferably hot construction sites, while other foreign workers at the site not only were compensated but also given a three-hour lunch break.

Lim and other North Koreans were allowed only an hour for lunch despite heat exhaustion.

Kang says Kim Jong Un’s continued deployment of forced laborers is a sign of his economic desperation in the face of heavier sanctions.

“Do you think he’s sending them out because he wants to?” the activist said, adding embargoes on North Korean mineral exports are taking a toll on the regime. “Sending out laborers is very dangerous. They are taking a risk.”

“Overseas, North Koreans see workers from Africa, from Pakistan, drinking Coca-Cola, while they can’t.”

In Kang’s view, the more people Kim has to deploy overseas so he can spend money on villas and fine wine, the better.

“If their numbers become 100,000, 200,000, then 300,000, they become extremely threatening to the regime,” Kang said.

Instead of sanctions, the United Nations should encourage Russia and China, two countries that host North Korean “guest workers,” to raise labor standards for existing workers, giving them fair wages and freedom of mobility.

“Then they become 300,000 defectors,” Kang said.

Not only are state-sanctioned workers dangerous to the state, in North Korea, the elements of collapse, or at least major political change, are there, he said.

“When Kim Jong Un killed off his relatives, that destroyed people’s trust in him,” Kang said, referring to the highly public execution of Jang Song Thaek, the North Korean leader’s uncle-in-law.

“At least Kim Jong Il listened to the advice of his subordinates.”

It is because the current leader has fallen into disfavor with North Koreans, he needs to “show off his power, and fire off missiles to prove he is still powerful,” Kang said.

“How is Kim going to attack Guam?” he added, calling the North Korean claim of a plan to attack the U.S. territory a “lie.”

An undated image shows the test-fire of a medium-range ballistic missile Pukguksong-2 at an undisclosed location in North Korea. Photo courtesy of KCNA/EPA

That statement came in August, when a verbal warning from U.S. President Donald Trump threatening “fire and fury” against North Korea led to subsequent threats from Pyongyang to create an “enveloping fire” around Guam.

Trump fell under criticism for responding to North Korean rhetorical threats with rhetoric of his own, but Kang said he doesn’t think that’s a bad thing, because Trump’s hints of a pre-emptive attack are something to be feared in North Korea.

But even credible threats are not enough to make Pyongyang think twice, or steer North Korea policy in the right direction, Kang said.

“The point of North Korea policy should be the North Korean people,” the activist said, while discussing what he sees as shortcomings of past South Korean administrations.

President Kim Dae-jung, for example, took reconciliation with the North to an unprecedented level, but his Sunshine Policy did not bring changes to the lives of ordinary North Koreans and only gave the regime more time to consolidate power, according to Kang.

“Kim Dae-jung’s policy was fake sunshine,” he said.

Kang also said South Korean conservatives, former President Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye, while stepping back from a posture of leniency, did not include a substantial policy that could bypass the North Korean leadership to engage 25 million North Koreans.

“President Trump needs to realize this is not a regime that will stop nuclear development in order to engage,” Kang said. “Any message [from the United States] should be sent directly to the North Korean people.”

Cleveland Browns WR Corey Coleman undergoes hand surgery

Cleveland Browns WR Corey Coleman undergoes hand surgery

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Corey Coleman underwent successful surgery on his fractured right hand Monday afternoon.

Coleman, who was injured Sunday the Browns’ 24-10 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, had a metacarpal in his right hand repaired during the procedure at University Hospitals, the Browns announced.

Although the team offered no timetable for his return, Cleveland.com reported that Coleman is expected to be placed on injured reserve Tuesday. He will be eligible to practice in six weeks and return to the lineup in eight weeks.

A first-round draft pick out of Baylor (No. 15 overall) in 2016, Coleman had one catch for 9 yards before he was injured Sunday. He led the Browns with five receptions for 53 yards and a touchdown in a season-opening loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Coleman was limited to 10 games due to injury as a rookie and finished with 33 receptions and three touchdowns.

Arizona Cardinals QB Carson Palmer not pleased with criticism from Bruce Arians

Arizona Cardinals QB Carson Palmer not pleased with criticism from Bruce Arians

TEMPE, Ariz. — As Bruce Arians was about to head into the locker room at halftime on Sunday, FOX sideline reporter Laura Okmin asked the Arizona Cardinals head coach what the problem seems to be with Arizona’s offense.

Arians, whose team was trailing 10-3 on the road to Indianapolis at the time, said simply two words.

“The quarterback.”

At the end of the day, Carson Palmer and the struggling offense managed to outlast the Colts 16-13 in overtime, but you could tell the quarterback is beginning to feel a little sour at Arians’ ongoing criticisms.

“I’m always trying to play better,” Palmer said. “I’m always looking to play better and improve.”

