INDIANA BOYS BASKETBALL SCORES

ARGOS44PIONEER32 
AUSTIN56MADISON47 
BATESVILLE43EAST CENTRAL33 
BEDFORD NORTH LAWRENCE62SILVER CREEK43 
BEECH GROVE73INDIANAPOLIS RONCALLI35 
BEN DAVIS57BROWNSBURG33 
BETHANY CHRISTIAN37LAKELAND CHRISTIAN35 
BLOOMFIELD55WHITE RIVER VALLEY34 
BLOOMINGTON NORTH55FRANKLIN41 
BLOOMINGTON SOUTH62FLOYD CENTRAL54 
BREBEUF JESUIT53HAMILTON SOUTHEASTERN52 
BROWNSTOWN CENTRAL70MITCHELL33 
CAMBRIDGE CITY LINCOLN69RANDOLPH SOUTHERN58 
CASTLE66COLLINSVILLE (ILL.)39 
CENTER GROVE55FORT WAYNE SNIDER38 
CHARLESTOWN72CHRISTIAN ACADEMY57 
CHRISTEL HOUSE MANUAL70PROVIDENCE CRISTO REY58 
CLAY CITY45SOUTH VERMILLION42 
CONCORD55EAST NOBLE26 
CONNERSVILLE41RICHMOND39 
CORYDON CENTRAL51JASPER46 
CULVER44TRINITY GREENLAWN29 
DEMOTTE CHRISTIAN76SOUTH CENTRAL (UNION MILLS)60 
DELTA73MUNCIE CENTRAL71OT
EDINBURGH62TRINITY LUTHERAN45 
ELWOOD61UNION (MODOC)43 
EVANSVILLE BOSSE70DANVILLE (ILL.)56 
EVANSVILLE REITZ64ALTHOFF CATHOLIC (ILL.)60 
FORT WAYNE BLACKHAWK70CHESTERTON68 
FORT WAYNE CONCORDIA62NEW HAVEN52 
FORT WAYNE NORTH77BOWMAN ACADEMY60 
FORT WAYNE WAYNE65COLUMBIA CITY45 
FOUNTAIN CENTRAL72WESTERN BOONE34 
FREMONT55ANGOLA52 
GARRETT69BLUFFTON682OT
GARY 21ST CENTURY81BOLINGBROOK (ILL.)77 
GREENFIELD-CENTRAL55LAWRENCEBURG32 
GREENSBURG67FRANKLIN COUNTY36 
GREENWOOD CHRISTIAN63SHENANDOAH26 
GRIFFITH43CALUMET41 
HANOVER CENTRAL66WHEELER40 
HENDERSON COUNTY (KY.)59PRINCETON47 
HUNTINGTON NORTH43HOBART27 
INDIAN CREEK62NORTH PUTNAM50 
INDIANAPOLIS ATTUCKS86FORT WAYNE SOUTH43 
INDIANAPOLIS CATHEDRAL91INDIANAPOLIS TECH36 
INDIANAPOLIS RITTER59INDIANAPOLIS LUTHERAN55 
INDIANAPOLIS SCECINA58HERITAGE CHRISTIAN53 
JEFFERSONVILLE64EVANSVILLE CHRISTIAN57 
JENNINGS COUNTY52SEYMOUR37 
JIMTOWN53FAIRFIELD43 
JOHN GLENN47LAVILLE33 
KOKOMO41CARMEL39 
LAPORTE63KNOX46 
LAFAYETTE CENTRAL CATHOLIC65ROSSVILLE40 
LAKE CENTRAL94HAMMOND MORTON46 
LAKE STATION73HAMMOND NOLL70OT
LAWRENCE NORTH74FORT WAYNE NORTHROP54 
LINTON-STOCKTON67EVANSVILLE HARRISON642OT
LOOGOOTEE76SPRINGS VALLEY48 
MACONAQUAH68LOGANSPORT52 
MADISON-GRANT93TRI-CENTRAL59 
MANCHESTER75WINAMAC33 
MARION69FORT WAYNE DWENGER57 
MARTINSVILLE64EASTERN GREENE42 
MISHAWAKA MARIAN58GARY WEST52 
MONROE CENTRAL54HAGERSTOWN39 
MOUNT VERNON (POSEY)55GIBSON SOUTHERN49 
NEW PALESTINE77FRANKLIN CENTRAL61 
NEW WASHINGTON75CROTHERSVILLE60 
NORTH DAVIESS63EVANSVILLE MATER DEI50 
NORTH JUDSON61WESTVILLE53 
NORTH MONTGOMERY48COVINGTON35 
NORTH NEWTON65ATTICA20 
NORTHEAST DUBOIS55FOREST PARK47 
NORTHRIDGE59GOSHEN47 
OREGON-DAVIS54TRI-TWP.43 
PARKE HERITAGE63SOUTH PUTNAM59 
PENDLETON HEIGHTS56LIBERTY CHRISTIAN53 
PERU51TIPPECANOE VALLEY41 
PIKE71ANDERSON66 
PLAINFIELD73DANVILLE68 
PLEASANT VIEW CHRISTIAN83CANNELTON31 
PURDUE POLY ENGLEWOOD86INDIANAPOLIS RIVERSIDE54 
RISING SUN53OLDENBURG ACADEMY35 
RUSHVILLE48CENTERVILLE43 
SCOTTSBURG61COLUMBUS NORTH51 
SEEGER75CRAWFORDSVILLE48 
SHAKAMAK70NORTH VERMILLION42 
SHERIDAN65FRANKFORT51 
SOUTH BEND ADAMS70MICHIGAN CITY60 
SOUTH DECATUR67SOUTH RIPLEY58 
SOUTHERN WELLS54SMITH ACADEMY39 
SOUTHPORT44MOUNT VERNON (FORTVILLE)41OT
SOUTHRIDGE58PERRY CENTRAL35 
SOUTHWESTERN (HANOVER)71CLARKSVILLE48 
SPRINGFIELD SOUTHEAST (ILL.)63EVANSVILLE NORTH51 
SULLIVAN62EDGEWOOD25 
SWITZERLAND COUNTY57HAUSER47 
TIPTON83COWAN53 
TRI-WEST43BENTON CENTRAL42 
TRI72UNION CITY39 
TRITON CENTRAL68NORTH DECATUR58 
TWIN LAKES59NORTH WHITE29 
VALPARAISO64ELKHART32 
WALDRON56SOUTHWESTERN (SHELBYVILLE)31 
WAPAHANI70ALEXANDRIA44 
WARREN CENTRAL72INDIANAPOLIS TINDLEY50 
WARSAW65SOUTH BEND ST. JOSEPH48 
WASHINGTON85TELL CITY35 
WES-DEL53DALEVILLE50 
WEST LAFAYETTE59HAMILTON HEIGHTS53 
WEST VIGO79BROWN COUNTY35 
WESTFIELD50BETHESDA CHRISTIAN36 
WOODLAN66CHURUBUSCO38 
YORKTOWN58SHELBYVILLE44 
ZIONSVILLE53NEW ALBANY34 
WASHINGTON COUNTY INVITATIONAL
WEST WASHINGTON52SALEM35 
EASTERN (PEKIN)54BORDEN44 

INDIANA GIRLS BASKETBALL SCORES

ANDREAN84HOBART58 
BEDFORD NORTH LAWRENCE69EVANSVILLE MATER DEI35 
BELLMONT53NEW HAVEN13 
BETHANY CHRISTIAN52LAKELAND CHRISTIAN40 
BLOOMINGTON NORTH56NEW CASTLE39 
BLUFFTON50ADAMS CENTRAL43 
BROWN COUNTY51WEST VIGO26 
CASCADE61PIKE49 
CASTLE71BLOOMINGTON SOUTH64 
CENTER GROVE60AVON24 
COLUMBIA CITY78EAST NOBLE19 
COVINGTON48NORTH NEWTON443OT
DECATUR CENTRAL53MONROVIA35 
EAST CENTRAL60BATESVILLE38 
EASTERN (PEKIN)57ROCK CREEK ACADEMY48 
EASTSIDE52LAKELAND48 
EVANSVILLE CHRISTIAN51NORTH DAVIESS48 
EVANSVILLE MEMORIAL61NORTH CENTRAL (INDIANAPOLIS)39 
EVANSVILLE NORTH60TERRE HAUTE NORTH31 
EVANSVILLE REITZ66WEBSTER COUNTY (KY.)46 
FISHERS49HAMILTON SOUTHEASTERN48 
FLOYD CENTRAL59SALEM27 
FORT WAYNE SNIDER59FAIRFIELD38 
FRANKLIN63SHELBYVILLE39 
FRANKTON52OAK HILL34 
FRONTIER41ELWOOD17 
GREENFIELD-CENTRAL64DELTA39 
GREENSBURG57SOUTH RIPLEY11 
GREENWOOD29GUERIN CATHOLIC25 
HARRISON (WEST LAFAYETTE)56PLAINFIELD46 
HAUSER60WALDRON48 
HIGHLAND50MICHIGAN CITY28 
HUNTINGTON NORTH51LEO24 
INDIAN CREEK61NORTH PUTNAM23 
INDIANAPOLIS CATHEDRAL59HERITAGE CHRISTIAN55 
INDIANAPOLIS SCECINA43SOUTH DECATUR41 
JAY COUNTY56SOUTH ADAMS36 
KANKAKEE VALLEY44BENTON CENTRAL34 
KOUTS65HEBRON28 
LANESVILLE63NEW WASHINGTON18 
LAWRENCE CENTRAL64PENDLETON HEIGHTS57 
LEBANON38BEECH GROVE21 
LINTON-STOCKTON63MITCHELL33 
LOGANSPORT46MACONAQUAH35 
MADISON-GRANT53MISSISSINEWA49 
MADISON50BORDEN49 
MISHAWAKA57CONCORD36 
MORGAN TWP.38NORTH WHITE36 
NOBLESVILLE53WESTFIELD19 
NORTH CENTRAL (FARMERSBURG)74BLOOMINGTON LIGHTHOUSE11 
NORTH KNOX46PIKE CENTRAL13 
NORTH VERMILLION46GEORGETOWN-RIDGEFARM (ILL.)40 
NORTHEASTERN50YORKTOWN45 
NORWELL62DEKALB29 
PAOLI42BARR-REEVE31 
PARK TUDOR46GREENWOOD CHRISTIAN12 
PIONEER49TRITON29 
PLYMOUTH42NORTHWOOD27 
PORTAGE50SOUTH BEND ST. JOSEPH28 
PROVIDENCE53SOUTHWESTERN (HANOVER)36 
PURDUE POLY ENGLEWOOD78INDIANAPOLIS RITTER21 
RUSHVILLE67LAWRENCEBURG58 
SILVER CREEK27BROWNSTOWN CENTRAL24 
SOUTH BEND ADAMS54LAPORTE13 
SOUTH BEND WASHINGTON69BOLINGBROOK (ILL.)63 
SOUTH DEARBORN48MILAN42 
SOUTHERN WELLS50FORT WAYNE CANTERBURY46 
SOUTHRIDGE37JASPER36 
SPRINGS VALLEY38LOOGOOTEE36 
TERRE HAUTE SOUTH43EVANSVILLE HARRISON37 
TIPPECANOE VALLEY58WHITKO35 
TRI-TWP.68OREGON-DAVIS45 
TRI67UNION CITY27 
TRINITY LUTHERAN62RISING SUN39 
VALPARAISO41NORTH JUDSON26 
WABASH60NORTHFIELD52 
WARREN CENTRAL60LAFAYETTE CENTRAL CATHOLIC44 
WARSAW56WAWASEE41 
WASHINGTON TWP.55WEST CENTRAL32 
WASHINGTON60MOUNT VERNON (POSEY)27 
WES-DEL36DALEVILLE31 
WESTVIEW55STURGIS (MICH.)46 
WHITELAND74ANDERSON62 
WINCHESTER48UNION COUNTY44 
WOODLAN60HERITAGE28 
ZIONSVILLE66FRANKLIN CENTRAL39 
PERRY-SPENCER TOURNAMENT
SOUTH SPENCER64TELL CITY49R1
HERITAGE HILLS44PERRY CENTRAL34R1
TELL CITY48PERRY CENTRAL383RD
SOUTH SPENCER58HERITAGE HILLS521ST
SOUTHWESTERN MICHIGAN CLASSIC
SOUTH BEND RILEY43NILES (MICH.)29 
DOWAGIAC (MICH.)46SOUTH BEND RILEY17 
ELKHART66EDWARDSBURG (MICH.)52 
WESTERN RESERVE CLASSIC
AKRON HOBAN (OHIO)62CULVER ACADEMY32 

INDIANA BOYS WRESTLING RESULTS SATURDAY: https://indianamat.com/index.php?/dualresults.html/

MEN’S TOP 25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL

#1 PURDUE 69 DAVIDSON 61

#5 HOUSTON 69 #2 VIRGINIA 61

#3 UCONN 68 BUTLER 46

#15 GONZAGA 100 #4 ALABAMA 90

#9 ARIZONA 75 #6 TENNESSEE 70

#8 KANSAS 84 #14 INDIANA 62

#10 ARKANSAS 76 BRADLEY 57

#16 UCLA 63 #13 KENTUCKY 53

#17 MISSISSIPPI STATE 68 NICHOLLS 66

#18 ILLINOIS 68 ALABAMA A&M 47

NORTH CAROLINA 89 #23 OHIO STATE 84 OT

#24 VIRGINIA TECH 74 GRAMBLING 48

#25 MIAMI FLORIDA 91 ST. FRANCIS PA 76

ELSEWHERE:

NORTHWESTERN 83 DEPAUL 45

RUTGERS 81 WAKE FOREST 57

MICHIGAN 83 LIPSCOMB 75

KANSAS STATE 71 NEBRASKA 56

IOWA 106 SE. MISSOURI STATE 75

PROVIDENCE 71 SETON HALL 67

ST. JOHN’S 93 FLORIDA STATE 79

VILLANOVA 71 ST. JOSEPH’S 64

EASTERN ILLINOIS 70 IUPUI 59

WRIGHT STATE 111 NW. OHIO 59

OHIO 85 STETSON 66

TENNESSEE MARTIN 75 BOWLING GREEN 67

BALL STATE 83 ILLINOIS STATE 69

MARSHALL 100 TOLEDO 85

MIAMI OHIO 71 BELLARMINE 67

DC UNITED NORTHERN ILLINOIS 63

DUQUESNE 92 INDIANA STATE 86

ST. LOUIS 83 DRAKE 75

COMPLETE SCOREBOARD: HTTP://HOSTED.STATS.COM/CBK/SCOREBOARD.ASP?CONF=-1&DAY=20221217

WOMEN’S TOP 25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL

#10 UCLA 75 BAKERSFIELD 47

#11 LSU 91 MONTANA STATE 52

#13 UTAH 92 UC RIVERSIDE 45

#21 ARKANSAS 83 #16 CREIGHTON 75

#19 MICHIGAN 77 APPALACHIAN STATE 49

#23 GONZAGA 67 BYU 58

ELSEWHERE:

NORTHWESTERN 64 AIR FORCE 58

EASTERN MICHIGAN 51 XAVIER 44

SETON HALL 78 FORDHAM 72

OAKLAND 82 MIAMI OHIO 74

SOUTHERN INDIANA 76 WRIGHT STATE 66

WESTERN MICHIGAN 101 CHICAGO STATE 73

SOUTHERN ILLINOIS EDWARDSVILLE 62 NORTHERN ILLINOIS 60

COMPLETE SCOREBOARD: HTTP://HOSTED.STATS.COM/WCBK/SCOREBOARD.ASP?CONF=-1&DAY=20221217

NFL

WEEK 15

SATURDAY, DEC. 17

MINNESOTA 39 INDIANAPOLIS 36 OT

BOX SCORE: HTTP://HOSTED.STATS.COM/FB/BOXSCORE.ASP?GAMECODE=20221217016&HOME=16&VIS=11&FINAL=TRUE

CLEVELAND 13 BALTIMORE 3

BOX SCORE: HTTP://HOSTED.STATS.COM/FB/BOXSCORE.ASP?GAMECODE=20221217005&HOME=5&VIS=33&FINAL=TRUE

BUFFALO 32 MIAMI 29

BOX SCORE: HTTP://HOSTED.STATS.COM/FB/BOXSCORE.ASP?GAMECODE=20221217002&HOME=2&VIS=15&FINAL=TRUE

SUNDAY, DEC. 18

PITTSBURGH AT CAROLINA, 1 P.M.

PHILADELPHIA AT CHICAGO, 1 P.M.

KANSAS CITY AT HOUSTON, 1 P.M.

DALLAS AT JACKSONVILLE, 1 P.M.

ATLANTA AT NEW ORLEANS, 1 P.M.

DETROIT AT NEW YORK JETS, 1 P.M.

ARIZONA AT DENVER, 4:05 P.M.

NEW ENGLAND AT LAS VEGAS, 4:05 P.M.

TENNESSEE AT LOS ANGELES CHARGERS, 4:25 P.M.

CINCINNATI AT TAMPA BAY, 4:25 P.M.

NEW YORK GIANTS AT WASHINGTON, 8:20 P.M. (SNF)

MONDAY, DEC. 19

LOS ANGELES RAMS AT GREEN BAY, 8:15 P.M.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL BOWL SCHEDULE

LOUISVILLE 24 CINCINNATI 7

#14 OREGON STATE 30 FLORIDA 3

FRESNO STATE 29 WASHINGTON STATE 6

SOUTHERN MISS 38 RICE 24

BYU 24 SMU 23

BOISE STATE 35 N. TEXAS 32

MONDAY, DEC. 19

MARSHALL VS. UCONN — MYRTLE BEACH BOWL (CONWAY, SOUTH CAROLINA) | 2:30 P.M. | ESPN

TUESDAY, DEC. 20

EASTERN MICHIGAN VS. SAN JOSE STATE — FAMOUS IDAHO POTATO BOWL (BOISE, IDAHO) | 3:30 P.M. | ESPN

LIBERTY VS. TOLEDO — BOCA RATON BOWL (BOCA RATON, FLORIDA) | 7:30 P.M. | ESPN

WEDNESDAY, DEC. 21

SOUTH ALABAMA VS. WESTERN KENTUCKY — NEW ORLEANS BOWL (NEW ORLEANS) | 9 P.M. | ESPN

THURSDAY, DEC. 22

BAYLOR VS. AIR FORCE — ARMED FORCES BOWL (FORT WORTH, TEXAS) | 7:30 P.M. | ESPN

FRIDAY, DEC. 23

HOUSTON VS. LOUISIANA — INDEPENDENCE BOWL (SHREVEPORT, LOUISIANA) | 3 P.M. | ESPN

WAKE FOREST VS. MISSOURI — GASPARILLA BOWL (TAMPA, FLORIDA) | 6:30 P.M. | ESPN

SATURDAY, DEC. 24

MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE VS. SAN DIEGO STATE — HAWAI’I BOWL (HONOLULU, HAWAI’I) | 8 P.M. | ESPN

MONDAY, DEC. 26

BOWLING GREEN VS. NEW MEXICO STATE — QUICK LANE BOWL (DETROIT) | 2:30 P.M. | ESPN

TUESDAY, DEC. 27

BUFFALO VS. GEORGIA SOUTHERN — CAMELLIA BOWL (MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA) | 12 P.M. | ESPN

OKLAHOMA STATE VS. WISCONSIN — GUARANTEED RATE BOWL (PHOENIX) | 10:15 P.M. | ESPN

MEMPHIS VS. UTAH STATE — FIRST RESPONDER BOWL (DALLAS) | ESPN

COASTAL CAROLINA VS. EAST CAROLINA — BIRMINGHAM BOWL (BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA) | ESPN

WEDNESDAY, DEC. 28

DUKE VS. UCF — MILITARY BOWL (ANNAPOLIS, MARYLAND) | 2 P.M. | ESPN

ARKANSAS VS. KANSAS — LIBERTY BOWL (MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE) | 5:30 P.M. | ESPN

NO. 15 OREGON VS. NORTH CAROLINA — HOLIDAY BOWL (SAN DIEGO) | 8 P.M.

TEXAS TECH VS. OLE MISS — TEXAS BOWL (HOUSTON) | 9 P.M. | ESPN

THURSDAY, DEC. 29

MINNESOTA VS. SYRACUSE — PINSTRIPE BOWL (BRONX, NEW YORK) | 2 P.M. | ESPN

NO. 13 FLORIDA STATE VS. OKLAHOMA — CHEEZ-IT BOWL (ORLANDO, FLORIDA) | 5:30 P.M. | ESPN

NO. 12 WASHINGTON VS. NO. 20 TEXAS — ALAMO BOWL (SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS) | 9 P.M. | ESPN

FRIDAY, DEC. 30

NO. 23 NC STATE VS. MARYLAND — DUKE’S MAYO BOWL (CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA) | 12 P.M. | ESPN

NO. 18 UCLA VS. PITT — SUN BOWL (EL PASO, TEXAS) | 2 P.M. | CBS

NO. 19 SOUTH CAROLINA VS. NO. 21 NOTRE DAME — GATOR BOWL (JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA) | 3:30 P.M. | ESPN

OHIO VS. WYOMING — ARIZONA BOWL (TUCSON, ARIZONA) | 4:30 P.M.| BARSTOOL

NO. 6 TENNESSEE VS. NO. 7 CLEMSON — ORANGE BOWL (MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA) | 8 P.M. | ESPN

SATURDAY, DEC. 31

IOWA VS. KENTUCKY — MUSIC CITY BOWL (NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE) | 12 P.M. | ABC

NO. 5 ALABAMA VS. NO. 9 KANSAS STATE — SUGAR BOWL (NEW ORLEANS) | 12 P.M. | ESPN

NO. 2 MICHIGAN VS. NO. 3 TCU (CFP SEMIFINAL) — FIESTA BOWL (GLENDALE, ARIZONA) | 4 P.M. | ESPN

NO. 1 GEORGIA VS. NO. 4 OHIO STATE (CFP SEMIFINAL) — PEACH BOWL (ATLANTA) | 8 P.M. | ESPN

MONDAY, JAN. 2

NO. 22 MISSISSIPPI STATE VS. ILLINOIS — RELIAQUEST BOWL (TAMPA, FLORIDA) | 12 P.M. | ESPN2

NO. 17 LSU VS. PURDUE — CITRUS BOWL (ORLANDO, FLORIDA) | 1 P.M. | ABC

NO. 10 USC VS. NO. 16 TULANE — COTTON BOWL (ARLINGTON, TEXAS) | 1 P.M. | ESPN

NO. 8 UTAH VS. NO. 11 PENN STATE — ROSE BOWL (PASADENA, CALIFORNIA) | 5 P.M. | ESPN

SUNDAY, JAN. 8

FCS NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP (FRISCO, TEXAS) | 2 P.M. | ABC

MONDAY, JAN. 9

CFP NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME (INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA) | ESPN

NBA

LA CLIPPERS 102 WASHINGTON 93

MIAMI 111 SAN ANTONIO 101

CLEVELAND 100 DALLAS 99 OT

PORTLAND 107 HOUSTON 95

MILWAUKEE 123 UTAH 97

OKLAHOMA CITY 115 MEMPHIS 109

PHOENIX 118 NEW ORLEANS 114

BOX SCORES: HTTP://HOSTED.STATS.COM/NBA/SCOREBOARD.ASP

NHL

BOSTON 4 COLUMBUS 2

OTTAWA 6 DETROIT 3

ANAHEIM 4 EDMONTON 3

TAMPA BAY 5 MONTRÉAL 1

NY RANGERS 6 PHILADELPHIA 3

WASHINGTON 5 TORONTO 2

CAROLINA 5 DALLAS 4

FLORIDA 4 NEW JERSEY 2

COLORADO 3 NASHVILLE 1

BUFFALO 5 ARIZONA 2

WINNIPEG 5 VANCOUVER 1

NY ISLANDERS 5 VEGAS 2

LOS ANGELES 3 SAN JOSE 2

BOX SCORES: HTTP://HOSTED.STATS.COM/NHL/SCOREBOARD.ASP

TOP NATIONAL NEWS HEADLINES

Bills clinch 4th straight playoff berth; beat Dolphins 32-29

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) Once the snow began falling at the start of the fourth quarter, Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills found themselves in their element against the warm-weather Miami Dolphins.

The AFC-leading Bills (11-3) overcame an eight-point deficit with Allen overseeing scoring drives on the final two possessions, capped by Tyler Bass hitting a 25-yard field goal as time expired to propel Buffalo to a 32-29 victory Saturday night.

The Bills wrapped up their fourth consecutive playoff berth, and fifth in six seasons under coach Sean McDermott.

The decisive field goal sparked a raucous celebration before a snowball-throwing crowd, with Bass, receiver Stefon Diggs and left tackle Dion Dawkins diving head-first and sliding on their chests on the snow-slicked field.

“Almost like it was all supposed to happen, right?” said Poyer of a long-forecasted lake effect snowstorm finally making its arrival. “Josh takes the offense down and the snow starts falling down. It was actually kind of surreal. It was a fun, fun atmosphere, though.”

Allen, meantime, referred to Mother Nature’s arrival as a mere coincidence. He instead credited those around him for stepping up, especially when the offense had cooled during a third quarter in which Buffalo ended four consecutive drives with punts, and after Allen ended the fifth drive with a fumble.

“That third quarter is not where we wanted to be,” Allen said. “But I thought our defense played a heck of a game in the second half, especially, and then T-Bass at the end. He’s nails.”

