INDIANA BOYS BASKETBALL SCORES
|Argos||64||South Bend Career||49|
|Bedford North Lawrence||69||Madison||39|
|Ben Davis||58||Warren Central||47|
|Benton Central||55||West Lafayette||45|
|Bloomington Lighthouse||60||White River Valley||55|
|Brownstown Central||62||North Harrison||32|
|Carmel||48||North Central (Indianapolis)||40|
|Christel House Manual||94||Indianapolis International||34|
|Columbia City||81||East Noble||76||3OT|
|Columbus Christian||82||Pleasant View Christian||81||OT|
|Columbus North||68||Columbus East||28|
|Covenant Christian||53||Indianapolis Chatard||38|
|Culver Academy||55||Park Tudor||47|
|DeMotte Christian||71||Hammond Science & Tech||33|
|Evansville Day||80||Mount Carmel (Ill.)||52|
|Evansville Mater Dei||54||North Posey||51|
|Evansville Memorial||73||Heritage Hills||51|
|Fort Wayne Blackhawk||71||Fort Wayne Canterbury||43|
|Fort Wayne Concordia||47||Fort Wayne Dwenger||44||OT|
|Fort Wayne North||61||Fort Wayne Snider||54|
|Fort Wayne Northrop||57||Fort Wayne South||40|
|Fort Wayne Wayne||66||Carroll (Fort Wayne)||64||OT|
|Guerin Catholic||52||Heritage Christian||51|
|Hammond Central||81||Gary 21st Century||73||OT|
|Harrison (West Lafayette)||56||McCutcheon||40|
|Homestead||79||Fort Wayne Luers||60|
|Illiana Christian||56||River Forest||42|
|Indianapolis Lutheran||71||Southwestern (Shelbyville)||20|
|John Glenn||52||South Bend Washington||31|
|Lafayette Central Catholic||50||Covington||35|
|Liberty Christian||83||Anderson Prep Academy||47|
|Mount Vernon (Fortville)||74||Shelbyville||42|
|New Palestine||85||New Castle||60|
|Rising Sun||75||New Washington||63|
|Riverton Parke||57||Dugger Union||50|
|Rock Creek Academy||73||Irvington Prep Academy||31|
|South Bend Adams||71||South Bend Clay||67|
|South Bend St. Joseph||73||South Bend Riley||65|
|South Central (Elizabeth)||66||Christian Academy||51|
|South Knox||70||Washington Catholic||26|
|South Putnam||65||West Vigo||58|
|South Spencer||49||Gibson Southern||37|
|Springs Valley||61||Perry Central||60|
|Terre Haute North||40||Bloomington South||31|
|Terre Haute South||68||South Vermillion||49|
|Valparaiso||66||East Chicago Central||51|
|West Noble||58||Central Noble||54|
|Whiting||49||Chicago Washington (Ill.)||27|
|Washington County Invitational|
|Eastern (Pekin)||47||West Washington||40||R1|
INDIANA GIRLS BASKETBALL SCORES
|Carroll (Fort Wayne)||69||Fort Wayne Wayne||50|
|Central Noble||61||West Noble||20|
|Christian Academy||55||South Central (Elizabeth)||46|
|Clinton Prairie||51||Bethesda Christian||16|
|Culver||63||South Bend Career||24|
|Fort Wayne Blackhawk||64||Fort Wayne Canterbury||20|
|Fort Wayne Concordia||54||Fort Wayne Dwenger||36|
|Harrison (West Lafayette)||49||McCutcheon||16|
|Homestead||69||Fort Wayne Luers||53|
|Indiana Math & Science||50||Indianapolis Tindley||31|
|Indianapolis Chatard||62||Covenant Christian||32|
|Indianapolis Roncalli||71||Brebeuf Jesuit||45|
|Lake Central||41||Crown Point||38|
|Lake Station||71||Hammond Noll||46|
|North Central (Indianapolis)||56||Carmel||38|
|Oldenburg Academy||41||Franklin County||39|
|South Bend St. Joseph||55||South Bend Riley||26|
|South Central (Union Mills)||72||Oregon-Davis||39|
|South Putnam||51||West Vigo||40|
|Southwestern (Shelbyville)||45||Indianapolis Lutheran||36|
|Union (Modoc)||59||Christel House Manual||35|
|Union City||55||Cambridge City Lincoln||45|
|Warren Central||52||Lawrence North||44|
|Western Reserve Academy Tournament|
|Hathaway Brown (Ohio)||54||Culver Academy||32|
COLLEGE FOOTBALL BOWL GAMES/SCHEDULE
FRIDAY, DEC. 16
SATURDAY, DEC. 17
CINCINNATI VS. LOUISVILLE — FENWAY BOWL (BOSTON) | 11 A.M. | ESPN
JACKSON STATE VS. N.C. CENTRAL — CELEBRATION BOWL (ATLANTA) | 12 P.M. | ABC
FERRIS STATE VS. COLORADO SCHOOL OF MINES — DII NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP (MCKINNEY, TEXAS) | 1 P.M. | ESPNU
NO. 14 OREGON STATE VS. FLORIDA — LAS VEGAS BOWL (LAS VEGAS) | 2:30 P.M. | ESPN
WASHINGTON STATE VS. FRESNO STATE — LA BOWL (INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA) | 3:30 P.M. | ABC
RICE VS. SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI — LENDINGTREE BOWL (MOBILE, ALABAMA) | 5:45 P.M. | ESPN
SMU VS. BYU — NEW MEXICO BOWL (ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO) | 7:30 P.M. | ABC
BOISE STATE VS. NORTH TEXAS — FRISCO BOWL (FRISCO, TEXAS) | 9:15 P.M. | ESPN
MONDAY, DEC. 19
MARSHALL VS. UCONN — MYRTLE BEACH BOWL (CONWAY, SOUTH CAROLINA) | 2:30 P.M. | ESPN
TUESDAY, DEC. 20
EASTERN MICHIGAN VS. SAN JOSE STATE — FAMOUS IDAHO POTATO BOWL (BOISE, IDAHO) | 3:30 P.M. | ESPN
LIBERTY VS. TOLEDO — BOCA RATON BOWL (BOCA RATON, FLORIDA) | 7:30 P.M. | ESPN
WEDNESDAY, DEC. 21
SOUTH ALABAMA VS. WESTERN KENTUCKY — NEW ORLEANS BOWL (NEW ORLEANS) | 9 P.M. | ESPN
THURSDAY, DEC. 22
BAYLOR VS. AIR FORCE — ARMED FORCES BOWL (FORT WORTH, TEXAS) | 7:30 P.M. | ESPN
FRIDAY, DEC. 23
HOUSTON VS. LOUISIANA — INDEPENDENCE BOWL (SHREVEPORT, LOUISIANA) | 3 P.M. | ESPN
WAKE FOREST VS. MISSOURI — GASPARILLA BOWL (TAMPA, FLORIDA) | 6:30 P.M. | ESPN
SATURDAY, DEC. 24
MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE VS. SAN DIEGO STATE — HAWAI’I BOWL (HONOLULU, HAWAI’I) | 8 P.M. | ESPN
MONDAY, DEC. 26
BOWLING GREEN VS. NEW MEXICO STATE — QUICK LANE BOWL (DETROIT) | 2:30 P.M. | ESPN
TUESDAY, DEC. 27
BUFFALO VS. GEORGIA SOUTHERN — CAMELLIA BOWL (MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA) | 12 P.M. | ESPN
OKLAHOMA STATE VS. WISCONSIN — GUARANTEED RATE BOWL (PHOENIX) | 10:15 P.M. | ESPN
MEMPHIS VS. UTAH STATE — FIRST RESPONDER BOWL (DALLAS) | ESPN
COASTAL CAROLINA VS. EAST CAROLINA — BIRMINGHAM BOWL (BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA) | ESPN
WEDNESDAY, DEC. 28
DUKE VS. UCF — MILITARY BOWL (ANNAPOLIS, MARYLAND) | 2 P.M. | ESPN
ARKANSAS VS. KANSAS — LIBERTY BOWL (MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE) | 5:30 P.M. | ESPN
NO. 15 OREGON VS. NORTH CAROLINA — HOLIDAY BOWL (SAN DIEGO) | 8 P.M.
TEXAS TECH VS. OLE MISS — TEXAS BOWL (HOUSTON) | 9 P.M. | ESPN
THURSDAY, DEC. 29
MINNESOTA VS. SYRACUSE — PINSTRIPE BOWL (BRONX, NEW YORK) | 2 P.M. | ESPN
NO. 13 FLORIDA STATE VS. OKLAHOMA — CHEEZ-IT BOWL (ORLANDO, FLORIDA) | 5:30 P.M. | ESPN
NO. 12 WASHINGTON VS. NO. 20 TEXAS — ALAMO BOWL (SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS) | 9 P.M. | ESPN
FRIDAY, DEC. 30
NO. 23 NC STATE VS. MARYLAND — DUKE’S MAYO BOWL (CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA) | 12 P.M. | ESPN
NO. 18 UCLA VS. PITT — SUN BOWL (EL PASO, TEXAS) | 2 P.M. | CBS
NO. 19 SOUTH CAROLINA VS. NO. 21 NOTRE DAME — GATOR BOWL (JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA) | 3:30 P.M. | ESPN
OHIO VS. WYOMING — ARIZONA BOWL (TUCSON, ARIZONA) | 4:30 P.M.| BARSTOOL
NO. 6 TENNESSEE VS. NO. 7 CLEMSON — ORANGE BOWL (MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA) | 8 P.M. | ESPN
SATURDAY, DEC. 31
IOWA VS. KENTUCKY — MUSIC CITY BOWL (NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE) | 12 P.M. | ABC
NO. 5 ALABAMA VS. NO. 9 KANSAS STATE — SUGAR BOWL (NEW ORLEANS) | 12 P.M. | ESPN
NO. 2 MICHIGAN VS. NO. 3 TCU (CFP SEMIFINAL) — FIESTA BOWL (GLENDALE, ARIZONA) | 4 P.M. | ESPN
NO. 1 GEORGIA VS. NO. 4 OHIO STATE (CFP SEMIFINAL) — PEACH BOWL (ATLANTA) | 8 P.M. | ESPN
MONDAY, JAN. 2
NO. 22 MISSISSIPPI STATE VS. ILLINOIS — RELIAQUEST BOWL (TAMPA, FLORIDA) | 12 P.M. | ESPN2
NO. 17 LSU VS. PURDUE — CITRUS BOWL (ORLANDO, FLORIDA) | 1 P.M. | ABC
NO. 10 USC VS. NO. 16 TULANE — COTTON BOWL (ARLINGTON, TEXAS) | 1 P.M. | ESPN
NO. 8 UTAH VS. NO. 11 PENN STATE — ROSE BOWL (PASADENA, CALIFORNIA) | 5 P.M. | ESPN
SUNDAY, JAN. 8
FCS NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP (FRISCO, TEXAS) | 2 P.M. | ABC
MONDAY, JAN. 9
CFP NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME (INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA) | ESPN
SATURDAY, DEC. 17
INDIANAPOLIS AT MINNESOTA, 1 P.M.
BALTIMORE AT CLEVELAND, 4:30 P.M.
MIAMI AT BUFFALO, 8:15 P.M.
SUNDAY, DEC. 18
PITTSBURGH AT CAROLINA, 1 P.M.
PHILADELPHIA AT CHICAGO, 1 P.M.
KANSAS CITY AT HOUSTON, 1 P.M.
DALLAS AT JACKSONVILLE, 1 P.M.
ATLANTA AT NEW ORLEANS, 1 P.M.
DETROIT AT NEW YORK JETS, 1 P.M.
ARIZONA AT DENVER, 4:05 P.M.
NEW ENGLAND AT LAS VEGAS, 4:05 P.M.
TENNESSEE AT LOS ANGELES CHARGERS, 4:25 P.M.
CINCINNATI AT TAMPA BAY, 4:25 P.M.
NEW YORK GIANTS AT WASHINGTON, 8:20 P.M. (SNF)
MONDAY, DEC. 19
LOS ANGELES RAMS AT GREEN BAY, 8:15 P.M.
TOP 25 MEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL
No games scheduled
TOP 25 WOMEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL
TOP NATIONAL HEADLINES
Wilson to start at QB for Jets; White not cleared by doctors
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) Zach Wilson is back under center for the New York Jets this week.
Coach Robert Saleh announced Friday that Wilson will start at quarterback Sunday against the Detroit Lions after Mike White was not cleared by doctors to play with a rib injury.
White started the last three games, but was twice knocked out of the Jets’ 20-12 loss at Buffalo last Sunday. X-rays at the stadium were clear and he finished the game, but CT scans at a hospital revealed a fracture to his ribs on his right side.
“A couple in a row,” White said, “that makes that area just kind of really vulnerable.”
White was cleared to practice and said throughout the week he had no doubt he would start Sunday, but Saleh said Friday that team doctors wouldn’t clear him for contact. White added that doctors told him if he got hit “in the right spot,” it could lead to further damage.
“Mike White is an absolute warrior and has been doing everything he could this week to find another opinion to get him onto the football field, to find somebody who would clear him for contact,” Saleh said.
White acknowledged he spoke to nearly 10 doctors to see if he could find one that would give him the OK to play.
“And they just won’t,” White said. “And I completely understand why, but I’m always going to try to fight like hell to be out on the field with my guys. So, it’s frustrating, but it’s kind of part of football, part of life that you’ve got to deal with.”
So instead of starting for the Jets (7-6) who are trying to keep pace in the AFC playoff hunt, White will merely be a spectator.
“It’s one of those things where we’ve got to do what’s best for the player,” Saleh said. “And we’ve got to protect the player from the player.”
Saleh said the Jets will re-evaluate White’s injury Monday, but acknowledged it will be a short turnaround with New York hosting Jacksonville next Thursday night.
Wilson, the No. 2 overall pick last year, was benched last month to focus on improving his mental approach and mechanics. The Jets elevated him earlier this week from No. 3 behind White and Joe Flacco to No. 2.
“I was excited,” Wilson said of getting the news Friday he would start. “It’s a cool opportunity.”
Wilson missed the first three games of this season while recovering from a knee injury, with Flacco starting in his place. Wilson started the next seven and the Jets went 5-2 in those games, but his play was mostly shaky. He had four touchdown passes and five interceptions and had a 55.6 completion percentage as New York’s offense struggled to produce points.
After Wilson went just 9 of 22 for 77 yards in a 10-3 loss at New England in Week 11, the Jets elevated White to starter.
Meanwhile, Wilson was inactive the last three games, and not even dressed in uniform on the sideline.
“This is going to be a great opportunity for Zach,” Saleh said. “When he was elevated to the No. 2 quarterback, it was with the understanding there’s a strong possibility he was going to play and to prepare accordingly.”
Added Wilson: “I’m ready to go, man. I feel like these past three weeks or whatever, I’ve been just trying to keep improving and getting better and taking each day with the mentality as if I was playing.”
Wilson rubbed some within the organization the wrong way after the loss to the Patriots when he said he didn’t feel as though he let the defense down despite his poor play. Wilson apologized to his teammates a few days later, but there was a perception that perhaps he had lost some support in the locker room.
“I think our guys trust him,” Saleh said. “I feel like he’s had a really good week of practice.”
Wilson said he wanted his benching to be “a reset,” a time to get better on and off the field – and recapture his love for the game.
“The mindset’s got to be I’ve got to do the best I can every single play,” Wilson said. “I’m not going to go out there with any expectations of whatever. It’s got to be, what’s the best decision I can make, let me go out there play, have fun and be grateful to be on this field.”
NOTES: WR Corey Davis was ruled out for the game while remaining in concussion protocol. … Saleh said the Jets are “hopeful” DT Quinnen Williams (calf) will play. “He is still going to be 50/50,” the coach said, “but D-linemen don’t need to practice to be ready for game day.” … CB Brandin Echols will sit out with a quadriceps injury.
Seahawks WR Tyler Lockett to have surgery on broken hand
RENTON, Wash. (AP) Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett will undergo surgery to repair a broken bone in his left hand but the team is optimistic he could return before the end of the regular season.
Coach Pete Carroll said Friday that there is no set timeline for Lockett’s return but there is hope the standout receiver may only be sidelined for a short time.
“Very optimistic review this morning from the docs that he’s got a chance to get back quickly, and we’ll see if it can happen,” Carroll said.
Lockett was injured late in Seattle’s 21-13 loss to San Francisco on Thursday night. The injury appears to have occurred when Lockett was hit hard and fell awkwardly with 3:47 remaining in the game.
Lockett has missed only one game in his career due to injury and that came at the end of the 2016 season. Lockett has 78 catches for 964 yards and eight touchdowns this season.
Carroll also said an MRI confirmed an ACL injury in defensive tackle Bryan Mone’s left knee. He was injured in the first quarter. Seattle may need to add depth at the position with Al Woods still dealing with an Achilles injury that kept him out against the 49ers.
Linebacker Jordyn Brooks also underwent scans Friday after he didn’t play in the fourth quarter due to a sore neck. Carroll said all tests were clear, but Brooks is still dealing with some discomfort.
“He’s got some soreness and so we’re going to go through a process and try to alleviate the discomfort,” Carroll said. “But there’s no structural issues right now.”
Broncos rule out Russell Wilson for Cardinals game Sunday
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson cleared concussion protocol, but will be held out of the Denver’s game against the Arizona Cardinals, coach Nanthaniel Hackett said Friday.
Hackett said Wilson wasn’t pleased with the decision, but the Broncos want to take every precaution with their 34-year-old quarterback’s health.
Wilson sustained a concussion on a head-first dive into several defenders at the goal line following a 14-yard scramble against the Kansas City Chiefs last weekend.
He appeared to get briefly knocked unconscious and when his helmet was removed a swelling was clearly visable on his forehead. He was replaced by Brett Rypien, who will make his third career start Sunday.
Wilson swiftly progressed through the league’s concussion rules this week, participating in individual throwing drills Wednesday, taking limited snaps Thursday and participating fully on Friday.
After Friday’s practice, however, Hackett said Rypien, who got the bulk of the snaps at practice this week, would start Sunday when the Broncos (3-10) host Arizona (4-9).
The Cardinals also will start their backup, Colt McCoy, with starter Kyler Murray sidelined by an ACL tear in his right knee he suffered last week.
“Russell Wilson has passed the concussion protocol,” Hackett said. “… As an organization, we’ve decided to give him another week so he’s ready to go against the Los Angeles Rams” on Christmas Day.”
Hackett had said all week that the organization’s top concern was Wilson’s health, so the move wasn’t entirely unexpected.
Wilson has only missed four games in his 11-year NFL career, three of them last season in Seattle when he broke a finger on his throwing hand and one earlier this season because of a pulled hamstring.
“Russ is one of our ultimate competitors in this game. He’s unbelievable,” Hackett said. “We informed him of the decision. He’s not happy with it. He wants to be out there and play. He’s very, very competitive, as we all know, and wants to compete for this team and be out there.
“And we as an organization, after discussing and talking throughout this entire week, have decided it’s best for our organization, it’s best for Russell. And we talked about this from top all the way to the bottom,” Hackett said. “So we looked at every single thing and just want to give him another week to get ready. We’re very confident in `Ryp,’ very excited about ‘Ryp and this opportunity.”
Rypien has made two career starts, both against the New York Jets, whom he beat in 2020 and lost to on Oct. 23 when Wilson was sidelined.
Wilson’s difficult first season in Denver includes just 11 touchdown passes – three of which came last week before he got hurt early in the fourth quarter- and 43 sacks after he signed a $245 million contract before the season that included a $50 million signing bonus, making his salary this season $57 million.
Wilson’s acquisition cost the Broncos four premium draft picks, including their 2023 first-rounder. With Denver’s unexpected struggles this year, Seattle stands to get the second overall pick in the NFL draft next April.
Also ruled out Friday were receivers Courtland Sutton and Kendall Hinton, who are among a rash of Broncos who have pulled hamstrings.
QB Pickett doubtful, replacement undecided for Steelers
PITTSBURGH (AP) Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett remained in the concussion protocol on Friday and is doubtful to play on Sunday when the Steelers visit Carolina.
Pickett, who left last Sunday’s loss to Baltimore in the first quarter, was limited in practice all week. Mitch Trubisky and Mason Rudolph split practice reps again on Friday and head coach Mike Tomlin remained noncommittal about who will start if Pickett can’t go.
“We’ve got some clarity about where we’re going,” Tomlin said. “There’s just no need to land the plane until it’s required to land the plane.”
Trubisky threw for 276 yards and a touchdown after coming in for Pickett against Baltimore, but also threw three interceptions in Ravens’ territory. Rudolph hasn’t been active for a game all year after finishing third in the preseason quarterback derby.
Tomlin said he’s “extremely comfortable” with either player.
“We’ll see how secretive (Tomlin) wants to keep it,” Trubisky said. “We’re ready. I’m ready. I’m looking forward to the opportunity. I’ll be ready to go.”
Inside linebacker Myles Jack is also doubtful with a groin injury for Pittsburgh (5-8). All other players on the injury report – including wide receiver Diontae Johnson (hip) and tight end Pat Freiermuth (foot) – are expected to play.
Fired Cardinals coach hires law firm, requests arbitration
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) Recently fired Arizona Cardinals assistant coach Sean Kugler has retained a law firm to investigate the allegations that he inappropriately touched a female security guard when the team was in Mexico last month for a game against the San Francisco 49ers.
Kugler hired the law firm of Shields Pettini, which said on Friday that it has filed a request for arbitration with the NFL in response to the Cardinals’ handling of the situation, which resulted in Kugler’s firing.
The law firm claims Kugler was fired for “unsubstantiated allegations that he inappropriately touched a female security guard.”
The popular 56-year-old Kugler – who was the team’s offensive line coach and run game coordinator – had been with the team since 2019. The Cardinals were in Mexico to play the 49ers on a Monday night. The Cardinals said the incident happened on the Saturday before the game and he was sent home by the team.
“The allegations against Coach Kugler are simply untrue and have caused Sean, his wife and family enormous personal and professional damage,” said attorney Michael Pettini. “Coach and his family have been desperate to understand from the Cardinals front office and others what rationale or evidence was used to terminate him for cause.”
The firm claims the Cardinals dismissed Kugler from the organization without conducting a thorough investigation or interviewing him.
“Respecting women is a core value for me, and something I have instilled in my children and the players that I coach,” Kugler said in a statement. “The mysterious allegations by the Cardinals are untrue, and I want to clear my name. Be it a miscommunication or mistaken identity, my family and I will cooperate fully and honestly with the NFL, Cardinals, or any other agency to get to the truth in this matter and restore my reputation.”
Cardinals offensive lineman Kelvin Beachum talked with Kugler in the immediate aftermath of his firing. He said Kugler was “devastated” and that the coach was well-respected throughout the locker room.
“I don’t think anyone saw that coming at all,” Beachum added Friday.
The Cardinals released their own statement on Friday: “As an ongoing legal matter, we are going to refrain from comment other than to say that the team is confident the process will result in a much different set of facts than those presented today and that it had good cause to terminate Mr. Kugler’s employment.”
Coach Kliff Kingsbury referred back to the team’s statement when asked about Kugler.
Kugler’s firing has been part of tumultuous season for the Cardinals (4-9), who started the season with high hopes but have lost five of their past six games.
Among the other unwanted headlines: Three-time All-Pro receiver DeAndre Hopkins was suspended six games for violating the NFL’s rule on performance-enhancers, while franchise quarterback Kyler Murray suffered a serious knee injury last week that will cause him to miss the final four games of the season.
Also, team general manager Steve Keim began what was termed a health-related leave of absence on Thursday. Keim’s duties are being handled by Quentin Harris and Adrian Wilson, who also works in the team’s player personnel department.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Sam Darnold spent the better part of this season on the sideline in a boot, learning the importance of patience while watching other quarterbacks play.
Those lessons appear to be paying off.
Darnold is 2-0 since taking over as Carolina’s starting quarterback and has the Panthers (5-8) in control of their playoff destiny with four games remaining. If the Panthers win out, beginning Sunday at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers, they’ll win the NFC South.
“I think the biggest thing I learned was patience,” said Darnold, who was 4-7 as Carolina’s starter last season. “When I’m back there, I’m taking the shots when they are there, but at the same time being patient and understanding what the situation is. First and second down, you want to stay ahead of the chains, and then on third down being able to go through my reads and use my legs if I have to.”
The No. 3 pick in the 2018 NFL draft hasn’t put up eye-popping numbers by any means, throwing for 284 yards and two touchdowns in two starts.
He hasn’t needed to.
With the Panthers running the ball so effectively, Darnold’s biggest task has been managing the game and not turning the ball over.
“I love fact that he is protecting the football,” Panthers interim coach Steve Wilks said. “That is critical and key for our success.”
Darnold has led 20 drives (excluding those ending in kneel downs) and the Panthers have scored five touchdowns and six field goals in wins over Baltimore and Seattle. They’ve not turned the ball over.
Steelers defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said the Panthers have “settled down” with Darnold under center.
“He’s doing some things with his feet, getting out of some jams that way with some long runs and scrambles and keeping drives alive,” Austin said. “You can kind of see that’s the way they’re going. They’re going to run. They’re going to take their shots. He has the ability to make all the throws.”
COMMITTED TO THE RUN
The Panthers ran the ball 46 times for 223 yards in last week’s 30-24 win over Seattle and have made no secret about their offensive identity being running the football.
The Panthers called runs on 16 of their final 18 plays over their final two possessions against Seattle to close it out.
“Every good team establishes an identity,” Darnold said. “We know what we’re going to do and (defenses) essentially know what we’re going to do. There is a ton of tape of us doing the same thing over and over again. … At the end of day, it’s can they stop us?”
The Steelers got run over last week in a loss to Baltimore, giving up 215 yards rushing even though the Ravens were playing without injured quarterback Lamar Jackson and lost backup Tyler Huntley early in the second half.
“The ball snaps, you kick butt or you get your butt kicked,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “Football is a legitimate humble man’s game.”
WE HAVE THE MEATS!
One notable example of Carolina’s commitment to running the ball is the team lining up against Seattle with eight offensive linemen on the field for one play. It’s a formation they call “Arby’s.”
Guard Brady Christensen explained that’s because of the company’s slogan: “We have the meats!”
“I like that nickname, it’s cool,” Panthers running back D’Onta Foreman said. “If you are all out there, Arby’s, hook my men up.”
Tomlin’s next losing season as an NFL head coach will be his first.
Yet with a month left in his 16th year on the job, Pittsburgh’s wiggle room to avoid one in 2022 is gone. The Steelers need to win out or Tomlin’s long run of sustained success will end.
And the players know it.
“Something that means a lot to me is Coach T,” defensive tackle Montravius Adams said. “Never had a losing season and I just don’t want that to be under my belt. He’s a guy that when I came in, gave me a lot of morale to play better and I’m sure a lot of guys in the locker room feel this way but we’ve got to get it right.”
GETTING HIS KICKS
The Panthers have been rewarded for their patience when it comes to kicker Eddy Pineiro.
There was some outside talk about Pineiro’s future after he missed a 48-yard extra point at the end of regulation and a field goal in overtime in a heartbreaking midseason loss to Atlanta. But instead of cutting Pineiro or bringing other kickers in for a tryout, Wilks threw his support behind him.