Palmer was besieged by unpleasant words from his head coach a week ago during the Cardinals’ season-opening 35-23 loss at Detroit, when the quarterback was picked off three times, including once for a touchdown. He was better this time around, passing for 322 yards and one score with only one pick, but Palmer couldn’t get anything going early on against the Colts.

It’s fair to point out, of course, that he was missing five starters on offense, including the team’s best player, running back David Johnson, who might be out until Christmas following left wrist surgery. But the Cardinals were also playing without left tackle D.J. Humphries (sprained MCL), left guard Mike Iupati (triceps), speedy wide receiver John Brown (quadriceps) and tight end Jermaine Gresham (ribs).

Because of all the substitutions and changes to the game plan because of it, Palmer wasn’t surprised that the offense struggled right off the bat in Indianapolis the way that it did.

“We were short on a couple personnel groups. We had to change some stuff at the last minute when we realized Jermaine wasn’t going to play and we weren’t really sure about (tight end) Troy (Niklas),” Palmer said, pointing out Niklas played with a sore hip that left him questionable entering the game.

With Gresham’s injury and Niklas being somewhat hobbled, the Cardinals often stuck backup rookie tackle Will Holden at one of the tight-end spots to help block. That also changed the complexion of what the Cardinals’ offense usually looks like and affected the play-calling.

“He has probably never done that in his life,” Palmer said of Holden. “So there were some just very difficult situations we were in.”

During his weekly radio appearance on the team’s flagship station, Cardinals general manager Steve Keim said he felt Palmer “played like a lot of the guys on offense; I thought he played up and down.”

“There’s no doubt he made some critical mistakes,” Keim said. “I know Carson, the competitor he is, he’s hard on himself. … But he also made some throws in that game that not many other guys can make. … In the fourth quarter when we had to have it and come up with big plays, I thought Carson was right on point.”

The bottom line in Palmer’s eyes was that the Cardinals got a win, even if didn’t come with any style points. A 1-1 record is a heck of a lot better than starting off 0-2 and then have the nation’s eyes squarely on you this coming on Monday night, when Arizona hosts the Dallas Cowboys.

Iupati and Gresham should both be available for that game, which will help the Cardinals’ offense a ton. With that good news on the horizon, Palmer said the offense “is really not a concern.”

“Obviously, we’d like more production, more touchdowns,” he said. “But I’m not down or concerned.”

Running back Chris Johnson, re-signed to the roster after being one of the cuts down to 53, showed burst and speed in Sunday’s victory over the Colts that he rarely showed during the preseason. He finished with 44 yards on 11 carries and had a 21-yard gain negated by a penalty.

He’s pushing for more time in the backfield, according to head coach Bruce Arians, who went with Kerwynn Williams as his starter in Indianapolis.

“I don’t know why (some people) thought I didn’t have a burst,” Johnson said. “I know the type of player I am. I know how to prepare. I know how to get myself ready for the season and a game. It just felt nice to get out there, make a few plays and help the team win.”

“It may not have been the prettiest win, but it’s kind of like your high school prom date: doesn’t matter if she’s pretty as, long as you’ve got one.” – Kicker Phil Dawson after the Cardinals’ 16-13 overtime win over the Colts.

With Sunday’s 16-13 overtime win at Indianapolis, the Cardinals improved to 33-3-1 when holding opponents under 20 points under head coach Bruce Arians. Arizona is also undefeated in overtime games under Arians, going 3-0-1.

Safety Tyrann Mathieu came up with the play of the game Sunday vs. the Colts, intercepting Jacoby Brissett‘s pass on the Colts’ first play from scrimmage in overtime. The pick set up Phil Dawson’s 30-yard, game-winning field goal.

Not only did the Honey Badger intercept Brissett when the quarterback was making his first NFL start, but Mathieu also picked off Brissett when the quarterback was making his first career start at Florida.

“He said, ‘Damn, bro, every time I start, who you have to pick me off?'” Mathieu said.

Mathieu’s response?

“I don’t know,” he said. “I don’t know why you threw it to me.”

After allowing the Colts to score on their first possession of the game, gaining 53 yards and converting on all four third-down situations, the Cardinals’ defense stepped up and shut them down for the majority of the game. Indianapolis would only get two field goals and gain 213 more yards.

The difference, according to Cardinals veteran defensive tackle Frostee Rucker?

“Our attitude,” Rucker said. “We were out there searching for things to come to us instead of just going to get them. In the second half, we just hunkered down and took the plays and made them count.”

Cardinals general manager Steve Keim on newly-signed veteran guard Alex Boone, who was forced into a starting role Sunday against the Colts with Mike Iupati out because of a triceps injury: “The thing I like about Alex is he brings a temperament and a mentality to our front. He’s a guy who plays to the whistle and from time to time, even after the whistle.”

