BOYS HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL
|THURSDAY’ S GAMES|
GIRLS HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL
|THURSDAY’ S GAMES|
|Hamilton Southeastern||80||Terre Haute South||26|
|North Central (Farmersburg)||71||Monrovia||44|
Mississippi State 28 #24 Tulsa 26.
Ball State 34 #22 San Jose State 13
West Virginia 24 Army 21
MEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL
#6 Wisconsin 71 #21 Minnesota, 59
#16 Michigan 84 Maryland 73
#21 Oregon 82 California 69
Gardner Webb 80 Hampton 69
Winthrop 94 Campbell 76
Presbyterian 65 Bradford 63
Longwood 65 UNC Asheville 55
Wake Forest 70 Catawba 62
Utah State 83 Air Force 48
San Francisco 70 San Diego 62
USC Upstate 60 High Point 51
Northern Arizona 78 Idaho 65
UCLA 72 Utah 70
Arizona 80 Washington 53
Boise State 106 San Jose State 54
Nevada 68 New Mexico 54
Colorado 72 USC 62
WOMEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL
#3 North Carolina State 84 Georgia Tech 75
#13 Kentucky 75 #10 Arkansas 64
#12 Mississippi State 69 Georgia 62
#14 Maryland 96 Penn State 82
Nebraska 65 #15 Northwestern 63
#16 Michigan 92 Wisconsin 49
#20 Indiana 79 Illinois 56
Florida State 73 Virginia Tech 63
Notre Dame 71 Miami, Florida 60
Xavier 64 Providence 50
Campbell 80 Winthrop 37
UNC Asheville 68 Longwood 52
Bradford 61 Presbyterian 55
Hampton 46 Gardner Webb 38
High Point 70 USC Upstate 48
Iowa 90 Rutgers 84
Alabama 74 Missouri 59
Boise State 77 San Jose State 75
New Mexico 88 Nevada 69
Utah State 70 Air Force 66
Idaho State 77 Weber State 60
LSU 56 Auburn 43
Eastern Washington 73 Portland State 71
Northern Arizona 84 Idaho 62
Indiana 118 Cleveland 99
Chicago 133 Washington 130
Philadelphia 116 Orlando 92
Houston 122 Sacramento 119
Toronto 100 New York 83
New Orleans 113 Oklahoma City 80
Phoenix 106 Utah 95
BALL STATE WINS ARIZONA BOWL
Tears were shed when Ball State coach Mike Neu told his players this summer that the season had been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
When the Mid-American Conference changed course and decided to start a truncated season in November, the Cardinals were given a second chance. They turned it into the program’s first bowl win in 10 tries.
Antonio Phillips returned an early interception 53 yards for a touchdown, Drew Plitt accounted for two scores and Ball State beat short-handed No. 19 San Jose State 34-13 in the Arizona Bowl on Thursday.
“We knew were granted an opportunity to do something special here,” Ball State safety Bryce Cosby said. “That says a lot about these guys. I can’t even fathom the amount of sacrifice with COVID and everything. We had to do everything a little different and I’m just proud of these guys.”
San Jose State (7-1, No. 22 CFP) had to play without its two coordinators and Mountain West Conference player of the year Cade Hall due to COVID-19 and other issues.
The Cardinals (7-1) took advantage, quick-hitting their way down the field on offense after Phillips’ interception for a 27-0 lead in the first quarter.
The Mid-American champions bogged down in the second half but had four interceptions to beat consecutive ranked opponents for the first time; they defeated then-No. 23 Buffalo in the MAC title game.
“People ask if this is a Super Bowl-type game or a Pro Bowl-type game,” Neu said. “This is a Super Bowl-type game for us. I’m proud of these guys for playing Cardinals football.”
Already short-handed, the Spartans lost tight end Derrick Deese Jr., the team leader with five touchdown receptions, to a neck injury on the first play from scrimmage.
Quarterback Nick Starkel injured his left knee in the second quarter but later returned wearing a brace. He threw for 268 yards and a touchdown with three interceptions.
Both teams arrived in the desert on a roll.
The Spartans, who went 1-11 just two years ago, had their best season since going 13-0 in 1939. San Jose State won its first Mountain West championship and had its first winning season since 2012.
The Spartans did it despite having to relocate for training camp and not being able to play on their home field for most of the season.
Ball State lost its opener to Miami of Ohio, then reeled off six consecutive wins to earn its first MAC championship since 1996.
The Cardinals got off to a quick start against the short-handed Spartans.
Phillips scored on his interception when Starkel had a miscommunication with a receiver on the Spartans’ opening drive. Ball State kept rolling with its up-tempo offense, scoring on 3-yard runs by Will Jones and Tye Evans. Plitt also scored on a 1-yard, fourth-down run after Nic Jones blocked Elijah Fischer’s punt.
“We came out with a purpose,” Neu said.
San Jose State finally got some momentum after Starkel was injured, but backup Nick Nash threw an interception in the end zone. Spartans kicker Matt Mercurio closed the ugly first half with a badly-missed 49-yard field goal attempt.
Plitt’s 48-yard TD pass to Yo’Heinz Tyler made it 33-0 before San Jose State finally scored on Charlie Bostic’s 99-yard kickoff return.
BRAWL MARS ARMED FORCES BOWL
A bowl victory that increased Mississippi State’s win total this season to four and No. 22 Tulsa’s failed attempt to add another unlikely comeback to its impressive collection this season took a back seat to the melee that broke out Thursday shortly after the Armed Forces Bowl ended.
True freshman Will Rogers scored his first rushing touchdown of the season and had a 13-yard TD pass to lead Mississippi State past Tulsa 28-26 in a game that was tense from the start.
Minutes after it ended, the teams became involved in a large brawl on the field, with players punching and kicking one another. Tulsa coach Greg Montgomery said sophomore safety Kendarin Ray, who was helped off the field after being at the bottom of a dogpile during a scrum, was treated for “some sort of concussion.”
“I’m not sure what exactly caused that,” said Mississippi State coach Mike Leach, who referred to the altercation as a “mosh pit.” “It was something before the game, too. We’ve never had any problem with that the entire season, so I can only guess without seeing the film.”
In a video posted from Mississippi State’s locker room, Malik Heath joked about kicking a Tulsa player in the facemask.
“The one thing I’ll say is our program, our guys, we’re a team that are going to stand up for each other and we’re going to battle,” Montgomery said. “We talk about faith, family, football, and family’s going to take care of family. We’re a team that has battled all year long. We battled again today. From that standpoint, our guys are going to continue to protect each other and go from there.”
Jo’quavious Marks scored a rushing touchdown on the game’s first possession and Emmanuel Forbes returned an interception 90 yards for a touchdown for the Bulldogs (4-7), who finished the season with a second straight win in a game played at TCU’s Amon G. Carter Stadium in cold, rainy conditions.
Mississippi State’s 148 passing yards were its fewest of the season. Marks’ 72 rushing yards and his 28-yard run for the touchdown were the most in each category this season for the Bulldogs, whose 36-yard rushing average going into bowl play was the lowest in the FBS.
Forbes’ third-quarter touchdown was initially called back on an illegal blocking penalty, but the Big Ten Conference officiating crew reversed its ruling to a penalty on Tulsa.
Deneric Prince and Corey Taylor II scored rushing touchdowns, Zach Smith had a 15-yard TD pass to Keylon Stokes and Zack Long kicked field goals of 27 and 33 yards for Tulsa (6-3, No. 24 CFP), which erased four double-digit deficits this season.
Smith was 26 for 46 passing for 347 yards with two interceptions. Tulsa outgained Mississippi State in total offense 484 yards to 271, but the Bulldogs got 138 valuable kickoff return yards from Lideatrick “Tulu” Griffin.
Tulsa pulled to within 21-19 with 12:30 left on Taylor’s 5-yard run, but Smith’s two-point conversion pass intended for Stokes was broken up in the end zone. Mississippi State answered with Rogers’ 13-yard throw to Griffin to go ahead 28-19.
Smith’s 15-yard scoring pass to Stokes came with 1:23 to play, and Tulsa failed to recover the ensuing onside kick. On the play, Mississippi State’s Erroll Thompson leveled Tulsa’s Ryan Nixon and was penalized 15 yards for taunting.
“It’s just dumb,” Leach said. “There was some stuff going back and forth during the course of the game. With any of it on our side, I don’t want to see it because I feel like I got shorted, what, 15 yards, 30 yards on deals where if we could keep our mouth shut, you know.”
During the brawl, Mississippi State’s De’Monte Russell, in street clothes beneath his jersey, ripped the helmet off Tulsa’s TieNeal Martin and appeared to land a punch to Martin’s head.
“Coach Leach addressed us as a team after the game, and we will handle that in-house,” Kobe Jones said. “It was emotional and a mishap. We have to be better and more disciplined.”
WEST VIRGINIA RALLIES TO BEAT ARMY IN LIBERTY BOWL
Reserve quarterback Austin Kendall threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to T.J. Simmons with 5:10 left and West Virginia held off Army 24-21 on Thursday in the Liberty Bowl.
Army (9-3) had a chance to tie it with 1:50 left, but Quinn Maretzki’s 39-yard field goal was wide left. Josh Chandler ended Army’s final possession with an interception, and led the Mountaineers (9-3) with 13 tackles.
Simmons also scored on a 5-yard pass from starting quarterback Jarret Doege.
Army quarterback Tyhier Tyler had three rushing touchdowns – from 1, 6, and 2 yards – to tie a Liberty Bowl record.
The Black Knights initially were scheduled to play in the Independence Bowl but seemed left out of the bowl lineup after the Shreveport, Louisiana, bowl was canceled. They got the opportunity to play in the Liberty Bowl after Tennessee (3-7) opted out because of COVID-19 cases.
The game was played in overcast conditions with occasional showers and sub-40-degree temperatures. The weather and local COVID-19 restrictions limited the crowd in the 60,000-seat Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, leaving clusters of the announced 8,187 fans scattered throughout the stadium.
What began as a defensive battle, changed after halftime. Army’s rushing offense got untracked, while a change in quarterbacks to Kendall for West Virginia gave it more firepower through the air.
Army: The Black Knights’ vaunted rushing offense couldn’t move early, not picking up their initial first down until the final play of the opening quarter. Part of the reason the Black Knights had eight players not play for safety and health protocols, many of them on the two-deep chart.
West Virginia: While the defense controlled things early, the Mountaineers couldn’t capitalize enough to build a significant lead. Turnovers hurt West Virginia, especially Doege’s fumble deep in his own territory late in the first half, giving Army a lead. Kendall taking over at quarterback made a difference as he threw for 121 yards and two touchdowns in the second half.
FLORIDA QB TO ENTER THE NFL DRAFT
Florida quarterback Kyle Trask made his future plans official Thursday, formally announcing he’s declining an opportunity to return to school and entering the NFL draft.
No one thought Trask would stick around following a record-breaking season that included being named a Heisman Trophy finalist. Even coach Dan Mullen made it clear he was moving forward with Emory Jones and Anthony Richardson at the position.
Nonetheless, Trask made his announcement in a 2 minute, 19 second video released on social media.
“This decision, I talked a lot with my coaches about it, I talked with my family, my friends and just my support group,” Trask said. “I feel it’s best to chase my dreams of playing in the NFL. I’ve had dreams of playing in the NFL ever since I was a kid. Just to have this opportunity to play at the next level, it’s crazy and I’m just going to try and go and make the most of it.”
Trask completed 68.9% of his passes for 4,283 yards and 43 touchdowns this season. He led the nation in passing yards and TD passes. He also ran for three scores. He broke the previous school record (39) for TD passes (39) set by 1996 Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel.
Defensive tackle Kyree Campbell also announced plans to turn pro. Campbell was one of three defensive starters to opt out of the Cotton Bowl on Wednesday night.
Trask and Campbell are both seniors who could have played one more year under a special NCAA rule put in place because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Fellow defensive tackle Zachary Carter, meanwhile, announced plans to return to school for his senior season. Carter led the Gators with five sacks in 2020.
NOTRE DAME VS. ALABAMA GAME NOTES
(NOTRE DAME SI NOTES)
BY THE NUMBERS
3 Of the five longest regular-season winning streaks in college football history, Notre Dame has single-handedly ended three of those streaks: Oklahoma’s 45 (1953-57), Miami’s 36 (1985-88) and Clemson’s 36 (2017-20). 4 Since the start of 2018, Notre Dame is 33-4 (.892). That rate ranks fourth among all teams who have made an appearance in the College Football Playoff since its inception in 2014. Notre Dame is one of just five teams who have made playoff appearances in multiple seasons. 4 At No. 4 in all three rankings (CFP, AP, Coaches), the Rose Bowl Game will mark the 10th game this season that the Irish have played ranked as a Top 5 team. It is the most games Notre Dame has played as a Top 5 team in a single season since the Irish reached the same feat in 1993. Through the Brian Kelly era (11 seasons), the Irish have been ranked in the AP Top 10 at least one week in each of the last seven seasons, and eight of the last nine. 7 The Irish have faced the No. 1 team in a bowl game seven times previously in program history, coming away with a 4-3 record (1969, 1970, 1973, 1977, 1980, 1989 and 1990 seasons). Overall, Notre Dame has won six of the last seven games when playing No. 1 as a top-five team. 2020 marks the first season in which the Irish have faced two No. 1 teams in the same season. Notre Dame won its first No. 1 matchup of 2020 in the 47-40 win over then-No. 1 Clemson. 9 Notre Dame’s victory over No. 1 Clemson was Notre Dame’s ninth win over an AP No. 1 opponent, which ties for second-most all-time (Miami). Only Alabama has more (10). 19 Irish football names took home five ACC individual honors: Kelly was named ACC Coach of the Year, RB Kyren Williams was named ACC Rookie and Offensive Rookie of the Year. LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah was named ACC Defensive Player of the Year and OL Liam Eichenberg won the ACC’s Jacobs Blocking Trophy. In total, 18 Irish players received 19 AllACC honors (Williams was honored both as a running back and an all-purpose player). 33 Notre Dame has held 33-of-37 opponents during Clark Lea’s tenure as defensive coordinator to 30 points or less. That includes ranked opponents LSU, Michigan, Stanford, Virginia Tech, Syracuse, Clemson, Georgia, Virginia, Navy and North Carolina. 41 Notre Dame has totaled 41 regular season wins in four years, the most in a four year period in program history. 63.0 Of the Top 10 rushers in the ACC, which includes RB Kyren Williams, the Irish have faced six (facing one twice and two in the same game): North Carolina’s Javonte Williams and Michael Carter, Clemson’s Travis Etienne, Duke’s Mataeo Durant, Florida State’s Jordan Travis and Syracuse’s Sean Tucker. Notre Dame’s defense has limited those six Top-10 running backs to an average of 63.0 yards (441 yards total on 94 carries) and just four total touchdowns among the six. Carter, who leads the ACC with 113.2 rushing yards per game, was held to just 57 vs. Notre Dame. By comparison, in those six games, Williams posted at least 100 rushing yards in five, averaging 121.3 yards (728 yards total on 119 carries), with a total of 10 touchdowns. 100 WR Javon McKinley has totaled four 100-receiving yard performances in 2020, tied for the most among any ACC player. 102 Dick Corbett Head Football Coach Brian Kelly has notched 102ˆ wins in his Notre Dame career. Ranking second all-time in program history in career wins, and with 10 wins this season, he has totaled the most double-digit win seasons in school history (six). 120 Notre Dame is 120-39-7 in neutral site games since 1887. In the Brian Kelly era, the Irish are 17-7. 141 Notre Dame has outscored opponents 141-52 in the second quarter this season.
• The first bowl trip for Notre Dame came at the conclusion of the 1924 season, when Knute Rockne took his 9-0 Irish, led by the Four Horsemen, to the Rose Bowl and defeated Stanford, 27-10. The victory captured the school’s first consensus national title. • The University then declined to participate in bowl games until after the 1969 season. During that span, the Irish captured seven additional consensus national championships. • Under Ara Parseghian, Notre Dame returned to postseason play on New Year’s Day 1970, falling to No. 1 Texas, 21-17, in the Cotton Bowl to cap the 1969 season with an 8-2- 1 record. The Irish returned to the Cotton Bowl the next season, downing the top-ranked Longhorns, 24-11, to finish 10-1. • Parseghian led his teams to three more bowl games, falling in the Orange Bowl after the 1972 campaign before capturing the 1973 national title with a 24-23 win over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. Parseghian’s final game as a head coach was a 13-11 win over the Crimson Tide in the Orange Bowl to cap the 1974 season at 10-2. • Dan Devine took his teams to four New Year’s Day games, going 3-1 in bowls. His 1977 team captured the national championship after the fifth-ranked Irish rolled No. 1 Texas, 38-10, in the Cotton Bowl to finish 11-1. • Gerry Faust’s teams split a pair of bowl appearances, defeating Boston College, 19-18, in Notre Dame’s only visit to the Liberty Bowl after the 1983 season, while falling to SMU in the Aloha Bowl a year later. • Lou Holtz took the Irish to nine consecutive January bowl games. The only years Holtz did not have Notre Dame in a bowl game were his first and final seasons. His team went 8-3 in 1996, but with Holtz’s retirement already announced, the Irish elected to stay home. • Holtz posted a 5-4 record in bowl games at Notre Dame, with the Irish playing in three Cotton Bowls, three Orange Bowls and two Fiesta Bowls. His 1988 team secured a 12-0 record and the national title in the Fiesta Bowl, downing West Virginia, 34-21. • Holtz also saw his teams earn bowl victories over Florida (Sugar) after the 1991 season before back-to-back wins over Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl after the 1992 and 1993 campaigns.
Bob Davie took the Irish to three bowl games in five years, while Tyrone Willingham followed with a pair of games in two seasons. Charlie Weis led Notre Dame to three bowls, including a pair of BCS appearances in the Fiesta and Sugar. His 2008 team won the Hawaii Bowl, the school’s first bowl victory since the Cotton Bowl on New Year’s Day 1994. • Brian Kelly has taken the Irish to a bowl game in 10 of his 11 seasons, including the BCS National Championship in 2012ˆ, the Fiesta Bowl in 2015 and the Cotton Bowl Classic in 2018. Kelly’s teams are 5-4ˆ entering the CFP Semifinal at the Rose Bowl Game.
TAKING ON NO. 1 • The Irish have faced the No. 1-ranked team in a bowl game seven times previously in program history, coming away with a 4-3 record (1969, 1970, 1973, 1977, 1980, 1989 and 1990 seasons). • 2020 marks the first season in which the Irish have faced two No. 1 teams in the same season. • Notre Dame’s victory over No. 1 Clemson in November of 2020 was Notre Dame’s ninth win over an AP No. 1 opponent, which ties for second-most all-time (Miami). Only Alabama has more (10). • The matchup with Clemson was the first game for the Irish against the No. 1 team in the Brian Kelly era. • Notre Dame has won six of the last seven games when playing No. 1 as a top-five team. • Notre Dame’s 47 points vs. Clemson are the most an Irish team has ever scored against a No. 1 opponent. • Of the five longest regular-season winning streaks in college football history, Notre Dame has single-handedly ended three of those streaks: Oklahoma’s 45 (1953-57), Miami’s 36 (1985-88) and Clemson’s 36 (2017-20). • Since the start of 2018, Notre Dame is 33-4 (.892). That rate ranks fourth among all teams who have made an appearance in the College Football Playoff since its inception in 2014. Notre Dame is one of just five teams who have made playoff appearances in multiple seasons. • Among those teams, Notre Dame is one of just four teams that have totaled four or fewer losses since the beginning of 2018.
ALABAMA GAME NOTES
INSIDE THE SERIES…Overall: Eighth Meeting (Alabama trails, 2-5) At Neutral Sites: Alabama trails, 1-2 Current Streak: Alabama, Won 1 Last Meeting: Jan. 7, 2013 – BCS National Championship Game (W, 42-14) Series Notes: Alabama and Notre Dame will meet for the eighth time in the history of the two storied programs. The Fighting Irish hold a 5-2 lead in the series, but the Crimson Tide has come out victorious in two of the last three matchups. The most recent pairing came in the 2013 BCS National Championship Game in Miami Gardens, Fla., with Alabama posting a dominant 42-14 win on the way to the program’s 15th national championship. Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban is 4-0 for his career against ND, including a 1-0 mark at Alabama. Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly is 0-1 for his career against the Crimson Tide.