Pineiro has since made 12 of his last 13 field goals. He has now made 92.6% of his field goal attempts this season, making him the second-most accurate kicker in the league.
“We had no thought about bringing in a kicker,” Wilks said. “We had total confidence in Eddy and we wanted to make sure he got the support he needed. We put our arms around him and he’s been consistent since.”
The Steelers have dominated the series against the Panthers, winning the last six games by a combined margin of 213-80. Pittsburgh has won each of the last six games by at least 10 points, including a 52-21 shellacking in 2018.
- The Steelers are 6-1 all-time against the Panthers, outscoring them by an average of 18.4 points per game. That’s the highest average scoring margin by any current NFL team against any other current NFL team.
- The Steelers have allowed double-digit points in each of their last 36 games, the longest streak in franchise history. Previously they had never gone more than 25 consecutive games without holding an opponent under 10 points.
- Last week Mitch Trubisky went 22-for-30 (73.3%) but also threw three interceptions, the third time this season a Steelers QB has completed 70.0% of his passes and yet also thrown 3+ picks (Kenny Pickett has done so twice). No other team in the Super Bowl era has had three such games by their QBs in a single season.
- The Panthers have converted less than half of their third-down attempts in 22 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the NFL and the second-longest streak in franchise history (26-game streak in 2001-02).
- Sam Darnold has won both of his starts this season and has not thrown a pick in either. He has now won seven straight starts dating back to 2020 in which he has not thrown an interception, tied for the third-longest active streak among QBs (Jimmy Garoppolo 16, Jalen Hurts 13, Joe Burrow 7).
- Just 6.9 percent of the points the Panthers have allowed this season have come in the first quarter (20 of 290), on pace to be the second-lowest percentage by any team in the last 40 years (2002 Giants, 5.7%).
CHICAGO (AP) Jalen Hurts and the Philadelphia Eagles are rolling along with a playoff spot secured and their sights set on the No. 1 seed.
They’ve been particularly dominant in recent weeks. And it looks as though they have another mismatch on their hands.
The NFC East-leading Eagles will try to keep pace with the best start in franchise history when they visit Justin Fields and the struggling Chicago Bears on Sunday.
“It’s important for us to just continue to grow in our details and master our details,” said Hurts, the NFL’s top-rated passer.
The Eagles (12-1) have clearly established themselves as a Super Bowl favorite with Hurts leading the way. They boast the best record in the NFL by a two-game margin and locked up a playoff spot for the fifth time in six years with last week’s 48-22 romp over the New York Giants. That came on the heels of a 25-point win over Tennessee.
If things keep going this way, these Eagles have a chance to go down as the best team in franchise history.
That hinges on them winning the Super Bowl for the second time in six seasons. But for now, they’re racking up wins in a way only one other Philadelphia team has.
The 2004 Eagles are the only other squad in franchise history to start 12-1. Philadelphia won 13 of its first 14 that season and advanced to the Super Bowl before losing to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
Chicago (3-10), of course, is in a far different place.
Though Fields has started to resemble the franchise cornerstone they hoped he would become, the Bears come out of a bye looking to stop their second six-game losing streak in three years. They haven’t dropped more than six in a row since an eight-game skid in 2002 that matched a franchise record.
The Bears can maybe take some comfort from Philadelphia. The Eagles lost five of their first seven games last year before going on a 7-2 run that propelled them to the playoffs.
“You can kind of flip it around pretty quickly in this league, I think, depending on what pieces you add and how guys grow in the system and all of that stuff,” Bears tight end Cole Kmet said. “You definitely see that. It’s encouraging.”
SPOTLIGHT BEHIND CENTER
All eyes figure to be on the quarterbacks with Hurts making an MVP argument and Fields on a dazzling run.
Hurts comes in with 17 wins in his past 19 regular-season starts. He became the second-youngest QB to start 12-1 or better since the 1970 merger behind Miami’s Dan Marino in 1984, and he is the first at his position in NFL history with at least 10 rushing TDs in back-to-back seasons.
Fields returned to his show-stopping ways two weeks ago in a loss to Green Bay after missing a game because of an injury to his nonthrowing shoulder. Besides a 55-yard touchdown run, he also had arguably his best game as a passer, going 20 of 25 for a season-high 254 yards. He was not sacked for the first time this season, though he was intercepted on Chicago’s final two possessions.
“He’s always been a player that I’ve had a lot of respect for,” Hurts said.
Philadelphia has orchestrated an almost-worst-to-first-transformation when it comes to sacks, with a league-leading 49 after finishing 31st with 29 a year ago.
The Eagles have 13 over the past two games after getting seven last week. Brandon Graham had three against the Giants, and Haason Reddick earned his 10th. That made him the first player since 1982 with 10 or more sacks in three straight years with three different teams.
“It’s a lot of production by a lot of different guys,” coach Nick Sirianni said. “It’s what’s pretty impressive about it.”
ON SECOND(ARY) THOUGHT
The Bears are getting some reinforcements in the secondary with safety Jaquan Brisker and cornerback Kyler Gordon out of the concussion protocol. The rookies are expected to be in the lineup for the first time since a loss at Atlanta on Nov. 20.
Then again, while they were sidelined, the Bears lost safety Eddie Jackson to a season-ending foot injury.
“It’s obviously different because BoJack was a leader and people like that are sitting out, so that’s tough,” said Brisker, who leads the Bears with three sacks.
The teams are playing at Soldier Field for the first time since their wild-card matchup four years ago.
The Eagles escaped with a 16-15 win in a game remembered mostly because of the double-doink field-goal miss by Chicago’s Cody Parkey off the upright and crossbar in the closing seconds.
The Eagles beat Chicago in a regular-season game in Philadelphia in 2019.
The Bears have a difficult stretch to end the season.
Three of their final four opponents are currently in first place, with home games against Buffalo next week and Minnesota in the finale, in addition to the matchup with Philadelphia. Chicago also visits Detroit on Jan. 1.
- The Eagles have won five straight against the Bears including playoffs, the third-longest active winning streak by any team against Chicago (Packers 8, Saints 7). The Eagles have never beaten the Bears six times in a row.
- The Eagles have scored 123 points over their last three games, the most they have scored in a three-game span since scoring 125 in September/October 1950.
- The Eagles are the first team in NFL history to have two players with 10+ rushing touchdowns (Jalen Hurts, Miles Sanders) and another player with 10+ receiving touchdowns (A.J. Brown) in the same season.
- The Bears lost to Green Bay by nine in their last game, their seventh loss by a single-digit margin this season – tied for the most in a season in franchise history (also had seven in 1998, 2015 and 2016).
- Chicago is 3-10 despite averaging 189.2 rushing yards per game this season. That’s on pace to be the most rushing yards per game by any team in NFL history that finished with a losing record (current high is 186.6 by the 1978 Chiefs, who went 4-12).
- Justin Fields has rushed for at least 50 yards and a touchdown in six straight games. No other QB in the Super Bowl era has had a streak longer than four games. He needs 95 more rushing yards and two more rushing TDs to become the first QB in NFL history with 1000+ rushing yards and 10+ rushing TDs in a season.
HOUSTON (AP) The only thing standing between the Kansas City Chiefs and their seventh straight AFC West title are the lowly Houston Texans.
But the Chiefs know better than to overlook the one-win Texans, especially after they nearly pulled off a huge upset over Dallas last week.
“They played a great team with the Cowboys, and they were down there where they probably should’ve won,” Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes said. “In this league, you can take no one for granted. Those are NFL players. They have a lot of talented, young guys that play hard.
“We understand it’s going to be a great challenge for us, so we’re going to go out there and play our best football to win.”
The Chiefs (10-3) have won six of their last seven games. Meanwhile, the Texans (1-11-1) need a win to avoid losing nine straight for the first time since dropping the final 14 games of the 2013 season.
After dealing with Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott last week, Houston coach Lovie Smith knows his team faces another huge challenge this week in Mahomes, who leads the NFL in yards passing (4,160) and touchdowns (33).
“He can just do it all, and he’s got a history in the league now of that,” Smith said. “When you have a player like that, it makes everyone look better.”
The Texans returned to Davis Mills at quarterback last week after benching him for two games. But instead of only relying on him to run the offense, Houston used a two-quarterback system with Jeff Driskel taking some of the snaps.
Smith wouldn’t say if they plan to use the same plan at quarterback this week, but Mills said he liked how it worked against Dallas.
“We felt good about it,” he said. “Obviously, both of us have the mindset of whatever we can do to help the team win games. That’s what we’re doing. If (we) use the both-quarterback system, we’re trying to move the ball and score touchdowns. That’s our main focus.”
The Chiefs could have wide receiver Kadarius Toney back this week after missing most of the past four games with a hamstring injury. They also hope to add Mecole Hardman, who recently came off injured reserve for an abdominal issue, though it’s possible he is another week or two away.
“If you add speed to any offense that those two guys have,” Mahomes said, “it really opens up everybody else, because you have to account for those two guys one very play.”
The Texans could be without star rookie running back Dameon Pierce after he injured an ankle last Sunday. Pierce, who leads rookies with 939 yards rushing, has been one of the only bright spots in Houston’s terrible season.
“If Dameon can’t go, we know what he’s been to our offense this year,” Smith said. “He’s one of the best running backs in football. There would be a void. When a player can’t go, the void is sealed by others. We look to all options.”
The two other running backs on Houston’s roster are Dare Ogunbowale and Rex Burkhead, but neither has done much this season. Ogunbowale has eight carries for 27 yards and Burkhead has 80 yards on 26 carries.
Mahomes grew up in Tyler, Texas, and starred at Texas Tech, before becoming a first-round pick of the Chiefs, and has such an affinity for his home state that he has a home there for the offseason.
But the closest he’s come to playing in Texas over his first five-plus seasons in the league was in 2017, when he rode the bench behind Alex Smith for a game in Dallas.
“Houston is about a three-hour trip from Tyler,” he said, “so I’m sure there’s a lot more people coming than I even know. It’ll be cool for them to see me playing in my home state for sure.”
HEY, OLD FRIEND
The Texans will see a familiar face Sunday with safety Justin Reid playing for the Chiefs. Reid was drafted by Houston in the third round of the 2018 draft and spent his first four seasons in Houston before signing with Kansas City this offseason.
“I’m excited,” Reid said. “I have a lot of personal relationships with a lot of those guys, a lot of love for those players, the coaching staff. So, it’s a fun game for me personally to go back in be in the atmosphere that I began my career in.”
Smith raved about Reid, who started 53 games in his four seasons in Houston.
“Justin Reid and I will have a lifetime relationship,” Smith said. “I consider him a friend, too. … He’s playing excellent football for them. He can tackle. He checks off all the boxes when you’re looking for a good safety.”
- The Chiefs are 6-5 all-time against the Texans, including 1-1 with Patrick Mahomes under center. Houston is one of seven teams who does not have a losing record against Mahomes.
- The Chiefs led the Broncos, 6-0, after one quarter of play in last week’s 34-28 win. Kansas City is 6-0 when leading after the first quarter so far this season, joining Dallas and Cincinnati (both 6-0) as the only teams with that many wins without a loss in such games.
- Patrick Mahomes earned his 60th win as a starting quarterback last week, bringing his record to 60-16 (.789) as a starter. Among quarterbacks with at least 10 starts since 1950, only Otto Graham (57-13-1, .814) and Daryle Lamonica (66-16-6, .801) have better records.
- Over their last two games, the Texans have allowed zero sacks. It is the seventh time in team history that the Texans have not allowed a sack in consecutive games, but the first time that they did so without winning at least one of those games.
- Dameon Pierce has 250 touches (220 rushes, 30 receptions) in his first 13 career games. That is the third-highest mark through 13 career games in Texans history, trailing Lamar Miller (275) and Domanick Williams (259).
- After catching two touchdowns against Denver, Chiefs running back Jerick McKinnon has four receiving touchdowns and zero rushing touchdowns on the season. Only one Chiefs running back in team history has ever finished a season with at least four receiving touchdowns and no rushing scores — Bill Jones in 1990 (five receiving TD).
CLEVELAND (AP) Two years ago, Deshaun Watson experienced a wild winter storm off Lake Erie in his only start in Cleveland.
He created the one he’s playing through now.
Watson, who spent the first 11 games this season serving an NFL suspension for alleged sexual misconduct, makes his home debut Saturday as the Browns (5-8) host the Baltimore Ravens without star Lamar Jackson while dealing with their own unique quarterback issues.
This will be Watson’s third game back, but first in front of Cleveland fans, some of whom have been put in the awkward position of cheering for a player they might otherwise boo if he were wearing other colors.
Watson was verbally targeted two weeks ago in his hyped return to Houston, and he encountered a similar reception last week in Cincinnati. It could be that way for some time for the three-time Pro Bowler, who was accused of harassment and assault by two dozen women.
With the Browns’ playoff hopes far-fetched at best with four games left, the 27-year-old Watson didn’t want to venture a guess as to what type of response he’ll get at FirstEnergy Stadium.
“My main objective for this weekend is going out there and just showing this crowd and showing the Cleveland fans and this city that we going out there to compete and this season is not over for us,” he said. “I can’t control what the reaction’s going to be.”
Watson’s bigger concern might be the greeting he gets from the Ravens (9-4), who are tied with Cincinnati atop the AFC North and intend to stay there.
“We want to give him a not-so-soft welcoming,” Baltimore cornerback Marlon Humphrey said. “It’s cool to welcome him to the rivalry. It’s interesting to see when guys come in this AFC North. It’s not sweet over here.”
When Watson visited with the Texans in 2020, he was treated to one of those weather days that make playing in Cleveland a unique challenge. There were gusty winds, rain, hail, lightning and sunshine – all before the national anthem. The opening kickoff was delayed 35 minutes.
Hardly a chamber of commerce day.
“That was crazy,” Watson said. “That was something I was nowhere close to expecting and wasn’t used to. It was like five different weather changes in an hour, so it was pretty nuts.”
Watson played much better in a loss to the Bengals last week after a rough start against the Texans in his first regular-season game in 700 days. He’s nowhere close to where he wants to be or where the Browns expect him to get after investing $230 million into him to be their franchise QB.
Before they signed him, Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam considered how he might handle Cleveland’s disagreeable weather before Watson, who initially rejected their offer, assured them he was prepared for the cold.
Of course, a record-setting contract warmed him up.
“I told him (Jimmy Haslam) at the end of the day, it’s football,” Watson said. “You can get any weather in any situation other than playing in a dome. But for me, my main focus was just – what is the locker room? What is the organization? How can we go win a Super Bowl? That was my main focus and that’s why I chose Cleveland.”
THE OTHER GUY
Jackson’s knee injury will keep him out for a second straight week, giving Tyler Huntley the start.
Huntley cleared concussion protocol Friday after getting hurt last week in a win over Pittsburgh. Although not as dynamic as Jackson, he’s also a handful – as the Browns learned last year.
Huntley replaced an injured Jackson and rallied the Ravens from a 17-0 deficit before losing 24-22. He went 27 of 38 for 270 yards and a touchdown and added 45 yards rushing.
“He’s fast. He’s elusive,” Browns star end Myles Garrett said. “He’s a lot of the things that Lamar is. It just felt like you were trying to chase down a chicken doused in honey or something.”
BACK IN BUSINESS
With their quarterback situation unsettled, the Ravens will likely lean on a running game that got a major boost last week with the return of explosive back J.K. Dobbins.
Playing for the first time since Week 6 due to a knee issue, Dobbins rushed for 120 yards and a TD.
It was the first time Dobbins and Gus Edwards (66 yards) played in the same game since the 2020 season.
The Ravens gashed the Steelers for 215 yards rushing last week and lead the league with 179.7 in road games.
ROQUAN THE ROCK
Baltimore’s defense looks different from when the Browns faced it in October.
Roquan Smith has changed the Ravens – for the better.
In the five games since Smith arrived via trade from Chicago, the Ravens have allowed the fewest yards rushing (55) and the second-fewest points (13.4) and touchdowns (6).
“I know him well just having seen him over the years with the Bears,” said Browns coach Kevin Stefanski, who faced Smith twice a year when he was Minnesota’s offensive coordinator. “He is excellent sideline to sideline. He is great taking on blocks. He is good in the pass game. He is a very athletic player. I do think now that he has been there for a little while he has a very good feel for what they are doing. He fits what they do.”
- When the Ravens beat the Browns in Week 7, it was head coach John Harbaugh’s 24th career win against the Browns. He needs one more win against the Browns to match long-time Steelers coach Chuck Noll for the most wins against the Browns all-time.
- Baltimore escaped Pittsburgh with a 16-14 win in Week 14. The Ravens have won five games by five or fewer points this season, tied for most in the NFL.
- Justin Tucker made all three of his field-goal attempts last week (30, 35 and 42 yards). Tucker has made 37 consecutive field goals within 50 yards, two shy of the longest streak in his career (done twice, 2013-2015 and 2018-2019).
- The Browns scored a season-low 10 points in a road loss to the Bengals last week, 23-10. Cleveland has committed at least one turnover in each of its last 10 games, the franchise’s longest streak in a season since 2017 (also 10).
- Donovan Peoples-Jones set a single-game career high with 114 receiving yards last week. It was the most in a game by a former Michigan Wolverine since Devin Funchess for Carolina in the 2015 season (120).
- Roquan Smith recorded a sack and interception against the Steelers in Week 14. He is the only NFL player this season with at least four sacks and three interceptions.
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) Growing up in Houston, and spending his college career at Alabama, Dolphins receiver Jaylen Waddle acknowledged having never played in a snow game in his life.
And the potential of finally doing so on Saturday night, when Miami (8-5) travels to play the Buffalo Bills (10-3) in an AFC East showdown, barely registers for the second-year player given what’s at stake.
When asked if he’s packing extra clothes to brace for a forecast calling for cold and snow, Waddle responded by saying: “Our competitive spirit. Shoot. That’s what I’m going to bring.”
Putting aside the distraction of weather, and how it might affect two teams with players who mostly hail from warm climates, Waddle is more focused on furthering the Dolphins’ bid to clinch a playoff spot for the first time in six seasons and their outside shot to claim the division title.
The Dolphins have an opportunity to sweep the season series with Buffalo following a 21-19 win in September, and just as important, snap a two-game skid that dropped them to sixth in the AFC playoff race after a 23-17 loss at the Chargers on Sunday.
Miami faces an opponent that has won four straight, while also dealing with an altogether different set of elements after the Bills wore down in the 89-degree South Florida heat in their previous meeting.
“Yeah, it’s a little ironic or I don’t know what type of word it is,” Bills quarterback Josh Allen said of what could be a 60-degree difference in temperature – not including the heat index and wind chill – between the two meetings.
“Poetic, yeah, I guess you can say,” Allen added. “Playing in December in Buffalo is not the easiest task to do.”
The Bills are far more accustomed to the elements, having gone 10-1, including the playoffs, in home games played on Nov. 29 or later since 2020. The Bills are 7-2 in their past nine December home games against Miami, not including a 16-3 loss in Buffalo’s “home” outing played indoors in Toronto in 2008.
The AFC-leading Bills are one win from clinching their fourth straight playoff berth, and have the inside track to claiming their third straight division title. Buffalo is also driven to make up for the last meeting, in which it blew a 17-14 third-quarter lead and lost despite outgaining the Dolphins 497 yards to 212.
While both coaches, Buffalo’s Sean McDermott and Miami’s Mike McDaniel, played down the impact of the elements by saying they affect everyone equally, Bills safety Jordan Poyer said the mere prospect of playing in the cold can have a mental effect.
Poyer recalled his first time experiencing wintry Buffalo, while playing for the Browns in 2014, three years before signing with the Bills.
“You get off that plane, and that wind chill hits you for the first time, it definitely plays a factor in your head,” Poyer said, laughing. “I’m like, `I don’t want to be here right now.'”
`I WISH IT WERE COLDER’
During training camp this summer, McDaniel and Dolphins players wore “I Wish It Were Hotter” shirts as they practiced in South Florida’s scorching 90-plus degree temperatures. On Wednesday, McDaniel wore an “I Wish It Were Colder” shirt, and the Dolphins blasted the air conditioner inside their indoor practice facility.
The Dolphins are 29th in the league in rushing and have been inconsistent all season, but McDaniel said he doesn’t want those past outcomes to dictate what Miami can do moving forward. Saturday’s weather conditions could be a chance for Miami to establish the run early in the game.
“I think the cold really makes it a lot harder to catch,” said Dolphins running back Raheem Mostert, “but it’s definitely a game where it’s also like a rainy game where you’re going out there and running backs do a little bit better in the cold because they’re ready for handoffs.”
After being eased in during his first two games since missing a year with a torn knee ligament, Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White played all 74 defensive snaps in a 20-12 win over the Jets last weekend.
Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier called White’s outing encouraging, while cautioning it will take more time for the player to regain his dominant form.
“He’s still very, very good, even though he’s still recovering from major knee surgery,” Frazier said.
DON’T FORCE IT
McDaniel said the Chargers’ ability to take away the middle of the field against the Dolphins was not anything Miami hadn’t seen, adding that Los Angeles simply played more physically and executed their game plan better.
Tagovailoa said the key in future games will be to get a few short, easy completions early in the game instead of forcing throws down the field.
“Finding the rhythm of the game for the guys up front,” Tagovailoa said, “for the receivers, for myself, and not just always wanting to take deep shots, essentially, even when it’s not there.”
- The Bills own a five-game winning streak at home against the Dolphins, tied for their longest all-time. It is one game shy of matching Buffalo’s longest home win streak against a divisional opponent all-time (twice against the Colts and once against the Patriots).
- The Dolphins lost to the Chargers in Week 14, 23-17, posting a season-low 127 passing yards. Miami’s 10 completions in the game were their fewest since Week 13, 2015 (nine).
- Tyreek Hill had a 57-yard fumble return touchdown and 60-yard receiving touchdown last week. Hill leads the NFL with four plays of 50 or more yards this season. Hill had four total plays of 50 or more yards in his last three seasons with the Chiefs.
- The Bills’ win against the Jets last week was their 10th of the season, Buffalo’s fourth straight season with double-digit wins. That matches a franchise best for consecutive 10-win seasons (also from 1990 to 1993, when the Bills lost the Super Bowl in each season).
- Josh Allen passed and rushed for a touchdown last week, his 24th career game doing both. That ties him with Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton for the fourth most such games all-time.
- Sean McDermott is 9-2 (.818) in his career as a head coach against the Dolphins, the best record by any head coach with at least eight games against Miami all-time. Only two coaches have 10 or more career wins against Miami (Bill Belichick, 26, and Marv Levy, 15).
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) The Jacksonville Jaguars haven’t played many meaningful December games over the last dozen years.
They’re usually so far out of the AFC South race by then that mock drafts are the only postseason scenarios that matter to the small-market franchise. But having won three of their last five games – combined with Tennessee’s three-game skid – the Jaguars (5-8) suddenly find themselves in the playoff picture late.
It’s a common spot for the Dallas Cowboys (10-3).
The Cowboys and Jaguars both have something at stake when they meet in Jacksonville on Sunday for the first time since 2006. Dallas can clinch a postseason berth for the second consecutive year, a feat “America’s Team” last accomplished in 2007.
The Jaguars, meanwhile, need a victory to either keep pace with or close the gap on the AFC South-leading Titans. It’s a rarity for Jacksonville this late in the season; the team has finished last in the division each of the last four years and was in playoff contention down the stretch just once previously since 2010.
“We all understand how important this game is,” Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence said. “Every game is important, but especially with where we’re at. The situation we put ourselves in with some of those losses early, it’s just where we’re at.
“Backs up against the wall and we’ve got to fight our way out, and I think we’ve got the perfect group to do it. We understand how big this game is and every game moving forward this stretch is huge, so we’ve got a great opportunity.”
The Cowboys have won four in a row, including the last two against Indianapolis and Houston from the AFC South, and six of seven to gain a stranglehold on an NFL wild-card spot. NFC East-leading Philadelphia remains within reach, too, but Dallas needs help – and really needs to avoid a letdown in Jacksonville.
“December football is just about doing the right things, small things right,” said Cowboys pass rusher Dante Fowler, who is returning to the team that drafted him third overall in 2015. “At this point, I feel like the only way to beat us is if we beat ourselves. So, we just have to stay on the small things and all the little things don’t have to take care of themselves.”
Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy is a believer in how the months of the season are different, and his Dallas teams have made him look good when it comes to the most important month.
The Cowboys have won nine in a row in December and are 9-1 in the month since McCarthy was hired in 2020. That’s tied with Kansas City for the most December victories in the NFL in that stretch.
A third consecutive game against the AFC South has given the Cowboys a window into an uncommon opponent they wouldn’t normally get. The Jaguars already played Indianapolis twice and Houston once.
“Any time you play an uncommon opponent, you want to see what their division opponents do against them,” McCarthy said. “We’ve seen a lot of Jacksonville so far getting ready for Indianapolis.”
Dallas has played just once previously in Jacksonville, a 24-17 loss in 2006 that included Drew Bledsoe and Byron Leftwich as starting quarterbacks. The teams played in London in 2016, a “home game” for Jacksonville. The other five meetings took place in Dallas.
DON’T FORGET ABOUT ZEKE
Tony Pollard is taking over the spotlight in Dallas’ backfield with a career-best 12 total touchdowns, one more than his first three seasons combined. He’s the best playmaker and most dangerous scoring threat the Cowboys have. Still, two-time rushing champ Ezekiel Elliott is quietly putting together some impressive numbers.
Elliott has at least one touchdown run in six consecutive games, the longest streak of his career. With one against the Jaguars, he and all-time NFL rushing leader Emmitt Smith would be the only Cowboys running backs with rushing TDs in at least seven straight games. Smith set the franchise record by scoring in each of the final 14 games of the 1995 season, playoffs included.
Elliott scored the go-ahead touchdown against Houston on a 2-yard run with 41 seconds remaining.
“Ezekiel Elliott is the epitome of this team,” quarterback Dak Prescott said. “Right here on that play, I told the offensive line, `Hey, I am giving this to Zeke, no ifs, ands or buts about it.'”
- The Cowboys are 4-3 all-time against the Jaguars, including wins in each of the last two matchups. Only two of the seven games have been played in Jacksonville (2006, 2014).
- Following a 27-23 victory over Houston last week, Dallas has scored at least 24 points in seven consecutive games, tied for its third-longest single-season streak all-time (2007 — 13, 2016 — 10, 2010 — 7).
- Ezekiel Elliot has rushed for a touchdown in each of his last six games, tied with Justin Fields for the longest active streak in the NFL. It is also the longest streak by a Cowboy since Emmitt Smith’s 11-game stretch in 1995.
- Evan Engram hauled in a career-high 162 yards in last week’s win over Tennessee, the most ever in a game by a Jaguars’ tight end. Engram had totaled just 111 receiving yards over his previous five outings.
- Since November 1, Trevor Lawrence has the highest completion percentage in the NFL among players with at least 100 attempts (71.8). On the season, the Jaguars are 5-2 when he completes at least 70.0 percent of his passes compared to 0-6 when he doesn’t.
- Devin Lloyd has allowed 52 receptions when targeted as the main defender, second most in the NFL this season (49ers’ Dre Greenlaw — 54). His 77.6 completion percentage allowed is the fifth highest among defenders (minimum 3 targets per team game).
