BOYS HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL
Tech 62, Harrison 60
Logansport 51, Kokomo 44
McCutcheon 61, Lafayette Central Catholic 57
Anderson 63, Alexandria 48
Lafayette Jeff at Central , ppd.
Richmond at New Castle, ppd.
Saturday, Jan. 9
Northrop at Kokomo, 7:30 pm
South Side at Marion, 7:30 pm
Lake Central at Harrison, 7:30 pm
McCutcheon at Richmond , ppd.
McCutcheon at Frankton, 4:30 pm
Central at Noblesville, 7:30 pm, ppd.
Western at Logansport, 7:30 pm
Friday, Jan. 8
Franklin County 69, Union County 52
Saturday, Jan. 9
Union City vs. Winchester, 8 pm, Monroe Central
Lincoln vs. Northeastern, 6 pm, Hagerstown
Friday, Jan. 8
Cowan at Daleville, ppd.
Saturday, Jan. 9
Burris at Wapahani, 7:30 pm
Wes-Del at Tri-Central, 7:30 pm
Shenandoah vs. Blue River, 7:30 pm, Tri
Friday, Jan. 8
Connersville 49, Greensburg 42, OT
East Central 74, Rushville 34
Franklin County 69, Union County 52
Saturday, Jan. 9
East Central at Ross (Ohio), 7:30 pm
New Castle at Connersville, 7:30 pm
Shelbyville at Greensburg, 7:30 pm
Milan vs. Batesville, 5:30 pm, South Ripley
Switzerland County vs. Lawrenceburg, 6 pm, South Dearborn
Rising Sun at South Dearborn, 7:30 pm, South Dearborn
Friday, Jan. 8
Bethesda Christian 74, Faith Christian 63
Central Christian 63, Christel House 47
Tindley 63, University 36
Park Tudor 74, Metropolitan 47
Seton Catholic 87, Cristo Rey 50……Jake Moynihan 27p 13r, Sam Casper 19p, Mason Harvey 18p, Jonah Falcone 10p 13 assists, Braiden Hogg 11p
Elwood 60, Anderson Prep 49
Pendleton Heights 75, Liberty Christian 65
Saturday, Jan. 9
Greenwood Christian at Shortridge, 3 pm
Indiana Deaf at Bethesda Christian, 6:30 pm
Manual at Central Christian, 7:30 pm
Burris at Wapahani, 7:30 pm
Friday, Jan. 8
Delta 52, New Palestine 51
Mount Vernon 57, Greenfield 52
Noblesville 54, New Castle 52
Yorktown 60, Tipton 34
Pendleton Heights 75, Liberty Christian 65
Richmond at New Castle, ppd.
Saturday, Jan. 9
Mount Vernon at Whiteland, 7:30 pm
New Castle at Connersville, 7:30 pm
Shelbyville at Greensburg, 7:30 pm
Southport at New Palestine, 7:30 pm
FRIDAY STATE SCOREBOARD
GIRLS HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL
Friday, Jan. 8
Harrison 75, Tech 7
Kokomo 53, Logansport 32
McCutcheon 79, Marion 33
Central 45, Lafayette Jeff 34
Richmond at Marion, ppd.
Saturday, Jan. 9
Northrop at Kokomo, 6 pm
McCutcheon at Richmond, 5 pm, ppd.
Northwestern at Logansport, 1:30 pm
Twin Lakes at Harrison, noon
Anderson at Pendleton Heights, 8 pm, Pendleton Heights
Friday, Jan. 8
Tri 51, Knightstown 7
Winchester 88, Union City 56
Northeastern 76, Lincoln 20
Saturday, Jan. 9
Eastern Hancock at Union County, 7:30 pm
Shenandoah vs. Tri, 6 pm, Tri
Winchester vs. Monroe Central, 4 pm, Monroe Central
Friday, Jan. 8
Cowan 71, Daleville 46
Eastbrook 73, Wes-Del 14
Shenandoah 52, Blue River 33
Monroe Central 53, Union 38
Saturday, Jan. 9
Eastern Hancock at Union County, 7:30 pm
Burris at Wapahani, 1:30 pm
Shenandoah vs. Tri, 6 pm, Tri
Winchester vs. Monroe Central, 4 pm, Monroe Central
Friday, Jan. 8
Batesville 63, Milan 24
South Dearborn 51, Rising Sun 37
Lawrenceburg 54, Switzerland County 30
Saturday, Jan. 9
Greenfield at Connersville, noon
Greensburg at Franklin County, 7:30 pm
Rushville at East Central, 7:30 pm
Saturday, Jan. 9
Greenfield at Connersville, noon
New Palestine at Hamilton SE, 2:30 pm
Shelbyville at Yorktown, noon
Anderson at Pendleton Heights, 8 pm, Pendleton Heights
GIRLS STATE SCOREBOARD
Detroit 110 Phoenix 105 OT
Boston 116 Washington 107
Charlotte 118 New Orleans 110
Oklahoma City 101 New York 89
Houston 132 Orlando 90
Utah 131 Milwaukee 118
Memphis 115 Brooklyn 110.. Desmond Bane 10 points, two rebounds
Golden State 115 LA Clippers 105
LA Lakers 117 Chicago 115
Toronto 144 Sacramento 123
MEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Purdue 55 #23 Michigan State 54
Milwaukee 94 IUPUI 70
Quinnipiac 84 Manhattan 79 2OT
Sacred Heart 68 Merrimack 62
Long Island 71 St. Francis PA 58
Green Bay 84 Oakland 81 OT
St. Francis NY 67 Mount St. Mary’s 55
Coastal Carolina 78 S. Alabama 65
Toledo 95 Ohio 78
Appalachian State 66 Georgia Southern 63
Liberty 69 Kennesaw State 63
Youngstown State 74 Wright State 72
Cleveland State 58 Northern Kentucky 44
Lipscomb 77 Bellarmine 72
Stetson 86 N. Alabama 77
Hawaii 88 UC Riverside 83
Fort Wayne 96 Illinois Chicago 89 OT
Louisiana Lafayette 66 Little Rock 64
Jacksonville 66 N. Florida 65
Florida International 68 Middle Tennessee 55
Old Dominion 71 Florida Atlantic 67
Alabama Birmingham 72 Southern Miss 60
Utah Valley 77 California Baptist 50
North Texas 77 Texas San Antonio 70
Stephen F Austin 87 Midwest State 71
Long Beach State 82 Cal State Fullerton 80
South Dakota 66 Missouri Kansas City 64
Grand Canyon 75 Tarleton State 72
Boise State 80 Air Force 69
Western Kentucky 66 Louisiana Tech 64
North Dakota State 71 Omaha 69
North Dakota 72 Oral Roberts 71
South Dakota State 83 Western Illinois 77
Fresno State 79 San Jose State 64
Dayton 89 Davidson 78 OT
Utah State 82 New Mexico 46
UTEP 101 Rice 89
Cal Bakersfield 62 Cal Poly 49
WOMEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL
#1 Stanford 70 #11 Oregon 63
Wright State 64 Cleveland State 54
Green Bay 64 Detroit, 49
Rice 74 UTEP 68
St. Francis PA 65 LaSalle 36
South Dakota 92 Missouri Kansas City 34
Fordham 64 Rhode Island 58
St. Francis PA 66 Long Island 62
Mount St. Mary’s 65 St. Francis NY 59
Sacred Heart 58 Wagner 50
Oakland 71 Youngstown State 61
Boise State 71 Air Force 49
Massachusetts 82 Davidson 61
South Alabama 68, Coastal Carolina 58
Old Dominion 71 Florida Atlantic 56
Virginia Commonwealth 68 Duquesne 63 OT
Richmond 59 St. Bonaventure 58
Dayton 59 George Mason 37
North Dakota State 62 Omaha 53
Oral Roberts 84 North Dakota 71
South Dakota State 71 Western Illinois 61
Charlotte 75 Marshall 54
Georgia Southern 87 Appalachian State 56
Long Beach State 69 Cal State Fullerton 50
Illinois state 62 Indiana State 32
Middle Tennessee 69 Florida International 65
Alabama Birmingham 85 Southern Miss 63
Milwaukee 62 Fort Wayne 42
Texas Arlington 82 Louisiana Monroe 37
Arkansas State 54 Texas State 53
Bradley 77 Southern Illinois 55
Northern Iowa 79 Valparaiso 71
Drake 76 Evansville 43
Seattle 80 St. Martins 69
North Texas 85 Texas San Antonio 78
Idaho 69 Southern Utah 64
Western Kentucky 61 Louisiana Tech 55
USC 60 Utah 59
TOMMY LASORDA PASSES AT 93
Tommy Lasorda, the fiery Hall of Fame manager who guided the Los Angeles Dodgers to two World Series titles and later became an ambassador for the sport he loved during his 71 years with the franchise, has died. He was 93.
The Dodgers said Friday that he had a heart attack at his home in Fullerton, California. Resuscitation attempts were made on the way to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly before 11 p.m. Thursday.
Lasorda had a history of heart problems, including a heart attack in 1996 that ended his managerial career and another in 2012 that required him to have a pacemaker.
He had just returned home Tuesday after being hospitalized since Nov. 8 with heart issues.
Lasorda attended the Dodgers’ Game 6 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Oct. 27 in Texas that clinched the team’s first World Series title since 1988.
“It feels appropriate that in his final months, he saw his beloved Dodgers win the World Series for the first time since his 1988 team,” commissioner Rob Manfred said.
Lasorda had served as special adviser to team owner and chairman Mark Walter for the last 14 years, and maintained a frequent presence at games sitting in Walter’s box.
“He was a great ambassador for the team and baseball, a mentor to players and coaches, he always had time for an autograph and a story for his many fans and he was a good friend,” Walter said. “He will be dearly missed.”
Lasorda worked as a player, scout, manager and front office executive with the Dodgers dating to their roots in Brooklyn.
He compiled a 1,599-1,439 record, won World Series titles in 1981 and ’88, four National League pennants and eight division titles while serving as Dodgers manager from 1977-96.
He was elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame in 1997 as a manager. He guided the U.S. to a baseball gold medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
Lasorda was the franchise’s longest-tenured active employee since Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully retired in 2016 after 67 years. He drew standing ovations when introduced at games in recent years.
“There are two things about Tommy I will always remember,” Scully said. “The first is his boundless enthusiasm. Tommy would get up in the morning full of beans and maintain that as long as he was with anybody else. The other was his determination. He was a fellow with limited ability and he pushed himself to be a very good Triple-A pitcher. He never quite had that something extra that makes a major leaguer, but it wasn’t because he didn’t try.”
Lasorda often proclaimed, “I bleed Dodger blue” and he kept a bronze plaque on his desk reading: “Dodger Stadium was his address, but every ballpark was his home.?
As a pitcher, Lasorda had a modest career at the major league level, going 0-4 with a 6.48 ERA and 13 strikeouts from 1954-56.
Born Thomas Charles Lasorda on Sept. 22, 1927, in Norristown, Pennsylvania, his pro career began when he signed with the Philadelphia Phillies as an undrafted free agent in 1945. He missed the 1946 and ’47 seasons while serving in the Army.
Lasorda returned in 1948 and once struck out 25 in a 15-inning game. In his next two starts, he struck out 15 and 13, gaining the attention of the Dodgers, who drafted him from the Phillies. He played in Panama and Cuba before making his major league debut on Aug. 5, 1954, for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Although he didn’t play in the 1955 World Series, he won a ring as a member of the team.
Lasorda pitched for the Dodgers for two seasons before the Kansas City Athletics bought his contract. He was traded to the Yankees in 1956 and sent down to the Triple-A Denver Bears before being sold back to the Dodgers in 1957. During his time with the Bears, Lasorda was influenced by manager Ralph Houk, who became his role model.
“Ralph taught me if that if you treat players like human beings, they will play like Superman,? Lasorda said in his 2009 biography “I Live For This: Baseball’s Last True Believer.?
“He taught me how a pat on a shoulder can be just as important as a kick in the butt.?
Lasorda stayed on with the Dodgers as a scout after they released him in 1960. That was the beginning of a steady climb through the Dodgers’ system that culminated in his 1973 promotion to the big-league staff under longtime Hall of Fame manager Walter Alston.
Lasorda spent four seasons as third base coach while considered to be the heir apparent to Alston, who retired in September 1976.
Lasorda took over and his gregarious personality was in stark contrast to his restrained predecessor. Lasorda was known for his enthusiasm and outspoken opinions about players. He would jump around and pump his arms in the air after Dodgers victories and embrace players in the dugout after home runs or other good plays.
In L.A., Lasorda found many of the players he had managed in the minors, including Steve Garvey, Ron Cey, Davey Lopes, Bill Russell, Bobby Valentine and Bill Buckner.
As beloved as Lasorda was publicly, behind the scenes he was known for cussing a blue streak with reporters, rendering many of his quotes unusable.
Some of his most memorable rants live on via the internet, notably one from July 1982 involving Kurt Bevacqua of the San Diego Padres, who called Lasorda “that fat little Italian? after Dodgers pitcher Tom Niedenfuer was fined $500 for beaning Joe Lefebvre, Bevacqua’s teammate.
Lasorda denied ordering Niedenfuer to hit Lefebvre while unleashing a series of F-bombs.
“If I ever did,? Lasorda said, his voice rising, “I certainly wouldn’t make him throw at a (expletive) .130 hitter like Lefebvre or (expletive) Bevacqua who couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a (expletive) boat.?
In 1978, Dave Kingman of the Chicago Cubs hit three homers and drove in eight runs in a 10-7, extra-inning victory over the Dodgers and a reporter asked Lasorda what he thought of Kingman’s performance.
“I think it was (expletive) (expletive). Put that in,? Lasorda said. “He beat us with three (expletive) home runs. How could you ask me a question like that?”
Lasorda was known for his friendship with Frank Sinatra and other Hollywood stars. Sinatra sang the national anthem on opening day of the 1977 season to mark Lasorda’s debut as manager. The faux-wood paneled walls of Lasorda’s office were crowded with black-and-white autographed photos of his celebrity friends, the framed glass stained by red sauce from the pasta served in large foil trays after games.
Lasorda’s appetite for winning and eating was equally voracious. His weight ballooned throughout his years as manager, and he explained, “When we won games, I’d eat to celebrate. And when we lost games, I’d eat to forget.?
He parlayed his struggles into a role as pitchman for a popular weight loss product.
Lasorda managed nine National League Rookie of the Year winners, including Fernando Valenzuela, Steve Sax, Steve Howe, Mike Piazza, Eric Karros and Hideo Nomo.
“You have to know who to pat on the back, when to pat him on the back, when you have to kick them in the butt and when you have to stroke them a little bit,” said Mike Scioscia, former Dodgers catcher and major league manager. “And Tommy had that gift, to know what players needed what.”
Lasorda managed in four All-Star games. He was serving as third base coach in the 2001 game when he tumbled backward while trying to avoid the shattered barrel of Vladimir Guerrero’s bat in a comical scene.
In 1998, Lasorda became interim general manager after Fred Claire was fired in the middle of the season. He resigned from that job after the season and was appointed senior vice president. After the team was sold in 2004 to Frank McCourt, Lasorda became special adviser to the chairman.
Lasorda had a heart attack during a 2012 trip to New York to represent the Dodgers at the major league draft. He had a pacemaker implanted and it was replaced five years later.
He is survived by Jo, his wife of 70 years. The couple lived in the same modest home in Fullerton for 68 years. They have a daughter Laura and a granddaughter Emily. The couple’s son, Tom Jr., died in 1991 of AIDS-related complications.
DODGERS RE-SIGN TREINEN TO NEW DEAL
The Los Angeles Dodgers re-signed pitcher Blake Treinen to a two-year, $17.5 million deal.
The team says the deal that runs through the 2022 season includes a team option for the 2023 season.
Treinen receives a $4 million signing bonus, of which $1 million is payable this Jan. 31 and $3 million on Dec. 15, 2022. He will earn $6 million in both 2021 and 2022. The team option in 2023 is worth $8 million and includes a $1.5 million buyout, meaning the deal could be worth $24 million over three years.
The 32-year-old right-hander earned $3,703,704 during the abbreviated 60-game season last year prorated from a $10 million, one-year contract.
Treinen was 3-3 with a 3.86 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 27 games last year. He tied for the team lead in wins and appearances during the regular season. He appeared in a team-high 11 postseason games, going 1-1 with a 4.76 ERA, including a save in Game 5 of the World Series against Tampa Bay. He had five strikeouts in 2 2/3 innings while helping the Dodgers win their first championship since 1988.
A 2018 All-Star, Treinen had previous stints with Oakland and Washington.
FORMER REDS CATCHER SIGNS WITH GIANTS
Catcher Curt Casali agreed to a one-year, $1.5 million contract with the San Francisco Giants a month after he was cut by the Cincinnati Reds.
The 32-year-old Casali hit .224 with six homers and eight RBIs in 31 games and 93 plate appearances last year, when he earned $541,667 in prorated pay from a $1,462,500 salary. Reds pitchers were 14-11 with a 3.68 ERA in his starts.
Casali has a .230 average, 37 homers and 105 RBIs in seven major league seasons with Tampa Bay (2014-17) and Cincinnati (2018-20).
San Francisco opened a roster spot by unconditionally releasing left-hander Andrew Suarez, whose rights were sold to South Korea’s LG Twins.
Casali can earn $500,000 in roster bonuses, either $500,000 for making the opening day active roster or $125,000 apiece for 30, 60, 90 and 120 days on the active roster.
SPRING TRAINING COULD BE DELAYED FOR DOUBLE-A AND CLASS A
Spring training could be delayed for Double-A and Class A players if major leaguers are not vaccinated for the novel coronavirus by the time big league practice is scheduled to start in mid-February.
Major League Baseball, which has taken over operation of the minors, gave notice to minor league teams and big league clubs on Monday.
“We are still evaluating many issues that affect both the major league and minor league schedules, including, most importantly, when it is likely that players and staff will be vaccinated,” Peter Woodfork, MLB’s senior vice president of minor league operations and development, wrote in a letter to big league clubs that was obtained by The Associated Press.