Allen threw a 5-yard pass to Dawson Knox and the quarterback then leaped over the line for a 2-point conversion to tie it 29 with 9:02 left. Allen lost control of the ball, but a replay review showed he crossed the goal line before fumbling.

Allen then oversaw a 15-play, 86-yard drive that ate up the final 5:56 to set up Bass’ field goal.

Allen threw four touchdown passes to increase his career total to 171 (including one receiving), and tie former Miami quarterback Dan Marino for the most by an NFL player in the first five seasons of his career.

Watson throws for TD, wins home debut as Browns down Ravens

CLEVELAND (AP) Deshaun Watson dropped to a knee for the third time to extinguish the final seconds. He turned and walked alone, taking a few steps before tilting his head back screaming into the frosty air.

This win meant a little bit more.

“It was special,” he said.

Watson threw a touchdown pass in his home debut for Cleveland, leading the Browns to an ugly 13-3 win on Saturday over the Baltimore Ravens, who need injured star quarterback Lamar Jackson to get back quickly.

In his third game after serving an 11-game NFL suspension for alleged sexual misconduct, Watson wasn’t spectacular. But he did enough to help the Browns (6-8) keep their miniscule playoff hopes alive while knocking the Ravens (9-5) off stride.

Baltimore had won six of seven. But the loss knocked the Ravens out of first in the AFC North, dropping them a half-game back of Cincinnati pending the Bengals’ game at Tampa Bay on Sunday.

Before he left the field, Watson let all his emotions pour out.

“It was a lot,” Watson said, explaining his feelings at the conclusion. “Just to be able to get my first victory in my first home start, just to get a victory against a tough divisional team. Last week we wanted that one, and it didn’t go our way.

“It was me just soaking in the moment and releasing all the energy and the happiness I had in myself. I just wanted yell that and scream that out. I feel like everyone needs that every once in a while.”

Watson, who connected with Donovan Peoples-Jones on a 3-yard TD pass in the third quarter, left FirstEnergy Stadium with a game ball tucked under his right arm.

Watson finished 18 of 28 for 161 yards, and added 22 on the ground. He’s still not close to playing like a three-time Pro Bowler or franchise QB, but there’s no doubt he’s getting better every time.

“He’s trending upward, which we knew he would do,” said Browns star Myles Garrett, who had 1 1/2 sacks. “He’s a baller.”

Browns rookie Cade York made two field goals – and missed two tries – but outkicked Ravens All-Pro Justin Tucker, the league’s most accurate kicker, who missed a 48-yarder and had another attempt blocked by Cleveland defensive tackle Jordan Elliott.

Steelers-Panthers Preview

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Sam Darnold spent the better part of this season on the sideline in a boot, learning the importance of patience while watching other quarterbacks play.

Those lessons appear to be paying off.

Darnold is 2-0 since taking over as Carolina’s starting quarterback and has the Panthers (5-8) in control of their playoff destiny with four games remaining. If the Panthers win out, beginning Sunday at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers, they’ll win the NFC South.

“I think the biggest thing I learned was patience,” said Darnold, who was 4-7 as Carolina’s starter last season. “When I’m back there, I’m taking the shots when they are there, but at the same time being patient and understanding what the situation is. First and second down, you want to stay ahead of the chains, and then on third down being able to go through my reads and use my legs if I have to.”

The No. 3 pick in the 2018 NFL draft hasn’t put up eye-popping numbers by any means, throwing for 284 yards and two touchdowns in two starts.

He hasn’t needed to.

With the Panthers running the ball so effectively, Darnold’s biggest task has been managing the game and not turning the ball over.

“I love fact that he is protecting the football,” Panthers interim coach Steve Wilks said. “That is critical and key for our success.”

Darnold has led 20 drives (excluding those ending in kneel downs) and the Panthers have scored five touchdowns and six field goals in wins over Baltimore and Seattle. They’ve not turned the ball over.

Steelers defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said the Panthers have “settled down” with Darnold under center.

“He’s doing some things with his feet, getting out of some jams that way with some long runs and scrambles and keeping drives alive,” Austin said. “You can kind of see that’s the way they’re going. They’re going to run. They’re going to take their shots. He has the ability to make all the throws.”

COMMITTED TO THE RUN

The Panthers ran the ball 46 times for 223 yards in last week’s 30-24 win over Seattle and have made no secret about their offensive identity being running the football.

The Panthers called runs on 16 of their final 18 plays over their final two possessions against Seattle to close it out.

“Every good team establishes an identity,” Darnold said. “We know what we’re going to do and (defenses) essentially know what we’re going to do. There is a ton of tape of us doing the same thing over and over again. … At the end of day, it’s can they stop us?”

The Steelers got run over last week in a loss to Baltimore, giving up 215 yards rushing even though the Ravens were playing without injured quarterback Lamar Jackson and lost backup Tyler Huntley early in the second half.

“The ball snaps, you kick butt or you get your butt kicked,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “Football is a legitimate humble man’s game.”

WE HAVE THE MEATS!

One notable example of Carolina’s commitment to running the ball is the team lining up against Seattle with eight offensive linemen on the field for one play. It’s a formation they call “Arby’s.”

Guard Brady Christensen explained that’s because of the company’s slogan: “We have the meats!”

“I like that nickname, it’s cool,” Panthers running back D’Onta Foreman said. “If you are all out there, Arby’s, hook my men up.”

AVOIDING HISTORY

Tomlin’s next losing season as an NFL head coach will be his first.

Yet with a month left in his 16th year on the job, Pittsburgh’s wiggle room to avoid one in 2022 is gone. The Steelers need to win out or Tomlin’s long run of sustained success will end.

And the players know it.

“Something that means a lot to me is Coach T,” defensive tackle Montravius Adams said. “Never had a losing season and I just don’t want that to be under my belt. He’s a guy that when I came in, gave me a lot of morale to play better and I’m sure a lot of guys in the locker room feel this way but we’ve got to get it right.”

GETTING HIS KICKS

The Panthers have been rewarded for their patience when it comes to kicker Eddy Pineiro.

There was some outside talk about Pineiro’s future after he missed a 48-yard extra point at the end of regulation and a field goal in overtime in a heartbreaking midseason loss to Atlanta. But instead of cutting Pineiro or bringing other kickers in for a tryout, Wilks threw his support behind him.

Pineiro has since made 12 of his last 13 field goals. He has now made 92.6% of his field goal attempts this season, making him the second-most accurate kicker in the league.

“We had no thought about bringing in a kicker,” Wilks said. “We had total confidence in Eddy and we wanted to make sure he got the support he needed. We put our arms around him and he’s been consistent since.”

STEEL CURTAIN

The Steelers have dominated the series against the Panthers, winning the last six games by a combined margin of 213-80. Pittsburgh has won each of the last six games by at least 10 points, including a 52-21 shellacking in 2018.

  1. The Steelers are 6-1 all-time against the Panthers, outscoring them by an average of 18.4 points per game. That’s the highest average scoring margin by any current NFL team against any other current NFL team.
  2. The Steelers have allowed double-digit points in each of their last 36 games, the longest streak in franchise history. Previously they had never gone more than 25 consecutive games without holding an opponent under 10 points.
  3. Last week Mitch Trubisky went 22-for-30 (73.3%) but also threw three interceptions, the third time this season a Steelers QB has completed 70.0% of his passes and yet also thrown 3+ picks (Kenny Pickett has done so twice). No other team in the Super Bowl era has had three such games by their QBs in a single season.
  4. The Panthers have converted less than half of their third-down attempts in 22 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the NFL and the second-longest streak in franchise history (26-game streak in 2001-02).
  5. Sam Darnold has won both of his starts this season and has not thrown a pick in either. He has now won seven straight starts dating back to 2020 in which he has not thrown an interception, tied for the third-longest active streak among QBs (Jimmy Garoppolo 16, Jalen Hurts 13, Joe Burrow 7).
  6. Just 6.9 percent of the points the Panthers have allowed this season have come in the first quarter (20 of 290), on pace to be the second-lowest percentage by any team in the last 40 years (2002 Giants, 5.7%).

Eagles-Bears Preview

CHICAGO (AP) Jalen Hurts and the Philadelphia Eagles are rolling along with a playoff spot secured and their sights set on the No. 1 seed.

They’ve been particularly dominant in recent weeks. And it looks as though they have another mismatch on their hands.

The NFC East-leading Eagles will try to keep pace with the best start in franchise history when they visit Justin Fields and the struggling Chicago Bears on Sunday.

“It’s important for us to just continue to grow in our details and master our details,” said Hurts, the NFL’s top-rated passer.

The Eagles (12-1) have clearly established themselves as a Super Bowl favorite with Hurts leading the way. They boast the best record in the NFL by a two-game margin and locked up a playoff spot for the fifth time in six years with last week’s 48-22 romp over the New York Giants. That came on the heels of a 25-point win over Tennessee.

If things keep going this way, these Eagles have a chance to go down as the best team in franchise history.

That hinges on them winning the Super Bowl for the second time in six seasons. But for now, they’re racking up wins in a way only one other Philadelphia team has.

The 2004 Eagles are the only other squad in franchise history to start 12-1. Philadelphia won 13 of its first 14 that season and advanced to the Super Bowl before losing to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.

Chicago (3-10), of course, is in a far different place.

Though Fields has started to resemble the franchise cornerstone they hoped he would become, the Bears come out of a bye looking to stop their second six-game losing streak in three years. They haven’t dropped more than six in a row since an eight-game skid in 2002 that matched a franchise record.

The Bears can maybe take some comfort from Philadelphia. The Eagles lost five of their first seven games last year before going on a 7-2 run that propelled them to the playoffs.

“You can kind of flip it around pretty quickly in this league, I think, depending on what pieces you add and how guys grow in the system and all of that stuff,” Bears tight end Cole Kmet said. “You definitely see that. It’s encouraging.”

SPOTLIGHT BEHIND CENTER

All eyes figure to be on the quarterbacks with Hurts making an MVP argument and Fields on a dazzling run.

Hurts comes in with 17 wins in his past 19 regular-season starts. He became the second-youngest QB to start 12-1 or better since the 1970 merger behind Miami’s Dan Marino in 1984, and he is the first at his position in NFL history with at least 10 rushing TDs in back-to-back seasons.

Fields returned to his show-stopping ways two weeks ago in a loss to Green Bay after missing a game because of an injury to his nonthrowing shoulder. Besides a 55-yard touchdown run, he also had arguably his best game as a passer, going 20 of 25 for a season-high 254 yards. He was not sacked for the first time this season, though he was intercepted on Chicago’s final two possessions.

“He’s always been a player that I’ve had a lot of respect for,” Hurts said.

SACK MASTERS

Philadelphia has orchestrated an almost-worst-to-first-transformation when it comes to sacks, with a league-leading 49 after finishing 31st with 29 a year ago.

The Eagles have 13 over the past two games after getting seven last week. Brandon Graham had three against the Giants, and Haason Reddick earned his 10th. That made him the first player since 1982 with 10 or more sacks in three straight years with three different teams.

“It’s a lot of production by a lot of different guys,” coach Nick Sirianni said. “It’s what’s pretty impressive about it.”

ON SECOND(ARY) THOUGHT

The Bears are getting some reinforcements in the secondary with safety Jaquan Brisker and cornerback Kyler Gordon out of the concussion protocol. The rookies are expected to be in the lineup for the first time since a loss at Atlanta on Nov. 20.

Then again, while they were sidelined, the Bears lost safety Eddie Jackson to a season-ending foot injury.

“It’s obviously different because BoJack was a leader and people like that are sitting out, so that’s tough,” said Brisker, who leads the Bears with three sacks.

LOOKING BACK

The teams are playing at Soldier Field for the first time since their wild-card matchup four years ago.

The Eagles escaped with a 16-15 win in a game remembered mostly because of the double-doink field-goal miss by Chicago’s Cody Parkey off the upright and crossbar in the closing seconds.

The Eagles beat Chicago in a regular-season game in Philadelphia in 2019.

TOUGH FINISH

The Bears have a difficult stretch to end the season.

Three of their final four opponents are currently in first place, with home games against Buffalo next week and Minnesota in the finale, in addition to the matchup with Philadelphia. Chicago also visits Detroit on Jan. 1.

  1. The Eagles have won five straight against the Bears including playoffs, the third-longest active winning streak by any team against Chicago (Packers 8, Saints 7). The Eagles have never beaten the Bears six times in a row.
  2. The Eagles have scored 123 points over their last three games, the most they have scored in a three-game span since scoring 125 in September/October 1950.
  3. The Eagles are the first team in NFL history to have two players with 10+ rushing touchdowns (Jalen Hurts, Miles Sanders) and another player with 10+ receiving touchdowns (A.J. Brown) in the same season.
  4. The Bears lost to Green Bay by nine in their last game, their seventh loss by a single-digit margin this season – tied for the most in a season in franchise history (also had seven in 1998, 2015 and 2016).
  5. Chicago is 3-10 despite averaging 189.2 rushing yards per game this season. That’s on pace to be the most rushing yards per game by any team in NFL history that finished with a losing record (current high is 186.6 by the 1978 Chiefs, who went 4-12).
  6. Justin Fields has rushed for at least 50 yards and a touchdown in six straight games. No other QB in the Super Bowl era has had a streak longer than four games. He needs 95 more rushing yards and two more rushing TDs to become the first QB in NFL history with 1000+ rushing yards and 10+ rushing TDs in a season.

Chiefs-Texans Preview

HOUSTON (AP) The only thing standing between the Kansas City Chiefs and their seventh straight AFC West title are the lowly Houston Texans.

But the Chiefs know better than to overlook the one-win Texans, especially after they nearly pulled off a huge upset over Dallas last week.

“They played a great team with the Cowboys, and they were down there where they probably should’ve won,” Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes said. “In this league, you can take no one for granted. Those are NFL players. They have a lot of talented, young guys that play hard.

“We understand it’s going to be a great challenge for us, so we’re going to go out there and play our best football to win.”

The Chiefs (10-3) have won six of their last seven games. Meanwhile, the Texans (1-11-1) need a win to avoid losing nine straight for the first time since dropping the final 14 games of the 2013 season.

After dealing with Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott last week, Houston coach Lovie Smith knows his team faces another huge challenge this week in Mahomes, who leads the NFL in yards passing (4,160) and touchdowns (33).

“He can just do it all, and he’s got a history in the league now of that,” Smith said. “When you have a player like that, it makes everyone look better.”

The Texans returned to Davis Mills at quarterback last week after benching him for two games. But instead of only relying on him to run the offense, Houston used a two-quarterback system with Jeff Driskel taking some of the snaps.

Smith wouldn’t say if they plan to use the same plan at quarterback this week, but Mills said he liked how it worked against Dallas.

“We felt good about it,” he said. “Obviously, both of us have the mindset of whatever we can do to help the team win games. That’s what we’re doing. If (we) use the both-quarterback system, we’re trying to move the ball and score touchdowns. That’s our main focus.”

REINFORCEMENTS COMING

The Chiefs could have wide receiver Kadarius Toney back this week after missing most of the past four games with a hamstring injury. They also hope to add Mecole Hardman, who recently came off injured reserve for an abdominal issue, though it’s possible he is another week or two away.

“If you add speed to any offense that those two guys have,” Mahomes said, “it really opens up everybody else, because you have to account for those two guys one very play.”

PIERCE’S INJURY

The Texans could be without star rookie running back Dameon Pierce after he injured an ankle last Sunday. Pierce, who leads rookies with 939 yards rushing, has been one of the only bright spots in Houston’s terrible season.

“If Dameon can’t go, we know what he’s been to our offense this year,” Smith said. “He’s one of the best running backs in football. There would be a void. When a player can’t go, the void is sealed by others. We look to all options.”

The two other running backs on Houston’s roster are Dare Ogunbowale and Rex Burkhead, but neither has done much this season. Ogunbowale has eight carries for 27 yards and Burkhead has 80 yards on 26 carries.

TEXAS FOREVER

Mahomes grew up in Tyler, Texas, and starred at Texas Tech, before becoming a first-round pick of the Chiefs, and has such an affinity for his home state that he has a home there for the offseason.

But the closest he’s come to playing in Texas over his first five-plus seasons in the league was in 2017, when he rode the bench behind Alex Smith for a game in Dallas.

“Houston is about a three-hour trip from Tyler,” he said, “so I’m sure there’s a lot more people coming than I even know. It’ll be cool for them to see me playing in my home state for sure.”

HEY, OLD FRIEND

The Texans will see a familiar face Sunday with safety Justin Reid playing for the Chiefs. Reid was drafted by Houston in the third round of the 2018 draft and spent his first four seasons in Houston before signing with Kansas City this offseason.

“I’m excited,” Reid said. “I have a lot of personal relationships with a lot of those guys, a lot of love for those players, the coaching staff. So, it’s a fun game for me personally to go back in be in the atmosphere that I began my career in.”

Smith raved about Reid, who started 53 games in his four seasons in Houston.

“Justin Reid and I will have a lifetime relationship,” Smith said. “I consider him a friend, too. … He’s playing excellent football for them. He can tackle. He checks off all the boxes when you’re looking for a good safety.”

  1. The Chiefs are 6-5 all-time against the Texans, including 1-1 with Patrick Mahomes under center. Houston is one of seven teams who does not have a losing record against Mahomes.
  2. The Chiefs led the Broncos, 6-0, after one quarter of play in last week’s 34-28 win. Kansas City is 6-0 when leading after the first quarter so far this season, joining Dallas and Cincinnati (both 6-0) as the only teams with that many wins without a loss in such games.
  3. Patrick Mahomes earned his 60th win as a starting quarterback last week, bringing his record to 60-16 (.789) as a starter. Among quarterbacks with at least 10 starts since 1950, only Otto Graham (57-13-1, .814) and Daryle Lamonica (66-16-6, .801) have better records.
  4. Over their last two games, the Texans have allowed zero sacks. It is the seventh time in team history that the Texans have not allowed a sack in consecutive games, but the first time that they did so without winning at least one of those games.
  5. Dameon Pierce has 250 touches (220 rushes, 30 receptions) in his first 13 career games. That is the third-highest mark through 13 career games in Texans history, trailing Lamar Miller (275) and Domanick Williams (259).
  6. After catching two touchdowns against Denver, Chiefs running back Jerick McKinnon has four receiving touchdowns and zero rushing touchdowns on the season. Only one Chiefs running back in team history has ever finished a season with at least four receiving touchdowns and no rushing scores — Bill Jones in 1990 (five receiving TD).

Ravens-Browns Preview

CLEVELAND (AP) Two years ago, Deshaun Watson experienced a wild winter storm off Lake Erie in his only start in Cleveland.

He created the one he’s playing through now.

Watson, who spent the first 11 games this season serving an NFL suspension for alleged sexual misconduct, makes his home debut Saturday as the Browns (5-8) host the Baltimore Ravens without star Lamar Jackson while dealing with their own unique quarterback issues.

This will be Watson’s third game back, but first in front of Cleveland fans, some of whom have been put in the awkward position of cheering for a player they might otherwise boo if he were wearing other colors.

Watson was verbally targeted two weeks ago in his hyped return to Houston, and he encountered a similar reception last week in Cincinnati. It could be that way for some time for the three-time Pro Bowler, who was accused of harassment and assault by two dozen women.

With the Browns’ playoff hopes far-fetched at best with four games left, the 27-year-old Watson didn’t want to venture a guess as to what type of response he’ll get at FirstEnergy Stadium.

“My main objective for this weekend is going out there and just showing this crowd and showing the Cleveland fans and this city that we going out there to compete and this season is not over for us,” he said. “I can’t control what the reaction’s going to be.”

Watson’s bigger concern might be the greeting he gets from the Ravens (9-4), who are tied with Cincinnati atop the AFC North and intend to stay there.

“We want to give him a not-so-soft welcoming,” Baltimore cornerback Marlon Humphrey said. “It’s cool to welcome him to the rivalry. It’s interesting to see when guys come in this AFC North. It’s not sweet over here.”

When Watson visited with the Texans in 2020, he was treated to one of those weather days that make playing in Cleveland a unique challenge. There were gusty winds, rain, hail, lightning and sunshine – all before the national anthem. The opening kickoff was delayed 35 minutes.

Hardly a chamber of commerce day.

“That was crazy,” Watson said. “That was something I was nowhere close to expecting and wasn’t used to. It was like five different weather changes in an hour, so it was pretty nuts.”

Watson played much better in a loss to the Bengals last week after a rough start against the Texans in his first regular-season game in 700 days. He’s nowhere close to where he wants to be or where the Browns expect him to get after investing $230 million into him to be their franchise QB.

Before they signed him, Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam considered how he might handle Cleveland’s disagreeable weather before Watson, who initially rejected their offer, assured them he was prepared for the cold.

Of course, a record-setting contract warmed him up.

“I told him (Jimmy Haslam) at the end of the day, it’s football,” Watson said. “You can get any weather in any situation other than playing in a dome. But for me, my main focus was just – what is the locker room? What is the organization? How can we go win a Super Bowl? That was my main focus and that’s why I chose Cleveland.”

THE OTHER GUY

Jackson’s knee injury will keep him out for a second straight week, giving Tyler Huntley the start.

Huntley cleared concussion protocol Friday after getting hurt last week in a win over Pittsburgh. Although not as dynamic as Jackson, he’s also a handful – as the Browns learned last year.

Huntley replaced an injured Jackson and rallied the Ravens from a 17-0 deficit before losing 24-22. He went 27 of 38 for 270 yards and a touchdown and added 45 yards rushing.

“He’s fast. He’s elusive,” Browns star end Myles Garrett said. “He’s a lot of the things that Lamar is. It just felt like you were trying to chase down a chicken doused in honey or something.”

BACK IN BUSINESS

With their quarterback situation unsettled, the Ravens will likely lean on a running game that got a major boost last week with the return of explosive back J.K. Dobbins.

Playing for the first time since Week 6 due to a knee issue, Dobbins rushed for 120 yards and a TD.

It was the first time Dobbins and Gus Edwards (66 yards) played in the same game since the 2020 season.

The Ravens gashed the Steelers for 215 yards rushing last week and lead the league with 179.7 in road games.

ROQUAN THE ROCK

Baltimore’s defense looks different from when the Browns faced it in October.

Roquan Smith has changed the Ravens – for the better.

In the five games since Smith arrived via trade from Chicago, the Ravens have allowed the fewest yards rushing (55) and the second-fewest points (13.4) and touchdowns (6).

“I know him well just having seen him over the years with the Bears,” said Browns coach Kevin Stefanski, who faced Smith twice a year when he was Minnesota’s offensive coordinator. “He is excellent sideline to sideline. He is great taking on blocks. He is good in the pass game. He is a very athletic player. I do think now that he has been there for a little while he has a very good feel for what they are doing. He fits what they do.”

  1. When the Ravens beat the Browns in Week 7, it was head coach John Harbaugh’s 24th career win against the Browns. He needs one more win against the Browns to match long-time Steelers coach Chuck Noll for the most wins against the Browns all-time.
  2. Baltimore escaped Pittsburgh with a 16-14 win in Week 14. The Ravens have won five games by five or fewer points this season, tied for most in the NFL.
  3. Justin Tucker made all three of his field-goal attempts last week (30, 35 and 42 yards). Tucker has made 37 consecutive field goals within 50 yards, two shy of the longest streak in his career (done twice, 2013-2015 and 2018-2019).
  4. The Browns scored a season-low 10 points in a road loss to the Bengals last week, 23-10. Cleveland has committed at least one turnover in each of its last 10 games, the franchise’s longest streak in a season since 2017 (also 10).
  5. Donovan Peoples-Jones set a single-game career high with 114 receiving yards last week. It was the most in a game by a former Michigan Wolverine since Devin Funchess for Carolina in the 2015 season (120).
  6. Roquan Smith recorded a sack and interception against the Steelers in Week 14. He is the only NFL player this season with at least four sacks and three interceptions.

Dolphins-Bills Preview

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) Growing up in Houston, and spending his college career at Alabama, Dolphins receiver Jaylen Waddle acknowledged having never played in a snow game in his life.

And the potential of finally doing so on Saturday night, when Miami (8-5) travels to play the Buffalo Bills (10-3) in an AFC East showdown, barely registers for the second-year player given what’s at stake.

When asked if he’s packing extra clothes to brace for a forecast calling for cold and snow, Waddle responded by saying: “Our competitive spirit. Shoot. That’s what I’m going to bring.”

Putting aside the distraction of weather, and how it might affect two teams with players who mostly hail from warm climates, Waddle is more focused on furthering the Dolphins’ bid to clinch a playoff spot for the first time in six seasons and their outside shot to claim the division title.

The Dolphins have an opportunity to sweep the season series with Buffalo following a 21-19 win in September, and just as important, snap a two-game skid that dropped them to sixth in the AFC playoff race after a 23-17 loss at the Chargers on Sunday.

Miami faces an opponent that has won four straight, while also dealing with an altogether different set of elements after the Bills wore down in the 89-degree South Florida heat in their previous meeting.

“Yeah, it’s a little ironic or I don’t know what type of word it is,” Bills quarterback Josh Allen said of what could be a 60-degree difference in temperature – not including the heat index and wind chill – between the two meetings.

“Poetic, yeah, I guess you can say,” Allen added. “Playing in December in Buffalo is not the easiest task to do.”

The Bills are far more accustomed to the elements, having gone 10-1, including the playoffs, in home games played on Nov. 29 or later since 2020. The Bills are 7-2 in their past nine December home games against Miami, not including a 16-3 loss in Buffalo’s “home” outing played indoors in Toronto in 2008.