ALABAMA WINS 28th SEC CHAMPIONSHIP: With its 52-46 win over then-No. 7/11/11 Florida in the 2020 Southeastern Conference Championship Game on Dec. 19, Alabama captured its 28th SEC title. The Crimson Tide has now won six of the last eight league crowns (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2020) and is unbeaten in its last seven SEC Championship Game appearances (2009, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2020).
SEC WESTERN DIVISION TITLE: Alabama’s 55-17 win at LSU on Dec. 5 clinched the program’s 15th SEC Western Division title (13th outright). The Crimson Tide went on to represent the Western Division against SEC Eastern Division champion Florida in the SEC Championship Game on Dec. 19, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. The appearance in ATL was Alabama’s 13th in the SEC Championship with the Crimson Tide holding a record of 9-4 in its last 13 trips.
TIDE REACHES 11 WINS FOR THE 24TH TIME: With the win against then-No. 7/11/11 Florida in the 2020 Southeastern Conference Championship Game on Dec. 19, Alabama secured its 11th victory of the year, marking the 24th time in program history that the Tide has achieved the feat. Under head coach Nick Saban, Alabama has had 12 11-win seasons (2008-09, 2011-20). It is the 10th straight season with at least 11 wins, which is the longest streak of its kind in SEC history. The SEC has had three streaks of three seasons with at least 11 victories, including Alabama from 1973-75, LSU from 2005-07 and South Carolina from 2011-13.
SEC RECORD: Alabama extended its record for most consecutive 10-win seasons in SEC history to 13 when it defeated Arkansas on Dec. 12 in Fayetteville. The Crimson Tide finished the 2020 regular season at a perfect 10-0 mark against an all-SEC schedule, making Alabama the only team in league history to win 10 conference games in a season. It also marked the Crimson Tide’s fifth undefeated regular season (excluding conference championship games) under head coach Nick Saban, joining 2008, 2009, 2016 and 2018. In the Tide’s previous 10-plus win seasons, UA finished with a 12-2 record in 2008 and 2014; 14-0 in 2009; 10-3 in 2010; 12-1 in 2011; 13-1 in 2012 and 2017; 11-2 in 2013 and 2019; and 14-1 in 2015, 2016 and 2018.
FIVE SEC INDIVIDUAL AWARDS FOR UA: The 2020 SEC Football Awards were announced on Tuesday, Dec. 22, with the Crimson Tide collecting five of the league’s seven major honors. Alabama’s roster features the SEC Offensive Player of the Year in DeVonta Smith, the SEC Defensive Player of the Year in Patrick Surtain II, the SEC Jacobs Blocking Trophy co-winners in Landon Dickerson and Alex Leatherwood, and the SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year in Mac Jones. In addition, head coach Nick Saban was named the SEC Coach of the Year while the Tide totaled a league-high 15 players on the All-SEC Coaches’ Team, including a league-best nine first-team honorees. It marked the 13th consecutive season that Alabama has led the conference in All-SEC selections.
ALABAMA IN THE ROSE BOWL: Alabama has played in a total of six Rose Bowl matchups, holding a 4-1-1 mark in those games. The Crimson Tide’s first appearance in the game came in 1926 with UA taking down Washington, 20-19. One year later, Alabama tied with Stanford, 7-7, and then returned to the Rose Bowl in 1931 for a 24-0 shutout win over Washington State. The Crimson Tide’s next appearance was against Stanford once again in 1935, resulting in a 29-13 win for UA. Alabama’s lone loss in the game came in 1938 to Cal by a 13-0 margin. In UA’s most recent appearance in “The Granddaddy of Them All,” Alabama took down USC, 34-14, in 1946.
ALABAMA AT AT&T STADIUM: Alabama will square off with No. 4/4/4 Notre Dame inside AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, for the College Football Playoff Semifinal. The Crimson Tide’s trip to AT&T Stadium will be its fifth since the stadium opened in 2009. The Crimson Tide has opened the season in Arlington on three occasions, including matchups with Michigan (2012), Wisconsin (2015) and USC (2016), in addition to a CFP Semifinal pairing with Michigan State in 2015. In the four ranked matchups at AT&T Stadium, Alabama has outscored its competition, 166-37, and has not allowed more than 17 points in a game, including one shutout.
DOME SWEET DOME: The Crimson Tide is 30-7-1 (.803) all-time in domed stadiums, including a 21-2 (.913) mark since 2009, and is 22-4 (.846) during Nick Saban’s tenure. Alabama last played inside a dome for the 2020 Southeastern Conference Championship against then-No. 7/11/11 Florida on Dec. 19, posting a 52-46 win over the Gators inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. NEUTRAL SITES: Alabama is 92-50-4 (.644) all-time in 146 neutral site contests. The list includes all Alabama-Auburn games not played on campus, including Legion Field from 1948-88. Under head coach Nick Saban, the Crimson Tide is 24-6 (.800) in neutral site games. Alabama is 1-0 in neutral site pairings this season, one year removed from going 2-0 at neutral sites in 2019. The Crimson Tide went 3-1 in 2018 and was a perfect 3-0 in neutral site games one year prior in 2017.
SABAN VS. THE ACC: Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban has faced current ACC teams (including Notre Dame) a total of 21 times in his career and owns a 17-4 (.810) all-time record against ACC opponents, including a 13-2 (.867) mark in the regular season. Alabama is 10-3 (.769) against the ACC under Saban, including a 3-2 record in the postseason and a 7-1 mark in the regular season with the lone loss coming to Florida State in 2007. Most recently, UA defeated Duke in the 2019 season opener inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta by a 42-3 margin.
SABAN VS. NON-CONFERENCE FOES: Alabama head coach Nick Saban owns an impressive 91-20 (.820) career mark against non-conference opponents across his four stops as a collegiate head coach. Saban’s career total includes a 60-7 (.896) record while in Tuscaloosa, a number that includes only two losses to non-conference opponents during the regular season, both of which came in 2007 (14-21 vs. Florida State (Jacksonville) and 14-21 vs. ULM).
BEATING THE BEST: The Crimson Tide is 64-17 (.790) against the Associated Press Top 25 since the start of 2008. Alabama is 4-0 against the Top 25 this season with a 41-24 win over then-No. 3 Georgia on Oct. 17; a 52-24 win over then-No. 13 Texas A&M on Oct. 3; a 42-13 victory in the Iron Bowl against then-No. 22 Auburn; and most recently a 52-46 win over then-No. 11 Florida in the SEC Championship Game. The Tide finished 2-2 against ranked opponents in 2019, one year removed from going 5-1 against ranked opponents in 2018. Alabama was tasked with a gauntlet schedule in 2017 that featured 10 teams ranked in the AP Poll, going 9-1 and outscoring those opponents by an average score of 38.0-17.3.
AGAINST THE TOP 10: Alabama owns an 80-77-1 all-time record against teams ranked in the top-10 of the Associated Press Poll. Among the 114 teams who have squared off with top-10 opponents at least 10 times in their program’s history, the Crimson Tide is the only one with a winning record. Since the start of the 2008 season, the Crimson Tide has posted a 31-11 (.738) overall record against top-10 teams, including a 16-5 (.762) mark versus the top 10 since the inception of the College Football Playoff. In Saban’s five national championship seasons at Alabama, his teams have gone 17-2 against top-10 opponents.
OHIO STATE VS. CLEMSON GAME NOTES
(OHIO STATE SI NOTES)
#3 OHIO STATE (6-0) VS. #2 CLEMSON (10-1)
Friday, January 1 • 8 p.m. • New Orleans, La. • Mercedes-Benz Superdome • ESPN
Head Coach: Ryan Day
Record at Ohio State: 22-1
Career Record: Same
Career vs. Clemson: 0-1
Head Coach: Dabo Swinney
Record at Clemson: 140-32 (13th)
Career Record: Same
Career vs. Ohio State: 3-0
No. 3 Ohio State, making its fourth College Football Playoff appearance, meets six-time CFP semifinalist and No. 2 Clemson Jan. 1 in the Allstate Sugar Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. Ohio State is making consecutive appearances in the CFP for the first time, having also played in the 2019-20 CFP, a 29-23 loss to Clemson at the Fiesta Bowl last Dec. 28. The Buckeyes and the Tigers have played four times previously, all in bowl games, and Clemson has won them all, including a 31-0 win in the 2016-17 CFP at the Fiesta Bowl. Clemson also has wins over Ohio State in the Orange Bowl (40-35 on Jan. 3, 2014) and in the Peach Bowl (17-15 on Dec. 29, 1978), the final game of Woody Hayes’ 28-year coaching career at Ohio State. Ohio State is 5th nationally in total offense (529.2) while Clemson is 10th (507.6); Clemson is 6th in total defense (298.5) while Ohio State is 34th (358.0); Clemson is third in scoring (44.9) while Ohio State is 7th (42.5); Clemson is 11th in scoring defense (17.5) while Ohio State is 25th (21.0).
Ohio State is officially making its fifth Sugar Bowl appearance. f Ohio State is 24-26 all-time in bowl games. The Buckeyes are 2-2 in Sugar Bowls with losses to Alabama (35-6 in 1978) and Florida State (31-14 in 1998) and wins over Texas A&M (24-14 in 1999) and Alabama in a 2015 CFP semifinal (42-35). The Buckeyes are tied for third in most CFP appearances with Oklahoma (four). Only Alabama (six) and Clemson (six) have more. Ohio State is the only school to appear in a New Year’s Six bowl game in all seven years of this current postseason format. Ohio State is 62-27 all-time in night games. f Ohio State is 24-8 in games played indoors.
Clemson won its sixth consecutive ACC championship on Dec. 19 when it avenged its only loss of the season and defeated Notre Dame, 34-10, in Charlotte, N.C. The Tigers are led on offense by Heisman Trophy finalist QB Trevor Lawrence. The junior, whose hometown of Cartersville, Ga. is just 30 minutes north of Justin Fields’ hometown of Kennesaw, Ga., has thrown for 2,753 yards and 22 touchdowns in nine games this season. RB Travis Etienne, a finalist for the Doak Walker Award, has scored 13 touchdowns and rushed for 882 (fifth best in the ACC). WR Amari Rodgers is second in the ACC with 966 yards and third with seven touchdown receptions. Clemson’s defense is second nationally in both tackles for loss (103.0) and sacks (44.0). Clemson ranks either 1st or 2nd in the ACC in 12 of 15 major statistical categories.
Clemson will make its sixth consecutive College Football Playoff appearance on Friday, Jan. 1 when the second-seeded Tigers face third-seeded Ohio State in the Allstate Sugar Bowl. Kickoff at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET. The Tigers enter this year’s College Football Playoff ranked tied for the most CFP appearances (six), CFP wins (six), CFP title game berths (four) and CFP national championships (two) since the inception of the current postseason format in 2014. Clemson’s opponent will be a familiar one, as the Sugar Bowl will be Clemson’s fourth bowl game against Ohio State since 2013 and its third against Ohio State in the College Football Playoff since 2016. The contest will be Clemson’s fifth bowl game against Ohio State all-time, passing Alabama and LSU (four each) as Clemson’s most common bowl opponent. Clemson holds a 4-0 record all-time against the Buckeyes. The opportunity for significant parallels to the 2015- 16 postseasons exists for Clemson. After losing a national championship game in Glendale, Ariz. to end 2015, Clemson returned to Arizona for the 2016 Fiesta Bowl and defeated Ohio State, 31-0, before winning the national title in the state of Florida. This year, Clemson faces Ohio State in New Orleans’ Mercedes-Benz Superdome, the same venue in which Clemson’s 2019 national championship hopes ended with a loss to LSU. With a win, Clemson would advance to play for another national title in the state of Florida, as this year’s College Football Playoff National Championship will take place in Miami Gardens, Fla. on Jan. 11. Clemson will be seeking an 11th bowl victory under Head Coach Dabo Swinney (10-6), which would tie the ACC head coaching record. Bobby Bowden holds the mark with 11, as an additional 11 of his 22 career bowl victories (including one later vacated) came either at West Virginia or at Florida State prior to the Seminoles’ membership in the ACC. Heisman Trophy finalist Trevor Lawrence (3-1) will make his fifth career College Football Playoff start, tying Jalen Hurts (four at Alabama, one at Oklahoma) for the most of any quarterback in CFP history. He will attempt to set the record for most CFP wins by a quarterback. In four career CFP games, Lawrence has completed 83-of141 passes for 1,167 yards with eight touchdowns and zero interceptions for a pass efficiency rating of 147.1.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR THIS WEEK – Clemson and Ohio State meeting in postseason play for the fifth time, moving the Buckeyes past Alabama and LSU (four each) as Clemson’s most common bowl opponent. – Clemson and Ohio State meeting in consecutive years for the first time. Ohio State becomes the third program against which Clemson has played a bowl game in consecutive years, including facing Miami (Fla.) in back-to-back bowl games in 1950-51 and facing Alabama in four straight bowl games across 2015-18. – Clemson attempting to improve to 5-0 all-time against Ohio State, which enters the contest with the second-most wins all-time in FBS history. Clemson (4-0), Alabama (3-1), Stanford (3-2) and USC (13-10-1) are presently the only schools to have played Ohio State at least four times and have a winning record in the series. – Clemson attempting to improve to 7-3 all-time in College Football Playoff games. Clemson’s six all-time wins in the playoff are presently tied with Alabama for the most in CFP history. No schools other than Clemson and Alabama have more than two. – Clemson attempting to improve to 27-2 against undefeated opponents since the start of the 2015 season. Clemson is 10-2 in that span against undefeated opponents who enter the contest with at least four wins on the year. – Clemson attempting to improve to 26-21 all-time in bowl contests. A 26th bowl win would tie Nebraska for 10th-most in FBS history. – Clemson attempting to earn its first Sugar Bowl win in school history. – Clemson attempting to improve to 6-1 all-time against Big Ten opponents, with every matchup coming in postseason play. Dabo Swinney would move to 4-0 against the Big Ten, with all four games coming against Ohio State. – Clemson attempting to win at least 11 of its first 12 games of a season for the eighth time in school history, joining the 1978, 1981, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 seasons. It would be Clemson’s sixth consecutive 11-win season, extending its program record. – Clemson entering bowl season as the only team in the country to defeat multiple AP Top 10 opponents this season (No. 7 Miami (Fla.) and No. 2 Notre Dame). Clemson also holds the largest victory against an AP Top 5 opponent this year (24 points vs. No. 2 Notre Dame), surpassing Alabama’s 17-point win against No. 3 Georgia. – Clemson playing a fourth AP Top 10 opponent in a single season for the third time in school history (four each in 2013 and 2015). – Clemson playing a fourth matchup of two AP Top 10 teams in a single season for the first time in school history. Clemson played three Top-10 matchups each in 2013, 2015 and 2016.
Clemson attempting to improve to 15-10 all-time in games between AP Top 10 teams. A win would push Clemson to 10-3 in games between AP Top 10 teams since the start of the 2016 season. For more on Clemson’s history in games between Top 10 opponents, see the “Top 10 History” section later in the notes. – Clemson attempting to earn a 14th all-time victory against an AP Top 5 opponent. Ten of Clemson’s 13 all-time wins against AP Top 5 teams have come under Head Coach Dabo Swinney. – Clemson attempting to improve to 10-5 all-time in games between two AP Top 5 teams. Clemson is 7-3 since 2016 when both teams enter a game in the AP Top 5. – Clemson entering the game with eight wins against AP Top 5 opponents since 2015, the second-most in the country.
INDIANA DOWNS CAVS 119-99
All-Star center Domantas Sabonis is piling up some big numbers. Reserve forward Doug McDermott is getting on the act, too.
While Sabonis led the Pacers with 25 points and 11 rebounds, and McDermott provided a spark with 18 points and nine rebounds off the bench in a 119-99 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday.
It’s the fourth time in five games that McDermott has scored in double digits. He hit three 3-pointers as the Pacers were 16 of 35 from long range. Because opponents are wary of his 3-point shooting and have adjusted defending him accordingly, that’s provided more opportunities to drive to the rim.
“Coming into the year, I wanted to be as aggressive as possible,” McDermott said. “I’m going to keep doing my thing and hopefully we can keep this thing rolling.”
All-Star guard Victor Oladipo hit four 3-pointers.
“Even though 2020 has been tough, find your triumph,” Oladipo said. “At the end of the day, we’re all blessed to see 2021.”
Sabonis, the 6-foot-11 center who usually does most of his work inside, made both of his 3-point tries and shot 10 of 14 overall. The NBA’s first Eastern Conference Player of the Week also had 11 rebounds.
Two days after blowing a 17-point, third-quarter lead in a home loss to Boston, the Pacers pulled away again after halftime to take a 20-point advantage into the fourth quarter. Pacers coach Nate Bjorkgren pointed to defense.
“They came out of the locker room ready to defend,” Bjorkgren said about the 31-17 third quarter.
Indiana, playing seven of its first nine at home, improved to 4-1.
Shooting guard Collin Sexton led the Cavaliers with 28 points, and point guard Darius Garland added 21. Cleveland was 12 of 23 on 3-pointers in the first of six straight road games. The Cavs are 3-2.
Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff had an extended postgame meeting to express his displeasure in how tentative his team played at times.
“Things are easy when they’re good,” Bickerstaff said. “Things become more difficult when it’s hard. That was the message to our guys. We have to do things decisively. You just can’t be hesitant.”
INDIANA WOMEN’S BASKETBALL:
No. 20 Hoosiers Close Out 2020 With Win Over Illinois
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – No. 20 Indiana improved to 3-0 in the Big Ten for the third-straight year with a 79-56 win over Illinois on Thursday inside Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. The Hoosiers were led with four players in double figures including sophomore forward Mackenzie Holmes with 18 points and 15 points from junior guard Grace Berger.
- Indiana (5-2, 3-0 B1G) opened the game with a quick 8-1 run led by a couple of 3-pointers from senior guard Ali Patberg and Berger. Another 9-0 run IU run at the end of the quarter extended the lead into double-digits, 16-3.Patberg led the Hoosiers with seven points in the first.
- The Hoosiers’ defense held Illinois to just 33 percent from the field and forced a total of nine turnovers.
- After a couple of runs in the first frame, Illinois tried to fight back, but the Hoosiers kept on running with another 13-3 run to extend their lead by 22 at the half, 42-20. Once again, Indiana’s defense would hold Illinois to just 4-18 from the field in the frame.
- Holmes scored 10 of her 18 points as she helped close out the second quarter on a 57.1 percent clip. The Hoosiers would lead as much as 22 going into the second half.
- At the 2:27 mark, redshirt junior Nicole Cardaño-Hillary hit her third 3-pointer of the night off a steal and fast break opportunity to put the Hoosiers up, 36-17. Cardaño-Hillary finished the night with a new season-high 14 points.
- IU used a 7-0 run to extend their lead and force an Illinois timeout with 6:15 left to play in the third. Illinois wouldn’t come any closer than 20 as Indiana continued to distance themselves, 58-31.
- With eight minutes left to play in the fourth, back-to-back jumpers by Berger puts IU up by 30, 65-35. Indiana would lead as many as 30 with 5:51 left to play in the fourth.
- The Hoosiers open Big Ten play 3-0 for the third consecutive season.
- Indiana held an opponent under 60 points for the fifth times in seven games. The Hoosiers are 5-0 this season when they hold an opponent under 60 points.
- IU extends its win streak over the Fighting Illini to 11 games, dating back to 2014.
- Indiana had four players score in double figures led by Mackenzie Holmes with 18 points on 7-of-14 shooting from the field. Holmes added three blocks and now has 23 blocked shots through seven games this season.
- Cardaño-Hillary came off the bench and scored a career-high 14 points. She connected on three 3-pointers.