The letter was first reported by Baseball America.
“Assuming that a vaccine is not available to players and staff at the beginning of major league spring training, there is a strong possibility that minor league spring training will be delayed for players who otherwise would be assigned to Double-A, High-A, and Low-A because clubs have informed us that there is not sufficient space at spring training facilities for all of the players in an environment requiring strict physical distancing,” Woodwork wrote.
He said under that scenario, those minor leaguers would report to spring training after big leaguers and Triple-A players leave for opening day “unless it is necessary to utilize the alternate site arrangement at the beginning of the season” as MLB did for health reasons last year.
Woodfork wrote that MLB “will let minor league clubs know as soon as possible of any modifications to their facilities that are required in 2021 in the event we need to play prior to the vaccination of players. They in turn will let us know whether they desire to operate in the event that government restrictions prevent them from having fans, or significantly restrict the number of fans allowed in their ballparks.”
Woodfork said MLB will attempt to schedule as many minor league games as possible subject to health conditions.
“We do believe that by the second half of the 2021 season, the operation of the minor leagues should be much closer to normal than in the early part of the season,” he wrote. “While the current uncertainty about the vaccination timeline for our players and staff, and the state of COVID-19 in our country in the spring and early summer, makes it difficult to create a schedule at this time, we intend to begin the process and make adjustments as things become clearer.”
Schedules and league alignments are subject to COVID-19 conditions and clubs signing MLB’s license agreements for the minors.
PURDUE MENS BASKETBALL
EAST LANSING, Mich. – Trevion Williams made a short jumper with 4.5 seconds left and scored 22 of his 26 points after halftime, rallying Purdue past No. 23 Michigan State 55-54 on Friday night after trailing by 17.
Aaron Henry, who scored 13 points, missed a runner from the left side of the lane just before the buzzer to seal the collapse for the Spartans.
Williams made 9 of 14 shots and 8 of 12 free throws to spur the Boilermakers (8-5, 3-3 Big Ten).
The Spartans (8-4, 2-4) missed 11 of their last 13 shots and connected on just 39% of their shots overall.
And, they simply couldn’t stop Williams in the second half.
The 6-foot-10, 265-pound forward did not connect on his last attempt at the line with a chance to pull Purdue into a 54-all tie with 9.8 seconds left, and later said it was a fortunate miss.
The Spartans and Boilermakers both got to the loose ball after the missed free throw, and the visitors had the alternate possession arrow pointing in their direction. Williams caught a lob pass on an inbounds play and took full advantage with a short, floating, go-ahead jumper.
Early in the game, the Boilermakers looked rusty playing for the first time in nearly a week. Their game on Tuesday against Nebraska was postponed.
The Spartans went on a 13-0 run in the first half and were ahead 31-16 at halftime.
Michigan State’s Joshua Langford scored seven of his 10 points in the first half.
Purdue: The comeback in the second half can help the team gain confidence in the future, knowing it can rally from a big deficit against a ranked team on the road — and win.
Michigan State: The offensive woes include turning the ball over and shooting the ball poorly, a combination that is holding the team back.
Purdue 55,  Michigan State 54 (Postgame Notes)
- Purdue improved to 8-5 overall and 3-3 in the Big Ten with a 55-54 win over No. 23-ranked Michigan State at the Breslin Center.
- The win was Purdue’s third straight over Michigan State and first in the Breslin Center since the 2016-17 season. It’s the first time since March 1993 to Feb. 1997 (7 straight wins) that Purdue has won three straight games against the Spartans.
- Purdue has won five of the last seven meetings with Michigan State.
- In the last two meetings against Purdue, Michigan State is averaging 48.0 points per game.
- Purdue’s 15-point second-half rally (trailed 31-16 with 20:00 left in the second half) was its largest second-half rally against a Big Ten team since Feb. 23, 1987, against No. 14-ranked Illinois (trailed 46-30 with 11:57 left – won 76-75 in overtime).
- The win marks the first win in East Lansing as an unranked Purdue team against a ranked Michigan State team ever.
- The win was Purdue’s 21stwin over a ranked team since the start of the 2016-17 season, good for ninth nationally.
- Purdue is now 157-7 under Matt Painter when holding opponents to 59 or fewer points.
- Matt Painter coached his 524thgame at Purdue, moving past Ward “Piggy” Lambert into second place on Purdue’s all-time games coached list at Purdue.
- Trevion Williams scored 26 points with nine points, including the game-winning basket with five seconds left. He scored 24 of his 26 points in the second half, outscoring Michigan State (23 points) in the final 20 minutes.
- In four games against Michigan State, Trevion Williams is averaging 14.8 PPG and 8.5 RPG while shooting 23-of-44 from the field.
MICHIGAN SIGNS HARBAUGH TO FIVE YEAR DEAL
Michigan has decided to stick with coach Jim Harbaugh, finalizing a new, five-year deal that cuts his guaranteed compensation but gives him an opportunity to make up for the financial loss if he can start winning championships.
The school will pay him $4 million in 2021 with a chance to make nearly $8 million in the fifth year of his contract, according to the memorandum of understanding signed by Harbaugh and athletic director Warde Manuel on Friday.
Harbaugh can make $1 million for winning the Big Ten title and another $1 million for winning the national championship along with other bonuses he will earn if he can improve the team’s success on the field.
“My thanks to athletic director Warde Manuel for the trust that he has shown in allowing me to continue to coach the University of Michigan football team, and to President Mark Schlissel and the Board of Regents for their ongoing support,” Harbaugh said.
The deal ends months of speculation about Harbaugh’s future. He could have potentially returned to the NFL or the school could have cut loose a coach with one year left on the seven-year contract paying him about $7 million per season that he signed after leaving the NFL.
“I continue to believe that Jim is the right man to lead our program in pursuit of Big Ten and CFP championships,” Manuel said. “Our program didn’t achieve at a level that anyone expected this year but I know those setbacks will drive the coaches, players and staff moving forward. Jim is a tireless worker and competitor. Following the completion of the season we talked for many hours on what it will take for Jim to lead and get us back on the right trajectory.”
Harbaugh is now under contract at Michigan through the 2025 season with his new deal, which includes relatively affordable buyouts for both sides if they decide to part ways.
Michigan can buy out Harbaugh’s contract for $4 million if it decides to fire him without cause after the 2021 season and the amount is reduced by $1 million in each of the following three years. Harbaugh, meanwhile, would owe the university $2 million if he leaves after the 2021 season, a figure that is reduced by $500,000 in each of the following three years.
Harbaugh has won nearly 70% of his games, but is winless against archrival Ohio State and as an underdog against any opponent. Michigan has not won the Big Ten since 2004, seven seasons after its last national championship.
The Wolverines were 2-4 in Harbaugh’s sixth season, which ended with three straight games being canceled due to a COVID-19 outbreak within the program. They were 0-3 at the Big House, too, including listless losses to rebuilding rival Michigan State and previously wineless Penn State.
“There is work to be done and challenges to be addressed,” Harbaugh said. “These challenges are being addressed as we continue to strive for excellence in the classroom and championships on the field, a message that I hope is noted in the language of our agreed-upon contract.”
Harbaugh’s hiring was hailed in late 2014 and some suggested the former Wolverines quarterback was going to be a savior for college football’s winningest program.
It hasn’t worked out that way so far.
NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME ON AS SCHEDULED
The national championship game between Alabama and Ohio State is expected to be played as scheduled Monday despite earlier COVID-19 concerns surrounding the Buckeyes.
“As I have said all week, the game is on. Alabama’s team will be traveling to Miami tonight, Ohio State will be arriving (Saturday),” College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock said Friday, according to Brett McMurphy of Stadium. “We look forward to a great night of college football.”
Alabama head coach Nick Saban confirmed reports Thursday that there had been discussions about postponing the title matchup due to potential player availability issues for Ohio State.
There were concerns about the availability of players within a specific Buckeyes position group following positive COVID-19 tests and contact tracing, sources told John Talty of AL.com.
“We’ll have plenty of players,” Ohio State head coach Ryan Day said Wednesday, though he didn’t provide a specific number.
The Crimson Tide took down Notre Dame to reach the national title game, while the Buckeyes beat Clemson.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL AWARDS
Davey O’Brien Award (Best quarterback)
Mac Jones, Alabama
Jones took over Alabama’s permanent starting role following Tua Tagovailoa’s departure to the NFL and didn’t miss a beat. The Florida native led the country with a mind-blowing 203 QB rating and trailed only Kyle Trask in both passing touchdowns and yards on the campaign – despite throwing 80 fewer passes. Perhaps the most impressive stat on Jones this season is his completion percentage. The junior is somehow completing 77% of his passes despite leading the nation in yards per throw.
Trevor Lawrence, Clemson
Kyle Trask, Florida
Outland Trophy (Best interior lineman)
Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama
Leatherwood became the sixth Crimson Tide player to take home the Outland Trophy. He gave up just two sacks and three QB hurries this season. The left tackle anchors the nation’s second-best scoring offense and fifth-best pass offense. A first-team All-SEC member, Leatherwood split the conference’s Jacobs Blocking Trophy with teammate Landon Dickerson.
Liam Eichenberg, OT, Notre Dame
Daviyon Nixon, DT, Iowa
Doak Walker Award (Best running back)
Najee Harris, Alabama
Despite playing on a team with one of the best passing attacks in the country, Harris was still able to put up some gaudy stats en route to the Doak Walker Award. The Alabama star led the country in rushing touchdowns with 24 and finished third in rushing yards despite recording 50 fewer carries than leader Breece Hall. Harris saved his best for the stretch run heading into the national title game, as the senior has a whopping 596 total yards and 10 touchdowns in his last four contests.
Travis Etienne, Clemson
Breece Hall, Iowa State
Thorpe Award (Best defensive back)
Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU
Moehrig was a first-team All-Big 12 for a second straight season. The junior has taken part in nine takeaways over the last two campaigns, tied for second in the FBS. Moehrig’s 11 passes were second-most in the Big 12 this past season. He finished third on the Horned Frogs with 47 tackles and two tackles for loss.
Richie Grant, S, UCF
Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
Groza Award (Best kicker)
Jose Borregales, Miami
Borregales transferred across town from FIU to Miami for his senior season and was a revelation for the Hurricanes. He finished second in the country with 20 field goals this season, including a 57-yarder versus Louisville. Borregales was also perfect on extra points throughout the campaign and finished with 97 total points.
Jake Oldroyd, BYU
Will Reichard, Alabama
Bednarik Award (Best defensive player)
Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa
Collins’ incredible stats from the 2020 season were too good to pass up for the Bednarik Award. The Tulsa star posted 53 tackles, 11.5 for loss, four interceptions with two going for touchdowns, four sacks, and one forced fumble. He adds the prestigious award to a growing trophy case that includes his unanimous selection as American Athletic Conference’s defensive player of the year. Collins becomes the first player from Tulsa to be named the nation’s top defender.
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame
Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
Ray Guy Award (Best punter)
Pressley Harvin Jr., Georgia Tech
Harvin led the country in yards per punt with an average of 48 yards. The senior from Alcolu, South Carolina, helped the Yellow Jackets rank second nationally in net punting average at 44.6 yards. He broke the ACC’s single-season punt average record of 47.8 yards held by North Carolina’s Brian Schmitz. Harvin became the first African American to win the Ray Guy Award.
Jake Camarada, Georgia
Lou Hedley, Miami
Biletnikoff Award (Best receiver)
DeVonta Smith, Alabama
Considering he’s already been honored as the best player in the country, it’s no surprise that Smith also took home the Biletnikoff Award as the best receiver in college football. The standout senior joins Jerry Jeudy and Amari Cooper among Alabama players to win the award and is the third straight SEC receiver to take the honor. Smith’s 43 career receiving touchdowns are the most in conference history by a massive margin of 12, and he sits just nine yards short of Jordan Matthews’ SEC record for career receiving yards.
Kyle Pitts, Florida
Elijah Moore, Ole Miss
Maxwell Award (Player of the year)
DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
Smith adds the Maxwell Award to the Heisman he captured earlier in the week following a brilliant senior season with Alabama. He’s the first receiver to claim the honor since Michigan’s Desmond Howard in 1991 and the second straight Heisman winner to also take home the Maxwell Award. Smith led the nation with 105 receptions, 1,641 receiving yards, and 20 receiving touchdowns, finishing well above his contemporaries in every category. He will look to culminate his incredible collegiate career with a second national championship on Monday versus Ohio State. Smith also took home the Walter Camp Player of the Year honor, becoming the third Alabama player and sixth wide receiver to win the award.
Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
DALLAS FIRES DC AFTER 1 SEASON
The Dallas Cowboys fired defensive coordinator Mike Nolan on Friday after their defense allowed a franchise record in points and finished 31st in the NFL against the run in his only season.
Coach Mike McCarthy hired Nolan from New Orleans, where he was coaching linebackers, when McCarthy replaced Jason Garrett a year ago. They worked together for a season in San Francisco in 2005, when Nolan was coach and McCarthy was his offensive coordinator and the 49ers finished 4-12.
Dallas also fired defensive line coach Jim Tomsula, another former San Francisco coach.
“I am appreciative of my relationships with both Mike and Jim,” McCarthy said. “These are never easy decisions to make.”
The Cowboys tried to implement a new scheme despite having no in-person time with players during the offseason because of the coronavirus pandemic. The start of the season reflected the limited training, with Dallas allowing at least 34 points in five consecutive games following a 20-17 loss to the Los Angeles Rams in the opener.
Dallas won twice despite the failures of the defense during that five-game stretch, beating Atlanta 40-39 and the New York Giants 37-34. Both games ended with field goals on the final play.
The Cowboys, who finished 6-10, gave up 473 points (29.6 per game), topping the previous club worst of 436 from 2020. The per-game average fell a little more than point shy of the franchise record of 30.8 from the inaugural season of 1960, when Dallas finished 0-11-1.
Dallas bottomed out at 3-9 with a 34-17 loss to Baltimore that almost became the second 300-yard rushing game against the Cowboys this season. The Cowboys gave up a franchise-record 307 yards on the ground in a 49-38 loss to Cleveland in Week 4.
SAINTS RULE OUT HENDRICKSON AND EASTON AGAINST BEARS
The New Orleans Saints have ruled out sack leader Trey Hendrickson and offensive guard Nick Easton for Sunday’s playoff game against Chicago.
Hendrickson had career-high 13 + sacks this season, which tied for second in the NFL. But he missed practice late this week because of a nagging neck injury that also sidelined him from New Orleans’ penultimate regular season game.
The Saints have depth at defensive end with Cam Jordan and Marcus Davenport, along with second-year reserve Carl Granderson, whose five sacks ranked fourth on the team.
Easton has concussion symptoms. He has started nine games this season. First-round draft choice Cesar Ruiz is likely to start in his place at right guard.
NFL ALL-PRO SQUADS ANNOUNCED
Dynamic defensive star Aaron Donald and unstoppable tight end Travis Kelce are unanimous choices Friday for The Associated Press NFL All-Pro Team.
Donald and Kelce swept the votes from a nationwide panel of 50 media members who regularly cover the league. It is the sixth All-Pro selection for Donald, who has helped the Los Angeles Rams to the top-ranked defense in the NFL, and the third for Kansas City’s record-setting Kelce.
“I think the best display of greatness is making people around you better,” Rams coach Sean McVay says of Donald. “And that’s exactly what he does, by the way he influences them every single week.”
Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes lauded Kelce for the way he approaches his job.
“He works his tail off every single day and he’s practicing every single day and he’s making sure he’s prepared for these moments,” Mahomes says. “For a guy to have that much talent, work that hard and be able to learn really every single day like that, that’s what makes him so special on the field.”
Joining Donald and Kelce are 15 players returning to the squad, and 14 newcomers. Seattle linebacker Bobby Wagner also makes his sixth squad.
“The marvelous durability that he’s demonstrated for middle linebacker after all these years is just off the charts,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll says.
Aaron Rodgers, who guided Green Bay (13-3) to the top seed in the NFC, makes his third team, as does Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill. Selected for the first time in the offensive skill positions are 2,000-yard rusher Derrick Henry of Tennessee, Buffalo wideout Stefon Diggs, who led the NFL in catches and yards receiving, and Rodgers’ favorite target, Davante Adams.
“For me, honestly, I think it’s just been finding different small things that I can get better at, obviously,” Adams says. “I feel like I’m a pretty complete receiver. … It’s just fine-tuning the things I do well and just figuring out a way to do them even better.”
Diggs was traded by Minnesota to Buffalo in the offseason and then made a huge impact as the Bills won their first AFC East in 25 years.
“For me, it was just in whatever situation I was going to be put in or chosen in,” says Diggs, “I was just going to embrace. The first thing i always try to do is get the respect of my teammates and my coaches. and that’s by working your (butt) off, keep grinding and putting that work in and letting the chips fall where they lay.”
The Packers and Colts both have four All-Pros. Green Bay left tackle David Bakhtiari makes his second appearance, and center Corey Linsley his first. Indianapolis has interior lineman DeForest Buckner and linebacker Darius Leonard on the defense, left guard Quenton Nelson on offense, and George Odum as the special teamer. Nelson is a three-time All-Pro, Leonard a double selection, while Buckner and Odum make it for the first time.
Rounding out the offense are Cleveland right tackle Jack Conklin (second selection), and Washington right guard Brandon Scherff (first).
Also on defense are edge rushers T.J. Watt, the NFL’s sacks leader for Pittsburgh who is on his second All-Pro Team, and newcomer Myles Garrett of Cleveland; San Francisco linebacker Fred Warner (first selection); cornerbacks Xavien Howard (first) of Miami, the league’s interception leader, and Jalen Ramsey (second) of the Rams; and safeties Tyrann Mathieu (third) of Kansas City, Minkah Fitzpatrick of Pittsburgh and Budda Baker of Arizona, both for the second time. There was a tie between Fitzpatrick and Baker for the second safety spot.