The AFC-leading Bills are one win from clinching their fourth straight playoff berth, and have the inside track to claiming their third straight division title. Buffalo is also driven to make up for the last meeting, in which it blew a 17-14 third-quarter lead and lost despite outgaining the Dolphins 497 yards to 212.

While both coaches, Buffalo’s Sean McDermott and Miami’s Mike McDaniel, played down the impact of the elements by saying they affect everyone equally, Bills safety Jordan Poyer said the mere prospect of playing in the cold can have a mental effect.

Poyer recalled his first time experiencing wintry Buffalo, while playing for the Browns in 2014, three years before signing with the Bills.

“You get off that plane, and that wind chill hits you for the first time, it definitely plays a factor in your head,” Poyer said, laughing. “I’m like, `I don’t want to be here right now.’”

`I WISH IT WERE COLDER’

During training camp this summer, McDaniel and Dolphins players wore “I Wish It Were Hotter” shirts as they practiced in South Florida’s scorching 90-plus degree temperatures. On Wednesday, McDaniel wore an “I Wish It Were Colder” shirt, and the Dolphins blasted the air conditioner inside their indoor practice facility.

GOTTA RUN

The Dolphins are 29th in the league in rushing and have been inconsistent all season, but McDaniel said he doesn’t want those past outcomes to dictate what Miami can do moving forward. Saturday’s weather conditions could be a chance for Miami to establish the run early in the game.

“I think the cold really makes it a lot harder to catch,” said Dolphins running back Raheem Mostert, “but it’s definitely a game where it’s also like a rainy game where you’re going out there and running backs do a little bit better in the cold because they’re ready for handoffs.”

TRE’ TIME

After being eased in during his first two games since missing a year with a torn knee ligament, Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White played all 74 defensive snaps in a 20-12 win over the Jets last weekend.

Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier called White’s outing encouraging, while cautioning it will take more time for the player to regain his dominant form.

“He’s still very, very good, even though he’s still recovering from major knee surgery,” Frazier said.

DON’T FORCE IT

McDaniel said the Chargers’ ability to take away the middle of the field against the Dolphins was not anything Miami hadn’t seen, adding that Los Angeles simply played more physically and executed their game plan better.

Tagovailoa said the key in future games will be to get a few short, easy completions early in the game instead of forcing throws down the field.

“Finding the rhythm of the game for the guys up front,” Tagovailoa said, “for the receivers, for myself, and not just always wanting to take deep shots, essentially, even when it’s not there.”

  1. The Bills own a five-game winning streak at home against the Dolphins, tied for their longest all-time. It is one game shy of matching Buffalo’s longest home win streak against a divisional opponent all-time (twice against the Colts and once against the Patriots).
  2. The Dolphins lost to the Chargers in Week 14, 23-17, posting a season-low 127 passing yards. Miami’s 10 completions in the game were their fewest since Week 13, 2015 (nine).
  3. Tyreek Hill had a 57-yard fumble return touchdown and 60-yard receiving touchdown last week. Hill leads the NFL with four plays of 50 or more yards this season. Hill had four total plays of 50 or more yards in his last three seasons with the Chiefs.
  4. The Bills’ win against the Jets last week was their 10th of the season, Buffalo’s fourth straight season with double-digit wins. That matches a franchise best for consecutive 10-win seasons (also from 1990 to 1993, when the Bills lost the Super Bowl in each season).
  5. Josh Allen passed and rushed for a touchdown last week, his 24th career game doing both. That ties him with Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton for the fourth most such games all-time.
  6. Sean McDermott is 9-2 (.818) in his career as a head coach against the Dolphins, the best record by any head coach with at least eight games against Miami all-time. Only two coaches have 10 or more career wins against Miami (Bill Belichick, 26, and Marv Levy, 15).

Cowboys-Jaguars Preview

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) The Jacksonville Jaguars haven’t played many meaningful December games over the last dozen years.

They’re usually so far out of the AFC South race by then that mock drafts are the only postseason scenarios that matter to the small-market franchise. But having won three of their last five games – combined with Tennessee’s three-game skid – the Jaguars (5-8) suddenly find themselves in the playoff picture late.

It’s a common spot for the Dallas Cowboys (10-3).

The Cowboys and Jaguars both have something at stake when they meet in Jacksonville on Sunday for the first time since 2006. Dallas can clinch a postseason berth for the second consecutive year, a feat “America’s Team” last accomplished in 2007.

The Jaguars, meanwhile, need a victory to either keep pace with or close the gap on the AFC South-leading Titans. It’s a rarity for Jacksonville this late in the season; the team has finished last in the division each of the last four years and was in playoff contention down the stretch just once previously since 2010.

“We all understand how important this game is,” Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence said. “Every game is important, but especially with where we’re at. The situation we put ourselves in with some of those losses early, it’s just where we’re at.

“Backs up against the wall and we’ve got to fight our way out, and I think we’ve got the perfect group to do it. We understand how big this game is and every game moving forward this stretch is huge, so we’ve got a great opportunity.”

The Cowboys have won four in a row, including the last two against Indianapolis and Houston from the AFC South, and six of seven to gain a stranglehold on an NFL wild-card spot. NFC East-leading Philadelphia remains within reach, too, but Dallas needs help – and really needs to avoid a letdown in Jacksonville.

“December football is just about doing the right things, small things right,” said Cowboys pass rusher Dante Fowler, who is returning to the team that drafted him third overall in 2015. “At this point, I feel like the only way to beat us is if we beat ourselves. So, we just have to stay on the small things and all the little things don’t have to take care of themselves.”

DECEMBER DOMINANCE

Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy is a believer in how the months of the season are different, and his Dallas teams have made him look good when it comes to the most important month.

The Cowboys have won nine in a row in December and are 9-1 in the month since McCarthy was hired in 2020. That’s tied with Kansas City for the most December victories in the NFL in that stretch.

SOUTH TRIOLOGY

A third consecutive game against the AFC South has given the Cowboys a window into an uncommon opponent they wouldn’t normally get. The Jaguars already played Indianapolis twice and Houston once.

“Any time you play an uncommon opponent, you want to see what their division opponents do against them,” McCarthy said. “We’ve seen a lot of Jacksonville so far getting ready for Indianapolis.”

RARE TRIP

Dallas has played just once previously in Jacksonville, a 24-17 loss in 2006 that included Drew Bledsoe and Byron Leftwich as starting quarterbacks. The teams played in London in 2016, a “home game” for Jacksonville. The other five meetings took place in Dallas.

DON’T FORGET ABOUT ZEKE

Tony Pollard is taking over the spotlight in Dallas’ backfield with a career-best 12 total touchdowns, one more than his first three seasons combined. He’s the best playmaker and most dangerous scoring threat the Cowboys have. Still, two-time rushing champ Ezekiel Elliott is quietly putting together some impressive numbers.

Elliott has at least one touchdown run in six consecutive games, the longest streak of his career. With one against the Jaguars, he and all-time NFL rushing leader Emmitt Smith would be the only Cowboys running backs with rushing TDs in at least seven straight games. Smith set the franchise record by scoring in each of the final 14 games of the 1995 season, playoffs included.

Elliott scored the go-ahead touchdown against Houston on a 2-yard run with 41 seconds remaining.

“Ezekiel Elliott is the epitome of this team,” quarterback Dak Prescott said. “Right here on that play, I told the offensive line, `Hey, I am giving this to Zeke, no ifs, ands or buts about it.’”

  1. The Cowboys are 4-3 all-time against the Jaguars, including wins in each of the last two matchups. Only two of the seven games have been played in Jacksonville (2006, 2014).
  2. Following a 27-23 victory over Houston last week, Dallas has scored at least 24 points in seven consecutive games, tied for its third-longest single-season streak all-time (2007 — 13, 2016 — 10, 2010 — 7).
  3. Ezekiel Elliot has rushed for a touchdown in each of his last six games, tied with Justin Fields for the longest active streak in the NFL. It is also the longest streak by a Cowboy since Emmitt Smith’s 11-game stretch in 1995.
  4. Evan Engram hauled in a career-high 162 yards in last week’s win over Tennessee, the most ever in a game by a Jaguars’ tight end. Engram had totaled just 111 receiving yards over his previous five outings.
  5. Since November 1, Trevor Lawrence has the highest completion percentage in the NFL among players with at least 100 attempts (71.8). On the season, the Jaguars are 5-2 when he completes at least 70.0 percent of his passes compared to 0-6 when he doesn’t.
  6. Devin Lloyd has allowed 52 receptions when targeted as the main defender, second most in the NFL this season (49ers’ Dre Greenlaw — 54). His 77.6 completion percentage allowed is the fifth highest among defenders (minimum 3 targets per team game).

Falcons-Saints Preview

NEW ORLEANS (AP) The starting quarterbacks for the 107th regular season edition of the Atlanta Falcons-New Orleans Saints rivalry will be 35-year-old Andy Dalton and untested rookie Desmond Ridder.

It’s not what either team envisioned when the 2022 schedule came out.

Dalton expected to be a backup when he signed with New Orleans last offseason. But he’s not about to complain.

“The one thing you can’t take for granted is an opportunity,” Dalton said. “I’ve been on both sides of it, and I’m thankful that I still get a chance to play this game, still get a chance to go out and try to help this team win, regardless of the record, regardless of everything else that goes on.”

The records don’t flatter either team. But when Atlanta (5-8) visits New Orleans (4-9) on Sunday, the game could affect NFC playoff picture. The Falcons are only a game behind NFC South leader Tampa Bay (6-7) with four to play – and Atlanta hosts the Buccaneers to close the regular season.

Not exactly a low-stakes moment for the Falcons to place starting quarterback Marcus Mariota on injured reserve. Mariota will have surgery for a chronic knee injury, and coach Arthur Smith elevated Ridder, who has zero career completions, to make his first NFL start.

“There is an unknown, there’s a risk,” Smith conceded. “But we’ve got confidence in him, or we wouldn’t put him out there.”

Even the Saints’ playoff hopes aren’t yet extinguished, but nearly so because they’ve lost twice to the Bucs. Still, Saints running back Alvin Kamara asserted that this game matters.

“We’re not eliminated. Even if we was eliminated, you still got to get up for Sundays,” Kamara said. “I don’t think it’s any hanging heads or anybody walking around feeling sorry for themselves. We’ve just got to do what we need to do to win.”

REMEMBER WHEN

In Week 1, when the Saints won 27-26 in Atlanta, the QBs were Heisman Trophy winners Jameis Winston and Mariota, who also happened to be the first and second overall picks in the 2015 draft.

But the chances Winston and Mariota got to re-establish themselves with new teams haven’t worked out for them.

Dalton, now in his 12th season, was named the Saints’ starter in Week 4 after Winston struggled to play through an early-season back injury.

But even after the 28-year-old Winston declared himself physically ready to come back, the Saints decided Dalton ran their style of offense better and have stuck with him since.

ANOTHER MARIOTA DECISION COMING

The Falcons’ QB change appears to have long-term implications. It seems likely Mariota has played his last game with Atlanta.

Mariota signed a two-year deal with the Falcons in the offseason, and the team can avoid a $3 million roster bonus by releasing the quarterback by March 19. They would save $12 million for 2023 with a remaining dead cap hit of $2.5 million.

Mariota, 29, completed 61.3% of his passes for 2,219 yards, with 15 touchdowns and nine interceptions in Atlanta’s run-first offense. He ran for 438 yards and four touchdowns.

Atlanta has lost four of its past five games, scoring no more than 17 points in the four losses.

KAMARA’S DOWNTURN

After a strong midseason stretch of four straight games with more than 100 yards from scrimmage, Kamara has gone five straight games without as many as 90.

Kamara described a combination of factors – his own mistakes, the attention defenses have paid to stopping him and the Saints’ overall difficulty running the ball – that have led to his unusual dip in production.

But the versatile, star running back hasn’t lost his sense of humor.

“I’ve been trying to run super fast in practice, so they can see that I can run,” Kamara said, poking fun at one of his critics on social media. “Somebody told me I lost a step. … I just laughed at it. So, I’ve been running fast trying to make sure I didn’t lose a step.”

KENTUCKY CONNECTION

Suddenly, the Falcons’ quarterback room is an all-Kentucky club.

Logan Woodside, who was signed off Tennessee’s practice squad on Monday to be Ridder’s backup, is a native of Frankfort, Kentucky, who played at Toledo. Ridder is from Louisville, Kentucky, and starred across the border at Cincinnati. Offensive coordinator Dave Ragone played at Louisville.

Falcons quarterbacks coach Charles London said Ridder and Woodside “clicked immediately.”

“They’re telling quarterback stories from Kentucky,” London said. “I feel like at times I’m the outsider in there.”

ALLGEIER’S CLIMB

Tyler Allgeier has become Atlanta’s rushing leader by gaining momentum in the second half of his rookie season. In the last six weeks, Allgeier ranks second in the NFL with 5.96 yards per carry, and second with 4.09 yards after contact, trailing only Cincinnati’s Joe Mixon (6.26 and 4.93, respectively) in that span. With 280 yards on 47 carries during that time, Allgeier has passed Cordarrelle Patterson for the team lead in rushing.

  1. The road team is 6-1 in Falcons-Saints matchups since 2019, tied for the best record by the road teams in any divisional matchup over that span (also Texans-Titans).
  2. The Falcons’ three-point loss to the Steelers in their last game was Atlanta’s 10th game this season decided by six points or fewer, tied for the most in franchise history (also in 1995, 2015 and 2017).
  3. Cordarrelle Patterson is one of three players in NFL history to average 5.0+ yards per rush and 9.0+ yards per reception over his career (minimum 400 rushes and 200 receptions), along with Jim Brown and Bobby Mitchell.
  4. The Saints have held their opponent to less than 300 net passing yards in 22 consecutive games, tied with the Bengals for the second-longest active streak in the NFL (Buccaneers, 27).
  5. The Saints have rushed for just 294 yards over their last five games, their fewest in a five-game span since 1998 (247).
  6. Chris Olave has had at least 40 receiving yards in all 12 games of his career thus far, the second-longest streak by any NFL player to begin his career in the Super Bowl era behind fellow Saints player Michael Thomas (19).

Lions-Jets Preview

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) Robert Saleh is always quick to remind people he’s an eternal optimist, thinking the best-case scenario in every situation.

That’s why it wasn’t necessarily so stunning to hear the New York Jets coach declare after his team’s loss to the Buffalo Bills last Sunday that the squads would meet again – in the playoffs.

Saleh is also a realist.

He knows in order for the Jets to snap their 11-year postseason drought, which is the NFL’s longest active skid, they’ve got plenty more winning to do. And it needs to start Sunday at MetLife Stadium against a roaring Detroit Lions squad that has won five of its past six.

“We’re going to get everyone’s absolute best shot because they’re fighting for their lives, too,” Saleh said. “And that’s why we strive for December football. This is the fun stuff.”

After the game Sunday comes a Thursday night home game against Jacksonville (5-8) before road games at Seattle (7-6) and Miami (8-5).

“What’s cool about this,” Saleh said, “is we’ve got four playoff games, because every team we’re playing is fighting for a playoff spot.”

The Jets (7-6) dropped from the seventh spot in the AFC playoff hunt to the outside looking in with their 20-12 loss at Buffalo combined with victories by New England (7-6) and the Los Angeles Chargers (7-6) – who both leapfrogged them.

Meanwhile, Dan Campbell’s Lions (6-7) are also on the playoff bubble, but have won five of six for the first time since winning five straight under former coach Jim Caldwell in 2016 – the most recent time they made the playoffs.

“It’s about as good as it’s felt in my entire career here, about as confident as we’ve ever been,” said offensive tackle Taylor Decker, who was drafted by the Lions six years ago.

The Lions have a chance to win six of seven for the first time since 2014, a successful stretch that included a win over the Jets on the road that ended with an 11-5 record in the regular season and a loss to Dallas in an NFC wild-card game.

“Listen, we’ve got enough smart guys,” Campbell said. “They understand what’s right in front of us, and that’s New York Jets, who are a very tough, physical team, and they’re very much in the race. And you’re crazy if you don’t think they want it.

“They’ll be coming with everything they’ve got against us, and so this is going to be one of those, man. We’ve got to be locked and loaded and ready to go. I mean, this will be a physical game.”

WHITE OUT

Zach Wilson will start at quarterback for the Jets, who were hoping to have Mike White under center despite him being limited early in the week while dealing with a rib injury.

White was twice knocked from the loss at Buffalo after taking big hits, but finished the game – and then left the stadium in an ambulance for further examination. X-rays came back clean and he said earlier in the week he was “ready to roll.”

Saleh announced Friday that team doctors wouldn’t clear White for contact, so he will have to miss the game.

Wilson was promoted this week from No. 3 to White’s backup after being benched last month.

THEY’RE ROLLING

Jared Goff and the Lions have matched a team record by scoring 25 or more points in five straight games for the first time since 1954, and have 30-plus points in four of the past five games.

“The biggest thing for us is just showing who we are, blocking out the outside noise,” said wide receiver DJ Chark, who has 11 catches for 192 yards over the past two games. “It’s a long season, but right now we’re feeling good.”

PASS THE SAUCE

The Jets were thrilled cornerback Sauce Gardner was available to draft at No. 4 overall after Detroit was one of three teams to pass on him. The Lions instead took Michigan star defensive end Aidan Hutchinson with the No. 2 pick – and he has panned out, leading NFL rookies with seven sacks.

As much as Gardner would have addressed a need with the Lions, they didn’t really consider taking him.

“We felt pretty comfortable with where we wanted to go with it,” Campbell said.

Campbell, though, did like what he saw on tape of the 6-foot-3 Gardner at Cincinnati.

“We loved his length,” he said. “We thought he was pretty smart, pretty crafty, he was aggressive, runs pretty good.”

GOING BOWLING

Saleh and Campbell squared off during the offseason when their coaching staffs led the squads of college standouts at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, last February.

Saleh’s National Team – with Jets tight ends coach Ron Middleton serving as head coach – topped Campbell’s American Team – with Lions assistant head coach/running backs coach Duce Staley the head coach – 20-10.

“He was great,” Campbell said of Saleh. “He’s an unbelievable human being.”

HE’S NOT LION

Saleh grew up a Lions fan in Dearborn, Michigan, located about 9 miles west of Detroit. Many of his high school buddies still root for the team.

He interviewed with the Lions to be their head coach in January 2021 before he was hired by the Jets.

“Thankful for that conversation,” he said, “but really happy that I’m here.”

Saleh’s favorite player as a kid? Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders.

“Oh yeah, whose guy wasn’t he?” a smiling Saleh said. “Best of all time, running back.”

  1. The Jets earned a 48-17 win when they last met the Lions in 2018, thanks in part to a 31-point third quarter. It remains the second-highest scoring quarter in Jets history, trailing only a 34-point quarter against the Cardinals in 2008.
  2. Over their last six games, Detroit is 5-1 with a plus-eight turnover differential. It is the first time Detroit has five wins with a turnover differential that high in any six-game span since 2011 (5-1, +9 from Weeks 1 through 6).
  3. Jared Goff has thrown 181 consecutive passes without an interception, the longest streak of his career. Over the last 30 seasons, the only longer streaks by any Lions quarterback were both by Matthew Stafford (212 straight in 2015-16, 196 straight in 2017).
  4. The Jets are 0-2 in their last two games despite outgaining their opponents in net yardage, 795-519 (+276). It is the second time in Jets history outgaining their opponents by at least 250 yards across two games without winning either game (also Weeks 16-17, 2000).
  5. Mike White has attempted 101 passes in the last two weeks, the second Jets QB this season with 100 passes in a two-game span (Joe Flacco, Weeks 1-2). Prior to this season, it happened twice in Jets history (Joe Namath in 1970 and Vinny Testaverde in 2000).
  6. Jameson Williams caught his first career touchdown in Detroit’s win over Minnesota last week. 10 different Lions players have caught a touchdown this season, one off the team’s record (11) set in 2012.

Cardinals-Broncos Preview

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) Kyler Murray and Russell Wilson were two trendy picks to lead their teams on deep playoff runs this season. For that matter, two trendy picks to lead fantasy teams to playoff success, too.

It hasn’t exactly gone according to script.

What before the season looked like an enticing matchup featuring two mobile quarterbacks won’t be on display Sunday when the Cardinals visit Denver. Murray’s done for the season after tearing his ACL on Monday night. Wilson cleared concussion protocol Friday, but was ruled out nonetheless as a precaution.

So, it’s a clash of backups in Colt McCoy for the Cardinals (4-9) and Brett Rypien for the Broncos (3-10) in what has become a less-than-tantalizing game with both teams faltering.

What could be at stake: Job security for their coaches, with Arizona’s Kliff Kingsbury and Denver’s Nathaniel Hackett each on the hot seat. The Cardinals have dropped three in a row and five of their past six. It was also recently announced general manager Steve Keim will take a leave of absence from the organization because of a health-related issue.

The Broncos are in the midst of a tailspin, too, losing five straight since a win over Jacksonville in London on Oct. 30. They’ve now missed the postseason for a seventh straight year.

Wilson got hurt diving headfirst toward the goal line early in the fourth quarter of the Broncos’ 34-28 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs last weekend.

Both of Rypien’s NFL starts have come against the New York Jets. He beat them in 2020 but lost to them in October when Wilson was out with a pulled hamstring, only the fourth game he’s missed in his 11-year NFL career.

Rypien threw a touchdown pass to Jerry Jeudy after replacing Wilson last week, but he also threw an interception and Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs ran out the clock for their 14th consecutive win over the Broncos.

Stepping in for Murray will be the 36-year-old McCoy, who led the Cardinals to a 13-10 halftime lead against New England after Murray left the game, before the team faded in the second half.

“I’m saddened for Kyler,” McCoy said. “I said it in postgame, but I spend more time with him than my kids, right? We’re close. We’re in the room together. I feel for him.”

INTERNAL MOTIVATION

Broncos safety Justin Simmons said of playing the final month of the season with no postseason possibility: “I’m just going to go out there and do my job at the highest level of ability that I can. I’m not going to leave anything left in the tank.”

RARE VISIT

The last time the Cardinals played in Denver was 2014, when Peyton Manning threw for 479 yards and four touchdowns in a 41-20 win. The late Demaryius Thomas caught eight passes for 226 yards and two scores.

The Broncos have a 9-1-1 mark against the Cardinals in the regular season, including 5-0 at home.

LIFE WITH MCCOY

McCoy has completed nearly 70% of his passes this season for 702 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. McCoy thought about retiring in 2020 after a litany of injuries, but decided to come back with the New York Giants before signing with the Cardinals last season.

“We’re not in the situation that we want to be in, but there’s some high-character guys in there,” McCoy said. “I think it’s my job, and a lot of the leaders on this team’s job, to get us all in the right mind(set) (to be) ready to go play this game, play out the rest of the season, treat it like professionals, and understand that the ball hasn’t bounced our way this year.”

CONNER UNLEASHED

Cardinals running back James Conner has rushed for 205 yards over his past two games, which is one of the most productive two-game stretches during his tenure with the team.

Conner ran for 85 yards and a touchdown against the Patriots. He probably would have had more opportunities on the ground, but when the Cardinals fell behind by two touchdowns, they were forced to throw the ball more.

“I’ve been pleased with the plans and the way he’s executed them,” Kingsbury said. “He’s running downhill and playing physical.”

  1. Denver is 9-1-1 against the Cardinals all-time, the Broncos’ best record against any opponent. Denver scored 45 points the last time these teams met, the most points for either team in any game of the matchup’s history.
  2. Arizona has turned the ball over at least two times in three straight games. That is the Cardinals’ longest run of games with at least two turnovers since 2018, when they went five games from Week 6 to Week 11.
  3. With Kyler Murray’s injury last week, Colt McCoy is set to start for Arizona. The Cardinals have gone 3-2 (.600) in the five games Murray has missed during his career (25-31-1, .447 with Murray as the starter).
  4. Denver scored its most points in a game this season in its 34-28 loss to Kansas City on Sunday. Despite this, the 194 points scored by the Broncos through their first 13 games this season is the third fewest in franchise history (190 in 1971, 175 in 1966).
  5. Russell Wilson has thrown for three touchdown passes and rushed for at least 50 yards in seven games during his career, including last week. That ties him with Steve Young for the third most such games in the Super Bowl era behind Lamar Jackson, 11, & Cam Newton, 10.
  6. Arizona averages the most plays per scoring drive this season in the NFL with 9.8. However, Denver leads the league with 28.5 percent of opposing drives going three-and-out.

Patriots-Raiders Preview

LAS VEGAS (AP) If the New England Patriots make the playoffs, their weeklong stay out West likely will be a major reason.

They remained in Arizona this past week after beating the Cardinals 27-13 on Monday night, training in Tucson. That victory put the Patriots, at 7-6, in position for the seventh and final AFC playoff spot.

Given that the first two teams just outside the postseason – the Los Angeles Chargers and New York Jets – have the same records, Sunday’s game at Las Vegas is critical, especially considering the Patriots’ closing stretch. New England’s final three games are against teams that as of now would be in the playoffs.

So instead of making two cross-country trips in a week, coach Bill Belichick decided to save the wear on his players and have them ready when they visit the Raiders (5-8).

“It’s definitely a good thing,” quarterback Mac Jones said on Boston radio station WEEI. “It’s important to realize we’re out here to to do a job. It’s great weather out here, and it’s a great opportunity to have a really good week and to carry that over to Vegas.”

The Raiders could get two major receiving options back in tight end Darren Waller (hamstring) and wide receiver Hunter Renfrow (oblique). Both returned to practice Wednesday, but coach Josh McDaniels said he didn’t know if they would be activated off injured reserve in time to face the Patriots.