NEW ORLEANS (AP) The starting quarterbacks for the 107th regular season edition of the Atlanta Falcons-New Orleans Saints rivalry will be 35-year-old Andy Dalton and untested rookie Desmond Ridder.
It’s not what either team envisioned when the 2022 schedule came out.
Dalton expected to be a backup when he signed with New Orleans last offseason. But he’s not about to complain.
“The one thing you can’t take for granted is an opportunity,” Dalton said. “I’ve been on both sides of it, and I’m thankful that I still get a chance to play this game, still get a chance to go out and try to help this team win, regardless of the record, regardless of everything else that goes on.”
The records don’t flatter either team. But when Atlanta (5-8) visits New Orleans (4-9) on Sunday, the game could affect NFC playoff picture. The Falcons are only a game behind NFC South leader Tampa Bay (6-7) with four to play – and Atlanta hosts the Buccaneers to close the regular season.
Not exactly a low-stakes moment for the Falcons to place starting quarterback Marcus Mariota on injured reserve. Mariota will have surgery for a chronic knee injury, and coach Arthur Smith elevated Ridder, who has zero career completions, to make his first NFL start.
“There is an unknown, there’s a risk,” Smith conceded. “But we’ve got confidence in him, or we wouldn’t put him out there.”
Even the Saints’ playoff hopes aren’t yet extinguished, but nearly so because they’ve lost twice to the Bucs. Still, Saints running back Alvin Kamara asserted that this game matters.
“We’re not eliminated. Even if we was eliminated, you still got to get up for Sundays,” Kamara said. “I don’t think it’s any hanging heads or anybody walking around feeling sorry for themselves. We’ve just got to do what we need to do to win.”
In Week 1, when the Saints won 27-26 in Atlanta, the QBs were Heisman Trophy winners Jameis Winston and Mariota, who also happened to be the first and second overall picks in the 2015 draft.
But the chances Winston and Mariota got to re-establish themselves with new teams haven’t worked out for them.
Dalton, now in his 12th season, was named the Saints’ starter in Week 4 after Winston struggled to play through an early-season back injury.
But even after the 28-year-old Winston declared himself physically ready to come back, the Saints decided Dalton ran their style of offense better and have stuck with him since.
ANOTHER MARIOTA DECISION COMING
The Falcons’ QB change appears to have long-term implications. It seems likely Mariota has played his last game with Atlanta.
Mariota signed a two-year deal with the Falcons in the offseason, and the team can avoid a $3 million roster bonus by releasing the quarterback by March 19. They would save $12 million for 2023 with a remaining dead cap hit of $2.5 million.
Mariota, 29, completed 61.3% of his passes for 2,219 yards, with 15 touchdowns and nine interceptions in Atlanta’s run-first offense. He ran for 438 yards and four touchdowns.
Atlanta has lost four of its past five games, scoring no more than 17 points in the four losses.
After a strong midseason stretch of four straight games with more than 100 yards from scrimmage, Kamara has gone five straight games without as many as 90.
Kamara described a combination of factors – his own mistakes, the attention defenses have paid to stopping him and the Saints’ overall difficulty running the ball – that have led to his unusual dip in production.
But the versatile, star running back hasn’t lost his sense of humor.
“I’ve been trying to run super fast in practice, so they can see that I can run,” Kamara said, poking fun at one of his critics on social media. “Somebody told me I lost a step. … I just laughed at it. So, I’ve been running fast trying to make sure I didn’t lose a step.”
Suddenly, the Falcons’ quarterback room is an all-Kentucky club.
Logan Woodside, who was signed off Tennessee’s practice squad on Monday to be Ridder’s backup, is a native of Frankfort, Kentucky, who played at Toledo. Ridder is from Louisville, Kentucky, and starred across the border at Cincinnati. Offensive coordinator Dave Ragone played at Louisville.
Falcons quarterbacks coach Charles London said Ridder and Woodside “clicked immediately.”
“They’re telling quarterback stories from Kentucky,” London said. “I feel like at times I’m the outsider in there.”
Tyler Allgeier has become Atlanta’s rushing leader by gaining momentum in the second half of his rookie season. In the last six weeks, Allgeier ranks second in the NFL with 5.96 yards per carry, and second with 4.09 yards after contact, trailing only Cincinnati’s Joe Mixon (6.26 and 4.93, respectively) in that span. With 280 yards on 47 carries during that time, Allgeier has passed Cordarrelle Patterson for the team lead in rushing.
- The road team is 6-1 in Falcons-Saints matchups since 2019, tied for the best record by the road teams in any divisional matchup over that span (also Texans-Titans).
- The Falcons’ three-point loss to the Steelers in their last game was Atlanta’s 10th game this season decided by six points or fewer, tied for the most in franchise history (also in 1995, 2015 and 2017).
- Cordarrelle Patterson is one of three players in NFL history to average 5.0+ yards per rush and 9.0+ yards per reception over his career (minimum 400 rushes and 200 receptions), along with Jim Brown and Bobby Mitchell.
- The Saints have held their opponent to less than 300 net passing yards in 22 consecutive games, tied with the Bengals for the second-longest active streak in the NFL (Buccaneers, 27).
- The Saints have rushed for just 294 yards over their last five games, their fewest in a five-game span since 1998 (247).
- Chris Olave has had at least 40 receiving yards in all 12 games of his career thus far, the second-longest streak by any NFL player to begin his career in the Super Bowl era behind fellow Saints player Michael Thomas (19).
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) Robert Saleh is always quick to remind people he’s an eternal optimist, thinking the best-case scenario in every situation.
That’s why it wasn’t necessarily so stunning to hear the New York Jets coach declare after his team’s loss to the Buffalo Bills last Sunday that the squads would meet again – in the playoffs.
Saleh is also a realist.
He knows in order for the Jets to snap their 11-year postseason drought, which is the NFL’s longest active skid, they’ve got plenty more winning to do. And it needs to start Sunday at MetLife Stadium against a roaring Detroit Lions squad that has won five of its past six.
“We’re going to get everyone’s absolute best shot because they’re fighting for their lives, too,” Saleh said. “And that’s why we strive for December football. This is the fun stuff.”
After the game Sunday comes a Thursday night home game against Jacksonville (5-8) before road games at Seattle (7-6) and Miami (8-5).
“What’s cool about this,” Saleh said, “is we’ve got four playoff games, because every team we’re playing is fighting for a playoff spot.”
The Jets (7-6) dropped from the seventh spot in the AFC playoff hunt to the outside looking in with their 20-12 loss at Buffalo combined with victories by New England (7-6) and the Los Angeles Chargers (7-6) – who both leapfrogged them.
Meanwhile, Dan Campbell’s Lions (6-7) are also on the playoff bubble, but have won five of six for the first time since winning five straight under former coach Jim Caldwell in 2016 – the most recent time they made the playoffs.
“It’s about as good as it’s felt in my entire career here, about as confident as we’ve ever been,” said offensive tackle Taylor Decker, who was drafted by the Lions six years ago.
The Lions have a chance to win six of seven for the first time since 2014, a successful stretch that included a win over the Jets on the road that ended with an 11-5 record in the regular season and a loss to Dallas in an NFC wild-card game.
“Listen, we’ve got enough smart guys,” Campbell said. “They understand what’s right in front of us, and that’s New York Jets, who are a very tough, physical team, and they’re very much in the race. And you’re crazy if you don’t think they want it.
“They’ll be coming with everything they’ve got against us, and so this is going to be one of those, man. We’ve got to be locked and loaded and ready to go. I mean, this will be a physical game.”
Zach Wilson will start at quarterback for the Jets, who were hoping to have Mike White under center despite him being limited early in the week while dealing with a rib injury.
White was twice knocked from the loss at Buffalo after taking big hits, but finished the game – and then left the stadium in an ambulance for further examination. X-rays came back clean and he said earlier in the week he was “ready to roll.”
Saleh announced Friday that team doctors wouldn’t clear White for contact, so he will have to miss the game.
Wilson was promoted this week from No. 3 to White’s backup after being benched last month.
Jared Goff and the Lions have matched a team record by scoring 25 or more points in five straight games for the first time since 1954, and have 30-plus points in four of the past five games.
“The biggest thing for us is just showing who we are, blocking out the outside noise,” said wide receiver DJ Chark, who has 11 catches for 192 yards over the past two games. “It’s a long season, but right now we’re feeling good.”
PASS THE SAUCE
The Jets were thrilled cornerback Sauce Gardner was available to draft at No. 4 overall after Detroit was one of three teams to pass on him. The Lions instead took Michigan star defensive end Aidan Hutchinson with the No. 2 pick – and he has panned out, leading NFL rookies with seven sacks.
As much as Gardner would have addressed a need with the Lions, they didn’t really consider taking him.
“We felt pretty comfortable with where we wanted to go with it,” Campbell said.
Campbell, though, did like what he saw on tape of the 6-foot-3 Gardner at Cincinnati.
“We loved his length,” he said. “We thought he was pretty smart, pretty crafty, he was aggressive, runs pretty good.”
Saleh and Campbell squared off during the offseason when their coaching staffs led the squads of college standouts at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, last February.
Saleh’s National Team – with Jets tight ends coach Ron Middleton serving as head coach – topped Campbell’s American Team – with Lions assistant head coach/running backs coach Duce Staley the head coach – 20-10.
“He was great,” Campbell said of Saleh. “He’s an unbelievable human being.”
HE’S NOT LION
Saleh grew up a Lions fan in Dearborn, Michigan, located about 9 miles west of Detroit. Many of his high school buddies still root for the team.
He interviewed with the Lions to be their head coach in January 2021 before he was hired by the Jets.
“Thankful for that conversation,” he said, “but really happy that I’m here.”
Saleh’s favorite player as a kid? Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders.
“Oh yeah, whose guy wasn’t he?” a smiling Saleh said. “Best of all time, running back.”
- The Jets earned a 48-17 win when they last met the Lions in 2018, thanks in part to a 31-point third quarter. It remains the second-highest scoring quarter in Jets history, trailing only a 34-point quarter against the Cardinals in 2008.
- Over their last six games, Detroit is 5-1 with a plus-eight turnover differential. It is the first time Detroit has five wins with a turnover differential that high in any six-game span since 2011 (5-1, +9 from Weeks 1 through 6).
- Jared Goff has thrown 181 consecutive passes without an interception, the longest streak of his career. Over the last 30 seasons, the only longer streaks by any Lions quarterback were both by Matthew Stafford (212 straight in 2015-16, 196 straight in 2017).
- The Jets are 0-2 in their last two games despite outgaining their opponents in net yardage, 795-519 (+276). It is the second time in Jets history outgaining their opponents by at least 250 yards across two games without winning either game (also Weeks 16-17, 2000).
- Mike White has attempted 101 passes in the last two weeks, the second Jets QB this season with 100 passes in a two-game span (Joe Flacco, Weeks 1-2). Prior to this season, it happened twice in Jets history (Joe Namath in 1970 and Vinny Testaverde in 2000).
- Jameson Williams caught his first career touchdown in Detroit’s win over Minnesota last week. 10 different Lions players have caught a touchdown this season, one off the team’s record (11) set in 2012.
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) Kyler Murray and Russell Wilson were two trendy picks to lead their teams on deep playoff runs this season. For that matter, two trendy picks to lead fantasy teams to playoff success, too.
It hasn’t exactly gone according to script.
What before the season looked like an enticing matchup featuring two mobile quarterbacks won’t be on display Sunday when the Cardinals visit Denver. Murray’s done for the season after tearing his ACL on Monday night. Wilson cleared concussion protocol Friday, but was ruled out nonetheless as a precaution.
So, it’s a clash of backups in Colt McCoy for the Cardinals (4-9) and Brett Rypien for the Broncos (3-10) in what has become a less-than-tantalizing game with both teams faltering.
What could be at stake: Job security for their coaches, with Arizona’s Kliff Kingsbury and Denver’s Nathaniel Hackett each on the hot seat. The Cardinals have dropped three in a row and five of their past six. It was also recently announced general manager Steve Keim will take a leave of absence from the organization because of a health-related issue.
The Broncos are in the midst of a tailspin, too, losing five straight since a win over Jacksonville in London on Oct. 30. They’ve now missed the postseason for a seventh straight year.
Wilson got hurt diving headfirst toward the goal line early in the fourth quarter of the Broncos’ 34-28 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs last weekend.
Both of Rypien’s NFL starts have come against the New York Jets. He beat them in 2020 but lost to them in October when Wilson was out with a pulled hamstring, only the fourth game he’s missed in his 11-year NFL career.
Rypien threw a touchdown pass to Jerry Jeudy after replacing Wilson last week, but he also threw an interception and Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs ran out the clock for their 14th consecutive win over the Broncos.
Stepping in for Murray will be the 36-year-old McCoy, who led the Cardinals to a 13-10 halftime lead against New England after Murray left the game, before the team faded in the second half.
“I’m saddened for Kyler,” McCoy said. “I said it in postgame, but I spend more time with him than my kids, right? We’re close. We’re in the room together. I feel for him.”
Broncos safety Justin Simmons said of playing the final month of the season with no postseason possibility: “I’m just going to go out there and do my job at the highest level of ability that I can. I’m not going to leave anything left in the tank.”
The last time the Cardinals played in Denver was 2014, when Peyton Manning threw for 479 yards and four touchdowns in a 41-20 win. The late Demaryius Thomas caught eight passes for 226 yards and two scores.
The Broncos have a 9-1-1 mark against the Cardinals in the regular season, including 5-0 at home.
LIFE WITH MCCOY
McCoy has completed nearly 70% of his passes this season for 702 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. McCoy thought about retiring in 2020 after a litany of injuries, but decided to come back with the New York Giants before signing with the Cardinals last season.
“We’re not in the situation that we want to be in, but there’s some high-character guys in there,” McCoy said. “I think it’s my job, and a lot of the leaders on this team’s job, to get us all in the right mind(set) (to be) ready to go play this game, play out the rest of the season, treat it like professionals, and understand that the ball hasn’t bounced our way this year.”
Cardinals running back James Conner has rushed for 205 yards over his past two games, which is one of the most productive two-game stretches during his tenure with the team.
Conner ran for 85 yards and a touchdown against the Patriots. He probably would have had more opportunities on the ground, but when the Cardinals fell behind by two touchdowns, they were forced to throw the ball more.
“I’ve been pleased with the plans and the way he’s executed them,” Kingsbury said. “He’s running downhill and playing physical.”
- Denver is 9-1-1 against the Cardinals all-time, the Broncos’ best record against any opponent. Denver scored 45 points the last time these teams met, the most points for either team in any game of the matchup’s history.
- Arizona has turned the ball over at least two times in three straight games. That is the Cardinals’ longest run of games with at least two turnovers since 2018, when they went five games from Week 6 to Week 11.
- With Kyler Murray’s injury last week, Colt McCoy is set to start for Arizona. The Cardinals have gone 3-2 (.600) in the five games Murray has missed during his career (25-31-1, .447 with Murray as the starter).
- Denver scored its most points in a game this season in its 34-28 loss to Kansas City on Sunday. Despite this, the 194 points scored by the Broncos through their first 13 games this season is the third fewest in franchise history (190 in 1971, 175 in 1966).
- Russell Wilson has thrown for three touchdown passes and rushed for at least 50 yards in seven games during his career, including last week. That ties him with Steve Young for the third most such games in the Super Bowl era behind Lamar Jackson, 11, & Cam Newton, 10.
- Arizona averages the most plays per scoring drive this season in the NFL with 9.8. However, Denver leads the league with 28.5 percent of opposing drives going three-and-out.
LAS VEGAS (AP) If the New England Patriots make the playoffs, their weeklong stay out West likely will be a major reason.
They remained in Arizona this past week after beating the Cardinals 27-13 on Monday night, training in Tucson. That victory put the Patriots, at 7-6, in position for the seventh and final AFC playoff spot.
Given that the first two teams just outside the postseason – the Los Angeles Chargers and New York Jets – have the same records, Sunday’s game at Las Vegas is critical, especially considering the Patriots’ closing stretch. New England’s final three games are against teams that as of now would be in the playoffs.
So instead of making two cross-country trips in a week, coach Bill Belichick decided to save the wear on his players and have them ready when they visit the Raiders (5-8).
“It’s definitely a good thing,” quarterback Mac Jones said on Boston radio station WEEI. “It’s important to realize we’re out here to to do a job. It’s great weather out here, and it’s a great opportunity to have a really good week and to carry that over to Vegas.”
The Raiders could get two major receiving options back in tight end Darren Waller (hamstring) and wide receiver Hunter Renfrow (oblique). Both returned to practice Wednesday, but coach Josh McDaniels said he didn’t know if they would be activated off injured reserve in time to face the Patriots.
“It was good to be out there with the guys,” Renfrow said. “It was fun watching them winning a couple there. Just being a part of it again is going to be a blast.”
UCHE COMES ON STRONG
The AFC defensive player of the week hasn’t started a game all season and even was inactive twice.
But Patriots linebacker Josh Uche is on a tear with 10 sacks in his past six games, including five in the past two weeks.
Belichick said a key for the third-year pro going back to the offseason was staying on the field.
“That wasn’t really the case the last two years,” Belichick said. “He’s always worked hard and always done everything you’ve asked him to do. He’s been great to coach, but I think just his availability this year has affected his production.”
That production has been the best in the NFL over this recent stretch.
“He’s always put good plays on film and good plays on the practice field, and he’s flashed,” Belichick said.
EXTRA TIME TO RECOVER
The Raiders appeared headed to their fourth consecutive victory and real talk of a playoff push when they allowed the Los Angeles Rams to score two touchdowns in the final 3 1/2 minutes and lost 17-16 on Dec. 8.
“I think having a Thursday game and having those extra days was good for the team,” quarterback Derek Carr said. “I think after the little win streak that we went on, the expectations are so high.”
How the Raiders respond won’t be known until they play the Patriots.
“The only response that really matters is on Sunday,” wide receiver Davante Adams said.
New England visited Las Vegas during training camp, and the teams had joint practices before meeting in a preseason game that the Raiders won 23-6.
Even with the Raiders’ struggles, Belichick said he sees the same kind of potential that Las Vegas displayed in that exhibition. He pointed to the Raiders having played 10 one-score games, though they won only three of them.
“A lot of those games could have gone either way, but I think when you look at them you see two very, very explosive players offensively (Adams and running back Josh Jacobs) and a great quarterback,” Belichick said.
The Raiders cut guard John Simpson last week and this week brought in Netane Muti, who was signed off the Denver Broncos’ practice squad. The availability of Alex Bars (knee) at that position is uncertain. Bars didn’t practice Wednesday.
The Raiders also are monitoring injuries at other positions.
“It’s not a challenge that is unique to us,” McDaniels said. “As you know, New England is dealing with a bunch of different injury deals. Your depth becomes really important, I would say, in November and December every year. That’s why it’s important to try to look at the roster on the whole as 69 guys, not 53. Because at the end of the day, we’re going to need a bunch more than 53 to complete the season.”
- The Patriots have won six consecutive games against the Raiders, most recently with a 36-20 home win in Week 3 of 2020. With Bill Belichick as head coach, New England is 7-1 against the Raiders (incl. playoffs) compared to 13-14-1 prior to Belichick’s arrival in 2020.
- New England defeated Arizona, 27-13, on Monday with the team now being 4-4 in games decided by at least 10 points this season. The Patriots are the only team in the NFL this season with at least four wins and four losses by 10+ points.
- Former Raider Raekwon McMillan returned a fumble 23 yards for a touchdown in New England’s win over the Cardinals. The Patriots have five touchdowns on returns this season, tied with Arizona for the most in the NFL.
- The Raiders blew a 13-point lead with fewer than four minutes remaining in their 17-16 loss to the Rams last week. Over the last 40 seasons, the only other time the team had lost a game it led by 13+ points with four minutes or less remaining was in Week 3 of the 1993 season to the Browns.
- Davante Adams needs four yards of offense to join Josh Jacobs as Raiders with 1250+ scrimmage yards and more than 10 scrimmage touchdowns this season. They would be the first teammate duo in team history to do so in the same season.
- New England allowed Arizona to convert on one of its five fourth-down attempts on Monday. For the season, the Patriots have allowed opponents to convert on 27.3 percent on their fourth-down attempts (6/22), which is the lowest such percentage in the NFL in 2022.
LOS ANGELES (AP) The Los Angeles Chargers’ defense had its best game of the season last week in shutting down one of the league’s top passing attacks.
Their challenge Sunday will be to contain Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry.
The two-time NFL rushing champ will play in his 100th regular-season game as the slumping Titans head west. Henry is second in the league with 1,199 yards rushing and needs only 4 yards to reach 8,000 for his career.
Henry’s focus is on snapping Tennessee’s first three-game losing streak since 2018 instead of personal milestones.
“It’s about going out there and doing what you need to do to get a win,” Henry said. “It’s about just getting back to how we want to play.”
Henry, who has six 100-yard rushing games this season, looks to bounce back after having two fumbles in last Sunday’s 36-22 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Titans coach Mike Vrabel isn’t concerned if Henry has ball security issues. He said one was due to a big hit, and the other was due to a busted play.
“We’re going to give it to him as many times as we possibly can. I mean, it’s no secret,” Vrabel said. “Derrick’s been great with ball security. Hopefully, we can get those things fixed and corrected.”
Both teams are 7-6 and in the thick of the AFC playoff race. The Titans have a two-game lead in the AFC South while the Chargers are battling for one of the final two spots.
Henry will be facing a Chargers defense allowing 5.40 yards per carry. That’s the highest average since the merger and the seventh-highest since the league started tracking rushing statistics in 1933, according to Sportradar.
The Chargers have given up 147 rushing yards per game, the fifth-highest total in the league. They have allowed four runs of at least 50 yards, tied with Seattle for the most. Henry’s one of eight players with at least two carries over 50 yards this season.
Los Angeles and Seattle have also seen a running back post a 100-yard game seven times this season, tied for most in the league.
The Chargers held Miami’s Tua Tagovailoa to 148 yards passing in a 23-17 win last week. Safety Derwin James (quadriceps) and cornerback Bryce Callahan (core muscle) will likely be sidelined again with different tasks at hand.
“You can’t let good running backs get started. It doesn’t matter what their style is. If they can get started within the play, then they’re going to have a chance to be successful,” coach Brandon Staley said. “You have to go attack, and you have to go play team defense and tackle the guy with more than one guy.
“That’s what we’re going to try and do on Sunday.”
THE OTHER BACK
Even though most of the attention is on Henry, Chargers running back Austin Ekeler is also expected to be a factor.
Ekeler is second in the league with 13 scrimmage touchdowns (eight rushing, five receiving). He has four games this season with a rushing and receiving score, one shy of tying the mark established by Minnesota’s Chuck Foreman in 1975.
Ekeler is fourth in the league with 93 receptions and needs seven catches to become the fifth player in league history and second on the Chargers to reach the century mark. LaDainian Tomlinson had 100 catches with the Bolts in 2003.
The Titans have struggled to give Ryan Tannehill time to work, with the quarterback sacked 10 times over the past two losses. Tannehill now has three receivers on the injury report, with veteran Robert Woods not practicing Wednesday because of illness.
“It is a balancing act there of trying to do as much as you can and work the things as much as you can, but when you are banged up, your body can only do so much. It is not just myself. That is everybody on this team,” said Tannehill, who has been limited due to an ankle injury. “You can’t worry too much about what is happening in front of you or around you. You have got to be able to try to move as best you can within the pocket and deliver the ball in an accurate and timely fashion.”
BACK ON TRACK?
Justin Herbert threw for a season-high 367 yards last week as he had Mike Williams and Keenan Allen both available for an entire game for the first time.
Williams, who missed four out of five games due to a high ankle sprain, had 116 yards on six receptions and a touchdown. Allen has at least five catches in each of the four games since he returned from a hamstring injury.
The only benefit to the Chargers’ injury woes at receiver is that they have a league-high six players with at least 400 yards receiving.
The Titans may be close to getting at least a couple key defensive players back.
Sacks leader Denico Autry returned to practice after missing the last three games with an injured left knee, and inside linebacker Zach Cunningham is practicing after missing the last five with an injured elbow. The Titans posted their first game this season without even a single sack, and haven’t forced a turnover in four straight.
Worse, a defense that went eight consecutive games holding opponents to 20 points or less has allowed 71 points over the past two games combined.
The Titans have had 25 different starters on defense this season.
- Since moving to Tennessee, the Titans are 2-9 against the Chargers, their worst record against any opponent. Both wins came at home — the Chargers’ last home loss to the Titans/Oilers franchise came in Week 4, 1990, a 17-7 Houston win in San Diego (won seven straight at home since then).
- The Titans fell to the Jaguars, 36-22, at home last week, their third consecutive loss. It’s their first three-game losing streak since Weeks 5-7, 2018. They haven’t lost four in a row since dropping the final four games of the 2015 season.
- Derrick Henry finished with 121 rushing yards against Jacksonville last week, the 20th time in his career he’s reached 120 yards on the ground. The Titans are now 18-2 in those games, with the only other loss coming in Week 4, 2021 on the road against the Jets, a 27-24 overtime loss (157 rushing yards).
- The Chargers beat the Dolphins, 23-17, at home last week, and are now looking to win back-to-back games for the first time since a three-game winning streak in Weeks 4-6. Their last six games (and eight of their last nine) have all been decided by seven or fewer points.
- In last week’s game, Justin Herbert became the first quarterback in NFL history to attempt 50+ passes, complete 75.0 percent of them, throw no interceptions and win the game. Herbert was 39-for-51 (76.5%) for 367 yards against the Dolphins.
- The Chargers’ opponents have had an average of 7.30 yards to go on second down this season — only the Raiders’ opponents (7.31) have had fewer. Meanwhile, the Titans’ opponents have had 8.27 yards to go on second down, most in the league.
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) Tom Brady holds Joe Burrow in high regard.
“He’s a great young player. He’s got a great arm, runs well, very athletic. I’m really impressed by him overcoming the adversities that he has,” said the seven-time Super Bowl champion, who faces the top pick in the 2020 draft for the first time Sunday, when the sputtering Tampa Bay Buccaneers host the red-hot Cincinnati Bengals.
“There were high expectations for him coming out and he’s lived up to it. So a lot of credit to him, and their team’s done a great job,” Brady added. “They were in the Super Bowl last year, they’re playing really well this year. Good defense, good offense, good special teams group. Well-coached. It’s going to be a tough game.”
Especially the way the underachieving Bucs (6-7) have been playing lately.
While Brady leads the league in completions and is fourth in passing yards behind Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert and Burrow, a talented Tampa Bay offense continues to struggle getting into the end zone.
After averaging over 30 points per game the past two seasons, the Bucs are down to 17.2 – 28th in the NFL – after losing 35-7 at San Francisco last week.
The Bengals (9-4) have won five straight, seven of eight overall, to match the Baltimore Ravens for the best record in the AFC North.
While there may be no quick fix for Tampa Bay’s scoring woes, the Bucs can take solace in knowing a playoff berth is still within reach.
Despite having a losing record, they’re in first place in the weak NFC South, one game ahead of the Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons with four games left.