The long snapper position is new to the All-Pro Team in 2020, and Baltimore’s Morgan Cox is the choice. Chicago kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson makes it for the fourth time. The rest of the special teams positions are newcomers: Miami kicker Jason Sanders, New England punter Jake Bailey and punt returner Gunner Olszewski.
Repeaters from 2019 are Donald, Wagner, Nelson, Watt, Fitzpatrick, Mathieu and Patterson.
In all, 18 players represent the AFC, which is considered the stronger conference this season, and 11 for the NFC. Exactly half of the 32 clubs have a 2020 All-Pro.
TEXANS OWNER DOWNPLAYS ISSUES WITH WATSON
Houston Texans owner Cal McNair insisted Friday that the organization is “totally aligned” with Deshaun Watson and J.J. Watt despite the two stars’ apparent frustrations.
“In regards to 4 and 99, they’re valued members on our team,” McNair said while introducing new general manager Nick Caserio. “They’re important to the team and the city, they’re passionate, and they want to win. And those are all totally in alignment with where we’re going and what we’ve done here in bringing Nick aboard, so it’s perfect, we’re totally aligned.”
Watson was reportedly bothered by the hiring process for Houston’s new GM. He was apparently supposed to participate in the process but was excluded. The Texans poached Caserio from the New England Patriots after the search firm they hired recommended five other candidates.
When reports broke Monday evening that the Texans were hiring Caserio, Watson tweeted, “Some things never change….” before eventually deleting the post.
“I’ve come to understand that it’s been reported that Deshaun feels left out of the process, but he and I had several visits, and I understood his point of view before meeting with candidates,” McNair said. “I’ve reached out to Deshaun about Nick’s hire, and I look forward to him getting back to me when he returns from his vacation.”
Watt, meanwhile, appeared frustrated at multiple points throughout the season. The 31-year-old reportedly confronted former head coach and GM Bill O’Brien early in the campaign before Houston fired O’Brien, and he criticized the efforts of some Texans players later in the year.
Watt apologized to Watson while walking off the field in Week 17, saying the team wasted one of the 25-year-old passer’s prime seasons.
Neither Caserio nor McNair offered any hint that the Texans would consider trading Watson, who signed a four-year, $160-million extension in September and is coming off his best NFL campaign.
“The respect and admiration I have for him is significant,” Caserio said. “He’s our quarterback.”
Typically upbeat, Watson said after the Texans’ 4-12 finish to the season that Houston had “too many different minds, too many different ideas, and too many people thinking they have this power, and it’s not like that.”
One of those minds belongs to Jack Easterby, who served as interim GM after the Texans dismissed O’Brien. Easterby is poised to remain with the team despite reports he’s been involved in decisions that have created dissent within the organization.
“Jack’s very gifted in a lot of different areas,” said McNair, adding that Easterby won’t be involved in the team’s future activities in free agency or the NFL draft.
The Texans’ next major project is hiring a new head coach. Houston is the only team with a vacancy that hasn’t requested permission to speak with Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, one of the hottest coaching candidates across the NFL.
CLEVELAND FINALLY PRACTICES
They won’t have their coach. They’ve barely practiced, and when they make their first playoff appearance in nearly 20 years – at Pittsburgh, where they’ve lost 17 straight games – on Sunday, the Cleveland Browns will have backups at key positions.
COVID-19 has tackled them hard.
Everything seems stacked against the Browns, who will be underdogs against the Steelers.
What else is new?
“We’ve been in that role all year,” defensive end Myles Garrett said after the team finally practiced Friday. “We’ve in that role since I’ve been here. So, nothing has changed. Our backs are against the wall and we’re going to fight out of it – fight off of it.”
Stuck in their homes due to COVID-19 protocols the past two days, the Browns practiced after the NFL finished contact tracing that began earlier in the week when coach Kevin Stefanski tested positive along with Pro Bowl guard Joel Bitonio and three others.
While Stefanksi remained in his basement, his team resumed normal activities – by 2021 standards – at its training facility. The Browns had a 90-minute indoor workout during which they finally got to see the game plan come to life.
“It was good. We needed at least a day under our belts to get everything refined and make sure we look sharp,” Garrett said. “Essential to be out there every time. You have to be able to see how the looks are, how everything times up and see if it is as effective as you think it is on paper.”
Garrett was listed on Cleveland’s injury report as questionable with a shoulder issue, but Stefanski is confident the newly named first-time All-Pro will play Sunday.
It’s still not clear if the Browns will have All-Pro right tackle Jack Conklin, who didn’t practice due to an illness. Already missing Bitonio, Cleveland can’t afford to be without Conklin against T.J. Watt, Cam Heyward and the rest of Pittsburgh’s front.
Stefanski, who can’t be on the sideline Sunday, wouldn’t say whether Conklin is experiencing COVID-like symptoms.
“We’ll just follow the protocols,” Stefanski said. “In this day and age, you have an illness and you’ve got to be safe with that. But we’ll just make sure we follow the protocols.”
League guidelines stipulate that if someone has symptoms consistent with COVID-19, that person must isolate. As long as Conklin continues to test negative over the next two days, he’ll be eligible to play against Pittsburgh’s rugged defensive line.
Cleveland’s roster remains in flux.
2020 NFL RECORDS & MILESTONES
The highest scoring season in league history, terrific turnarounds, consistent teams excelling again, records falling and young players making their mark. The 2020 season had it all.
Competitiveness was a constant theme throughout the regular season as 70 percent of games (179 of 256) were within one score (eight points) in the fourth quarter, the second-most such games in a single season in NFL history. Additionally, 43 games were won by a team that trailed by at least 10 points, tied for the most in a single season in NFL history.
Week 17 came down to the wire, as seven playoff spots and two divisions titles – the AFC South and NFC East – were decided on the final day of the season. Sunday’s excitement was due in part to having 16 divisional games played on the season’s final day, a tradition instituted in 2010.
Seven of the 14 playoff teams are new to the postseason in 2019: CHICAGO, CLEVELAND, INDIANAPOLIS, LOS ANGELES RAMS, PITTSBURGH, TAMPA BAY and WASHINGTON. Since 1990 – a streak of 31 consecutive seasons – at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs in every season that were not in the postseason the year before.
Both the Pittsburgh Steelers (AFC North) and Washington Football Team (NFC East) won their division after missing the postseason in 2019 and at least two teams have won their divisions the season after missing the playoffs in 17 of the past 18 years.
Washington completed the “worst-to-first” turnaround, winning the NFC East the season after finishing in last place in the division. At least one team has won its division the season after finishing in or tied for last place in 16 of the past 18 seasons.
Teams to win their divisions a season after missing the playoffs since 2003:
|SEASON||DIVISION WINNERS THAT MISSED THE PLAYOFFS THE PREVIOUS SEASON|
|2019||Green Bay, San Francisco|
|2018||Baltimore, Chicago*, Dallas, Houston*|
|2017||Jacksonville*, L.A. Rams, New Orleans, Minnesota, Philadelphia*|
|2015||Houston, Minnesota, Washington*|
|2011||Denver*, Houston*, New York Giants, San Francisco|
|2010||Atlanta, Chicago, Kansas City*, Pittsburgh, Seattle|
|2009||Cincinnati, Dallas, New England, New Orleans*|
|2008||Arizona, Carolina, Miami*, Minnesota|
|2007||Green Bay, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay*|
|2006||Baltimore*, New Orleans*, Philadelphia*, San Diego Chargers|
|2005||Chicago*, Cincinnati, New York Giants, Tampa Bay*|
|2004||Atlanta*, Pittsburgh, San Diego Chargers*|
|2003||Baltimore, Carolina*, Kansas City*, New England, St. Louis Rams|
|*Worst to first|
OFFENSIVE TRENDS: The 2020 season was the most prolific offensive season in league history.
Teams combined to score 12,692 total points and 1,473 total touchdowns, both the most in a single season in NFL history. There was an average of 49.6 points scored per game (both teams combined), the most in a single season since 1970.
|MOST TOTAL POINTS, NFL HISTORY||MOST TOUCHDOWNS, NFL HISTORY||MOST POINTS SCORED PER GAME, SINCE 1970|
|SEASON||TOTAL POINTS||SEASON||TOUCHDOWNS||SEASON||POINTS PER GAME|
Five teams averaged at least 30 points per game in 2020 – GREEN BAY (31.8), BUFFALO (31.3), TAMPA BAY (30.8), TENNESSEE (30.7) and NEW ORLEANS (30.1) – the most such teams in a single season in NFL history.
PROLIFIC PASSERS: In 2020, league-wide passing numbers trended at a historic pace, as the marks for passer rating (93.6), touchdown passes (871), completion percentage (65.2 percent) and completions (11,756) all ranked as the most in a single season in NFL history.
Twelve quarterbacks passed for at least 4,000 yards in 2020, including five with at least 4,500 passing yards: Houston’s DESHAUN WATSON (4,823), Kansas City’s PATRICK MAHOMES (4,740), Tampa Bay’s TOM BRADY (4,633), Atlanta’s MATT RYAN (4,581) and Buffalo’s JOSH ALLEN (4,544).
Ten quarterbacks threw at least 30 touchdown passes this season, including six with at least 35 touchdown passes: Green Bay’s AARON RODGERS (48, tied-fifth most in single season in NFL history), Brady (40), Seattle’s RUSSELL WILSON (40), Mahomes (38), Allen (37) and Minnesota’s KIRK COUSINS (35).
With Rodgers, Brady and Wilson each throwing at least 40 touchdown passes, 2020 marked the second season in NFL history in which three quarterbacks each threw at least 40 touchdown passes in the same season [2011: DREW BREES (46); AARON RODGERS (45); MATTHEW STAFFORD (41)].
With Mahomes (age 25), Allen (age 24), Watson (33 touchdown passes, age 25) and Los Angeles Chargers rookie quarterback JUSTIN HERBERT (31 touchdown passes, age 22), 2020 is the first season in league history in which four quarterbacks under the age of 26 each threw at least 30 touchdown passes in the same season.
Ten qualified quarterbacks had a passer rating of 100 or higher in 2020, including two with a passer rating of at least 110: Rodgers (121.5 – the second-highest single-season mark in NFL history) and Watson (112.4). The 10 qualfied quarterbacks with a passer rating of 100-or-higher are the most in a single season in NFL history.
The seasons with the most quarterbacks having a passer rating of 100-or-higher in NFL history:
|SEASON||QUARTERBACKS WITH 100+ PASSER RATING|
ALL-PURPOSE BACKS: Nine players rushed for at least 1,000 yards, including four players with at least 1,100 rushing yards, this season: Tennessee’s DERRICK HENRY (2,027, fifth-most in a single season in NFL history), Minnesota’s DALVIN COOK (1,557), Indianapolis’ JONATHAN TAYLOR (1,169) and Green Bay’s AARON JONES (1,104).
Ten players recorded at least 10 rushing touchdowns in 2020, including three with at least 15 rushing touchdowns: Henry (17), Cook (16) and New Orleans’ ALVIN KAMARA (16).
Nineteen running backs totaled at least 1,000 scrimmage yards this season, including four with at least 1,500 scrimmage yards: Henry (2,141), Cook (1,918), Kamara (1,688) and Chicago’s DAVID MONTGOMERY (1,508).
With Cook and Henry, 2020 is the first season since 2006 (LARRY JOHNSON and Pro Football Hall of Famer LADAINIAN TOMLINSON) to feature two players each with at least 1,900 scrimmage yards and 17 scrimmage touchdowns.
RIDICULOUS RECEIVERS: Eighteen players had at least 1,000 receiving yards this season, including seven with at least 1,300 receiving yards: Buffalo’s STEFON DIGGS (1,535), Kansas City’s TRAVIS KELCE (1,416), Arizona’s DEANDRE HOPKINS (1,407), Minnesota’s JUSTIN JEFFERSON (1,400), Green Bay’s DAVANTE ADAMS (1,374), Atlanta’s CALVIN RIDLEY (1,374) and Seattle’s DK METCALF (1,303).
Eight players had at least 100 receptions in 2020: Diggs (127, sixth-highest single-season total in NFL history), Adams (115), Hopkins (115), Las Vegas’ DARREN WALLER (107), Kelce (105), Chicago’s ALLEN ROBINSON (102), the Los Angeles Chargers’ KEENAN ALLEN (100) and Seattle’s TYLER LOCKETT (100)
Nine players had at least 10 touchdown catches this season, including four with at least 13 touchdown receptions: Adams (18, tied-third most in single season in NFL history), Kansas City’s TYREEK HILL (15), Minnesota’s ADAM THIELEN (14) and Tampa Bay’s MIKE EVANS (13).
ROOKIE SUCCESS: Rookies combined for the most scrimmage touchdowns (190) and second-most scrimmage yards (26,613) in a single season since 1970.
Five rookies each recorded at least 10 touchdowns this season: Indianapolis’ JONATHAN TAYLOR (12), Pittsburgh’s CHASE CLAYPOOL (11 touchdowns), Washington’s ANTONIO GIBSON (11), Jacksonville’s JAMES ROBINSON (10) and Detroit’s D’ANDRE SWIFT (10). This season was the second in the Super Bowl era with at least five rookies each recording at least 10 touchdowns, joining 2008 (five rookies).
Three rookies each registered at least 1,400 scrimmage yards in 2020: Taylor (1,468), Robinson (1,414) and Jefferson (1,402). This season joined 2008 (MATT FORTE, CHRIS JOHNSON and STEVE SLATON) as the only seasons since 1970 with three-or-more rookies recording at least 1,400 scrimmage yards.
DOMINANT DEFENDERS: Ten players recorded at least 10 sacks in 2020, including six with at least 12 sacks: Pittsburgh’s T.J. WATT (15), the Los Angeles Rams’ AARON DONALD (13.5), New Orleans’ TREY HENDRICKSON (13.5), Arizona’s HAASON REDDICK (12.5), Green Bay’s ZA’DARIUS SMITH (12.5) and Cleveland’s MYLES GARRETT (12).
Five players registered at least 15 tackles for loss this season: Watt (23), Chicago’s ROQUAN SMITH (18), the Los Angeles Chargers’ JOEY BOSA (15), Reddick (15) and Tampa Bay’s DEVIN WHITE (15).
Six players recorded at least five interceptions this season: Miami’s XAVIEN HOWARD (10), New England’s J.C. JACKSON (nine), Kansas City’s TYRANN MATHIEU (six), Seattle’s QUANDRE DIGGS (five), Denver’s JUSTIN SIMMONS (five) and Minnesota’s HARRISON SMITH (five). This was is the first season since 2009 (four players) with at least two players registering nine-or-more interceptions.
NFL PLAYOFF GAME NOTES
NFL PLAYOFF PREVIEW: INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (11-5) AT BUFFALO BILLS (13-3)
WILD CARD // SATURDAY, JAN. 9, 2021 // 1:05 PM ET // BILLS STADIUM // REFEREE: BRAD ALLEN
First meeting in postseason
REGULAR SEASON HISTORY:
LEADER: Bills lead all-time series, 37-32-1
STREAKS: Bills have won 2 of past 3
LAST GAME: 10/21/18: Bills 5 at Colts 37
LAST GAME AT SITE: 12/10/17: Bills 13, Colts 7 (OT)
COLTS earned playoff berth for 2nd time in past 3 seasons (2018) & won 11 games for 1st time since 2014. • FRANK REICH makes 2nd postseason appearance as HC. • INDIANAPOLIS had 3 players named to 2021 Pro Bowl roster: C RYAN KELLY, LB DARIUS LEONARD & G QUENTON NELSON. • COLTS OFFENSE allowed 21 sacks in 2020, tied-2nd fewest in NFL. • INDIANAPOLIS DEFENSE allowed 90.5 rush yards per game, 2nd-fewest in NFL & 2nd-fewest in franchise history.
QB PHILIP RIVERS passed for 4,169 yards & 24 TDs vs. 11 INTs for 97 rating in 2020, his 12th-career season with 4,000+ pass yards, tied 2nd-most in NFL history. Has 13 TDs vs. INT for 116.2 rating in 6 career starts vs. Buf. Has 105+ rating in 4 of his past 5 on road. Has 6 TDs vs. INT for 93.2 rating in his past 4 postseason starts. • RB JONATHAN TAYLOR led rookies in scrimmage yards (1,468), rush yards (1,169) & TDs (12), all 3rd-most by rookie in franchise history. Aims for 5th in row with rush TD & 3rd in row with 2+ rush TDs. Has 684 scrimmage yards (114 per game) & 6 TDs (5 rush, 1 rec.) in 7 road games this season. RB NYHEIM HINES had career-high 862 scrimmage yards & 7 TDs (4 rec., 3 rush). • WR T.Y. HILTON had 5 rec. TDs in 2020, his 8th-career season with 5+ TD catches, most in NFL since 2012. Had 2 rec. TDs in his last game vs. Buf. (10/21/18). Has 85+ rec. yards & TD catch in 2 of his past 3 on road. Aims for his 3rd in row in postseason with 60+ rec. yards. WR ZACH PASCAL set career highs in catches (44) & rec. yards (629). Has rec. TD in 2 of past 3. TE JACK DOYLE had rec. TD in his last game vs. Buf. (12/10/17). • LB DARIUS LEONARD led team with 132 tackles & is 1 of 4 in NFL with 120+ tackles in each of past 3 seasons. Had 17 tackles & FR in last meeting. Has 27 tackles, FF, FR & PD in 2 career postseason games. DE JUSTIN HOUSTON had 2 TFL & sack in his last game vs. Buf. (11/26/17 with KC). Has sack & PD in 2 of his past 3 in postseason. DT DEFOREST BUCKNER led team with 9.5 sacks. Has 2+ sacks in 2 of past 3. Had 9 tackles, 2 sacks & FR in only career game vs. Buf. (10/16/16 with SF).