NOTES: RB David Johnson underwent successful surgery to repair damage in his left wrist, which he injured in Arizona’s season opener at Detroit. General Manager Steve Keim said he visited with Johnson and wouldn’t be surprised if the third-year pro comes back faster than expected. Johnson is supposed to be sidelined two to three months. … K Phil Dawson has missed two field goals in his first two games with the Cardinals, including a 42-yard attempt on Sunday that would have won the game at the end of regulation. … WR J.J. Nelson elevated his game with fellow receiver John Brown not playing because of a quadriceps injury, catching five passes for 120 yards, including a clutch, 45-yard touchdown bomb. It was Nelson’s sixth touchdown in his last seven games for the Cardinals and his second this season in as many weeks. … S Tyrann Mathieu couldn’t have picked a better moment for his first interception since Oct. 17 of last season against the Jets. His pick of a Jacoby Brissett pass Sunday on the first play from scrimmage in overtime helped set up Phil Dawson’s game-winning field goal.

New England Patriots do about-face from Week 1 loss to Kansas City Chiefs

New England Patriots do about-face from Week 1 loss to Kansas City Chiefs

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Ironically, winning a game under the roof of the Superdome was all it took to prove to New England Patriots fans that the sky was not falling in Patriot Nation following the shocking opening-night loss in Foxborough to the Chiefs.

Quarterback Tom Brady and the defending Super Bowl champions got off to a fast start against the Saints’ sub-par pass defense, putting up a trio of first-quarter touchdowns in New Orleans on the way to the 36-20 victory in Week 2.

Much like Sam Bradford and the Vikings had done to Sean Payton‘s defense a week earlier, Brady carved up the Saints young, ripe-for-the-taking secondary. Brady completed 30 of his 39 throws for 447 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions for a 139.6 passer rating.

And though New England allowed Drew Brees to throw for 356 yards, the Patriots held New Orleans to just 13 points until what was essentially a garbage-time touchdown to tight end Coby Fleener in the final few minutes.

So, a week after Brady was left questioning the “attitude and competitiveness” of his team following a fourth-quarter collapse against Kansas City, the New England leader took to the postgame podium with a 1-1 record and a far more positive outlook in New Orleans.

“The NFL’s tough, man,” Brady said. “Every game is tough, every quarter is tough, every play is tough, and you can’t take it for granted. In order to win, you’ve got to go out and compete as hard as you can on every play. We did a good job of that today.”

After a night to sleep on the win, Brady made his point even more clear in his weekly appearance on WEEI Radio in Boston.

Critiques of his team were replaced with post-win praise.

“I thought it was four quarters of really tough, competitive football,” Brady told WEEI. “That is what we talked about. I think one thing coming out of the previous week was just understanding four quarters of football is what it takes to win. That is what we needed yesterday and we got it from the start.

“We hadn’t won a game in a long time, since February. I think to get that feeling of winning again felt good for everybody. It was a fun flight home and now it’s quickly evaluating the film and getting on to Houston.”

While beating up on the hapless Saints’ defense left Brady in a better mood, he and his banged-up receiving corps face a tougher challenge this week at home against the Texans.

With Julian Edelman (ACL) and Malcolm Mitchell (knee) already on injured reserve, Danny Amendola (concussion/knee) missed Sunday’s win in New Orleans.

Sunday, two of the Patriots’ three healthy receivers got dinged themselves as Phillip Dorsett suffered a knee injury while Chris Hogan was left hobbling off the field with an undisclosed injury, leaving Brandin Cooks as the only healthy body at the position.

Tight Rob Gronkowski also left the win for good in the third quarter with what was announced as a groin injury after he put up more than 100 yards receiving in little more than a half.

Losing players to injury aside, for Brady and Co. Sunday’s victory was a true win in New Orleans. It avoided a dreaded, unprecedented 0-2 start in the future Hall of Famer’s career.

And it eased the pressure both inside and outside the New England locker room, even for a team that prides itself in its ability to “ignore the noise” from the outside.

“We have to put together another good week and be ready for the Texans,” head coach Bill Belichick said. “But it’s good to be 1-1.”

Tight end Rob Gronkowski left the Week 2 win in New Orleans in the third quarter with what was announced as a groin injury and did not return. Gronkowski was in the midst of a big day when he gestured for the training staff after being tackled by two Saints defenders on what would be his final catch of the day. After a quiet opener against Kansas City, Gronkowski had six catches for 116 yards, including a 53-yard catch-and-run touchdown before leaving because of the injury in New Orleans.

After the game Gronkowski declined to speak to reporters other than telling them he was a “no-go” media wise before smiling, offering a thumbs up and saying, “But I’m good.”

A day later, to no one’s surprise, head coach Bill Belichick offered no update on his key pass-catcher.

“No, I don’t have any updates,” Belichick said. “We’ll put the injury report out on Wednesday like we always do and follow the procedures that are outlined by the league.”

On Monday afternoon, Gronkowski spoke with reporters in the Gillette Stadium locker room and confirmed the groin injury.