“I think the one thing about football is you get what you deserve. You’ve got to go earn it,” Brady said of the Bucs still having all of their goals in front of them.
“The Rams were the Super Bowl champions last year. This year they’re not having the kind of year they want,” the 45-year-old quarterback added, noting there are a lot of things – penalties, lack of offensive execution and other factors – that can bring a team back to the pack.
“It’s a challenge, and you just try to figure out the challenge,” Brady said. “It’s a long race. It’s not over in Week 13. That’s why you play all 17. … We’ll see where we’re measured at the end of the year. But there’s no … quit, there’s no lack of fight. … We’re trying hard to make the right improvements.”
Meanwhile, Burrow and the Bengals have rebounded from a slow start to play like a team capable of making another deep playoff run.
The third-year quarterback is looking forward to facing Brady’s Bucs, though he’s not especially fond of people trying to draw comparisons between him and the seven-time Super Bowl winner at this stage of his career.
“I don’t really pay attention to it. He’s Tom and I’m Joe,” said Burrow, who also doesn’t want to make too much of the first-ever meeting between the quarterbacks.
“It’s our 14th game of the season,” the Bengals star said. “You know, obviously, the greatest quarterback ever is on the other side, but we got a job to do, too, and our job is to go and win, get to 10-4 and move on.”
The Bucs played with three injured starters in the secondary during last Sunday’s 28-point road loss to the 49ers.
Cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting and safeties Antoine Winfield Jr. and Mike Edwards all practiced this week, though it’s uncertain whether they’ll play against the Bengals.
Regardless of who winds up playing, though, Bucs coach Todd Bowles stressed his defense will be tested by Burrow.
“He’s great, he’s poised in the pocket, he throws a great ball all over the field, he can throw at any angle, he can make any throw, he has some great receivers to throw to, he has a good understanding of the offense and the game, he can take advantage of what you’re trying to give him, he can run the ball when he has to run the ball, he can throw people open, he can use his feet,” said Bowles, who wasn’t finished.
“He has a knack for the game,” the coach added. “Certain guys when they come out of college that young have a knack for the game already. He has it.”
GOTTA BE BETTER
Bucs LT Donovan Smith has drawn holding penalties that have wiped out touchdown receptions each of the past two games. The eighth-year pro has been flagged a career-high six times for holding this season, a trend Bowles said needs to stop.
“You can’t keep doing the same thing over and over again. It’s costing us,” the coach said, adding he has no plans to bench Smith.
“We’ve considered everything and Donovan, right now, is our best option,” Bowles said.
Bengals RG Alex Cappa was part of the offensive line that protected Brady the past two seasons in Tampa Bay. He signed with Cincinnati last winter and is looking forward to facing his old team for the first time.
“It’ll be fun,” Cappa said.
- The Bengals have won each of the last two times these teams have met, in Week 13, 2014 at Tampa and Week 8, 2018 in Cincinnati. Prior to that, the Buccaneers had won six straight in the series.
- The Bengals beat the Browns, 23-10, at home last week, their fifth straight win. That’s their longest winning streak since winning their first eight games of the 2015 season. Cincinnati is 8-0 when scoring more than 20 points this season.
- JaMarr Chase caught 10 passes for 119 yards and a touchdown against the Browns. He now has 20 receiving touchdowns in just 26 career games. In the last 40 years, the only players to reach that mark faster are Randy Moss (20) and Odell Beckham Jr. (22).
- The Buccaneers lost to the 49ers, 35-7, in Santa Clara last week. It was their second time scoring fewer than 10 points this season (also Week 7 at Carolina). In Tom Brady’s first two years in Tampa, they did so just twice, both times in home games against New Orleans.
- Tom Brady was 34-for-55 or 253 yards last week, the 11th time in his career he’s attempted at least 55 passes. His teams are now 3-8 in such games, with wins in 2002 against Chicago, 2015 against Buffalo, and Week 9 of this season against the Rams.
- Tampa Bay has passed the ball in first-and-10 situations 57.5 percent of the time this season, highest in the league. Cincinnati has done so 52.9 percent of the time, seventh highest in the league.
LANDOVER, Md. (AP) Taylor Heinicke watched the UFC main event last weekend end in a tie and was reminded of the same sinking feeling he and the Washington Commanders got the last time they played the New York Giants.
“Ties aren’t fun,” Heinicke said. “The goal is to go out there and win.”
One thing everybody involved can agree on: No one wants another tie between the NFC East rivals two weeks later when they meet again Sunday night with each team 7-5-1 and the driver’s seat for a playoff spot at stake. The Commanders and Giants are plenty familiar with each other and know just how big this game is under the lights in the final quarter of the regular season.
“Washington is going to bring it,” Giants left tackle Andrew Thomas said. “They want to be in the playoffs just as bad as we do. It’s going to come down to who wants it more and who executes better.”
As these teams proved last time – a 20-all draw at New York on Dec. 4 – the margin for error is slim. Washington is a 4-point home favorite on FanDuel Sportsbook, with the edge of coming off a bye week while the Giants got drubbed 48-22 by the division-leading Eagles and are 0-3-1 in their past four.
“They’re waiting on us just as much as we’re waiting on them,” New York linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux said. “I feel like because we just played them and they haven’t seen anybody yet, all they’ve been doing is licking their chops.”
The Commanders are 5-1-1 since Heinicke replaced Carson Wentz as their starting quarterback and are getting healthy at the right time of year. They could get impressive cornerback Benjamin St-Juste back from an ankle injury and edge rusher Chase Young on the field for the first time this season, 13 months after tearing the ACL in his right knee.
“The bye week was good for us, and all of us are ready to take the field Sunday night,” tight end Logan Thomas said.
Thomas feels like it’s the “sixth quarter” against the Giants, given how long the last meeting went and that Washington has not faced another opponent since. The familiarity is still strong for New York, and so is the excitement with full understanding of how much this game could tip the standings.
“I don’t think we’re going to have any issue getting amped up,” Giants QB Daniel Jones said. “Everyone realizes the opportunity and how big a game this is.”
PRIME TIME CONTRAST
Washington has won each of its first two night games this season and is 5-2 in prime time in two-plus seasons since coach Ron Rivera took over. New York has lost 11 in a row in those situations.
“There’s just something about the attention,” Rivera said. “I think we’ve got guys that seem to relish the opportunity.”
Running back Saquon Barkley carried the Giants in the first half of the season, helping them open with six wins in seven games. He had three 100-plus-yard rushing games none with fewer than 70.
Seattle slowed him to 53 yards by stuffing the box in New York’s final game before its bye, and opponents learned from it. Barkley ran for 152 yards in a victory against Houston coming out of the bye, but he has gained 152 total yards on 53 carries in his last four games, an average of 2.86 yards.
The Giants need to find a way to get him going again. The Commanders might be just as concerned about stopping Jones, who rushed for 71 yards in the teams’ last meeting.
“We have to be able to handle their attack,” Rivera said. “They run the ball very well with their backs. Saquon, I think, is one of the premier guys in this league and it’s good to see him back. Honestly, I do mean that because he is a premier player. But we also got to be able to handle when they run with the quarterback.”
Washington’s attendance of just under 58,000 a game this season ranks last in the NFL, and nearly every week there’s a big chunk of visiting team fans. Referencing a 50/50 split from a Thursday night game at FedEx Field against New York last season, Heinicke said, “Hopefully, we have more fans than Giants.”
There will undoubtedly be a lot of blue in the crowd, but Commanders fans have made up for it with some real noise and intensity this season. Players expect more where that came from.
“I just want to see a packed house with a lot of burgundy and gold out there,” left tackle Charles Leno said. “I just want to see a really playoff-(like), electric environment.”
BATTERED NY DEFENSE
The banged-up Giants defense has been battered the past month.
The Eagles rushed for 253 yards and four touchdowns and gained 437 overall. The Giants have given up no less than 411 yards in total offense in the last three games, with at least 165 yards rushing.
This run has coincided with the loss of top cornerback Adoree Jackson because of a knee injury and safety Xavier McKinney to a broken left hand from an ATV accident during the bye week. It didn’t help last week that defensive lineman Leonard Williams was inactive with a neck injury.
“Every team goes through that during the season,” coach Brian Daboll said. “Whoever’s in there, we have confidence in”
- The Giants and Commanders played to a 20-20 tie in Week 13, the fifth tie ever between the two teams. That is the most in any series for the Giants and tied for the most for Washington against any team (also vs. Philadelphia).
- Daniel Jones and Tyrod Taylor each rushed for at least 25 yards against the Eagles on Sunday, the second time the duo had done so this season. The Giants are the first team since the 1961 San Francisco 49ers to have multiple QBs rush for 25+ yards in multiple games.
- Richie James Jr., who had a career-high seven catches against Philadelphia, has three receiving touchdowns over his last four games. Prior to that stretch, he had three career receiving TDs over 49 games.
- The Commanders became the third team in NFL history to have at least one game decided by exactly zero, one, two, three, four, five and six points in the same season, joining the 2021 Pittsburgh Steelers and the 1997 New York Giants.
- Washington is 5-1-1 with Taylor Heinicke as the starting quarterback this season and 2-4 when Heinicke doesn’t start. The team is scoring an average of 21.6 points per game in those starts compared to 17.0 in the six other games.
- The Giants’ Julian Love is one of three NFL players currently leading his team outright in both total tackles and interceptions, along with Tennessee’s David Long Jr. and Houston’s Jalen Pitre. The last Giant to lead the team outright in both categories in the same season was Antrel Rolle in 2013.
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) This can’t be what the NFL’s schedule-makers and ESPN executives had in mind.
When the league’s slate of prime-time games came out in the spring, a mid-December matchup between the Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams and the three-time defending NFC North champion Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field sounded like TV ratings gold.
Surely visions of gorgeous wide-angle shots of the falling snow and big-time playoff implications were dancing in their heads.
But instead of a playoff preview, the “Monday Night Football” audience will get two of the NFL’s most disappointing teams when the Rams (4-9) visit the Packers (5-8).
Although both teams are still mathematically in playoff contention, the Rams are assured a sub-.500 record, and the Packers could win out and still miss the postseason for the first time under coach Matt LaFleur.
“Being the No. 1 seed (in the NFC) the last two seasons leading into this season, a lot of high hopes, right?” Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst said during the bye week. “We were certainly expected to be competing for a championship – and we are still in it.
“If we’re able to dig our way back into this thing, we still kind of feel like we have the ability to do that. But this season has not gone as we expected.”
Rams coach Sean McVay knows the feeling.
Before newly added quarterback Baker Mayfield rallied the Rams to a 17-16 victory over the Las Vegas Raiders last week – just two days after being claimed on waivers from the Carolina Panthers – the defending champs looked like they were playing out the string.
But their Mayfield-fueled comeback has at least brought some energy to what could have been a lifeless final month of the season.
“I think some positive momentum, no doubt,” McVay said. “You’re just so happy because you see the players be able to see the work that they’ve put in and then get some tangible rewards.”
LET HIM BAKE
Mayfield not only learned enough of the playbook in less than two days to function within the Rams’ offense when he replaced John Wolford after one series against the Raiders, he managed to throw for 230 yards and the game-winning touchdown to cap a 98-yard drive with the game on the line. For his efforts, he was named the NFC offensive player of the week.
“I don’t know if you could write it any better than that,” Mayfield said after the game. “Obviously, we’d like to be a little bit more stress-free. But it’s a pretty damn good story. I’ll be honest with you. It’s special.”
McVay subsequently named Mayfield the starter for Monday night, with Wolford dealing with a neck injury and starter Matthew Stafford done for the year because of a spinal contusion.
The last time the Packers saw Mayfield was last Christmas Day, when he was throwing four interceptions for the Cleveland Browns in the Packers’ 24-22 victory at Lambeau Field. Rasul Douglas had two of those picks, but the Packers’ defense hasn’t been nearly as effective at taking the ball away this season.
A year after ranking third in the league with 26 turnovers forced, the Packers are tied for 15th with 15 takeaways this year – although nearly half of those (seven) have come in the past four games.
“I do think they come in bunches,” Douglas said. “I just think we’re being more aggressive as a team and we’re all on the same page with what we’ve got going on.”
Packers edge rusher Justin Hollins, much like Mayfield, hit the ground running full speed with his new team.
Hollins arrived in Green Bay on Thanksgiving after being claimed on waivers from the Rams, and was on the field three days later against Philadelphia on Nov. 30. Hollins stuffed Eagles running back Miles Sanders for a 2-yard loss early and sacked Jalen Hurts for a 5-yard loss in that game.
The Packers were in dire need at the position after losing top edge rusher Rashan Gary to a season-ending knee injury on Nov. 6.
Packers rookie second-round pick Christian Watson’s eight touchdowns over the past four games made him the second rookie wide receiver in NFL history to score eight TDs from scrimmage over four games, per the Elias Sports Bureau. Minnesota’s Randy Moss was the first to do it, in 1998.
“When the opportunities presented themselves, obviously he’s made the most of them,” Gutekunst said. “I think the thing I’m most proud about with Christian right now is he really has a desire to be great – and he’s not walking around here like he’s arrived in any way. … He knows there’s still a lot of work out there for him.”
ON THE MEND
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the MVP the past two seasons, enters the Packers’ final four games having thrown nine interceptions – the most he’s had in a season since he threw 11 during the team’s Super Bowl-winning season of 2010. His passer rating of 92.4 would be his lowest in 15 years as a starter.
How much of his statistical downturn can be traced to the broken right thumb he suffered in London against the New York Giants on Oct. 9 is hard to say, but Rodgers said the thumb is close to fully healed and the rib injury he suffered against the Eagles is also much improved.
- The Rams are 3-12 on the road against the Packers since 1982, their worst road record against any NFC opponent in that span. The three wins came in 1988, 1995 and 2006. The Packers earned a 36-28 win at Lambeau in Week 12 last season.
- The Rams snapped a six-game losing streak with a 17-16 win over the Raiders at home last Thursday. It was just their third one-point win in the last 20 seasons (also Week 10, 2011 at Cleveland and Week 17, 2021 at Baltimore).
- There have been two times in the Super Bowl era where a quarterback came off the bench, threw for 200+ yards, rallied from 13+ points down to win and snapped his team’s winless streak of six or more games. One was Baker Mayfield’s Browns debut in 2018, and the other was his Rams debut last week.
- The Packers are coming off a bye after winning 28-19 in Chicago in Week 13 despite trailing 19-10 in the fourth quarter. It was the first time they had won a game by at least nine points since trailing by at least nine in the fourth quarter since a 1985 win at Minnesota (trailed 17-6, won 27-17).
- In Week 13, Christian Watson became the second rookie wide receiver with a rushing and receiving touchdown in a game this season (also New England’s Tyquan Thornton in Week 6), and the fifth since 2020. From 1991 through 2019, there were a total of five such games by rookie wideouts.
- The Rams have just 13 points on their 14 total takeaways this season, half as many points as any other team (Denver ranks 31st with 26 takeaway points). The Packers have allowed 35 giveaway points on their 17 turnovers this season, tied for fifth fewest in the league.
Brown’s 2 TDs lead UAB past Miami (OH) 24-20 in Bahamas Bowl
NASSAU Bahamas (AP) Jermaine Brown Jr. rushed for 116 yards and two fourth-quarter touchdowns, Trea Shropshire had 183 yards receiving and a score, and UAB held off Miami (Ohio) 24-20 on Friday in the Bahamas Bowl.
UAB (7-6) won its second bowl game in a row – beating No. 13 BYU 31-28 in the Independence Bowl last season – and third in program history. The Blazers won their 50th game since returning in 2017 from a program shutdown.
Shropshire dominated the first half with 120 yards, and his second catch after halftime went for 50 yards to set up Brown’s 12-yard rushing touchdown on fourth-and-1 for a 24-20 lead with 1:31 left.
Miami converted two fourth downs on its final drive and a 15-yard penalty set up the RedHawks on the 15 with one second left. Aveon Smith completed a pass over the middle to Jalen Walker but the UAB defense came up with a huge stop as Reynard Ellis made a tackle at the 2 as time expired.
“It really comes down to everything this team stands for: we’ll fight til the very end, we’ll never give in, we’re tough, we’re rugged, we play for each other and we never give up,” UAB interim coach Bryant Vincent. “No matter what we’ve been through this year, it’s just the UAB way.”
After Miami took a 20-17 lead with 6:52 left in the fourth quarter, Brown fumbled it and the RedHawks took over at the UAB 28 before missing a 47-yard field goal. Then Brown redeemed himself on the next drive.
Brown carried it 24 times to eclipse 100 yards for the fifth time this season for UAB. Shropshire finished with six catches for 183 yards and a touchdown.
Shropshire had a 46-yard grab on UAB’s first offensive play and he capped the opening drive with a 10-yard touchdown. He added a 48-yarder on third-and-19 with 5:57 left before halftime to total 120 yards, while the Miami offense had 68 total yards at that point.
Dual-threat QB Aveon Smith passed for 162 yards and two touchdowns for Miami (6-7). He also carried it 22 times for 50 yards.
PLAYERS OPTING OUT
The nation’s leading rusher, DeWayne McBride, was not active after opting out of the bowl game. His 1,713 yards this season for UAB included 10 100-yard games and 19 touchdowns. The Conference USA’s player of the year was coming off a 272-yard game against Louisiana Tech.
The Blazers played their finale under Vincent, who led the team all season. Former NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer has been hired as head coach and was in attendance. The 50-year-old Dilfer won a Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens in 2000 during a 14-year NFL career. He’s making a big leap to the college ranks after leading Lipscomb Academy in Nashville, Tennessee, to three state title games in four seasons as head coach.
“I’m going to tell our players that I love them and I’m proud of them,” an emotional Vincent said after the game. “I’m proud of our coaches and I’m proud of everything we’ve accomplished.”
Miami players and coaches were wearing patches and stickers of a pirate flag to honor Mike Leach, who died suddenly of a heart condition earlier this week.
Friday’s forecast was for a high of 85 degrees in Nassau, compared to 37 in Oxford, Ohio and 43 in Birmingham, Alabama.
No. 23 Troy rallies past No. 22 UTSA 18-12 in Cure Bowl
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) Gunnar Watson’s 12-yard scoring pass to RaJae’ Johnson in the third period put No. 23 Troy ahead to stay, and the Trojans forced five turnovers in an 18-12 come-from-behind win over No. 22 UTSA in the Duluth Trading Cure Bowl on Friday.
Troy (12-2), the Sun Belt Conference champion, closed out the season with 11 straight victories and set a school record for wins in a season.
“Twelve-2, 11 straight wins, conference champs, first time we’ll ever be ranked to end a season,” Troy coach Jon Sumrall said. “This team has done some things that have never been done. We’re going to take a few days and appreciate it. Then we’re going to get ready for 2023.”
Conference USA champ UTSA (11-3) outgained Troy 345-166 and led 12-0 in the first half, but turnovers proved to be the difference.
Troy linebacker K.J. Robertson picked off a pass by UTSA’s Frank Harris near the goal line in the third quarter. Robertson returned the interception 61 yards, with a 15-yard personal foul penalty tacked on at the end, and the pick set up the go-ahead score.
“I was hauling,” Robertson said. “That’s the fastest I’ve ever ran … like ever. It was awesome. It was a great feeling.”
Watson’s TD pass to Johnson gave the Trojans a 13-12 lead, and a 2-point conversion pass to tight end Clayton Ollendieck made it 15-12 with 2:43 remaining in the third quarter.
Watson was 13-for-23 passing for 113 yards. Kimani Vidal rushed for 73 yards on 22 carries with a touchdown.
“That was not an easy win,” Troy coach Jon Sumrall said. “That was a tough hard-fought win. I think both teams should be ranked in the top 25.”
Vidal scored on a 2-yard rush with 50 seconds left in the first half to pull Troy within 12-7.
The Roadrunners took a 2-0 lead in the first quarter on a safety when Troy center Jake Andrews snapped the ball before Watson was ready and the ball bounded through the end zone.
Harris connected with Zakhari Franklin for a 2-yard scoring pass early in the second quarter to make it 9-0.
“We thought it would be a low-scoring, NFL-type football game,” UTSA coach Jeff Traylor said. “That’s what it was.”
Jared Sackett added a 42-yard field goal at 6:41 of the second quarter to extend UTSA’s lead to 12-0.
Harris went 23 for 42 for 198 yards, with an interception and a TD. Kevorian Barnes rushed for 132 yards on 21 carries.
Barnes’ 53 yard run in the fourth quarter gave the Roadrunners a first-and-goal at the Troy 5, but three straight incompletions led to a turnover on downs with 7:01 remaining.
“Lack of execution on third down, dropped some passes, lost some battles up front where they stripped us,” Traylor said. “Missed opportunities. It was as good a performance from our defense as I’ve seen since I’ve been here. Two very good defenses tonight.”
SPECIAL MVP PERFORMANCE
Robertson also had nine tackles and was named the game’s MVP. It was a special moment for the senior as he got to play in front of his 2-year-old daughter, Layla Drew Robertson, for the first time.
“Win, lose or draw I just wanted to have my daughter see me play one time,” Robertson said. “Even if she won’t remember it, I thought it was great.”
FAKE IT UNTIL YOU MAKE IT
Troy successfully executed a fake punt in the fourth quarter when Vidal lined up in protection and took the snap on a fourth-and-2 and rushed for four yards. The drive ended with a field goal to make the score 18-12.
“We’ve been practicing that since August 15,” Sumrall said. “We’ve prepared that twice a week for about 20 weeks now. We went down and kicked a field goal. I was a little ticked off that we couldn’t get a touchdown there.”
BEST OF THE BEST
The 22-combined victories between Troy and UTSA are the most of any non-playoff bowl game matchup this year. This is also the only bowl matchup to pit two conference champions against each other.
UTSA: Penalties and turnovers doomed the Roadrunners. They were penalized eight times for 89 yards with several personal fouls. Harris threw two interceptions and lost a fumble.
Troy: The Trojans got down to their defensive roots and forced UTSA into some uncharacteristic mistakes. They made just enough plays on offense from Watson.
UTSA: The Roadrunners will move from Conference USA to the American Athletic Conference in 2023. Quarterback Frank Harris, who holds 34 records at the school, announced he will return for his seventh season.
Troy: The Trojans will remain in the Sun Belt and try to set another school record for wins under Sumrall.
Joseph, facing felony assault charge, no longer with Huskers
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) Mickey Joseph, Nebraska’s interim football coach for nine games this season who was charged with felony assault, is no longer part of the Cornhuskers’ program, the athletic department announced Friday.
The department said in a statement it would have no additional comment.
Joseph is accused of putting his hands around a woman’s throat, pulling her hair and punching her during a domestic dispute Nov. 30, according to a police affidavit. He was charged on Dec. 1 with assault by strangulation or suffocation.
Joseph was placed on administrative leave after his arrest. He denied to police that he assaulted the woman. His next court appearance is Jan. 30.
Joseph’s arrest came two days after Matt Rhule was introduced as the new head coach.
It was unclear whether Joseph received severance pay. He was under contract through Dec. 31, 2023, and his annual salary was listed at $600,000.
Under terms of the contract, he could be fired for cause if convicted of a misdemeanor or felony that impaired his ability to perform duties on behalf of the university. If a firing for cause is upheld, the university would not have to pay the remaining money owed on the contract.
Moritz Wagner powers Magic past NBA-leading Celtics 117-109
BOSTON (AP) Moritz Wagner scored 25 points and Paolo Banchero added 20 as the Orlando Magic beat the NBA-leading Boston Celtics 117-109 on Friday night.
Franz Wagner scored 19 points as Orlando won its fifth straight game – the first four coming at home. The Magic outrebounded the Celtics 53-38 and held the lead for the final 37 minutes of the game.
“One of the (Magic) coaches came up to me before the game and said, `We’re on the road against the best team in the NBA. Either we can prove that we’re a good team and really rolling or blame that we’re on the road and just roll over.’ We didn’t want to do that,” said Banchero, who shot 3 of 3 from 3-point range and 7 of 8 at the line. “To get a lead and keep a lead is the biggest thing I’m proud of about tonight.”
Jayson Tatum scored 31 points and Jaylen Brown 26 as Boston (22-8) lost for the third time in four games. The Celtics attempted 46 3-pointers and made 11.
“We had good looks. Even when they’re not going in, you have to keep moving the ball and shooting it,” Celtics interim head coach Joe Mazzulla said.
Boston’s Robert Williams played in his first game since the NBA Finals after undergoing surgery on his left knee during the preseason and finished with nine points and five rebounds in 18 minutes.
Helped by two 3-pointers in the opening minutes from Al Horford, the Celtics jumped out to a 14-5 lead against a team with the third-worst record in the Eastern Conference. The Magic surged back, closing the opening quarter with a 15-4 run that was capped with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Banchero.
Orlando kept the pressure on Boston, leading 62-54 at halftime and extending the lead to 19 points early in the third quarter. The Celtics cut their deficit to single digits on a few occasions, but the Magic remained comfortably ahead.
“They went on their run in the third but our guys understand that they have to stay the course and continue to communicate with one another and stick back to the principles of what we do,” Orlando head coach Jamahl Mosley said.
Markelle Fultz scored five straight, including jumper that gave the Magic a 108-96 lead with 3:55 remaining. Fultz had 12 points and four assists before fouling out.
Williams’ surgery in the offseason was his second procedure on the same knee in a six-month span. The 25-year-old was upgraded to questionable on Thursday, with Mazzulla confirming before Friday’s game that “there isn’t a minutes restriction” concerning Williams, who came off the bench against the Magic.
“I’m glad he’s back healthy and back with the team. That’s a plus tonight,” said Tatum.
Williams received a standing ovation at 7:03 of the first quarter. He connected on an alley-oop slam dunk on a pass from Marcus Smart, but picked up three fouls over a four-minute span.
Boston honored former player Paul Silas, who died last Saturday. Silas packed a lot into his four seasons with the Celtics (1972-76). He was part of two NBA championships (1974, 1976) and appeared in the All-Star Game in 1975.
Magic: Orlando entered Friday with one road win in 12 tries.
Celtics: Horford returned to the lineup on Friday after missing the previous five games. He wasn’t around for the finish after being assessed a flagrant-two foul at 10:39 of the third quarter. At the time of the ejection, Horford had six points and six rebounds in 16 minutes. . Friday marked the start of a seven-game homestand for Boston after a six-game trip.
The teams meet again in Boston on Sunday.
Embiid, Harden lead 76ers past short-handed Warriors
PHILADELPHIA (AP) Joel Embiid had 34 points and 13 rebounds, James Harden added 27 points and nine assists and the Philadelphia 76ers beat the short-handed Golden State Warriors 118-106 on Friday night.
“The main thing is that everybody has bought in,” Embiid said. “That’s the thing. Everyone knows where they have to go and everyone knows where the ball has to go and everybody knows that the ball can not stick, that it has to be moving around.”
Stephen Curry sat out for Golden State two nights after injuring his left shoulder in a loss at Indiana. Draymond Green (right quadriceps contusion) and Andrew Wiggins (strained right adductor) also missed the game, while Klay Thompson played through soreness in his left knee to score 12 points. He was 4 of 17 from the field, missing 10 in a row at one point.
“It was a tough night for Klay,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “Just his effort was there, but the shots were not going. Just wasn’t his night, but he will bounce back.”