- Berger added 15 points and five assists and Patberg contributed 11 points and four assists.
- The Hoosiers outscored Illinois 42-28 in points in the paint and 18-6 on fastbreak points.
- Indiana got 27 points from their players off the bench.
Indiana head coach Teri Moren
“It is exciting to be back on the floor after a longer break than normal. It is good to get back on the floor with these guys and start to ramp up here for what feels like it is going to be a normal Big Ten schedule. I thought today we had some really good moments but there was a little frustration. We were doing really good things offensively but then we would go down the floor and do something silly defensively. It just seemed we could not put long enough stretches together where we were really good offensively and defensively. That was a little bit frustrating but again I think we were trying to work some kinks out after having some time off and getting back on the floor. I am excited about the 19 assists we had today on 29 made field goals. I cannot reiterate enough how important that is to our basketball team and how much better I think we are when we share the ball. 16 turnovers are too may. We played a lot of guys today and I thought there were moments where we took chances when we did not need to. We were trying to, as well we call it, be cute at times and we did not need to press, we just needed to run offense and be sound on the offensive end. 15 of 20 from the free throw line, that needs to be 75 percent or higher, shooting 48 percent from the field is good, and our three-point shot was better today. I thought Nicole Cordaño-Hilary gave us some good minutes and it was nice to see the ball finally go in for her. Overall, I feel good about finishing up this 2020 season with a win.”
No. 20 Indiana will travel to College Park, Md. for a top-25 showdown as they face No. 14 Maryland on Monday night. The game will be broadcasted on ESPN2 with tipoff set for 7 p.m. ET.
NOTRE DAME FOOTBALL:
Four Notre Dame Standouts Earn AFCA All-America Honors
NOTRE DAME, Indiana — On the fourth of five major All-America lists, the Irish again notch multiple mentions, now on the AFCA All-America teams. Graduate student offensive lineman Liam Eichenberg, senior offensive lineman Aaron Banks and senior linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah earned spots on the first team, while sophomore safety Kyle Hamilton claimed the honor on the second team.
Eichenberg and Owusu-Koramoah, already consensus All-Americans, notch their third and fourth All-America honors, respectively. Banks marks his second first-team All-America honor this season, officially cementing his place as a consensus All-American.
Totaling 37-consecutive starts on his career, Eichenberg has been tabbed as one of the best linemen in the country, being named a finalist for the Outland Trophy and recipient of the ACC’s Jacobs Blocking Trophy. He was twice named ACC Offensive Lineman of the Week, and is a member of an offensive line unit that has been named a finalist for the 2020 Joe Moore Award. Eichenberg was also named to the Sporting News All-America First Team and FWAA All-America First Team this season.
Banks has racked up 30-career starts and was named ACC Offensive Lineman of the Week for his performance vs. Clemson (11/7). Selected to the preseason All-ACC Team, Banks is part of an offensive line that leads the ACC and ranks eighth in the FBS in time of possession, controlling the ball for 33:57 minutes of game time and winning the time of possession battle in 10-of-11 games this season. The 33:57 time of possession average leads the ACC by more than two minutes per game. Banks is now a consensus All-American, also being named to the Associated Press All-America First Team.
The 2020 Butkus Award winner and ACC Defensive Player of the Year, Owusu-Koramoah is widely regarded as one of the best defensive players in the nation. Also a finalist for the Bednarik Award and Bowden Trophy, and semifinalist for the Lott IMPACT Trophy, Owusu-Koramoah was also a finalist for the Nagurski Award. The senior has totaled 56 tackles (38 solo), 11.0 TFL, 1.5 sacks, one interception, three PBU, two FR and three FF on the season. Already a consensus All-American, Owusu-Koramoah has also been selected to the Associated Press, Sporting News and FWAA All-America First Teams this season.
An All-ACC First Team selection and Bednarik Award semifinalist, sophomore Kyle Hamilton ties for the lead on the Irish defense with 56 tackles (45 solo) in 2020. Along with a 14-yard interception vs. Clemson in the ACC Championship, he has posted five PBUs, 3.5 TFL and two QB hits. He was selected to the FWAA All-America First Team and the Associated Press All-America Third Team.
MIAMI QB KING TORE ACL IN BOWL LOSS
Miami quarterback D’Eriq King tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during the Hurricanes’ loss this week in the Cheez-It Bowl.
The Hurricanes said Thursday an MRI a day earlier confirmed the tear. King will have surgery in the coming days and the Hurricanes expect him to be ready for training camp – which will begin about seven months after the ligament is repaired.
Miami’s opener next season is scheduled for Sept. 4 in Atlanta against Alabama.
“I’ll be fine,” King wrote on Twitter in a message to well-wishers.
The Hurricanes went 8-3 this season, the best record among the seven FBS schools in the state of Florida. King, in first season at Miami following his transfer from Houston, was a big reason for that. He started every game for the Hurricanes, passing for 2,686 yards and 23 touchdowns while also rushing for 538 yards and four more scores.
King completed 64.1 percent of his passes, the second-best single-season completion percentage for any Miami quarterback and one that qualifies him as, for now anyway, the most accurate passer in Hurricanes history.
“We are obviously disappointed for D’Eriq but we know he is in great hands with our medical staff,” Miami coach Manny Diaz said in a message posted to social media. “D’Eriq is the leader of this football team and we know that he will approach his rehabilitation with the same tenacity that he has approached every facet of his game since he arrived on our campus.”
King announced last week he will not enter the upcoming NFL draft and would return to Miami for a sixth season of college football. He spent parts of four seasons at Houston before electing to end his 2019 season after four games, preserving his final year of eligibility and ultimately deciding to use it at Miami.
TWO MORE CLEVELAND PLAYERS TEST POSITIVE
The Browns are trying to shake free from COVID-19 to face the Steelers.
Cleveland’s issues with the virus continued Thursday as rookie tight end Harrison Bryant and linebacker Malcolm Smith tested positive, forcing the team to close its facility and delay practice for the second straight day with the biggest game in decades coming fast.
The Browns’ latest COVID-19 situation has further impacted preparations for Sunday’s game against Pittsburgh. If they win, the Browns will make the playoffs for the first time since 2002 and end the NFL’s longest current playoff drought.
A league spokesman said at this point the game will be played as scheduled, and that the situation is being closely monitored as standard contact tracing continues.
Bryant and Smith will miss Sunday’s game along with starting linebacker B.J. Goodson and safety Andrew Sendejo, both of whom tested positive.
Browns coach Kevin Stefanski was awaiting word as to when – or if – his team will be able to practice Thursday. After a long delay, the Browns were able to practice indoors for an hour on Wednesday and Stefanski is confident they’ll be ready for their biggest game in years.
The Browns could get some help as Steelers coach Mike Tomlin is resting several starters, including quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and perhaps Defensive MVP candidate T.J. Watt. Roethlisberger is 23-2-1 in his career against Cleveland.
However, the rival Steelers (12-3), who beat the Browns 38-7 in October and clinched the AFC North last week, won’t hand out any free passes.
“We want to make sure we give Cleveland all they want,” said Pittsburgh defensive coordinator Kevin Butler. “We’re not going to let them walk into the playoffs.”
It’s been a taxing few days for the Browns, who didn’t win a game three years ago but have turned things around under Stefanski.
Last weekend, after a positive test led to players being ruled out because of high-risk close contact with Goodson, the Browns were missing eight rotational players, including star Jarvis Landry and three other wide receivers, and lost 23-16 to the New York Jets.
Landry, Rashard Higgins, Donovan Peoples-Jones and KhaDarel Hodge were cleared for practice Thursday and their return will be a huge boost for quarterback Baker Mayfield, who was throwing to players pulled off the practice squad hours before kickoff against the Jets.
The Browns were getting ready to leave for the New York area on Saturday when Goodson’s test came back positive. After the league reviewed video inside the facility, the four receivers were ruled out as close contacts after the group had gathered in the tub recovery area – a lapse in virus guidelines.
Cleveland also has an unidentified assistant coach who tested positive this week.
MIAMI QB FITZPATRICK OUT THIS WEEK WITH POSITIVE TEST
Miami Dolphins backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick tested positive for COVID-19 and is expected to miss Sunday’s regular-season finale at Buffalo.
Coach Brian Flores shared the news with Fitzpatrick’s teammates during a Zoom meeting Thursday, safety Eric Rowe said. Fitzpatrick’s positive test was first reported by NFL Network.
“It hurts,” Rowe said. “He’s a leader of our team. He brings energy, even in the Zoom meetings. But you’ve got to push forward. I’m just praying for his health.”
Fitzpatrick replaced Tua Tagovailoa last week in the fourth quarter and orchestrated an improbable comeback win at Las Vegas that allowed the Dolphins to retain control of their playoff chances.
“He’s our guy,” receiver Isaiah Ford said. “But if this year has taught us anything, it is to expect the unexpected. We all love Ryan, but we’ve got a job to do.”
Flores earlier designated Tagovailoa as this week’s starter.
Fitzpatrick’s availability for a wild-card playoff game next week is in question. The 16-year veteran has never made the postseason, but the Dolphins (10-5) will clinch an AFC wild-card berth if they beat Buffalo.
Fitzpatrick practiced Wednesday but was absent Thursday.
The Dolphins’ lineup has endured only modest disruptions because of COVID-19. Just one starter – running back Myles Gaskin – went on the list in December, and he missed two games.
“Everyone has had to make some sacrifices,” Flores said last week. “Overall it has been good, as long as guys follow the protocols, make the sacrifices and make smart decisions. We’re still in it, though. We’re not done by any stretch of the imagination.”
FALCONS CLOSE FACILITY
The Atlanta Falcons have placed center Alex Mack on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
The move came after the team stopped all in-person work at its practice facility and reported a positive COVID-19 test. The Falcons did only virtual work on Thursday following the positive test.
The team says Sunday’s final regular-season game at Tampa Bay is not threatened.
DETROIT MERCY CANCELS GAMES
Detroit Mercy’s basketball program has canceled Horizon League games scheduled for Friday and Saturday at Illinois-Chicago to address what the school called “the mental health and well-being of its student-athletes.”
The Titans are 1-7 and 0-4 in conference play after losing two games apiece to Wright State and Oakland.
Athletic director Robert Vowels Jr. said the decision had nothing to do with positive COVID-19 tests among players or coaches. Rather, the pause was decided for “the health and safety of our student-athletes” after discussions with school president Dr. Antoine Garibaldi and coach Mike Davis, who is in his third season with the program.
The pandemic has forced many schools to cancel or postpone games and several coaches have voiced concern about the pressure placed on their players. In early December, Duke canceled its remaining nonconference men’s games and coach Mike Krzyzewski said his players “need to be with their families.” Texas A&M coach Buzz Williams said he was clearly seeing “emotional and mental fatigue and exhaustion and trauma” as the season has lurched ahead.
The Horizon League said in a statement it “is fully supportive of Detroit Mercy’s decision to pause activities and is guided by our top priority: the health, safety and well-being of our student-athletes, coaches and staff.”
The Titans visit Milwaukee for games on consecutive nights beginning Jan. 8.
PITTSBURGH WOMEN BASKETBALL CANCEL ACTIVITIES
Pitt has paused all women’s basketball team activities just before the team was scheduled to host Boston College because of a positive COVID-19 test within the Panthers’ program.
The Atlantic Coast Conference announced the postponement Thursday shortly before tipoff. Pitt is now undergoing quarantining and contract tracing.
Due to COVID-19 protocols, the Panthers’ next three games — against North Carolina on Sunday, at No. 2 Louisville next Thursday and against Clemson on Jan. 10 — also have been postponed.
NFL PREVIEWS WEEK 17
MIAMI DOLPHINS (10-5) AT BUFFALO BILLS (12-3)
WEEK 17 // SUNDAY, JAN. 3, 2021 // 1:00 PM ET // BILLS STADIUM // REFEREE: BILL VINOVICH
LEADER: Dolphins lead all-time series, 60-48-1
STREAKS: Bills have won 6 of past 7
LAST GAME: 9/20/20: Bills 31 at Dolphins 28
LAST GAME AT SITE: 10/20/19: Bills 31, Dolphins 21
QB TUA TAGOVAILOA (rookie) completed 17 of 22 attempts (77.3 pct.) for 94 yards & TD vs. 0 INTs for 99.4 rating last week. Aims for 3rd in row with 75+ comp. pct. Has 4 TDs vs. 0 INTs for 103.6 rating in 3 career road starts. QB RYAN FITZPATRICK completed 9 of 13 passes (69.2 pct.) for 182 yards & TD vs. INT & 137.5 rating in Week 16. Passed for 328 yards & 2 TDs vs. 0 INTs for 100.3 rating in Week 2 meeting. • RB MYLES GASKIN had career-high 169 scrimmage yards (87 rush, 82 rec.) & career-high 2 TD catches last week. Aims for his 3rd in row with 140+ scrimmage yards. Has 125+ scrimmage yards in 3 of his past 4. Had 82 scrimmage yards (46 rush, 36 rec.) & 6 catches in Week 2 meeting. Aims for his 3rd in row on road with TD. Rookie RB SALVON AHMED has 70+ scrimmage yards in 3 of his past 4. • WR DEVANTE PARKER had 5 catches for 53 yards & TD in Week 2 meeting. Aims for 4th in row vs. Buf. with 50+ catches. Had TD catch in last road meeting. WR JAKEEM GRANT had 5 catches for 43 yards in Week 16. TE MIKE GESICKI aims for his 4th in row with 50+ rec. yards. Has TD catch in 3 of his past 4. Had 8 catches for career-high 130 yards & TD in Week 2 meeting. • CB XAVIEN HOWARD had 2 PD last week & has PD in 6 of past 7. Has 2+ PD & INT in 2 of his past 3 vs. division. Aims for his 4th in row on road with 2+ PD. Leads NFL with career-high 9 INTs. LB JEROME BAKER had sack & team-high 10 tackles in Week 16. Aims for 4th in row with sack. LB ANDREW VAN GINKEL had career-high 2 sacks last week. Has PD in 2 of past 3. LB KYLE VAN NOY had FF & PD in Week 2 meeting.
BILLS clinched AFC East division title for 1st time since 1995. • QB JOSH ALLEN completed 27 of 36 passes (75 pct.) for 320 yards & 4 TDs vs. 0 INTs for 138.7 rating last week. Aims for 5th in row with 2+ TD passes & 3rd in row with 320+ pass yards & 0 INTs. Has 110+ rating in 3 of past 4. Passed for 415 yards & 4 TDs vs. 0 INTs for season-high 146.7 rating in Week 2 meeting. Has 10 TDs (9 pass, 1 rush) vs. 0 INTs for 126.8 rating in past 3 vs. Mia. Has 34 TD passes, most in Buf. franchise history. • RB DEVIN SINGLETARY had 76 scrimmage yards (56 rush, 20 rec.) in Week 2 meeting. Aims for his 3rd in row vs. Mia. with 75+ scrimmage yards. Rookie RB ZACK MOSS rushed for 57 yards & TD last week. Aims for 3rd in row with 50+ rush yards. Aims for 3rd in row vs. division with rush TD. • WR STEFON DIGGS had 9 catches for 145 yards & tied career high with 3 TDs last week. Aims for 5th in row with 9+ catches & 90+ rec. yards & 4th in row with 130+ rec. yards. Has TD catch in 2 of past 3. Had 8 catches for 153 yards & TD in Week 2 meeting. Aims for his 3rd in row vs. Mia. with rec. TD. Leads NFL with career-high 120 catches, most in Buf. history. TE LEE SMITH had 2nd TD catch of season in Week 16. • CB TRE’DAVIOUS WHITE had 2 PD in Week 2 meeting. Aims for his 3rd in row at home vs. Mia. with INT. S JORDAN POYER has 7+ tackles in 4 of past 5. Had sack in Week 2 meeting. Has TFL in 2 of past 3 vs. Mia. Leads safeties with career-high 116 tackles. LB MATT MILANO had 8 tackles & sack last week & has sack in 2 of past 3. Aims for his 4th in row with TFL. DE MARIO ADDISON had sack in Week 2 meeting.
ON THE AIRWAVES TV: CBS (1:00 PM ET): Kevin Harlan, Trent Green, Melanie Collins (field reporter) SIRIUS: 138 (Mia), 81 (Buf) | XM: 381 (Mia), 226 (Buf)
BALTIMORE RAVENS (10-5) AT CINCINNATI BENGALS (4-10-1)
WEEK 17 // SUNDAY, JAN. 3, 2021 // 1:00 PM ET // PAUL BROWN STADIUM // REFEREE: LAND CLARK
LEADER: Ravens lead all-time series, 26-23
STREAKS: Ravens have won past 4
LAST GAME: 10/11/20: Bengals 3 at Ravens 27
LAST GAME AT SITE: 11/10/19: Ravens 49, Bengals 13
QB LAMAR JACKSON completed 17 of 26 passes (65.4 pct.) for 183 yards & 2 TDs vs. 0 INTs for 111.5 rating & rushed for 80 yards last week. Aims for 5th in row with 100+ rating & 3rd in row with 2+ TD passes. Passed for 223 yards & 3 TDs vs. 0 INTs for 158.3 rating & rushed for 65 yards & TD in last road meeting. Has 27 TDs (21 pass, 6 rush) vs. 3 INTs for 118.5 rating in his past 10 on road. Leads QBs with 908 rush yards in 2020. • RB J.K. DOBBINS (rookie) rushed for 77 yards & TD last week. Aims for 6th in row with rush TD. Had 55 scrimmage yards (34 rush, 21 rec.) in Week 5 meeting. Ranks tied-3rd among rookies with 7 rush TDs. RB GUS EDWARDS led team with season-high 122 scrimmage yards (85 rush, 37 rec.) in Week 16. Aims for 3rd in row with 75+ scrimmage yards. Aims for his 4th in row vs. division with rush TD. Has rush TD in 4 of his past 5 on road. • TE MARK ANDREWS aims for 6th in row with 5+ catches & 60+ rec. yards. Aims for his 3rd in row vs. Cin. with TD catch. Has 5+ catches in 7 of his past 8 vs. division. Has 17 rec. TDs since 2019, most among TEs. WR MARQUISE BROWN had rec. TD last week & has rec. TD in 4 of past 5. Aims for 3rd in row vs. Cin. with 75+ rec. yards & TD catch. Aims for 5th in row vs. division with rec. TD. WR DEZ BRYANT aims for 3rd in row with TD catch. • CB MARLON HUMPHREY had 6 tackles & season-high 3 PD last week. Has PD in 2 of past 3. Had sack & FF in Week 5 meeting. Has 5 PD in his past 4 vs. Cin. Aims for his 3rd in row vs. division with 2+ FFs & PD. LB MATTHEW JUDON aims for 3rd in row with sack & has sack in 4 of past 5. Had 3 TFL in last road meeting. LB CHRIS BOARD had career-high 2 sacks in Week 16.
QB BRANDON ALLEN completed 29 of 37 passes (78.4 pct.) for career-high 371 yards & 2 TDs vs. 0 INTs for 126.5 rating last week. Aims for his 3rd in row with TD pass, 0 INTs & 95+ rating. • RB GIOVANI BERNARD had season-high 131 scrimmage yards (66 rec., 65 rush) last week. Aims for 3rd in row with 95+ scrimmage yards. Has 95+ scrimmage yards & TD in 2 of his past 3 vs. division. Has 764 scrimmage yards this season (409 rush., 355 rec.) & is 1 of 2 RBs (FRANK GORE) with 400+ scrimmage yards in each of past 8 seasons. RB SAMAJE PERINE led team with career-high 136 scrimmage yards (95 rush, 41 rec.) & 2 rush TDs in Week 16. • WR TYLER BOYD had 42 rec. yards in Week 5 meeting. Has 6+ catches in 2 of his past 3 vs. division. WR A.J. GREEN had 4 catches for 64 yards in Week 16. Had 3 rec. TDs in his last home game vs. Bal. (9/13/18). Rookie WR TEE HIGGINS had 6 catches for 99 yards & TD last week. Has 5+ catches in 4 of past 5. Had 62 rec. yards in Week 5 meeting. Has 70+ rec. yards & TD catch in 2 of his past 3 vs. division. Ranks 2nd among rookies with 908 rec. yards, 3rd with 67 catches & tied-3rd with 6 rec. TDs. • S JESSIE BATES has PD in 2 of past 3. Had 7 tackles & 2 PD in Week 5 meeting. Had INT in last home meeting. Aims for his 4th in row vs. Bal. with PD. S VONN BELL had 8 tackles & FF last week. Aims for 3rd in row with 7+ tackles & FF. Ranks 3rd among safeties with career-high 111 tackles. CB DARIUS PHILLIPS had career-high 9 tackles & had 2 PD & 1st FF of season last week. Aims for 4th in row with 2+ PD. LB SAM HUBBARD had sack & 1st FF of season in Week 16. Has PD in 2 of past 3.