“It was good to be out there with the guys,” Renfrow said. “It was fun watching them winning a couple there. Just being a part of it again is going to be a blast.”

UCHE COMES ON STRONG

The AFC defensive player of the week hasn’t started a game all season and even was inactive twice.

But Patriots linebacker Josh Uche is on a tear with 10 sacks in his past six games, including five in the past two weeks.

Belichick said a key for the third-year pro going back to the offseason was staying on the field.

“That wasn’t really the case the last two years,” Belichick said. “He’s always worked hard and always done everything you’ve asked him to do. He’s been great to coach, but I think just his availability this year has affected his production.”

That production has been the best in the NFL over this recent stretch.

“He’s always put good plays on film and good plays on the practice field, and he’s flashed,” Belichick said.

EXTRA TIME TO RECOVER

The Raiders appeared headed to their fourth consecutive victory and real talk of a playoff push when they allowed the Los Angeles Rams to score two touchdowns in the final 3 1/2 minutes and lost 17-16 on Dec. 8.

“I think having a Thursday game and having those extra days was good for the team,” quarterback Derek Carr said. “I think after the little win streak that we went on, the expectations are so high.”

How the Raiders respond won’t be known until they play the Patriots.

“The only response that really matters is on Sunday,” wide receiver Davante Adams said.

FAMILIAR FACES

New England visited Las Vegas during training camp, and the teams had joint practices before meeting in a preseason game that the Raiders won 23-6.

Even with the Raiders’ struggles, Belichick said he sees the same kind of potential that Las Vegas displayed in that exhibition. He pointed to the Raiders having played 10 one-score games, though they won only three of them.

“A lot of those games could have gone either way, but I think when you look at them you see two very, very explosive players offensively (Adams and running back Josh Jacobs) and a great quarterback,” Belichick said.

GOING DEEP

The Raiders cut guard John Simpson last week and this week brought in Netane Muti, who was signed off the Denver Broncos’ practice squad. The availability of Alex Bars (knee) at that position is uncertain. Bars didn’t practice Wednesday.

The Raiders also are monitoring injuries at other positions.

“It’s not a challenge that is unique to us,” McDaniels said. “As you know, New England is dealing with a bunch of different injury deals. Your depth becomes really important, I would say, in November and December every year. That’s why it’s important to try to look at the roster on the whole as 69 guys, not 53. Because at the end of the day, we’re going to need a bunch more than 53 to complete the season.”

  1. The Patriots have won six consecutive games against the Raiders, most recently with a 36-20 home win in Week 3 of 2020. With Bill Belichick as head coach, New England is 7-1 against the Raiders (incl. playoffs) compared to 13-14-1 prior to Belichick’s arrival in 2020.
  2. New England defeated Arizona, 27-13, on Monday with the team now being 4-4 in games decided by at least 10 points this season. The Patriots are the only team in the NFL this season with at least four wins and four losses by 10+ points.
  3. Former Raider Raekwon McMillan returned a fumble 23 yards for a touchdown in New England’s win over the Cardinals. The Patriots have five touchdowns on returns this season, tied with Arizona for the most in the NFL.
  4. The Raiders blew a 13-point lead with fewer than four minutes remaining in their 17-16 loss to the Rams last week. Over the last 40 seasons, the only other time the team had lost a game it led by 13+ points with four minutes or less remaining was in Week 3 of the 1993 season to the Browns.
  5. Davante Adams needs four yards of offense to join Josh Jacobs as Raiders with 1250+ scrimmage yards and more than 10 scrimmage touchdowns this season. They would be the first teammate duo in team history to do so in the same season.
  6. New England allowed Arizona to convert on one of its five fourth-down attempts on Monday. For the season, the Patriots have allowed opponents to convert on 27.3 percent on their fourth-down attempts (6/22), which is the lowest such percentage in the NFL in 2022.

Titans-Chargers Preview

LOS ANGELES (AP) The Los Angeles Chargers’ defense had its best game of the season last week in shutting down one of the league’s top passing attacks.

Their challenge Sunday will be to contain Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry.

The two-time NFL rushing champ will play in his 100th regular-season game as the slumping Titans head west. Henry is second in the league with 1,199 yards rushing and needs only 4 yards to reach 8,000 for his career.

Henry’s focus is on snapping Tennessee’s first three-game losing streak since 2018 instead of personal milestones.

“It’s about going out there and doing what you need to do to get a win,” Henry said. “It’s about just getting back to how we want to play.”

Henry, who has six 100-yard rushing games this season, looks to bounce back after having two fumbles in last Sunday’s 36-22 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Titans coach Mike Vrabel isn’t concerned if Henry has ball security issues. He said one was due to a big hit, and the other was due to a busted play.

“We’re going to give it to him as many times as we possibly can. I mean, it’s no secret,” Vrabel said. “Derrick’s been great with ball security. Hopefully, we can get those things fixed and corrected.”

Both teams are 7-6 and in the thick of the AFC playoff race. The Titans have a two-game lead in the AFC South while the Chargers are battling for one of the final two spots.

Henry will be facing a Chargers defense allowing 5.40 yards per carry. That’s the highest average since the merger and the seventh-highest since the league started tracking rushing statistics in 1933, according to Sportradar.

The Chargers have given up 147 rushing yards per game, the fifth-highest total in the league. They have allowed four runs of at least 50 yards, tied with Seattle for the most. Henry’s one of eight players with at least two carries over 50 yards this season.

Los Angeles and Seattle have also seen a running back post a 100-yard game seven times this season, tied for most in the league.

The Chargers held Miami’s Tua Tagovailoa to 148 yards passing in a 23-17 win last week. Safety Derwin James (quadriceps) and cornerback Bryce Callahan (core muscle) will likely be sidelined again with different tasks at hand.

“You can’t let good running backs get started. It doesn’t matter what their style is. If they can get started within the play, then they’re going to have a chance to be successful,” coach Brandon Staley said. “You have to go attack, and you have to go play team defense and tackle the guy with more than one guy.

“That’s what we’re going to try and do on Sunday.”

THE OTHER BACK

Even though most of the attention is on Henry, Chargers running back Austin Ekeler is also expected to be a factor.

Ekeler is second in the league with 13 scrimmage touchdowns (eight rushing, five receiving). He has four games this season with a rushing and receiving score, one shy of tying the mark established by Minnesota’s Chuck Foreman in 1975.

Ekeler is fourth in the league with 93 receptions and needs seven catches to become the fifth player in league history and second on the Chargers to reach the century mark. LaDainian Tomlinson had 100 catches with the Bolts in 2003.

PROTECT TANNEHILL

The Titans have struggled to give Ryan Tannehill time to work, with the quarterback sacked 10 times over the past two losses. Tannehill now has three receivers on the injury report, with veteran Robert Woods not practicing Wednesday because of illness.

“It is a balancing act there of trying to do as much as you can and work the things as much as you can, but when you are banged up, your body can only do so much. It is not just myself. That is everybody on this team,” said Tannehill, who has been limited due to an ankle injury. “You can’t worry too much about what is happening in front of you or around you. You have got to be able to try to move as best you can within the pocket and deliver the ball in an accurate and timely fashion.”

BACK ON TRACK?

Justin Herbert threw for a season-high 367 yards last week as he had Mike Williams and Keenan Allen both available for an entire game for the first time.

Williams, who missed four out of five games due to a high ankle sprain, had 116 yards on six receptions and a touchdown. Allen has at least five catches in each of the four games since he returned from a hamstring injury.

The only benefit to the Chargers’ injury woes at receiver is that they have a league-high six players with at least 400 yards receiving.

HEALING UP

The Titans may be close to getting at least a couple key defensive players back.

Sacks leader Denico Autry returned to practice after missing the last three games with an injured left knee, and inside linebacker Zach Cunningham is practicing after missing the last five with an injured elbow. The Titans posted their first game this season without even a single sack, and haven’t forced a turnover in four straight.

Worse, a defense that went eight consecutive games holding opponents to 20 points or less has allowed 71 points over the past two games combined.

The Titans have had 25 different starters on defense this season.

  1. Since moving to Tennessee, the Titans are 2-9 against the Chargers, their worst record against any opponent. Both wins came at home — the Chargers’ last home loss to the Titans/Oilers franchise came in Week 4, 1990, a 17-7 Houston win in San Diego (won seven straight at home since then).
  2. The Titans fell to the Jaguars, 36-22, at home last week, their third consecutive loss. It’s their first three-game losing streak since Weeks 5-7, 2018. They haven’t lost four in a row since dropping the final four games of the 2015 season.
  3. Derrick Henry finished with 121 rushing yards against Jacksonville last week, the 20th time in his career he’s reached 120 yards on the ground. The Titans are now 18-2 in those games, with the only other loss coming in Week 4, 2021 on the road against the Jets, a 27-24 overtime loss (157 rushing yards).
  4. The Chargers beat the Dolphins, 23-17, at home last week, and are now looking to win back-to-back games for the first time since a three-game winning streak in Weeks 4-6. Their last six games (and eight of their last nine) have all been decided by seven or fewer points.
  5. In last week’s game, Justin Herbert became the first quarterback in NFL history to attempt 50+ passes, complete 75.0 percent of them, throw no interceptions and win the game. Herbert was 39-for-51 (76.5%) for 367 yards against the Dolphins.
  6. The Chargers’ opponents have had an average of 7.30 yards to go on second down this season — only the Raiders’ opponents (7.31) have had fewer. Meanwhile, the Titans’ opponents have had 8.27 yards to go on second down, most in the league.

Bengals-Buccaneers Preview

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) Tom Brady holds Joe Burrow in high regard.

“He’s a great young player. He’s got a great arm, runs well, very athletic. I’m really impressed by him overcoming the adversities that he has,” said the seven-time Super Bowl champion, who faces the top pick in the 2020 draft for the first time Sunday, when the sputtering Tampa Bay Buccaneers host the red-hot Cincinnati Bengals.

“There were high expectations for him coming out and he’s lived up to it. So a lot of credit to him, and their team’s done a great job,” Brady added. “They were in the Super Bowl last year, they’re playing really well this year. Good defense, good offense, good special teams group. Well-coached. It’s going to be a tough game.”

Especially the way the underachieving Bucs (6-7) have been playing lately.

While Brady leads the league in completions and is fourth in passing yards behind Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert and Burrow, a talented Tampa Bay offense continues to struggle getting into the end zone.

After averaging over 30 points per game the past two seasons, the Bucs are down to 17.2 – 28th in the NFL – after losing 35-7 at San Francisco last week.

The Bengals (9-4) have won five straight, seven of eight overall, to match the Baltimore Ravens for the best record in the AFC North.

While there may be no quick fix for Tampa Bay’s scoring woes, the Bucs can take solace in knowing a playoff berth is still within reach.

Despite having a losing record, they’re in first place in the weak NFC South, one game ahead of the Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons with four games left.

“I think the one thing about football is you get what you deserve. You’ve got to go earn it,” Brady said of the Bucs still having all of their goals in front of them.

“The Rams were the Super Bowl champions last year. This year they’re not having the kind of year they want,” the 45-year-old quarterback added, noting there are a lot of things – penalties, lack of offensive execution and other factors – that can bring a team back to the pack.

“It’s a challenge, and you just try to figure out the challenge,” Brady said. “It’s a long race. It’s not over in Week 13. That’s why you play all 17. … We’ll see where we’re measured at the end of the year. But there’s no … quit, there’s no lack of fight. … We’re trying hard to make the right improvements.”

Meanwhile, Burrow and the Bengals have rebounded from a slow start to play like a team capable of making another deep playoff run.

The third-year quarterback is looking forward to facing Brady’s Bucs, though he’s not especially fond of people trying to draw comparisons between him and the seven-time Super Bowl winner at this stage of his career.

“I don’t really pay attention to it. He’s Tom and I’m Joe,” said Burrow, who also doesn’t want to make too much of the first-ever meeting between the quarterbacks.

“It’s our 14th game of the season,” the Bengals star said. “You know, obviously, the greatest quarterback ever is on the other side, but we got a job to do, too, and our job is to go and win, get to 10-4 and move on.”

WOUNDED SECONDARY

The Bucs played with three injured starters in the secondary during last Sunday’s 28-point road loss to the 49ers.

Cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting and safeties Antoine Winfield Jr. and Mike Edwards all practiced this week, though it’s uncertain whether they’ll play against the Bengals.

Regardless of who winds up playing, though, Bucs coach Todd Bowles stressed his defense will be tested by Burrow.

“He’s great, he’s poised in the pocket, he throws a great ball all over the field, he can throw at any angle, he can make any throw, he has some great receivers to throw to, he has a good understanding of the offense and the game, he can take advantage of what you’re trying to give him, he can run the ball when he has to run the ball, he can throw people open, he can use his feet,” said Bowles, who wasn’t finished.

“He has a knack for the game,” the coach added. “Certain guys when they come out of college that young have a knack for the game already. He has it.”

GOTTA BE BETTER

Bucs LT Donovan Smith has drawn holding penalties that have wiped out touchdown receptions each of the past two games. The eighth-year pro has been flagged a career-high six times for holding this season, a trend Bowles said needs to stop.

“You can’t keep doing the same thing over and over again. It’s costing us,” the coach said, adding he has no plans to bench Smith.

“We’ve considered everything and Donovan, right now, is our best option,” Bowles said.

CAPPA HOMECOMING

Bengals RG Alex Cappa was part of the offensive line that protected Brady the past two seasons in Tampa Bay. He signed with Cincinnati last winter and is looking forward to facing his old team for the first time.

“It’ll be fun,” Cappa said.

  1. The Bengals have won each of the last two times these teams have met, in Week 13, 2014 at Tampa and Week 8, 2018 in Cincinnati. Prior to that, the Buccaneers had won six straight in the series.
  2. The Bengals beat the Browns, 23-10, at home last week, their fifth straight win. That’s their longest winning streak since winning their first eight games of the 2015 season. Cincinnati is 8-0 when scoring more than 20 points this season.
  3. JaMarr Chase caught 10 passes for 119 yards and a touchdown against the Browns. He now has 20 receiving touchdowns in just 26 career games. In the last 40 years, the only players to reach that mark faster are Randy Moss (20) and Odell Beckham Jr. (22).
  4. The Buccaneers lost to the 49ers, 35-7, in Santa Clara last week. It was their second time scoring fewer than 10 points this season (also Week 7 at Carolina). In Tom Brady’s first two years in Tampa, they did so just twice, both times in home games against New Orleans.
  5. Tom Brady was 34-for-55 or 253 yards last week, the 11th time in his career he’s attempted at least 55 passes. His teams are now 3-8 in such games, with wins in 2002 against Chicago, 2015 against Buffalo, and Week 9 of this season against the Rams.
  6. Tampa Bay has passed the ball in first-and-10 situations 57.5 percent of the time this season, highest in the league. Cincinnati has done so 52.9 percent of the time, seventh highest in the league.

Giants-Commanders Preview

LANDOVER, Md. (AP) Taylor Heinicke watched the UFC main event last weekend end in a tie and was reminded of the same sinking feeling he and the Washington Commanders got the last time they played the New York Giants.

“Ties aren’t fun,” Heinicke said. “The goal is to go out there and win.”

One thing everybody involved can agree on: No one wants another tie between the NFC East rivals two weeks later when they meet again Sunday night with each team 7-5-1 and the driver’s seat for a playoff spot at stake. The Commanders and Giants are plenty familiar with each other and know just how big this game is under the lights in the final quarter of the regular season.

“Washington is going to bring it,” Giants left tackle Andrew Thomas said. “They want to be in the playoffs just as bad as we do. It’s going to come down to who wants it more and who executes better.”

As these teams proved last time – a 20-all draw at New York on Dec. 4 – the margin for error is slim. Washington is a 4-point home favorite on FanDuel Sportsbook, with the edge of coming off a bye week while the Giants got drubbed 48-22 by the division-leading Eagles and are 0-3-1 in their past four.

“They’re waiting on us just as much as we’re waiting on them,” New York linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux said. “I feel like because we just played them and they haven’t seen anybody yet, all they’ve been doing is licking their chops.”

The Commanders are 5-1-1 since Heinicke replaced Carson Wentz as their starting quarterback and are getting healthy at the right time of year. They could get impressive cornerback Benjamin St-Juste back from an ankle injury and edge rusher Chase Young on the field for the first time this season, 13 months after tearing the ACL in his right knee.

“The bye week was good for us, and all of us are ready to take the field Sunday night,” tight end Logan Thomas said.

Thomas feels like it’s the “sixth quarter” against the Giants, given how long the last meeting went and that Washington has not faced another opponent since. The familiarity is still strong for New York, and so is the excitement with full understanding of how much this game could tip the standings.

“I don’t think we’re going to have any issue getting amped up,” Giants QB Daniel Jones said. “Everyone realizes the opportunity and how big a game this is.”

PRIME TIME CONTRAST

Washington has won each of its first two night games this season and is 5-2 in prime time in two-plus seasons since coach Ron Rivera took over. New York has lost 11 in a row in those situations.

“There’s just something about the attention,” Rivera said. “I think we’ve got guys that seem to relish the opportunity.”

SLOWING SAQUON

Running back Saquon Barkley carried the Giants in the first half of the season, helping them open with six wins in seven games. He had three 100-plus-yard rushing games none with fewer than 70.

Seattle slowed him to 53 yards by stuffing the box in New York’s final game before its bye, and opponents learned from it. Barkley ran for 152 yards in a victory against Houston coming out of the bye, but he has gained 152 total yards on 53 carries in his last four games, an average of 2.86 yards.

The Giants need to find a way to get him going again. The Commanders might be just as concerned about stopping Jones, who rushed for 71 yards in the teams’ last meeting.

“We have to be able to handle their attack,” Rivera said. “They run the ball very well with their backs. Saquon, I think, is one of the premier guys in this league and it’s good to see him back. Honestly, I do mean that because he is a premier player. But we also got to be able to handle when they run with the quarterback.”

CROWD CONCERNS

Washington’s attendance of just under 58,000 a game this season ranks last in the NFL, and nearly every week there’s a big chunk of visiting team fans. Referencing a 50/50 split from a Thursday night game at FedEx Field against New York last season, Heinicke said, “Hopefully, we have more fans than Giants.”

There will undoubtedly be a lot of blue in the crowd, but Commanders fans have made up for it with some real noise and intensity this season. Players expect more where that came from.

“I just want to see a packed house with a lot of burgundy and gold out there,” left tackle Charles Leno said. “I just want to see a really playoff-(like), electric environment.”

BATTERED NY DEFENSE

The banged-up Giants defense has been battered the past month.

The Eagles rushed for 253 yards and four touchdowns and gained 437 overall. The Giants have given up no less than 411 yards in total offense in the last three games, with at least 165 yards rushing.

This run has coincided with the loss of top cornerback Adoree Jackson because of a knee injury and safety Xavier McKinney to a broken left hand from an ATV accident during the bye week. It didn’t help last week that defensive lineman Leonard Williams was inactive with a neck injury.

“Every team goes through that during the season,” coach Brian Daboll said. “Whoever’s in there, we have confidence in”

  1. The Giants and Commanders played to a 20-20 tie in Week 13, the fifth tie ever between the two teams. That is the most in any series for the Giants and tied for the most for Washington against any team (also vs. Philadelphia).
  2. Daniel Jones and Tyrod Taylor each rushed for at least 25 yards against the Eagles on Sunday, the second time the duo had done so this season. The Giants are the first team since the 1961 San Francisco 49ers to have multiple QBs rush for 25+ yards in multiple games.
  3. Richie James Jr., who had a career-high seven catches against Philadelphia, has three receiving touchdowns over his last four games. Prior to that stretch, he had three career receiving TDs over 49 games.
  4. The Commanders became the third team in NFL history to have at least one game decided by exactly zero, one, two, three, four, five and six points in the same season, joining the 2021 Pittsburgh Steelers and the 1997 New York Giants.
  5. Washington is 5-1-1 with Taylor Heinicke as the starting quarterback this season and 2-4 when Heinicke doesn’t start. The team is scoring an average of 21.6 points per game in those starts compared to 17.0 in the six other games.
  6. The Giants’ Julian Love is one of three NFL players currently leading his team outright in both total tackles and interceptions, along with Tennessee’s David Long Jr. and Houston’s Jalen Pitre. The last Giant to lead the team outright in both categories in the same season was Antrel Rolle in 2013.

Rams-Packers Preview

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) This can’t be what the NFL’s schedule-makers and ESPN executives had in mind.

When the league’s slate of prime-time games came out in the spring, a mid-December matchup between the Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams and the three-time defending NFC North champion Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field sounded like TV ratings gold.

Surely visions of gorgeous wide-angle shots of the falling snow and big-time playoff implications were dancing in their heads.

But instead of a playoff preview, the “Monday Night Football” audience will get two of the NFL’s most disappointing teams when the Rams (4-9) visit the Packers (5-8).

Although both teams are still mathematically in playoff contention, the Rams are assured a sub-.500 record, and the Packers could win out and still miss the postseason for the first time under coach Matt LaFleur.

“Being the No. 1 seed (in the NFC) the last two seasons leading into this season, a lot of high hopes, right?” Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst said during the bye week. “We were certainly expected to be competing for a championship – and we are still in it.

“If we’re able to dig our way back into this thing, we still kind of feel like we have the ability to do that. But this season has not gone as we expected.”

Rams coach Sean McVay knows the feeling.

Before newly added quarterback Baker Mayfield rallied the Rams to a 17-16 victory over the Las Vegas Raiders last week – just two days after being claimed on waivers from the Carolina Panthers – the defending champs looked like they were playing out the string.

But their Mayfield-fueled comeback has at least brought some energy to what could have been a lifeless final month of the season.

“I think some positive momentum, no doubt,” McVay said. “You’re just so happy because you see the players be able to see the work that they’ve put in and then get some tangible rewards.”

LET HIM BAKE

Mayfield not only learned enough of the playbook in less than two days to function within the Rams’ offense when he replaced John Wolford after one series against the Raiders, he managed to throw for 230 yards and the game-winning touchdown to cap a 98-yard drive with the game on the line. For his efforts, he was named the NFC offensive player of the week.

“I don’t know if you could write it any better than that,” Mayfield said after the game. “Obviously, we’d like to be a little bit more stress-free. But it’s a pretty damn good story. I’ll be honest with you. It’s special.”

McVay subsequently named Mayfield the starter for Monday night, with Wolford dealing with a neck injury and starter Matthew Stafford done for the year because of a spinal contusion.

PICK PARADE?

The last time the Packers saw Mayfield was last Christmas Day, when he was throwing four interceptions for the Cleveland Browns in the Packers’ 24-22 victory at Lambeau Field. Rasul Douglas had two of those picks, but the Packers’ defense hasn’t been nearly as effective at taking the ball away this season.

A year after ranking third in the league with 26 turnovers forced, the Packers are tied for 15th with 15 takeaways this year – although nearly half of those (seven) have come in the past four games.

“I do think they come in bunches,” Douglas said. “I just think we’re being more aggressive as a team and we’re all on the same page with what we’ve got going on.”

FAMILIAR FACE

Packers edge rusher Justin Hollins, much like Mayfield, hit the ground running full speed with his new team.

Hollins arrived in Green Bay on Thanksgiving after being claimed on waivers from the Rams, and was on the field three days later against Philadelphia on Nov. 30. Hollins stuffed Eagles running back Miles Sanders for a 2-yard loss early and sacked Jalen Hurts for a 5-yard loss in that game.

The Packers were in dire need at the position after losing top edge rusher Rashan Gary to a season-ending knee injury on Nov. 6.

ELEMENTARY, WATSON

Packers rookie second-round pick Christian Watson’s eight touchdowns over the past four games made him the second rookie wide receiver in NFL history to score eight TDs from scrimmage over four games, per the Elias Sports Bureau. Minnesota’s Randy Moss was the first to do it, in 1998.

“When the opportunities presented themselves, obviously he’s made the most of them,” Gutekunst said. “I think the thing I’m most proud about with Christian right now is he really has a desire to be great – and he’s not walking around here like he’s arrived in any way. … He knows there’s still a lot of work out there for him.”

ON THE MEND

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the MVP the past two seasons, enters the Packers’ final four games having thrown nine interceptions – the most he’s had in a season since he threw 11 during the team’s Super Bowl-winning season of 2010. His passer rating of 92.4 would be his lowest in 15 years as a starter.

How much of his statistical downturn can be traced to the broken right thumb he suffered in London against the New York Giants on Oct. 9 is hard to say, but Rodgers said the thumb is close to fully healed and the rib injury he suffered against the Eagles is also much improved.

  1. The Rams are 3-12 on the road against the Packers since 1982, their worst road record against any NFC opponent in that span. The three wins came in 1988, 1995 and 2006. The Packers earned a 36-28 win at Lambeau in Week 12 last season.
  2. The Rams snapped a six-game losing streak with a 17-16 win over the Raiders at home last Thursday. It was just their third one-point win in the last 20 seasons (also Week 10, 2011 at Cleveland and Week 17, 2021 at Baltimore).
  3. There have been two times in the Super Bowl era where a quarterback came off the bench, threw for 200+ yards, rallied from 13+ points down to win and snapped his team’s winless streak of six or more games. One was Baker Mayfield’s Browns debut in 2018, and the other was his Rams debut last week.
  4. The Packers are coming off a bye after winning 28-19 in Chicago in Week 13 despite trailing 19-10 in the fourth quarter. It was the first time they had won a game by at least nine points since trailing by at least nine in the fourth quarter since a 1985 win at Minnesota (trailed 17-6, won 27-17).
  5. In Week 13, Christian Watson became the second rookie wide receiver with a rushing and receiving touchdown in a game this season (also New England’s Tyquan Thornton in Week 6), and the fifth since 2020. From 1991 through 2019, there were a total of five such games by rookie wideouts.
  6. The Rams have just 13 points on their 14 total takeaways this season, half as many points as any other team (Denver ranks 31st with 26 takeaway points). The Packers have allowed 35 giveaway points on their 17 turnovers this season, tied for fifth fewest in the league.