“It’s nothing serious and I’m just day-to-day,” Gronkowski said, making it clear he had no concerns about his back, which required season-ending surgery last December.

Asked if he might play on Sunday against the Texans, Gronkowski went into full Patriots mode.

“Day-to-day,” he said with a smile. “I feel good. It’s nothing serious.”

Cornerback Malcolm Butler started all 16 games for the Patriots over each of the last two seasons, establishing himself as the team’s No. 1 Pro Bowl cornerback. But Sunday afternoon in New Orleans, Butler was utilized in a reserve role with Eric Rowe getting the starting nod opposite $65 million offseason addition Stephon Gilmore.

Butler did end up playing 49 of 65 defensive snaps against the Saints, at least in part due to Rowe leaving with a groin injury. Still, it was strange to see Butler, who actually made a restricted free-agent visit to New Orleans this offseason after New England signed Gilmore, as anything other than a starter.

Butler declined to speak with the media after the New England win, saying he wanted to spend time with family that was in New Orleans. And Belichick offered little explanation a day after the game regarding the new-look starting lineup.

“There are a lot of things that go into it, but that’s what we decided to do,” Belichick said of starting Rowe over Butler.

Linebacker Dont’a Hightower (knee) was inactive for the Week 2 win in New Orleans. The Pro Bowler and captain suffered the injury on opening night against the Chiefs and missed all three days of practice last week.

Given Hightower’s recent history of missing a handful of games each season to knee and shoulder injuries – he’s missed at least three games in each of the last three seasons – and the fact that he sat out the preseason to a knee injury, it’s probably not too stunning that he’s already missing time.

But, a report from ESPN Boston over the weekend painted what was initially reported as a sprain in a bit more concerning light. ESPN reported that Hightower “sought a second opinion” from noted orthopedic specialist Dr. James Andrews last week.

NFL Network followed that report by saying the injury was diagnosed as the “2-3 week variety” and that Hightower could return as early as the Week 3 battle with the Texans.

Still, given Hightower’s importance to a New England defense that struggled with communication and in allowing too many big plays in the first two weeks, the injury situation bears watching.

NOTES: LB Dont’a Hightower (knee) was ruled out before the trip to New Orleans, missing the game with what has been reported as a minor MCL sprain suffered in the opener against K.C. Hightower has missed at least three games in each of the last three seasons to knee and shoulder issues and also sat out the preseason after opening the summer on PUP due to a knee problem. … WR Danny Amendola (concussion/knee) was ruled out on Friday after missing the entire week of practice for the Week 2 trip to New Orleans. Amendola left the opener against the Chiefs in the third quarter with a head injury. … WR Matthew Slater (hamstring) was ruled out for the Saints game after missing practice all last week to the injury that dates to the early practice action of training camp. Slater had returned to the practice field on a limited basis prior to the season opener, but seemingly suffered a setback at some point. … DT Vincent Valentine (ankle) was ruled out last Friday prior to the trip to New Orleans. It’s the second straight week the second-year player has been inactive, despite practicing on a limited basis on Thursday. He did not practice on either Wednesday or Friday.

S Nate Ebner (shoulder) was inactive against the Saints, being downgraded when New England traveled to New Orleans on Saturday. Ebner also sat out the opener to the injury, though he did practice on a limited basis last week. … T LaAdrian Waddle was a healthy scratch in New Orleans. The veteran backup was a healthy scratch for 14 of 16 games last season. … OL Cole Croston, an undrafted rookie who made the roster as a backup at both guard and tackle, was a healthy scratch for the second straight week. … –OL Willie Beavers was released from the Patriots practice squad Sept. 16. The former 2016 sixth-round pick of the Vikings had joined the New England practice squad Sept. 5. … TE Rob Gronkowski left the Saints game in the third quarter with what was reported as a groin injury and did not return. Gronkowski remained in the bench area the rest of the afternoon and spent some time riding the stationary bike. … CB Eric Rowe left the Saints game with a groin injury in the third quarter and did not return. … WR Phillip Dorsett was attended to by trainers late in the win in New Orleans for a knee injury. … RB Rex Burkhead left the win over the Saints in the first half because of a rib injury and did not return. … WR Chris Hogan appeared to be dealing with a right leg injury in the second half in New Orleans. The receiver was limping around and had the right knee/thigh area wrapped on the sideline.

Famous birthdays for Sept. 19: Jimmy Fallon, Trisha Yearwood

Sept. 19 (UPI) — Those born on this date are under the sign of Virgo.