BILLS won AFC East for 1st time since 1995 & won 13 games for 1st time since 1991. • SEAN MCDERMOTT makes 3rd postseason appearance as HC. • BUFFALO had 5 players named to 2021 Pro Bowl roster: QB JOSH ALLEN, WR STEFON DIGGS, LB TREMAINE EDMUNDS, KR/ PR ANDRE ROBERTS & CB TRE’DAVIOUS WHITE. • BILLS OFFENSE ranked 2nd in NFL with 31.3 points per game & tied-2nd with 396.4 yards per game. • BUFFALO DEFENSE ranked tied-3rd in NFL with 26 takeaways.
QB JOSH ALLEN passed for 4,544 yards & 37 TDs, both franchise records. Ranked tied-3rd among QBs with 8 rush TDs & is only QB in NFL history with 8+ rush TDs in each of 1st 3 seasons. Aims for 6th in row with 2+ TD passes & 4th in row with 120+ rating. Had 22 TDs (17 pass, 5 rush) vs. 6 INTs for 103 rating in 8 home games this season. Passed for 264 yards & rushed for 92 yards with TD catch in only career postseason game. • RB DEVIN SINGLETARY recorded 950+ scrimmage yards (956) for 2nd-consecutive season. Had 134 scrimmage yards (76 rec., 58 rush) & 6 catches in only career postseason game. • WR STEFON DIGGS led NFL with 127 catches & 1,535 rec. yards, both most in franchise history & 6th-most catches in single season in NFL history. Aims for 9th in row with 7+ catches & 6th in row with 75+ rec. yards. Has 50+ rec. yards in 3 of his past 4 postseason games. WR COLE BEASLEY set career highs in catches (82) & rec. yards (967). Has 5+ catches in 3 of his past 4. WR JOHN BROWN had TD catch in Week 17. Had 50 rec. yards in last playoff game. WR GABRIEL DAVIS tied-2nd among rookies with 7 rec. TDs, 2nd-most by rookie in franchise history. • CB TRE’DAVIOUS WHITE led team with 11 PD & 3 INTs. Aims for his 4th in row with PD. Has INT in 2 of his past 3 at home. Had FF in his last postseason game. S JORDAN POYER tied for lead among safeties with career-high 118 tackles in 2020. Aims for his 3rd in row in playoffs with 5+ tackles. LB TREMAINE EDMUNDS led team with 119 tackles, his 3rd-consecutive season with 115+ tackles. Had 12 tackles, sack & FR in only career postseason game.
TV: CBS/CBS All Access (1:05 PM ET): Ian Eagle, Charles Davis, Evan Washburn (field reporter) NATIONAL RADIO: Westwood One: John Sadak, Ross Tucker SIRIUS: 82 (Ind), 83 (Buf) | XM: 226 (Ind), 225 (Buf), 88 (National)
NFL PREVIEW: LOS ANGELES RAMS (10-6) AT SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (12-4)
WILD CARD // SATURDAY, JAN. 9, 2021 // 4:40 PM ET // LUMEN FIELD // REFEREE: JOHN HUSSEY
LEADER: Rams lead all-time series, 1-0
STREAKS: Rams won only meeting
LAST GAME: 1/8/05: Rams 27 at Seahawks 20
LAST GAME AT SITE: 1/8/05
REGULAR SEASON HISTORY:
LEADER: Seahawks lead all-time series, 25-20
STREAKS: Rams have won 2 of past 3
LAST GAME: 12/27/20: Rams 9 at Seahawks 20
LAST GAME AT SITE: 12/27/20
RAMS clinched playoff berth for 2nd time in past 3 seasons (2018). • SEAN MCVAY guided LAR to SB LIII appearance after 2018 season. • LOS ANGELES had 2 players selected to 2021 Pro Bowl roster: DL AARON DONALD & CB JALEN RAMSEY. • RAMS were only team with 2 players (WR COOPER KUPP & WR ROBERT WOODS) with 90+ catches each & 1 of 2 teams (PITTSBURGH) with 2 players (Donald & LB LEONARD FLOYD) with 10+ sacks each in 2020.
QB JARED GOFF passed for 3,952 yards & 20 TDs in 2020. Led LAR to SB LIII appearance (2018 season). Has 1,863 pass yards (310.5 per game) in his past 6 vs. Sea. Has 35+ completions & 350+ pass yards in 3 of his past 4 on road. QB JOHN WOLFORD had 287 total yards (231 pass, 56 rush) in 1st career start in Week 17. • RB CAM AKERS (rookie) has 80+ scrimmage yards in 4 of his past 5. Aims for his 3rd in row on road with TD. RB MALCOLM BROWN has 3 rush TDs in his past 3 vs. Sea. • WR ROBERT WOODS tied his career-highs in receptions (90) & rec. TDs (6) in 2020. Has 26 receptions for 314 yards (78.5 per game) in 4 career playoff games. Aims for his 5th in row in postseason with 5+ catches & 10th in row vs. Sea. with 4+ catches. WR COOPER KUPP had 92 receptions for 974 yards & 3 TDs in 2020. Had 8 catches for 69 yards & TD in only career postseason game (1/6/18 – NFC-W vs. Atl.). Has 5+ catches in 5 of his past 6 vs. Sea. Aims for his 5th in row on road with 8+ receptions. • DL AARON DONALD tied-2nd in NFL with 13.5 sacks. 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 4 TFL in 4 career postseason games. Has 13 sacks & 20 TFL in 14 career games vs. Sea. LB LEONARD FLOYD had career-high 10.5 sacks in 2020. Had 5 sacks & FR in 2 games vs. Sea. in 2020 & aims for his 3rd in row vs. Sea. with 2+ sacks. Was 1 of 3 in NFC with 3 games of 2+ sacks in 2020. CB TROY HILL led NFL with 3 defensive TDs in 2020.
SEAHAWKS clinched NFC West for 1st time since 2016. • PETE CARROLL led Sea. to SB XLVIII championship after 2013 season. • SEATTLE had 7 players selected to 2021 Pro Bowl roster, tied most in NFL: S JAMAL ADAMS, ST NICK BELLORE, S QUANDRE DIGGS, WR DK METCALF, LS TYLER OTT, LB BOBBY WAGNER & QB RUSSELL WILSON. • SEAHAWKS were 1 of 3 teams (CAROLINA & KANSAS CITY) with 2 players (WR TYLER LOCKETT & Metcalf) each with 1,000+ rec. yards.
QB RUSSELL WILSON had career-high 40 TD passes & 4thcareer 4,000+ yard (4,212) season in 2020. Became 3rd QB with 30+ TD passes in 4 consecutive seasons. Has 26 TDs (23 pass, 3 rush) vs. 11 INTs for 96.7 rating in 15 career postseason starts. Has 18 TDs (16 pass, 2 rush) vs. 3 INTs for 107.8 rating in 9 career home starts vs. Rams. • RB CHRIS CARSON has 75+ scrimmage yards in 4 of his past 5. Has 420 scrimmage yards (105 per game) & rec. TD in 4 career games vs. LAR. Is 1 of 5 RBs with 9+ TDs in each of past 3 seasons. RB CARLOS HYDE had 6 rush TDs in his past 5 vs. LAR. • WR DK METCALF had career-high & franchise-record 1,303 rec. yards in 2020. Has 5+ receptions in 5 of his past 6. Has 9 rec. TDs in his past 9 at home. WR TYLER LOCKETT had career-high & franchise-record 100 receptions & had 2nd-consecutive 1,000- yard season (1,054) in 2020. Has rec. TD in 2 of his past 3 at home vs. LAR. Has 120+ rec. yards in 2 of his last 3 postseason games. WR DAVID MOORE had career-high 6 rec. TDs in 2020. • LB BOBBY WAGNER had 9th-consecutive 100+ tackle (138) season. Has 137 tackles (9.1 per game), 4 PD & 2 INTs in 15 career postseason games. LB K.J. WRIGHT was only player with 10+ TFL (11) & 10+ PD (10) this season. Has 5+ tackles in 13 of his 14 career postseason games. DE CARLOS DUNLAP had 5 sacks & 6 TFL in 8 games with Sea. this season. DT JARRAN REED had 2 sacks in Week 16 meeting. S JAMAL ADAMS had career-high 9.5 sacks, most by DB in single season since 1985. S QUANDRE DIGGS had career-high 5 INTs, tied with HARRISON SMITH for most in NFC.
ON THE AIRWAVES TV: FOX/FOX Deportes (4:40 PM ET): Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews (field reporter), Tom Rinaldi (field reporter) NATIONAL RADIO: Westwood One: Ryan Radtke, Mike Holmgren SIRIUS: 82 (LAR), 83 (Sea) | XM: 226 (LAR), 225 (Sea), 88 (National)
NFL PREVIEW: TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (11-5) AT WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM (7-9)
WILD CARD // SATURDAY, JAN. 9, 2021 // 8:15 PM ET // FEDEXFIELD // REFEREE: SCOTT NOVAK
LEADER: All-time series tied, 1-1
STREAKS: Washington won last meeting
LAST GAME: 1/7/06: Washington 17 at Buccaneers 10
LAST GAME AT SITE: First postseason game at site
REGULAR SEASON HISTORY:
LEADER: Washington leads all-time series, 11-10
STREAKS: Washington has won 3 of past 4
LAST GAME: 11/18/18: Washington 16 at Buccaneers 3
LAST GAME AT SITE: 10/25/15: Washington 31, Buccaneers 30
TAMPA BAY: 6-9
TAMPA BAY: 30.8
TAMPA BAY: 22.2
TAMPA BAY: 384.1
BUCCANEERS earned 1st playoff berth since 2007. • BRUCE ARIANS makes playoff debut with TB, his 3rd career postseason appearance as HC (3 games with Az.). • TAMPA BAY had one player selected to 2021 Pro Bowl roster: LB JASON PIERRE PAUL. • BUCCANEERS OFFENSE ranked 3rd in points per game (30.8) & allowed 4th-fewest sacks (22) in 2020. • TAMPA BAY DEFENSE allowed fewest rush yards per game (80.6) & ranked tied-4th in sacks (48).
QB TOM BRADY is postseason all-time leader in starts (41), completions (1,025), pass yards (11,388), pass TDs (73) & Super Bowl titles (6). Ranked tied-2nd in pass TDs (franchise-record 40) & 3rd in pass yards (4,633) in 2020 & became 5th QB in NFL history with 2+ seasons (2) of 40+ TD passes. Aims for his 6th start in row vs. Was. with 285+ pass yards & 2+ TD passes. • RB RONALD JONES set career-highs in scrimmage yards (1,143), rush yards (978) & rush TDs (7) in 2020. Has rush TD in 2 of his past 3 on road. RB LEONARD FOURNETTE has 286 scrimmage yards (95.3 per game) & 4 rush TDs in 3 career playoff games. Aims for his 3rd in row in postseason with 75+ rush yards & rush TD. • WR MIKE EVANS ranked 4th in NFL in rec. TDs (13) this season. Had 1,006 rec. yards in 2020 & is 1st player in NFL history with 1,000+ rec. yards in each of his 1st 7 seasons. Has 15 receptions for 373 yards (186.5 per game) & 3 rec. TDs in 2 career games at Was. WR CHRIS GODWIN has rec. TD in 4 of his past 5 on road. Is 1 of 5 WRs with 7+ TD catches in each of past 3 seasons. WR ANTONIO BROWN has 51 receptions for 837 yards (83.7 per game) & 4 rec. TDs in 10 career playoff games. TE ROB GRONKOWSKI has 12 career postseason rec. TDs, tied-2nd most in NFL history. • LB LAVONTE DAVID had 8th-career 100+ tackle (117) season. Has 23 FFs since 2014, tied-most in NFL. LB JASON PIERRE-PAUL has 12.5 sacks, 4 FFs & 2 FRs in 13 career games vs. Was. Has 4 TFL & 4 PD in 4 career postseason games. DT NDAMUKONG SUH has 5 sacks in 6 career postseason games.
WASHINGTON earned 1st division title since 2015. • RON RIVERA makes playoff debut as Was. HC, his 5th career postseason appearance as NFL HC. (7 games with Car.). • WASHINGTON had two players selected to 2021 Pro Bowl roster: G BRANDON SCHERFF & rookie DE CHASE YOUNG. • WASHINGTON’S DEFENSE ranked 2nd in total yards allowed per game (304.6), 2nd in pass yards allowed per game (191.8), 4th in points allowed per game (20.6), tied-5th in interceptions (16) & 6th in sacks (47).
QB ALEX SMITH has 1,745 pass yards (249.3 per game) & 15 TDs (14 pass, 1 rush) vs. 2 INTs for 97.4 rating in 7 career postseason starts (with SF & KC). Team is 5-0 in his past 5 starts in 2020. Had TD vs. 0 INTs for 100.5 rating in his last game vs. TB (11/11/18). • RB ANTONIO GIBSON (rookie) had 11 rush TDs, tied-most among rookies (JONATHAN TAYLOR) this season. Has rush TD in 3 of his past 4 at home. RB J.D. MCKISSIC ranked 2nd among RBs in receptions (career-high 80) & rec. yards (career-high 589) & joined LARRY CENTERS (81 catches in 2000) as only Was. RBs with 80+ receptions in single season. Aims for his 3rd in row at home with rec. TD. Had TD catch in his last postseason game (1/5/19 – NFC-W w/ Sea.). • WR TERRY MCLAURIN led team with 87 receptions & 1,118 rec. yards, first Was. WR with 80+ receptions & 1,100+ rec. yards in single season since PIERRE GARCON (2013). Was 1 of 3 NFC WRs (DAVANTE ADAMS & DEANDRE HOPKINS) with 9+ games (9) of 7+ receptions in 2020. TE LOGAN THOMAS led NFC TEs with career-high 72 receptions & ranked 2nd with 670 rec. yards. Aims for his 3rd in row at home with 7+ catches. • DE CHASE YOUNG led all rookies in sacks (7.5) & TFL (10). Has FR in 3 of his past 4. Aims for his 3rd in row with sack. DE MONTEZ SWEAT led team with career-high 9 sacks. Has sack in 3 of his past 4. LB JON BOSTIC led team with career-high 118 tackles. S KAMREN CURL was only rookie DB with 85+ tackles (88) & 3+ INTs (3) in 2020. Has 7+ tackles in 8 of his past 9. CB KENDALL FULLER led team with 4 INTs in 2020. Had INT in his last postseason appearance (SBLIV w/ KC).
TV: NBC/Universo (8:15 PM ET): Mike Tirico, Tony Dungy, Kathryn Tappen (field reporter) NATIONAL RADIO: Westwood One: Kevin Harlan, Ron Jaworski SIRIUS: 82 (TB), 211 (Was) | XM: 226 (TB), 225 (Was), 88 (National)
NFL PREVIEW: BALTIMORE RAVENS (11-5) AT TENNESSEE TITANS (11-5)
WILD CARD // SUNDAY, JAN. 10, 2021 // 1:05 PM ET // NISSAN STADIUM // REFEREE: JEROME BOGER
LEADER: All-time series tied, 2-2
STREAKS: Titans have won 2 of past 3
LAST GAME: 1/11/20: Titans 28 at Ravens 12
LAST GAME AT SITE: 1/20/09: Ravens 13, Titans 10
REGULAR SEASON HISTORY:
LEADER: Titans lead all-time series, 11-10
STREAKS: Titans have won 2 of past 3
LAST GAME: 11/22/20: Titans 30 at Ravens 24 (OT)
LAST GAME AT SITE: 10/14/18: Ravens 21, Titans 0
RAVENS earned playoff berth for 3rd-consecutive season. • JOHN HARBAUGH makes 9th postseason appearance. Led Baltimore to SB XLVII championship in 2012. • BALTIMORE tied NFL-high with 7 players named to 2021 Pro Bowl roster: T ORLANDO BROWN, DE CALAIS CAMPBELL, LS MORGAN COX, CB MARLON HUMPHREY, LB MATTHEW JUDON, FB PATRICK RICARD & K JUSTIN TUCKER. • RAVENS OFFENSE led NFL with 3,071 rush yards. • BALTIMORE allowed 18.9 points per game, 2nd-fewest in NFL.
QB LAMAR JACKSON passed for 2,757 yards & 26 TDs vs. 9 INTs for 99.3 rating & rushed for 1,005 yards & 7 TDs in 2020, becoming 1st QB in NFL history with 1,000+ rush yards in multiple seasons. Passed for 186 yards & TD vs. INT & rushed for 51 yards in Week 11 meeting. Passed for 365 yards & rushed for 143 yards in 2019 Divisional meeting. Aims for 3rd in row in postseason with 50+ rush yards. • RB J.K. DOBBINS ranked 3rd among rookies with 805 rush yards & 9 rush TDs. Has rush TD in 6 straight games, tied 3rdlongest streak by rookie in SB era. Had 85 scrimmage yards (70 rush, 15 rec.) & rush TD in Week 11 meeting. Aims for his 3rd in row vs. AFC South with 80+ scrimmage yards & rush TD. RB GUS EDWARDS aims for 4th in row with 70+ scrimmage yards. • WR MARQUISE BROWN set career highs in catches (58), rec. yards (team-high 769) & rec. TDs (team-high 8). Has 15 career rec. TDs, tied with TORREY SMITH for most by player in 1st 2 seasons in Bal. history. Had 7 catches for 126 yards in 2019 Divisional meeting. Aims for his 4th in row on road with TD catch. TE MARK ANDREWS had 5 catches for 96 yards & TD in Week 11 meeting. Has 5+ catches in 2 of his past 3 on road. • S MARCUS PETERS led team with 4 INTs this season. Has 3 TFL, 2 PD & INT in 2 career postseason games vs. Ten. CB MARLON HUMPHREY led team with 8 PD & led NFL with career-high 8 FFs. LB MATTHEW JUDON had 6 sacks in 2020. Had sack in Week 11 meeting & has sack in 3 of 4 career games vs. Ten., including postseason. LB PATRICK QUEEN led team & ranked 3rd among rookies with 105 tackles.