Gore runs for bowl record 329 yards, Southern Miss tops Rice

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) Frank Gore Jr. ran for an NCAA bowl-record 329 yards and accounted for three touchdowns to help Southern Miss hold off Rice 38-24 on Saturday night in the LendingTree Bowl.

Gore, the son of the former NFL star, had a 64-yard scoring run in the second quarter, threw an 18-yard touchdown pass in the third and ran for 55 yards for another score in the fourth. He also ran 59 yards to set up the go-ahead touchdown for the Golden Eagles (7-6).

Gore, who had 21 carries, broke the mark of 317 yards set by Appalachian State’s Camerun Peoples in the 2020 Myrtle Beach Bowl against North Texas. Gore broke the Southern Miss record of 304 by Sam Dejarnette against Florida State in 1982.

“He’s a special guy,” Southern Miss coach Will Hall said. “He’s really learned how to be a leader. He’s really learned how to handle the responsibility of being Frank Gore Jr., and he has embraced that, and he’s embraced the whole deal of to whom much is given, much is required.

“He’s always intense and competitive and I’m just really proud he was able to have a performance like this on a national stage where a lot of people could see it. He’s got a chip on his shoulder like his short coach does.”

Rice quarterback AJ Padgett threw for 295 yards and three touchdowns – all in the third quarter – to give the Owls (5-8) a brief 24-17 lead. He threw 26 and 32 yards to Isaiah Esdale to tie a game Southern Miss led 17-3 at halftime, then connected with Bradley Rozner to put Rice up 24-17 with 5:06 left in the third.

Gore’s 18-yard touchdown pass to Ty Mims – his seventh passing score of the season – tied it at 24 after three quarters. Trey Lowe threw a 26-yard touchdown to Jason Brownlee on the second play of the fourth quarter to give the Golden Eagles the lead at 31-24, and Gore’s 55-yarder capped the scoring with 2:57 left.

“We did a lot of good things in that third quarter, but you have to take your hat off to Southern Miss that they were able to run the ball the way they did,” Rice coach Mike Bloomgren said. “It was kind of the Frank Gore show. But we knew what kind of back Frank Gore Jr. is, what a great back, what a great runner he is. Tonight he was phenomenal. We didn’t do a good enough job tackling, and we didn’t make enough plays on offense to win the game.”

AP sources: Cubs, SS Dansby Swanson agree to 7-year deal

CHICAGO (AP) The Chicago Cubs and Dansby Swanson agreed to a $177 million, seven-year contract on Saturday, adding the All-Star shortstop to their rebuilding project.

The deal includes a full no-trade clause, according to two people familiar with the negotiations who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the contract was pending a physical.

Chicago went 74-88 this year and finished third in the NL Central. It was its second straight losing season, but it went 40-31 in its last 71 games.

The addition of Swanson is the biggest of three major moves by the Cubs since the end of the season. The team finalized a $17.5 million, one-year contract with 2019 NL MVP Cody Bellinger on Wednesday, and right-hander Jameson Taillon agreed to a four-year contract that is worth roughly $68 million.

With Swanson in the fold, Nico Hoerner likely moves from shortstop to second base. Coupled with Bellinger in center, Chicago should be one of the majors’ best teams when it comes to up-the-middle defense.

The Cubs also bolstered their bullpen when they agreed to a $2.8 million, one-year contract with Brad Boxberger this week.

Swanson was part of a stellar group of free agent shortstops that also included Trea Turner, Carlos Correa and Xander Bogaerts. He was the last one of the four to decide on a team.

Swanson was selected by Arizona with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 amateur draft, but he was traded to Atlanta in a multiplayer deal that December.

With the Braves, Swanson became part of a young core that led the franchise back to the top of the NL East. He batted .248 with 27 homers and 88 RBIs in 2021, helping Atlanta to its first World Series championship since 1995.

AP source: Dodgers, DH Martinez agree to 1-year contract

(AP) — The Los Angeles Dodgers and designated hitter J.D. Martinez agreed to a $10 million, one-year contract on Saturday, according to a person familiar with the negotiations.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the move is pending a physical.

The 35-year-old Martinez, who also can play the corner outfield spots, hit .274 with 16 homers and 62 RBIs last season with Boston.

The move reunites Martinez with Mookie Betts, who was traded from Boston to Los Angeles in February 2020.

Martinez was selected by Houston in the 20th round of the 2009 amateur draft. The five-time All-Star made his big league debut with the Astros in 2011.

Martinez is a .288 hitter with 282 homers and 899 RBIs in 1,409 career games with four teams.

He had his best year with Boston in 2018, batting .330 with 43 homers and 130 RBIs. He also hit .300 with three homers and 14 RBIs in the postseason that year as the Red Sox won the World Series, beating the Dodgers for the title.

Los Angeles went 111-51 this year and won the NL West for the ninth time in the last 10 seasons. But the Dodgers were upset by the Padres in the NL Division Series.

ESPN was the first to report Martinez’s contract.

Clippers beat Wizards 102-93; Washington drops 9th in a row

LOS ANGELES (AP) Kawhi Leonard knew he needed to carry the load for the Los Angeles Clippers. He was up for the challenge.

Leonard scored a season-high 31 points and the Clippers rallied in the fourth quarter to beat Washington 102-93 on Saturday, extending the Wizards’ skid to a season-worst nine games.

“He’s feeling better, feeling good, starting to trust it,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue.

Still on a minutes restriction after missing last season with a torn ACL, Leonard equaled his season high of 31 minutes. He shot 12 of 26, made 5 of 8 free throws and had nine rebounds on a day when Paul George, Ivica Zubac, Reggie Jackson and Norman Powell were sidelined. That left the Clippers without nearly 61 combined points on average.

“Just needed to be more assertive and aggressive the whole game,” Leonard said. “It was a big win for us.”

Luke Kennard added a season-high 20 points off the bench, tying his season high with four 3-pointers.

“You don’t want to leave him,” Leonard said. “If you give that to him, he’s going to knock it down.”

Kristaps Porzingis led the Wizards with 19 points. Kyle Kuzma added 17 points and Deni Avdija had 10 rebounds. The Wizards, who were without Bradley Beal, have lost 12 of 13.

Los Angeles fought back in the fourth. Brandon Boston Jr. came off the bench for a steal and score, tying it at 78. The Clippers went up 81-78 on Amir Coffey’s layup and Kennard’s free throw after the Wizards’ delay of game technical.

“Just searching for a good lineup to hold it down until Kawhi came back,” Lue said.

Washington ran off seven in a row and the Clippers answered with six straight. Porzingis’ basket drew the Wizards into a tie at 87-all.

Butler, Adebayo lead Heat past Spurs in Mexico City

MEXICO CITY (AP) Maybe it was the grasshoppers or the tequila, perhaps the combination of both, but the altitude of Mexico City did not affect Jimmy Butler.

Butler scored 15 of his 26 points in the second half and the Miami Heat extended their winning streak to four, beating the San Antonio Spurs 111-101 on Saturday in the first NBA game in Mexico City since 2019.

Sitting at 7,350 feet above sea level, Mexico’s capital is at a far higher elevation than Denver – the NBA’s highest venue at 5,280 feet.

Professional teams try different approaches to avoid the effects of the altitude on the body and usually, arriving as close to a game as possible is regarded as the way to go.

The Heat arrived south of the border late Thursday night after beating the Houston Rockets and Butler tried the grasshoppers, a local delicacy along with some tequila. And apparently it worked.

Cavaliers beat Mavericks 100-99 in OT on Allen’s slam

CLEVELAND (AP) Jarrett Allen’s dunk with 2:01 remaining in overtime gave Cleveland a 100-99 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday night, keeping the Cavaliers unbeaten in five OT games this season.

Allen outjumped two defenders to grab a lob from Darius Garland, then slammed home the ball over Christian Wood for the final points in the five-minute session. Kemba Walker had opened OT with a 3-pointer to give Dallas a 99-96 lead.

“It was a character win because we just didn’t have it tonight,” Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “But that wasn’t an excuse for the guys. They went out and picked it up defensively, which you’ve got to do when your shots aren’t falling.”

The Mavericks had three opportunities to take the lead in the last minute, including Wood’s 30-footer as time expired. Frank Ntilikina was stripped by Donovan Mitchell and Walker’s jumper landed between the backboard and the rim on the other two.

Mitchell scored 25 points and Darius Garland had 18 points, seven rebounds and 12 assists for Cleveland, which has the best home record in the NBA at 14-2. Allen added eight points and 15 rebounds, and Evan Mobley had 17 points and eight rebounds.

“Nights like this, it’s all mental, so you’ve got to fight real deep and find that energy,” said Mobley, who scored 10 points in the fourth quarter. “But we got the stops we needed at the end.”

Four-time All-Star guard Walker, who signed with Dallas on Nov. 29, had 32 points and seven assists over 42 minutes in his third game. Wood had 26 points and 14 rebounds, and Hardaway scored 13 points.

Dallas forced OT on Walker’s driving layup with 3.5 seconds left in the fourth, tying the score at 96-all. After Mitchell was called for an offensive foul with 0.7 ticks left, Tim Hardaway Jr. missed a half-court shot at the buzzer.

Simons, Lillard lead Trail Blazers past Rockets 107-95

HOUSTON (AP) Anfernee Simons scored 32 points and Damian Lillard added 25 as the Portland Trail Blazers beat the Houston Rockets 107-95 on Saturday night.

Portland led by as many as 22 points before Houston closed the gap to 11 points in the fourth quarter with 2:09 remaining, prompting the Trail Blazers to put their starters back in the game.

Jusuf Nurkic scored 14 points and Josh Hart added 12 points and 13 rebounds for Portland. Lillard added 10 assists and two steals.

Portland won for the fourth time in five games. The Blazers entered December with a record of 11-11 and have gone 6-2 this month.

Jalen Green led the Rockets with 15 points, and Kevin Porter Jr., Kenyon Martin Jr., and Tari Eason each added 13 points.

Simons hit 11 of 21 shots from the field, including 5 of 14 from 3-point distance. He had a career-high 45 points two weeks ago in a 116-111 win over Utah.

“I thought it was the best defensive game of the year for him, in my opinion,” Portland coach Chauncey Billups said. “He was locked in, he was physical, he was talking. I’m more proud of him for that than the 32 points because he can do that most nights.”

Lillard had a relatively quiet night after topping 35 points in four of the previous five games. He went 7 of 20 from the field, including 5 of 13 from 3-point distance. On Monday, he matched a career high with 11 3s on 17 attempts.

Lillard, however, did join the 18,000-point club and enters the next game just 21 points away from surpassing Clyde Drexler for most points in franchise history. Drexler had 18,040 with Portland.

The Rockets struggled from the field, especially from beyond the arc. Houston entered the fourth quarter 1 for 20 from long distance and finished the game 3 for 29.

Bucks beat Jazz without stars Antetokounmpo, Middleton

MILWAUKEE (AP) Bobby Portis had 22 points and 14 rebounds starting in place of Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks also played without Khris Middleton in a 123-97 victory over the Utah Jazz on Saturday night.

Antetokounmpo sat out because of soreness in his left knee, the fifth game he has missed this season. Middleton has soreness in his right knee.

Portis scored 15 points in the first quarter and finished with his 17th double-double this season, tying him for third in the NBA in that category.

“I put a lot of work in and the game is starting to slow down for me,” Portis said. “It’s fun to see my development and cool to have teammates and coaches that trust me, for sure.”

Jrue Holiday added 21 points and eight assists and center Brook Lopez had 18 points and eight rebounds to help the Bucks bounce back from a 41-point loss in Memphis on Thursday night.

“We were all disappointed in our effort, virtually everything with the way we played the other night,” Lopez said. “I think we all felt we were going to come in and show a much better effort.”

Rookie MarJon Beauchamp added 18 points in 19 minutes off the bench and Sandro Mamukelashvili had seven assists and eight rebounds in 23 minutes.

“Without Giannis playing tonight, I thought he had a huge impact on the game,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said about Mamukelashvili, who is on a two-way contract and played in the G-League on Friday night. “Just his effort on the offensive glass, the ground he was covering, he was just going and getting it.”

Milwaukee improved to 14-3 at home and 21-8 overall.

The Jazz was able to tie the game at 42-42 when Beasley hit back-to-back 3-pointers in the second quarter, but Holiday responded with 10 consecutive points, capped by a pull-up triple and a 3-pointer from the corner.

“He caught a great rhythm and we needed it,” Budenholzer said. “It felt like Jrue did it a lot of different ways and looked like himself.”

The Bucks outscored the Jazz, 31-14, in the final quarter and took command with a 13-0 run to open the quarter to take a 105-83 lead.

Grizzlies star Morant ejected, short-handed Thunder win

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Memphis star Ja Morant was ejected just before halftime and an undermanned Oklahoma City Thunder squad ended Memphis’ winning streak at seven with a 115-109 victory Saturday night.

Morant was ejected with 43 seconds left in the half when he was called for his second technical foul after apparently making remarks to courtside Memphis fans that were derogatory about the officiating. He didn’t say specifically what he said to the fans, but did confirm the conversation and said he wasn’t speaking to the official before either technical.

“I got my first tech for saying I got hit in my (expletive) face. Didn’t curse at him,” Morant said. “Another situation where he’s in my conversation and I get another tech for talking with a fan. I feel like when these fans came here, went online to buy these tickets, they didn’t say Ray (Acosta) name to come watch.”

Morant scored just six points on 3-of-10 shooting. The All-Star guard picked up his first technical 11 seconds earlier after committing a foul to stop play and complain about a no-call on a drive to the basket.

The Thunder, playing without stars Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey, ended a five-game losing streak. Lu Dort scored 24 points and Isiah Joe had a season-high 23 points, hitting five 3-pointers.

Joe said he didn’t prepare any differently when he found out he was getting his first start of the season.

“I had my same routine, the same thoughts went through my head before the game. I’m getting in the game at a different time now. I’m starting and I just do what the team needs at the time,” Joe said. “With a team like this, you never know when your number is going to get called. Fortunately tonight my number was called early, I started. Not just me, but I feel like a lot of my teammates can do the same thing. At this level, if your coach has to tell you to be ready, you probably shouldn’t be here in the first place.”

Dillon Brooks led Memphis with 32 points.

Booker scores 58 points, leads Suns to huge comeback win

PHOENIX (AP) Devin Booker dribbled toward the left corner 3-point line with two Pelicans in hot pursuit before rising up for an off-balance jumper. Coach Monty Williams wasn’t sure that was a great idea.

“I couldn’t make that shot,” Williams said grinning.

But Booker can. And he did.

The three-time All-Star put on a show with one of the best scoring games of his career, pouring in 58 points to nearly single-handedly push the Phoenix Suns past New Orleans 118-114 on Saturday night.

The Suns earned the comeback win barely one week after losing to the Pelicans twice in New Orleans. Booker prides himself as a team player and a willing passer, but on Saturday night, he realized he had the hot hand.

“Once I get it going a little bit, shooting over a hand is the right play,” Booker said.

It’s the second time this season Booker has topped 50 points – he scored 51 against Chicago at home Nov. 30 in just three quarters.

This effort was even more impressive because it brought the Suns back from a 24-point deficit. The three-time All-Star made 21 of 35 shots, including 6 of 12 3-pointers. He added five rebounds, five assists and played the entire second half.

The Phoenix bench and fans loved every minute of it. New Orleans? Not so much.

“I don’t enjoy watching somebody score 58 points on us,” Pelicans guard C.J. McCollum said. “It is not enjoyable.”

The Pelicans led 83-59 midway through the third quarter, but the Suns used a 25-6 run to cut that advantage to 89-84 going into the fourth. Booker scored 20 points in the third, willing his team back into contention.

“It’s unreal,” Paul said. “I’ve had the opportunity to play with a lot of greats – Blake Griffin, James Harden and now Book. Sheesh, you just try not to get caught watching.”

Phoenix tied it at 99 with 7:04 left on Josh Okogie’s free throw. Booker scored a stunning 25 points in a row for the Suns before Okogie’s two free throws, making just about everything he tossed toward the rim as the home crowd roared.

Walker leads #5/4 Men’s Hoops past #2/2 Virginia, 69-61

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) – Losing a 15-point lead in the second half against No. 4 Alabama a week ago got the attention of No. 5 Houston’s players. Coach Kelvin Sampson made sure of it.

It may have helped the Cougars stymie a comeback by No. 2 Virginia on Saturday.

Freshman forward Jarace Walker scored 17 points and Houston used runs in each half and the nation’s best scoring defense to beat the Cavaliers 69-61 inside John Paul Jones Arena. The Cougars scored on three straight possessions after a steal and layup by Kihei Clark brought a sellout crowd clad in orange to its feet, exhorting Virginia to rely on its own defense to finish the comeback.

”I’m not sure we’re able to do that without the Alabama experience,” Sampson said.

After Clark pulled the Cavaliers within 54-48, junior point guard Jamal Shead scored on a drive, sophomore guard Tramon Mark hit a 3-pointer and Walker made a tough fadeaway, keeping the Cavaliers at bay.

”Just keeping our composure when you get a big lead and just be mature and try not to go away from what we’ve been doing, which we did against Alabama,” J’Wan Roberts said. ”We watch film and we learn. We grew from that.”

Senior gaurd Marcus Sasser and Mark each added 13 points for the Cougars (11-1), who used a 10-2 run early in the second half to open a 40-30 lead. Virginia (8-1), playing for the first time in 11 days, never got closer than six again, and each time the Cougars answered.

The Cavaliers shot 41.7% (20-48). Coach Tony Bennett said when shots aren’t falling, that makes the quality of play on the defensive end all the more important.

”Today they obviously took advantage of our breakdowns and scored,” Bennett said. ”Today the tougher, sounder team on the defensive end won the game.”

Kadin Shedrick scored 16 points and Jayden Gardner had 13 for the Cavaliers, who were hoping to avenge a 67-47 loss last year on the Cougars’ home floor. Houston became the highest-ranked nonconference opponent ever to play Virginia in Charlottesville.

Clark’s steal and layup pulled Virginia within 56-50 with 2:55 to play, but Mark answered with a 3-pointer for the Cougars, who shot 49% (25-51) against a defense ranked 12th nationally, allowing 57.9 points.

The Cavaliers closed to within 30-28 on Gardner’s basket to open the second half, but the Cougars went on their run, with Walker contributing a three-point play and 3-pointer in the spurt, to lead 40-30.

Virginia scored the first nine points and led 15-7 before going cold. The Cougars outscored them 17-4 over more than 10 minutes to lead 26-19. Houston led 30-26 at halftime.

RARITY

The Cavaliers are the highest-ranked team Houston has faced during the regular season since it met No. 1 Memphis on Feb. 13, 2008.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

The Cavaliers are likely to fall, but not very far, and Houston’s victory on the road is likely to make voters almost forget their 71-65 loss to Alabama a week ago when the Cougars were No. 1 and the Tide were ranked eighth.

BIG PICTURE

Houston: The Cougars arrived with one player, Sasser (16.2), scoring in double figures but had five do it against the Cavaliers. Jamal Shead scored 11 and J’Wan Roberts had 10.

Virginia: The Cavaliers got guard Reece Beekman back after he suffered a hamstring injury in their previous game. Beekman was effective defensively but did not demonstrate the explosive power driving to the basket that typifies his offensive game.

”He didn’t quite have his burst. I thought he was pretty good defensively, not quite as explosive offensively and probably a little fatigued because he hasn’t done much,” Bennett said, adding that Beekman hardly has practiced since the injury.

Timme leads No. 15 Gonzaga over No. 4 Alabama, 100-90

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) Drew Timme and Gonzaga’s veteran team got the better of Alabama’s youngsters in the end.

Timme matched his season-high with 29 points and No. 15 Gonzaga overcame freshman Brandon Miller’s 36-point outburst to beat No. 4 Alabama 100-90 on Saturday in the C.M. Newton Classic.

Timme had 10 rebounds, four assists and made 12 of 18 shots to help the Bulldogs (9-3) cool off one of the nation’s hottest teams. The Crimson Tide (9-2) had won four straight and beat two No. 1 teams to earn their highest ranking in 15 years, including a road win over Houston for the nation’s top rebounding team.

“Obviously they’re a physical, tough bunch,” Timme said. “We all saw the Houston game. If you’re able to rebound with them, you’re classified as a pretty tough team, I would say. We knew it was going to be a battle, and that’s what we love and that’s what we want.”

Alabama outrebounded Gonzaga 37-30 but still collected 12 fewer than usual, partly because both teams shot better than 50%.

It was a familiar situation – and outcome – for Gonzaga, which is 7-1 in regular-season games against teams ranked in the top five by either the AP or the coaches’ poll since 2018-19.

Miller scored 26 points in the second half, including the team’s first 10. The nation’s top scoring freshman had just delivered a 21-point second half in a 91-88 victory over Memphis but couldn’t carry his team to the win this time.

Timme got much more scoring support against a team starting three freshmen.

The Bulldogs had six double-figure scorers. Anton Watson scored 17, Nolan Hickman had 13 and Malachi Smith 12. Rasir Bolton and Julian Strawther each scored 11.

Gonzaga made 20 of 27 second-half shots (74%).

Freshman Jaden Bradley scored 18 points for Alabama in his second start. The third freshman starter, Noah Clowney, had nine points and 13 rebounds.

Jaquez leads No. 16 UCLA past No. 13 Kentucky 63-53 at MSG

NEW YORK (AP) After a terrific East Coast road trip, UCLA coach Mick Cronin is eager to ditch this December chill and savor the spoils in sunshine.

“We’re going home, and it’s going to be 75 (degrees),” he said. “I’m grilling out on Christmas.”

Jaime Jaquez Jr. had 19 points and 12 rebounds as No. 16 UCLA turned back No. 13 Kentucky 63-53 in a matchup of college basketball royalty Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.

Jaylen Clark added 15 points and eight rebounds, and Tyger Campbell also scored 15 for the streaking Bruins (10-2). UCLA won its seventh straight game and passed another early test away from Pauley Pavilion following an 87-60 blowout Wednesday night at No. 20 Maryland.

“We know what we’re capable of if we play with the toughness we played with this week,” Cronin said.

Freshman forward Chris Livingston led the Wildcats (7-3) with a career-high 14 points off the bench, and Sahvir Wheeler had 11 points and six assists.

Big man Oscar Tshiebwe, the consensus 2022 national player of the year, pulled down 16 rebounds but was held to eight points – two in the second half – on 4-of-12 shooting as the Bruins double- and triple-teamed him.

“I haven’t lost any faith in the team. I’m disappointed,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “There’s a lot of things that I would say, like, we’re better than this. But we’re going to have to show it.”

UCLA owns 11 national championships, most of any school, while Kentucky ranks second with eight. Chanting fans of both blue-blood programs packed Madison Square Garden for a CBS Sports Classic game the Bruins led almost the entire way despite hitting only two 3-pointers and going 7 for 15 at the free throw line.

“MSG is something I’ve always wanted to be a part of, always wanted to play in,” Jaquez said. “When I found out we were coming here, this was marked on my calendar. … I’m just so happy we won here.”

After trailing by 13 late in the first half, Kentucky went into the break down eight, but opened the second period on a 13-5 spurt behind eight points from Livingston to tie the score twice.

Jaquez responded with a basket inside before feeding David Singleton for a 3-pointer that capped a 6-0 spurt, and the Bruins held on the rest of the way. Kentucky trimmed it to 55-53 with 4 1/2 minutes left, but Campbell hit a tough basket in the lane and UCLA scored the final eight points to pull away.

No. 9 Arizona outlasts No. 6 Tennessee in physical 75-70 win

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) Arizona got pushed around, unable to score at its usual pace. The shots didn’t fall with the same regularity, the opportunities to get out on the break limited.

Forced to play Tennessee’s style, the Wildcats beat the Vols at their own game.

Azuolas Tubelis scored 19 points, Oumar Ballo added 18 and No. 9 Arizona turned the physical tables on No. 6 Tennessee for a 75-70 victory Saturday night.

“It just shows our versatility,” said Arizona’s Pelle Larsson, who had 17 points, eight rebounds and four assists. “We always want to get up and down, but teams adjust so we have to adjust.”

The Wildcats (10-1) did well to withstand the Vols’ defensive pressure and applied a bit of their own in a game that saw bodies hitting the floor nearly every trip down the floor.

Arizona took advantage of 7-foot-1 Uros Plavsic’s foul trouble by working the ball inside to Ballo and Tubelis, building a 10-point lead midway through the second half. Tennessee pushed back, but the Wildcats had the final say, making the key plays down the stretch for their third win over an AP Top 25 opponent this season.

“We hung in there and we didn’t panic,” Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd said. “In the second half, we were a little more methodical and didn’t get panicky.”

The Vols (9-2) kept the nation’s top scoring team 17 points below its average, but had trouble with Arizona’s defense. Tennessee had two key second-half scoreless droughts missed 10 straight 3s after shooting well from the arc early.

Zakai Zeigler led Tennessee with 21 points and Olivier Nkamhoua added 16.

“We just didn’t have enough guys have good enough nights,” Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said. “We’re better than that, but give Arizona credit and we were in position to win in a tough environment..”