They include:

— Watergate prosecutor Leon Jaworski in 1905

— U.S. Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell in 1907

— Austrian automobile designer Ferdinand Anton Ernst Porsche in 1909

— British author William Golding (Lord of the Flies) in 1911

— James Lipton, actor/writer/host of Inside the Actors Studio, in 1926 (age 91)

— Actor Adam West (TV’s Batman) in 1928

File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI

— Actor David McCallum (TV’s NCIS) in 1933 (age 84)

— Singer Bill Medley of The Righteous Brothers in 1940 (age 77)

— Singer Mama Cass Elliot in 1941

— Singer Freda Payne in 1942 (age 75)

— Baseball Hall of Fame member Joe Morgan in 1943 (age 74)

— Singer/songwriter David Bromberg in 1945 (age 72)

— Actor Randolph Mantooth in 1945 (age 72)

— Actor Jeremy Irons in 1948 (age 69)

File Photo by Monika Graff/UPI

— Model/actor Twiggy, whose real name is Lesley Hornby, in 1949 (age 68)

— Television personality Joan Lunden in 1950 (age 67)

— Actor/director Kevin Hooks in 1958 (age 59)

— Celebrity chef Mario Batali in 1960 (age 57)

— Actor Cheri Oteri in 1962 (age 55)

— Country singer Trisha Yearwood in 1964 (age 53)

File Photo by John Sommers II/UPI

— Journalist Soledad O’Brien in 1966 (age 51)

— Actor Sanaa Nathan in 1971 (age 46)

— Comedian/TV host Jimmy Fallon in 1974 (age 43)

— Actor Alison Sweeney in 1976 (age 41)

— Actor Kevin Zegers in 1984 (age 33)

— Singer Pia Mia in 1996 (age 21)

File Photo by Phil McCarten/UPI

On This Day: Greg Louganis wins gold after hitting head on board

Sept. 19 (UPI) — On this date in history:

In 1777, American soldiers won the first Battle of Saratoga in the Revolutionary War.

In 1881, U.S. President James Garfield, 49, who had been shot in July by a disgruntled office-seeker, died of his wounds. Vice President Chester Arthur was sworn in as the successor to Garfield, who had been president for 6 1/2 months. His assassin was executed in 1882.

In 1893, with the signing of the Electoral Bill by Gov. David Boyle, New Zealand became the first country to grant national voting rights to women.

In 1955, after a decade of rule, Argentine President Juan Domingo Peron was deposed in a military coup.

In 1985, an earthquake collapsed hundreds of buildings, killed at least 7,000 people and injured thousands of others in Mexico City.

In 1988, U.S. swimmer Greg Louganis took the gold medal in 3-meter springboard diving at the Seoul Olympics after hitting his head on the board during preliminary competition.

In 1995, The Washington Post published a manifesto by Theodore Kaczynski, the so-called Unabomber, who carried out 16 bombings across the United States from 1978-95, killing three people. Kaczynski was arrested in 1996 and was sentenced to eight life sentences in prison.

In 2006, Thailand Premier Thaksin Shinawatra was overthrown in a bloodless military coup.

In 2010, 42-year-old Frenchman Philippe Croizon, a quadruple amputee, swam across the English Channel in 13 1/2 hours. Croizon covered the 21 miles with flippers attached to the stumps of his legs and special steering attachments in the arm areas.

In 2012, hundreds of thousands of Chicago Public School students were back in class after teachers voted to end a strike that lasted more than a week.

In 2013, Hiroshi Yamauchi, who led the transformation of Nintendo from a small Japanese company to a worldwide video gaming giant, died of pneumonia in Japan at the age of 85. Yamauchi was Nintendo’s president from 1949 to 2002. He also was the majority owner of Major League Baseball’s Seattle Mariners.

File Photo by Phil McCarten/UPI

Denver Broncos shut down Dallas Cowboys, Ezekiel Elliott in Sunday win

Denver Broncos shut down Dallas Cowboys, Ezekiel Elliott in Sunday win

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — By the end of the third quarter Sunday, it was clear the Denver Broncos had done something that no one had done to the Dallas Cowboys since they drafted Ezekiel Elliott in 2016: They had made him and the Cowboys’ running game a complete non-factor.

Frustration set in, to the point where Elliott simply stood in place after Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr. intercepted Dak Prescott‘s pass after the game got out of hand. Elliott was on his way to a career-low eight yards on nine carries — 43 yards below his previous career-low figure, which came in his first pro game.

Prescott wound up throwing the football 50 times, and by the end of the Broncos’ 42-17 win over Dallas, the Cowboys had run pass plays on 79 percent of their snaps.

That was hardly what they wanted considering that they came into Sunday 0-4 in Prescott’s starts when they pass at least 60 percent of the time and undefeated when they run on at least 40 percent of their snaps.

Everyone wants to take away the Cowboys’ ground game. Thanks to a stout defensive line and attacking linebackers that the Cowboys’ offensive line could barely budge, the Broncos did it.

“We loaded the box,” Harris said. “We had everyone in there that we could possibly put in there. When we do that, that’s what we expect from them. We don’t expect them to give up an inch of (yardage). They were great for us, and we didn’t allow them to get third-and-threes or third-and-fours. That’s huge.”