ON THE AIRWAVES TV: CBS (1:00 PM ET): Spero Dedes, Adam Archuleta SIRIUS: 121 (Bal), 134 (Cin) | XM: 383 (Bal), 228 (Cin)
PITTSBURGH STEELERS (12-3) AT CLEVELAND BROWNS (10-5)
WEEK 17 // SUNDAY, JAN. 3, 2021 // 1:00 PM ET // FIRSTENERGY STADIUM // REFEREE: JEROME BOGER
LEADER: Steelers lead all-time series, 75-59-1
STREAKS: Steelers have won 3 of past 4
LAST GAME: 10/18/20: Browns 7 at Steelers 38
LAST GAME AT SITE: 11/14/19: Browns 21, Steelers 7
STEELERS clinched AFC North division for 1st time since 2017. • QB BEN ROETHLISBERGER has 33 TD passes, 2nd-most in career (34 in 2018). Has 3,804 pass yards, his 10th-career season with 3,500+ pass yards. QB MASON RUDOLPH expected to make 1st start of season. Passed for 221 yards in last road meeting. • RB JAMES CONNER had 65 scrimmage yards (45 rec., 20 rush) & rush TD with 5 catches last week. Rushed for 101 yards & TD in Week 6 meeting. Has 100+ scrimmage yards & rush TD in 3 of his past 4 vs. Cle. Has rush TD in 2 of his past 3 vs. division. RB BENNY SNELL aims for his 3rd in row vs. Cle. with rush TD. • WR JUJU SMITH-SCHUSTER had 9 catches for season-high 96 yards & TD last week. Has 50+ rec. yards & TD catch in 2 of his past 3. WR DIONTAE JOHNSON aims for 3rd in row with 8+ catches, 50+ rec. yards & TD catch. Has rec. TD in 3 of past 4. Rookie WR CHASE CLAYPOOL aims for 3rd in row with 50+ rec. yards. Had 4 catches for 74 yards in Week 6 meeting. Has 50+ rec. yards in 4 of 5 career games vs. division. Leads rookies with 8 rec. TDs. TE ERIC EBRON had TD catch last week. • LB T.J. WATT had 2 sacks & FF last week, his 4th game with 2+ sacks this season, most in NFL. Aims for 3rd in row with sack. Has sack in 6 of 7 career games vs. Cle. Aims for his 5th in row vs. division with sack. Leads NFL with career-high 15 sacks. DE STEPHON TUITT aims for 3rd in row with sack. Had FF in Week 6 meeting. Has sack in 2 of his past 3 vs. division. DT CAMERON HEYWARD had sack last week. Aims for 3rd in row with TFL. Had 8 tackles & TFL in Week 6 meeting. Aims for his 4th in row vs. Cle. with TFL. CB MIKE HILTON had 2 PD, INT & FR in Week 16.
QB BAKER MAYFIELD aims for 5th in row with 285+ pass yards. Has 2+ TD passes in 4 of past 5. Has 640 pass yards (320 per game) & 8 TDs (7 pass, 1 rush) vs. 2 INTs for 113.2 rating in his past 2 vs. division. • RB NICK CHUBB had 66 scrimmage yards (38 rec., 28 rush) & rush TD last week. Aims for 6th in row with rush TD. Aims for his 4th in row vs. Pit. with 75+ scrimmage yards. Aims for his 3rd in row vs. division with 100+ scrimmage yards & 2+ rush TDs. Has 554 rush yards (110.8 per game) & 7 rush TDs in 5 home games this season. RB KAREEM HUNT rushed for TD last week & has rush TD in 2 of past 3. Aims for his 3rd in row vs. division with 100+ scrimmage yards & TD catch. Chubb & Hunt are 1st pair of RB teammates each with 1,000+ scrimmage yards & 10+ TDs since MARK INGRAM & ALVIN KAMARA in 2017. • WR JARVIS LANDRY aims for 5th in row with 5+ catches. Has rec. TD in 3 of his past 4. Had TD catch in last home meeting. WR RASHARD HIGGINS has 75+ rec. yards & TD catch in 2 of his past 3. Had rec. TD in Week 6 meeting. TE AUSTIN HOOPER set season highs in catches (7) & rec. yards (71) last week. Aims for 3rd in row with 5+ catches. Had 52 rec. yards in Week 6 meeting. • DE MYLES GARRETT had sack & PD last week. Had sack in Week 6 meeting & has sack in 4 of 5 career games vs. Pit. Aims for his 4th in row vs. division with TFL. DE OLIVIER VERNON had sack in Week 16 & has sack in 2 of past 3. Aims for 4th in row with TFL. Had PD in Week 6 meeting. Aims for his 3rd in row at home with 2+ sacks & PD. CB DENZEL WARD aims for 4th in row with PD. Has 2+ PD in 2 of past 3. Had PD in Week 6 meeting.
ON THE AIRWAVES TV: CBS (1:00 PM ET): Ian Eagle, Charles Davis, Evan Washburn (field reporter) SIRIUS: 133 (Pit), 82 (Cle) | XM: 382 (Pit), 227 (Cle)
MINNESOTA VIKINGS (6-9) AT DETROIT LIONS (5-10)
WEEK 17 // SUNDAY, JAN. 3, 2021 // 1:00 PM ET // FORD FIELD // REFEREE: ADRIAN HILL
LEADER: Vikings lead all-time series, 77-39-2
STREAKS: Vikings have won past 6
LAST GAME: 11/8/20: Lions 20 at Vikings 34
LAST GAME AT SITE: 10/20/19: Vikings 42, Lions 30
QB KIRK COUSINS passed for 291 yards & 3 TDs vs. 0 INTs for 110.9 rating last week. Is 1 of 2 NFC QBs (AARON RODGERS) with 11+ games (11) of 95+ rating this season. Passed for 3 TDs vs. 0 INTs & 141.7 rating in Week 9 meeting. Passed for 338 yards & 4 TDs vs. 0 INTs for 141.5 rating in last road meeting. Aims for his 5th in row vs. Det. with 110+ rating. Has career-high 32 TD passes & needs 140 pass yards for 5th-career 4,000-yard season. Is only QB with 25+ pass TDs in each of past 6 seasons. • RB DALVIN COOK had rush TD in Week 16 & aims for his 4th in row with rush TD. Leads NFL in scrimmage yards (career high 1,918) & ranks tied-2nd in scrimmage TDs (career-high 17). Needs 82 scrimmage yards to become 2nd RB in Min. history (ADRIAN PETERSON, 2012) with 2,000+ scrimmage yards in single season. Had career-high 252 scrimmage yards (career high 206 rush, 46 rec.) & 2 rush TDs in Week 9 meeting. Aims for his 4th in row vs. Det. with rush TD. • WR ADAM THIELEN had 8 receptions for 97 yards & TD catch last week. Ranks 3rd in NFL with career-high 14 rec. TDs, most by Min. WR since 2003 (HOFer RANDY MOSS – 17). Had TD catch in last road meeting. WR JUSTIN JEFFERSON leads all rookies in receptions (79) & rec. yards (1,267) & is 4th rookie in SB era with 1,200+ rec. yards. Has 6+ receptions in 4 of his past 5. • LB ERIC WILSON had 9 tackles & 2 PD in Week 16. Had 13 tackles & INT in Week 9 meeting. Is only LB with 3+ INTs (3) & 3+ sacks (3) in 2020. Wilson (114) & LB ERIC KENDRICKS (107) are 1 of 4 NFC LB duos with 100+ tackles each in 2020. S HARRISON SMITH had 10 tackles & INT in Week 9 meeting.
QB MATTHEW STAFFORD passed for 364 yards & 4 TDs vs. INT for 111.7 rating in last home meeting. Aims for his 3rd in row vs. NFC North with 100+ rating. Needs 209 pass yards for 8thcareer 4,000-yard season. QB CHASE DANIEL completed 13 of 18 attempts (72.2 pct.) for 86 yards in Week 16 Had TD vs. INT in Week 9 meeting. • RB ADRIAN PETERSON spent 10 seasons (2007-16) with Min. & is all-time franchise leader in rush yards (11,747), scrimmage yards (13,692) & rush TDs (97). Rookie RB D’ANDRE SWIFT had 70 scrimmage yards (45 rush, 25 rec.) in Week 16. Had 97 scrimmage yards (64 rush, 33 rec.) in last meeting. Aims for his 4th in row at home with 50+ scrimmage yards. RB/WR JAMAL AGNEW had 74-yard PR-TD last week. Has 4 PR-TD since 2017, most in NFL. • WR MARVIN JONES had rec. TD in last meeting. Had 10 receptions for 93 yards & tied his career-high with 4 rec. TDs in last home meeting. TE T.J. HOCKENSON had 5 catches & rec. TD in last meeting. Ranks 3rd among TEs with career-high 698 rec. yards & 4th in receptions (career-high 64). WR DANNY AMENDOLA had 5 receptions last week. Had 8 receptions for 105 yards in last home meeting. • DE ROMEO OKWARA had his career-high 9th sack of season & 5th-career FF last week. Aims for his 3rd in row with sack. DE EVERSON GRIFFEN had sack in Week 16 & aims for his 3rd in row with sack. Had 74.5 sacks, 86 TFL & 10 FFs in 147 games (2010-19) with Min. LB JAMIE COLLINS has 101 tackles in 2020, his 4th-career 100+ tackle season.
ON THE AIRWAVES TV: FOX (1:00 PM ET): TBD SIRIUS: 132 (Min), 135 (Det) | XM: 384 (Min), 229 (Det)
NEW YORK JETS (2-13) AT NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (6-9)
WEEK 17 // SUNDAY, JAN. 3, 2021 // 1:00 PM ET // GILLETTE STADIUM // REFEREE: BRAD ROGERS
LEADER: Patriots lead all-time series, 66-53-1
STREAKS: Patriots have won past 9
LAST GAME: 11/9/20: Patriots 30 at Jets 27
LAST GAME AT SITE: 9/22/19: Patriots 30, Jets 14
QB SAM DARNOLD passed for 175 yards & 2 TDs vs. 0 INTs last week. Aims for 4th in row with 0 INTs. Passed for 167 yards with 0 INTs in only career start at NE. Has 215+ pass yards in 2 of his past 3 on road vs. division. • RB LA’MICAL PERINE had 44 scrimmage yards (30 rush, 14 rec.) last week. • WR JAMISON CROWDER led team with 7 catches for 92 yards & TD last week, his 4th game this season with 90+ rec. yards. Aims for 3rd in row with 6+ catches & 65+ rec. yards. Had TD catch in Week 9 meeting. Has rec. TD in 3 of his past 4 on road vs. division. WR BRESHAD PERRIMAN set season highs in catches (5), rec. yards (101) & rec. TDs (2) in Week 9 meeting. Aims for his 3rd in row vs. NE with 50+ rec. yards. Aims for his 3rd in row vs. division with 75+ rec. yards. WR BRAXTON BERRIOS had 3 catches for 60 yards & TD in Week 16. Has 45+ rec. yards in 2 of past 3. Rookie WR DENZEL MIMS had 4 catches for 62 yards in Week 9 meeting. Aims for his 3rd in row vs. division with 60+ rec. yards. TE CHRIS HERNDON had TD catch in Week 16. • DL JOHN FRANKLIN-MYERS had sack, PD & 2nd FR of season last week. Aims for 3rd in row with sack. DL NATHAN SHEPHERD aims for 3rd in row with sack. LB NEVILLE HEWITT had careerhigh 2 PD in Week 16. Has 9+ tackles in 3 of past 4. Had sack in last road meeting. Has TFL in 2 of his past 3 on road. LB TARELL BASHAM had 5 tackles, sack & career-high 2 FFs last week. Had 2 TFL in Week 9 meeting. LB FRANKIE LUVU had 1st sack of season & 1st-career FF in Week 16. CB ARTHUR MAULET had 5 tackles & career-high 3 PD last week.
QB CAM NEWTON rushed for 12th TD of season last week, most among QBs & tied 2nd-most by QB in single season since 1970. Completed 27 of 35 passes (77.1 pct.) for 274 yards & 99 rating & rushed for 2 TDs in Week 9 meeting. Has 250+ pass yards, 0 INTs & 95+ rating in 2 of 3 career games vs. NYJ. Aims for his 3rd in row vs. NYJ with rush TD. Aims for his 8th in row vs. AFC East with 0 INTs. • RB SONY MICHEL led team with 69 rush yards last week. Aims for his 3rd in row vs. NYJ with rush TD. Has 5 rush TDs in 3 career games vs. NYJ. Has 65+ rush yards in 4 of his past 5 at home. RB JAMES WHITE has 50+ scrimmage yards in 3 of his past 4 vs. NYJ. Aims for his 3rd in row at home vs. NYJ with TD catch. Since 2015, leads RBs in catches (360), rec. yards (3,130) & rec. TDs (24). • WR JAKOBI MEYERS aims for his 4th in row with 45+ rec. yards. Set career highs in catches (12) & rec. yards (169) in Week 9 meeting. Aims for his 3rd in row vs. NYJ with 5+ catches. Has 110+ rec. yards in 2 of his past 3 vs. division. WR DAMIERE BYRD had 5 catches for 65 yards in Week 9 meeting. • DB J.C. JACKSON tied season-high with 5 tackles last week. Had 2 PD & INT in Week 9 meeting. Has INT in 4 of his past 5 vs. division. Ranks 2nd in NFL with career-high 8 INTs this season. DB DEVIN MCCOURTY had 6 tackles & TFL in Week 16. Aims for 3rd in row with 5+ tackles. Aims for his 5th in row vs. NYJ with PD. Has INT in 2 of his past 3 vs. NYJ. DB JONATHAN JONES led team with season-high 8 tackles & had 1st FF of season last week. DL DEATRICH WISE had sack in Week 9 meeting.
ON THE AIRWAVES TV: CBS (1:00 PM ET): Tom McCarthy, Jay Feely SIRIUS: 108 (NYJ), 136 (NE) | XM: 385 (NYJ), 230 (NE)
DALLAS COWBOYS (6-9) AT NEW YORK GIANTS (5-10)
WEEK 17 // SUNDAY, JAN. 3, 2021 // 1:00 PM ET // METLIFE STADIUM // REFEREE: BRAD ALLEN
LEADER: Cowboys lead all-time series, 69-45-2
STREAKS: Cowboys have won past 7
LAST GAME: 10/11/20: Giants 34 at Cowboys 37
LAST GAME AT SITE: 11/4/19: Cowboys 37, Giants 18
QB ANDY DALTON passed for season-high 377 yards & 3 TDs vs. INT for 134.7 rating in Week 16, his 29th-career game with 300+ pass yards. Completed 9 of 11 passes (81.8 pct.) for 111 yards in Week 5 meeting. Has 100+ rating in 2 of his past 3 road starts. Aims for his 4th in row on road & 5th in row overall with 2+ TD passes. • RB EZEKIEL ELLIOTT had 139 scrimmage yards (105 rush, 34 rec.) in Week 16. Is 4th player (HOFer RANDY MOSS, HOFer LADAINIAN TOMLINSON & RICKY WATTERS) with 1,200+ scrimmage yards & 7+ TDs in each of 1st 5 seasons in NFL history. Had 105 scrimmage yards (91 rush, 14 rec.) & 2 rush TDs in Week 5 meeting. Aims for his 3rd in row vs. NYG with 100+ scrimmage yards. • WR AMARI COOPER had 121 rec. yards last week. Has 1,073 rec. yards this season, his 5th-career 1,000-yard season. Is only player with 5+ rec. TDs in each of past 6 seasons. Has TD catch in 2 of his past 3 vs. NYG. Rookie WR CEEDEE LAMB had 65 rec. yards, rec. TD & 1st-career rush TD in Week 16. Is only player with rec. TD (5), rush TD (1) & KR-TD (1) in 2020. Ranks 2nd among rookies in catches (69) & 3rd in rec. yards (892). WR MICHAEL GALLUP had 6 catches for 121 yards & 2 TDs last week. Had TD catch in last road meeting. • LB JAYLON SMITH led team with 11 tackles & had 5th-career FR in Week 16. Ranks 2nd in NFL with 144 tackles & aims for his 5th in row with 10+ tackles. CB JOURDAN LEWIS aims for his 3rd in row with sack. DE RANDY GREGORY had 1.5 sacks & career-high 3 FFs in Week 16.
QB DANIEL JONES passed for 252 yards & TD vs. 0 INTs for 84.6 rating last week. Passed for 222 yards in Week 5 meeting. • RB WAYNE GALLMAN had 53 scrimmage yards (27 rush, 26 rec.) in Week 16. Has 3 rush TDs in his past 4 at home. Has career highs in scrimmage yards (731), rush yards (617) & rush TDs (6) this season. RB ALFRED MORRIS has 7 rush TDs in 8 career games vs. Dal. • WR STERLING SHEPARD led team with 9 receptions for 77 yards & rec. TD in Week 16. Has 5 consecutive seasons with 50+ receptions & 500+ rec. yards. TE EVAN ENGRAM had 7 receptions for 65 yards last week. Had rush. TD in Week 5 meeting & has TD in 4 of his past 5 vs. Dal. Is 1 of 3 NFC TEs (T.J. HOCKENSON & LOGAN THOMAS) with 60+ receptions (61) & 600+ rec. yards (637) this season. WR DARIUS SLAYTON had 8 receptions for 129 yards in Week 5 meeting. • LB BLAKE MARTINEZ led team with 12 tackles last week. Had FR in Week 5 meeting. Ranks tied-3rd in NFL with 140 tackles in 2020, his 4th-consecutive season with 140+ tackles. DL LEONARD WILLIAMS leads team with career-high 8.5 sacks. Has 4 sacks & 7 TFL in 7 home games this season. DB LOGAN RYAN had 2nd-career FR last week. Had 9 tackles in last meeting. Is 1 of 2 DBs (MARCUS PETERS) with 85+ PD (87) & 10+ FFs (11) since 2013. CB JAMES BRADBERRY ranks 4th in NFL with career-high 17 PD this season. Is only DB with 10+ PD in each of past 5 seasons. S JABRILL PEPPERS had 12 tackles & FF in last home meeting. Has career-highs in tackles (82), sacks (2.5) & PD (10) in 2020.