This Top 10 duel in the desert was strength vs. strength.

Tennessee arrived with the nation’s best adjusted defensive efficiency, according to KenPom.com, among the top five in field goal percentage against, points per game, steals and turnovers forced.

After buzzer-beater to force OT, Heels beat No. 23 OSU 89-84

NEW YORK (AP) Down two with under 2 second left, North Carolina assistant Jeff Lebo drew up a play the Tar Heels hadn’t even run in practice – and it worked perfectly.

Pete Nance made a turnaround jumper at the buzzer to force overtime, RJ Davis iced a much-needed victory for scuffling North Carolina with two late free throws, and the Tar Heels beat No. 23 Ohio State 89-84 on Saturday in the CBS Sports Classic.

“That’s one of my go-to shots,” said Nance, a graduate transfer from Northwestern. “If I could pick two or three shots I had saved my life with it’d probably be that fadeaway. Been working on it kind of all my life. It was definitely a comfortable shot for me.”

Armando Bacot had 28 points and 15 rebounds and Caleb Love scored 22 for North Carolina (8-4). The Tar Heels are trying to right themselves after a four-game losing streak – all away from home – knocked the preseason No. 1 team out of the Top 25 two weeks ago.

They have now won three straight, none bigger than this one against the Buckeyes (7-3) at Madison Square Garden. It was the opener of a doubleheader, with No. 13 Kentucky facing No. 16 UCLA in the nightcap.

The Tar Heels trailed for most of Game 1 before Davis hit a 3 from the wing with 1:29 left to make it 75-74 North Carolina.

“Down the stretch we needed to be more locked in,” said Ohio State’s Justice Sueing, who scored 16 points.

Brice Sensabaugh made a jumper from inside the foul line with 2 seconds left to give the Buckeyes a 79-77 lead. North Carolina used a couple of timeouts to get the play it wanted, first completing a long inbounds pass to get the ball past halfcourt.

That left 1.2 seconds, just enough for Leaky Black to lob an inbounds pass from the sideline across the court to the 6-foot-11 Nance, who was drifting away from the pack to the far side of the basket.

With about a 5-inch advantage on the defender Sensabaugh, Nance felt comfortable he was going to get a clean look.

“I thought it was a great play,” Nance said.

NHL-best Bruins honor Patrice Bergeron; beat Columbus 4-2

BOSTON (AP) David Krejci scored a go-ahead, power-play goal and the Boston Bruins remained unbeaten in regulation at home with a 4-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday.

David Pastrnak also had a power-play goal, Taylor Hall scored on a delayed penalty and backup goalie Jeremy Swayman, wearing new dark-tan pads, made a season-high 30 saves for Boston.

The NHL-best Bruins honored captain Patrice Bergeron for reaching 1,000 career points last month during an on-ice pregame ceremony.

“Never mind the Hall of Fame player he is, he’s a Hall of Fame person and leader,” Boston’s first-year coach Jim Montgomery said. “So much so that after the first I was not happy with the team. I was not very happy in between periods when I addressed the team. The second period had no impact.

“I said to Bergy with 40 seconds left in the second that: `It’s your dressing room.’ I just hope he doesn’t want to be a head coach,” Montgomery said, smiling. “We came out and played our best period.”

Boston improved to 16-0-2 at TD Garden, with both losses coming in a shootout.

“I can’t say it’s always just me,” Bergeron said, downplaying his talk to the team. “I think there’s a lot of guys that are vocal. I think you need that. … Obviously, voices matter and is important, but I think your actions speak louder sometimes.”

Boone Jenner had a power-play goal, Patrik Laine scored and Daniil Tarasov stopped 35 shots for Columbus, which has lost three straight and six of eight.

Krejci’s go-ahead goal late in the second was a bit of redemption. Columbus had tied the game 1-all while he was in the penalty box for high sticking. Just under four minutes later, he moved Boston ahead 2-1 on a one-timer from the left circle off a pass from Charlie McAvoy.

“You give up the lead and its tough to come back,” said Jenner, who tied the game. “You don’t want to be down. You want to get that tying goal (again), but they were able to get a couple.”

Hall extended the margin to 3-1 at 12:41 of the third period and Tomas Nosek scored 19 seconds later.

Pastrnak’s 20th goal made it 1-0 at 7:17 of the opening period, the seventh straight season he’s reached that mark.

Batherson helps Sens beat Red Wings 6-3 for 4th straight win

DETROIT (AP) Drake Batherson had two goals, Claude Giroux snapped a third-period tie and the Ottawa Senators beat the Detroit Red Wings 6-3 on Saturday for their fourth consecutive victory.

Thomas Chabot, Tyler Motte and Austin Watson also scored for the Senators, who improved to 8-2-1 in their last 11 games. Alex DeBrincat had three assists for the second consecutive game while extending his point streak to eight in a row.

Brady Tkachuk also had three assists, and Cam Talbot made 29 saves. Ottawa scored three power-play goals and two more short-handed.

“In November, we probably find a way to lose this game, but we have more confidence in how we play,” Tkachuk said. “We’ve learned so much that now we’re confident in these situations when we weren’t before.”

Ottawa outscored Detroit 3-0 in the third period.

“You’ve got to get every point you can and we’re grinding,” Senators coach D.J. Smith said. “We know the way we have to play, and we got away from it in the second, but I thought we got back to it in the third.”

Joe Veleno, Adam Erne and Filip Hronek scored for the Red Wings, who are winless in their last five games. Ville Husso recorded 22 saves.

“Early in the year we were getting the big save at the right time, the big (penalty) kill, the big goal,” said Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin, who returned after a one-game absence due to a hand injury. “Right now, it’s not happening for us.”

Veleno’s shot from the right circle trickled through Talbot’s pads for a 1-0 lead 2:32 into the game. It was Veleno’s first goal since Nov. 17, stopping a 12-game drought.

The game was tied at 2 after the first period. Batherson and Chabot scored for Ottawa in the first, and Erne also scored for Detroit.

Batherson banged in a power-play rebound 1:40 into the second, lifting the Senators a 3-2 lead.

“Really disappointing that two of the three (power-play) goals were literally from our stick to their stick,” Wings coach Derek Lalonde said. “Broken plays, back of the net. Not a lot structure to that, it’s just poor execution and not getting the clear.”

Detroit tied it again when Hronek scored on a 5-on-3 power play at 12:14.

TOP INDIANA RELEASES

String Of Missed Opportunities Cost Colts As Vikings Complete Historic Comeback

Whether the score was 33-0 at halftime, 36-36 after four quarters or 39-36 when Greg Joseph connected on a game-winning field goal as overtime ended, the Colts felt like they missed several opportunities on both offense and defense that allowed the Vikings to complete the biggest comeback in NFL history on Saturday at U.S. Bank Stadium.

“When we walked out of halftime, I told them (the Vikings), they’ve won nine of 10 of their games (that’ve) been one-score games,” interim head coach Jeff Saturday said. “We didn’t overlook — we understood how explosive this offense is, how many points they put up. I’m disappointed in how we played in the second half and didn’t find a way to close this thing out, but ultimately, I told the guys in there, we didn’t make enough plays, and that goes around the entire football team. You gotta look yourself in the mirror and understand when there’s opportunities to make and close teams like that out, we gotta make them. And we didn’t make them.”

While the Colts’ lead ballooned to 33 points – which is now the largest deficit any team has overcome to win in NFL history – in the first half, the offense had chances to put Saturday’s game even further out of reach. The Colts had four possessions reach the red zone in the first 30 minutes and managed only one touchdown – their lone offensive touchdown of the game.

An Ifeadi Odenigbo blocked punt returned by JoJo Domann for a touchdown and a Julian Blackmon pick-six boosted the Colts’ lead in the first half, but drives that ended at the Vikings’ 8-, 9- and 10-yard lines all ended in short field goals by kicker Chase McLaughlin. Even though those possessions came in the midst of building massive halftime advantage, turning even one into a touchdown would’ve forced the Vikings to need to not only score five second-half touchdowns, but convert five two-point tries to tie the game (instead of the one Minnesota needed).

“It’s more of the same, when you have your opportunities to finish drives with touchdowns, speaking from the offensive perspective even early in games,” quarterback Matt Ryan said. “When you get those chances, you’ve got to be opportunistic and ultimately we didn’t make enough plays to get the job done. We didn’t make enough plays at the right time. When you have chances to put people away, we’ve got to do a better job than we’ve done up to this point.”

The Colts’ defense was stifling in the first half, holding the Vikings to 3.2 yards per play and extinguishing any opportunity for Minnesota to spark some momentum in the first 30 minutes. Minnesota had two first downs, averaged a three-and-out per possession and turned the ball over on downs or via a Colts takeaway four times.

But the game flipped in the second half, and the Colts were unable to make the plays they needed on both sides of the ball to slow Minnesota’s surge.

The Vikings’ offense was able to generate a number of explosive plays – 10 through the air and one on the ground – including a 64-yard screen from Kirk Cousins to Dalvin Cook that set up the game-tying two-point conversion late in the fourth quarter. Cousins completed 28 of 42 passes for 417 yards with four touchdowns after halftime; Justin Jefferson had nine catches for 106 yards and K.J. Osborn had eight catches for 141 yards in the second half, and both Vikings receivers had touchdowns.

“We missed some tackles, they made more plays than we did,” defensive tackle DeForest Buckner said. “Simple as that. I can’t put my finger on one thing. They made more plays than we did in the second half.”

The Vikings also picked up three first downs on penalties after halftime; for the game, the Colts were penalized a season-high 11 times for 103 yards.

“Undisciplined football,” Saturday said. “You can’t do that, can’t keep teams like this in it. We just had too many of those on both sides of the ball. There’s plenty of blame to go around.”

On offense, the Colts came out of halftime with the mentality to keep their foot on the gas. When the Vikings started to make their comeback on offense, the Colts’ offense sought an explosive play or an extended drive to take some oxygen out of Minnesota’s fire.

But that play, and those plays, never came. The Colts gained 148 yards on 40 plays (3.7 yards/play) and had seven first downs in the second half and overtime, and Ryan completed 10 of 18 passes for 64 yards (3.6 yards/attempt) in the final 40 minutes of the game.

The Colts, though, had a chance to put the game away with two and a half minutes left. With the ball on the Vikings’ 36-yard line and Minnesota out of timeouts, Saturday opted to go for it with Ryan running a quarterback sneak – a play the Colts have successfully used plenty in 2022.

Ryan, though, was stopped short of the line to gain. The next play was Cook’s 64-yard rumble that led to the game being tied.

“You can never put the whole game on one play,” center Ryan Kelly said, “so for us, we had chances in the second half, and we didn’t do it right.”

The Colts had a possession in overtime, too, that approached midfield thanks to a couple of snags by wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. But that stalled at the Colts’ 44-yard line, and after Matt Haack punted, the Vikings drove for the game-winning field goal.

“It sucks because we’re on the wrong side of history,” Blackmon said. “I don’t want to be remembered as a team who was on the wrong side of history. That’s crazy, 33 points spotted and then nothing in the second half but a field goal. We gotta do better. Offense and defense, we gotta do better.

“… As hard as it is, you gotta digest it. Watch the film, see where we can be better because there were

a lot of mistakes to be had. Everybody saw it, especially in the second half. We just gotta take this one to the chin and try to move on from there because we still got three games left.”

Game Preview: Pacers vs. Knicks

The Indiana Pacers plan to strike back after a disappointing Friday night loss when they host the New York Knicks on Star Wars Night Sunday at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.

Indiana (15-15) returns home after falling to the Cleveland Cavaliers 118-112, a game where they led by 13 points in the fourth quarter but scored just two free throws in the final five minutes of play.

The Knicks (16-13) come to Indianapolis riding a six-game winning streak. Indiana has gone 3-7 over their last 10 games while New York has a 7-3 record during that stretch.

Against the Cavs, the Pacers won several key statistical categories – including overall shooting percentage, bench points and fast-break scoring – but Cavs All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell dropped 41 points in the game and scored as many points as the Pacers did total (18) in the final frame.

Led by 14 assists by star point guard Tyrese Haliburton, the Pacers also set a season-high for team assists in a game with 34 against the Cavs. Rookie Bennedict Mathurin resembled a master instead of a Padawan, leading the Blue & Gold with 22 points.

Prior to Friday night’s contest, Pacers coach Rick Carlisle called the Knicks’ style of play “physical.”

The Knicks are among the top rebounding teams in the league this season, averaging 47.4 (13.0 offensive) per game – good for third-best in the NBA behind Memphis (48.9) and Milwaukee (48.4).

New York is also fifth in the league in points in the paint, averaging 55.4, and their percentage of points that come from the paint is 48.5 percent.

Conversely, the Pacers have struggled on the glass this season, averaging 42.2 rebounds per contest (26th overall).

Julius Randle, an NBA All-Star and the league’s Most Improved Player in 2020, leads the Empire State squad with 22.6 points and 8.9 rebounds per game.

New York made a key addition in the offseason, as the Knicks signed Dallas free agent Jalen Brunson to a four-year, $104 million deal.

Since joining the Knicks, Brunson has delivered, averaging 20.4 points, 6.3 assists,  3.3 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game.

Two of the top shot blockers in the NBA will meet on Sunday, as Pacers center Myles Turner ranks second in the league with 2.3 blocks per game and Knicks big man Mitchell Robinson is fifth, swatting 1.9 shots per contest.

Haliburton has continued to lead the Pacers in scoring, averaging 19.9 points followed by Mathurin (17.8), Buddy Hield (17.7), Turner (17.6) and Jalen Smith (10.6).

Last season, the Knicks and Pacers split the season series 2-2. The two teams will play each other four times again this season.

Projected Starters

Pacers: G – Tyrese Haliburton, G – Buddy Hield, F – Andrew Nembhard, F – Jalen Smith, C – Myles Turner

Knicks: G – Quentin Grimes, G – Jalen Brunson, F – RJ Barrett, F – Julius Randle, C – Mitchell Robinson

Injury Report

Pacers: Kendall Brown – out (right tibia stress reaction), Daniel Theis – out (right knee surgery)

Knicks: Obi Toppin – out (right fibula head non-displaced fracture)

Last Meeting

Jan. 4, 2022: Down eight players due to health and safety protocols, the Pacers fell to the Knicks 104-94 at Madison Square Garden.

Barrett (32 points) and Randle (30 points) combined for 62 points in the Knicks win, snapping a two-game losing streak while dealing the Pacers a fifth-straight loss.

The teams were tied at 55 points at halftime before the Knicks built a seven-point lead going into the final frame.

In the fourth quarter, the Knicks led by eight points with under two minutes left as they hung on for the win.

Keifer Sykes topped the Pacers with a career-high 22 points and Duane Washington Jr. scored 17 for the Blue & Gold.

The Pacers were outrebounded 51-35 (14-9 offensive) and outshot 48.8 percent to 42.1 percent from the field.

Noteworthy

Pacers coach Rick Carlisle coached Brunson on the Dallas Mavericks for three seasons from 2018 to 2021.

Indiana has bounced back multiple times this season. The team has a 9-5 record following a loss.

On Friday night, Carlisle said second-year man Chris Duarte – who hasn’t suited up for the Blue & Gold since Nov. 4 – could be back with the team soon as he recovers from an ankle injury. Duarte played minutes for the G League Fort Wayne Mad Ants on Wednesday and Friday as part of his medical assignment.

Teddy Bears Tossed Two Minutes Into Game

INDIANAPOLIS– It was a Saturday night Central Division matchup as the Indy Fuel hosted the Cincinnati Cyclones for their annual Teddy Bear Toss night. They let the bears fly early in the first period but could not mount a big enough comeback and fell to Cincinnati 4-3. The Fuel are still three points ahead of the Cyclones in the Central division standings.

The Fuel were eager to make the teddy bears rain, and scored 2:01 into the first period on their first shot of the game. Matthew Barron, who signed with the Fuel less than a week ago, scored the golden goal, his first in a Fuel uniform. 

Eleven minutes later, Patrick Polino scored a shorthanded goal to tie the game for Cincy. Less than a minute and a half after that, Cincinnati’s Matt McLeod gave the Cyclones their first lead of the game with another shorthanded goal. The Fuel controlled possession until time ticked down in the first period but did not score again in that frame despite outshooting Cincinnati 12-6. 

Cincinnati’s Kohen Olischefski opened up scoring in the second period, putting the Cyclones up 3-1. Indy’s Chad Yetman struck next for his second point of the game. The period ended with Cincinnati up 3-2 and outshooting Indy 16-4 on the frame. 

Early in the third period, Kirill Chaika took an interference penalty which immediately resulted in a power play goal by Zack Andrusiak to put them up 4-2. Nine minutes into the third period, Yetman took a penalty shot after an interference call and cut Cincy’s lead down by one with a successful shot. 

With 31 seconds left, Chase Lang took a tripping penalty for Indy forcing them to the penalty kill to finish out regulation and that is how the game would end, with Cincinnati taking the win 4-3.

No. 14/16 Indiana Falls at No. 8/6 Kansas, 84-62

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Saturday’s 84-62 loss to No. 8/6 Kansas was No. 14/16 Indiana’s second straight double-digit defeat and left head coach Mike Woodson looking for answers.

“We just didn’t compete,” Woodson told Voice of the Hoosiers Don Fischer during the post-game radio show. “That’s all I can say. It’s upsetting.”

The Hoosiers (8-3) couldn’t overcome 23 turnovers (double their season average of 11.5) and vulnerable defense. They were outscored 28-13 on points off turnovers and 50-24 on points in the paint. Kansas (10-1) jumped out to a 7-0 lead and never slowed down.

“On the road, you won’t beat anybody with 23 turnovers,” Woodson said. “That was the difference.”

Woodson said he didn’t see this coming given both teams were so close statistically in nearly every category, including scoring offense, and defense.

“We had a good week of practice,” Woodson told Fischer. “I thought it would be a nice carryover, but nothing carried over from practice. That’s disheartening. Normally we’ve been good in that area.”

IU’s two-game swing against top-10 competition produced consecutive slow starts. Against Kansas, it was a 13-point deficit after eight minutes, 17 after 15 minutes, 22 after 17 minutes. That was worse than the 19-point, first-half hole it faced a week earlier against Arizona in an 89-75 loss.

Add an earlier 63-48 defeat at Rutgers, and you have plenty of work to do.

“I have to get this team, when we play good teams, we’re competing at a high level,” Woodson told Fischer. “We’re not doing that. We did that against North Carolina and Xavier (a pair of victories), but look at Rutgers, Arizona, and Kansas. It wasn’t even close.”

Kansas blitzed Indiana with 61-percent first-half shooting and stifling defense — pressuring Hoosier guards relentlessly once they crossed halfcourt — that forced 11 first-half turnovers and 33 percent shooting.

The Hoosiers couldn’t blitz back.

“They cut the passing lanes,” Woodson told Fischer. “They got up and pressed up. That’s something I hadn’t seen them do a lot of on film.

“They played a great game. We didn’t come to play.”

Adding to the Hoosier challenge, starting guard Xavier Johnson suffered a first-half foot injury and never returned. He had no points, two assists, two turnovers, and a steal.

Guards Trey Galloway and Tamar Bates tried filling the void. They finished with a combined nine points, six rebounds, three assists, and seven turnovers.

Add Johnson and Hood-Schino, and IU guards combined for nine assists and 14 turnovers.

“It didn’t help that we lost Xavier,” Woodson told Fischer. “At the end of the day, it’s next man up. Guys have to be ready to play.”

Freshman point guard Jalen Hood-Schifino was back after missing the previous three games with back spasms. He needed a couple of minutes to shake off the rust and adjust to the intensity of playing Kansas. He finished with 11 points, six rebounds, and four assists.

Forward Trayce Jackson-Davis had 13 points, nine blocks, and six rebounds. Forward Race Thompson had 11 points and four rebounds.

A finals week worth of practice that included rebounding drills with a bubble on top of the basket to address rebounding deficiencies didn’t help. Kansas won the board battle 35-32 and had 10 offensive rebounds.

Woodson talked before the game about the importance of a fast Hoosier start. It didn’t happen. IU fell behind 12-2 after four minutes. IU was 1-for-5 from the field with three turnovers. Kansas had a 7-0 edge in points off turnovers.

Hood-Schifino started 0-for-2 from the field with two turnovers and was replaced by Galloway. By that point, the Jayhawks had built a 21-8 lead.

Hood-Schifino came back in and scored five points. Thompson had five. Jackson-Davis had zero.

The Hoosiers were 6-for-22 from the field with 11 turnovers. Kansas had a 15-3 edge in points off turnovers to build a 34-17 lead, then 40-20, then 42-20.

Hood-Schifino hit a three-pointer. Jackson-Davis dunked, then added another basket, then blocked a shot and made a couple of free throws. IU reached halftime down 44-29.

A fast second-half start was crucial. The Hoosiers got it with Thompson, Bates, and Jackson-Davis all scoring to cut the lead to 48-38 with 16 minutes left.

IU had momentum and a couple of possessions to move closer.

It couldn’t capitalize.

The Jayhawks rebuilt a 20-point lead with eight minutes left by attacking the basket and forcing more Hoosier turnovers.

Indiana, which hosts Elon on Tuesday night, never recovered.

“They took it right to us,” Woodson told Fischer, “and we didn’t respond.”

Final Non-Con Homestand Starts Sunday For No. 4/3 Indiana Versus Morehead State

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – No. 4/3 Indiana begins its last non-conference homestand beginning with Morehead State on Sunday afternoon. Tip is set for 2 p.m. ET at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.

ABOUT THE EAGLES

Morehead State is coming off a 64-59 loss at USC Upstate on Monday night. They are led by senior guard Veronica Charles, who averages team-highs with 13.3 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. Junior forward Sophie Benharouga adds 10.1 points, 4.3 rebounds and shoots 47.8 percent from the floor. The Eagles are averaging 60.1 points per game and shooting 37.0 percent from the floor.

SERIES HISTORY

Indiana leads 4-0

LAST MEETING

11/21/14 – W, 98-57 (Bloomington, Ind.)

NOTES

Indiana returns to the court after a 10-day break in action for finals week on Sunday afternoon. The Hoosiers last faced Penn State in a 67-58 win in University Park on Dec. 8. They will close out non-conference play with Morehead State on Sunday a Wednesday afternoon matchup with Butler on Dec. 21.

IU is 8-0 against non-conference foes this year including a pair of wins over No. 11/4 Tennessee and No. 6/6 North Carolina. The Hoosiers are averaging 88.5 points per game against its non-league opponents, holding them to just 59.6 points in return while shooting 52 percent from the field. They are also 6-0 in non-con action at home.

Senior forward Mackenzie Holmes leads the way for Indiana in scoring and rebounding as she continues her strong start to the 2022-23 season. The Gorham, Maine native is averaging 20.6 points and 7.3 rebounds – both team-highs – and is shooting 69.3 percent from the floor, which tops the Big Ten.

Accuracy from the floor has been one of Indiana’s strong suits this season, compiling a 51.1 percent clip from the floor, which ranks fourth in the country and tops in the Big Ten.  Helping add to that percentage is one of the nation’s best shooters in Holmes, who is fifth in the nation in field goal percentage (69.3). Junior guard Chloe Moore-McNeil adds a 50-40-90 clip from the floor as well, shooting 55.4 percent from the floor, 40.6 percent from the 3-point line and 93.1 percent at the free throw line.

Indiana comes in at No. 4 in the NCAA women’s basketball NET rankings. The NET ranking takes into account game results, strength of schedule, game location, scoring margin, net offensive and defensive efficiency, and the quality of wins and losses. IU is the highest rated team in the NET, with Ohio State coming in at No. 11 in the next closest spot.

UP NEXT

Indiana closes out non-conference action against Butler on Wednesday, December 21 at 1 p.m. ET inside Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.

#1 Purdue Remains Unbeaten with Win over Davidson

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Purdue center Zach Edey kept taking his shots when Davidson sent multiple defenders at him Saturday night.

Eventually, Caleb Furst found a few openings, too.

Together, they gave the top-ranked Boilermakers an unbeatable combination. Edey finished with 29 points and 16 rebounds and Furst scored all 12 of his points in the second half to help No. 1 Purdue fend off Davidson 69-61 in the Indy Classic.

“You know the thing about Zach, don’t take him for granted. I know I don’t,” coach Matt Painter said. “He’s great, he’s a fabulous and he’s unselfish, which makes for a great teammate.”

Apparently, a great team, too, now that the Boilermakers (11-0) are positioned to keep the top spot for an unprecedented second straight week. Purdue earned its first No. 1 ranking last December, then lost its next game on a buzzer-beater at Rutgers and didn’t regain the No. 1 ranking until this week.

Furst also had 13 rebounds.

Sam Mennenga had 14 points and Foster Loyer added 11 points and 10 assists for Davidson (7-4). The Wildcats fell to 0-11 against No. 1 foes and 18-116 against Top 25 teams.

This one felt like more like an NCAA Tournament game with a Power Five favorite facing a pesky mid-major team that used a combination of timely 3-pointers and nifty drives to stay close before watching it slip away late.

Edey, Purdue’s powerful 7-foot-4 center, was simply too much for Davidson.

“Maybe nobody in the country is playing as well as Zach Edey right now,” first-year Wildcats coach Matt McKillop said. “The funny thing is at halftime, I felt we played pretty well against him — and he had 17 (points) and 11 (rebounds).”

Furst’s quick second-half start helped the Boilermakers start breaking away.