The Broncos could do that because they have a pair of All-Pro cornerbacks. Harris and Aqib Talib were able to cover Cole Beasley and Dez Bryant in man-to-man coverage, freeing the safeties and linebackers to attack the run and the heart of Dallas’ offensive line.

Thus, it’s doubtful that other teams can fully replicate what the Broncos did. But once again, Denver’s defense showed its capability of defusing an elite unit, just like it tore apart Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay’s passing game midway through the 2015 season and then-league MVP Cam Newton and Carolina’s multifaceted offense in Super Bowl 50.

In those games, like Sunday against Dallas, the Broncos were underdogs. They spent the week hearing about the dominance of their foe. Then they went out and tore apart a unit thought to be the league’s best at its craft.

“Zeke (Elliott) said it to the media, he said, ‘We run four plays and you’ve got to stop them,'” said Broncos defensive end Derek Wolfe. “And we said, ‘OK, challenge accepted,’ and we won.”

There are three key areas in which the Broncos can improve after two games.

The first is in pass protection, particularly at right tackle. While starter Menelik Watson has been a road grader as a run blocker, he has allowed six sacks, including one to Dallas’ DeMarcus Lawrence that resulted in a fumble that led to a Dallas touchdown.

“Our pass protection is not there yet,” Broncos head coach Vance Joseph said. “We’re still working some kinks out there.”

The second is in finishing off opponents. The Broncos let the Chargers back into their Week 1 game, as a 24-7 lead quickly evaporated into a tight 24-21 game thanks to a pair of giveaways.

The Broncos were never truly threatened by the Cowboys, but Dallas did sustain multiple drives in the fourth quarter.

“Finishing games is obviously coaching better and playing better,” Joseph said. “It’s tough to finish games when you’re ahead because if you’re too conservative, you allow teams to get back in the game. If you’re too aggressive, you may turn the ball over. We have to develop a mentality where in the third and fourth quarter, if we’re up, which is a good thing, we have to focus.”

The third is connected to the first two — it’s giveaways. Four of the five touchdowns allowed by the Broncos this year came after turnovers set their opponents up inside Denver territory.

“It’s been four turnovers, four touchdowns,” Joseph said. “We have to fix that issue on both sides of the ball.”

A few times in recent weeks, Broncos players have mentioned how quarterback Trevor Siemian‘s demeanor and presence reminds them of Peyton Manning.

But sometimes, that translates to the field. Early in the third quarter, with the Broncos facing third-and-6, Siemian made a pre-snap change, going to a shotgun handoff to C.J. Anderson.

Anderson galloped nine yards, the Broncos moved the chains, and they were off and running on what would become a 15-play, 75-yard drive that effectively broke the will of the Cowboys, putting them behind three scores, where they would stay for the rest of the game.

“The third-and-6 run check was something that (Manning) would have done,” Anderson said. “He’s definitely understanding the game a lot more.”

Siemian has six touchdown passes in two games, tied for the second-most in Broncos history in the first two weeks of the season behind Manning, who had nine scoring tosses in the first two games of his record-breaking 2013 season.

Sieman’s 106.9 rating is the eighth-best for a Broncos quarterback through two games, and the best for a Denver passer to start a season since Manning in 2014.

“If he plays that solid for us, we’ll be hard to beat down the stretch,” Broncos head coach Vance Joseph said.

NOTES: WR Bennie Fowler will be in the league-mandated post-concussion protocol after his head hit the ground hard as he tried to make a reception in the end zone during the second quarter. Fowler tried to walk back to the Broncos’ sideline, but collided with a Broncos official while in an apparent daze from the concussion. … LT Garett Bolles suffered a bone bruise in his leg and what was reported to be a high ankle sprain in the third quarter Sunday. He is expected to miss multiple weeks, but that forecast is far better than what was initially feared after he left Sunday’s game on a cart. … OLB Von Miller finished Sunday’s game with two sacks after going without a sack in five consecutive games dating to last year. … RB Devontae Booker’s status remains up in the air as he completes his recovery from a fractured wrist suffered in March. Booker “has to get in football shape” before he returns, Broncos head coach Vance Joseph said. … DE Zach Kerr did not play against the Cowboys as he continues to recover from a knee bruise suffered Aug. 26 against the Packers. With Kerr out, Kyle Peko was activated. … DE Jared Crick was placed on injured reserve last Friday after undergoing disk surgery. Crick had been sidelined since Aug. 14 because of back spasms, practicing occasionally in the weeks that followed. A potential return later this season has not been ruled out. … RB C.J. Anderson ranks second in the NFL with 199 rushing yards heading into Monday night’s game. He is the first Broncos running back to rush for at least 180 yards in the first two weeks of the season since Travis Henry in 2007. … QB Trevor Siemian ranks sixth in the league going into Monday night with a 106.9 passer rating. Siemian has 450 yards on 39-of-60 passing with six touchdowns and two interceptions.