ON THE AIRWAVES TV: FOX (1:00 PM ET): TBD SIRIUS: 106 (Dal), 146 (NYG) | XM: 386 (Dal), 231 (NYG)
ATLANTA FALCONS (4-11) AT TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (10-5)
WEEK 17 // SUNDAY, JAN. 3, 2021 // 1:00 PM ET // RAYMOND JAMES STADIUM // REFEREE: ALEX KEMP
LEADER: Falcons lead all-time series, 28-26
STREAKS: Buccaneers have won 2 of past 3
LAST GAME: 12/20/20: Buccaneers 31 at Falcons 27
LAST GAME AT SITE: 12/29/19: Falcons 28, Buccaneers 22 (OT)
QB MATT RYAN passed for 300 yards & 2 TDs vs. 0 INTs for 121.1 rating last week, his 69th-career game with 300+ pass yards, 5th-most in NFL history. Ranks 4th in NFL with 4,316 pass yards, his 10th-career 4,000-yard season. Passed for 356 yards & 3 TDs vs. 0 INTs for 110.6 rating in Week 15 meeting. Has 300+ pass yards in 3 of his past 4 at TB. • RB TODD GURLEY had 50 scrimmage yards (34 rec., 16 rush) last week. Rushed for 85 yards & 2 TDs in his only career game at TB (9/25/16 w/ LAR). Has 5 rush TDs in 4 career games vs. TB. RB BRIAN HILL had 61 scrimmage yards (36 rush, 25 rec.) in Week 16. • WR JULIO JONES has 114 receptions for 1,841 yards (115.1 per game) & 11 TDs in 16 career games vs. TB. Aims for his 5th in row vs. TB with 5+ receptions. WR CALVIN RIDLEY had 130 rec. yards last week. Has 8 games with 100+ rec. yards in 2020, most in NFL. Had 10 receptions for 163 yards & TD in Week 15 meeting. Aims for his 4th in row vs. TB with rec. TD. WR RUSSELL GAGE had 5 receptions for 68 yards & TD catch in last meeting. Has 5+ catches in 2 of his past 3 on road. TE HAYDEN HURST had career-high 5th rec. TD of season last week. Aims for his 3rd in row with TD catch. • LB FOYESADE OLUOKUN had INT in Week 16. Is 1 of 3 (MARCUS PETERS & JASON PIERRE-PAUL) with 4+ FFs (2) & 3+ INTs (2) in 2020. Leads team with career-high 110 tackles. LB DEION JONES had 102 tackles, 4th-career 100+ tackle season. Had 10 tackles & sack in Week 15 meeting. Had INT-TD & FR in last road meeting. S KEANU NEAL had 2nd-career INT in Week 16.
TAMPA BAY earned playoff berth for first time since 2007. • QB TOM BRADY passed for 348 yards & 4 TDs vs. 0 INTs for 158.3 rating in Week 16, his 3rd-career game with 158.3 rating, the highest attainable mark. Has franchise-record 36 TD passes in 2020 & is 1 of 2 QBs (AARON RODGERS) with 5 career seasons of 35+ TD passes. Has 2,298 pass yards (328.5 per game) & 15 TDs vs. 2 INTs for 110.7 rating in 7 career games vs. Atl., incl. postseason. • RB RONALD JONES had 116 scrimmage yards (106 rush, 10 rec.) in last home meeting. Aims for his 3rd in row at home with TD. RB LEONARD FOURNETTE has 4 rush TDs in his past 4 & aims for his 3rd in row with rush TD. • WR MIKE EVANS had 10 catches for 181 yards & 2 TDs in Week 16 & has franchise-record 13 rec. TDs this season. Needs 40 rec. yards to become 1st player in NFL history with 1,000+ rec. yards in each of 1st 7 seasons. Aims for his 6th in row at home vs. Atl. with 5+ receptions & TD catch. WR CHRIS GODWIN has 23 receptions for 390 yards (97.5 per game) & 6 rec. TDs in his past 4 vs. Atl. Aims for his 3rd in row overall & 5th in row vs. Atl. with TD catch. WR ANTONIO BROWN had rec. TD in Week 15 meeting. Aims for his 3rd in row vs. Atl. with TD catch. TE ROB GRONKOWSKI had 2 rec. TDs last week, his 17th-career game with 2+ rec. TDs. • LB LAVONTE DAVID had FF last week. Is only player with 20+ FFs (23) & 10+ INTs (11) since 2013. Has 109 tackles, his 8thcareer 100+ tackle season. LB DEVIN WHITE is 1st player with 140+ tackles (140) & 9+ sacks (9) since 2000.
ON THE AIRWAVES TV: FOX (1:00PM ET): TBD SIRIUS: 137 (Atl), 83 (TB) | XM: 380 (Atl), 225 (TB)
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (11-4) AT CAROLINA PANTHERS (5-10)
WEEK 17 // SUNDAY, JAN. 3, 2021 // 4:25 PM ET // BANK OF AMERICA STADIUM // REFEREE: JOHN HUSSEY
LEADER: Saints lead all-time series, 26-25
STREAKS: Saints have won 6 of past 7
LAST GAME: 10/25/20: Panthers 24 at Saints 27
LAST GAME AT SITE: 12/29/19: Saints 42, Panthers 10
QB DREW BREES passed for 287 yards & had 3 TDs (2 pass, 1 rush) vs. 0 INTs for 118.4 rating in Week 7 meeting. Has 2+ TD passes in 3 of his past 4 at Car. Aims for his 4th in row vs. Car. with 2+ TD passes & 110+ rating. Has 9 TDs vs. 2 INTs for 113 rating in 4 road starts this season. Needs 259 pass yards for 17th-career season with 3,000+ pass yards. • RB ALVIN KAMARA had 172 scrimmage yards (career-high 155 rush, 17 rec.) & 6 rush TDs in Week 16, tied-most (ERNIE NEVERS – 11/28/29) in single game in NFL history. Leads NFL with franchise-record 21 TDs this season & ranks 3rd with 1,688 scrimmage yards. Leads RBs with career-high 83 receptions. Had 8 receptions & 148 scrimmage yards (83 rush, 65 rec.) in Week 7 meeting. Had 2 rush TDs in last road meeting. RB LATAVIUS MURRAY is 1 of 2 RBs (TODD GURLEY) with 5+ TDs in each of past 6 seasons. • WR EMMANUEL SANDERS had 4 receptions for team-high 83 yards last week. Aims for his 3rd in row with 75+ rec. yards. Had TD catch in his last game vs. Car. (10/27/19 w/ SF). Is 1 of 3 WRs (T.Y. HILTON & JULIO JONES) with 500+ rec. yards in each of past 9 seasons. TE JARED COOK had 82 rec. yards last week. Had rec. TD in Week 7 meeting & aims for his 4th in row vs. Car. with TD catch. • DE CAMERON JORDAN had sack & FF last week. Has 93.5 sacks since 2012, 4th-most in NFL. Had sack in last road meeting. DE TREY HENDRICKSON ranks tied-3rd in NFL with career-high 12.5 sacks. LB DEMARIO DAVIS has 114 tackles & 10 TFL in 2020, his 4th consecutive season with 100+ tackles & 10+ TFL.
• QB TEDDY BRIDGEWATER had TD vs. INT & 85 rating last week. Passed for 254 yards & 2 TDs vs. 0 INTs for 128.3 rating in Week 7 meeting. Passed for 1,384 yards & 9 TDs vs. 2 INTs for 99.1 rating in 2019 w/ NO. Has career-highs in passing yards (3,557), pass TDs (15) & rush TDs (5) in 2020. • RB MIKE DAVIS had rush TD last week. Has 3 rush TDs in his past 2 at home. Aims for his 3rd in row at home with 75+ scrimmage yards & TD. Ranks 3rd among RBs with career-high 59 receptions. Has career-high 1,015 scrimmage yards in 2020. • WR D.J. MOORE had 5 receptions last week. Has 2nd-career season with 1,000+ rec. yards (1,092) in 2020. Had 93 rec. yards & 2 TDs in last meeting. Aims for his 3rd in row vs. NO with 2+ TD catches. WR ROBBY ANDERSON had 7 receptions & TD catch last week. Had 6 catches for 74 yards in last meeting. Has career-high 92 receptions for career-high 1,056 rec. yards, his 1st-career 1,000-yard season. WR CURTIS SAMUEL had career-high 158 scrimmage yards (106 rec., 52 rush) last week, his 2nd-career game with 100+ rec. yards. Has career high 930 scrimmage yards (733 rec., 197 rush) & career-high 70 receptions this season. • S JEREMY CHINN leads all rookies with 109 tackles, most by Car. rookie since 2012 (LUKE KUECHLY). DE BRIAN BURNS had sack last week & aims for his 3rd in row with sack. Had sack & FF in last meeting & aims for his 4th in row vs. NO with sack. DT DERRICK BROWN ranks tied-2nd among rookies with 8 TFL. LB SHAQ THOMPSON has 2nd-consecutive season with 100+ tackles (104).
ON THE AIRWAVES TV: FOX (4:25 PM ET): TBD SIRIUS: 132 (NO), 135 (Car) | XM: 384 (NO), 229 (Car)
GREEN BAY PACKERS (12-3) AT CHICAGO BEARS (8-7)
WEEK 17 // SUNDAY, JAN. 3, 2021 // 4:25 PM ET // SOLDIER FIELD // REFEREE: CRAIG WROLSTAD
LEADER: Packers lead all-time series, 99-94-6
STREAKS: Packers have won 8 of past 9
LAST GAME: 11/29/20: Bears 25 at Packers 41
LAST GAME AT SITE: 9/5/19: Packers 10, Bears 3
QB AARON RODGERS passed for 4 TDs vs INT for 128.1 rating last week. Is 4th QB with 11+ games (11) of 3+ TD passes in single season in NFL history. Has 13 games with 100+ rating, tied-most in single season in NFL history. Leads NFL with 44 TD passes & 119.4 rating in 2020. Had 4 TDs vs. 0 INTs for 132.3 rating in Week 12 meeting. Has 52 TDs (51 pass, 1 rush) vs. 10 INTs for 105.3 rating in 24 career starts vs. Chi. Has 280+ pass yards, 3+ TD passes & 110+ rating in 6 of his 7 road starts this season. • RB AARON JONES had 108 scrimmage yards (94 rush, 14 rec.) last week. Ranks 4th in NFL in rush yards (1,062), his 2ndconsecutive season with 1,000+ rush yards. Since 2019, ranks 3rd in NFL with 29 scrimmage TDs. Rookie RB A.J. DILLON had 1st-career 100-yard game (124) & 1st 2 rush TDs in Week 16. • WR DAVANTE ADAMS had 11 receptions for 142 yards & 3 TDs last week & became 5th WR with 100+ catches (109), 1,300+ rec. yards (1,328) & 15+ rec. TDs (17) in single season in NFL history. Is 1st WR since HOFer RANDY MOSS (23 in 2007) with 17 rec. TDs in single season. Has 4 games with 10+ catches & 2+ rec. TDs, tied most (HOFer CRIS CARTER, 1995) in single season in NFL history. Aims for his 5th in row on road with 100+ rec. yards & TD catch. TE ROBERT TONYAN leads NFC TEs with career-high 10 rec. TDs. • LB ZA’DARIUS SMITH had sack & FF last week. Ranks tied-3rd in NFL with 12.5 sacks. Had sack in last road meeting. LB PRESTON SMITH had sack & FR-TD in last meeting. Aims for his 5th in row vs. Chi. with TFL. LB CHRISTIAN KIRKSEY had sack & INT in Week 16. S DARNELL SAVAGE had career-high 3 PD & 4th INT of season last week. Had 2 INTs in last meeting.
QB MITCHELL TRUBISKY had 3 TDs (2 pass, 1 rush) vs. INT for 97.9 rating last week. Passed for 242 yards & 3 TDs vs. 2 INTs in Week 12 meeting. Has 95+ rating in 2 of his 3 career home starts vs. GB. Aims for his 3rd in row at home with 100+ rating & 5th in row overall with 95+ rating. • RB DAVID MONTGOMERY had 121 scrimmage yards (95 rush, 26 rec.) & rush TD last week. Since Week 12, ranks 2nd in NFL in scrimmage yards (692) & tied-2nd in scrimmage TDs (7). Aims for his 6th in row with 110+ scrimmage yards & TD. Has career-high 1,001 rush yards in 2020 & is 1st Chi. RB with 1,300+ scrimmage yards (1,376) since JORDAN HOWARD (2016). Had 143 scrimmage yards (103 rush, 40 rec.) & TD catch in Week 12 meeting. • WR ALLEN ROBINSON had 10 receptions for 103 yards last week, his 3rd-career game with 10+ catches & 100+ rec. yards. Had 8 catches for 74 yards & 2 TDs in Week 12 meeting. Aims for his 4th in row vs. GB with 7+ catches & 70+ rec. yards. Has career-high 100 receptions in 2020 & has 1,213 rec. yards, his 3rd-career season with 1,000+ rec. yards. TE JIMMY GRAHAM had 69 rec. yards & 2 TD catches in Week 16. Has 17 games with 2+ rec. TDs, tied 3rd-most (ROB GRONKOWSKI) by TE in NFL history. • LB ROQUAN SMITH had 8 tackles & 1st career game with 2 INTs last week. Ranks 2nd in NFL in TFL (17) & 5th in tackles (career high 136). LB KHALIL MACK has 4 sacks, 3 PD, 2 FFs & FR in his past 5 at home. LB DANNY TREVATHAN had 10th-career sack last week. CB KYLE FULLER aims for his 4th in row at home vs. GB with 2+ PD.
ON THE AIRWAVES TV: FOX (4:25 PM ET): TBD SIRIUS: 137 (GB), 83 (Chi) | XM: 380 (GB), 225 (Chi)
LAS VEGAS RAIDERS (7-8) AT DENVER BRONCOS (5-10)
WEEK 17 // SUNDAY, JAN. 3, 2021 // 4:25 PM ET // EMPOWER FIELD AT MILE HIGH // REFEREE: SCOTT NOVAK
LEADER: Raiders lead all-time series, 65-53-2
STREAKS: Raiders have won 3 of past 4
LAST GAME: 11/15/20: Broncos 12 at Raiders 37
LAST GAME AT SITE: 12/29/19: Broncos 16, Raiders 15
QB DEREK CARR passed for 226 yards & TD vs. 0 INTs for 104.5 rating & rushed for TD last week. Has 315+ pass yards & 95+ rating in 3 of past 4. Has rush TD in 3 of past 4. Passed for 391 yards & TD vs. 0 INTs for 97.3 rating in last road meeting. Aims for his 10th in row vs. Den. with 0 INTs. Has 95+ rating in 6 of his past 7 vs. division. Has 2+ TD passes in 2 of past 3 on road. • RB JOSH JACOBS rushed for 69 yards last week. Had 136 scrimmage yards (112 rush, 24 rec.) & 2 rush TDs in Week 10 meeting. Aims for his 3rd in row vs. Den. with 110+ scrimmage yards & 2+ rush TDs. Aims for his 6th in row vs. AFC West with rush TD. Has 976 rush yards & can become 1st Raider with 1,000+ rush yards in consecutive seasons since HOFer MARCUS ALLEN (1983-85). RB DEVONTAE BOOKER rushed for seasonhigh 81 yards & 2 TDs in Week 10 meeting. • TE DARREN WALLER aims for 3rd in row with 5+ catches & 110+ rec. yards. Has 537 rec. yards (134.3 per game) in his past 4. Had 6 catches for 107 yards in last road meeting. Aims for 3rd in row vs. division with rec. TD. Ranks 2nd among TEs with 1,079 rec. yards, 2nd-consecutive season with 1,000+ rec. yards. WR NELSON AGHOLOR had 5 catches for career-high 155 yards & TD last week. Has 100+ rec. yards & TD catch in 2 of past 3. • DE MAXX CROSBY had TFL last week. Had 2 TFL & sack in Week 10 meeting. Had 1.5 sacks, FF & PD in last road meeting. Has TFL in 8 of his past 9 vs. division. DE CARL NASSIB had sack in Week 16. Aims for 3rd in row with TFL. Had only career INT in Week 10 meeting. Aims for 3rd in row on road with PD. DT JOHNATHAN HANKINS had 1st sack of season last week.
QB DREW LOCK passed for 264 yards & rushed for TD last week. Has 0 INTs in 2 of past 3. Passed for 257 yards in Week 10 meeting. Has 90+ rating in 2 of his past 3 at home vs. division. • RB MELVIN GORDON rushed for 79 yards in Week 16. Aims for 5th in row with 75+ scrimmage yards. Has TD in 4 of his past 5 vs. Raiders. Has 2 rush TDs in 2 of his past 3 at home. Has 8 rush TDs this season & is only player in NFL with 8+ rush TDs in each of past 5 seasons. Has 1,034 scrimmage yards this season, his 4th-career season with 1,000+ scrimmage yards. • TE NOAH FANT aims for 3rd in row with 6+ catches & 65+ rec. yards. Has career-high 625 rec. yards this season, most by Den. TE since JULIUS THOMAS (788 in 2013). Rookie WR JERRY JEUDY had 6 catches for 61 yards last week. Had 68 rec. yards in Week 10 meeting. Has 60+ rec. yards in 3 of his past 4 vs. division. Ranks 3rd among AFC rookies with 716 rec. yards, most by Den. rookie since EDDIE ROYAL (980 in 2008). WR TIM PATRICK had 4 catches for 61 yards in Week 10 meeting. WR DAESEAN HAMILTON had 77 rec. yards on season-high 5 catches in Week 16. Had TD catch in Week 10 meeting. • LB BRADLEY CHUBB had TFL in Week 10 meeting. Aims for his 3rd in row at home vs. division with sack. Has sack in 4 of his past 5 at home. LB MALIK REED had sack & 1st-career FF last week. Aims for his 3rd in row at home vs. division with sack. LB JEREMIAH ATTAOCHU has sack in 3 of his past 4. DT DRE’MONT JONES had sack last week & has sack in 2 of past 3. Had 5 tackles in Week 10 meeting. Has TFL in 3 of his past 4 at home. S JUSTIN SIMMONS had TFL in Week 16.
ON THE AIRWAVES TV: CBS (4:25 PM ET): Beth Mowins, Tiki Barber SIRIUS: 106 (LV), 146 (Den) | XM: 386 (LV), 231 (Den)
TENNESSEE TITANS (10-5) AT HOUSTON TEXANS (4-11)
WEEK 17 // SUNDAY, JAN. 3, 2021 // 4:25 PM ET // NRG STADIUM // REFEREE: SHAWN HOCHULI
LEADER: Titans lead all-time series, 20-17
STREAKS: Titans have won past 2
LAST GAME: 10/18/20: Texans 36 at Titans 42
LAST GAME AT SITE: 12/29/19: Titans 35, Texans 14
QB RYAN TANNEHILL passed for 121 yards & rushed for season high 55 yards & TD last week. Has 100+ rating in 5 of his past 6. Passed for 366 yards & 4 TDs vs. INT for 122.6 rating in Week 6 meeting. Has 13 TDs (12 pass, 1 rush) vs. 2 INTs for 129.4 rating in his past 4 vs. Hou. Aims for his 4th in row vs. division with 0 INTs & 3rd in row with 105+ rating. Has career-high 32 TD passes. • RB DERRICK HENRY rushed for 98 yards last week. Has 150+ scrimmage yards in 2 of past 3. Had career-high 264 scrimmage yards (212 rush, 52 rec.) & 2 rush TDs in Week 6 meeting. Aims for 3rd in row vs. Hou. with 100+ rush yards & 2+ rush TDs. Aims for 5th in row vs. division with 100+ rush yards. Leads NFL with career-high 1,777 rush yards & ranks 3rd with 15 rush TDs. • WR A.J. BROWN had 4 catches for 43 yards last week. Has rec. TD in 2 of past 3. Had 5 catches for 58 yards & season-high 2 TDs in Week 6 meeting. Aims for his 4th in row vs. Hou. with rec. TD. Has 110+ rec. yards in 2 of 3 career games vs. Hou. Has TD catch in 4 of his past 5 on road. WR COREY DAVIS has 50+ rec. yards in 2 of his past 3. vs. Hou. TE JONNU SMITH had careerhigh 8th TD catch of season in Week 16. • S KEVIN BYARD aims for 4th in row with 9+ tackles. Had INT in last road meeting. Ranks 4th among safeties with career-high 107 tackles. CB MALCOLM BUTLER had INT last week & has INT in 2 of past 3. Had 8 tackles & PD in Week 6 meeting. Has PD in 2 of his past 3 vs. Hou & 8 of his past 9 vs. division. Aims for 3rd in row on road with INT. LB DAVID LONG had 9 tackles & TFL last week. Aims for 3rd in row with 9+ tackles. DE JEFFERY SIMMONS had sack in Week 6 meeting.