TITANS won AFC South for 1st time since 2008 & earned playoff berth in consecutive seasons for 1st time since 2007-08. • MIKE VRABEL makes 2nd postseason appearance. Led Tennessee to AFC Championship Game in 2019. • TENNESSEE had 2 players named to 2021 Pro Bowl roster: WR A.J. BROWN & RB DERRICK HENRY. • TITANS OFFENSE ranked 2nd in NFL with 396.4 yards per game & has totaled 400+ yards in 6 of past 7. • TENNESSEE ranked 4th in NFL with 30.7 points per game.
QB RYAN TANNEHILL passed for 3,819 yards & career-high 33 TDs & rushed for career-high 7 TDs in 2020. Had 106.5 rating & is 1 of 5 QBs with 105+ rating in each of past 2 seasons. Passed for 259 yards & 2 TDs vs. INT for 104.1 rating in Week 11 meeting. Passed for 2 TDs vs. 0 INTs for 109.5 rating & rushed for TD in 2019 Divisional meeting. Aims for 3rd in row in postseason with 2+ TD passes, 0 INTs & 105+ rating. Had 25 TDs (22 pass, 3 rush) vs. 2 INTs for 118.5 rating in 8 home games this season. • RB DERRICK HENRY led NFL with career-high 2,027 rush yards & 17 rush TDs, becoming 8th player in NFL history with 2,000+ rush yards in single season. Has 150+ scrimmage yards & rush TD in 3 of his past 4. Rushed for 133 yards & TD in Week 11 meeting. Had 195 rush yards in 2019 Divisional meeting. Has 200+ scrimmage yards in 2 of his past 3 in postseason. • WR A.J. BROWN set career highs in catches (70), rec. yards (1,075) & rec. TDs (11) in 2020. Has 5+ catches & rec. TD in 3 of past 4. Had 4 catches for 62 yards & TD in Week 11 meeting. WR COREY DAVIS had 5 catches for 113 yards in Week 11 meeting. Had TD catch in 2019 Divisional meeting. Aims for his 3rd in row at home with 110+ rec. yards & TD catch. TE JONNU SMITH aims for his 3rd in row vs. Bal. with TD catch, including postseason. • CB MALCOLM BUTLER led team with 14 PD & tied for team lead with 4 INTs. Has PD in 2 of his past 3 vs. Bal. Has 37 tackles & 8 PD in 11 career postseason games. S KEVIN BYARD led team & ranked 4th among safeties with career-high 111 tackles. Has 6 PD & 4 INTs in 4 career games vs. Bal, including postseason. LB HAROLD LANDRY had sack in 2019 Divisional meeting.
NFL PREVIEW: CHICAGO BEARS (8-8) AT NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (12-4)
WILD CARD // SUNDAY, JAN. 10, 2021 // 4:40 PM ET // MERCEDES-BENZ SUPERDOME // REFEREE: ALEX KEMP
LEADER: Bears lead all-time series, 2-0
STREAKS: Bears have won past 2
LAST GAME: 1/21/07: Saints 14 at Bears 39
LAST GAME AT SITE: First postseason game at site
REGULAR SEASON HISTORY:
LEADER: Saints lead all-time series, 17-13
STREAKS: Saints have won past 6
LAST GAME: 11/1/20: Saints 26 at Bears 23 (OT)
LAST GAME AT SITE: 10/29/17: Saints 20, Bears 12
BEARS clinched playoff berth for 2nd time in past 3 seasons (2018). • MATT NAGY makes 2nd postseason appearance as Chi. HC. • CHICAGO had 2 players selected to 2021 Pro Bowl roster: LB KHALIL MACK & RS CORDARRELLE PATTERSON. • BEARS rank tied for 6th in NFL with 31.2 points per game since Week 13 & have scored 25+ points in 5 of their past 6. • CHICAGO went 6-3 in games started by QB MITCHELL TRUBISKY in 2020.
QB MITCHELL TRUBISKY passed for 303 yards & TD vs. 0 INTs for 89.6 rating in only career postseason start (1/6/19 – NFC-W vs. Phi.). Passed for 251 yards & 2 TDs vs. 0 INTs for 86.3 rating in his last start vs. NO (10/20/19). Aims for his 3rd in row on road with 95+ rating. • RB DAVID MONTGOMERY ranked 5th in NFL with career-high 1,508 scrimmage yards (1,070 rush, 438 rec.) & had career-high 10 TDs (8 rush, 2 rec.) in 2020. Is 5th RB in Chi. franchise history with 1,500+ scrimmage yards & 10+ TDs in single season. Was 1 of 3 RBs (DALVIN COOK & DERRICK HENRY) with 7+ games (7) of 110+ scrimmage yards & TD. • WR ALLEN ROBINSON led team with career-high 102 receptions & had 1,250 rec. yards, his 3rd-career 1,000+ yard season. Had 10 receptions for 143 yards & TD catch in only postseason game (1/6/19 – NFC-W vs. Phi.). Had 6 receptions for 87 yards & rec. TD in Week 8 meeting. WR DARNELL MOONEY ranked 5th among rookies with 61 receptions. TE JIMMY GRAHAM ranked 2nd among NFC TEs with 8 rec. TDs in 2020. Had 386 receptions for 4,752 rec. yards & 51 TDs in 5 seasons (2010-14) with NO. • LB KHALIL MACK led team with 9 sacks. Is 1 of 2 (AARON DONALD) with 8+ sacks in each of past 6 seasons. Has 3 TFL in 2 career postseason games. Had sack & FF in Week 8 meeting. LB ROQUAN SMITH had career-high 139 tackles & ranked 2nd in NFL with career-high 18 TFL. Had INT in only career playoff game (1/6/19 – NFC-W vs. Phi.). Had 11 tackles, 2 TFL & PD in Week 8 meeting. LB DANNY TREVATHAN had 4th-career season with 100+ tackles (112). S EDDIE JACKSON had FF in Week 8 meeting.
QB DREW BREES has 4,967 pass yards (310.4 per game) & 34 TDs vs. 12 INTs for 99.6 rating in 16 career postseason starts. Passed for 280 yards & 2 TDs vs. 0 INTs for 109.8 rating in Week 8 meeting. Had 14 TDs (12 pass, 2 rush) vs. 2 INTs for 100.8 rating in 7 home starts this season. • RB ALVIN KAMARA led NFL with 21 TDs (16 rush, 5 rec.) & ranked 3rd in scrimmage yards (1,688). Led all RBs with career-high 83 receptions. Had 9 receptions & 163 scrimmage yards (96 rec., 67 rush) in Week 8 meeting. Has 100+ scrimmage yards in 3 of his last 4 postseason games. RB LATAVIUS MURRAY is 1 of 2 RBs (TODD GURLEY) with 5+ TDs in each of past 6 seasons. • WR MICHAEL THOMAS has 38 receptions for 493 yards (98.6 per game) & 3 rec. TDs in 5 career postseason games. Had 9 receptions for 131 yards in his last game vs. Chi. (10/20/19). Aims for his 3rd in row vs. Chi. with 7+ catches & 75+ rec. yards. WR EMMANUEL SANDERS had 11 receptions for 98 yards & TD catch in his last game vs. Chi. (9/15/19 w/ Den.). Is 1 of 3 WRs (T.Y. HILTON & JULIO JONES) with 500+ rec. yards in each of past 9 seasons. TE JARED COOK has 22 rec. TDs since 2018, 2nd-most among TEs. • DE CAMERON JORDAN is only player with 7+ sacks in each of past 9 seasons. Has 5.5 sacks, 8 TFL & 4 PD in 9 career postseason games. Aims for his 3rd in row in postseason & 3rd in row vs. Chi. with sack. DE TREY HENDRICKSON tied-2nd in NFL with career-high 13.5 sacks. LB DEMARIO DAVIS has 3 PD, 2 TFL & INT in 3 career postseason games. Was 1 of 5 LBs with 100+ tackles (119) & 10+ TFL (10) in 2020.
ON THE AIRWAVES TV: CBS/Nickelodeon/Amazon Prime Video (4:40 PM ET): Jim Nantz, Tony Romo, Tracy Wolfson (sideline reporter) NATIONAL RADIO: Westwood One: Kevin Kugler, James Lofton SIRIUS: 82 (Chi), 83 (NO) | XM: 226 (Chi), 225 (NO), 88 (National)
NFL PLAYOFF PREVIEW: CLEVELAND BROWNS (11-5) AT PITTSBURGH STEELERS (12-4)
WILD CARD // SUNDAY, JAN. 10, 2021 // 8:15 PM ET // HEINZ FIELD // REFEREE: SHAWN SMITH
LEADER: Steelers lead all-time series, 2-0
STREAKS: Steelers have won past 2
LAST GAME: 1/5/03: Browns 33 at Steelers 36
LAST GAME AT SITE: 1/5/03
REGULAR SEASON HISTORY:
LEADER: Steelers lead all-time series, 75-60-1
STREAKS: Steelers have won 2 of past 3
LAST GAME: 1/3/21: Steelers 22 at Browns 24
LAST GAME AT SITE: 10/18/20: Steelers 38, Browns 7
BROWNS earned postseason berth for 1st time since 2002 & won 11 games for 1st time since 1994. • KEVIN STEFANSKI makes postseason debut as HC. • CLEVELAND had 3 players named to 2021 Pro Bowl roster: G JOEL BITONIO, RB NICK CHUBB & DE MYLES GARRETT. • BROWNS OFFENSE ranked 3rd in NFL with 148.4 rush yards per game in 2020, most by Cle. since 1978 (155.5). • BROWNS DEFENSE ranked tied-6th in AFC with 38 sacks, 3rdconsecutive season with 35+ sacks.
QB BAKER MAYFIELD passed for 3,563 yards & 26 TDs vs. career-low 8 INTs for career-high 95.9 rating in 2020. Joined ANDREW LUCK & PEYTON MANNING as only players in NFL history with 3,500+ pass yards & 20+ TD passes in each of 1st 3 seasons. Passed for 196 yards & TD vs. 0 INTs for 97.1 rating in Week 17 meeting. Has 13 TDs vs. INT for 117.1 rating in his past 5 on road. Makes 1st-career postseason start. • RB NICK CHUBB rushed for 1,067 yards & career-high 12 TDs, becoming 1st Cle. RB with 1,000+ rush yards in consecutive seasons since JAMAL LEWIS (2007-08). Aims for his 7th in row with rush TD. Rushed for 108 yards & TD in Week 17 meeting. Aims for his 5th in row vs. Pit. with 75+ scrimmage yards. RB KAREEM HUNT rushed for TD in only career playoff game (1/6/18 vs. Ten., with KC). Chubb (1,217) & Hunt (1,145) were only pair of RB teammates each w/ 1,000+ scrimmage yards in 2020. • WR JARVIS LANDRY aims for his 6th in row with 5+ catches & 50+ rec. yards. Aims for 4th in row on road with TD catch. Had 11 catches for 102 yards in only career postseason game (1/8/17 vs. Pit., with Mia.). WR RASHARD HIGGINS had career-high 599 rec. yards in 2020. Had rec. TD in last road meeting. Aims for 3rd in row on road with 75+ rec. yards. TE AUSTIN HOOPER had TD catch in Week 17 meeting & has rec. TD in 2 of past 3. • DE MYLES GARRETT led team with 12 sacks in 2020. Aims for his 4th in row at Pit. with sack. Has sack in 5 of his past 6 on road. LB B.J. GOODSON led team with career-high 91 tackles. Had 9 tackles & 0.5 sacks in last road meeting. CB DENZEL WARD tied2nd in NFL with career-high 18 PD. Aims for 4th in row with PD.
STEELERS won AFC North for 1st time since 2017. • MIKE TOMLIN makes 9th postseason appearance. Led Pittsburgh to SB XLIII championship in 2008. • PITTSBURGH had 5 players named to 2021 Pro Bowl roster: G DAVID DECASTRO, S MINKAH FITZPATRICK, DT CAMERON HEYWARD, C MAURKICE POUNCEY & LB T.J. WATT. • STEELERS OFFENSE allowed 14 sacks in 2020, fewest in NFL and fewest by Pit. in SB era. • PITTSBURGH DEFENSE led NFL with 56 sacks.
QB BEN ROETHLISBERGER passed for 3,803 yards & 33 TDs vs. 10 INTs for 94.1 rating in 2020, his 10th-career season with 3,500+ pass yards. Passed for 162 yards & TD vs. 0 INTs for 100.9 rating in last home meeting. Had 18 TDs vs. 3 INTs for 99.9 rating in 8 home games this season. Aims for his 3rd in row in postseason with 300+ pass yards. Ranks 5th in NFL history with 5,256 career postseason pass yards (250.3 per game). • RB JAMES CONNER rushed for 101 yards & TD in last home meeting. Has 314 scrimmage yards (157 per game) & 3 rush TDs in 2 career home games vs. Cle. Had rush TD in 5 of his 6 home games this season. RB BENNY SNELL had career-high 4 rush TDs in 2020. Aims for 3rd in row at home vs. Cle. with rush TD. • WR JUJU SMITH-SCHUSTER had career-high 9 rec. TDs in 2020. Aims for 3rd in row with TD catch. Aims for his 5th in row at home with 7+ catches. Had rec. TD in only career postseason game (1/14/18 vs. Jax.). WR DIONTAE JOHNSON set career highs in catches (88), rec. yards (923) & rec. TDs (7). Had 96 rec. yards in Week 17 meeting. Aims for his 3rd in row at home with 70+ rec. yards & TD catch. WR CHASE CLAYPOOL led rookies with 9 rec. TDs this season, tied-most by rookie in franchise history. Had 5 catches for 101 yards & TD in Week 17 meeting. • LB T.J. WATT led NFL with career-high 15 sacks & 23 TFL. Has sack in 6 of 7 career games vs. Cle. Aims for his 5th in row at home with sack & 3rd in row at home with FF. DE STEPHON TUITT had career-high 11 sacks in 2020. Aims for 4th in row with sack. S MINKAH FITZPATRICK led team with 4 INTs. Had INT-TD in last home meeting. Aims for his 4th in row vs. Cle. with PD.