But when Davidson closed to 45-43 with 9:05 to go, Edey answered with all of Purdue’s points in a 7-2 run. And when Mennenga’s 3 with 4:13 left cut the deficit to 54-51, Purdue went back to Edey, who drew a foul and made two free throws.

Then, when Davidson got to 58-54 with 3:30 to play, Purdue finally took advantage of Edey’s presence by finding open shots and open lanes. The resulting 8-0 run allowed Purdue to pull away and the Boilermakers sealed it at the free throw line.

“I thought the difference in the game was our ability to get a lot of free throws and to make a lot of free throws,” Painter said.

BIG PICTURE

Davidson: First-year coach Matt McKillop got just about everything possible out of his team. They just had no answer for Edey, a common refrain from Boilermakers opponents and one that’s unlikely to dissipate any time soon. Davidson should fare against more managable foes.

Purdue: It took the Boilermakers 34 days to go from unranked to No. 1. They weren’t quite as impressive Saturday but proved something else — they can win with old-fashioned grit and guts. It’s yet another characteristic that will continue to make this team complete.

FAMILY REUNION

The Loyer brothers finally made it onto the same court for the first time. Foster Loyer, a fifth-year senior, entered the game as Davidson’s top scorer while freshman Fletcher Loyer started at guard for the Boilermakers. It was quite the reunion for a family that needed nearly 100 tickets to fill all the requests for families and friends. The younger Loyer scored Purdue’s first and last five points, finishing 14 points to earn the family’s bragging rights.

STAT PACK

Davidson: The Wildcats lost the rebounding battle 48-31 and were outscored 19-8 on second chance points. … They were 7 of 25 on 3s.

Purdue: Guard Braden Smith had 10 points and 12 rebounds. … Purdue was 28 of 37 from the free-throw line. Davidson was 6 of 11. … The Boilermakers were 3 of 25 on 3s.

UP NEXT

Davidson: Closes out nonconference play by hosting Northeastern on Wednesday night.

Purdue: Hosts New Orleans on Wednesday night.

(Postgame Notes)

No. 1-ranked Purdue improved to 11-0 with a 69-61 win over Davidson at the Indy Classic at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

The 11-0 start matches Purdue’s best since the 2009-10 team started the year 14-0. The Boilermakers also went 11-0 in the 2015-16 season. Purdue has started 11-0 or better just seven times in 125 years of basketball.

Purdue has won six games away from Mackey Arena (4 neutral, 2 road games).

With losses by Virginia and UNLV today, Purdue is now one of five remaining unbeaten teams.

Since the start of last season, Purdue is now 40-8, the fifth-most wins in the country (Kansas, Arizona, Duke, Houston).

Purdue won its nation’s-best 22nd straight regular-season, non-conference game, dating to Dec. 8, 2020 (loss to Miami, Fla.). UConn is next with 13 straight regular-season, non-conference victories.

Purdue has held 23 straight opponents to 75 or fewer points, the third-longest streak in the country (North Texas 43, Houston 27).

Purdue has now won 32 straight regular-season games when it faced an unranked opponent at home or on a neutral game.

Over the last two games, both wins away from Mackey Arena, Purdue has shot just 10-of-54 (.185) from 3-point range.

Purdue had three players record double-doubles (Zach Edey, Caleb Furst and Braden Smith). It marks the second straight year that Purdue has accomplished that, when prior to last year, it hadn’t been done since Dec. 1977.

Zach Edey recorded his ninth double-double with a monster 29-point, 16-rebound, 2-assist, 1-block performance. He scored 29 points on nine field goal attempts.

Edey is now averaging 22.6 points, 13.9 rebounds, 2.4 blocks and 1.0 assists per game, while shooting 62.8 percent from the field.

Edey now has 94 points and 73 rebounds over the last four games. He is the first player since Oklahoma’s Blake Griffin (Nov. 2008; 104 points, 79 rebounds) to have at least 94 points and 73 rebounds in a 4-game span.

Edey surpassed 1000 career points and 100 career blocks in the victory, coming in his 76th career game.

Caleb Furst recorded his second career double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds.

Braden Smith tallied his first career double-double with 10 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and two blocks. For the season, the freshman guard is averaging 9.4 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game.

Fletcher Loyer scored 14 points with three assists. His 145 points through four games are the fourth most by a freshman in Purdue history. He also owns a 4.57 (32 / 7) assist-to-turnover ratio, the best mark for a freshman nationally.

No. 3 UConn Tops Butler in BIG EAST Opener for Both Schools

No. 3 UConn closed the game on a 25-7 run over the final 9:30 of the game to take a 68-46 win over Butler Saturday night Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

The game served as the BIG EAST opener for both teams.

UConn remains undefeated at 12-0, while Butler falls to 8-4.

KEY STAT: UConn had a 54-30 rebounding edge, including 18-4 on the offensive glass. Fourteen of the 18 offensive rebounds came in the first half.

INSIDE THE BOX SCORE:

Adama Sanogo, the BIG EAST Preseason Player of the Year, had 27 points and 14 rebounds for UConn. Jordan Hawkins was the only other Husky in double figures with 12 points.

Manny Bates led Butler with 16 points on 7-for-11 shooting.

Chuck Harris added 12 points for the Bulldogs.

Butler held UConn to 39-percent shooting, the second-worst output for the Huskies this season.

Butler shot a season-worst 30 percent from the field, and made only three of 14 three-point attempts.

The 22-point final margin was the largest margin of the game. 

Ali Ali, playing in his first game of the season following a concussion and nasal surgery, scored six points in 13 minutes of action. Jalen Thomas (pulmonary embolism) also saw his first action of the season, playing three minutes.

HOW IT TRANSPIRED:

Six straight points from Butler pulled the Bulldogs within four at 43-39 with 9:43 to play. From that point forward, UConn finished the game on a 25-7 run.

OF NOTE:

UConn is the highest-ranked opponent to visit Hinkle Fieldhouse since No. 1 Villanova played in Indianapolis Dec. 30, 2017; Butler won that game, 101-93.

The teams will play again Jan. 22 in Hartford.

Butler is now 6-5 all-time in its BIG EAST home opener.

Butler entered the game shooting 50.2 percent from the field, which was 13th nationally.

Butler was without DJ Hughes (illness), Myles Tate (illness) and John-Michael Mulloy (ankle/foot).

UP NEXT: The Bulldogs continue conference play with their first BIG EAST road game of the season, traveling to Creighton Thursday night. The 8 p.m. (Eastern, 7 p.m. Omaha) tip will be broadcast nationally on FS1. The Bluejays were voted as the preseason BIG EAST favorite by the league’s head coaches, but have lost six straight games entering Thursday’s match-up.

Cold Shooting Jaguars Fall At Home To Eastern Illinois, 70-59

INDIANAPOLIS – The IUPUI basketball team shot just 38 percent from the floor and committed 22 turnovers as the Jaguars dropped a 70-59 home contest to visiting Eastern Illinois inside Indiana Farmers Coliseum on Saturday (Dec. 17). Freshman Vincent Brady II scored a team-high 16 points in the loss and Chris Osten finished with 15 on 7-of-8 shooting.

Yaakema Rose paced Eastern Illinois (3-9) with 27 points and seven boards and Caleb Donaldson finished with 14 points.

“I thought we fought hard but I was disappointed with our execution,” head coach Matt Crenshaw said. “We missed a ton of open looks and were just far too careless with the basketball. We knew there would be growing pains with this many new guys and this many freshmen and the injuries we’ve had so far.

“We’ve got to turn around and be ready to go on the road in two days, so we can’t sit around and feel sorry for ourselves after this one.”

EIU turned IUPUI’s 22 turnovers into 31 points at the other end while IUPUI scored 15 points off 15 Panther miscues.

The game was back-and-forth for the majority of the first half with the Jaguars ultimately earning a 28-26 halftime advantage by outscoring the Panthers by a 12-2 margin over the final five minutes. Boston Stanton III provided back-to-back jumpers during the run and Jlynn Counter capped the run with a pair of free throws.

IUPUI (2-9) pushed its lead to four in the opening minutes of the second half when John Egbuta splashed a pair of free throws, but the Jags offense went nearly five minutes without a field goal before Counter dropped in a floater.

EIU rattled off a 7-0 run midway through the half to build a 44-34 lead and never really let the Jaguars back in contention. After shooting just 36 percent in the opening half, the Panthers shot 62 percent after halftime to finish at 47 percent for the game.

Counter finished in double-digits with 11 points, seven rebounds and four assists and Stanton had seven points and three boards off the bench.

IUPUI will return to action on Monday (Dec. 19) when the Jaguars face Southern Indiana in the first of two games in Fort Wayne. The Jaguars will then take on Texas A&M Commerce on Tuesday (Dec. 20). Both contests will tip-off at 4:00 p.m. and both will be broadcast on ESPN+.

Sellers Records a Career-High as Cardinals Fly High Over Redbirds

INDIANAPOLIS – Jaylin Sellers scored 20 or more points for the fourth time in three games as he produced 24 points to lead all scorers as Ball State men’s basketball defeated Illinois State in the inaugural Indy Classic inside of the Gainbridge Fieldhouse on Saturday. The Cardinals finished the game with five players in double figures as they claimed an 83-69 victory.

Ball State improved to 7-4 on the year, while Illinois State fell to 5-7 on the season. The Cardinals took a slight 12-11 lead in the overall series with the Redbirds.

“First of all, I want to thank Indy Sports Corp for having us in this event,” said Head Coach Michael Lewis. “It was first class event from top to bottom. Ball State was really honored to be part of it. It was a really good win for us. I have a lot of respect for Ryan (Pedon), obviously with both of us working at Butler and being in a similar position. Watching tape of them, I saw them get better each and every game. I thought we took control of the game early in the second half once we decided to block out and have effort on that end. They really hit us on the boards in the first half. Offensively, I thought we were really efficient the entire night. That’s a credit to our guys and their versatility, and guys made plays. We have to continue to grow as a team on the defensive end. If we do that, I think we have a chance to be competitive in most games.”

BSU has had five players finish in double-digit points in three of the last four games. Sellers dropped a game-high 24 points, including going 3-for-3 from 3-point range. He added four rebounds, three assists, one block, and one steal. Jarron Coleman has scored in double figures for 10 straight as he notched a 16-point effort. He produced a game-high seven assists along with five rebounds, one steal, and one block. Demarius Jacobs collected 16 points, five assists, three rebounds, and one steal. His three blocks tied a career high and were a game high. Jacobs has scored in double figures in nine games this season. Mickey Pearson Jr. tallied 13 points, four rebounds, one steal, and one block. Payton Sparks closed out the double-digit scoring with 12 points. He added a team-high six rebounds and one assist.

The Cardinals started the game hot and went on a 7-2 run that ended with 17:42 left in the half. The Redbirds answered with an 8-0 run and took a 10-7 lead with 14:40 left. Ball State was unfazed by the Illinois State run and outscored ISU 18-9 over the next 5:56 to go on top, 25-19 with just under eight minutes to play in the half.

Illinois State was able to tie the game 25-25 with 5:45 left in the first. The two sides battled back-and-forth as the game was tied 34-34 with just under two minutes left in the half. Jacobs buried a wide-open 3-pointer to put the Cardinals on top. Jacob’s 3-pointer sparked a 7-0 run for Ball State as BSU took a 41-34 lead into the break.

The Redbirds opened the second half on an 11-7 run and cut the Cardinal lead to 48-45 with 15:04 left in regulation. Ball State was resilient and responded with a 16-6 run and extended its lead to 64-51 with 10:21 left to play.

With the Cardinals up 11, 66-55, Jacobs made a great play to beat a defender and score on a driving layup. He was fouled and converted the and-1 to put BSU up 69-55.

Ball State continued to roll. With under two minutes left to play, Jacobs came up with a big block in transition which led to an uncontested fast-break dunk for Coleman. The dunk gave the Cardinals their largest lead of the night with 18, 83-65.

Illinois State scored the game’s final four points, but Ball State went on to win 83-69.

As a unit, the Cardinals finished the game shooting 56.4 percent from the field and 46.7 percent from 3-point range. Ball State improved its free-throw shooting as BSU went 70 percent (14-20) from the charity stripe. The Cardinals combined for 46 points in the paint. The eight blocked shots were the second most this season. Ball State continues to make more free throws (14) than opponents take (13).

Malachi Poindexter led ISU with 14 points to go along with six rebounds, two assists, and one steal. Kendall Lewis and Darius Burford both went for 13 points. Lewis led the team with seven rebounds and two steals. Burford added five rebounds and a block. Colton Sandage closed out the double-digit scorers with 11.

The Cardinals return to Worthen Arena for contest with Georgia Southern. Tip is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 21.

Neese returns and scores season-high as Sycamores fall to Duquesne on the road

PITTSBURGH, Pa. –  The Sycamores got off to a hot start Saturday afternoon at Duquesne as they opened up the game with a 20-4 run, but that unfortunately would not last as Indiana State (9-3, 2-0 MVC) fell to the Dukes (9-3, 0-0 A-10), 92-86.

Cooper Neese played in his first game since Nov. 30, making the start for the Sycamores and scoring a season-high 19 points, which tied the game-high alongside former Sycamore Tre Williams.

Cameron Henry scored first in the game to get the Sycamores on the board and then sparked a 10-0 ISU run with a 3-pointer, and that run was capped by a Sycamore steal that led to a Courvoisier McCauley triple for a 12-2 lead at 14:41 in the first.

Indiana State’s lead reached a game-high 16 points at 20-4 with 12:19 left in the opening frame, and the Sycamores led 21-9 at the under-12 media timeout. Up to that point, ISU was holding Duquesne to 27.3 percent (3-of-11) from the field.

Duquesne later went on a 7-0 run to take a 37-34 lead with 36 seconds to go in the first half, but Xavier Bledson got a layup back for the Sycamores with 26 seconds on the clock and ISU trailed by just one point at 37-36 going into halftime.

The Dukes pushed their lead to 41-36 in the first minute of the second half, but then ISU hit three straight layups to retake the lead, 42-41, at 17:26.

Zach Hobbs checked into the game for McCauley who was battling some foul trouble, and he drilled back-to-back triples to give the Sycamores a 54-48 lead at 14:43. Kailex Stephens pushed that lead to 71-64 on a layup from Julian Larry at 7:58, but after that, the Sycamores would enter a scoring drought.

The Dukes outscored ISU 24-8 in a 6:26 span from 7:05 to 0:39 to take an 88-79 lead. That span featured a 10-0 run for Duquesne, and the Sycamores were 3-for-13 and 0-for-3 from three during that span.

ISU showed some life late in the game, outscoring Duquesne 7-4 in the last 32 seconds, but it was not enough to fully overcome the deficit.

Inside the Numbers

ISU shot 50 percent from the field after shooting an even 50 percent in both the first and second half.

The Sycamores outshot Duquesne 50 percent (13-of-26) to 41.4 percent (12-of-29) from the field in the first half including six triples compared to Duquesne’s three, but the Dukes shot 62.1 percent (18-of-29) with six threes compared to ISU’s 50 percent on 18-of-36 shooting including three triples in the second half.

Duquesne wound up outshooting ISU from the field (51.7% to 50.0%), beyond the arc (40.9% to 36.0%), and from the charity stripe (88.5% to 75.0%) in the game.

ISU outrebounded the Dukes 33-30 including 12-8 on the offensive end.

There were three ties and seven lead changes in the game. After leading 73-72 at 5:02 in the second, ISU wouldn’t gain another lead in the game.

The Sycamores committed 18 turnovers in the game and Duquesne was able to score 21 points off those turnovers while ISU turned 15 Duquesne turnovers into 23 points.

News & Notes

After previously not trailing at the half all season, this was ISU’s second consecutive game trailing at the half, and consequently its second consecutive loss.

Cooper Neese returned to action for the Sycamores for the first time since suffering an injury Nov. 30 in the first half against Drake. He started the game and dropped a season-high and team-high 19 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the field and a perfect 6-of-6 from the free throw line. He also had five rebounds and three assists.

Cameron Henry posted his sixth straight double-digit scoring game with 16 points alongside four rebounds and three assists.

Courvoisier McCauley and Julian Larry each posted 10 points. It was McCauley’s fifth consecutive double-digit scoring game and Larry’s first double-digit game against a Division I opponent this season.

The Sycamores have still yet to trail by double digits this season, the only Valley team to do so.

Up Next

The Sycamores return to the Hulman Center Dec. 22 for the first time since Nov. 30 in their final game before the Christmas holiday. Tip-off against Northern Illinois is set for 7 p.m.

Eagles finish non-conference play at Indiana Classic

EVANSVILLE, Ind. – University of Southern Indiana Men’s Basketball finishes 2022-23 non-conference action when it plays in the Indiana Classic December 19-20 at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. USI set to play Indiana University/Purdue University Indianapolis Monday at 3 p.m. (CST) and host Purdue University Ft. Wayne Tuesday at 6 p.m. (CST).

The games will be streamed on ESPN+ in addition to being heard on ESPN 97.7FM (http://listentotheref.com) and 95.7FM The Spin (http://957thespin.com).

USI is on a three-game winning streak after finishing the homestand and the non-conference home slate with a perfect record. The Eagles were 3-0 on the homestand and, currently, is 5-0 this season at Screaming Eagles Arena.

The final game of the homestand featured USI’s 42-point win over Saint Mary of the Woods College, 84-42. Senior guard Jelani Simmons (Columbus, Ohio) led the USI attack with 18 points, while sophomore guard Jeremiah Hernandez (Chicago, Illinois) and senior forward Jacob Polakovich (Grand Rapids, Michigan) followed with 11 points and 10 points, respectively.

For the season, Simmons leads the Eagles with 14.7 points per game, followed by graduate forward Trevor Lakes (Lebanon, Indiana) and sophomore guard Isaiah Swope (Newburgh, Indiana) with 11.5 points and 10.7 points per outing, respectively. Polakovich, who is dropping in 10.3 points per game, leads USI on the glass with 8.9 rebounds per contest.

IUPUI is 2-9 overall after suffering a 70-59 loss to Eastern Illinois University Saturday at home. The Jaguars were led by freshman guard Vincent Brady II with 16 points and graduate forward Chris Osten with 15 points.

This season, the Jaguars are paced by junior guard Bryce Monroe and sophomore guard Jlynn Counter, who are posting 12.0 points and 11.2 points per game, respectively.

USI leads the all-time series with IUPUI, 12-5, and swept the last meetings in the 1994-95 season. The Eagles also won the last two meetings and four of the last five.

Ft. Wayne is 7-4 overall and has won three-straight, including a 65-61 win over Missouri State University. Graduate guard Jarred Godfrey led the Mastodons in the December 10 loss with 17 points.

The Mastodons are led by Godfrey and graduate forward Bobby Planutis, who are posting 15.3 points and 13.0 points per game, respectively.

USI leads the all-time series, 25-13, and had a GLVC advantage, 22-13, when the Eagles and ‘Dons played in the same conference. The Eagles also had the advantage in Ft. Wayne, 7-6.

The last meeting went USI’s way in 2001, 110-108, in Ft. Wayne. USI also has won the last 16 meetings with Ft. Wayne when the teams played in the GLVC.

After the classic and the Christmas holiday, USI is set to open its first Ohio Valley Conference schedule by hosting Southeast Missouri State University December 29 at 7:30 p.m. The USI-SEMO game will a part of a OVC men’s and women’s basketball double-header.

Eagles begin Ohio trip with second straight road win

DAYTON, Ohio – University of Southern Indiana Women’s Basketball earned its second straight win on the road Saturday afternoon, picking up a 76-66 win at Wright State University to begin the weekend trip to Ohio for the Screaming Eagles.

Southern Indiana (5-4) and Wright State (1-9) went back and forth in the first five minutes of the opening quarter Saturday. USI’s first 11 points were scored by five different players. Senior guard Tori Handley (Jeffersonville, Indiana) cashed in on her only three of the game at 6:38 mark off an assist from senior forward Tara Robbe (Wildwood, Missouri), her third assist within the first four minutes of the contest.

Sophomore guard Vanessa Shafford (Linton, Indiana) shot the ball well in the first quarter, knocking down a pair of triples and a mid-range jumper for eight points. USI built a 20-11 lead with 44 seconds left in the first, but the Raiders scored five points in the last 30 seconds to cut USI’s lead down to four, 20-16, after one.

After a solid start on the offensive end for both teams in the first quarter, the shooting numbers cooled off in the second quarter. Southern Indiana and Wright State shot near the 25 percent mark with only four makes for each school in the second.

For the Screaming Eagles, graduate forward Ashlynn Brown (Perrysburg, Ohio) made a pair of layups in the period, including one deep under the basket with under six minutes remaining until halftime to give USI a 29-22 lead.

Southern Indiana had a chunk of its scoring in the second quarter come at the charity stripe, hitting seven of ten attempts at the line. Before the end of the first half, USI pushed its advantage to ten on a couple of occasions, once after a three by Shafford to place her into double figures, and then again after a bucket by senior forward Hannah Haithcock (Washington Courthouse, Ohio).

USI led 36-27 at the intermission with Shafford pacing the Screaming Eagles in the opening 20 minutes with 13 points.

After being subbed out in the second quarter due to injury precautions, junior forward Meredith Raley (Haubstadt, Indiana) returned to the game in the third quarter and did not miss a beat. A minute and a half into the third, Raley converted a basket and a foul to extend USI’s margin to 39-27.

Southern Indiana’s advantage grew on a big run late in the third. Consecutive makes by Haithcock gave USI a 17-point lead, 49-32, with 4:18 remaining in the quarter. Raley nailed a three-pointer at the 3:34 mark to make it 52-34 USI, putting Raley into double digits for the ninth straight game to start the season. Haithcock also made it to double figures before the end of the third frame with a pair of makes in the last minute and a half. USI carried a 57-39 lead into the fourth quarter.

The Screaming Eagles scored a quick six points in the first minute of the fourth, which was capped off by a layup from Robbe to give USI its largest lead of the game of 22 points.

Wright State responded to make the game interesting down the stretch, chipping away on a 9-0 run to bring the score down to a 63-49 lead for USI. Raley snapped WSU’s run with her 16th and 17th points of the game.

Wright State continued to make a push in the fourth, as senior guard Bryce Nixon led the charge. With 3:49 remaining, Nixon reached the 20-point plateau in the game and trimmed USI’s lead down to ten, 67-57. Following a three-pointer by Shafford to make it a 12-point game for USI, Nixon answered with a trey of her own to cut the deficit down to nine and 1:39 left in the fourth period.

With a little over a minute left, WSU made it an eight-point game, but the Screaming Eagles never let the Raiders get any closer than that. Clutch free throws by Shafford, Robbe, and Raley secured the victory for Southern Indiana.

USI was led on the day by Shafford and Raley, scoring 20 points each. Both reached the 20-point mark for the second time this season. Raley was 6-10 shooting in the game with seven made free throws and eight rebounds. Shafford went 6-11 overall, 3-3 from three, and 5-6 at the line with four rebounds. Haithcock finished with 14 points on 6-10 shooting with six boards.

USI shot 26-for-55 for 47.3 percent overall, making five triples and 19 free throws on the afternoon as well. The Screaming Eagles won the rebounding battle 42-29, including 14 offensive rebounds that led to 13 second-chance points. USI was strong in the paint, recording 38 points inside.

Wright State went 20-for-53 for 37.7 percent overall, hitting 10 three-pointers and 16 free throws in the game. Nixon led Wright State as the only Raider in double figures on the day, tallying 24 points.

The Screaming Eagles will conclude this weekend’s double-dip of games and the lengthy road swing Sunday at 1 p.m. CT at the University of Cincinnati.

Eiteljorge Advances to Semis at Midwest Classic

INDIANAPOLIS – Jack Eiteljorge (165) is the lone Greyhound still wrestling in the main bracket for the 43rd Midwest Classic. Alongside Eiteljorge, four Greyhounds will continue wrestling in the consolation bracket on day two. Breyden Bailey (133), Logan Bailey (157), Ray Rioux (141) and Cale Gray (285) are the five that will see the mat.

No. 6-ranked Eiteljorge started the day out as anyone would want to, dominating in the first round en-route to a tech fall against Asa Walton of Newberry. The Indianapolis-native kept rolling in the second round, taking a sudden victory in overtime to send him into the quarterfinals against No. 3-ranked Drew Wiechers of Ashland.

An early escape from Wiechers put him up for majority of the second period, but the aggression of Eiteljorge proved to be his best weapon, snagging a takedown with eight seconds left. A big reversal and takedown would be the nail in the coffin, sending Eiteljorge to the semis.

Coming in at No. 4 in 133, Breyden Bailey made noise quick, pinning his first opponent in just 1:34. He followed that performance up with a sudden victory win over a GLVC-opponent, sending him to the quarterfinals. That is where Bailey’s day ended, losing 7-3.

Just like his brother, Logan Bailey (157) started out his day with a pin, his being even faster, dropping his foe in just 22 seconds. His next match was a bit longer, with Bailey landing a 4-1 win by decision. His final match of the first day of the Midwest Open saw him get pinned late in the second period.

Ray Rioux started his day off strong picking up a pin in 1:41 in his first match of the day. His next match was grueling, falling 3-0 to send him to the consolation bracket. He would pick up a fall once again in his first match there, this time in 1:50. His final match of the day was yet another grinder, but he was on the winning side, pulling out a 1-0 victory.

Cale Gray, coming in at No. 9 for heavyweight, started out hot, winning his first match 3-0. He suffered a pin late in his second match sending him to the consolation rounds. He kept his head up however, cruising to two more wins, keeping him wrestling on day 2.

Wrestling will kick off again tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. in Nicoson Hall.