Playing without guards Tobias Harris – a late scratch due to a back injury – and Tyrese Maxey (broken left foot), Philadelphia overcame a sluggish start to post its first four-game winning streak of the season.
“I didn’t think we played with great life tonight,” 76ers coach Doc Rivers said. “But we won the game, so I’ll take it.”
De’Anthony Melton had 17 points and seven assists for Philadelphia.
Jordan Poole led the defending champion Warriors with 29 points. Donte DiVincenzo scored 17 points in his return to the arena where he played in college at Villanova, and Kevon Looney had 14 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists. Golden State dropped to 2-14 on the road and 14-16 overall.
“I thought (Poole) was much better in terms of staying poised,” Kerr said. “He did a better job tonight not getting frustrated emotionally, not getting frustrated.”
Embiid has scored 30 or more points in six straight games and 11 of 12. After a first half which saw him often flailing and clearly frustrated with five turnovers, Embiid reasserted himself in the third quarter with 12 points and two 3-pointers and the 76ers went from down 57-55 down at halftime to an 88-81 lead.
“We were just trying to be more physical,” Embiid said. “They were on fire, hitting some of those shots. There were some lucky bounces and they were making everything. At some point, you knew that they were not going to be able to do that all night. And we knew that we had to be more aggressive, more physical and getting them into foul trouble. And we were able to close off some of those wide-open shots.”
Warriors: Wiggins missed his sixth straight game. He was cleared to return to practice Thursday, but there is no immediate timeframe for him to return to play. “I think there’s a chance he could play on Sunday,” Kerr said after the game, referring to Golden State’s next game in Toronto. “But there hasn’t been a decision on that.”
76ers: Harris was scratched from the lineup just 20 minutes before tip-off after complaining of back pain. “He was fine at the shootaround this morning, but couldn’t get loose tonight,” Rivers said. “It’s tough because we really were shorthanded in guards.”. … Furkan Korkmaz was inactive with a non-COVID illness.
Warriors: At Toronto on Sunday.
76ers: Hosts Toronto on Monday night.
Knicks launch 3s, beat Bulls 114-91 for 6th straight victory
CHICAGO (AP) RJ Barrett scored 27 points and the New York Knicks again used 3-point shooting to beat the Chicago Bulls, 114-91 on Friday night to sweep the two-game set and run their winning streak to six.
Jalen Brunson and Quentin Grimes each added 22 points to help the Knicks follow their 128-120 overtime victory over the Bulls on Wednesday night. New York, which entered 26th in the NBA in 3-point shooting, was 17 for 44 on 3s after going 18 of 34 two nights earlier.
Brunson made a career-high six shots on nine attempts from beyond the arc, Grimes was 5 of 9 from long-range and Barrett went 3 of 5.
“It was just luck,” Brunson said of his 3-point shooting. “We’re clicking. We’re helping each other out and were just putting each other in position where we’re just finding each other, giving each other space. “
Julius Randle had 19 points and 12 rebounds for New York. The Knicks outrebounded Chicago 50-39 and held an opponent to fewer than 100 points for the fifth time during the winning streak.
The Bulls committed 20 turnovers to New York’s 10.
“The shooting really helps a lot and obviously the defense helps our team immensely,” New York coach Tom Thibodeau said. “It gives us high energy. It gives us multiple efforts.
“I love the way our perimeter is playing right now, and then throw RJ in there and then throw the bedsheet in. We’re mixing and matching.”
Zach LaVine had 17 points for Chicago, and DeMar DeRozan was limited to 14 points. The Bulls have lost three straight.
“The only way to respond is to compete,” DeRozan said. “We let frustration get to us tonight.”
The Bulls faded in the fourth quarter as the Knicks pulled away.
“It’s not ideal where we’re at, but great stories start with some kind of tragedy,” DeRozan added.
Knicks: New York guard Derrick Rose played his first seven seasons with the Bulls and was the NBA’s MVP in 2010-11 at age 22. Now 34, Rose isn’t in the Knicks rotation, but Thibodeau thinks the Rose might merit having his number retired by the Bulls. “That would be a question for the Bulls organization,” said Thibodeau, who coached Rose for five seasons in Chicago, “I’m hopeful. My opinion is he is deserving.” Rose entered the game in the final minutes to an ovation from the crowd.
Bulls: G Ayo Dosunmu returned and entered in the second quarter after being sidelined with an pelvic bruise. Dosunmu suffered the injury in Sunday’s loss at Atlanta. . The Bulls signed G Carlik Jones to a two-way contract and waived F Kostas Antetokuonmpo, a younger brother of Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokuonmpo. Kostas appeared in 12 games with the G League Windy City Bulls, averaging 11.7 points.
Knicks At Indiana on Sunday night
Bulls: At Minnesota on Sunday night to start a four-game trip.
Doncic, Wood lead Mavericks to 130-110 win over Blazers
DALLAS (AP) Luka Doncic scored 33 points, Christian Wood had a season-high 32 points along with 12 rebounds and the Dallas Mavericks beat the Portland Trail Blazers 130-110 on Friday night.
Two of Dallas’ top three scorers each had 20 before halftime – the NBA scoring leader Doncic with 23 to 20 for Wood – and combined to make 22 of 35 from the field as Dallas shot 56%.
Damian Lillard also had 20 before the break with 21, but finished with 24 to end a four-game streak of at least 35 points that was tied for the longest in the NBA this season with Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid.
The Mavericks ended the Blazers’ three-game winning streak while beating Portland for the sixth consecutive time. The average margin during the streak is 25 points.
Wood’s first 20-point half with Dallas helped the Mavericks turn an eight-point deficit into a 14-point lead in the second quarter before Dallas settled for a nine-point halftime edge.
“He did a great job of being able to play through him in the second quarter was huge for us,” coach Jason Kidd said. “The time he was on the floor on both ends, he gave us a lift tonight.”
Dallas, which had lost three of its previous four games, outscored Portland 28-10 in the first seven minutes of the third quarter for a 27-point lead. The lead never fell below 19 after that.
Doncic and Lillard sat the entire fourth quarter – along with the rest of Portland’s starters – with both teams on the first night of a back-to-back. Doncic went to the locker room with 6:40 remaining.
“We didn’t have it,” Portland coach Chauncey Billups said. “We’ll talk about why we didn’t have it. I wanted to be smart about it. We’re in a tough little stretch. Got to know when to fold ’em.”
Lillard, who averaged 38 points in the previous four games, started hot again before cooling off with three straight misses from 3-point range in the second quarter. He finished 6 of 14.
While the top three scorers for Dallas combined for 78 points (Spencer Dinwiddie had 13), the Blazers’ trio of 20-point scorers had just 38.
Anfernee Simons and Jerami Grant finished with seven points apiece, combining to go 5 of 19 from the field. Grant scored 37 in Dallas’ 117-112 win at home last month.
Doncic and Wood were the first Dallas teammates to score at least 20 points each in the same half since Doncic and Seth Curry in a 122-111 victory over Detroit in Mexico City three years ago.
Jusuf Nurkic and Trendon Watford scored 16 apiece for Portland, and Watford had 11 rebounds.
HELLO, HOME FOLKS
Kemba Walker made his home debut for Dallas, converting a three-point play when he beat the shot-clock buzzer after rebounding his own miss and got fouled. He also had a 3 to finish with six points. The four-time All-Star with a recent history of knee trouble signed with Dallas on Nov. 29.
Trail Blazers: Lillard is 46 points from passing Hall of Famer Clyde Drexler as the franchise’s scoring leader. … Grant opened the scoring with a 3 but went 1 of 7 the rest of the way.
Mavericks: Tim Hardaway Jr scored 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting. … G Josh Green, who missed his fourth consecutive game with a right elbow sprain, will make the upcoming road trip. … C Dwight Powell sustained a left thigh contusion early in the third quarter and didn’t return. The Mavs are already without F/C Maxi Kleber, who will miss multiple weeks with a torn hamstring.
Trail Blazers: This is the second of three Texas stops to start the first of two season-long six-game trips. After Houston to finish a back-to-back Saturday, Portland plays consecutive games in Oklahoma City.
Mavericks: A four-game trip starts with the finish of a back-to-back in Cleveland on Saturday. The Cavaliers beat the Mavericks 105-90 in Dallas on Wednesday.
Zuccarello has hat trick, Wild beat Blackhawks 4-1
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) Mats Zuccarello had three goals and an assist, and Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 28 shots as the Minnesota Wild beat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-1 on Friday night for their fourth straight win.
Kirill Kaprizov had a goal and two assists, and Sam Steel added two assists as Minnesota’s top line continued its high-scoring ways. The trio has combined for 19 goals since the 24-year-old Steel was first matched with Kaprizov and Zuccarello on the top line 13 games ago.
The Wild are 10-3-0 in that stretch.
“I think all three work hard, on the puck, aggressive, create chances for each other,” Zuccarello said of his line. “That’s what we try to achieve every game. Some games, it’s hard. Some games, the puck bounces our way on our sticks. I think today was a pretty good game for us and, obviously, for the team.”
Jonathan Toews scored his 10th goal of the season and Petr Mrazek had 18 saves for Chicago, which has lost six straight – all in regulation – and 14 of 15 overall (1-13-1).
“Everybody wants to win in this league, so I think we have to understand where our team is playing at right now,” Blackhawks coach Luke Richardson said. “It’s starting to come back together. … The last two games, much better. But still got to go up to win in this league.”
Zuccarello and the top line didn’t take long to strike against the Blackhawks. Minnesota controlled the puck in the offensive zone for a long shift before Zuccarello scored with 4:54 left in the first period. Steel sent a cross-ice pass to Kaprizov, who quickly sent a one-time pass to Zuccarello at the side of the goal and Zuccarello redirected it past Mrazek to extend his point streak to nine games.
Kaprizov scored at 8:32 of the second for his 18th of the season, putting the puck on net from a tough angle that found its way in after Mrazek slid backward.
Zuccarello made it 3-0 with 43 seconds left in the second with a power-play goal. Mrazek slid across to defend Matt Boldy, who passed to a wide-open Zuccarello on the back side.
“He’s committed to team-first mentality and then allowing that to translate into offense,” Wild coach Dean Evason said of Zuccarello. “He’s been a real good leader for us all year.”
Toews finally gave Chicago its first goal on the power play 8:27 into the third. The Blackhawks were playing the second game of a back-to-back after a 4-1 home loss to Vegas on Thursday. They are 0-4-1 in the second game of back-to-backs this season.
“Obviously, we’re going through it right now,” Blackhawks center Max Domi said. “I think we all recognize that, but we’re not going to quit. We’re not going to stand down. Just got to find a way to get one here and build on that.”
Zuccarello’s empty-netter with 2:09 left completed his second career hat trick – first since Oct. 30, 2015, while with the New York Rangers. It was also his 13th goal of the season. At 35 years old, he became the oldest player in franchise history with a hat trick.
“Three open netters,” Zuccarello said. “Even I can make all of those.”
Zuccarello has six goals and eight assists during his point streak, which is one shy of his career-best stretch. … The Wild have a power-play goal in five straight games. They are 18 of 53 on the power play at home, the second-best mark in the NHL. . Minnesota is tied for first in the NHL with seven wins and 14 points in December (7-2-0).
Blackhawks: Host the New York Rangers on Sunday.
Wild: Host Ottawa on Sunday.
Kyrou scores 2, Blues beat Flames 5-2 for third straight win
CALGARY, Alberta (AP) Jordan Kyrou scored twice, Ivan Barbashev and Pavel Buchnevich each had a goal and an assist, and the St. Louis Blues beat the Calgary Flames 5-2 Friday night for their third straight win.
Brandon Saad also scored, and Brayden Schenn and Robert Thomas each had two assists for the Blues.
Coming off a 109-point season, St. Louis improved to 15-15-1 after an early eight-game losing streak set. Wins on back-to-back nights in Alberta and points in five of their last six have the team playing the type of hockey its expects.
“That’s huge, right? It’s a nice little streak we’ve got going right now,” Barbashev said. “Hopefully we keep winning. I think we’re just playing for each other.”
Thomas Greiss stopped 40 shots to win for the fourth time in five starts and improve to 4-4-0 on the season.
“We’re just playing very hard. Great team game,” Greiss said. “They had a lot of shots but I think around the net we played really hard and didn’t give them really any rebounds.”
Connor Mackey scored twice for Calgary, which has lost five straight (0-3-2) and was booed by the home crowd at the final buzzer. Dillon Dube and Elias Lindholm each had two assists, and Jacob Markstrom finished with 18 saves.
“The whole game was just very sloppy from our side,” Lindholm said. “We’ve all gotta just look at ourselves in the mirror and be better. Obviously, tonight, too many odd-man rushes and too many turnovers and I made a bad play there and it starts with me. I’ve got to be better.”
Tied 1-1 after 20 minutes, St. Louis took the lead for good early in the second period. Just seconds after Dube and Andrew Mangiapane failed to get a shot on goal during a dangerous 2-on-1 rush for the Flames, the Blues came back up the ice with a three-way passing sequence capped off by Kyrou, who snapped a shot over Markstrom’s shoulder for his 12th at 3:08.
The Blues made it 3-1 at 3:46 of the third when a lapse in defensive coverage gave Buchnevich an unimpeded path to the net and he fired a shot inside the goalpost for his 10th.
The Flames briefly got back into the game when Mackey scored his second of the night – and second of the season – at 7:40, beating Greiss over his glove after being set up by Dube.
St. Louis restored its two-goal advantage just 1:18 later thanks to a bad turnover by Mackey, who flung the puck up the middle from behind his net where it was intercepted by Saad, who took advantage, scoring his seventh of the season.
“I’ve got to be smart with the puck. I feel like I let the guys down there,” Mackey said. “I can’t be doing that right after we score to get right back in it.”
A minute later, Kyrou fired a shot that deflected in off the skate of Flames defenseman Mackenzie Weegar and in at 9:59. It was Kyrou’s team-leading 13th goal.
St. Louis opened up the scoring 4:07 into the game, capitalizing on a turnover in the offensive zone by Lindholm that led to a 2-on-1 with Thomas and Barbashev, who buried the return pass for just his second goal in his last 16 games.
Calgary tied it 1-1 with 3:59 left when Dube’s shot deflected in off Mackey. Dube has nine points (two goals, seven assists) in his last 10 games.
Dube was on a new line with coach Darryl Sutter flip-flopping his top two left wings. Dube joined Lindholm and Tyler Toffoli and Jonathan Huberdeau dropped down to play alongside Nazem Kadri and Mangiapane.
SINGING THE BLUES
The Flames continue to struggle head to head against St. Louis, losing seven of the last eight meetings.
Mackey’s two goals were the second and third of his career but first in front of a crowd as his first one came in the final game of the 2020-21 season in an empty Saddledome, due to COVID restrictions. Connor’s dad, Dave, spent his final three NHL seasons from 1991-94 with the Blues.
Blues: At Vancouver on Monday night in the third of a season-high five-game trip.
Flames: At San Jose on Sunday night to open a four-game trip with the first of two straight against the Sharks.
AP source: White Sox, Benintendi agree to $75M, 5-year deal
CHICAGO (AP) The Chicago White Sox agreed to a $75 million, five-year contract with All-Star outfielder Andrew Benintendi, a person familiar with the situation said Friday.
The person spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because the deal was pending a physical. ESPN first reported the agreement.
The 28-year-old Benintendi helped Boston capture a World Series championship in 2018. He won a gold glove with Kansas City in 2021 and was chosen to his first All-Star team last season before the Royals traded him to the New York Yankees on July 27. He hit a career-high .304 in 126 games, though his home run total dropped to five from 17 in 2021.
Benintendi batted .254 in 33 games with the Yankees and missed the playoffs because of a broken right wrist. He has a .279 average and 73 homers over seven seasons with Boston, Kansas City and New York.
Benintendi reunites with new White Sox manager Pedro Grifol, who took over for Hall of Famer Tony La Russa after spending the past 10 years in a variety of coaching roles with Kansas City.
Chicago is looking to bounce back from a disappointing 2022 season, when it went 81-81 and finished 11 games back of surprising AL Central champion Cleveland. The White Sox were coming off back-to-back playoff appearances and ran away with the division in 2021.
Former Syracuse star, Knicks player Louis Orr dies at 64
WASHINGTON (AP) Louis Orr, a star forward at Syracuse who played eight NBA seasons before going into a lengthy career in coaching, has died. He was 64.
Orr’s family said Friday in a statement through Georgetown that he died Thursday after a battle with pancreatic cancer.
Orr helped Syracuse make four NCAA Tournament appearances from 1976-80 and earned All-Big East season and conference tournament honors during his senior year. His No. 55 was retired in 2015.
“Louis Orr was the greatest man I’ve had the pleasure to know,” longtime Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim posted on social media. “He came into my life as my first recruit, became a fantastic coach and colleague – but most importantly, he became a dear friend. I will treasure our years together. Sending my love to his family and our Orange family.”
Syracuse’s men’s basketball program also shared a message mourning the loss of what it called “an Orange legend – a player, a coach, and most importantly a great person who made everyone around him better. Louis Orr’s memory will live in our hearts forever, and especially whenever we look up and see his No. 55 in the Dome rafters.”
Orr was a second-round pick by Indiana in 1980 and played two seasons with the Pacers before spending six seasons playing for the New York Knicks from 1982-88.
The Cincinnati native moved into the college coaching ranks as an assistant at Xavier in 1991 and had stints at Providence and his alma mater before taking over the head job at Siena in 2000. He coached one season there, five at Seton Hall and seven at Bowling Green.
Orr was an assistant in the Chinese Basketball Association for one year before joining coach Patrick Ewing’s staff at Georgetown. He spent five seasons as a Hoyas assistant and transitioned to special assistant to the head coach in the spring.
Ewing said he lost a great friend and someone who had been in his life since he was 22 breaking into the NBA.
“We developed a friendship and a brotherhood,” Ewing said in a statement. “He was always someone I could talk to – we would talk about life, we would talk about basketball, we would talk about family. He will be truly missed and he will forever be part of this (Georgetown) program.”
Red Wings’ Jakub Vrana back from player assistance program
DETROIT (AP) Detroit Red Wings forward Jakub Vrana practiced for the first time in two months on Friday, returning to the team after entering the player assistance program of the NHL and NHL Players’ Association.
Vrana declined to specify why he entered the program.
“There’s bigger things than hockey in life and you have to get it in order,” Vrana said. “You have to make some decisions that are important in your life and then hockey.”
The 26-year-old Vrana had a goal and an assist in a win at New Jersey in October and two days later, he didn’t play against the Los Angeles Kings due to personal reasons.
Vrana, from the Czech Republic, has 98 goals and 91 assists in 323 career regular-season games.
He was selected by Washington with the No. 13 pick in the 2014 draft. Detroit acquired Vrana in a trade with the Capitals in April 2021, along with Richard Panik, a first- and second-round pick in exchange for Anthony Mantha. Last year, the Red Wings gave him a three-year contract worth $5.25 million per season.
The NHL and NHLPA started the player assistance program in 1996, giving players access to a confidential phone line and counselors in each city in the league. The jointly funded group assists players and their families with mental health, substance abuse and other matters.
TOP INDIANA HEADLINES/RELEASES
Drayk Bowen is IndyStar Mr. Football
Drayk Bowen was named Mr. Football by the Indianapolis Star. He outdistanced finalists for the top award for senior football players by receiving 241 votes. Center Grove running back Micah Coyle was runner-up with 71 votes and Evansville Mater Dei quarterback Mason Wunderlich third with 55 votes.
The 6-2, 230-pound Bowen will play college football at Notre Dame.
Bowen finished his senior season with 144 tackles, four caused fumbles, two interceptions, 19 tackles for loss and five sacks. He also carried the offense at running back, running for 1,784 yards and 26 touchdowns with 10 catches for 228 yards and three TDs. For his career, Bowen posted a mind-boggling 379 tackles, including 54 for a loss, 16 sacks, 10 caused fumbles and six interceptions and rushed for 2,969 yards and 49 TDs.
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) There’s a connectivity and resiliency these Minnesota Vikings have crafted and harvested, helping put them on the brink of a division title despite being cumulatively outscored by their opponents.
Time for another test of that character.
After allowing 400-plus yards for a franchise-record fifth straight game in a defeat last week at Detroit, the Vikings (10-3) will take another crack at clinching when they host Indianapolis (4-8-1) on Saturday. The NFC North crown will be theirs with a win, or a loss by the Lions.
Though the Vikings were far more competitive than in earlier setbacks against Philadelphia and Dallas, the loss in Detroit further external doubts about whether their defense is strong enough for a deep run through the playoffs.
“Everybody’s kind of on them at this moment, so I feel like they’ve got a lot to prove,” wide receiver Justin Jefferson said.
So, is the art of bouncing back an actual ability a team can possess, like scoring touchdowns in the red zone or consistently rushing the passer? That’s up for debate.
“It’s hard to say, `Oh, we’ve done that before, so we have a reputation for doing that, so we’ll lean on that.’ I don’t believe in that. I think you’ve got to strap it up every week,” quarterback Kirk Cousins said. “I don’t think the Colts really care what happened last week or what’s happening next week.”
What’s clear is the environment implemented by first-year coach Kevin O’Connell has driven some measure of success, considering that largely the same collection of players had a 15-18 record over the previous two seasons and the Vikings this year are the first NFL team to win at least 10 of their first 13 games with a negative point differential (313-312).
“It’s about the process with which we go about the week, never being in denial of reality,” O’Connell said. “The important thing is continuing to attack each week with the emphasis on what it’s going to take to win this week, and that may involve a lot of corrections and things from previous weeks or the previous game. But ultimately that’s what we try to do, just be consistent in that and make sure we’re very much accountable for what we do.”
STAYING THE COURSE
Colts interim coach Jeff Saturday contemplated lineup changes during the bye last week, but quarterback Matt Ryan stayed the starter despite three interceptions and a lost fumble in a 54-19 loss to the Cowboys.
Ryan has an NFL-worst 18 turnovers this season, but Super Bowl 52 MVP Nick Foles – who beat the Vikings for the NFC championship five years ago with the Eagles – will remain as the backup.
With 125 more yards, Ryan – who was in the same 2008 draft class as fellow quarterback O’Connell – will be the eighth player in history with 3,000 passing yards in 13 straight seasons.
“There’s part of his game that has to improve, and we talked about that with a number of different guys,” Saturday said. “If we’re going to win, we need Matt playing his `A’ game. That’s my expectation for him. He’s mentally tough.”
GETTING OFF THE GROUND
The Vikings netted 22 rushing yards on 17 carries against the Lions, the second time in their last three games they’ve averaged 2.5 yards or fewer per attempt. They’re eager for a blocking boost from the return of left tackle Christian Darrisaw, who missed three games with a concussion.
“He’s as good as he wants to be,” running back Dalvin Cook said. “The upside and the potential of him being an All-Pro and a superstar tackle in this league is right there for him. Just keep putting in that work and just keep being him.”
CATCH HIM IF YOU CAN
Jefferson has a league-leading 1,500 receiving yards and a legitimate opportunity to break the all-time single-season record set by Calvin Johnson (1,964) in 2012. He’s just 23, in his third year, but he said he sees a higher level still he can reach.
“That’s unbelievable to say, ain’t it? But I feel like there’s always a `better’ that I can be,” Jefferson said. “I feel like I can catch the ball better. I feel like I can have route running better. There’s always room for improvement in my game.”
MORE OF GILMORE
Colts defensive coordinator Gus Bradley wouldn’t give any hints about the plan for Jefferson, but this much is clear: cornerback Stephon Gilmore needs to play a key role. The 2019 NFL Defensive Player of the Year has enjoyed a resurgence of sorts this season, his healthiest since winning the award with New England.
He’s fully aware of the challenge of covering Jefferson.
“He’s fast, he’s shifty, he’s great at the catch point,” Gilmore said. “He’s a great receiver. Kirk Cousins is playing good ball, too, so they’ve got a great offense. It’ll be a big matchup for us.”
- The first playoff game in Vikings’ team history was a 24-14 loss to the Colts in 1968 and Minnesota is just 7-18-1 all-time in the series (including playoffs). It is the Vikings’ worst record against any single opponent.
- The Colts entered their bye week with a 54-19 loss to the Cowboys, in which they were outscored by 33 points in the fourth quarter (33-0). That was the largest point differential in a single fourth quarter in NFL history.
- Matt Ryan needs 125 passing yards to reach 3000 yards passing for the 13th consecutive season. He would be the eighth QB in NFL history to accomplish the feat with Ryan joining Philip Rivers as the only two of those quarterbacks without a Super Bowl victory.
- After a 34-23 loss to the Lions, the Vikings have a point differential of -1 this season despite having 10 wins. Prior to Minnesota, the worst point differential through 13 games in NFL history by a team with 10+ wins at the time was the 2004 Falcons (10-3, +15 point diff).
- Justin Jefferson set a franchise record with 223 receiving yards on 11 catches against Detroit. Jefferson is up to 4516 career receiving yards, which is the most of any player in NFL history in a player’s first three seasons (next most is Randy Moss with 4163).
- The Colts, coached by Jeff Saturday, are looking for their third consecutive win when playing on Saturdays after going 2-0 last season on the day. Minnesota, meanwhile, is 6-1 on Saturdays since 1995, which is tied with the Steelers for best such record in that time.
Game Rewind: Pacers 112, Cavaliers 118
The Cleveland Cavaliers have the best home record in the NBA for a reason.
Despite trailing by as many as 13 points in the fourth quarter, the Cavs (19-11) outscored the Indiana Pacers 35-18 in the final frame to post a 118-112 win over the Blue & Gold at a sold-out Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse on Friday.
In the final 5:42 of the game, the Pacers (15-15) were outscored 13-2. With the win, the Cavaliers moved to 13-2 at home this season, which is the best in the Eastern Conference and tied with the Memphis Grizzlies for best home record overall.
Cavs guard Donovan Mitchell had a herculean effort, finishing with a game-high 41 points on 14-for-24 shooting (8-for-15 3-point range) – including 18 points in the final 12 minutes of play.
Six Pacers finished in double-digit scoring, led by 22 points by rookie Bennedict Mathurin. Point guard Tyrese Haliburton followed with 17 points and 14 assists and Pacers center Myles Turner also achieved a double-double by posting 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Statistically, the Pacers won several key margins in the loss.
The Pacers outshot the Cavs 52 to 50 percent overall, but made 11 3-pointers to their opponents’ 14.
Indiana set a new game-high for assists this season with 34 and the Pacers’ bench outscored the Cleveland reserves 55-34 while also besting the Cavs in fast break points (20-9) and points in the paint (62-44).
Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle said that down the stretch, the team got away from what worked through the first three and a half quarters.
“In the fourth quarter, we stopped passing the ball after really putting on almost a masterclass of ball movement and player movement and unselfishness,” Carlisle said. “In the fourth, we just let it get away from us. We struggled defensively and we struggled offensively, but the ball movement just wasn’t wasn’t what it was. And for us, we have to play a certain way and we didn’t do it in the fourth and paid the price.”
Indiana held Cleveland to 6-for-18 shooting in the second quarter and outscored the Cavs 30-20 in the paint overall in the first half to lead 61-54 at intermission.