Marshal Yanda’s injury forces Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens to make adjustments

Marshal Yanda’s injury forces Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens to make adjustments

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — With the defense already playing at a high level, the Baltimore Ravens are also finding some balance with quarterback Joe Flacco and the rest of the offense.

However, a 24-10 win over the Cleveland Browns was dampened when six-time Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda was ruled out for the season with an ankle fracture. This means the Ravens will make their first-ever trip to London without their best offensive lineman against Jacksonville, which leads the league with 11 sacks over two games.

Nonetheless, Baltimore is a veteran-laden group that will enter the game with confidence.

“If you don’t have passion, especially in football, and you’re not flying around, getting after it and giving it everything you got, you might as well not be out there,” Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said at his Monday press conference. “We’ve always had great leadership here. This group is another evolution of that: Ravens leadership.”

Yanda missed parts of training camp as he recovered from offseason shoulder surgery. However, he was dominant in both regular-season games and anchored an offensive line that had already suffered several key losses.

Projected starter Alex Lewis (shoulder) and promising rookie Nico Siragusa (knee) went down with season-ending injuries in training camp. Center John Urschel decided to retire hours before the first full-squad practice.

While Harbaugh said “nobody can replace Marshal Yanda,” the Ravens will slot Tony Bergstrom in the spot at right guard. Bergstrom was previously acquired from Arizona for a conditional seventh-round pick in next year’s draft.

Bergstrom, a third-round pick of the Oakland Raiders in 2012, has just four career starts, but played in 15 games last season with the Houston Texans.

Overall, Baltimore already has 15 players on injured reserve. The loss of Yanda especially resonated with the players.

“It hurts,” Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs said. “He is a leader. There is not a word in the English dictionary that can describe what Marshall is to us.”

One week after shutting out the Bengals, the Ravens’ defense had another dominant performance against Cleveland. Baltimore forced five turnovers for the second straight game for the first time in team history. The Ravens are also the third team since the 1970 merger to record four interceptions in each of the season’s first two games, joining the 1992 Steelers and 1971 Browns.

“We just tried to go out and be better than our last performance,” said cornerback Brandon Carr, who already has two interceptions. “We have guys on this defense with the mentality to go after and get the ball every single play. We’ve got a good thing going, and we’re going to try and get better every day.”

One week after running the ball 42 times and attempting just 17 passes, the Ravens had a more balanced offense against the Browns. Flacco completed 25 of 34 pass attempts for 217 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. The Ravens ran the ball 32 times for 136 yards with Terrance West scoring a touchdown from 4 yards.

“I was a little disappointed in myself. I feel like one of the things I can do is stay pretty patient when I go out there and play,” said Flacco, who missed all of training camp with an ailing back. “I definitely felt like it got the best of me a little bit. We had some guys running open. I thought there was a couple of plays I was trying to do a little bit too much, hoping for too much, and I either missed something or threw a pick way down there. Once I got past all that stuff and being kind of mad at myself, the fact that we were winning and having fun as a group, it was definitely fun.”

Baltimore will leave for London on Thursday. The Ravens, though, won’t be doing much sightseeing. Once they land, the focus is solely on beating Jacksonville.

“It is always a business trip, and we know why we are there,” linebacker C.J. Mosley said. “We know the Jacksonville Jaguars pretty well. The last few years we have had some pretty close games. We have to go in mentally prepared for a physical fight, even though we have to enjoy our time together with our family and our teammates.”

Ravens rookie linebacker Tyus Bowser had the best game of his young career, and he is showing all of the signs of becoming another impact player on the defense.

Bowser got his first sack and interception in a 24-10 victory over the Cleveland Browns in Week 2. Bowser also had a tackle for a loss and was an all-around disruptive force.

“Getting an opportunity to be on the field in front of these fans with these guys on defense, I mean, all the credit goes to them,” Bowser said. “The defensive line put so much pressure on the quarterback, and that helps put me in position to make plays. Very enjoyable game and all the credit to the defense.”

Bowser, the team’s second-round pick from Houston, has impressed coaches with his pass-rush skills and the ability to drop back in pass coverage.

The Ravens were ranked 24th in the NFL with 31 sacks last season. Baltimore already has eight sacks over its two games this year.

“Tyus did a great job,” Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said. “He’s a guy that takes it very seriously, and it really matters to him. Sometimes I have to grab him a little bit and tell him, ‘It’s going to be OK, man.’ When he doesn’t do things 100 percent right, he really gets down on himself. He went out there today and played hard. He didn’t let things get to him at all.”

Los Angeles Rams show ability to win, lose

Los Angeles Rams show ability to win, lose

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — The Los Angeles Rams made progress since last season. That’s clear to see by the way they dominated the Colts in Week 1 and took the Redskins to the wire in Week 2.

But they aren’t good enough to overcome the kind of mistakes they made in Sunday’s 27-20 loss to the Washington Redskins when seven penalties — especially those during a critical fourth-quarter drive — and two turnovers did them in.