ON THE AIRWAVES TV: NBC/Telemundo/Peacock (8:15 PM ET): Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya (field reporter) NATIONAL RADIO: Westwood One: Kevin Harlan & Tony Boselli SIRIUS: 82 (Cle), 211 (Pit) | XM: 226 (Cle), 225 (Pit), 88 (National)
|SUPER WILD CARD WEEKEND INJURY REPORT – FRIDAY|
| INDIANAPOLIS COLTS at BUFFALO BILLS on Saturday INDIANAPOLIS COLTS The Colts did not practice Tuesday or Wednesday. The practice reports for those days are estimations. Status Report OUT T Will Holden (ankle), CB Rock Ya-Sin (concussion) QUESTIONABLE DT DeForest Buckner (ankle) Practice Report DID NOT PARTICIPATE IN PRACTICE Tuesday DT DeForest Buckner (ankle), T Will Holden (ankle), QB Philip Rivers (toe), CB Rock Ya-Sin (concussion) Wednesday DT DeForest Buckner (ankle), T Will Holden (ankle), CB Rock Ya-Sin (concussion) Thursday T Will Holden (ankle), S Tavon Wilson (not injury related), CB Rock Ya-Sin (concussion) LIMITED PARTICIPATION IN PRACTICE Tuesday CB T.J. Carrie (ankle, shoulder), RB Jonathan Taylor (shoulder) Wednesday RB Jonathan Taylor (shoulder) Thursday DT DeForest Buckner (ankle), RB Jonathan Taylor (shoulder) FULL PARTICIPATION IN PRACTICE Tuesday S Khari Willis (concussion) Wednesday CB T.J. Carrie (ankle, shoulder), QB Philip Rivers (toe), S Khari Willis (concussion) Thursday CB T.J. Carrie (ankle, shoulder), QB Philip Rivers (toe), S Khari Willis (concussion) BUFFALO BILLS The Bills did not practice Tuesday. The Tuesday practice report is an estimation. Status Report QUESTIONABLE WR Cole Beasley (knee), WR Stefon Diggs (oblique) Practice Report DID NOT PARTICIPATE IN PRACTICE Tuesday WR Cole Beasley (knee) Wednesday WR Cole Beasley (knee), WR Stefon Diggs (oblique) LIMITED PARTICIPATION IN PRACTICE Tuesday WR Stefon Diggs (oblique), QB Jake Fromm (not injury related), WR Isaiah McKenzie (ankle) Wednesday QB Jake Fromm (not injury related), WR Isaiah McKenzie (ankle) Thursday WR Cole Beasley (knee), WR Stefon Diggs (oblique), QB Jake Fromm (not injury related) FULL PARTICIPATION IN PRACTICE Tuesday G Jon Feliciano (knee), TE Reggie Gilliam (knee, hamstring) Wednesday G Jon Feliciano (knee), TE Reggie Gilliam (knee, hamstring) Thursday G Jon Feliciano (knee), TE Reggie Gilliam (knee, hamstring), WR Isaiah McKenzie (ankle) |
LOS ANGELES RAMS at SEATTLE SEAHAWKS on Saturday LOS ANGELES RAMS The Rams did not practice Tuesday. The Tuesday practice report is an estimation. Status Report QUESTIONABLE G David Edwards (ankle), QB Jared Goff (right thumb), LB Micah Kiser (knee) Practice Report DID NOT PARTICIPATE IN PRACTICE Tuesday DT Aaron Donald (not injury related), G David Edwards (ankle) LIMITED PARTICIPATION IN PRACTICE Tuesday RB Cam Akers (ankle), QB Jared Goff (right thumb), LB Micah Kiser (knee), G Joseph Noteboom (back), LB Natrez Patrick (groin) Wednesday G David Edwards (ankle), QB Jared Goff (right thumb), LB Micah Kiser (knee), LB Natrez Patrick (groin) Thursday G David Edwards (ankle), QB Jared Goff (right thumb), LB Micah Kiser (knee) FULL PARTICIPATION IN PRACTICE Wednesday RB Cam Akers (ankle), DT Aaron Donald (not injury related), G Joseph Noteboom (back) Thursday RB Cam Akers (ankle), DT Aaron Donald (not injury related), G Joseph Noteboom (back) SEATTLE SEAHAWKS Status Report QUESTIONABLE CB Shaquill Griffin (hamstring), DT Jarran Reed (oblique) Practice Report DID NOT PARTICIPATE IN PRACTICE Tuesday S Jamal Adams (shoulder, hand), T Duane Brown (knee, not injury related), RB Chris Carson (foot, not injury related), DT Jarran Reed (oblique), CB Jayson Stanley (hamstring) Wednesday DT Bryan Mone (ankle) Thursday CB Shaquill Griffin (hamstring) LIMITED PARTICIPATION IN PRACTICE Tuesday RB DeeJay Dallas (ankle), G Mike Iupati (neck) Wednesday S Jamal Adams (shoulder, hand), T Duane Brown (knee, not injury related), RB Chris Carson (foot, not injury related), DT Jarran Reed (oblique) Thursday S Jamal Adams (shoulder, hand), T Duane Brown (knee, not injury related), RB Chris Carson (foot, not injury related), RB Rashaad Penny (knee), DT Jarran Reed (oblique) FULL PARTICIPATION IN PRACTICE Tuesday RB Carlos Hyde (illness), G Damien Lewis (neck), DT Bryan Mone (ankle), TE Greg Olsen (foot), T Brandon Shell (ankle), LB K.J. Wright (ankle) Wednesday RB DeeJay Dallas (ankle), G Mike Iupati (neck), G Damien Lewis (neck), TE Greg Olsen (foot), S Damarious Randall (not injury related), T Brandon Shell (ankle), LB K.J. Wright (ankle) Thursday RB DeeJay Dallas (ankle), G Mike Iupati (neck), DT Bryan Mone (ankle), TE Greg Olsen (foot), S Damarious Randall (not injury related)
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS at WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM on Saturday night TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS The Buccaneers did not practice Tuesday. The Tuesday practice report is an estimation. Status Report OUT DT Jeremiah Ledbetter (calf) RB LeSean McCoy (illness)* QUESTIONABLE CB Carlton Davis (groin), WR Mike Evans (knee) Practice Report DID NOT PARTICIPATE IN PRACTICE Tuesday CB Carlton Davis (groin), WR Mike Evans (knee), DT Jeremiah Ledbetter (calf), RB LeSean McCoy (not injury related), LB Jason Pierre-Paul (knee) Wednesday WR Mike Evans (knee), DT Jeremiah Ledbetter (calf), LB Jason Pierre-Paul (knee) Thursday DT Jeremiah Ledbetter (calf), RB LeSean McCoy (not injury related, illness), DT Ndamukong Suh (not injury related) LIMITED PARTICIPATION IN PRACTICE Wednesday CB Carlton Davis (groin) Thursday WR Mike Evans (knee), LB Jason Pierre-Paul (knee) FULL PARTICIPATION IN PRACTICE Tuesday RB Ronald Jones (finger, quadricep) Wednesday RB Ronald Jones (finger, quadricep), RB LeSean McCoy (not injury related) Thursday CB Carlton Davis (groin), RB Ronald Jones (finger, quadricep) WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM Washington did not practice Tuesday. The Tuesday practice report is an estimation. Status Report OUT LB Thomas Davis (knee) QUESTIONABLE RB Antonio Gibson (toe), WR Terry McLaurin (ankle), LB Kevin Pierre-Louis (ankle), QB Alex Smith (calf) Practice Report DID NOT PARTICIPATE IN PRACTICE Tuesday DT Jonathan Allen (not injury related), LB Thomas Davis (knee), RB Antonio Gibson (toe), WR Terry McLaurin (ankle), QB Alex Smith (calf) Wednesday LB Thomas Davis (knee) Thursday LB Thomas Davis (knee) LIMITED PARTICIPATION IN PRACTICE Tuesday LB Kevin Pierre-Louis (ankle), G Brandon Scherff (shoulder) Wednesday CB Kendall Fuller (knee), RB Antonio Gibson (toe), WR Terry McLaurin (ankle), LB Kevin Pierre-Louis (ankle), G Brandon Scherff (shoulder), QB Alex Smith (calf) Thursday RB Antonio Gibson (toe), WR Terry McLaurin (ankle), LB Kevin Pierre-Louis (ankle), QB Alex Smith (calf) FULL PARTICIPATION IN PRACTICE Wednesday DT Jonathan Allen (not injury related) Thursday DT Jonathan Allen (not injury related), CB Kendall Fuller (knee), G Brandon Scherff (shoulder)
BALTIMORE RAVENS at TENNESSEE TITANS on Sunday BALTIMORE RAVENS Status Report QUESTIONABLE G Ben Bredeson (knee), G D.J. Fluker (knee), CB Marlon Humphrey (shoulder), C Patrick Mekari (back), DE Yannick Ngakoue (thigh), CB Jimmy Smith (ribs, shoulder), WR Willie Snead (ankle) Practice Report DID NOT PARTICIPATE IN PRACTICE Wednesday DT Calais Campbell (not injury related), G D.J. Fluker (knee), CB Marlon Humphrey (shoulder), WR Willie Snead (ankle) Thursday G D.J. Fluker (knee), RB Mark Ingram (not injury related), DT Brandon Williams (not injury related) Friday DE Derek Wolfe (not injury related) LIMITED PARTICIPATION IN PRACTICE Wednesday C Patrick Mekari (back), DE Yannick Ngakoue (thigh), CB Jimmy Smith (ribs, shoulder) Thursday CB Marlon Humphrey (shoulder), C Patrick Mekari (back), DE Yannick Ngakoue (thigh), CB Jimmy Smith (ribs, shoulder), WR Willie Snead (ankle) Friday G Ben Bredeson (knee), G D.J. Fluker (knee), CB Jimmy Smith (ribs, shoulder), WR Willie Snead (ankle) FULL PARTICIPATION IN PRACTICE Friday CB Marlon Humphrey (shoulder), C Patrick Mekari (back), DE Yannick Ngakoue (thigh) TENNESSEE TITANS The Titans did not practice Wednesday. The Wednesday practice report is an estimation. Status Report (no players listed) Practice Report DID NOT PARTICIPATE IN PRACTICE Wednesday C Aaron Brewer (not injury related), S Kevin Byard (not injury related), T Dennis Kelly (knee), G Rodger Saffold (ankle) Thursday C Aaron Brewer (not injury related), WR A.J. Brown (knee, hand), CB Adoree’ Jackson (knee), T Dennis Kelly (knee), G Rodger Saffold (ankle) Friday WR A.J. Brown (knee, hand) LIMITED PARTICIPATION IN PRACTICE Wednesday LB Daren Bates (hip), WR A.J. Brown (knee, hand), RB Darrynton Evans (shoulder), CB Adoree’ Jackson (knee), C Ben Jones (hamstring), TE Geoff Swaim (wrist) Thursday RB Darrynton Evans (shoulder), RB Derrick Henry (not injury related) Friday C Ben Jones (hamstring), T Dennis Kelly (knee), G Rodger Saffold (ankle) FULL PARTICIPATION IN PRACTICE Wednesday LB Derick Roberson (hamstring) Thursday LB Daren Bates (hip), S Kevin Byard (not injury related), K Stephen Gostkowski (not injury related), C Ben Jones (hamstring), LB Derick Roberson (hamstring), TE Geoff Swaim (wrist) Friday LB Daren Bates (hip), S Kevin Byard (not injury related), RB Darrynton Evans (shoulder), K Stephen Gostkowski (not injury related), RB Derrick Henry (not injury related), CB Adoree’ Jackson (knee), LB Derick Roberson (hamstring), TE Geoff Swaim (wrist)
CHICAGO BEARS at NEW ORLEANS SAINTS on Sunday CHICAGO BEARS The Bears did not practice Wednesday. The Wednesday practice report is an estimation. Status Report OUT CB Buster Skrine (concussion) QUESTIONABLE CB Jaylon Johnson (shoulder), WR Darnell Mooney (ankle), LB Roquan Smith (elbow), LB Josh Woods (toe, glute) Practice Report DID NOT PARTICIPATE IN PRACTICE Wednesday WR Darnell Mooney (ankle), WR Cordarrelle Patterson (not injury related), CB Buster Skrine (concussion), LB Roquan Smith (elbow) Thursday WR Darnell Mooney (ankle), WR Cordarrelle Patterson (not injury related), WR Allen Robinson (hamstring), CB Buster Skrine (concussion), LB Roquan Smith (elbow) Friday WR Darnell Mooney (ankle), CB Buster Skrine (concussion), LB Roquan Smith (elbow) LIMITED PARTICIPATION IN PRACTICE Wednesday CB Jaylon Johnson (shoulder) Thursday CB Jaylon Johnson (shoulder), CB Duke Shelley (knee), LB Josh Woods (toe, glute) Friday CB Jaylon Johnson (shoulder), WR Allen Robinson (hamstring), CB Duke Shelley (knee), LB Josh Woods (toe, glute) FULL PARTICIPATION IN PRACTICE Wednesday G Alex Bars (shoulder), S Deon Bush (foot), S Tashaun Gipson (neck), S Eddie Jackson (wrist), TE Cole Kmet (shoulder), T Charles Leno (toe), LB Khalil Mack (shoulder), WR Allen Robinson (hamstring), CB Duke Shelley (knee), CB Kindle Vildor (ankle), LB Josh Woods (toe) Thursday G Alex Bars (shoulder), S Deon Bush (foot), S Tashaun Gipson (neck), S Eddie Jackson (wrist), TE Cole Kmet (shoulder), T Charles Leno (toe), LB Khalil Mack (shoulder), CB Kindle Vildor (ankle) Friday G Alex Bars (shoulder), S Deon Bush (foot), S Tashaun Gipson (neck), S Eddie Jackson (wrist), TE Cole Kmet (shoulder), T Charles Leno (toe), LB Khalil Mack (shoulder), WR Cordarrelle Patterson (not injury related), CB Kindle Vildor (ankle) NEW ORLEANS SAINTS Status Report OUT G Nick Easton (concussion), DE Trey Hendrickson (neck) Practice Report DID NOT PARTICIPATE IN PRACTICE Wednesday G Nick Easton (concussion) Thursday G Nick Easton (concussion), DE Trey Hendrickson (neck) Friday G Nick Easton (concussion), DE Trey Hendrickson (neck) LIMITED PARTICIPATION IN PRACTICE Wednesday S J.T. Gray (shoulder), DE Trey Hendrickson (neck), TE Josh Hill (hand), QB Taysom Hill (concussion), S Marcus Williams (ankle) Thursday S J.T. Gray (shoulder), TE Josh Hill (hand) FULL PARTICIPATION IN PRACTICE Thursday QB Taysom Hill (concussion), S Marcus Williams (ankle) Friday S J.T. Gray (shoulder), TE Josh Hill (hand), QB Taysom Hill (concussion), S Marcus Williams (ankle)
CLEVELAND BROWNS at PITTSBURGH STEELERS on Sunday night CLEVELAND BROWNS The Browns did not practice Wednesday or Thursday. The practice reports for those days are estimations. Status Report QUESTIONABLE T Jack Conklin (knee, illness), DE Myles Garrett (shoulder), CB Terrance Mitchell (not injury related), WR Donovan Peoples-Jones (concussion), DT Sheldon Richardson (neck), CB M.J. Stewart (calf), G Wyatt Teller (ankle) Practice Report Friday Practice Not Complete DID NOT PARTICIPATE IN PRACTICE Wednesday WR Donovan Peoples-Jones (concussion) Thursday WR Donovan Peoples-Jones (concussion) LIMITED PARTICIPATION IN PRACTICE Wednesday T Jack Conklin (knee), DT Sheldon Richardson (neck), CB M.J. Stewart (calf), G Wyatt Teller (ankle), C J.C. Tretter (knee) Thursday T Jack Conklin (knee), DT Sheldon Richardson (neck), CB M.J. Stewart (calf), G Wyatt Teller (ankle), C J.C. Tretter (knee) FULL PARTICIPATION IN PRACTICE Wednesday DE Myles Garrett (shoulder), T Kendall Lamm (illness), WR Jarvis Landry (hip), CB Tavierre Thomas (abdomen) Thursday DE Myles Garrett (shoulder), T Kendall Lamm (illness), WR Jarvis Landry (hip), CB Tavierre Thomas (abdomen) PITTSBURGH STEELERS Status Report (no players listed) Practice Report DID NOT PARTICIPATE IN PRACTICE Wednesday DE Tyson Alualu (ankle), LB Vince Williams (quadricep) Thursday DE Isaiah Buggs (illness), WR JuJu Smith-Schuster (knee) LIMITED PARTICIPATION IN PRACTICE Wednesday K Chris Boswell (right groin), CB Steven Nelson (knee) Friday K Chris Boswell (right groin) FULL PARTICIPATION IN PRACTICE Wednesday S Terrell Edmunds (shoulder) Thursday DE Tyson Alualu (ankle), K Chris Boswell (right groin), S Terrell Edmunds (shoulder), CB Steven Nelson (knee), LB Vince Williams (quadricep) Friday DE Tyson Alualu (ankle), DE Isaiah Buggs (illness), S Terrell Edmunds (shoulder), CB Steven Nelson (knee), WR JuJu Smith-Schuster (knee), LB Vince Williams (quadricep)
NOTRE DAME FOOTBALL
Marcus Freeman to Join Notre Dame as Bob Hinton Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers Coach
NOTRE DAME, Indiana — University of Notre Dame Dick Corbett Head Football Coach Brian Kelly announced the addition of Marcus Freeman to his coaching staff Friday. Freeman will serve as the Bob Hinton Defensive Coordinator, and will work directly with the Irish linebackers. The hiring will be effective at the conclusion of the University’s standard employment process.
“As we looked into finding someone to run our defense, it was important to find the right fit for our program and Marcus and his family are just that,” said Kelly. “He has had great success on the field, both running a defense and in his direct work with his linebackers. Additionally, he is considered among the elite recruiters in the coaching ranks.
“The work Marcus has done elevating the programs he has been a part of speaks for itself, but equally as important is the exceptional work he has done in building relationships with his staff and players. Marcus was our top choice to become our next defensive coordinator, and we are pleased he and his family will be joining us at Notre Dame.”
Freeman comes to South Bend from his former post as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at the University of Cincinnati, a position he held beginning in January 2017.
The Bearcats (9-1) made national noise in 2020-21, entering bowl season as the No. 8-ranked team in the nation and winning the American Athletic Conference Championship, the program’s first outright league title since 2009, when Kelly served as Cincinnati’s head coach. Cincinnati made an appearance in the Chik-Fil-A Peach Bowl, falling by a narrow margin to No. 9 Georgia, after an undefeated regular season.
Cincinnati’s defense ranked in the Top 20 nationally in several categories for 2020-21, including being ranked 13th in total defense (324.6 yards per game) and eighth in scoring defense (16.8 points per game) among all FBS teams. In addition, the Bearcats were third in team passing efficiency defense (101.25), 14th in rushing defense (111.1 yards per game), 15th in red zone defense (0.735 rate), 17th in fourth down defense (0.375 rate), 16th in team sacks (3.0 per game) and 10th in turnovers gained (21).
Standout Bearcat cornerback Ahmad Gardner garnered multiple All-America selections, being named to the FWAA and USA TODAY first teams, in addition to the Associated Press, AFCA and The Athletic second teams. He was also named first-team All-AAC.
Prior to his 2020 success, Freeman has been part of a UC staff which coached the Bearcats to back-to-back 11-win seasons in 2018 and 2019, the 2019 American Athletic Conference East Division Championship and consecutive bowl-game wins in the 2018 Military Bowl and 2019 TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl.
The Bearcats finished atop the 2019 AAC ranks in scoring defense for the second-straight season and ranked among the league’s top three in rushing and total defense. In 2018, Cincinnati led the American in rushing defense, scoring defense and total defense and ranked among the Top-15 in the NCAA FBS in all three categories.
Prior to Cincinnati, Freeman spent four years at Purdue, where he coached linebackers all four seasons and served as the Boilermakers co-defensive coordinator in 2015. He is credited with transforming the Purdue linebacking corps into a strength with multiple notable disciples, including: Markus Bailey, 2016 Honorable Mention All-Big Ten selection and leader of the Boilermaker defense with 97 tackles; Jimmy Herman, winner of Purdue’s Guy “Red” Mackey Award and the Noble E. Kizer Award, for exemplifying the overall success of the University’s intercollegiate athletics program and earning the highest GPA among football players over the 2016 calendar year; and Ja’Whaun Bentley, a USA Today Freshman All-American in 2014 and voted a captain by his teammates prior to the 2015 season.
Freeman coached linebackers at Kent State from 2011-12, where he guided inside linebacker Luke Batton to second team All-Mid-American Conference honors in 2012 after finishing with 143 total tackles, including 80 solo stops. Outside linebacker C.J. Malauulu was a third team all-conference selection in 2012, recording 72 total tackles.
Freeman started his coaching career as a graduate assistant coach at his alma mater, Ohio State, in 2010, as the Buckeyes went 12-1 with a victory in the Sugar Bowl.
A four-year letterwinner for the Buckeyes from 2004-08, Freeman earned second team All-Big Ten honors in 2008, while helping lead Ohio State to four conference titles, three BCS bowls and two trips to the national title game during his career. He played in the 2009 Senior Bowl and was a fifth-round NFL Draft pick of the Chicago Bears, spending time with the Bears, Buffalo Bills and Houston Texans before a medical condition ended his playing career.
A 2007 Ohio State graduate, Freeman earned Academic All-Big Ten and academic all-district honors. In 2011, he earned a master’s degree in sports management from Ohio State. He graduated from Wayne High School in Huber Heights, Ohio, and was a Parade All-American.
Freeman has a daughter, Bria, and he and his wife, Joanna, have six children: Vinny, Siena, Gino, Nico, Capri and Rocco.