QB DESHAUN WATSON completed 24 of 33 passes (72.7 pct.) for 324 yards & 3 TDs vs. 0 INTs for 133.9 rating last week. Aims for 4th in row with 0 INTs & 100+ rating & 3rd in row with 315+ pass yards & 2+ TD passes. Passed for 335 yards & 4 TDs vs. 0 INTs for 138.9 rating in Week 6 meeting. Has 16 TDs (14 pass, 2 rush) vs. 4 INTs for 120.1 rating in 5 career games vs. Ten. • RB DAVID JOHNSON had season-high 139 scrimmage yards (128 rush, 11 rec.) & 2 TDs (1 rush, 1 rec.) last week. Aims for 3rd in row with 125+ scrimmage yards. Has rush TD in 2 of past 3. Rushed for 57 yards & TD in Week 6 meeting. Aims for his 4th in row vs. division with TD. RB DUKE JOHNSON has 75+ scrimmage yards in 2 of his past 3. Had rush TD in last home meeting. • WR BRANDIN COOKS had 7 catches for 141 yards & TD last week. Aims for 6th in row with 50+ rec. yards & 5th in row with 5+ catches. Had 9 catches for 68 yards & TD in Week 6 meeting. WR KEKE COUTEE aims for 3rd in row with 5+ catches & 50+ rec. yards. Has TD catch in 2 of past 3. TE DARREN FELLS had 6th TD catch of season in Week 16. Had 6 catches for career high 85 yards & TD in Week 6 meeting. • DE J.J. WATT had sack, FF & PD in Week 6 meeting. Aims for his 4th in row vs. Ten. with FF & 3rd in row with sack. Has FF in 8 of his past 9 vs. Ten. Has sack in 3 of his past 4 vs. division. LB ZACH CUNNINGHAM had 14 tackles last week. Aims for 3rd in row with 10+ tackles. Has TFL in 2 of past 3. Leads NFL with career-high 150 tackles. LB TYRELL ADAMS has 9+ tackles in 4 of past 5. Has TFL in 2 of past 3. Had 2 PD & sack in Week 6 meeting. CB KEION CROSSEN had career-high 4 PD in Week 16.
ON THE AIRWAVES TV: CBS (4:25 PM ET): Greg Gumbel, Rich Gannon, Amanda Balionis (field reporter) SIRIUS: 121 (Ten), 134 (Hou) | XM: 383 (Ten), 228 (Hou)
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (1-14) AT INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (10-5)
WEEK 17 // SUNDAY, JAN. 3, 2021 // 4:25 PM ET // LUCAS OIL STADIUM // REFEREE: SHAWN SMITH
LEADER: Colts lead all-time series, 24-15
STREAKS: Jaguars have won 3 of past 4
LAST GAME: 9/13/20: Colts 20 at Jaguars 27
LAST GAME AT SITE: 11/17/19: Colts 33, Jaguars 13
QB MIKE GLENNON completed 24 of 37 passes (64.9 pct.) for 211 yards & 2 TDs vs. 2 INTs last week. • RB JAMES ROBINSON (rookie) had 90 scrimmage yards (62 rush, 28 rec.) in Week 1 meeting. Has 80+ scrimmage yards in 4 of 5 career games vs. division. Aims for his 3rd in row on road with TD. Has 100+ scrimmage yards in 3 of his past 4 on road. Leads rookies with 1,414 scrimmage yards, most by undrafted rookie in common-draft era. Ties-2nd among rookies with 10 TDs (7 rush, 3 rec.), tied with PHILLIP LINDSAY (10 in 2018) & DOMINIC RHODES (10 in 2001) for most by undrafted rookie in common draft era. RB DARE OGUNBOWALE led team with career-high 71 rush yards last week. • WR DJ CHARK had 4 catches for 62 yards & TD last week. Aims for 3rd in row with 50+ rec. yards. Had TD catch in Week 1 meeting. Had 8 catches for 104 yards & 2 TDs in last road meeting. Rookie LAVISKA SHENAULT had 5 catches for 48 yards & TD in Week 16. Aims for 4th in row with 5+ catches. Had rec. TD in Week 1 meeting. Has 52 catches, 3rd-most among AFC rookies. WR KEELAN COLE aims for his 3rd in row vs. Ind. with rec. TD. Has TD catch in 5 of his past 6 vs. division. • LB MYLES JACK aims for 6th in row with 8+ tackles. Had 11 tackles & sack in Week 1 meeting. Aims for his 5th in row vs. division with 10+ tackles. Has FR in 2 of past 3 on road. LB JOE SCHOBERT had 8 tackles, sack, FF & INT last week & is 1 of 4 players with sack, FF & INT in single game this season. Had TFL in Week 1 meeting. CB GREG MABIN led team with career-high 10 tackles last week. DE DAWUANE SMOOT has FF in 2 of past 3.
QB PHILIP RIVERS completed 22 of 35 passes (62.9 pct.) for 270 yards & TD vs. INT last week. Has 2+ TD passes in 5 of past 6. Passed for 363 yards in Week 1 meeting. Has 24 TDs vs. 5 INTs for 121.4 rating in his past 9 vs. Jax. Has 105+ rating in 3 of past 4 vs. division. Has 420 career TD passes, tied with HOFer DAN MARINO for 5th-most in NFL history. • RB JONATHAN TAYLOR (rookie) rushed for 74 yards & 2 TDs last week. Aims for 4th in row with rush TD. Has 2+ rush TDs in 2 of past 3. Had 89 scrimmage yards (career-high 67 rec., 22 rush) & career-high 6 catches in Week 1 meeting. Aims for 3rd in row vs. division with 95 scrimmage yards & TD. Ranks 2nd among rookies with 916 rush yards & 9 rush TDs. RB NYHEIM HINES aims for 4th in row with 50+ scrimmage yards. Had 73 scrimmage yards (45 rec., 28 rush) & 2 TDs (1 rush, 1 rec.) in Week 1 meeting. Has rush TD in 2 of his past 3 vs. Jax. • WR T.Y. HILTON aims for 6th in row with 60+ rec. yards. Had 53 rec. yards in Week 1 meeting. Has 80+ rec. yards & TD catch in 2 of his past 3 vs. division. WR ZACH PASCAL aims for 3rd in row with 60+ rec. yards & TD catch. TE JACK DOYLE had 50 rec. yards last week. Had 49 rec. yards in Week 1 meeting. • LB DARIUS LEONARD had 10 tackles & TFL in Week 16. Aims for 4th in row with 10+ tackles. Has PD in 2 of his past 3 vs. division. DE JUSTIN HOUSTON had TFL last week. Had sack in Week 1 meeting. Aims for his 4th in row vs. Jax. with sack. DT DEFOREST BUCKNER had PD in Week 16. Had TFL in Week 1 meeting. Aims for his 3rd in row vs. division with 2+ sacks. Has FF in 2 of past 3 at home. S KHARI WILLIS had 2nd sack of season last week.
ON THE AIRWAVES TV: CBS (4:25 PM ET): Andrew Catalon, James Lofton, Sherree Burruss (field reporter) SIRIUS: 108 (Jax), 136 (Ind) | XM: 385 (Jax), 230 (Ind)
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (6-9) AT KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (14-1)
WEEK 17 // SUNDAY, JAN. 3, 2021 // 4:25 PM ET // ARROWHEAD STADIUM // REFEREE: CLETE BLAKEMAN
LEADER: Chiefs lead all-time series, 64-55-1
STREAKS: Chiefs have won 12 of past 13
LAST GAME: 9/20/20: Chiefs 20 at Chargers 17 (OT)
LAST GAME AT SITE: 12/29/19: Chiefs 31, Chargers 21
QB JUSTIN HERBERT (rookie) passed for 253 yards & TD vs. 0 INTs for 97.2 rating last week. Aims for 4th in row with 95+ rating & 3rd in row with 0 INTs. Passed for 311 yards & TD vs. INT for 94.4 rating & rushed for TD in Week 2 meeting. Has 6 TDs (5 pass, 1 rush) vs. 0 INTs for 107.7 rating in his past 3 vs. division. Has 2+ TD passes in 5 of 6 career road starts. Has 28 TD passes this season, most by rookie in NFL history. • RB AUSTIN EKELER had 68 scrimmage yards (45 rush, 23 rec.) & 1st TD catch of season last week. Had season-high 148 scrimmage yards (93 rush, 55 rec.) in Week 2 meeting. Has 125+ scrimmage yards in 3 of his past 4 vs. KC. RB KALEN BALLAGE has rush TD in 2 of his past 3 vs. division. • WR KEENAN ALLEN had 7 catches for 96 yards in Week 2 meeting. Has rec. TD in 2 of his past 3 vs. KC. Has TD catch in 4 of his past 5 on road. Ranks 3rd in AFC with 100 catches, 3rdcareer season with 100+ catches. WR MIKE WILLIAMS led team with 54 rec. yards last week. Has 50+ rec. yards in 3 of his past 4 vs. division. Rookie WR TYRON JOHNSON has 50+ rec. yards & TD catch in 2 of past 3. TE HUNTER HENRY had 83 rec. yards in Week 2 meeting. Aims for 4th in row vs. KC with 5+ catches. • DE JOEY BOSA had sack in Week 2 meeting. Has TFL in 2 of his past 3 vs. division. Has 3 sacks in his past 2 on road. LB NICK VIGIL aims for 3rd in row with sack. CB CASEY HAYWARD had 1st INT of season in Week 16. Has PD in 2 of past 3. CB MICHAEL DAVIS had season-high 9 tackles & PD last week. Aims for 4th in row with PD. Aims for 5th in row vs. KC with PD & 3rd in row vs. KC with 2+ PD. Had INT in last road meeting.
CHIEFS clinched AFC West division title for 5th-consecutive season & #1 overall seed in AFC for 2nd time in past 3 seasons. • QB PATRICK MAHOMES passed for 278 yards & 2 TDs vs. INT last week. Aims for 4th in row with 2+ TD passes. Has 90+ rating in 9 of past 10. Passed for 302 yards & 2 TDs vs. 0 INTs for 90.9 rating & rushed for season-high 54 yards in Week 2 meeting. Has 12 TDs vs. INT for 110.4 rating in his past 4 at home. Leads NFL with 4,740 pass yards & can join DREW BREES as only players in NFL history with 5,000+ pass yards in 2+ seasons. • RB DARREL WILLIAMS had season-high 73 scrimmage yards (46 rush, 27 rec.) last week. Has TD in 2 of 3 career games vs. LAC. RB LE’VEON BELL rushed for 111 yards & TD in only career game vs. Chargers (10/12/15 with Pit.). • WR TYREEK HILL aims for 10th in row with 50+ rec. yards. Has TD catch in 2 of past 3. Had 5 catches for 99 yards & TD in Week 2 meeting. Ranks 2nd in NFL with career-high 15 rec. TDs. TE TRAVIS KELCE aims for 9th in row with 7+ catches & 60+ rec. yards & 5th in row with rec. TD. Had 9 catches for 90 yards in Week 2 meeting. Has TD catch in 2 of past 3 vs. LAC. Aims for 6th in row at home with 95+ rec. yards. Leads NFL with 1,416 rec. yards, most by TE in single season in NFL history. • DT CHRIS JONES had sack last week & has sack in 2 of past 3. Had sack in last home meeting. DE FRANK CLARK had sack in Week 16 & has sack in 3 of past 4. Has sack in 3 of 4 career games vs. LAC. DE ALEX OKAFOR had sack & 1st FF of season last week. Rookie CB L’JARIUS SNEED aims for 3rd in row with sack. Had 4 PD in his past 4. Had INT in Week 2 meeting.
ON THE AIRWAVES TV: FOX (4:25 PM ET): TBD SIRIUS: 138 (LAC), 81 (KC) | XM: 381 (LAC), 226 (KC)
ARIZONA CARDINALS (8-7) AT LOS ANGELES RAMS (9-6)
WEEK 17 // SUNDAY, JAN. 3, 2021 // 4:25 PM ET // SOFI STADIUM // REFEREE: CARL CHEFFERS
LEADER: Rams lead all-time series, 45-38-2
STREAKS: Rams have won past 7
LAST GAME: 12/6/20: Rams 38 at Cardinals 28
LAST GAME AT SITE: 12/29/19: Rams 31, Cardinals 24
QB KYLER MURRAY passed for 247 yards & rushed for 75 yards last week. Is 1st QB with 800+ rush yards (816) & 10+ rush TDs (11) in single season in NFL history. Needs 116 pass yards for 1st-career 4,000-yard season. Had 3 TDs vs. INT in Week 13 meeting. Passed for 325 yards & 2 TDs vs. 2 INTs in last road meeting. Has 13 TDs (10 pass, 3 rush) vs. 3 INTs for 93.9 rating in 7 road starts this season. • RB KENYAN DRAKE had rush TD in Week 16. Has 17 rush TDs in his past 17 with Az. Had rush TD in Week 13 meeting. Aims for his 3rd in row vs. LAR & 6th in row on road with rush TD. Has 3rd-consecutive season with 1,000+ scrimmage yards (1,041) & career-high 10 rush TDs in 2020. • WR DEANDRE HOPKINS had 8 receptions in Week 16. Ranks 2nd in NFL in receptions (111 ) & rec. yards (1,372). Is 1 of 3 WRs (ANTONIO BROWN & WES WELKER) with 3 seasons with 110+ receptions & 1,300+ rec. yards. Had rec. TD in Week 13 meeting. Aims for his 5th in row with 8+ receptions. WR LARRY FITZGERALD had 6 receptions last week. Has 54 catches in 2020 & has 17 seasons with 50+ receptions, tied with HOFer JERRY RICE for most in NFL history. WR CHRISTIAN KIRK had season-high 7 receptions in Week 16. • LB HAASON REDDICK had 1.5 sacks & FF last week & is 1 of 2 (MYLES GARRETT) with sack & FF in 3 consecutive games in 2020. Has career-highs in sacks (12.5), TFL (14) & FFs (6) this season. S BUDDA BAKER led team with 9 tackles last week. Aims for his 4th in row vs. LAR with 12+ tackles & TFL. Ranks 2nd among DBs with 113 tackles, his 3rd-consecutive 100+ tackle season.
QB JOHN WOLFORD expected to make his 1st career start. • RB MALCOLM BROWN had rush TD in last home meeting. Rookie RB CAM AKERS had 94 scrimmage yards (72 rush, 22 rec.) & rush TD in last meeting. Has 80+ scrimmage yards in 3 of his past 4. Aims for his 5th in row with 60+ scrimmage yards. • WR ROBERT WOODS had 10 receptions for 85 yards in Week 13 meeting. Has 3 TDs (2 rec., 1 rush) in his past 4 vs. Az. Aims for his 8th in row vs. Az. with 5+ receptions. Needs 100 rec. yards for 3rd-consecutive 1,000+ rec. yard season. WR JOSH REYNOLDS has 5+ receptions in 3 of his past 4 vs. NFC West. Aims for his 3rd in row at home vs. NFC West with 5+ catches. TE TYLER HIGBEE had 8 catches for 84 yards & rec. TD in last home meeting. Aims for his 4th in row vs. Az. with TD catch. • DL AARON DONALD had sack in Week 16 & ranks 2nd in NFL with 13.5 sacks in 2020. Leads NFL with 85.5 sacks since 2014 & surpassed HOFer DERRICK THOMAS (85) for 3rd-most sacks by player in 1st 7 seasons since 1982. Has 12 sacks & 16 TFL in 13 career games vs. Az. Aims for his 6th in row with TFL. LB LEONARD FLOYD had 2 sacks last week. Is 1 of 3 in NFC (DENNIS GARDECK & TREY HENDRICKSON) with 3 games of 2+ sacks in 2020. LB TROY REEDER led team with 11 tackles last week. Has 10+ tackles in 4 of his past 5. CB JALEN RAMSEY aims for his 3rd in row with PD. CB DARIOUS WILLIAMS had INT in last home meeting. has 7 PD & 3 INTs in his past 6 at home. Rookie S JORDAN FULLER had 7 tackles last week. Aims for his 4th in row with 6+ tackles. DL SEBASTIAN JOSEPH-DAY had 1st sack of season last week.
ON THE AIRWAVES TV: CBS (4:25 PM ET): Jim Nantz, Tony Romo, Tracy Wolfson (field reporter) SIRIUS: 133 (AZ), 82 (LAR) | XM: 382 (AZ), 227 (LAR)
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (11-4) AT SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (6-9)
WEEK 17 // SUNDAY, JAN. 3, 2021 // 4:25 PM ET // STATE FARM STADIUM // REFEREE: TONY CORRENTE
LEADER: Seahawks lead all-time series, 26-17
STREAKS: Seahawks have won 2 of past 3
LAST GAME: 11/1/20: 49ers 27 at Seahawks 37
LAST GAME AT SITE: 11/11/19: Seahawks 27, 49ers 24 (OT)
QB RUSSELL WILSON had 2 TDs (1 pass, 1 rush) vs. 0 INTs last week. Passed for 261 yards & 4 TDs vs. 0 INTs for 128.3 rating in Week 8 meeting. Has 13 TDs vs. INT for 114.5 rating in his past 5 vs. SF. Ranks tied-2nd in NFL with career-high 38 TD passes & his 4th-career 4,000+ pass yard season (4,031) in 2020. Has 265 TD passes & can surpass HOFer DAN MARINO (266) for 2nd-most by QB in 1st 9 seasons in NFL history. • RB CHRIS CARSON has 457 scrimmage yards (114.3 per game) & 2 rush TDs in 4 career games vs. SF. Aims for his 3rd in row at SF with 100+ scrimmage yards & rush TD. Needs 115 scrimmage yards for 3rd-consecutive season with 1,000+ scrimmage yards. RB CARLOS HYDE had 3,363 scrimmage yards & 24 TDs in 50 games (2014-17) w/ SF. • WR DK METCALF led team with 6 receptions & 59 yards last week. Ranks 6th in NFL with 1,282 rec. yards & can surpass HOFer STEVE LARGENT (1,287 rec. yards in 1985) for most in single season in franchise history. Had career-high 12 catches for 161 yards & 2 rec. TDs in last meeting. Aims for his 3rd in row vs. SF with TD catch & 4th in row vs. SF with 6+ catches. WR TYLER LOCKETT has career-high 88 receptions in 2020. Needs 36 rec. yards for 2nd-consecutive 1,000-yard season. • LB BOBBY WAGNER has 132 tackles, his 9th-consecutive season with 100+ tackles. Had 11 tackles & 2 sacks in last meeting. LB K.J. WRIGHT aims for his 6th in row vs. SF with PD. DE CARLOS DUNLAP has 3 sacks & 4 TFL in 4 road games with Sea. in 2020. S JAMAL ADAMS has 9.5 sacks, most by DB in single season since 1982.
QB C.J. BEATHARD passed for career-high 3 TDs vs. 0 INTs & 125.4 rating in Week 16. Passed for 201 yards in only career start vs. Sea. (11/26/17). • RB JEFF WILSON had career-high 204 scrimmage yards (career-high 183 rush, 21 rec.) & rec. TD in Week 16, most rushing yards by 49ers RB since CARLOS HYDE (12/11/16). Aims for his 4th in row with TD. Has 180 scrimmage yards (90 per game) in 2 career games vs. Sea. FB KYLE JUSZCZYK had 2 rec. TDs in Week 16, his 1st-career multi-TD game. Has career-high 6 TDs (4 rec., 2 rush) in 2020 & aims for his 3rd in row at home with TD catch. RB JERICK MCKINNON had rush TD in last meeting. • TE GEORGE KITTLE had 4 catches for 92 yards in Week 16. Has 4+ catches in 6 of his 7 games this season. Has 50+ rec. yards in 3 of his past 4 vs. Sea. WR KENDRICK BOURNE had 8 catches for 81 yards in last meeting. Had rec. TD in last home meeting. • LB FRED WARNER led team with season-high 14 tackles, had career-high 3 PD & FF & FR in Week 16. Is 1 of 2 LBs (DEMECO RYANS) with 14+ tackles, 3+ PD & FF in single game since 2000. Had 10 tackles, 2 sacks, & FF in last home meeting. DL ARIK ARMSTEAD aims for his 3rd in row with 2+ TFL. Had 1.5 sacks & FF in last home meeting. DL KERRY HYDER had sack last week & has career-high 8.5 sacks in 2020. Had sack in Week 8 meeting. CB AHKELLO WITHERSPOON had 4th-career INT in Week 16. Aims for his 3rd in row with PD. CB K’WAUN WILLIAMS had sack & FF in Week 16. Had sack in last meeting. Had 2 FFs in last home meeting. CB JASON VERRETT aims for his 4th in row with PD.