“We can’t hurt ourselves with the penalties, some of the different things that occurred throughout the course of the game,” said Rams head coach Sean McVay. “But, I know that we’ll look at ourselves critically in the mirror, coaches included, starting with me and making sure that we do a good job with our short week of preparation going into a game against our divisional opponent in the Niners and we know it’s going to be a great challenge.”

Two positives stood out: The play of running back Todd Gurley, who finally looked like the powerful, slashing runner that won Offensive Rookie of the Year honors in 2015; and the continued emergence of second-year quarterback Jared Goff who, in spite of a late interception that closed the door on a Rams comeback, played a relatively efficient game after his breakout performance in Week 1 against the Colts.

Goff helped engineer a Rams comeback from 13-0 and 20-10 deficits to tie it at 20-20 with seven minutes remaining.

In spite of the loss, the comeback was a positive takeaway for a young team.

“Our ability to fight back that we now know we have. We didn’t have to do it in Week 1 – preseason’s completely different,” Goff said “But, knowing that we can go down 13-nothing, we probably could’ve even gone down 17-nothing and get a chance to fight back. We’ve got the weapons out there to make the plays – to make big plays and we get ourselves back in the game. I think it’s drastically improved. We now know that we’re never out of the fight and continue to keep going. As long as we execute and take care of the ball – good things will happen.”

Gurley finished with 88 yards rushing and 48 receiving yards while scoring a touchdown. It was a small glimpse of his capabilities, but a positive step in the right direction. For the Rams offense to function at a high level, Gurley must get going.

“We did a good job on the offense,” Gurley said. “Just everybody making space for each other and just going out there and making plays. We just (weren’t) able to make enough plays.”

Defensive tackle Aaron Donald was back in the starting lineup after returning last week to end a contract holdout. Donald finished with just one tackle and an assist and was not exactly pleased with the performance.

“I didn’t win my one-on-ones,” Donald said. “When I have one-on-ones, I usually win those. I was doing too much thinking. I keep trying to say, that’s on me so I just have to play better.”

Donald promised to be better when the Rams take the field Thursday against the 49ers in Santa Clara.

“I’ll be good next week,” he said. “Just to be out there with live movements, just to get the speed of the game and seeing little things to help me play a little faster. So, like I said, breaking down the film and coming back next week a lot better.”

Donald played 48 of a possible 71 snaps (68 percent), but the only defensive lineman to play more was Michael Brockers with 51.

Philip Rivers, Los Angeles Chargers seek to rebound from two narrow losses

Philip Rivers, Los Angeles Chargers seek to rebound from two narrow losses

COSTA MESA, Calif. — The Los Angeles Chargers are looking ahead to Sunday’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs, and after two heartbreaking losses that seems like a good idea.

But before the Chargers move forward, head coach Anthony Lynn was trying to put Sunday’s defeat to bed. The Chargers lost to the Miami Dolphins 19-17 as rookie kicker Younghoe Koo missed from 44 yards out in the closing seconds.

The kicker is that defeat comes on the heels of the previous game when Koo had a late game-tying attempt blocked.

That’s two games that the Chargers had a sniff at winning. But in the end, they just held their noses as they started 0-2 in Los Angeles.

“It’s not strange to me,” Lynn said of the Chargers stumble from the gate. “We started last year 0-2 and then won our next four games.”

But that recipe didn’t work so swell for Lynn and the Buffalo Bills.

The Chargers are hoping another dose of home cooking can snap them from their funk. But the Chargers also know that playing at StubHub Center means a split crowd. The loudest cheer from Sunday’s game came when Koo was wide right, as Dolphins fans rocked the 27,000-seat venue.

“We’re fairly used to the opposing team traveling well, but I thought the energy in the stadium was good,” quarterback Philip Rivers said. “We’ve got to find a way to win the game. That’s what we’re most concerned about.”

There were plenty of red flags flapping in the fading light on Sunday. The offense had trouble running the ball. The special teams had a punt blocked and missed two field goals. The defense was steamrolled at times by Miami’s running game.

“Oh, it can be fixed, for sure it can be fixed,” guard Matt Slauson said. “That’s on us as players and we have to bounce back.”

It’s a team looking to rebound after two losses that could have easily had a different outcome. The Chargers have now lost 25 of their last 34 games.

“I’m focused on next week now and I think everyone else here is, too,” defensive end Joey Bosa said. “We have to get back to work.”

While it came in a losing cause, the touchdown reception by Antonio Gates was special. It gave him 112 in his stellar career, allowing him to pass Tony Gonzalez for the most all-time by a tight end. A message from Gonzalez was played on the StubHub Center video board after Gates’ historic catch.

“He’s a guy who set the standard,” Gates said of Gonzalez. “A guy who put in place certain things at the tight end position. Fortunately, I was able to surpass him.”