BUTLER MENS BASKETBALL: Butler MBB and UConn Meet for First Time Since 2011 Title Game
GAME 9: BUTLER (3-5, 2-3 BIG EAST) VS. CONNECTICUT (5-1, 2-1 BIG EAST)
Saturday, Jan. 9; 4PM
Hinkle Fieldhouse; Indianapolis, Ind.
TV: CBS Sports Network – Jason Knapp & Chris Walker
Radio: 93.1FM – @MarkMinner & Nick Gardner (@n_gardner)
TuneIn Radio App, XM 386, SiriusXM Internet 976
The Bulldogs continue a quick two-game homestand, welcoming Connecticut to Hinkle Fieldhouse for the first time.
Butler is 3-5 on the young season and 2-3 in conference play. Georgetown is 5-1 and 2-1 (BIG EAST). All of Butler’s wins have come at Hinkle this season where the Bulldogs are 3-1.
• This is Butler and UConn’s first meeting since the 2011 NCAA National Championship Game in Houston.
• Butler closed Wednesday’s 63-55 win over Georgetown on a 10-0 run.
• After missing the previous five games with a sprained knee ligament, Aaron Thompson returned to action for Butler vs. Georgetown.
• Butler is 22nd nationally, committing an average of only 10.6 turnovers per game.
• Five different Bulldogs have led the team in scoring over the team’s first eight games.
• Four of Butler’s top seven players in minutes played this season are true freshmen.
• Four different Bulldogs have posted 20-point games for Butler so far this season.
• Butler tied a season-low by committing only six turnovers against Georgetown.
• Butler limited Georgetown to only 34-percent shooting.
• Chuck Harris has scored in double figures in five straight games.
• Myles Tate scored a career-high 22 points Saturday at Seton Hall.
• Butler shot a season-best 11-of-22 from three-point range at Seton Hall.
• 52 percent of freshman Myles Wilmoth’s rebounds this season have been on the offensive glass.
• JaKobe Coles (meniscus – left knee) is out indefinitely.
• Harris earned BIG EAST Freshman of the Week Dec. 28.
• Jair Bolden’s 2.9 three-pointers per game are second in the BIG EAST.
• Bryce Nze ranks 13th in the BIG EAST at 6.8 rebounds per game.
• Bolden has led the Bulldogs in scoring in three of his eight career games in a Butler uniform.
• Butler put five players in double figures in the win over Providence Dec. 23.
• Tate had eight rebounds and seven assists (both career-highs) against Providence Dec. 23.
• Harris posted career-highs of 22 points and six assists vs. Southern Illinois Dec. 21.
THE SERIES: This is only the second meeting in the all-time series between the two programs. Butler and UConn will now meet at least twice per season with the Huskies’ return to the BIG EAST.
The first match-up came in the 2011 national title game, which featured strong defense, a lot of missed shots, and a 53-41 UConn victory. The teams combined to go 31-of-119 from the field (26 percent). Nine of Butler’s 12 makes were three-pointers.
Kemba Walker led UConn with 16 points in that game. He and then-Butler coach Brad Stevens are now both with the Boston Celtics. Jeremy Lamb scored 12 for UConn and he now resides in Indy as a member of the Indiana Pacers.
For Butler, it was the team’s second consecutive run to the national championship game.
UConn Leads, 1-0
Streak: UConn, W1
At Hinkle Fieldhouse: 0-0
LaVall Jordan (at BU) vs. UConn: 0-0
First Meeting: UConn, 53-41; 4/4/11
(NCAA National Championship Game; Houston)
CLOSING TIME: Butler had chipped away at what was once an 11-point Georgetown lead. A Hoya basket with 4:29 remaining gave Georgetown a 55-53 lead. Butler held the Hoyas scoreless the rest of the way in taking a 63-55 win Wednesday night at Hinkle. That closing 10-0 run proved to be the distance. Overall, Butler forced Georgetown misses on 13 of their final 14 attempts from the field.
Over the past five games, Butler has been out-scored by a cumulative 45 points in the first half. In those same five games, the Bulldogs are +32 in the second half, including out-scoring Georgetown, 36-21, Wednesday night. Butler has bettered all five of those opponents over the final 20 minutes.
GETTING DEFENSIVE: Butler limited Georgetown to 34-percent shooting in Wednesday’s win, which included holding the Hoyas to a 7-of-29 performance from the field in the second half (24 percent). Jahvon Blair entered the game as the BIG EAST’s fourth-leading scorer at 19.0 points per game. Butler, keyed by the return of guard Aaron Thompson, held Blair to 11 points on 4-of-16 shooting.
YOUNG GUNS: The highest-rated recruiting class in Butler history has lived up to the billing so far. Four true freshmen are among the top seven Bulldogs in terms of minutes played through Butler’s first eight games. Chuck Harris, Myles Tate and JaKobe Coles (who is currently sidelined with a meniscus injury) have each scored in double figures in multiple games so far this season and all three have led the team in scoring in a game so far this season. In a six-point game midway through the second half at No. 7 Villanova Dec. 16, coach LaVall Jordan employed a line-up of his four freshmen alongside John-Michael Mulloy, who played a total of 76 minutes as a freshman last season.
Harris was named BIG EAST Freshman of the Week by the conference office Dec. 28. Harris is the third Bulldog to earn Freshman of the Week honors since the Bulldogs joined the BIG EAST prior to the 2013-14 season. He joins Kelan Martin (final week of the 2014-15 regular season) and Kamar Baldwin (twice during the 2016-17 season) on that list.
For the season, Harris is third among the Bulldogs with an average of 12.0 points per game. He has scored in double figures in five straight games (and six of his eight collegiate contests). He led Butler with 18 points vs. Georgetown. Among true freshmen in the BIG EAST, only Marquette’s Dawson Garcia (at 13.0 points per game) is averaging more.
Tate recorded a career-high 22 points Saturday at Seton Hall. His output included a career-best five three-pointers. He added five assists. For his efforts, he picked up a spot on the BIG EAST weekly honor roll.
Tate became the fourth different Bulldog (and second true freshman) to register a game of 20 or more points through the team’s first seven games. Last season, only Kamar Baldwin and Sean McDermott scored more than 20 points in a game.
Tate is also the fifth Bulldog (and third true freshman) to lead the team in scoring through the first eight games. Butler’s top two returning scorers – Bryce Nze and Bryce Golden – are not among the five players who have led the team in scoring at this point in the season.
This is only the third season since 2008-09 that three true freshmen have started a game for Butler: 2020-21 (Tate, Harris, Coles); 2011-12 (Roosevelt Jones, Kameron Woods, Jackson Aldridge); and 2008-09 (Gordon Hayward, Shelvin Mack, Ron Nored).
TIGHT SQUEEZE: Butler turned the ball over only six times in Wednesday’s win over Georgetown, matching the team’s fewest turnovers in a game so far this season. Butler’s average of only 10.6 turnovers per game is 22nd nationally.
This continues a strong trend from last season. Butler had 14 games last season with 10 or fewer turnovers.
THREE AT A TIME: The Bulldogs shot a sizzling 11-of-22 from three-point range Saturday at Seton Hall. The 11 three-pointers were the most by a Butler team since hitting 12 at Nebraska March 20, 2019 in the NIT.
YOU WANT HIM BEHIND THAT LINE; YOU NEED HIM BEHIND THAT LINE: Graduate transfer Jair Bolden is off to a hot start in his Butler career. Bolden’s average of 2.9 three-pointers per game is second in the BIG EAST (and 53rd nationally), while his three-point percentage of 42.6 percent is in the Top 60 nationally. Bolden is second on the team at 13.5 points per game.
Bolden’s production from behind the arc has been increasingly important as the Bulldogs only return players who made 21 of the team’s 212 three-pointers in 2019-20.
BALANCED ATTACK: In the Dec. 23 win over Providence, the Bulldogs put five players in double figures, led by freshman JaKobe Coles with 14 points. It was only the third time in more than two calendar years that Butler has had five players score 10 or more in the same game (win vs. St. John’s, 3/4/20; loss vs. Providence, 2/1/20). Prior to that, Butler had five in double figures in a Dec. 8, 2018 win over Northern Illinois.
THE ‘FIRM LAW’ OF BRYCE AND BRYCE: Bryce Nze and Bryce Golden combined to score 17 of their 20 points in the second half of Wednesday’s win over Georgetown. Each finished with 10 points. Nze (14 points and 11 rebounds) posted his first double-double of the season Dec. 21 vs. Southern Illinois, while Golden narrowly missed the first of his career (17 points and nine rebounds) in that same game. The 17 points were one shy of his career-high, while he tied his high mark in rebounds (which was originally set at Providence, Jan. 10, 2020).
HAYWARD SCORES 26 IN HORNETS WIN
Gordon Hayward scored 22 of his 26 points in the second half and the Charlotte Hornets methodically came back from an 18-point, second-quarter deficit to beat the New Orleans Pelicans 118-110 on Friday night.
“He’s a pro. He’s been here before. He’s not fazed by a bad half, a bad quarter,” Hornets coach James Borrego said. “He gives us a calming force, a presence that we may not have had in the past.
“Even in that fourth quarter as that game got tight, there was no panic,” Borrego added. “And a lot of it has to do with Gordon finishing.”
Miles Bridges scored 20 points and Devonte Graham had 17 for the Hornets, who didn’t take their first lead until the fourth quarter, when they outscored New Orleans 36-23.
Zion Williamson scored 26 points and Josh Hart had 19 for the Pelicans, who’ve lost three straight, all at home.
“There is some frustration because I just want to win,” Williamson said of the recent skid, characterized by untimely defensive lapses. “We’ve got to hold ourselves accountable for those types of losses, whether it’s the turnovers, whether it’s the lack of rotation, communication.”
Brandon Ingram added 17 points but was 3-of-10 shooting. JJ Redick also scored 17 for New Orleans, hitting four 3s.
The game marked the first time brothers Lonzo and LaMelo Ball – both top-three draft choices within the past four years – played against one another. LaMelo Ball, picked third overall in 2020, had the better night, nearly notching a triple-double with 12 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists.
“He was free and easy out there, kind of what we expect now,” Borrego said. “He’s not fazed by the moment.”
Although the Ball brothers were matched up only intermittently, LaMelo Ball hit a 3 with his brother guarding him and also blocked his brother’s driving layup.
Lonzo Ball, a second overall draft pick by the Los Angeles Lakers in 2017, missed 6 of 7 3-point shots and finished with five points.
TATUM SCORES 26 AS CELTICS HOLD OFF WIZARDS
Jayson Tatum had 32 points, Jaylen Brown had 27 points and 13 rebounds, and the Boston Celtics held off Bradley Beal and the Washington Wizards 116-107 Friday night for their fourth straight win.
Beal had 41 points and eight rebounds a game after tying the franchise record with 60 points against the 76ers.
Tatum hit 14 of 27 shots to power the short-handed Celtics, who were without Tristan Thompson, Grant Williams and Robert Williams. The trio is sidelined in COVID-19 health and safety protocol for the next seven days.
“Our job’s not to make excuses for who’s not here,” coach Brad Stevens said. “It’s to play as well as we can with who is and let the results take care of themselves.”
Rui Hachimura had 17 points and Davis Bertans had 13 as the Wizards dropped to 2-7.
The Celtics were cruising early, outscoring the Wizards 33-19 in the second quarter. They increased a 19-point halftime lead to 28 in the first five minutes of the third quarter.
The Wizards rallied from there, clawing within 99-95 with 7:36 left in the game.
Boston scored seven straight points to build a small cushion. It was 106-101 when Marcus Smart led a fast break and found Brown for a corner 3-pointer with 2:08 remaining.
Coach Scott Brooks said he may have played Beal too many minutes down the stretch.
“It’s really on me. I tried to get him some extra minutes because we were right there,” Brooks said. “He’s been playing probably three minutes too many. It doesn’t sound like a lot. But it does add up.”
Russell Westbrook was in action just two days after dislocating a finger on his right hand late in Washington’s loss to Philadelphia on Wednesday night. He played with his right ring and pinkie fingers taped together. He finished with 12 points on 4-of-16 shooting from the field.
Daniel Theis started at center for Boston and picked up two quick fouls, prompting Stevens to play second-year, 7-foot-5 Tacko Fall for just the second time this season. Fall made the most of the opportunity, coming up with a block at the rim on Westbrook in the first quarter. He also was the recipient of an alley-oop from Brown in the second.
“The coaches have been on me to just stay ready,” Fall said. “The game has slowed down a lot which has made my game a lot easier. … I know I belong, it’s just a matter of going out there and doing my job on a consistent basis.”
RAPTORS SCORE A TEAM RECORD 144
Pascal Siakam had 17 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds, Toronto made 20 3-pointers and the Raptors set a franchise record for scoring while winning for the second time this season, 144-123 over the Sacramento Kings on Friday night.
Fred VanVleet scored 34 points to help the Raptors (2-6) snap a three-game losing streak. Toronto’s only other win came on Dec. 31 against the New York Knicks.
Nick Nurse’s team won its seventh straight against the Kings despite being without point guard Kyle Lowry (personal reasons).
That, and the poise the Raptors showed after falling behind by 19 points in the first half, had Nurse beaming afterward.
“When there’s a whole bunch of guys hitting the floor with that level of fight, it kind of snowballs a little bit. It’s contagious,” Nurse said. “There wasn’t a whole lot to hang our heads about other than the start, and we didn’t then.”
Chris Boucher added 23 points and 10 rebounds for Toronto. Norman Powell scored 22 points and Terence Davis had 18.
“We did a great job of playing with energy throughout the game, even at the start,” said Powell, who made four 3s. “We clawed our way back into the game and the guys showed a lot of heart, toughness and togetherness to give us a chance going into that second half.”
De’Aaron Fox scored 23 points and rookie Tyrese Haliburton had 15 points and eight assists for Sacramento.
Toronto outscored Sacramento 33-20 in the fourth quarter.
“They manhandled us, especially in that second half,” Kings coach Luke Walton said. “We built up a nice, big lead, and you see it all the time in the NBA … they got hot. It didn’t matter who they put in the game, they weren’t missing. We relaxed, and as soon as we relaxed they found a nice smooth rhythm.”
The Raptors’ previous record for scoring in the regular season was 140 points, last done against the New Orleans Pelicans on Oct. 22, 2019. Toronto scored 150 points against the Brooklyn Nets on Aug. 23 in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
SIXERS REMAIN IN NY AFTER SETH CURRY POSITIVE TEST
The Philadelphia 76ers are quarantining in New York because of a positive COVID-19 test for guard Seth Curry.
A person familiar with the situation says the Sixers stayed overnight after the team learned of Curry’s positive result during Thursday’s loss against the Nets. The person spoke to The Associated Press Friday on condition of anonymity because the team has not made Curry’s condition public. The person said as of Friday morning Curry was the only positive test on the Sixers.
Curry sat out Thursday’s game because of a sore left ankle and appeared to wear a mask as he sat on the bench for part of the first half. Curry hit six 3-pointers and scored 28 points in Wednesday’s win over Washington.
The Sixers are scheduled to play Denver in Philadelphia on Saturday.
SEATTLE MAYOR OPTIMISTIC THE NBA WILL RETURN
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan is “pretty optimistic” the city will once again be home to an NBA franchise following discussions with commissioner Adam Silver.
“It is very good news for the city of Seattle that (the NBA is) thinking of an expansion team,” Durkan told KING 5.
Silver spoke in December about the possibility of revisiting plans for expanding the league beyond 30 teams after the pandemic altered the NBA’s financial outlook. However, he admitted discussions are “certainly not to the point that expansion is on the front burner.”
Seattle has been without an NBA team since the SuperSonics moved to Oklahoma City following the 2007-08 campaign. That decision came on the heels of a drawn-out battle between then-Mayor Greg Nickels, team owner Clay Bennett, and late commissioner David Stern.
“I think (Silver) has said publicly that Seattle is at the top of the list,” Durkan added. “Look, if there’s basketball karma, we’ll get the Sonics. If there’s economics involved, we’ll get the Sonics. If there’s just smart, what’s the best city in America, we’ll get the Sonics. So, I’m pretty optimistic.”
After Bennett failed to secure public funding for the outdated KeyArena, the team was moved to Oklahoma City. A potential venue for the SuperSonics is no longer an issue, as the renovated KeyArena – now known as the Climate Pledge Arena – is set to open its doors by late summer to host NHL expansion side Seattle Kraken and the WNBA’s Seattle Storm.
Sports executive Tim Leiweke, whose Oak View Group was behind the Kraken, says an additional $50 million was spent on the $1-billion-plus Climate Pledge Arena to house an NBA franchise.
“This isn’t a new market,” Leiweke said. “This is a marketplace that has led the league in attendance.”
The introduction of an expansion team requires the approval of club owners, though Leiweke believes there’s enough pedigree in Seattle basketball and NBA executives with local roots to get the thumbs up.
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has been linked with an expansion franchise in the city after purchasing the naming rights to the Climate Pledge Arena in June 2020 to bring attention to climate change threats. The arena vows to be the first zero-carbon one in the world. Bezos, however, has not publicly admitted any intention of becoming an owner of a team.
STARS OPEN DELAYED BY POSITIVE TESTS
The NHL said Friday that six Dallas Stars players and two staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 in a development that will push back the opener for the defending Western Conference champions by nearly a week.
The Columbus Blue Jackets also held a number of players off the ice “out of abundance of caution” in another reminder that the pandemic will likely play havoc with the season opening next Wednesday.
Dallas had been set to open the season Jan. 14 at Florida. The NHL said it was “reviewing and revising” the Stars’ schedule and the opener was not likely to be any earlier than Jan. 19, currently a rematch in Tampa Bay against the Stanley Cup champion Lightning.
The Dallas players and staff are self-isloating and the team’s training facilities were closed for the next several days amid contact tracing. The Blue Jackets, who open their season the same night at Nashville, said its move was “in accordance with NHL COVID-19 protocols.”
The NHL successfully completed its pandemic-interrupted season in twin playoff bubbles last fall without any positive tests but has warned that the upcoming season will be a challenge.