ON THE AIRWAVES TV: FOX (4:25 PM ET): TBD SIRIUS: 113 (Sea), 119 (SF) | XM: 387 (Sea), 232 (SF)
WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM (6-9) AT PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (4-10-1)
WEEK 17 // SUNDAY, JAN. 3, 2021 // 8:20 PM ET // LINCOLN FINANCIAL FIELD // REFEREE: RONALD TORBERT
LEADER: Washington leads all-time series, 86-80-6
STREAKS: Eagles have won 6 of past 7
LAST GAME: 9/13/20: Eagles 17 at Washington 27
LAST GAME AT SITE: 9/8/19: Eagles 32, Washington 27
QB ALEX SMITH passed for 251 yards & TD vs. 0 INTs for 113.8 rating in his last start vs. Phi. (9/17/17 w/ KC). Has 80+ passer rating in 3 of his 4 road starts this season. QB TAYLOR HEINICKE completed 12 of 19 attempts (63.2 pct.) for 137 yards & TD vs. 0 INTs for 102.3 rating & had 22 rush yards in Was. debut in Week 16. • RB ANTONIO GIBSON (rookie) rushed for 61 yards last week. Has 7 rush TDs in 6 road games this season. Aims for his 4th in row vs. NFC East with rush TD. Leads rookies & ranks tied5th in NFL with 11 rush TDs in 2020. RB J.D. MCKISSIC had 8 receptions, 92 scrimmage yards (77 rec., 15 rush) & TD catch in Week 16. Aims for his 3rd in row with 90+ scrimmage yards & rec. TD. Ranks 2nd among RBs with career-high 75 receptions, most by Was. RB since LARRY CENTERS (81 receptions in 2000). • WR TERRY MCLAURIN has 15 receptions for 316 yards (105.3 per game) & 2 rec. TDs in 3 career games vs. Phi. Aims for his 4th in row vs. Phi. & 4th in row on road vs. NFC East with 5+ receptions. TE LOGAN THOMAS had 7 catches for 63 yards last week. Has career-highs in receptions (69), rec. yards (633) & TD catches (5) in 2020. Aims for his 5th in row with 6+ catches. • DE CHASE YOUNG (rookie) had sack, FF & FR in Week 16. Has FF & FR in 2 of his past 3. Leads all rookies in sacks (6.5), TFL (9) & FFs (4). Had 1.5 sacks & FF in Week 1 meeting. DE MONTEZ SWEAT had career-high 8th sack of season last week. Had sack & 2 TFL in Week 1 meeting. DT DARON PAYNE has sack in 2 of his past 3. Had FF in Week 1 meeting. LB COLE HOLCOMB had season-high 11 tackles & sack last week.
QB JALEN HURTS (rookie) passed for 342 yards & TD & had 69 rush yards last week. Joined MICHEAL VICK (2011) as only QBs with 300+ pass yards & 50+ rush yards in consecutive games in NFL history. Joined LAMAR JACKSON as only QBs with 50+ rush yards in each of 1st 3 career starts in NFL history. Had TD vs. 0 INTs for 83.6 rating & 106 rush yards in only career home start (Week 14 vs. NO). • RB MILES SANDERS had 84 scrimmage yards (57 rush, 27 rec.) & rush TD last week. Had career-high 172 scrimmage yards (122 rush, 50 rec.) & 2 TDs (1 rush, 1 rec.) in his last game vs. Was. (12/15/19). Is 1 of 4 RBs (NICK CHUBB, DERRICK HENRY & AARON JONES) with 4.9+ yards per carry (4.9) since 2019 (min. 300 attempts). • WR DESEAN JACKSON had 81-yard TD catch in Week 16. Has 5 career rec. TDs of 80+ yards, tied with HOFers LANCE ALWORTH, BOB HAYES & JERRY RICE, & DERRICK ALEXANDER for most in NFL history. TE ZACH ERTZ had rec. TD in Week 1 meeting & aims for his 3rd in row vs. Was. with TD catch. TE DALLAS GOEDERT had 8 receptions for 101 yards & rec. TD in Week 1 meeting. • DE BRANDON GRAHAM had sack last week. Has 7 TFL in his past 5 vs. Was. DT FLETCHER COX has 4 sacks & 9 TFL in 7 home games this season & aims for his 8th in row at home with TFL. DE JOSH SWEAT had sack & FF in Week 1. CB DARIUS SLAY had 1st INT of season last week. Has 3 PD in his past 3 vs. Was. Leads NFL with 110 PD since 2013. LB ALEX SINGLETON had team-high 8 tackles in Week 16.
ON THE AIRWAVES TV: NBC (8:20 PM ET): Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya (field reporter) NATIONAL RADIO: Westwood One: Ryan Radtke, Ron Jaworski SIRIUS: 81 (Was), 83 (Phi) | XM: 226 (Was), 225 (Phi), 88 (National)
NFL UNION SUGGEST REDUCTION IN OFF SEASON WORKOUTS
NFL Players Association President JC Tretter is calling for the significant reductions in offseason work forced by the pandemic to continue in future years.
The Cleveland Browns center posted his thoughts on the union’s website Thursday. He cited changes in the collective bargaining agreement reached early in 2020, and the subsequent COVID-19 alterations.
“The COVID CBA forced significant changes, and it has shown us another way players and teams can successfully prepare for and play in the NFL,” Tretter wrote. “This year has brought less time at practice than ever before. We had no offseason practices, fewer training camp practices and no preseason games. While some feared that those changes would lead to a sloppy 2020 NFL season, our collective level of play across the league has actually never been higher.
“I believe the changes implemented this season have demonstrated that we can put an entertaining product out on the field while further reducing wear and tear on our players’ bodies.”
Tretter emphasized the need to reduce all offseason programs, which typically begin in early spring and last through mid-June, including organized team activities and mandatory minicamps.
“We are the only major sports league with an offseason program,” he added. “The most physically demanding sport is the only league that brings their players back for extra practices outside of the season. The argument in favor of these offseason practices is based on the assumption that players need reps during OTAs to develop and learn while teams need the practices to (jell). Yet, the lack of OTAs this year demonstrated that those theories aren’t substantiated. New and first-year head coaches had success. Newly assembled teams had success. Rookies stepped in and played at a high level all across the league.”
Tretter reasons that NFL players are professionals and know how to remain in shape and cognizant of the playbook throughout the offseason: “We do not need to be brought in during April-June to practice against each other – it’s simply unnecessary.”
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has said that some of the procedures adapted in 2020 would make sense to carry into the future. He specifically mentioned remote learnings during the pandemic.
“Our experience with the offseason training and doing that virtually, I think our clubs got comfortable with a lot of that,” Goodell said. “And I think you’ll see more of that, which I think will be productive.”
NHL CLEARS TEAMS TO START CAMPS
The Canadian government, citing “national interest grounds,” gave its approval Thursday for the start of NHL training camps. It issued an exemption to the mandatory 14-day quarantine period for NHL players and team staff to return to the country.
The five provinces with NHL franchises, however, must give their approval for games between Canadian teams during the regular season, which is scheduled to start Jan. 13. The seven Canadian teams will play in a new North Division.
Alberta became the first province to say the NHL can play games in its arenas. The provincial government told The Canadian Press on Thursday it approved Edmonton and Calgary for competition following a review of protocols outlined in the league’s return-to-play plan, along with additional enhancements.
The Public Health Agency of Canada said the league’s plan for the preseason offers “robust measures to mitigate the risk of importation and spread of COVID-19 in Canada.” All provinces with NHL clubs have provided written support for the plan.
The statement added that all teams must operate within provincial rules for regular-season play.
A week ago, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said the league believes it can play in all seven Canadian markets — Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver
The Canadian teams will play each other only during the regular season and the first two rounds of the playoffs. They also won’t cross the U.S.-Canada border, which remains closed to nonessential travel.
The Ottawa Senators were one of seven clubs across the 31-team league to start training camp Thursday after not qualifying for the playoffs as part of the restart to the pandemic-halted 2019-20 season. The other six Canadian teams are to open training camp Sunday or Monday.
This past summer, the federal government cleared the Toronto Blue Jays to train at Rogers Centre, also under “national interest grounds.” But it rejected a proposal for home games against teams from the U.S. The Blue Jays eventually settled on Buffalo, New York, as their 2020 base.
The only Canadian professional sports teams to play on home soil during the pandemic have been the six NHL clubs to qualify for the 2019-20 post-season in Toronto and Edmonton, along with Toronto FC, the Montreal Impact and Vancouver Whitecaps of MLS.
The soccer teams were cleared to take part a series of games against each other in August and September before relocating to the U.S. to face American opponents.
ANDY MURRAY PULLS OUT OF DELRAY BEACH OPEN
Former top-ranked Andy Murray has pulled out of the Delray Beach Open to minimize his coronavirus risk as he looks toward the Australian Open.
The 33-year-old Murray said he was concerned about the “increase in COVID rates” and the trans-Atlantic flight in traveling to the Florida tournament that begins Monday.
The Five-time Australian Open runner-up was given a wild-card entry into the first Grand Slam tournament of next year.
Murray has slipped to No. 122 in the ATP rankings after several years of battling hip injuries and surgery.
Murray made a tearful retirement announcement in Melbourne two years ago before undergoing a second round of surgeries to extend his career.
PURDUE WRESTLING: BIG 10 RELEASES WRESTLING SCHEDULE
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – The Big Ten Conference released the 2021 wrestling schedule on the final day of 2020, unveiling the seven regular season contents for Purdue. The Boilermakers open their slate on Friday, Jan. 15, hosting Northwestern for a dual in Holloway Gymnasium.
“It’s fantastic to finally have a schedule and start preparing for an actual date,” said Purdue head coach Tony Ersland. “The guys have been working for months, with no end goal in sight, but now they have an actual target date to be ready to go. We couldn’t be more excited.”
The Boilermakers will host three events for 2021, opening with the Wildcats in two weeks, hosting Iowa and Ohio State for a tri-dual on Feb. 7, and closing out the regular season against archrival Indiana on Feb. 21.
Purdue will have four road contests in 2021, heading to Illinois and then Wisconsin on Jan. 22 and 24, respectively, flying east to Rutgers for a tri-dual with the Scarlet Knights and Minnesota, and heading north to Michigan State on Feb. 12.
The Big Ten Championships are slated for March 6-7 at Penn State, while the NCAA Championships return to St. Louis at the Enterprise Center on March 17-19.
The Boilermakers are coming off of a 12-5 dual season in 2019-20, which featured a 5-4 Big Ten record and a fifth-place team showing at the conference tournament. Seven Purdue wrestlers have earned preseason rankings from the various outlets, including a pair of top-five ranked individuals in senior Devin Schroder and sophomore Kendall Coleman.
All dual dates are subject to change per Big Ten Network coverage and mutual institutional agreement, and times will be determined and announced with the television schedule.
2021 Purdue Wrestling Schedule
Date Event/Opponent Location Time TV/Web
Fri. Jan. 15 NORTHWESTERN West Lafayette, Ind. TBA TBA
Fri. Jan. 22 at Illinois Champaign, Ill. TBA TBA
Sun. Jan. 24 at Wisconsin Madison, Wis. TBA TBA
Sun. Jan. 31 at Rutgers Piscataway, N.J. TBA TBA
Sun. Feb. 7 IOWA West Lafayette, Ind. TBA TBA
Fri. Feb. 12 at Michigan State East Lansing, Mich. TBA TBA
Sun. Feb. 21 INDIANA West Lafayette, Ind. TBA TBA
Sat-Sun March 6-7 Big Ten Champs. University Park, Pa. TBA BTN
Thu-Sat March 18-20 NCAA Champ. St. Louis, Mo. TBA ESPN
|American Football Conference|
|W||L||T||Pct||GB||PF||PA||Home||Road||vs. Conf||vs. Div||Streak|
|xy-Buffalo Bills||12||3||0||.800||0.0||445||349||6-1-0||6-2-0||9-2-0||5-0-0||5 W|
|Miami Dolphins||10||5||0||.667||2.0||378||282||5-3-0||5-2-0||7-4-0||3-2-0||2 W|
|New England Patriots||6||9||0||.400||6.0||298||339||4-3-0||2-6-0||5-6-0||2-3-0||3 L|
|New York Jets||2||13||0||.133||10.0||229||429||1-7-0||1-6-0||1-10-0||0-5-0||2 W|
|W||L||T||Pct||GB||PF||PA||Home||Road||vs. Conf||vs. Div||Streak|
|xyz-Kansas City Chiefs||14||1||0||.933||0.0||452||324||6-1-0||8-0-0||10-1-0||4-1-0||10 W|
|Las Vegas Raiders||7||8||0||.467||7.0||402||447||2-6-0||5-2-0||5-6-0||3-2-0||3 L|
|Los Angeles Chargers||6||9||0||.400||8.0||346||405||4-4-0||2-5-0||5-6-0||2-3-0||3 W|
|Denver Broncos||5||10||0||.333||9.0||292||414||2-5-0||3-5-0||4-7-0||1-4-0||2 L|
|W||L||T||Pct||GB||PF||PA||Home||Road||vs. Conf||vs. Div||Streak|
|xy-Pittsburgh Steelers||12||3||0||.800||0.0||394||288||7-1-0||5-2-0||9-2-0||4-1-0||1 W|
|Baltimore Ravens||10||5||0||.667||2.0||430||300||5-3-0||5-2-0||6-5-0||3-2-0||4 W|
|Cleveland Browns||10||5||0||.667||2.0||384||397||5-2-0||5-3-0||6-5-0||2-3-0||1 L|
|Cincinnati Bengals||4||10||1||.300||7.5||308||386||3-4-0||1-6-1||4-7-0||1-4-0||2 W|
|W||L||T||Pct||GB||PF||PA||Home||Road||vs. Conf||vs. Div||Streak|
|Tennessee Titans||10||5||0||.667||0.0||450||401||5-3-0||5-2-0||7-4-0||4-1-0||1 L|
|Indianapolis Colts||10||5||0||.667||0.0||423||348||5-2-0||5-3-0||6-5-0||3-2-0||1 L|
|Houston Texans||4||11||0||.267||6.0||346||423||2-5-0||2-6-0||3-8-0||2-3-0||4 L|
|Jacksonville Jaguars||1||14||0||.067||9.0||292||464||1-7-0||0-7-0||1-10-0||1-4-0||14 L|
|National Football Conference|
|W||L||T||Pct||GB||PF||PA||Home||Road||vs. Conf||vs. Div||Streak|
|Washington Football Team||6||9||0||.400||0.0||315||315||3-5-0||3-4-0||4-7-0||3-2-0||2 L|
|Dallas Cowboys||6||9||0||.400||0.0||376||450||4-4-0||2-5-0||5-6-0||2-3-0||3 W|
|New York Giants||5||10||0||.333||1.0||257||338||2-5-0||3-5-0||4-7-0||3-2-0||3 L|
|Philadelphia Eagles||4||10||1||.300||1.5||320||398||3-3-1||1-7-0||4-7-0||2-3-0||2 L|
|W||L||T||Pct||GB||PF||PA||Home||Road||vs. Conf||vs. Div||Streak|
|xy-Seattle Seahawks||11||4||0||.733||0.0||433||348||7-1-0||4-3-0||8-3-0||3-2-0||3 W|
|Los Angeles Rams||9||6||0||.600||2.0||354||289||5-2-0||4-4-0||8-3-0||2-3-0||2 L|
|Arizona Cardinals||8||7||0||.533||3.0||403||349||4-4-0||4-3-0||6-5-0||2-3-0||1 L|
|San Francisco 49ers||6||9||0||.400||5.0||353||364||1-6-0||5-3-0||4-7-0||3-2-0||1 W|
|W||L||T||Pct||GB||PF||PA||Home||Road||vs. Conf||vs. Div||Streak|
|xy-Green Bay Packers||12||3||0||.800||0.0||474||353||7-1-0||5-2-0||9-2-0||4-1-0||5 W|
|Chicago Bears||8||7||0||.533||4.0||356||335||3-4-0||5-3-0||6-5-0||2-3-0||3 W|
|Minnesota Vikings||6||9||0||.400||6.0||393||440||3-5-0||3-4-0||4-7-0||3-2-0||3 L|
|Detroit Lions||5||10||0||.333||7.0||342||482||1-6-0||4-4-0||4-7-0||1-4-0||3 L|
|W||L||T||Pct||GB||PF||PA||Home||Road||vs. Conf||vs. Div||Streak|
|xy-New Orleans Saints||11||4||0||.733||0.0||449||330||6-2-0||5-2-0||9-2-0||5-0-0||1 W|
|x-Tampa Bay Buccaneers||10||5||0||.667||1.0||448||328||4-3-0||6-2-0||7-4-0||3-2-0||3 W|
|Carolina Panthers||5||10||0||.333||6.0||343||369||2-5-0||3-5-0||4-7-0||1-4-0||1 W|
|Atlanta Falcons||4||11||0||.267||7.0||369||370||2-6-0||2-5-0||2-9-0||1-4-0||4 L|
X – Clinched Playoff Spot, Y – Clinched Division, Z – Clinched Home Field Advantage
|New York||2||3||.400||2.0||1-1||1-2||0-2||2-3||2-3||1 L|
|Oklahoma City||1||3||.250||1.0||0-3||1-0||0-1||0-2||1-3||3 L|
|LA Clippers||4||1||.800||—||2-1||2-0||1-0||4-1||4-1||2 W|
|LA Lakers||3||2||.600||1.0||2-2||1-0||0-1||3-2||3-2||1 W|
|Golden State||2||2||.500||1.5||–||2-2||–||–||2-2||2 W|
|New Orleans||3||2||.600||—||1-0||2-2||1-0||2-1||3-2||1 W|
|San Antonio||2||2||.500||0.5||1-1||1-1||1-1||1-2||2-2||2 L|
NFL HALL OF FAME: JACK YOUNGBLOOD
Youngblood was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in the first round of the 1971 NFL Draft. He was the 20th overall pick in that draft and signed a 3-year $105,000 contract including a $30,000 signing bonus. That season, he backed up Deacon Jones at left defensive end and started four games when Jones was sidelined with a severely sprained arch. He was named All-Rookie by Football Digest and after the season Jones was traded to the San Diego Chargers. In 1972, the left defensive end position was Youngblood’s as he led the Rams defensive linemen in tackles with 70, and started 11 of the 14 games he played, recording six sacks.
In 1973, Youngblood was a Second-team All-pro selection and went to the first of his seven Pro Bowls and led the Rams with 16 1⁄2 sacks. The Ram defense led the NFL in fewest yards allowed and fewest rushing yards. He was voted the Rams defensive lineman of the year by the Rams Alumni Association. Beginning in the 1973 season, the Rams added the unrelated Jim Youngblood to its roster, so from that time on, both Youngbloods had the unique distinction of having their entire name on the back of their jerseys, the given name appearing above the family name. The following year, 1974, the Rams again led the NFL in rushing defense and Youngblood led the Rams with 15 sacks while being voted a consensus First-team All-Pro and being named to his second Pro Bowl. The Rams advanced to the NFC Championship game, losing 14-10 to the Minnesota Vikings.
Youngblood was honored as the NFC Defensive Player of the Year by United Press International in 1975 and Pro Football Weekly named Youngblood the NFL defensive lineman of the year. For the third consecutive season Youngblood led the Rams in sacks (15) and was named to the Pro Bowl and a consensus All-pro again, repeating his 1974 honors. In a December 1975, 35-23 playoff win over the St. Louis Cardinals, Youngblood pass-rushed Cardinals offensive lineman Dan Dierdorf, penetrated into the backfield, then tipped and intercepted a pass by Jim Hart, returning the interception 47 yards for a touchdown. Later in the game, Youngblood forced a fumble that was recovered by teammate Fred Dryer, blocked an extra point attempt, and sacked Hart to stop a Cardinals drive.