The Pacers led 31-29 at the end of the first quarter behind six different scorers, including a perfect start by Buddy Hield who made all three of his shots for eight points.
It was just the sixth time this season the Pacers have led at the end of a first quarter.
Both teams came out firing, as the Pacers made 60 percent of their first-quarter shots and the Cavs made 55 percent from the field.
After the Cavs opened the game with a 6-0 run, Hield scored all his points in a row before a trey by Turner and basket from Andrew Nembhard gave the Pacers their first lead at 20-19 with 4:30 left in the first quarter.
The Pacers were able to maintain the lead the rest of the first quarter, but a 10-point effort by Mitchell kept it a one-possession game.
Mathurin looked like a seasoned vet in the second quarter, scoring all 12 of his first-half points in the period by shooting 3-for-6 and going 6-for-8 from the free throw line.
After tying four times in the first four minutes of the second frame, an and-one by Mathurin put the Pacers ahead 42-40 with 7:21 left in half. From 8:10 to 6:10, Mathurin scored all nine of the Pacers’ points.
The Pacers led by as many as six points in the second quarter, but a 7-2 Cavs run – on five points by Cedi Osman – narrowed it to 51-50 with 3:26 left in the half.
In the final 42 seconds, Haliburton hit two free throws and Hield added another 3-pointer to put the visitors up by seven.
Out of intermission, it was raining 3-pointers for both sides, as Turner and Hield both hit treys while Mitchell answered with a pair of shots from behind the arc himself.
After eight straight points by Mitchell, the Pacers answered with a 7-0 run to lead 74-62 with 8:57 left in the third quarter.
Indiana led by at least 10 the remainder of the third quarter, as the team shot 60 percent in the period, and took a 94-83 advantage into the final frame.
Mitchell and Darius Garland accounted for 20 of the Cavs’ 29 points in the third quarter.
After trading baskets throughout the first three minutes of the fourth quarter, Mitchell and former Pacer Caris LaVert hit back-to-back 3-pointers to cut it to 103-96 with 8:27 left in the game.
The Cavs continued to put on the pressure, as Garland added a basket before Mitchell scored five straight to make it 105-103 with 6:43 on the clock.
Out of a timeout, the Pacers got back on track with a Mathurin three and layup from Aaron Nesmith, but again the Cavs answered with a basket from Mitchell and a trey from Evan Mobley to make it 110-109.
Another 3-pointer by Mitchell with 3:41 left in the game gave the Cavs the lead back at 3:41 before a LaVert jumper made it a two-score game.
Haliburton hit a pair of free throws with 2:30 left to record the Pacers’ only points in the final five minutes.
Garland was next in scoring for the Cavs with 20 points and Mobley totaled 16 to go along with nine rebounds.
Haliburton said the team needs to learn how to close-out games better.
“We’re a young team, and I think there’s two things you’ve gotta show: Can you fight back when it’s not going right and can you hold the lead,” Haliburton said. “We’ve shown all year we can fight back when things aren’t going our way. We have yet to really show we know how to hold on to a lead.”
Indiana will host the New York Knicks on Sunday.
Inside the Numbers
The Pacers are now 11-3 when outshooting their opponents this season, 12-4 when having more assists and 11-7 when recording more bench points.
Indiana is 10-3 when six or more players record 10+ points.
In games where the opponent scores more than 110 points, the Pacers are 10-14.
Haliburton now has 17 double-doubles this season and has recorded 10+ assists 18 times.
Turner recorded his ninth double-double.
After not playing in the previous two games, Isaiah Jackson came off the bench and had 10 points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals in just under 18 minutes.
Mathurin has scored 10 points in a quarter 11 times this season.
Mathurin leads all NBA bench players with 13 games of scoring 20 or more points.
You Can Quote Me On That
“Mitchell was spectacular. I mean, what else you can say? The guy was just, I mean, he’s out of this world. And you know, it was really breathtaking to watch – the plays that he continued to make and the shots that he continued to make.” – Carlisle on Mitchell’s 41 points
“This is a year where we’re on a fact-finding mission to see who are the guys that are committed to us that we want to commit to. And there’s a lot of interesting information being gathered. It’s really been good.” – Carlisle on figuring out player minutes
“This one hurts a lot. It was a quiet locker room after the game. Everyone was not happy with our performance in the fourth quarter. We have to play a full 48 minutes. If we did that we would have a different tune.” – Nesmith on the loss
“When you get stops you’re allowed to dictate pace. I think that’s true at any level of basketball. We got enough stops early that we made them play at our pace and forced turnovers. We kind of made them play our style of basketball. Towards the end of the game, it was more of a grind-out game.” – Haliburton on the strong start to the game
“We all get along, we all love each other, we’re a great, great team – a bunch of guys who are together. It’s just figuring it out right now, and that will come with time. I’m not panicking.” – Haliburton on holding on the team hanging on to leads
Stat of the Night
Mitchell shot 9-for-18 in the fourth quarter, including 5-for-11 from 3-point range, to score as many points (18) as the Pacers did total in the final frame.
- With 11 rebounds against the Cavs, Turner now has 3,067 for his career. The rebounding total moved Turner into 10th all-time in Pacers NBA franchise history, surpassing Detlef Schrempf (3,059). Turner still has a ways to go before cracking the all-time franchise top-10 in rebounding, as Darnell Hillman (3,999) sits at 10th there.
- Prior to the game against the Cavs, Carlisle said second-year man Chris Duarte – who hasn’t suited up for the Blue & Gold since Nov. 4 – could be back with the team soon as he recovers from an ankle injury. Duarte is currently on medical assignment with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants.
- On Friday, it was announced Louis Orr, who played two seasons with the Pacers from 1980 to 1982 and then on the New York Knicks from 1982 to 1988, had passed away at the age of 64 on Thursday. The Pacers selected Orr, who played college basketball at Syracuse University, with the 28th pick in the 1980 NBA draft. He played in 162 games for the Blue & Gold, averaging 9.3 points and 3.5 rebounds. After his pro career, Orr went on to coach more than 30 years at the college level, most recently as an assistant at Georgetown University with former Knicks teammate Patrick Ewing.
The Pacers return home Sunday, Dec. 18, to take on Julius Randle and the New York Knicks at Gainbridge Fieldhouse at 5:00 PM ET.
FUEL HAVE RECORD-BREAKING NIGHT VS NAILERS
WHEELING – After taking down the Wheeling Nailers 6-4 this past Wednesday, the Indy Fuel made the trip to Wheeling, WV with the goal of defeating their division rival in back-to-back games. Not only did Indy emerge with a 6-3 victory, but forward Spencer Watson tied and broke the franchise record for points while goaltender Zach Driscoll set the record for most saves and shots faced so far this season.
Three-and-a-half minutes into the first period, Indy’s Cam Hillis was given a tripping penalty, which led to Wheeling’s Brooklyn Kalmikov scoring on the power play. The Fuel went on to respond with an equal-strength goal from Alex Wideman at 11:38 and a power play goal from Chase Lang that gave them a 2-1 lead after a David Drake slashing minor.
The second period was the Indy Fuel show. Just one-and-a-half minutes into the middle frame, Bryan Lemos scored an equal-strength goal, making it 3-1 Indy. Spencer Watson took the lone assist on that goal, which tied Josh Shalla for most points in Fuel franchise history at 153. The record (and score) didn’t stay that way for long – just two minutes and 12 seconds later, Chad Yetman scored what would become the game-winning goal. Spencer Watson also picked up an assist on this goal, officially making him the Fuel’s all-time points leader with 154 total points in his Fuel career.
Indy wasn’t done yet – with four minutes remaining in the second, Hillis made it 5-1 Indy. The Fuel took three penalties in the second, including a high-sticking minor for Keoni Texeira and a tripping minor and boarding major for Cliff Watson, but were able to kill everything off.
Indy took another three penalties in the third period, all two-minute minors. Wheeling capitalized on two of the three, with both of those goals coming from Nailers forward Sean Josling. Indy’s goaltender Zach Driscoll had been strong through the first two periods, but really proved his skill in the final 20 minutes, setting the 2022-23 season record for most saves and most shots faced in a single period by the Fue (22 saves on 24 shots)l. Driscoll kept the Nailers at bay and Seamus Malone scored an empty-net goal to secure the Fuel’s 6-3 win.
In addition to setting the current season’s record for most saves and shots faced in a period, Driscoll set the season’s record for most saves (48) and most shots faced (51) in an entire game.
The Fuel return home to Indiana Farmers Coliseum tomorrow, December 17 at 7 p.m. to face off against the Cincinnati Cyclones in the annual Teddy Bear Toss game. After the Fuel score their first goal, fans will throw stuffed animals onto the ice that will be collected and donated to the WRTV Toy Drive that benefits children around Central Indiana. Fans are encouraged to arrive early, as the bears could be thrown at any time. You can purchase tickets HERE.
Indiana Basketball Game Notes – Game 11 at Kansas
• Indiana University continues its 123rd season of competition in men’s basketball with a blue-blood battle at No. 8/6 Kansas at 11 a.m. CT/noon ET on Dec. 17 at Allen Fieldhouse. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2.
• The game will mark the fourth in the last five outings for the Hoosiers with an opponent ranked inside the KenPom top-40, with three of the games coming away from Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.
• The Jayhawks, led by 20th-year head coach Bill Self, enter the game with a 9-1 record. KU won the 2022 NCAA Championship.
Dec. 17, 2022 • 11 a.m. CT/Noon ET
Phog Allen Fieldhouse (16,300) • Lawrence, Kan.
TV: ESPN2 (Dave O’Brien, Dick Vitale)
Radio: IU Radio Network (Don Fischer, Errek Suhr, John Herrick)
Series History: Indiana leads, 8-6
Last Meeting: IU 103, KU 99 (OT) on Nov. 11, 2016 in Honolulu
• Indiana and Kansas have played 14 times in men’s basketball with the Hoosiers earning victories on eight occasions. Indiana is 2-1 all time in Lawrence.
Games in Lawrence
Indiana 72, Kansas 55 (Dec. 5, 1972)
Indiana 74, Kansas 70 (OT) (Dec. 4, 1974)
Indiana 83, Kansas 86 (OT) (Dec. 22, 1993)
• IU took down KU to claim both the 1940 and 1953 NCAA Championship crowns. The Hoosiers won the program’s first title in ’40 by a score of 60-42 behind double-figure scoring efforts from Marv Huffman (12), Jay McCreary (12), and Paul Armstrong (10). The ’53 title came in a 69-68 win on the strength of a 30-point, 10-rebound outing from Don Schlundt. Charley Kraak added a 17-point, 13-rebound double-double, while Bob ‘Slick’ Leonard tallied 12 points.
• The last time the two sides met came in a 103-99 overtime thriller on Nov. 11, 2016 in Honolulu.
Last Time Out
• Sixth-year senior forward Race Thompson scored 16 points on a career-best 4-of-7 from the 3-point line in Indiana’s 89-75 loss to No. 10/9 Arizona in the Las Vegas Clash on Dec. 10.
• Fifth-year senior guard Xavier Johnson tallied 11 points and 11 assists for his fourth career double-double. Fifth-year senior forward Miller Kopp (14), sophomore guard Tamar Bates (13), and senior forward Trayce Jackson-Davis (11) all reached double figures.
Fireworks on Offense
• Indiana ranks second among Big Ten Conference (34th nationally) offenses in scoring at 81.4 points per contest on a league-best (third nationally) 51.1% shooting from the floor.
• No other team in the conference is shooting over 50.0%. Ohio State, 56th nationally, has shot the ball at a 48.2% mark this season to rank second in the conference.
• Indiana is third in the Big Ten and 14th in the NCAA with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.54.
• Fifth-year senior forward Miller Kopp has knocked down 23-of-47 (48.9%) 3-pointers to open the season. He is third on the team with a scoring average of 9.9 points per game.
• Kopp matched a career best with five made triples at Rutgers, his eighth career game with at least three made 3-pointers.
• The Houston native averages a team-high 16.0 points over the last three contests. He has made 10 of IU’s 27 3-pointers in that span.
• He knocked down a critical 3-point field goal to extend Indiana’s lead to eight with 2:25 to play in the road victory over Xavier on Nov. 18.
Scoop, There it is
• Sophomore guard Tamar Bates, nicknamed “Scoop”, is the first Hoosier off the bench and leads all second-unit players in minutes played this season (214). He averages 8.8 points and 2.0 rebounds per game.
• Bates recorded career bests in points (22), made field goals (8), and assists (4) in the win over Jackson State on Nov. 25.
• The IMG Academy product scored 32 points off the bench on 6-of-11 (54.5%) shooting from the 3-point line against Nebraska (Dec. 7) and Arizona (Dec. 10).
• Bates became a father to his daughter, Leilani, on March 20, 2022, two days after his freshman season concluded.
Double Double, Double Double (CAREER)
Trayce Jackson-Davis: 36; last vs. Nebraska, 12/7/22
Race Thompson: 8; last at Michigan State, 2/12/22
Xavier Johnson: 4; last at Arizona, 12/10/22
Jordan Geronimo: 1; vs. Merrimack, 12/12/21
• Senior forward Trayce Jackson-Davis currently sits 10th all-time at IU in scoring (1,739), seventh in rebounds (873), and fourth (tied) in blocked shots (196). He joins Alan Henderson as the only Hoosiers to be top-10 all-time in career scoring, rebounding, and blocks.
Up Next: Career Scoring Leaders
1. Calbert Cheaney – 2,613
2. Steve Alford – 2,438
3. Don Schlundt – 2,192
4. A.J. Guyton – 2,100
5. Mike Woodson – 2,061
6. Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell – 1,986
7. Alan Henderson – 1,979
8. Damon Bailey – 1,741
9. Kent Benson – 1,740
10. Trayce Jackson-Davis – 1,739
Up Next: Career Rebounding Leaders
1. Alan Henderson – 1,091
2. Walt Bellamy – 1,087
3. Kent Benson – 1,031
4. Archie Dees – 914
5. Steve Downing – 889
6. Ray Tolbert – 874
7. Trayce Jackson-Davis – 873
Up Next: Career Blocks Leaders
1. Jeff Newton – 227
2. Alan Henderson – 213
3. D.J. White – 198
4. Uwe Blab – 196
Trayce Jackson-Davis – 196
• Senior forward Trayce Jackson-Davis recorded the third triple-double in Indiana basketball history with 12 points, 11 rebounds, and a career-high 10 assists against Nebraska on Dec. 7. He added three blocks and three steals in the win.
• Jackson-Davis joined historic company of triple-doubles in IU history. Juwan Morgan notched a 10-point, 10-rebound, and 10-assist triple-double against Jacksonville on Dec. 22, 2018. Steve Downing tallied 28 points, 17 rebounds, and 10 blocks against Michigan on Feb. 23, 1971.
• He is the first player to compile a triple-double with at least three blocks and three steals since Luke Walton accomplished the feat with 27 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists, four blocks, and four steals against USC on Jan. 17, 2002.
• Junior guard Trey Galloway scored a career-best 20 points on a career-high 4-of-6 shooting from the 3-point line in the win over the Huskers on Dec. 7.
• Sophomore guard Tamar Bates scored 19 points on a career-high five 3-point baskets on Dec. 7 against Nebraska.
• Sixth-year senior forward Race Thompson scored a team-high 16 points to go along with nine rebounds against No. 10/9 Arizona on Dec. 10.
• Thompson hit a career-high 4-of-7 shots from the 3-point line, his fourth career game with multiple made 3-pointers.
• Fifth-year senior forward Miller Kopp tallied 14 points against the Wildcats. Kopp has averaged 16.0 points in his last three contests.
• Fifth-year senior guard Xavier Johnson secured his fourth career double-double on 11 points and 11 assists against Arizona.
• Sophomore guard Tamar Bates scored 13 points against the Wildcats. Bates has tallied double figures in three of the last five games.
• Indiana charted seven-straight games from Nov. 18-Dec. 7 with at least five blocks. IU currently averages 5.6 blocks per game.
• Fifth-year senior forward Miller Kopp converted three-straight double-figure scoring outputs for this first time in his Indiana career with 21 points at Rutgers on Dec. 3, 13 points against Nebraska on Dec. 7, and 14 points against Arizona on Dec. 10.
• Senior forward Trayce Jackson-Davis has swatted at least two shots in 27 of his last 44 games played.
• The Hoosier bench has outscored opponents 278-108.
• Head coach Mike Woodson holds a record of 15-2 in non-conference games at the helm of the Hoosiers.
#1 Purdue Heads to Indy Classic to Face Davidson
 Purdue (10-0) vs. Davidson (6-4)
Indianapolis, Indiana | Gainbridge Fieldhouse (17,923)
TELEVISION: BTN | RADIO: Purdue Sports Network
ANNOUNCERS: Brandon Gaudin, Robbie Hummel
THE NOTES TO KNOW
• Purdue steps back out of Big Ten play this weekend when it travels to Indianapolis for the Indy Classic to face Davidson. The unbeaten Boilermakers are one of seven remaining unbeaten teams nationally and are looking for their first 11-0 start in seven years.
• The game will pit Davidson star Foster Loyer (5th yr.) against his brother, Fletcher Loyer (Fr.). The two brothers are averaging a combined 32.6 points and 8.4 assists per game while shooting 53-of-139 (.381) from long range. The pair both won state honors as Foster was named Michigan’s Mr. Basketball (2018) while Fletcher was named Indiana’s Gatorade Player of the Year (2022).
• Purdue is looking to extend its non-conference, regular-season winning streak to 22 games, dating to a Dec. 8, 2020, loss at Miami, Fla. The win streak is the longest in the country by seven games (14 – UNLV).
• For the second straight year, Purdue has been voted No. 1 in the AP Top 25 poll. A year ago, Purdue was voted No. 1 on Dec. 6, for the first time in school history. Purdue becomes the first Big Ten team since Indiana (1974-75, 1975-76) to be ranked No. 1 in consecutive seasons.
• Purdue can claim America’s best resume, owning a nation’s-best four top-50 KenPom wins, all of them against teams ranked in the top 31. Three of the wins (Marquette was at home) have come away from Mackey Arena.
• Appearing at No. 1 in this week’s AP Top 25, Purdue has been ranked in the top 5 in consecutive years for the first time since the 1986-87 and 1987-88 seasons. The Boilermakers have spent 15 of the past 25 AP polls ranked in the top 5. Only Gonzaga (22) has spent more time in the top 5 than Purdue since the start of last season.
• Purdue is 152-12 under Painter when scoring at least 80 points, including 66-2 since the start of the 2017-18 season. Purdue has won 44 straight games when scoring at least 80 points.
• Purdue has made 164 free throws this season, while opponents have shot just 105. Purdue has made 90 more free throws (164 to 74) this season, the fourth-highest discrepancy in the country (Denver +100; New Mexico +95; North Carolina +91).
• Purdue is currently the fifth-youngest team among power-conference teams in America in terms of D-I experience (1.36) according to KenPom.com. The Purdue freshman class is averaging 28.9 points per game (37.1 percent of scoring). Over the last three games, the group has averaged 34.0 points per game, accounting for 42.7 percent of Purdue’s scoring in that span (102 of 239 points).
• Through Thursday, Zach Edey ranks No. 1 in the KenPom POY ratings by a significant margin and has been the game MVP in all 10 Purdue contests (unprecedented to start a season in the KenPom era) so far this year. It’s the second-longest streak ever behind Ohio State’s Keita Bates-Diop in 2017-18 (11 games). Including this season with Edey, Purdue has had a top-10 KenPom player in five of the last seven seasons. Edey ranks 7th in the country in scoring, 1st in rebounding, 19th in blocked shots and 33rd in field goal percentage.
• Perhaps our favorite Zach Edey stat: Through 10 games this year, he has more blocked shots (23) than personal fouls (19). He has also played 30 minutes eight times this season after not doing it once in his first two seasons, including 43 minutes vs. Nebraska last Saturday. He is averaging just 2.4 fouls per 40 minutes played this season.
• Edey became the first Big Ten player since Ethan Happ (Nov. 2018) to be named Big Ten Player of the Week in three consecutive weeks. His three Big Ten Player of the Week awards (in only five weeks) are tied for the third most in a season in Purdue history.
• Fletcher Loyer has been named Big Ten Freshman of the Week twice this season (Nov. 28, Dec. 5). The two awards are the third most for a freshman in Purdue history (Caleb Swanigan, Vince Edwards – 3).
• Matt Painter needs six overall victories to become the fifth coach in Big Ten history with 400 victories while at a conference school (Bob Knight, Tom Izzo, Gene Keady, Lou Henson). He needs four victories to become the seventh coach with 200 Big Ten Conference victories.
Cardinals Head South for Indy Classic Against Redbirds
MUNCIE, Ind. – The Ball State men’s basketball team makes the short trip south to the Gainbridge Fieldhouse for the Inaugural Indy Classic powered by Sports Tech HQ on Saturday. The coverage of the Cardinals is sponsored by Gainbridge. Ball State takes on Illinois State with first tip at 3:30 p.m. and will be aired on ESPN+.
Last Time Out
The Cardinals improved to 6-4 overall after an 88-69 win over the Evansville Aces. Jaylin Sellers led the way with 20 points and added four rebounds and an assist. Payton Sparks finished with his fourth double-double in five games. Sparks went for 18 points and brought down a game-high 12 rebounds. He also added an assist and a block. Jarron Coleman tallied 15 points for his ninth-straight contest in double digits. He added four rebounds, three steals, and two assists. Basheer Jihad collected 12 points, his first double-digit effort of the season, to go along with a career-high seven rebounds, two assists, and one steal. Coleman and Mickey Pearson Jr. tied for a game-high two blocks. Coleman along with Demarius Jacobs tied for a game-high three steals.
Through 10 games of the season, Sparks leads the team with 14.8 points a contest and 8.3 rebounds per game. He is shooting 61.4 percent from the field, which is tied for 32 in the NCAA and is at the top of the MAC. His 3.40 offensive rebounds per game have him tied for 28th in the country and second in the conference. Sparks is tied for 75th in the nation with 8.3 rebounds per game, which is fourth in the MAC. His four double-doubles are tied for 23rd in the NCAA and tied for the most in the MAC. He is second on the squad with nine blocks, third on the team with 22 assists, and he has added six steals.
Spreading the Love
The Cardinals have four players averaging double-digit points through 10 games of the season. Sellers is second on the team with 13.1 points per game. He is shooting 58.3 percent from 3-point range, which leads the team, and he is 58.3 percent from the field. Sellers has brought down 4.3 rebounds per game to go along with five steals and five assists. Coleman is third on the team with 12.9 points per game. He leads the team with 34 assists. He is second on the team with 5.2 boards per contest and in steals with 17. Coleman has seven blocked shots for the year. Jacobs rounds out the double-digit scorers with 11.9 per contest. He leads the team with 18 steals and 13 blocks. His 32 assists are second on the team. Jacobs has collected 3.9 rebounds per game. Jalen Windham is just outside of averaging double digits with 9.8 points a contest and is third on the team with 12 steals. He has produced 14 assists and one block. Mickey Pearson Jr. is third on the team with 5.1 rebounds a game and is averaging 7.4 points a contest.
Taking Advantage at the Free-Throw Line
As a team, the Cardinals are averaging 25.6 free throws per game, which is 14th in the NCAA and leads the MAC. Ball State is averaging 18.0 free-throws made per contest, which is 13th in the nation and leads the conference. The Cardinals are one of a handful of teams that have made more free throws than their opponents have attempted. Sparks is tied for tenth in the nation with 76 free-throw attempts, which is second in the MAC.
The Cardinals are currently tied for 36th in the NCAA as the team is shooting 48.6 percent from the field, which leads the MAC. Ball State has been effective from behind the arc with a combined 38.8 percent from 3-point range, which is tied for 36th in the country and the best in the MAC.
Series History with the Redbirds
Saturday will mark the 23rd meeting between the Cardinals and the Redbirds. The series is tied 11-11. Illinois State won the meeting last year, 85-64, at ISU on Dec. 18. Ball State is 8-3 in games played in Indiana, but Saturday will be the first meeting at a neutral site.
Scouting Illinois State
ISU is tied for fourth in the NCAA with a team free-throw percentage of 81.5. Kendall Lewis leads the Redbirds with 12.8 points per game and has a team-best 7.9 rebounds a contest. He also leads the team with 19 steals and is second on the squad with 13 blocks. Seneca Knight is second on the team in scoring with 11.0 points a game and is second in rebounding with 6.7 rebounds per game. Knight has added 19 assists, seven steals, and four blocks. Darius Burford is the final player averaging double figures with 10.9 a game. He is shooting 93.3 percent from the free-throw line, which is eighth in the NCAA. Burford paces the team with 25 assists to go along with his eight steals and four blocks.
Sycamores wrap up four-game road trip at Duquesne Saturday
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – The Sycamores head to the Steel City this weekend for their fourth all-time meeting with Duquesne. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m. ET Saturday, Dec. 17 from UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse in Pittsburgh, and ISU will be looking to get back in the win column and even up the all-time series to 2-2 against the Dukes.
Saturday is Indiana State’s last game of a four-game road stint, and the Sycamores will return to Hulman Center Dec. 22 for the first time since Nov. 30. ISU is 5-0 at home this season and 2-1 in true road games (2-1 in neutral site games).
The Sycamores are coming off an 88-85 overtime loss at Southern Indiana this past Sunday in which ISU saw its five-game win streak end with its first true road loss of the season. There were nine ties and 12 lead changes in the game, and after trailing by as much as six in the first half, Indiana State led by a game-high 11 points at 6:19 in the second half. Southern Indiana nailed a triple with 35 seconds left in the second half to tie things up at 77-all and send the game into overtime, and it would come down to the final minute of the overtime period where the Eagles knocked down six free throws to help themselves remain undefeated at home this season.
Jayson Kent posted a career-high 20 points at USI on 10-of-17 shooting including a pair of dunks. In his last two games, Kent is shooting 60.9 percent from the field and averaging 15.0 points per game.
In his last five games, Cameron Henry is shooting 56.3 percent from the field averaging 15.2 points, 7.2 rebounds, 4.4 assists, and just 2.6 turnovers per game. In the road win over Southern Illinois, he nearly notched a triple-double with 15 points, 12 rebounds, and eight assists all while committing zero turnovers against the Salukis.
As a team, ISU leads the Valley and ranks top-50 nationally in assists per game (16.3) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.33). Cameron Henry ranks second in the Valley with a 1.85 assist-to-turnover ratio and third with 3.7 assists per game.
The Sycamores also lead the valley in 3-pointers per game with 10.1, which ranks top-20 in the nation. Courvoisier McCauley ranks second in the Valley with 3.36 3-pointers per game and 37 total 3-pointers, which ranks 12th and sixth in the nation, respectively. He has hit six or more 3-pointers in a game three times this season.
Saturday will be the fourth all-time meeting between Indiana State and Duquesne, and the Sycamores currently trail the series 1-2.
The series dates back to Feb. 20, 1950 when the Sycamores lost by just a single point, 54-55, on the road, and the two teams met again in the first round of the Steel Bowl in Pittsburgh Dec. 9, 1966 where ISU took its first and lone win in the series, 90-84.
Most recently, ISU and Duquesne met on neutral ground at the Junkanoo Jam in the Bahamas where Duquesne won 74-71.