The NHL has shortened the regular season to 56 games for each of its 31 teams, who will play only division foes and sometimes multiple times in a matter of a few days. The divisions themselves were also realigned based on geography in an effort to limit travel; the North Division includes only the seven Canadian teams to avoid the complications of cross-border travel to and from the U.S.
DEVILS’ CRAWFORD TAKES LEAVE
Corey Crawford has taken an indefinite leave of absence from the New Jersey Devils for personal reasons, the club announced Friday.
The Devils signed the veteran goaltender to a two-year, $7.8-million contract in October.
Crawford, who turned 36 on Dec. 31, played his first 13 NHL seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks. He helped Chicago win the Stanley Cup in 2013 and 2015.
The Devils’ other primary netminder, Mackenzie Blackwood, wished Crawford well Friday.
“I hope he’s alright; I just hope that whatever he needs to do to feel good or be happy, he gets that,” Blackwood said, according to Devils associate producer Amanda Stein. “We all support him.”
2021 Purdue Wrestling Season Preview: 125-141
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – After one of the best campaigns in program history in 2019-20, the Purdue wrestling team aims to continue its ascent on the NCAA scene in 2021. The Boilermakers return a pair of NWCA First Team All-Americans, six national qualifiers and eight starters from last year’s historic squad, and head coach Tony Ersland has his sights set on more outstanding achievements this year.
The Boilermakers announced their 2021 schedule last week, which will consist entirely of Big Ten Conference competition. The slate features a pair of home duals, three duals on the road and a pair of conference tri-duals. The 2021 Big Ten Championships is scheduled for March 6-7 at Penn State University, while the NCAA Championships is on the docket for March 18-20 at the Enterprise Center in St. Louis.
While the COVID-10 pandemic cancelled the 2020 NCAA Championships, and has significantly impacted the 2020-21 season, the Boilermakers have been hard at work preparing for another run on the national scene. Before the intrusion Purdue managed to post its best Big Ten finish since 1992, taking fifth at the conference tournament at Rutgers with 83 points, and advancing a pair of individuals to the finals. They qualified eight individuals for the NCAA Championships, where four Boilermakers earned top-six seeds at their respective weight classes.
The Boilermakers had just one opportunity to compete through the rest of 2020 as 10 individuals weighed in for the USA Wrestling U23 and UWW Junior National freestyle championships in Omaha in November. Four individuals earned places on the podium, including a national finalist at 86 kg in the U23 division.
The bottom of the Boilermaker lineup will feature a familiar and extremely welcome face in 2020 NWCA All-American Devin Schroder. The Grand Rapids, Michigan native had a breakout junior season, posting a 26-5 overall record with four major decision, nine technical falls and a pair of falls. He was the Big Ten runner up at 125 pounds and earned the No. 5 seed at the NCAA Championships, in addition to a second-place finish at the 2019 Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational. He’s established himself as one of the top lightweights in program history, currently ranking 16th all-time at Purdue in win percentage (.725) and third in back points at 390, including 156 last season, good for the No. 6 single-season total all-time for the Boilermakers.
While Schroder’s top game is both feared and respected by everyone he walks out to face on the mat, it was his wrestling from the neutral position that saw the biggest gains in 2019-20. While putting up a career-most 49 takedowns in 31 matches, he relinquished only 16 takedowns to his opponents. He led the Boilermakers with 299 total points and 63 dual team points on the season.
Providing support at the lowest weight class will be sophomore Nate Cummings and freshman Kooper Loehr. While posting a 6-9 overall record on the year, Cummings spent a bulk of the season on the travel squad and had a pair of place-winning performances at open tournaments. Loehr redshirted the 2019-20 season and finished up his season with a third-place effort at the Indianapolis Greyhound Open.
Purdue features another returning starter at 133 pounds as sophomore Travis Ford-Melton aims to improve on his true freshman campaign. After starting the 2019-20 season in redshirt status, Ford-Melton joined the varsity lineup at the 2019 Boilermaker Duals and went 14-14 on the year. The Monee, Illinois native had three major decisions and four falls in his rookie campaign and took third in the freshman/sophomore division of the Michigan State Open.
True freshman Jacob Rundell has his sights set on a Boilermaker career at 125 pounds, but is likely to spend his inaugural season at 133 to provide depth and support. Rundell is a two-time Illinois high school state championship finalist, winning the 2018 title at 106 pounds, and was a consensus top-100 ranked recruit coming out of Oak Park & Forest River High School. With the 2020-21 COVID eligibility extension waiver a possibility for all the Boilermaker student athletes, Rundell has a real possibility to see varsity action alongside Ford-Melton at 133 pounds this season.
The 2019-20 continuity holds suit for the Boilermakers at 141 pounds with the return of 2020 NCAA qualifier Parker Filius. The rising junior had one of the biggest turnarounds in the nation from 2018-19 to 2019-20, dropping from 149 pounds and posting a 19-10 overall record. He took eighth at the Big Ten Championships, earning an automatic bid to nationals for the first time, and put together a 5-4 record in Big Ten duals.
Filius played a key role in two of Purdue’s biggest dual wins on the season, earning a 4-2 sudden victory over JoJo Aragona to seal the Boilermakers’ 20-18 come-from-behind victory at No. 22 Rutgers, and knocking off No. 13 Dylan Duncan of Illinois in an 18-14 win on the road over the Fighting Illini.
Fellow junior and Montana native Bjorn Schroeder adds extra depth and experience at 141, posting an 8-7 sophomore campaign that included five falls and a third-place finish at the Indianapolis Greyhound Open. Freshman Michael Leveille comes off redshirt this year as well, putting together a solid rookie campaign that included placewinning performances at Indianapolis (fifth), the Purple Raider Open (third) and the Maryville Kaufman/Bayly/Brand Open (fourth).
Big Ten Network Announces 2021 Big Ten Wrestling Schedule
At least 18 duals scheduled to air on Big Ten Network
CHICAGO, Ill. – The Big Ten Network today announced its schedule for the 2021 Big Ten Wrestling season, featuring at least 18 scheduled duals in a conference-only slate beginning on Friday, Jan. 8.
Ten Big Ten teams are currently ranked in the top 20 of TrackWrestling’s rankings, including the four of the top five. No. 1 Iowa, No. 2 Michigan, No. 3 Penn State, No. 5 Nebraska, No. 7 Ohio State, No. 10 Rutgers, No. 12 Northwestern, No. 13 Minnesota, No. 17 Michigan State and No. 19 Purdue lead the way for the nation’s top wrestling conference.
Wrestling coverage begins with a top-15 doubleheader tonight, as No. 2 Michigan takes on No. 10 Rutgers at 7 p.m. ET, before No. 13 Minnesota visits No. 5 Nebraska at 9 p.m. ET. Additional highlights include a matchup of No. 1 Iowa vs. No. 2 Michigan at noon ET on Sunday, Jan. 31, a rivalry doubleheader on Feb. 12 with No. 7 Ohio State visiting No. 2 Michigan at 7 p.m. ET before No. 1 Iowa takes on No. 3 Penn State at 9 p.m. ET and No. 3 Penn State traveling to Columbus to face No. 7 Ohio State at 7 p.m. ET on Friday, Feb. 19.
Shane Sparks, who was recently named as the NWMA Broadcaster of the Year, and newcomer Ray Flores will provide play-by-play alongside analysts Jim Gibbons and Tim Johnson to anchor BTN’s dual meet coverage.
Big Ten Network’s original digital series, On The Mat, returns to YouTube tonight for season two with features on Rutgers’ Sebastian Rivera and the 20th anniversary of Minnesota’s national championship. On The Mat tells the behind-the-scenes stories of Big Ten wrestlers and programs navigating the most competitive wrestling conference in the country. Additionally, a new Big Ten Network wrestling Instagram account is launching this season with highlights, original content and special features for Big Ten wrestling fans.
In the coming weeks, additional events will be assigned to Big Ten Network+, a subscription service for non-televised live events. This season, sport-specific packages are available at a new price point for fans only interested in viewing wrestling events. For details and subscription information, please visit btnplus.com.
Big Ten Network Wrestling Schedule
|Day||Date||Visiting Team||Home Team||Time (ET)|
|Friday||Jan. 8||No. 2 Michigan||at||No. 10 Rutgers||7:00 PM|
|Friday||Jan. 8||No. 13 Minnesota||at||No. 5 Nebraska||9:00 PM|
|Sunday||Jan. 10||Illinois||at||Indiana||12:00 PM|
|Friday||Jan. 15||No. 12 Northwestern||at||No. 19 Purdue||7:00 PM|
|Friday||Jan. 15||No. 5 Nebraska||at||No. 1 Iowa||9:00 PM|
|Saturday||Jan. 16||No. 3 Penn State||at||No. 10 Rutgers||2:30 PM|
|Friday||Jan. 22||No. 1 Iowa||at||No. 13 Minnesota||TBD|
|Sunday||Jan. 31||No. 2 Michigan||at||No. 1 Iowa||TBD|
|Sunday||Jan. 31||No. 7 Ohio State||at||Maryland||TBD|
|Sunday||Feb. 7||No. 3 Penn State||at||No. 2 Michigan||TBD|
|Sunday||Feb. 7||No. 1 Iowa||vs.||No. 7 Ohio State||TBD|
|Friday||Feb. 12||No. 7 Ohio State||at||No. 2 Michigan||TBD|
|Friday||Feb. 12||No. 1 Iowa||at||No. 3 Penn State||TBD|
|Friday||Feb. 19||No. 2 Michigan||at||Michigan State||TBD|
|Friday||Feb. 19||No. 3 Penn State||at||No. 7 Ohio State||TBD|
|Sunday||Feb. 21||No. 1 Iowa||at||Wisconsin||TBD|
|Monday||2/21 or 22||Indiana||at||No. 19 Purdue||TBD|
|Monday||2/21 or 22||Maryland||at||No. 3 Penn State||TBD|
|Saturday||March 6||B1G Championships||at||Penn State||TBD|
|Sunday||March 7||B1G Championships||at||Penn State||TBD|
TODAY IN SPORTS HISTORY
NEW YORK – “He’s merely wonderful.” That’s how one college coach described Oscar Robertson, Cincinnati University’s 19-year-old sophomore, who staged the greatest one-man show in Madison Square Garden basketball history tonight. No player, professional or amateur, ever had achieved so many points in a game as did Robertson in leading the Bearcats to a record-smashing 118-54 rout of Seton Hall.
The 56 points tallied by the 6-foot 5-inch star from Indianapolis set an individual scoring mark for the Eighth Avenue arena, where basketball has been played since 1934. Robertson left the game with 2 minutes 46 seconds remaining. He left with the cheers of 4,615 spectators ringing in his ears and with the knowledge that he had scored more points than the entire Seton Hall squad.
Coach George Smith’s Bearcats captured the fancy of the fans easily. They simply overpowered Honey Russell’s New Jersey Pirates and in doing so accounted for a college team scoring high at the Garden. Great as Robertson was, his Cincinnati quintet was hardly a one-man team. Connie Dierking was quite a performer. So were Ralph Davis, Wayne Stevens and Mike Mendenhall. Led by Robertson, the twice-beaten Bearcats averaged 56 per cent with their floor shots, making fifty of eighty-nine.
By half-time, when Cincinnati had soared to an incredible 58-20 advantage, virtually everyone in the Garden was singing the praises of the 196-pound Robertson, a smooth, stylish, sure-handed forward. With every move Robertson made it was obvious that he was the best collegian player seen here in many a season.
What made his performance all the more remarkable was the fact that he never attempted a shot from farther than twenty-five feet out and only three times did he do that, clicking each time. Most of the time, the lad drove in, hooked from the bucket, feinted his way in with lay-ups or tossed in short-range one-handers.
Robertson collected twenty-two field goals on thirty-two shots. He caged twelve straight fouls, grabbed fifteen rebounds and still found time to make a half-dozen assists. Against such an athlete, supported by so many strong Bearcats, Seton Hall never had a chance.
TODAY IN BASEBALL HISTORY
1903 Baltimore’s defunct American League franchise is sold to Frank Farrell and Bill Devery for $18,000 and will be relocated to New York to begin the season. The Manhattan team, who will play at Hilltop Park located in the northern part of the island borough, will be first known as the Highlanders before being officially renamed the Yankees in 1913.
1952 The Marines announce their plan to recall Red Sox outfielder Ted Williams, who missed three years in the majors due to serving in WW II, back to active duty. The bomber pilot, who will fly 39 missions over Korea and survive a crash-landing after being shot down by the enemy, will play briefly at the start of the season, but will not return to the Boston lineup on a full-time basis until late in the 1953 season.
1960 In the first episode of Home Run Derby ever aired, Mickey Mantle overcomes an 8-2 deficit to beat Giants superstar Willie Mays, 9-8, when he goes deep in the bottom of the ninth at LA’s Wrigley Field. The ‘Say Hey Kid,’ who had hit four homers before the Yankee slugger stepped up to the plate, agrees to double their $500 side bet when he is ahead by five runs in the seventh, enabling his opponent to walk away with both the winning and losing share of the contest.
1961 Ending two months of negotiations, the Twins of the American League agree on a $500,000 indemnity payment to the American Association for entering the minor league’s territory in Minnesota. The settlement paves the way for the team, formerly known as the Senators, to move from Washington, D.C., and play their home games in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area.
1982 Tony Conigliaro, while being driven to the airport by his brother Billy suffers a massive heart attack, resulting in irreversible brain damage that will leave the 36 year-old unresponsive until his death in 1990. The former Red Sox outfielder, whose career was shortened in 1967 when a Jack Hamilton’s pitch smashed into his left cheekbone, dislocating his jaw and damaging the retina of the left eye, had been in Boston to interview for a broadcasting job with the team.
1984 Pascual Perez is arrested in his native Dominican Republic for the possession of cocaine and will remain in jail, missing the start of the season. The Braves’ 26 year-old All-Star right-hander maintains his innocence, claiming an unknown woman gave him the package.
1989 Reds catcher Johnny Bench and Red Sox outfielder Carl Yastrzemski, foes in the classic 1975 World Series, are elected to the Hall of Fame. The perennial All-Star backstop is named on 96.4% of the BBWAA ballots, making Ty Cobb and Hank Aaron the only players to receive a higher percentage of the writers’ votes.
1990 The BBWAA elects Jim Palmer (three-time AL Cy Young Winner), and Joe Morgan (two-time NL MVP) to the Hall of Fame, both in their first year of eligibility. The Orioles’ right-hander compiled a 268-152 (.638) record, spending his entire 19-year career in Baltimore, and the diminutive second baseman finished his 22-year tenure in the big leagues with a batting average of .271 playing with five different teams, including the Big Red Machine.
1990 “No one on either side of the table is pleased by the prospect, but the issue of deadlines is part and parcel of labor negotiations.” – CHARLES O’CONNOR, the owners’ chief labor negotiator, addressing the possibility of spring training lockout.The owners announce a spring training lockout of major league players will begin on February 15th unless there is a new collective bargaining agreement. The 32-day work stoppage will occur as scheduled, lasting, settled when the owners agree to (1) raise their annual pension fund contribution to $55 million, (2) reach an agreement for salary arbitration for 17 percent of the players with between two and three years of experience, (3) and okays an increase of the minimum salary to $100,000.
2001 The Expos agree to a one-year, approximately $2 million contract with French-language Reseau des Sports and TSN to telecast 55 games (46 on RDS, 12 on TSN, and three on both) this year. The pact ends the year-long local television blackout which resulted in the departure of respected play-by-play announcer Dave Van Horne, and the loss of the sponsorship of Labatt Brewery, which cited the lack of local TV rights as a factor in ending its 15-year relationship with the club.
2001 The Indians, to fill the void created by Manny Ramirez’s departure to Boston, sign Juan Gonzalez to a one-year, $10-million deal. The two-time American League MVP leaves the Tigers after hitting .289 with only 67 RBIs in a disappointing injury-plagued season, after turning down a $143 million, eight-year contract extension stay in Detroit last year.
2002 Billy Wagner becomes one of baseball’s highest-paid relievers when signs a $27 million deal with the Astros. The 30 year-old will get $8 million in each of the next three seasons with a $9 million club option for 2005 with a $3 million buyout.
2002 Postseason spark plug Craig Counsell (.275, 4, 38) signs a three-year, $7.25 million deal with the Diamondbacks. The NLCS MVP, who was cut by the Dodgers in 2000, played the infield in 141 games for the World Series champion Diamondbacks last season.
2005 Carlos Beltran (.267, 38, 104) becomes the tenth $100 million player in major league history when the 27 year-old native of Puerto Rico agrees to a seven-year deal for $119 million with the Mets. The five-tool outfielder, who had his market value increase with his postseason performance with the Astros, goes to New York after Houston refuses to include a no-trade clause in their very generous offer to keep him on the club.
2006 The Red Sox sign 37 year-old Giants’ free-agent J.T. Snow to a one-year, $2 million contract. The six-time Gold Glove winner acquired to share playing time at first base with Kevin Youkilis, will be released by the Boston in June, after appearing in only 38 games for his new team.
2008 The Mayo Smith Society names Magglio Ordonez as the winner of its annual King Tiger Award for his contributions on and off the field. The international organization for Detroit fans revived the honor in 2004, a tradition that was started and maintained by various fan clubs from 1961 to 1980.
2012 The Baseball Writers’ Association of America elects former Reds infielder Barry Larkin as its only player to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown in July. The Cincinnati shortstop, who received 86.4 percent of the scribes’ votes, will be joined by Ron Santo, who was selected posthumously last month by the Golden Era committee.
2020 Former Walmart Inc. chief executive David Glass, who owned the Royals for 19 years before selling the franchise last season to Cleveland Indians vice-chairman John Sherman, dies of complications from pneumonia at the age of 84. Although Kansas City won two AL pennants and a World Series during his ownership, the fans disliked him due to the bottom-line management style he practiced with the team, similar to the role he played as the CEO of the largest retailer in the United States.