Youngblood repeated his NFC Defensive Player of the Year Award in 1976 while co-leading the Rams in sacks with 14 1⁄2, being named to his fourth consecutive Pro Bowl, and being a consensus first-team All-Pro for the third straight season. The following year, 1977, Youngblood was voted to his fifth consecutive Pro Bowl and a consensus All-NFC selection and second-team All-Pro while leading the Rams in sacks for the fifth straight season. In 1978, the Rams led the NFL in total defense and Youngblood was named to his sixth consecutive Pro Bowl and was a consensus first-team All-Pro for the fourth time in five years.
One of the athletic feats for which Youngblood is best known, is that of playing in the 1979 playoffs, including Super Bowl XIV, with a fractured left fibula. He also played in the 1980 Pro Bowl with the injured leg, a week after the Super Bowl. In the playoffs, Youngblood sacked Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach near the sideline in the waning moments of the divisional playoff game versus the Cowboys. Playing with the fractured leg was noted by Sports Illustrated in their Top 10 list of athletes playing in pain. For that and other achievements Jack was dubbed the “John Wayne of football” by Jim Hanifan and echoed by Hall of Fame coach John Madden. The NFL Network series NFL Top 10 selected Youngblood’s performance in the 1979 playoffs as top on its list of the “Gutsiest Performances” of all time.
For the 1979 season, Youngblood had a career-high 18 sacks and was a consensus first-team All-Pro for the fifth time. He was voted to his seventh consecutive Pro Bowl. In 1980, he was second-team All-Pro and first-team All-NFC while leading the Rams with 11 1⁄2 sacks. In 1981, Youngblood led the Rams with 12 1⁄2 sacks and was the Rams outstanding defensive lineman. In the off-season, prior to the 1981 season, Jack had emergency surgery to remove a hot-dog sized blood clot from under his left arm. It was a result of repeated trauma to a nerve in his arm that blocked the flow of blood. Despite the broken leg and numerous other injuries, Youngblood played in 201 consecutive games, a Rams team record; and only missed one game in his 14-year NFL career. He played in seven straight Pro Bowls, five NFC Championships, and one Super Bowl. He was also the Rams’ defensive captain from 1977 through 1984 and was voted the Dan Reeves award 3 times, which is awarded to the team’s MVP. He had 151 1⁄2 career sacks and led the Rams in sacks nine times despite playing first in assistant Coach Ray Malavasi’s stop-the-run-first defensive scheme and then in his final two seasons in Defensive Coordinator Fritz Shurmur’s 3-4 two-gap scheme which limited some pass rush opportunities to make sure the opponent’s running game was handled.
Youngblood faced a challenge in 1983 when the Rams adopted Shurmur’s 3-4 defense. Critics thought Youngblood might be too small to play that position, yet he performed in it well (recording 10 1⁄2 sacks in 1983 and 9 1⁄2 sacks in 1984 while Rams were among the NFL’s best defenses at stopping the run) despite being considered undersized. Among the standout games in Youngblood’s final two seasons were the opening game of the 1983 season, against the New York Giants in which Youngblood recorded two sacks; and the 1983 season finale against the New Orleans Saints. In the Saints game Youngblood recorded 10 tackles, two sacks, recorded a safety and was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year by Pro Football Weekly for the effort. In Week 5 of 1984 against the New York Giants, Youngblood recorded two sacks, drew three holding calls and was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week by the NFL. Then, in Week 10, against the St. Louis Cardinals, he dominated the game sacking Neil Lomax three times and drawing three holding calls, and blocking a potential game-tying field goal on the game’s final play to preserve a 16-13 Rams win.
His streak of consecutive games played ended in Week 15 of the 1984 season, when Youngblood had to sit out his first football game since being a collegiate player in 1970. He had suffered a ruptured disc in his lower back two weeks earlier. Despite the injury, he returned for the season finale against the 49ers and the playoffs. He attributed his ability to play to a series of back adjustments that allowed him more freedom of movement, even though team doctors told Youngblood he was out for the season and needed surgery. He was voted the Rams’ recipient of the 1984 Ed Block Courage Award by “representing everything that is positive about professional football and serving as an inspiration in their locker rooms being a positive role model in his communities”. Though the injury ended his streak, Youngblood still holds the record for most consecutive starts in the NFL by a strong-side defensive end with 184.
When Youngblood retired on August 27, 1985, he asked his career to be remembered for “dignity, integrity, respect and pride”.
Season sack totals: 1971 (3), 1972 (6), 1973 (16 1⁄2), 1974 (15), 1975 (15), 1976 (14 1⁄2), 1977 (8 1⁄2), 1978 (7), 1979 (18), 1980 (11⅓), 1981 (12 1⁄2), 1982 (4), 1983 (10 1⁄2), 1984 (9 1⁄2), Career Total (151 1⁄2).
TODAY IN SPORTS HISTORY-JANUARY 1, 1929
In a thrilling football game before a capacity crowd of 70,000 in the Rose Bowl here today, the Golden Tornado of Georgia Tech defeated the University of California by a score of 8 to 7, the victors scoring on a safety and a touchdown. The Western eleven rallied in the fourth quarter on a straight march from its own 2-yard line.
The game was marked by an unusual play, which, it ultimately developed, was of great importance in the final score. It led to Georgia Tech’s safety. Captain-elect Roy Riegels of the Golden Bears, playing center, snatched up a Tech fumble in the second quarter and started toward the Georgia Tech goal. Tech men sprang up in front of him and in eluding them Riegels cut back across the field. He turned again to escape and in so doing apparently became confused and started toward his own goal, sixty yards away. As he pounded down the side line both California and Tech players stood amazed in their tracks.
Benny Lom, halfback for the Golden Bears, sensed the situation almost immediately and sprang into action. Down the field he went after the flying Riegels, who only put on more speed as he heard feet pounding in the turf behind him. Finally Lom grabbed hold of his mate at the California 3-yard line and turned him around. Making interference for Riegels, Lom started back up the field, but a wave of Tech tacklers hit Riegels before he could more than turn around, hurtling him back to the 1-yard line.
California immediately took up the punt formation, but Riegels, at center, was nervous, and Lom, receiving the ball to kick, was little steadier. As the ball was snapped, Maree, Georgia Tech tackle, stormed through and blocked the punt. The ball rolled out of the end zone, but the officials ruled that the Breakenridge, Calif., quarterback had touched it and that a safety would be scored against California.
Lom was the outstanding hero for the losers. He played smart football, was in every play and carried the ball on sweeping end runs. He shot through tackle and over guard, hurled long passes to the ends, or short, snappy passes to the other backs. His kicking was excellent.
TODAY IN BASEBALL HISTORY
1923 Having promised his fans and former teammates he’d live to see 1923, Wee Willie Keeler dies on New Year’s Day of that year as a result of heart failure. The diminutive fine-hitting Hall of Fame outfielder, who played for the National League’s Superbas (Dodgers), Orioles, and Giants and the Highlanders (Yankees) of the American League, is credited with the baseball axiom, “Keep your eyes clear, and hit ’em where they ain’t.”
1927 The Robins announce outfielder Zack Wheat, after 18 consecutive seasons with the club, has been released. The future Hall of Famer, who led the National League in hitting in 1918 with a .335 batting average, will hit .324 in 88 games for Connie Mack’s Philadelphia A’s this season, finishing his career with a lifetime mark of .311.
1929 Cienfuegos third baseman Cool Papa Bell becomes the first player to hit three home runs in a professional game in Cuba, accomplishing the feat in a 15-11 victory over Havana at the spacious Alda Park. The speedy infielder, who made Satchel Paige quip, “he could turn off a light switch and jump into bed before the room got dark,” hits the trio of homers, which are all inside-the-park round-trippers, off Oscar Levis, Cliff “Campanita” Bell, and Martin Dihigo.
1940 In a decision which foreshadows a significant blow to Detroit’s farm system, Kenesaw Mountain Landis voids the last month’s trade which would have sent Tiger hurler George Coffman and second baseman Benny McCoy to the A’s for outfielder Wally Moses. The commissioner declares McCoy a free agent because the team hid the infielder from other clubs, and baseball’s first czar will also grant free agency to another 87 of the club’s farmhands due to their concealment in the minor leagues.
1941 To support the U.S. mobilization effort, Babe Ruth spends $50,000 for defense bonds. The Yankee legend’s purchase is the maximum amount allowed by law for one person.
1943 Josh Gibson, known as the ‘Black Babe Ruth,’ is admitted to St. Francis Hospital for a brief time after suffering a mental breakdown, being released to participate in spring training with the Homestead Grays in Hot Springs, Arkansas. The power-hitting catcher is diagnosed with a brain tumor but elects not to have it removed, and as a consequence, suffers from headaches until his death in 1947 at the age of 35 years-old.
1961 Tiger Stadium is the official new name for the Detroit ballpark at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull Avenues. The facility, which opened in 1912, was originally known as Navin Field, named for team owner Frank Navin, before becoming Briggs Stadium in 1938, reflecting the expansion efforts of Walter Briggs, who increased the yard’s capacity to 53,000 under his ownership by double-decking the stands in left field.
1970 Chub Feeney begins his 16-year presidency of the National League, taking over for Warren Giles, who held the position for 18 years. The Dartmouth College graduate, the grandson of Charles Stoneham, the late owner of the Giants, once served as the team’s batboy.
1974 Lee MacPhail takes over as American League president, succeeding the retiring Joe Cronin, and will serve in this role until 1984. MacPhail will join his dad, Larry, as a member of the Hall of Fame in 1998, becoming the only father-and-son pair to be enshrined in Cooperstown.
1977 At the age of 30, Milwaukee reliever Danny Frisella tragically dies in a dune-buggy accident in Arizona. The right-hander, best known for his first six seasons with the Mets, compiled a 34-40 won-loss record along with 57 saves and a 3.37 ERA during his ten-year major league tenure, which also included stints with the Braves, Padres, Cardinals, and the Brewers.
1979 Lorinda de Roulet replaces the very unpopular M. Donald Grant as the Mets’ Chairman of the Board. The daughter of franchise founder Joan Payson became the first woman to direct the day-to-day operations of an MLB club when elected as the team president and named to its board of directors following the death of her mother in 1975.
1982 Civic Center Busch Memorial Stadium, which replaced Sportsman’s Park as the Cardinals’ home in 1966, will now be known simply as Busch Stadium. The new moniker for the ballpark honors the Busch family of Anheuser-Busch, the team’s owner, who championed the construction of a new stadium in St. Louis.
2008 The Dodgers begin the celebration of their 50th year in Los Angeles by participating in the 119th annual Tournament of Roses Parade. The team’s float features current and former players as well as organist Nancy Bea Hefley and Vin Scully, the club’s broadcaster since 1950.
BASEBALL’S BEST: RANDY JOHNSON
Heading into the 2004 season, it seemed as if Randy Johnson had accomplished all he could in his 16-year career. At 40 years old he showed no signs of letting up. He had won five Cy Young awards, and was one of only five pitchers to win the award in both the American and National Leagues. He was named World Series co-MVP in 2001, and was tabbed as the starting pitcher for four All-Star Games. He led both leagues in strikeouts and ERA in multiple seasons and led the National League in wins in 2002 with 24. He twirled the first no-hitter in Seattle Mariners history on June 2, 1990. His collection of hardware rivaled the tool department of the local Home Depot.
Yet Johnson added one more feat to his baseball immortality. The Arizona left-hander was sporting a 3-4 record heading into a May 18 matchup with the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field. In three of his losses, the Diamondbacks offense had done its own version of molting. But instead of shedding skin, it was runs, as they pushed only three across the dish while Johnson was on the hill in those defeats. The latest was a 1-0 loss to the New York Mets on May 12.
But on this evening, Johnson carried the team on his back, striking out 13 Braves on the way to pitching a perfect game. The Diamondbacks’ offense was by no means explosive, but its two runs proved to be more than enough. “It was like a surreal experience,” said Atlanta’s Chipper Jones. “When you wake up, you think, no, he couldn’t have thrown a perfect game against us. You think it had to be a dream.”
“A game like this was pretty special,” said Johnson, who reached a three-ball count on only one batter. “It doesn’t come along very often. It didn’t faze me. Everything was locked in. Winning the game was the biggest, most important thing.” In the bottom of the ninth inning, Arizona second baseman Matt Kata threw out the first batter. Johnson struck out the next two batters. At the end, pinch-hitter Eddie Perez was overmatched when the last of Johnson’s 117 pitches was clocked at 98 MPH. “This is one of those nights where a superior athlete was on the top of his game,” said Arizona manager Bob Brenly. “There was a tremendous rhythm out there. His focus, his concentration, his stuff, everything was as good as it possibly could be. Everything he’s done to this point pales in comparison.”
Brenly knew what he was talking about. As of 2014, Johnson was the oldest pitcher by over three years to reach perfection. It was the 17th perfect game in major-league history, and the first since David Cone in 1999.
Johnson retired after the 2009 season. In 22 major-league seasons, his record was 303-166 with a 3.29 ERA. He struck out 4,875, second to Nolan Ryan (5,714). He threw 37 shutouts and pitched 100 complete games. He was nominated to the All-Star Game 10 times.
WORLD SERIES HISTORY-1920
Cleveland Indians (5) vs Brooklyn Robins (2)
As America was welcoming in a new and promising decade, baseball was longing for days gone by. The 1919 World Series had sparked a major controversy amid rumors of a gambling fix. Eight members of the participating Chicago White Sox were all charged with conspiring to throw the Fall Classic against the Cincinnati Reds. After a lengthy investigation and highly publicized trial (lasting until 1921), the Black Sox were acquitted despite their own confessions (which were recanted later). However, all of the players involved were later banned from baseball because of their undeniable link to gamblers.
Throughout the 1920 season, the league offices were constantly denying accusations from the press that professional baseball itself was in on the take and made every effort to assure the fans that the 1919 scandal was an isolated incident. In an effort to win back the fan’s approval, the commissioner decided on another best-of-nine series and went to great lengths to promote the integrity of baseball in the papers. Still, many wondered if the fan’s trust in baseball and more specifically, the World Series would ever fully recover. Only time would tell as the National League’s Brooklyn Robins (who would later become the Dodgers) returned for their second series appearance against the American’s Cleveland Indians.
In Game 1, Cleveland’s starting right-hander, Stan Coveleski, stifled Brooklyn’s line-up in a five hit, 3-1 opening winner, but the Robins answered back quickly in Game 2 with a fantastic performance by Burleigh Grimes, who tossed a seven hit, shutout that ended in a 3-0 series-tying victory.
Brooklyn maintained their momentum over the Indians in Game 3 on the arm of Series veteran Sherri Smith, who threw a 2-1, three hitter to take the early lead. Coveleski returned for Game 4 against Leon Cadore, who had gone the distance in one of the longest games in baseball history just five months earlier, a twenty-six inning 1-1 tie with Boston. Surprisingly, the Brooklyn workhorse only lasted one inning (in his only Series start) which ended in a 5-1 Cleveland decision.
With the Series tied at two games apiece, Brooklyn’s Burleigh Grimes, returned to rematch Cleveland’s Jim Bagby. This time, the Indians line-up came out swinging and promptly loaded the bases in the bottom of the first. Elmer Smith, a twenty-eight year-old outfielder, stepped up to the plate and into the record books by smashing the first grandslam in World Series history. The historic blast scored Charlie Jamieson, Bill Wambsganss, Tris Speaker (as well as Smith) sending the home team crowd into a deafening frenzy that set the tone for the rest of the game. The score remained 4-0 until the fourth when Bagby homered off of his rival with two men on base. Now with a 7-0 lead, the Indians looked to have the advantage, although their pitcher had already given up Series high eight hits in 4+ innings. Brooklyn had yet to score, but was headed in the right direction with Pete Kilduff and Otto Miller on base and in scoring position. Relief pitcher Clarence Mitchell, who had entered the game in the fourth, was Brooklyn’s next batter. The versatile Robin, who was used as a pinch-hitter, outfielder and utility infielder hit a sharp line drive to second baseman Bill Wambsganss who caught the ball, stepped on the bag and tagged out a returning Miller to complete the first triple play (completely unassisted) in World Series history. After managing to score a run in the ninth, Brooklyn fell to the Indians in an 8-1 loss.
Cleveland remained in control and went on to shutout the Robins in both Games 6 and 7. Brooklyn’s recently acquired Waiter Mails threw a superb three hit, 1-0 winner and Coveleski returned for his third five hitter of the Series in a 3-0 masterpiece. Amazingly, the Indian’s pitching staff had held the Robins to just two runs in the final forty-three innings of the Series on their way to their first World Championship.
The victory was bittersweet though as the team was still recovering from the loss of one of it’s own. Ray Chapman, a twenty-nine year-old shortstop known for excellent defense and leadership, died after being struck by a pitch on August 16 in New York. His teammates had persevered, gone the distance and went on to dedicate their win in his memory. For the second consecutive season, a “first-timer” had won the championship, but this time… it was legit.
The 1920 season will also be remembered as the year that witnessed the birth of one of sports greatest dynasties and the death of another. The New York Yankees, previously known as the laughable Highlanders, purchased an outfielder/pitcher named George Herman Ruth from the financially strapped Boston Red Sox. Ruth, who had hammered twenty-nine home runs (a Major League record for Boston in 1919), brought the game into a new era in 1920 by knocking out fifty-four. He also set attendance records at the Polo Grounds as he and the Yankees, playing their home games in the Giants’ park, outdrew John McGraw’s team by more than 350,000.
COLLEGE BASKETBALL HALL OF FAME
After earning a reputation as an exciting player at Washington High School in North Carolina, Wilkins went on to attend the University of Georgia. He lived up to his reputation during his college career averaging 21.6 points and 7.5 rebounds a game and receiving First-Team All-America honors as a junior. Leaving the Bulldogs after his junior year, Wilkins was selected third overall in the 1982 NBA draft by the Utah Jazz. He became a nine time NBA All-Star and was selected seven times to the All-NBA team, scoring over 25,000 points in his pro career.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME” EDWIN HARRIS COY, FULLBACK
It was always exciting for Yale fans when Edwin “Ted” Coy got his hands on a football. The 6-0, 195-pound Eli fullback played in only one losing game during three varsity seasons. He was known for his abilities to lead the Bulldogs in come-from-behind victories. It was a familiar sight when Ted would burst through an enemy defense, his long blonde hair held back by a white sweatband. Coy was a pressure player who always seemed to come up with the big play. In 1907, he helped Yale post a 9-0-1 record which was blemished only by a scoreless tie with Army. The next season, Coy repeated as a All-America as the Bulldogs finished with a 7-1-1 mark. That season he experienced his only collegiate loss, a 4-0 heartbreaker to Harvard in the final game of the year. As a senior, Coy captained the Yale club through one of the greatest seasons in school history. The Bulldogs finished 10-0-0 and ran off 209 points while holding every opponent scoreless. The three-time consensus All-America led the Bulldogs to two national titles and was Yale football coach in 1910, when the team had a 6-2-2 record. In later years he held positions with Wall Street firms and wrote football articles for the numerous publications.
BASKETBALL’S BEST: ED STEITZ
Recognized worldwide as the leading authority on amateur basketball rules, Ed Steitz promoted rule changes that made the game faster, more exciting, and led to higher scores. As secretary, editor, and national interpreter of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Rules Committee from 1965 to 1990, he fought for significant rules changes to improve college basketball. Steitz coached at Springfield College, where the game was invented, for ten seasons and served as the school’s director of athletics from 1956 to 1990. Founder of ABAUSA Basketball – now USA Basketball – Steitz conducted over 1,000 rules clinics worldwide and served as chairman of the United States Olympic Selection Committee from 1964 to 1980. Steitz touched the game in a number of ways and his influence is still apparent today.