The two teams have yet to meet in Terre Haute.
LAST GAME AGAINST THE DUKES
Indiana State opened its run at the 2019 Junkanoo Jam in the Bahamas with a 71-74 loss to the Dukes. It was ISU’s first-ever regular season game outside the United States.
Former Sycamore and current Duke Tre Williams started the game for ISU.
Tyreke Key paced the Sycamores with 21 points and he was a perfect 5-of-5 from the free throw line. Jake LaRavia battled foul trouble throughout to score a career-high 18 points in an efficient outing that saw him hit 7-of-9 from the field.
The Sycamores led 15-3 at 13:00 in the first half, but then Duquesne went on a 17-0 run for an eight-point lead at 3:16. ISU built back up to a six-point lead going into halftime and pushed that lead to 10 in the first minute of the second half.
Duquesne cut its deficit down to one point at 13:52 in the second half and then stayed within single digits of the Sycamores the rest of the way before nailing six free throws in the last minute of the game to take the 74-71 win.
DUQUESNE AT A GLANCE
Duquesne was picked to finished 15th out of 15 teams in the Atlantic 10 preseason poll. The Dukes tied their school record for November wins set in 2008 and matched in 2020 (both 6-0). DU went 6-1 in November, with the lone loss coming at No. 4 (AP) Kentucky.
Saturday is Duquesne’s eighth of nine straight home games, and the Dukes are 7-2 at home so far this season with their lone two home losses came back-to-back against Marshall Dec. 8 and New Mexico State Dec. 11. Prior to those two losses, Duquesne had won its six straight previous games.
The Dukes are coming off a 66-55 win over DePaul this past Wednesday. Duquesne limited the Blue Demons to .309 shooting in the game. DePaul’s 55 points were a season low and 22 points below their scoring average. Dae Dae Grant and Joe Reece led the Dukes with 15 points each.
Points: Dae Dae Grant (17.9)
Rebounds: Austin Rotroff (7.5)
Assists: Tevin Brewer (28/3.1)
Steals: Jimmy Clark III (19/1.7)
Blocks: David Dixon (15/1.4)
3-Pointers: Dae Dae Grant (36/3.3)
LAST TIME OUT
The Sycamores saw their win streak come to a close Sunday evening with their first true road loss of the season at Southern Indiana, falling 88-85 in overtime to the Screaming Eagles.
There were nine ties and 12 lead changes in the game, and after trailing by as much as six in the first half, Indiana State (9-2, 2-0 MVC) led by a game-high 11 points at 6:19 in the second half. Southern Indiana (5-5, 0-0 OVC) nailed a triple with 35 seconds left in the second half to tie things up at 77-all and send the game into overtime, and it would come down to the final minute of the overtime period where the Eagles knocked down six free throws to help themselves remain undefeated at home this season.
Jayson Kent dropped a career-high 20 points on 10-of-17 shooting. He also had a pair of steals, rebounds, and assists.
Cade McKnight posted a Sycamore career-high 11 points in a season-high 26:47 minutes played.
Courvoisier McCauley led the Sycamores with 23 points on the night, which is his fourth 20+ point game of the season and his ninth double digit scoring game this year.
Cameron Henry’s 15 points in the game mark his fifth double-digit scoring game in a row and sixth this season.
‘Dons Host Indiana Classic Presented by Holiday Inn PFW on Monday and Tuesday
FORT WAYNE, Ind. – The Purdue Fort Wayne men’s basketball team is hosting the Indiana Classic presented by Holiday Inn PFW on Monday and Tuesday at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum.
// Each game of the Indiana Classic will have its own ticket and the coliseum will be cleared following the 4 p.m. IUPUI game each day.
// Both Texas A&M-Commerce and Southern Indiana are in their first season of the transition NCAA Division I competition. It will be the first ever meeting with the Lions, while the ‘Dons have a long history with Southern Indiana. The Screaming Eagles lead the all-time series 23-13, with the last meeting coming in 2001 when both teams were members of NCAA Division II and the Great Lakes Valley Conference.
ABOUT THE TWO WINS IN MISSOURI
// The Mastodons’ win over Missouri State was their first over a Missouri Valley Conference member in exactly nine years. The last win came on a 65-61 decision at Bradley on Dec. 10, 2013.
// The ‘Dons had 10 different players record a field goal in the win over Missouri State.
//Ra Kpedi had a career-high 14 rebounds in the win over Missouri State.
// Missouri State entered the game at 141 in the KenPom rankings. The Mastodons’ last win against a top 150 KenPom opponent was in the 2020 Summit League Tournament Quarterfinals against South Dakota State.
// The ‘Dons scored 45 bench points against SEMO with 10 Mastodons recording a field goal.
// The ‘Dons had 21 assists at SEMO. Their 35th game of 20+ assists since the start of the 2015-16 season.
//Jarred Godfrey averaged 18 points, 7.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists with only four total turnovers in the two games.
‘DONS & ENDS… :
//Ra Kpedi has won the opening tip in 10 out of 12 games this season.
//Jarred Godfrey (1,766), Anthony Roberts (1,379), Damian Chong Qui (1,372) and Bobby Planutis (1,008) have each scored 1,000 career NCAA points. Deonte Billups (882) could enter that group this season.
// The ‘Dons have eight games of double-digit offensive rebounds this season.
//Jarred Godfrey has failed to reach double-digits only once this season (nine points vs. Bluffton).
//Jarred Godfrey is one of four current student-athletes in NCAA Division I men’s basketball with 1,700 points, 500 rebounds and 400 assists. Taevion Kinsey (Marshall), Hunter Maldonado (Wyoming) and Camren Wynter (Drexel/Penn State) are the other three.
//Jon Coffman owns a 146-118 career record. The Mastodons’ victory over Bluffton (Nov. 27) set a new program record for coaching wins for Coffman. He passed Andy Piazza who went 142-108 with the ‘Dons from 1987 to 1996.
// 10 Mastodons are averaging 9.5 or more minutes per contest.
//Bobby Planutis is 20th in the nation in made 3-pointers (34) and 29th in 3-point percentage at (45.4 percent).
//Jarred Godfrey saw his streak of consecutive made free throws come to an end in the second half at SEMO (Dec. 7). His streak, which started at the end of last season, was halted at 49. It was the longest streak in the Horizon League since Antoine Davis made 57 in a row at the end of the 2020-21 season and the start of the 2021-22 season. |
// The Mastodons’ typical starting lineup has 26 seasons of collegiate experience. Ra Kpedi (6), Bobby Planutis (6), Jarred Godfrey (5), Damian Chong Qui (5) and Deonte Billups (4). Kpedi and Planutis’ totals each include a redshirt season.
Aces open long homestand on Sunday against SEMO
EVANSVILLE – With finals finished, the University of Evansville women’s basketball team returns home to take on Southeast Missouri State at 1 PM on Sunday afternoon inside Meeks Family Fieldhouse in Evansville.
The upcoming four-game homestand for the Aces represents Evansville’s longest homestand since the 2020-21 season and the reworked scheduling during the COVID-19 pandemic. Beginning with Sunday’s contest against SEMO, Evansville will close its non-conference slate on Wednesday, Dec. 22 against UT Martin before opening MVC action on Friday, Dec. 29 against SIU and Sunday, Dec. 31 against Missouri State.
Sunday will represent the 12th all-time meeting in the series history between the Aces and Redhawks with SEMO owning an 8-3 advantage in the all-time series, including the last four matchups. The two sides have met four times in the last six years with the Redhawks capturing the last meeting, 83-60, on Nov. 10, 2019 in Cape Girardeau, Mo.
SEMO enters Sunday’s contest with a 4-5 mark on the season, coming off a 63-55 win over Western Illinois on Dec. 7. The Redhawks are led by sophomore forward Kennedi Watkins, who tops the team scoring chart for SEMO, averaging 10.7 points per game.
As much as the fast-paced, high-scoring offense has been lauded for the Aces this season, Evansville has also excelled at protecting the rim. UE has relied on four rim protectors this season in senior Abby Feit, redshirt juniors Barbora Tomancova and Celine Dupont, and fifth-year guard A’Niah Griffin. The group has combined for 23 of Evansville’s 28 blocks on the season and has helped UE to average four blocks per contest this year, the 77th-best average in the nation. Feit’s team-high nine blocks this season gives her 114 in her career and puts her just 17 from moving into third in program history in the category.
#4 Wrestling to Host 43rd Midwest Classic This Weekend
INDIANAPOLIS – The biggest tournament in all of NCAA Division II is here in Indianapolis this weekend, with the 43rd Midwest Classic bringing in 46 teams from across the country to the Circle City. The No. 4 Greyhounds are one of 17 top-ranked teams appearing in this year’s tournament, including Central Oklahoma (3), Lander (T-4) and Pitt-Johnstown (6).
The action will kick off at 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 17 in both the Ruth Lilly Fitness Center and Nicoson Hall. After taking the field from over 400 to 120, individual champions from each class will be crowned on Sunday, with all of day two’s matches taking place in Nicoson Hall.
Every region and eight different conferences across DII will be represented, with 10 schools from the South Atlantic Conference leading the way and seven from the GLVC.
The bracket is filled with five No. 1-ranked wrestlers, with the top men of 141, 149, 157, 165 and 197 making the trip to UIndy’s campus. Seventy-six of the over 400-man field will come into Indianapolis with top-12 rankings in tow. Classes 141, 149 and 174 are arguably the most stacked, with nine ranked wrestlers apiece. Also in the field are seven wrestlers who have held the Midwest Classic crown in their careers.
In 2021, it was a runner-up team finish for the Greyhounds, with Central Oklahoma taking the tournament crown. The Hounds were led by a 174 title from Andrew Sams, the 21st winner in program history, and top-returner Derek Blubaugh’s second-place finish at 197. Returning placers also include Jack Eiteljorge (165) and Cale Gray (HW), who both landed in fourth in 2021. Logan Bailey, then at 149, ended his run at seventh, but enters this year competing in the 157-bracket, where he is ranked third.
BEN STEVENS NAMED TO ASSOCIATED PRESS NAIA ALL-AMERICAN SECOND TEAM
INDIANAPOLIS – One day after being named to the NAIA AFCA All American team, Marian senior wide receiver Ben Stevens has been named to the Associated Press NAIA All America Second Team. Stevens honor is his second major honor of the season, and his first career AP All American honor.
Ben Stevens earned his first career All-American honor by being named to the NAIA AFCA Honorable Mention Team on Thursday, and is now a Second Team AP All-American. Stevens had a breakout season as a fifth-year player, leading the Knights in all receiving categories with 71 catches for 1184 yards and 12 receiving touchdowns.
Stevens broke the Marian and MSFA Mideast single-game receiving record with 283 yards on eight receptions in a win over Missouri Baptist on September 24, and was named to the MSFA Mideast League First Team on offense. The all-time leader in punt return yards, touchdowns, and attempts ended his career as one of the top-three receiving threats in program history, ranking third all-time behind Krishawn Hogan and Johnny William in yards and touchdowns. Stevens is fourth all-time in receptions, fifth all-time in all-purpose yards, and seventh all-time in scoring.
Stevens finished the season ranked fourth in the NAIA in yards per game and total yards, seventh in receptions, and eighth in touchdowns. The senior also scored on a punt return touchdown in 2022, and gained 138 yards as a rusher and return specialist.
SMALL COLLEGE ATHLETIC SITES:
INDIANA WESLEYAN ATHLETICS: https://iwuwildcats.com/
EARLHAM ATHLETICS: https://goearlham.com/
WABASH ATHLETICS: https://sports.wabash.edu/
FRANKLIN ATHLETICS: https://franklingrizzlies.com/
ROSE-HULMAN ATHLETICS: https://athletics.rose-hulman.edu/
ANDERSON ATHLETICS: https://athletics.anderson.edu/landing/index
TRINE ATHLETICS: https://trinethunder.com/landing/index
BETHEL ATHLETICS: https://bupilots.com/
DEPAUW ATHLETICS: https://depauwtigers.com/
HANOVER ATHLETICS: https://athletics.hanover.edu/
MANCHESTER ATHLETICS: https://muspartans.com/
HUNTINGTON ATHLETICS: https://www.huathletics.com/
OAKLAND CITY ATHLETICS: https://gomightyoaks.com/index.aspx
ST. FRANCIS ATHLETICS: https://www.saintfranciscougars.com/landing/index
IU KOKOMO ATHLETICS: https://iukcougars.com/
IU EAST ATHLETICS: https://www.iueredwolves.com/
IU SOUTH BEND ATHLETICS: https://iusbtitans.com/
PURDUE NORTHWEST ATHLETICS: https://pnwathletics.com/
INDIANA TECH ATHLETICS: https://indianatechwarriors.com/index.aspx
GRACE COLLEGE ATHLETICS: https://gclancers.com/
ST. MARY OF THE WOODS ATHLETICS: https://smwcathletics.com/
GOSHEN COLLEGE ATHLETICS: https://goleafs.net/
HOLY CROSS ATHLETICS: https://www.hcsaints.com/index.php
TAYLOR ATHLETICS: https://www.taylortrojans.com/
VINCENNES ATHLETICS: https://govutrailblazers.com/landing/index
|American Football Conference|
|W||L||T||Pct||GB||PF||PA||Home||Road||vs. Conf||vs. Div||Streak|
|Buffalo Bills||10||3||0||.769||0.0||353||221||5 – 1 – 0||5 – 2 – 0||7 – 2 – 0||2 – 2 – 0||4 W|
|Kansas City Chiefs||10||3||0||.769||0.0||384||298||5 – 1 – 0||5 – 2 – 0||6 – 3 – 0||4 – 0 – 0||1 W|
|Baltimore Ravens||9||4||0||.692||0.0||301||250||4 – 2 – 0||5 – 2 – 0||6 – 3 – 0||3 – 0 – 0||2 W|
|Tennessee Titans||7||6||0||.538||0.0||241||276||3 – 3 – 0||4 – 3 – 0||5 – 4 – 0||3 – 1 – 0||3 L|
|Cincinnati Bengals||9||4||0||.692||0.0||335||265||5 – 1 – 0||4 – 3 – 0||6 – 3 – 0||2 – 3 – 0||5 W|
|Miami Dolphins||8||5||0||.615||0.0||316||312||5 – 1 – 0||3 – 4 – 0||6 – 3 – 0||2 – 1 – 0||2 L|
|New England Patriots||7||6||0||.538||0.0||276||239||3 – 3 – 0||4 – 3 – 0||5 – 3 – 0||2 – 2 – 0||1 W|
|Los Angeles Chargers||7||6||0||.538||1.0||295||326||3 – 3 – 0||4 – 3 – 0||5 – 4 – 0||2 – 3 – 0||1 W|
|New York Jets||7||6||0||.538||1.0||264||243||3 – 3 – 0||4 – 3 – 0||5 – 5 – 0||2 – 3 – 0||2 L|
|Jacksonville Jaguars||5||8||0||.385||3.0||294||294||3 – 3 – 0||2 – 5 – 0||5 – 4 – 0||2 – 2 – 0||1 W|
|Las Vegas Raiders||5||8||0||.385||3.0||308||313||3 – 2 – 0||2 – 6 – 0||4 – 5 – 0||3 – 2 – 0||1 L|
|Cleveland Browns||5||8||0||.385||3.0||300||323||3 – 3 – 0||2 – 5 – 0||3 – 7 – 0||2 – 2 – 0||1 L|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||5||8||0||.385||3.0||227||293||2 – 4 – 0||3 – 4 – 0||2 – 7 – 0||1 – 3 – 0||1 L|
|Indianapolis Colts||4||8||1||.346||3.5||209||298||2 – 4 – 0||2 – 4 – 1||4 – 5 – 1||1 – 3 – 1||3 L|
|Denver Broncos||3||10||0||.231||5.0||194||238||2 – 4 – 0||1 – 6 – 0||2 – 8 – 0||0 – 4 – 0||5 L|
|Houston Texans||1||11||1||.115||6.5||211||314||0 – 5 – 1||1 – 6 – 0||1 – 6 – 1||1 – 1 – 1||8 L|
|National Football Conference|
|W||L||T||Pct||GB||PF||PA||Home||Road||vs. Conf||vs. Div||Streak|
|x-Philadelphia Eagles||12||1||0||.923||0.0||386||248||6 – 1 – 0||6 – 0 – 0||7 – 1 – 0||3 – 1 – 0||4 W|
|Minnesota Vikings||10||3||0||.769||0.0||312||313||6 – 1 – 0||4 – 2 – 0||6 – 3 – 0||3 – 1 – 0||1 L|
|xy-San Francisco 49ers||10||4||0||.714||0.0||338||210||6 – 1 – 0||4 – 3 – 0||8 – 2 – 0||5 – 0 – 0||7 W|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||6||7||0||.462||0.0||224||254||4 – 3 – 0||2 – 4 – 0||6 – 3 – 0||3 – 1 – 0||1 L|
|Dallas Cowboys||10||3||0||.769||0.0||360||229||7 – 1 – 0||3 – 2 – 0||7 – 3 – 0||3 – 1 – 0||4 W|
|Washington Commanders||7||5||1||.577||0.0||253||256||3 – 3 – 0||4 – 2 – 1||4 – 4 – 1||1 – 2 – 1||1 T|
|New York Giants||7||5||1||.577||0.0||267||300||4 – 3 – 1||3 – 2 – 0||3 – 5 – 1||0 – 3 – 1||1 L|
|Seattle Seahawks||7||7||0||.500||1.0||355||355||3 – 4 – 0||4 – 3 – 0||5 – 6 – 0||3 – 2 – 0||2 L|
|Detroit Lions||6||7||0||.462||1.5||349||347||4 – 4 – 0||2 – 3 – 0||5 – 4 – 0||3 – 1 – 0||2 W|
|Green Bay Packers||5||8||0||.385||2.5||263||302||3 – 3 – 0||2 – 5 – 0||4 – 5 – 0||2 – 2 – 0||1 W|
|Carolina Panthers||5||8||0||.385||2.5||260||290||4 – 3 – 0||1 – 5 – 0||4 – 5 – 0||3 – 1 – 0||2 W|
|Atlanta Falcons||5||8||0||.385||2.5||288||312||4 – 3 – 0||1 – 5 – 0||4 – 5 – 0||1 – 3 – 0||2 L|
|Arizona Cardinals||4||9||0||.308||3.5||277||348||1 – 7 – 0||3 – 2 – 0||3 – 6 – 0||1 – 4 – 0||3 L|
|New Orleans Saints||4||9||0||.308||3.5||265||297||3 – 4 – 0||1 – 5 – 0||3 – 6 – 0||1 – 3 – 0||2 L|
|Los Angeles Rams||4||9||0||.308||3.5||218||296||3 – 5 – 0||1 – 4 – 0||3 – 7 – 0||1 – 4 – 0||1 W|
|Chicago Bears||3||10||0||.231||4.5||270||333||2 – 4 – 0||1 – 6 – 0||1 – 8 – 0||0 – 4 – 0||6 L|
|W||L||Pct||Conf GB||Home||Road||Div||Conf||Last 10||Streak|
|1 Boston||22||8||.733||—||11-3||11-5||4-0||14-6||6-4||1 L|
|2 Milwaukee||20||8||.714||1.0||13-3||7-5||4-1||11-4||7-3||1 L|
|3 Cleveland||19||11||.633||3.0||13-2||6-9||4-2||14-5||6-4||2 W|
|4 Brooklyn||18||12||.600||4.0||10-5||8-7||5-2||14-6||9-1||5 W|
|5 Philadelphia||16||12||.571||5.0||11-5||5-7||2-3||11-8||7-3||4 W|
|6 New York||16||13||.552||5.5||7-7||9-6||1-2||11-6||7-3||6 W|
|7 Miami||15||15||.500||7.0||9-6||6-9||5-1||8-9||6-4||3 W|
|8 Atlanta||15||15||.500||7.0||9-5||6-10||3-3||11-11||4-6||1 W|
|9 Indiana||15||15||.500||7.0||9-6||6-9||1-2||10-7||3-7||1 L|
|10 Toronto||13||16||.448||8.5||10-5||3-11||1-6||9-12||3-7||4 L|
|11 Chicago||11||17||.393||10.0||7-7||4-10||2-1||9-9||3-7||3 L|
|12 Washington||11||18||.379||10.5||8-7||3-11||3-3||7-13||1-9||8 L|
|13 Orlando||10||20||.333||12.0||8-9||2-11||2-3||6-15||5-5||5 W|
|14 Detroit||8||23||.258||14.5||4-10||4-13||0-5||3-14||3-7||1 L|
|15 Charlotte||7||22||.241||14.5||4-11||3-11||3-6||4-17||2-8||7 L|
|W||L||Pct||Conf GB||Home||Road||Div||Conf||Last 10||Streak|
|1 Memphis||19||9||.679||—||13-2||6-7||3-2||8-6||9-1||7 W|
|2 New Orleans||18||10||.643||1.0||12-3||6-7||5-1||12-7||7-3||2 L|
|3 Denver||17||11||.607||2.0||8-3||9-8||6-2||14-7||6-4||1 L|
|4 Phoenix||17||12||.586||2.5||12-3||5-9||6-0||14-8||4-6||1 W|
|5 Sacramento||16||12||.571||3.0||8-4||8-8||3-4||5-6||6-4||2 W|
|6 Portland||16||13||.552||3.5||7-6||9-7||4-2||12-8||5-5||1 L|
|7 Utah||17||14||.548||3.5||11-5||6-9||3-4||15-9||5-5||2 W|
|8 LA Clippers||17||14||.548||3.5||9-7||8-7||3-4||11-11||5-5||1 L|
|9 Dallas||15||14||.517||4.5||12-5||3-9||1-2||10-5||6-4||1 W|
|10 Minnesota||14||15||.483||5.5||7-7||7-8||4-4||8-11||4-6||1 W|
|11 Golden State||14||16||.467||6.0||12-2||2-14||4-3||9-8||4-6||3 L|
|12 LA Lakers||12||16||.429||7.0||7-7||5-9||0-5||7-10||5-5||1 W|
|13 Oklahoma City||11||18||.379||8.5||6-7||5-11||1-6||5-11||3-7||5 L|
|14 San Antonio||9||19||.321||10.0||5-11||4-8||1-3||3-17||3-7||1 L|
|15 Houston||9||19||.321||10.0||6-6||3-13||1-3||5-14||5-5||1 L|
|1 Boston Bruins||29||23||4||2||48||21||112||64||15-0-2||8-4-0||6-2-2|
|2 New Jersey Devils||30||21||7||2||44||21||105||73||10-6-1||11-1-1||5-3-2|
|3 Toronto Maple Leafs||31||19||6||6||44||19||101||73||11-2-3||8-4-3||8-1-1|
|4 Carolina Hurricanes||29||17||6||6||40||15||84||75||6-3-1||11-3-5||7-1-2|
|5 Pittsburgh Penguins||30||18||8||4||40||17||106||86||9-3-2||9-5-2||8-1-1|
|6 Tampa Bay Lightning||29||19||9||1||39||19||105||85||12-4-1||7-5-0||8-2-0|
|7 New York Rangers||31||16||10||5||37||15||96||86||7-6-4||9-4-1||6-3-1|
|8 New York Islanders||31||17||13||1||35||17||99||89||9-6-0||8-7-1||4-5-1|
|9 Washington Capitals||32||15||13||4||34||15||95||94||8-5-1||7-8-3||6-3-1|
|10 Detroit Red Wings||29||13||10||6||32||12||85||91||7-5-3||6-5-3||3-5-2|
|11 Florida Panthers||31||14||13||4||32||13||104||102||8-4-3||6-9-1||4-5-1|
|12 Buffalo Sabres||30||14||14||2||30||13||119||105||7-8-2||7-6-0||5-3-2|
|13 Montreal Canadiens||30||14||14||2||30||10||88||105||7-8-0||7-6-2||4-5-1|
|14 Ottawa Senators||29||13||14||2||28||13||89||91||8-8-0||5-6-2||7-2-1|
|15 Philadelphia Flyers||31||10||14||7||27||10||74||100||6-8-1||4-6-6||3-5-2|
|16 Columbus Blue Jackets||29||10||17||2||22||10||81||119||8-10-1||2-7-1||3-6-1|
|1 Vegas Golden Knights||32||22||9||1||45||20||108||86||8-7-0||14-2-1||6-4-0|
|2 Dallas Stars||31||18||8||5||41||18||112||85||9-3-3||9-5-2||6-3-1|
|3 Winnipeg Jets||29||19||9||1||39||19||96||76||11-5-0||8-4-1||7-3-0|
|4 Los Angeles Kings||33||16||12||5||37||14||109||120||7-5-2||9-7-3||4-3-3|
|5 Minnesota Wild||30||17||11||2||36||14||96||87||10-6-1||7-5-1||8-2-0|
|6 Seattle Kraken||29||16||10||3||35||16||100||94||7-6-2||9-4-1||5-5-0|
|7 Edmonton Oilers||31||17||13||1||35||17||112||106||9-7-1||8-6-0||6-3-1|
|8 Colorado Avalanche||28||15||11||2||32||13||87||80||6-5-2||9-6-0||4-5-1|
|9 Calgary Flames||31||13||12||6||32||12||92||98||10-6-2||3-6-4||4-3-3|
|10 St. Louis Blues||31||15||15||1||31||13||94||113||6-7-1||9-8-0||4-5-1|
|11 Vancouver Canucks||29||13||13||3||29||12||101||112||5-7-1||8-6-2||7-3-0|
|12 Nashville Predators||28||12||12||4||28||10||71||87||7-5-2||5-7-2||4-4-2|
|13 San Jose Sharks||31||10||16||5||25||9||96||112||3-8-5||7-8-0||3-5-2|
|14 Arizona Coyotes||28||10||14||4||24||10||79||103||4-2-1||6-12-3||3-5-2|
|15 Anaheim Ducks||31||8||20||3||19||6||75||132||5-7-0||3-13-3||2-6-2|
|16 Chicago Blackhawks||29||7||18||4||18||7||67||109||4-10-2||3-8-2||1-8-1|
December 17, 1933 – Wrigley Field, Chicago – The First National Football League Championship Title Game that the League scheduled before the season started is played per ESPN.com. A Title game was played in 1932 but it was thrown together in a week at the end of the season. The Football History Headlines for December 18 will go into detail about the 1932 contest. In the closing minutes, with the ball on the Giants’ 33-yard line, Bronko Nagurski throws a jump pass to end Bill Hewitt, who reaches the 19, when he makes a long lateral to the other end, Billy Karr. Eluding two Giant defenders, Karr races into the end zone for his second touchdown, giving the Bears the lead. The pass play was extremely controversial as to where Nagurski was when he threw the ball. At the time of this contest one rule that constituted a legal forward pass was that the person throwing the ball had to be at least five yards or more behind the line of scrimmage when they released the ball forward. At the League Meetings later in 1933 the “Bronko Nagurski Rule” was created in which a forward pass is legal anywhere from behind the line of scrimmage like it is currently in all levels of football. Anyhow back to the end of the 1933 Championship game. In the final seconds, The Galloping Ghost, Red Grange preserved Chicago’s 23-21 victory with a touchdown-saving tackle. The Chicago Bears defeated the New York Football Giants, 23-21. This game also helped other rules at the 1933 meetings to be instituted. The NFL divided into two divisions and these top two teams in each would meet for the title. The hash marks were moved and so were the goal posts to open the game up a little bit to provide more action, similar to what the ever popular collegiate game was doing at the time. The game set an NFL record of six lead changes in a championship game which still stands at the time of this writing in 2020. The champs eached received $210.34 and the Giants pocketed a cool $170 each for participating in the game.
December 17, 1944 – Polo Grounds, New York City – The NFL Championship game had the Green Bay Packers visiting the New York Football Giants. The website GoldenRankings.com has a superb write up on the game. According to the article World War II stripped many fine players from the rosters of all NFL teams as they went to serve their country. Retired players that were not involved with the military were recruited by all teams just to be able to put enough to field a team.It was the Packers won this tightly contested game 14-7 for 6th and final championship title under their legendary coach Curly Lambeau.
December 17, 1972 – Denver Broncos Quarterback Charley Johnson tosses three touchdown passes to help the Broncos more than double up the New England Patriots 45-21. The story complete with video can be found at denverbroncos.com.
December 17, 2000 – Terrell Owens of the 49ers caught a single game receiving record of 20 receptions for 283 yards against the Chicago Bears per an ESPN.com story. Owens broke the previous record of 18 set by Tom Fears in 1950 with the Rams.
December 17, 2017 – It was the scheduled matchup that most NFL fans were licking their chops for all season long. The 11-3 New England Patriots invaded Heinz Field to take on the 11-3 Pittsburgh Steelers. These two teams had little fondness for each other and the game did not disappoint its billing as it gave a game that came right down to the wire and added to its legacy by having a controversial play being at its pinnacle according to a NY Times article written the day after the game. With 56 seconds remaining in the game the Patriots took the lead on an 8 yard run by Dion Lewis. Tom Brady connected on a pass with Rob Gronkowski to convert the two point attempt and the Pats were up 3. The Steelers started their drive after the kickoff from their own 21 yard line. Ben Roethlisberger connected with Rookie Receiver Ju-Ju Smith Schuster on a crossing route who with some crazy moves took the ball deep into New England territory. New excitement filled the stadium after the 69 yard pass play! On the very next play Big Ben found Tight End Jesse James for an apparent score. However after review the official overturned the touchdown declaring the pass incomplete and an interception of a tipped pass a few plays later gave the Patriots the victory. Tony Corrente, the game’s referee, when asked later why the TD did not stand said a lack of contact by a defender on James was irrelevant. ”As he hit the ground, the ball began to roll and rotate and the ball hit the ground,” Corrente said, “that’s the end at that point.” The NFL rule has since been modified and if the exact play occurred now, it would have been a touchdown.
December 17, 2021 – The new strains of COVID-19, the Delta as well as the Omicron Variants, effected many thing in life around the world and this time it postponed three NFL regular season games.
- The Las Vegas Raiders versus Cleveland Browns tilt that had been scheduled for Saturday December 18 in the 4:30 PM EST slot was moved to Monday at 5PM as the Browns had over 20 players in the COVID protocol which prevented them to partiicipate in any in person team activities.
- The Washington Football Team and the Philadelphia Eagles NFC East matchup was also resceduled to be played a few days later than first expected. On Tuesday December 21 the two will face off, also delayed because of a pandemic outbreak with the players and coaching staffs.
- The Seattle Seahawks and LA Rams NFC West contest is also a schedule delay casualty of COVID-19 as their game too was postponed until Tuesday December 21, 2021 from its originally scheduled day of December 19.
|1891||The American Association, known for offering cheaper ticket prices, playing Sunday games, and selling alcoholic beverages to its patrons, disbands with the Baltimore Orioles, St. Louis Browns, Louisville Colonels, and Washington Statesmen, becoming part of the 12-team National League. During its ten-year existence, the Beer and Whiskey League experienced its clubs defecting to the rival NL, including the Pittsburgh Pirates (1887), the Cincinnati Reds (1889), the Brooklyn Bridegrooms (1890).|
|1898||The Giants’ name John Day as their manager. New York’s new skipper will be replaced by Fred Hoey after just 66 games next season when the team gets off to a 29-35 start.|
|1924||The Yankees trade three pitchers to the Browns to get back Urban Shocker, a pitcher they traded to St. Louis in 1918. Shocker had been a 20-game winner for four consecutive seasons.|
|1932||The Cardinals trade former National League Most Valuable Player Jim Bottomley to the Reds. In exchange, the Redbirds get Estel Crabtree, who will play in only 23 games, and Ownie Carroll, who will be shipped to Brooklyn before the start of the season, in a deal that appears to be a steal for a nine-time .300 hitter and future Hall of Famer with productive years left.|
|1964||The Yankees fire long-time television and radio voice Mel Allen. This well-known broadcaster popularized the ‘going, going, gone’ home run call and often said ‘how about that’ to describe happenings on the ball field. How About That! The Life of Mel Allen|
|1975||Bill Veeck, the new owner of the White Sox, fires manager Chuck Tanner and selects old friend Paul Richards to pilot the team. The team’s former skipper, who tomorrow will sign a three-year deal to manage the A’s, compiled a 401-414 (.492) during his six seasons with the South Side team.|
|1992||The Twins sign free-agent DH/outfielder Dave Winfield. Last season for the World Champion Blue Jays, the St. Paul native hit .290 and had 108 RBIs and 26 home runs.|
|1993||After being traded back to Oakland by the Yankees in July, Rickey Henderson decides to stay with the A’s, signing a two-year $8.6 million contract. In 1998, the team traded the speedy outfielder to the Bronx Bombers along with Bert Bradley for Tim Birtsas, Jay Howell, Stan Javier, Eric Plunk, and Jose Rijo.|
|2000||City and club officials announce financing and construction plans for a new, downtown Miami retractable-roof ballpark for the Marlins. The state-of-the-art $385-million stadium, a 40,000-seat facility with 60 luxury suites, includes a 40-year lease and an agreement to rename the team the Miami Marlins.|
|2002||The Giants trade Russ Ortiz (14-10, 3.78), after he brought the team to the brink of a world championship, to the Braves for sophomore southpaw Damian Moss (12-6, 4.11) and right-hander Merkin Valdez. The 27-year-old right-hander left Game 6 with a 5-0 margin, but the San Francisco bullpen could not hold the lead and lost the series to the Angels in seven games.|
|2003||After agreeing to the basics weeks ago, the Yankees and 35-year-old Gary Sheffield (.330, 39, 132) finalize a three-year deal worth a reported $39 million, including $13.5 million in deferred money and a $13 million team option for 2007. The seven-time All-Star outfielder played with the Braves last year and had spent time with the Padres, Marlins, and Dodgers after breaking in with the Brewers in 1988.|
|2004||Although the terms of the deal are not made public, Edgar Renteria (.287, 10, 72) inks a four-year contract believed to be worth $40 million with the World Champion Red Sox. The former Cardinal shortstop, who made the last out in the World Series, ending Boston’s 86-year drought, replaces fellow Colombian Orlando Cabrera, the player obtained in July in the Nomar Garciaparra trade.|
|2004||The last place Mariners continue to sign impact free-agents in hopes to improve upon last season’s poor performance (63-99) when the team signs 25-year-old Adrian Beltre (.334, 48, 121) to a $64 million, five-year deal. The former Dodger third baseman joins Richie Sexson, a free agent signed by Seattle to a four-year, $50 million contract two days ago.|
|2004||A three-team deal that included Diamondback southpaw Randy Johnson and pitcher Kazuhisa Ishii going to the Yankees, Los Angeles outfielder Shawn Green and pitcher Brad Penny to the Diamondbacks, with Jose Vazquez and prospects to the Dodgers, falls apart at the eleventh hour. The blockbuster transaction stops when LA backs out.|
|2007||The Yankees continue to sign their own free agents as the team finalizes a $45 million, three-year contract with their 38-year-old closer, Mariano Rivera (3-4, 3.15). Earlier in the off-season, the Bronx Bombers also signed Jorge Posada ($52.4 million/ 4 years), Alex Rodriguez ($275/ 10 years), and Andy Pettitte ($16 million/ 1-year).|
|2010||After losing the right-hander to free-agency two seasons ago, the Cubs sign Kerry Wood, one of the franchise’s most popular players of the recent past, to a $1.5 million, one-year deal that includes bonuses for appearances and games finished. After attending Ron Santo’s funeral last week, the 33-year-old free-agent reached out to Tom Ricketts, letting the club owner know he would accept a fair offer to return to the North Side of Chicago.|
|2010||The Tigers announce coming to terms with Magglio Ordonez when the outfielder agrees to a one-year, $10 million deal. Two months ago, the team declined a $15 million option on their starting right fielder, who suffered a broken ankle in July, appearing in only 84 games.|
|2010||The Padres and Orlando Hudson have agreed to a two-year deal valued at $11.5 million. Minnesota expects the former second baseman to fill the void created by the departure of David Eckstein to free agency.|
|2010||The Padres acquire their former shortstop Jason Bartlett and a player to be named later by trading relievers Adam Russell and Cesar Ramos, along with minor league right-hander Brandon Gomes and infielder prospect Cole Figueroa to the Rays. At the end of the day, the Friars will finalize their deal with second baseman Orlando Hudson, completing the team’s new double-play combination for next season.|
|2011||The Reds obtain right-hander Mat Latos from the Padres for four players, including two former first-round picks, infielder Yonder Alonso and catcher Yasmani Grandal, along with starting pitcher Edinson Volquez and minor leaguer Brad Boxberger. The deal fills a crucial need by bolstering Cincinnati’s rotation, but many observers believe the team gave up too much to acquire the quality starter.|
|2012||In a seven-player swap, the Mets acquire highly-regarded minor leaguers Travis d’Arnaud, a catcher, and right-hander Noah Syndergaard, in addition to backstop John Buck and outfielder Wuilmer Becerra from the Blue Jays in exchange for right-handed pitcher R.A. Dickey and catchers Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas. New York decided to deal their 38-year-old knuckleballer, last season’s NL Cy Young award winner with a year remaining on his contract, to procure two of Toronto’s top prospects.|
|2019||The Tigers announce the retirement of uniform #1 as a tribute to Lou Whitaker, making the five-time All-Star second baseman the tenth person to have his name and number inscribed on the brick wall at Comerica Park. ‘Sweet Lou’ becomes the fourth member of the 1984 World Series champion team to be honored, joining double-play partner Alan Trammell, right-hander Jack Morris and manager, Sparky Anderson.|
SPORTS IN NUMBERS
3 – 56 – 9 – 7 – 1 – 11 – 31 – 5 – 99 – 77 – 34 – 8 – 10 – 22
December 17, 1924 – The Hamilton Tigers and Ottawa Senators battle out the first scoreless game in NHL history. Goaltenders Jake Forbes of Hamilton and Alex Connell of Ottawa each recorded shutouts
December 17, 1933 – National Football League Championship – 1st title game, Wrigley Field, Chicago: Chicago Bears beat New York Giants, 23-21; “Bronko Nagurski Rule” that stated that a forward pass would then be legal anywhere behind line of scrimmage. Prviously one had to be five or more yards behind it. Nagurski wore the Number 3 jersey for the Bears in the Title game when in the closing minutes, with the ball on the Giants’ 33-yard line, Bronko throws a jump pass to end Number 56, Bill Hewitt, who reaches the 19, when he makes a long lateral to the other end, Billy Karr. Eluding two Giant defenders, Karr races into the end zone for his second touchdown, giving the Bears the lead. The pass play was extremely controversial as to where Nagurski was when he threw the ball.
December 17, 1957 – Ballon d’Or: Real Madrid forward Number 9, Alfredo Di Stéfano won award for best football player in Europe ahead of Englishmen Billy Wright and Duncan Edwards
December 17, 1958 – Chicago Black Hawks Number 7, Ted Lindsay becomes highest scoring left wing in NHL history, passing Aurel Joliat who retired with 270; scores twice and adds an assist In the Black Hawks’ 5-2 victory over the Boston Bruins at Chicago Stadium
December 17, 1963 – Ballon d’Or: Dynamo Moscow goalkeeper Number 1, Lev Yashin wins award for best European football player; beating out Milan midfielder Number 11, Gianni Rivera and Tottenham striker Jimmy Greaves. Yashin became the first Russian national to win trophy
December 17, 1975 – 1st time NY Islanders shut-out NY Rangers, 3-0. It was goal tender, Number 31, Billy Smith‘s 5th career shutout at that point. Smithin his overall career provided 22 goose egg games by opponents.
December 17, 1977 – Rookie Rockies defenseman Number 5, Barry Beck scored his first career hat trick and adds an assist in Colorado Rockies’ 5-1 win versus Minnesota North Stars; sets NHL record for rookie defensemen with a goal in his 6th straight game
December 17, 1983 – In his 352nd NHL game, Number 99, Wayne Gretzky scored a goal & 5 assists in 8-1 in a rout of the Quebec Nordiques to record his 800th point and 500th assist; averages 2.27 points, 1.42 assists, 0.85 goals per game to start career
December 17, 1986 – Edmonton’s Number 99, Wayne Gretzky scores 4 goals, including a natural hat trick in the 1st period and also records an assist as the Oilers win 5-3 over the visiting Quebec Nordiques; his 41st NHL career hat trick
December 17, 1999 – Ray Bourque, Bruins Number 77, became just the 3rd player in NHL history to score 1,100 assists, and goaltender Number 34, Byron Dafoe recorded his 100th NHL victory in Boston Bruin’s 3-1 win over the Thrashers in Atlanta
December 17, 2014 – 103-year-old Gus Andreone records the 8th ace of his career on the 113-yard, 14th hole of the Lakes Course, Palm Aire, Sarasota, FL; oldest golfer to record a hole-in-one
December 17, 2017 – Brazilian footballer and former AC Milan and Real Madrid player Kaka retired, The legend wore Number 8, Number 10, and Number 22 each for long periods of his career.
|COLLEGE BASKETBALL – MEN’S||TIME ET||TV|
|Indiana at Kansas||12:00pm||ESPN2|
|Wake Forest at Rutgers||12:00pm||BTN|
|Saint Francis U at Miami (FL)||12:00pm||ACCN|
|Missouri vs. UCF||12:00pm||–|
|Eastern Illinois at IUPUI||12:00pm||ESPN+|
|Providence at Seton Hall||12:30pm||FOX|
|Bryant vs. Liberty||12:30pm||ESPN+|
|Gonzaga vs. Alabama||1:00pm||CBS|
|North Florida at Pitt||1:00pm||ACCN|
|Montana vs. Prairie View A&M||1:00pm||–|
|Longwood at The Citadel||1:00pm||ESPN+|
|Central Arkansas at Oklahoma||1:00pm||ESPN+|
|Houston at Virginia||2:00pm||ESPN2|
|DePaul at Northwestern||2:00pm||BTN|
|Florida A&M at Louisville||2:00pm||ACCN|
|Indiana State at Duquesne||2:00pm||ESPN+|
|Charlotte at Monmouth||2:00pm||FLOHOOPS|
|UT Martin at Bowling Green||2:00pm||ESPN3|
|Oneonta at Binghamton||2:00pm||ESPN3|
|Stetson at Ohio||2:00pm||ESPN3|
|Alabama State at Georgia Tech||2:00pm||ESPN+|
|Radford at Eastern Kentucky||2:00pm||ESPN+|
|Little Rock at Jacksonville State||2:00pm||ESPN+|
|Montreat at Wofford||2:00pm||ESPN+|
|North Carolina Central at Gardner-Webb||2:00pm||ESPN+|
|Morehead State at Mercer||2:00pm||ESPN+|
|Knox (IL) at Lindenwood||2:00pm||ESPN+|
|Troy at Southeastern Louisiana||2:00pm||ESPN+|
|Georgia College at Kennesaw State||2:00pm||ESPN+|
|Delaware State at Drexel||2:00pm||FLOHOOPS|
|FIU at Florida Atlantic||2:00pm||CUSAtv|
|Ecclesia at UAPB||2:00pm||–|
|St. John’s vs. Florida State||2:30pm||Staduim|
|North Carolina vs. Ohio State||3:00pm||CBS|
|Nicholls at Mississippi State||3:00pm||SECN|
|Cornell at Syracuse||3:00pm||ACCN|
|Lamar at ULM||3:00pm||ESPN+|
|UMass vs. North Texas||3:00pm||ESPN+|
|Campbell at Georgia Southern||3:00pm||ESPN+|
|Sam Houston at Texas State||3:00pm||ESPN+|
|Bryan at Tennessee State||3:00pm||ESPN+|
|Northwestern Ohio at Wright State||3:00pm||ESPN+|
|Northern Arizona at Southern Utah||3:00pm||ESPN+|
|Northwestern State at Rice||3:00pm||CUSAtv|
|Jackson State vs. Texas Tech||3:30pm||–|
|Toledo at Marshall||3:30pm||ESPN+|
|Illinois State vs. Ball State||3:30pm||ESPN+|
|Villanova at Saint Joseph’s||4:00pm||CBSSN|
|Alabama A&M at Illinois||4:00pm||BTN|
|Grambling State at Virginia Tech||4:00pm||ACCN|
|Northern Illinois at VCU||4:00pm||ESPN+|
|Hampton vs. Norfolk State||4:00pm||ESPN+|
|UNC Asheville at ETSU||4:00pm||ESPN+|
|Regent at App State||4:00pm||ESPN+|
|Western Carolina at Tennessee Tech||4:00pm||ESPN+|
|Miami (OH) at Bellarmine||4:00pm||ESPN+|
|Charleston Southern at Jacksonville||4:00pm||ESPN+|
|La Salle at Cincinnati||4:00pm||ESPN+|
|Lipscomb at Michigan||4:00pm||ESPN+|
|Clarks Summit at Maryland Eastern Shore||4:00pm||–|
|St. Francis Brooklyn at Hartford||4:00pm||–|
|Stephen F. Austin vs. Furman||4:30pm||ESPN+|
|Temple at Ole Miss||5:00pm||SECN|
|San Francisco at UNLV||5:00pm||MWN|
|Occidental at UC San Diego||5:00pm||ESPN+|
|UC Davis at Eastern Washington||5:00pm||ESPN+|
|UCLA vs. Kentucky||5:30pm||CBS|
|Utah at BYU||6:00pm||CBSSN|
|Northwest Indian at Montana State||6:00pm||ESPN+|
|Davidson vs. Purdue||6:15pm||BTN|
|North Carolina A&T vs. Texas Southern||6:30pm||ESPN+|
|UConn at Butler||7:00pm||FS1|
|Winthrop at LSU||7:00pm||SECN|
|Texas A&M at Memphis||7:00pm||ESPNU|
|San Jose State at Pacific||7:00pm||Staduim|
|Sacramento State at Fresno State||7:00pm||MWN|
|Richmond vs. Clemson||7:00pm||ESPN+|
|St. Elizabeth at Lehigh||7:00pm||ESPN+|
|Nebraska vs. Kansas State||7:00pm||ESPN+|
|Pepperdine at Grand Canyon||8:00pm||ESPN+|
|Dayton vs. Wyoming||8:00pm||CBSSN|
|Portland at Oregon||8:00pm||PAC12|
|Drake at Saint Louis||8:00pm||ESPN+|
|Southeast Missouri at Iowa||8:30pm||BTN|
|Oklahoma State at Wichita State||9:00pm||ESPNU|
|The Master’s at Utah Tech||9:00pm||ESPN+|
|Louisiana Tech at UTEP||9:00pm||CUSAtv|
|Idaho State at Washington||10:00pm||PAC12|
|UC Santa Barbara at Portland State||10:00pm||ESPN+|
|Abilene Christian at CSU Bakersfield||10:00pm||ESPN+|
|Tennessee at Arizona||10:30pm||ESPN2|
|Vanderbilt vs. NC State||10:30pm||CBSSN|
|COLLEGE FOOTBALL||TIME ET||TV|
|Fenway Bowl: Cincinnati vs. Louisville||11:00am||ESPN|
|Celebration Bowl: Jackson State vs. NC Central||12:00pm||ABC|
|New Mexico Bowl: SMU vs. BYU||2:15pm||ESPN|
|LA Bowl: Fresno State vs. Washington State||3:30pm||ABC|
|LendingTree Bowl: Rice vs. Southern Miss||5:45pm||ESPN|
|Las Vegas Bowl: Florida vs. (17) Oregon State||7:30pm||ABC|
|Frisco Bowl: North Texas vs. Boise State||9:15pm||ESPN|
|Champions Tour: PNC Championship Pro-Am||2:00pm||NBC|
|Washington at LA Clippers||4:00pm||NBCS-WSH|
|Miami at San Antonio||5:00pm||NBATV|
|Dallas at Cleveland||8:00pm||Bally Sports|
|Memphis at Oklahoma City||8:00pm||Bally Sports|
|Portland at Houston||8:00pm||Root Sports|
|Utah at Milwaukee||8:00pm||ATTSN-RM|
|New Orleans at Phoenix||9:00pm||NBATV|
|Indianapolis at Minnesota||1:00pm||NFLN|
|Baltimore at Cleveland||4:30pm||NFLN|
|Miami at Buffalo||8:15pm||NFLN|
|Columbus at Boston||1:00pm||NHLN|
|Ottawa at Detroit||1:00pm||Bally Sports|
|Anaheim at Edmonton||4:00pm||Bally Sports|
|Toronto at Washington||7:00pm||NHLN|
|Tampa Bay at Montreal||7:00pm||Bally Sports|
|Dallas at Carolina||7:00pm||Bally Sports|
|NY Rangers at Philadelphia||7:00pm||NBCS-PHI|
|Florida at New Jersey||7:30pm||Bally Sports|
|Buffalo at Arizona||9:00pm||Bally Sports|
|NY Islanders at Vegas||10:00pm||ATTSN-RM|
|Winnipeg at Vancouver||10:00pm||Sportsnet|
|San Jose at Los Angeles||10:30pm||Bally Sports|
|Scottish Premiership: Aberdeen vs Celtic||7:30am||CBSSN|
|FIFA World Cup Third Place Match: Croatia vs Morocco||10:00am||FOX|
|England Championship: West Bromwich Albion vs Rotherham United||10:00am||ESPN+|
|England Championship: Norwich City vs Blackburn Rovers||12:30pm||ESPN+|
|COLLEGE BASKETBALL – MEN’S||TIME ET||TV|
|Indiana at Kansas||12:00pm||ESPN2|
|Canisius at Penn State||12:00pm||BTN|
|Howard at Harvard||12:00pm||ESPN+|
|Washington (MD) at Navy||12:00pm||ESPN+|
|Stanford vs. Texas||1:00pm||ESPN|
|Army West Point at Stony Brook||1:00pm||FLOHOOPS|
|William & Mary at UMBC||1:00pm||ESPN+|
|Western Michigan at Iowa State||1:00pm||ESPN+|
|North Carolina A&T vs. Norfolk State||2:00pm||ESPNU|
|UAlbany at Loyola Chicago||2:00pm||ESPN+|
|Belmont at Chattanooga||2:00pm||ESPN+|
|Merrimack at Bucknell||2:00pm||ESPN+|
|Niagara at NJIT||2:00pm||ESPN+|
|Quinnipiac at Saint Peter’s||2:00pm||ESPN+|
|Rhode Island at Georgia State||2:00pm||ESPN+|
|Northeastern at UIC||2:00pm||ESPN+|
|Elon at Valparaiso||2:00pm||ESPN+|
|US Coast Guard at Fairfield||2:00pm||ESPN+|
|Robert Morris at Mount St. Mary’s||2:00pm||ESPN+|
|LIU at James Madison||2:00pm||ESPN+|
|Miami (OH)-Hamilton at Northern Kentucky||2:00pm||ESPN+|
|High Point at UNCW||2:00pm||FLOHOOPS|
|Green Bay at Oregon State||3:00pm||PAC12|
|Warren Wilson at UNCG||3:00pm||ESPN+|
|Detroit Mercy at Eastern Michigan||3:00pm||ESPN+|
|McNeese at Southern Miss||3:00pm||ESPN+|
|Tarleton at Air Force||3:30pm||MWN|
|Oakland at Boise State||4:00pm||MWN|
|Illinois Tech at SIUE||4:00pm||ESPN+|
|Bethune-Cookman at UTSA||4:00pm||CUSAtv|
|Hampton vs. Texas Southern||4:30pm||ESPNU|
|Southern at UAB||4:30pm||CBSSN|
|Northern Colorado at Colorado||5:00pm||PAC12|
|California at Santa Clara||5:00pm||WCC|
|Cleveland State at Loyola Marymount||5:00pm||WCC|
|Concord at Kent State||5:00pm||ESPN+|
|Buffalo at West Virginia||5:00pm||ESPN+|
|Mississippi Valley State at TCU||5:00pm||ESPN+|
|Auburn at USC||5:30pm||ESPN|
|Notre Dame vs. Georgia||5:30pm||ESPN2|
|Northern Nrew Mexico at NM State||6:00pm||ESPN+|
|Alcorn State at Seattle U||6:00pm||ESPN+|
|Central Michigan at Missouri State||6:00pm||ESPN+|
|Iona at New Mexico||6:30pm||FS1|
|San Diego at Arizona State||7:00pm||PAC12|
|Houston Christian vs. UTRGV||7:00pm||ESPN+|
|Colorado State at Saint Mary’s||8:00pm||WCC|
|Washington State vs. Baylor||10:00pm||ESPN2|
|Sonoma State at California Baptist||10:00pm||ESPN+|
|COLLEGE BASKETBALL – WOMEN’S||TIME ET||TV|
|USC vs. Texas||3:30pm||ESPN2|
|Providence at St. John’s||4:30pm||FS1|
|Arizona vs. Baylor||7:30pm||ESPN2|
|Champions Tour: PNC Championship Pro-Am||1:30pm||NBC|
|Orlando at Boston||3:00pm||Bally Sports|
|New York at Indiana||5:00pm||Bally Sports|
|Brooklyn at Detroit||6:00pm||Bally Sports|
|Golden State at Toronto||6:00pm||Sportsnet|
|Chicago at Minnesota||7:00pm||Bally Sports|
|Charlotte at Denver||8:00pm||ALT|
|Washington at LA Lakers||9:30pm||NBCS-WSH|
|Atlanta at New Orleans||1:00pm||FOX|
|Philadelphia at Chicago||1:00pm||FOX|
|Detroit at NY Jets||1:00pm||FOX|
|Pittsburgh at Carolina||1:00pm||CBS|
|Dallas at Jacksonville||1:00pm||FOX|
|Kansas City at Houston||1:00pm||CBS|
|Arizona at Denver||4:05pm||FOX|
|New England at Las Vegas||4:05pm||FOX|
|Tennessee at LA Chargers||4:25pm||CBS|
|Cincinnati at Tampa Bay||4:25pm||CBS|
|NY Giants at Washington||8:20pm||NBC|
|Ottawa at Minnesota||2:00pm||NHLN|
|Pittsburgh at Carolina||5:00pm||ATTSN-PIT|
|NY Rangers at Chicago||7:30pm||ESPN|
|Winnipeg at Seattle||8:00pm||Root Sports|
|Calgary at San Jose||10:00pm||NBCS-CA|
|FIFA World Cup Finals: Argentina vs France||2:00pm||FOX|