Marian Escapes Iu East With 68-65 Win

Richmond, Ind. – The No. 6 Marian women’s basketball team secured their seventh straight win and 12th overall of the season, as the Knights downed IU East 68-65 on Lingle Court on Saturday afternoon. The non-conference win gives Marian a 12-1 record as they enter the Christmas season.

Both sides opened the game evenly with the score at 8-8 through the opening four and a half minutes. Neither team could score until 2:05 was remaining in the first quarter after IUE was able to knock down a free throw. A bucket by Ella Collier sparked a 6-2 run for the Knights that gave them the 14-11 advantage after the first quarter of play even with the slow start for Marian.

Marian held the three-point lead at the start of quarter two, but it was the Red Wolves holding the momentum to start as they jumped out to a 9-1 run to take the 20-15 lead with 7:07 left to play in the first half. Abbey McNally ended the run made by the IUE as she hit a layup before Tamia Perryman stepped to the line and canned both freebies to put her team within one at 20-19. The hosts responded with a jumper, but once again it was McNally coming back down in the post with a layup. Trailing by one, Marian got a spark from Aliyah Evans after she took her defender one-on-one to hit the layup, giving the Knights the 23-22 lead.

After swapping the lead three times in the final two minutes of play in the first half, Evans gave her team more momentum after an old fashion three-point play to tie it up at 28-28. The Red Wolves outscored Marian 17-14 in the second quarter, but McNally’s 12 points and nine rebounds in the half helped the Knights stay in it.

The second half began with the two teams going back and forth in the first three minutes of action before IU East’s Kennedy Griffin ignited a seven-point lead after canning the layup and three-pointer, forcing a timeout to be called by Marian. After the timeout, Collier stepped up and swished one in from deep to cut the deficit back to four at 41-37. Collier and Allison Bosse worked together as the duo helped fuel a 14-3 run behind two big Bosse triples and a jumper by Collier at the buzzer to close out the third quarter with an eight-point lead at 53-45.

Bosse got things going for Marian in the final quarter of play as she hit the layup 13 seconds in before Collier added a basket to give Marian their largest lead of the game at 57-45. The energy seemed to be on Marian’s side, but the Red Wolves were not backing down. The hosts began chipping away at their deficit to whittle it to five, 61-56 with 2:27 left in the game. The Knights looked like they were handling the threat from IUE as Collier and McNally each scored to put the Marian lead back up to six, 65-59 with a 1:26 left to go, but Tia Tolbert nailed a jumper before moments later the Red Wolves got three points from three throws to make it a one-point game at 65-64 with 14 seconds remaining.

The Knights were able to set up a play and get a layup from McNally with seven seconds left to have the 67-64 advantage. However, a foul by Marian sent Griffin to the line as she went one for two. Holding the 67-65 lead with almost all time expired on the clock, the Red Wolves fouled Jayla Wehner in hopes for a chance at a last second shot after the free throws. Wehner missed the first but managed to hit the second free throw, but IUE was unable to produce any sort of good look as there was not enough time, and the Knights would hold off to win 68-65.

Collier had a game-high 24 points and dished out three assists, while McNally had her second double-double of the season with a season-high 22 points and 13 rebounds. Bosse tossed in 10 points, while Evans added five points and five rebounds.

Marian has a small break until after Christmas when they travel to Babson Park, Florida for a pair of games. The Knights will play their first game on December 30 against Keiser University.

SMALL COLLEGE ATHLETIC SITES:

INDIANA WESLEYAN ATHLETICS: https://iwuwildcats.com/

EARLHAM ATHLETICS: https://goearlham.com/

WABASH ATHLETICS: https://sports.wabash.edu/

FRANKLIN ATHLETICS: https://franklingrizzlies.com/

ROSE-HULMAN ATHLETICS: https://athletics.rose-hulman.edu/

ANDERSON ATHLETICS: https://athletics.anderson.edu/landing/index

TRINE ATHLETICS: https://trinethunder.com/landing/index

BETHEL ATHLETICS: https://bupilots.com/

DEPAUW ATHLETICS: https://depauwtigers.com/

HANOVER ATHLETICS: https://athletics.hanover.edu/

MANCHESTER ATHLETICS: https://muspartans.com/

HUNTINGTON ATHLETICS: https://www.huathletics.com/

OAKLAND CITY ATHLETICS: https://gomightyoaks.com/index.aspx

ST. FRANCIS ATHLETICS: https://www.saintfranciscougars.com/landing/index

IU KOKOMO ATHLETICS: https://iukcougars.com/

IU EAST ATHLETICS: https://www.iueredwolves.com/

IU SOUTH BEND ATHLETICS: https://iusbtitans.com/

PURDUE NORTHWEST ATHLETICS: https://pnwathletics.com/

INDIANA TECH ATHLETICS: https://indianatechwarriors.com/index.aspx

GRACE COLLEGE ATHLETICS: https://gclancers.com/

ST. MARY OF THE WOODS ATHLETICS: https://smwcathletics.com/

GOSHEN COLLEGE ATHLETICS: https://goleafs.net/

HOLY CROSS ATHLETICS: https://www.hcsaints.com/index.php

TAYLOR ATHLETICS: https://www.taylortrojans.com/

VINCENNES ATHLETICS: https://govutrailblazers.com/landing/index

NFL STANDINGS

American Football Conference
 WLTPctGBPFPAHomeRoadvs. Confvs. DivStreak
x-Buffalo Bills1130.7860.03852506 – 1 – 05 – 2 – 08 – 2 – 03 – 2 – 05 W
Kansas City Chiefs1030.7690.03842985 – 1 – 05 – 2 – 06 – 3 – 04 – 0 – 01 W
Cincinnati Bengals940.6920.03352655 – 1 – 04 – 3 – 06 – 3 – 02 – 3 – 05 W
Tennessee Titans760.5380.02412763 – 3 – 04 – 3 – 05 – 4 – 03 – 1 – 03 L
Baltimore Ravens950.6430.03042634 – 2 – 05 – 3 – 06 – 4 – 03 – 1 – 01 L
Miami Dolphins860.5710.03453445 – 1 – 03 – 5 – 06 – 4 – 02 – 2 – 03 L
New England Patriots760.5380.02762393 – 3 – 04 – 3 – 05 – 3 – 02 – 2 – 01 W
Los Angeles Chargers760.5380.52953263 – 3 – 04 – 3 – 05 – 4 – 02 – 3 – 01 W
New York Jets760.5380.52642433 – 3 – 04 – 3 – 05 – 5 – 02 – 3 – 02 L
Cleveland Browns680.4292.03133264 – 3 – 02 – 5 – 04 – 7 – 03 – 2 – 01 W
Jacksonville Jaguars580.3852.52942943 – 3 – 02 – 5 – 05 – 4 – 02 – 2 – 01 W
Las Vegas Raiders580.3852.53083133 – 2 – 02 – 6 – 04 – 5 – 03 – 2 – 01 L
Pittsburgh Steelers580.3852.52272932 – 4 – 03 – 4 – 02 – 7 – 01 – 3 – 01 L
Indianapolis Colts491.3213.52453372 – 4 – 02 – 5 – 14 – 5 – 11 – 3 – 14 L
Denver Broncos3100.2314.51942382 – 4 – 01 – 6 – 02 – 8 – 00 – 4 – 05 L
Houston Texans1111.1156.02113140 – 5 – 11 – 6 – 01 – 6 – 11 – 1 – 18 L
 
National Football Conference
 WLTPctGBPFPAHomeRoadvs. Confvs. DivStreak
x-Philadelphia Eagles1210.9230.03862486 – 1 – 06 – 0 – 07 – 1 – 03 – 1 – 04 W
xy-Minnesota Vikings1130.7860.03513497 – 1 – 04 – 2 – 06 – 3 – 03 – 1 – 01 W
xy-San Francisco 49ers1040.7140.03382106 – 1 – 04 – 3 – 08 – 2 – 05 – 0 – 07 W
Tampa Bay Buccaneers670.4620.02242544 – 3 – 02 – 4 – 06 – 3 – 03 – 1 – 01 L
Dallas Cowboys1030.7690.03602297 – 1 – 03 – 2 – 07 – 3 – 03 – 1 – 04 W
Washington Commanders751.5770.02532563 – 3 – 04 – 2 – 14 – 4 – 11 – 2 – 11 T
New York Giants751.5770.02673004 – 3 – 13 – 2 – 03 – 5 – 10 – 3 – 11 L
Seattle Seahawks770.5001.03553553 – 4 – 04 – 3 – 05 – 6 – 03 – 2 – 02 L
Detroit Lions670.4621.53493474 – 4 – 02 – 3 – 05 – 4 – 03 – 1 – 02 W
Green Bay Packers580.3852.52633023 – 3 – 02 – 5 – 04 – 5 – 02 – 2 – 01 W
Carolina Panthers580.3852.52602904 – 3 – 01 – 5 – 04 – 5 – 03 – 1 – 02 W
Atlanta Falcons580.3852.52883124 – 3 – 01 – 5 – 04 – 5 – 01 – 3 – 02 L
Arizona Cardinals490.3083.52773481 – 7 – 03 – 2 – 03 – 6 – 01 – 4 – 03 L
New Orleans Saints490.3083.52652973 – 4 – 01 – 5 – 03 – 6 – 01 – 3 – 02 L
Los Angeles Rams490.3083.52182963 – 5 – 01 – 4 – 03 – 7 – 01 – 4 – 01 W
Chicago Bears3100.2314.52703332 – 4 – 01 – 6 – 01 – 8 – 00 – 4 – 06 L

NBA STANDINGS

Eastern Conference
 WLPctConf GBHomeRoadDivConfLast 10Streak
Boston228.73311-311-54-014-66-41 L
Milwaukee218.7240.514-37-54-111-47-31 W
Cleveland2011.6452.514-26-94-214-57-33 W
Brooklyn1812.6004.010-58-75-214-69-15 W
Philadelphia1612.5715.011-55-72-311-87-34 W
New York1613.5525.57-79-61-211-67-36 W
Miami1615.5166.59-66-95-18-96-44 W
Indiana1515.5007.09-66-91-210-73-71 L
Atlanta1515.5007.09-56-103-311-114-61 W
10 Toronto1316.4488.510-53-111-69-123-74 L
11 Chicago1117.39310.07-74-102-19-93-73 L
12 Washington1119.36711.08-73-123-37-131-99 L
13 Orlando1020.33312.08-92-112-36-155-55 W
14 Detroit823.25814.54-104-130-53-143-71 L
15 Charlotte722.24114.54-113-113-64-172-87 L
 
Western Conference
 WLPctConf GBHomeRoadDivConfLast 10Streak
Memphis1910.65513-26-83-28-78-21 L
New Orleans1811.6211.012-36-85-112-87-33 L
Denver1711.6071.58-39-86-214-76-41 L
Phoenix1812.6001.513-35-96-015-84-62 W
Sacramento1612.5712.58-48-83-45-66-42 W
Portland1713.5672.57-610-74-213-86-41 W
LA Clippers1814.5632.510-78-73-411-115-51 W
Utah1715.5313.511-56-103-415-95-51 L
Dallas1515.5004.512-53-101-210-55-51 L
10 Minnesota1415.4835.07-77-84-48-114-61 W
11 Golden State1416.4675.512-22-144-39-84-63 L
12 LA Lakers1216.4296.57-75-90-57-105-51 W
13 Oklahoma City1218.4007.57-75-111-66-114-61 W
14 San Antonio920.31010.05-114-81-33-173-72 L
15 Houston920.31010.06-73-131-35-154-62 L

NHL STANDINGS

Eastern Conference
 GPWLOTLPtsROWGFGAHomeRoadL10
Boston Bruins30244250221166616-0-28-4-07-1-2
New Jersey Devils31218244211077710-7-111-1-14-4-2
Toronto Maple Leafs32197644191037811-2-38-5-37-2-1
Carolina Hurricanes301866421689797-3-111-3-58-0-2
Tampa Bay Lightning30209141201108612-4-18-5-08-2-0
Pittsburgh Penguins3018844017106869-3-29-5-28-1-1
New York Rangers32171053916102897-6-410-4-17-2-1
New York Islanders32181313718104919-6-09-7-14-5-1
Washington Capitals33161343616100969-5-17-8-37-2-1
10 Florida Panthers321513434141081048-4-37-9-15-5-0
11 Detroit Red Wings3013116321288977-6-36-5-32-6-2
12 Buffalo Sabres311514232141241077-8-28-6-06-2-2
13 Ottawa Senators3014142301495948-8-06-6-27-2-1
14 Montreal Canadiens31141523010891107-9-07-6-23-6-1
15 Philadelphia Flyers32101572710771066-9-14-6-63-5-2
16 Columbus Blue Jackets30101822210831238-10-12-8-13-6-1
 
Western Conference
 GPWLOTLPtsROWGFGAHomeRoadL10
Vegas Golden Knights33221014520110918-8-014-2-16-4-0
Dallas Stars3218864218116909-3-39-5-36-2-2
Winnipeg Jets30209141201017711-5-09-4-17-3-0
Los Angeles Kings341712539141121228-5-29-7-35-3-2
Minnesota Wild30171123614968710-6-17-5-18-2-0
Seattle Kraken29161033516100947-6-29-4-15-5-0
Edmonton Oilers321714135171151109-8-18-6-05-4-1
Colorado Avalanche2916112341490817-5-29-6-04-5-1
Calgary Flames31131263212929810-6-23-6-44-3-3
10 St. Louis Blues31151513113941136-7-19-8-04-5-1
11 Vancouver Canucks301314329121021175-8-18-6-26-4-0
12 Nashville Predators2912134281072907-5-25-8-23-5-2
13 San Jose Sharks3210166269981153-8-57-8-13-4-3
14 Arizona Coyotes29101542410811084-3-16-12-33-6-1
15 Anaheim Ducks329203217791355-7-04-13-33-5-2
16 Chicago Blackhawks297184187671094-10-23-8-21-8-1

FOOTBALL HISTORY

December 18, 1932 – Chicago, Illinois – The NFL decided that a final game to determine a Champ would be played in a special Chicago at Wrigley field on December 18, 1932. The Title was supposed to be given to the team with the best record as it had been for over a decade in the young NFL. The season though ended with the Chicago Bears and the Portsmouth Spartans in a virtual tie for the top record in the League.

It is believed that George Halas challenged the Spartans to play a game to settle the tie, they wanted no part of any type of Co-Champion bolonga. Thus we in essence had the first NFL Championship! This first postseason game in NFL history had some huge twists and turns to make it quite a remarkable story, even besides the fact that a game was going to be played to determine an NFL Champion. The first odd occurrence was that Spartans star Earl “Dutch” Clark was unable to play in the game because he had to work. While that may sound crazy to us today but the fact was that professional players of that era did not make enough to make a living all year long. Most had to take off season jobs to make ends meet, even the super stars like Dutch Clark, who worked as the Head Basketball Coach at Colorado College and his hoops team had a game on that December 18 and Dutch couldn’t get off work to make the football game in Chicago. The second crazy thing that happened was that due to a freak late-fall blizzard in Chicago, the game had to be moved inside the Chicago Stadium because Wrigley was covered with deep snow and frozen with dangerous sub-zero temperatures. The playing field had to be modified to play inside, so the game was played on a field only 80 yards long, and some 30 yards narrower than the normal width the teams played on all season. The last item that took place surrounding the game happened on the contest’s only touchdown. Bronko Nagurski threw a scoring jump pass to Red Grange but the Spartans argued that Nagurski did not meet the requirement of legal forward passes in those days of being 5 yards or more behind the line. The play stood and the Bears ended up winning the NFL title by the score of 9-0. The Spartans franchise would become the Lions in 1933 when they moved from Portsmouth, Ohio to Detroit, Michigan after a Detroit radio businessman George A. Richards purchased the rights to the team for $8000. This was a hefty sum at the time but Portsmouth had after all just recently played for a somewhat impromptu first NFL Championship game against the Chicago Bears, shorthanded of their star player. The Motor City was a risky place to put the team at this point as three previous franchises had failed there but Richards knew the city needed a winner and took the chance. It was well worth his risk as the newly named Lions team won the NFL Title in 1935 and later in the 1952, 1953 and 1957 seasons. Richards took another chance with his football franchise in 1934 when he scheduled a game on Thanksgiving Day. Though it failed when other cities (save Dallas a few decades later) the Turkey Day game in the Motor City was a huge success. Unfortunately in 1940 Mr. Richards had to sell the franchise due to a declining health issue and a fine from the NFL for draft tampering but his $8000 initial investment turned into a $225,000 sale of the Lions to retail magnet Fred Mandel. The Lions eventually were purchased by the descendants of Henry Ford and are owned by the family to this day.

December 18, 1949 – LA Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, CA -The LA Rams and the Philadelphia Eagles met for the National Football League Championship Title. Weather conditions were dreadful as driving rain caused the grass field to become quite a quagmire. A 1988 Pro Football Researchers Association article on the game in the Coffin Corner Volume 10 shares the story. Over an inch of rain fell in the LA area and many wanted the game postponed until Christmas Day. NFL Commissioner Bert Bell was having nothing to do with any sort of postponement and ordered the game to go on as scheduled. The Eagles with their solid defense were a 7 point betting odds favorite in the contest. What they did was double that win margin as their stifling defense shut the Rams down in a 14-0 victory. The Eagles offense put one touchdown on the board but the rest was all defense as the Rams were held to a record 21 total rushing yards, and special teams blocked a punt in the second half for the other Philly score.

December 18, 1949 – LA Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, CA -The LA Rams and the Philadelphia Eagles met for the National Football League Championship Title. Weather conditions were dreadful as driving rain caused the grass field to become quite a quagmire. A 1988 Pro Football Researchers Association article on the game in the Coffin Corner Volume 10 shares the story. Over an inch of rain fell in the LA area and many wanted the game postponed until Christmas Day. NFL Commissioner Bert Bell was having nothing to do with any sort of postponement and ordered the game to go on as scheduled. The Eagles with their solid defense were a 7 point betting odds favorite in the contest. What they did was double that win margin as their stifling defense shut the Rams down in a 14-0 victory. The Eagles offense put one touchdown on the board but the rest was all defense as the Rams were held to a record 21 total rushing yards, and special teams blocked a punt in the second half for the other Philly score.

December 18, 1959 – Former Washington Redskins Quarterback ,Sammy Baugh was named as the first coach of AFL’s New York Titans. Baugh was a collegiate head coach from 1955 through 1959 at Hardin-Simmons University after his playing days were over. He spent two seasons as the Titans head man achieving a record of 14-14. He later went on to coach at the University of Tulsa and even became the Houston Oilers fourth ever coach in 1964 per the missyablue.com website.

December 18, 1988 – Seattle Seahawks win their 1st ever division title per the Washington Post. The division AFC West title came down to a pivotal game with the LA Raiders. Yes I did just say AFC West and the LA Raiders. Seattle was in the AFC West Division from their inception in the 1970’s until realignment in 2002 when they then were moved into the NFC West. Also the Raiders franchise spent some time calling Los Angeles home in between stints in Oakland and before they moved to Las Vegas in 2020. Now that that is cleared up the Seahawks won the AFC West with a 9-7 record and they dashed the Raiders hopes who came into the game at 7-8. It was a close on though as the final score was Seahawks 43, Raiders 37. QB Dave Krieg threw four TDs and wideout Steve Largent extended his catching a pass streak to 167 games in the victory. The Seahawks would end up losing to the Cincinnati Bengals 21-13 in the AFC Divisional Playoffs.

BASEBALL HISTORY

1918       The day after receiving an ensign’s gold stripe to become the only big-leaguer to earn a Navy commission serving World War I, the Red Sox trade Ernie Shore, along with Dutch Leonard and outfielder Duffy Lewis to the Yankees for Frank Gilhooley, Slim Love, Ray Caldwell, Roxy Walters and $15,000. The once-promising right-hander, who missed the entire season last year due to military service, will retire after two seasons with Bronx Bombers, compiling a meager 7-10 record.

1952       Ellis W. Ryan resigns after failing to secure a vote of confidence at a shareholders’ meeting. After losing the showdown with general manager Hank Greenberg, the president of the Indians resigns and sells his stock for a nifty profit of more than a quarter of a million dollars for the 551 shares he purchased three years ago.

1975       Chuck Tanner signs a three-year deal to manage the A’s. After compiling an 87-74 (.540) record to finish in second place, Oakland will release the New Castle, PA native from his contract, allowing him to manage the Pirates in exchange for catcher Manny Sanguillen and $100,000 from Pittsburgh.

1981       The Reds swap third baseman Ray Knight to the Astros for outfielder Cesar Cedeno. The trade will help both clubs, with each player spending at least 2+ years in a productive role with his new team.

1985       The Giants trade Rob Deer to the Brewers for farmhands Eric Pilkington and Dean Freehand. During his five seasons with the Brew Crew, the swift outfielder will average 27 home runs a season but will lead the league in strikeouts in 1987 and 1998.

1990       The National League announces the six finalist cities for the two 1993 expansion teams. The locations include Buffalo, Denver, Miami, Orlando, Tampa-St. Petersburg, and Washington, DC.

1993       Yankee farmhand Brien Taylor, the #1 overall selection in the MLB June Amateur Draft who signed a record $1.55 million contract with the team, severely tears the glenoid labrum in his left shoulder after attempting to throw a punch that misses its mark. The Barlow’s (NC) altercation will cause the 21-year-old prized prospect to miss all of next season and effectively end the southpaw’s ability to pitch in the major leagues.

2000       Charles Johnson, the catcher when the team won the 1997 World Series, agrees to return to the Marlins when he signs a five-year contract worth $35 million. The 29-year-old backstop batted .304 with 31 home runs and 91 RBIs for the Orioles and White Sox last season.

2000       Free-agent Sandy Alomar Jr. agrees to a $5.4 million, two-year deal with the White Sox. The former Indians catcher will replace Charles Johnson, who signed a $35 million, five-year contract with the Marlins earlier in the day.

2001       The Giants sign free-agent Jason Schmidt to a $31-million four-year deal, keeping the right-hander in the City by the Bay. After being traded by the Pirates, with John Vander Wal, to San Francisco for Armando Rios and Ryan Vogelsong, the 28-year-old free agent was 7-1 for San Francisco last season.

2001       Filling the void created by Mark McGwire’s unexpected retirement, the Cardinals sign first baseman Tino Martinez to a $21 million, three-year contract. After he was replaced in the Yankees lineup by Jason Giambi, the former Bronx Bomber said the Cardinals were his first choice as a free agent.

2001       John Rocker is traded to the Rangers from the Indians for minor league pitcher David Elder. The reliever, not known for his clubhouse diplomacy, will join recently acquired Carl Everett, also known for his difficulties with management and teammates.

2002       The Rangers sign free agent Doug Glanville to a reported one-year, $1 million deal. In July, Texas will trade the former Philadelphia outfielder to Chicago, where he will be the hero of the Cubs’ 5-4 victory over Florida when he triples home the winning run in the top of the 11th inning in Game 3 of the NLCS.

2002       After spending the previous six seasons with the Giants, the 2000 National League MVP Jeff Kent (.313, 37, 108) signs an $18.2 million, two-year contract with the Astros. The 34-year-old Texas resident’s presence on the team moves four-time second base Gold Glove winner Craig Biggio to the outfield.

2003       Adam Kennedy (.269, 13, 49) agrees to an $8.85 million, three-year deal with the Angels. The 28-year-old second baseman batted .277, hit 36 homers, and collected 229 RBIs during his four years with Anaheim.

2004       Two days after trading pitching ace Tim Hudson (17-8, 4.43) to the Braves, the A’s deal Mark Mulder to the Cardinals for starting pitcher Dan Haren, reliever Kiko Calero, and minor league catching prospect Daric Barton. Oakland expects five of the six players obtained by giving up two-thirds of the team’s ‘Big Three’ to be part of the opening day roster.

2005       At the Lelands Winter Auction, GoldenPalace.com acquires the bat Pete Rose used to hit his 159th career home run in 1985 with a bid of $103,631.91. Infamous for placing winning bids for the Dallas Grassy Knoll fence and the Virgin Mary Grilled Cheese Sandwich, the online casino plans to raise money for charity by sawing the bat in half to determine if the bat is corked as is widely believed.

2008       Two 16-year-olds, backstop Bill Pena and southpaw Gregory Baez agree to contracts with the Nationals. The team scouted the Dominican youngsters at the Loma del Sueno complex in San Cristobal.

2008       The Astros sign free-agent Aaron Boone (.241, 6, 28) to a $750,000, one-year contract deal. The former National infielder, who will share third base with Geoff Blum and Chris Johnson, fills the void created when the team didn’t tender Ty Wigginton a contract as a means of cutting the payroll, making the infielder a free agent.

2009       The Cubs trade outcast Milton Bradley to the Mariners for pitcher Carlos Silva (1-3, 8.60), Seattle’s very costly and underachieving right-hander. Chicago suspended the outspoken and unpopular outfielder for his criticism of the team’s atmosphere as being the reason the club hasn’t won a World Series since 1908.

2009       The Orioles finalize their $12 million, two-year deal with Mike Gonzalez, hoping the veteran southpaw reliever can become a dependable closer for the team not having one since trading George Sherrill to LA at the end of July. The 31-year-old Texan posted a 5-4 record with ten saves for Atlanta last season, and in 2006 compiled a career-high 24 saves for the Pirates before undergoing elbow ligament replacement surgery the following season.

2009       Avoiding arbitration, Ricky Nolasco and the Marlins agree to a $3.8 million, one-year deal, increasing $1.4 million from last season. The team’s Opening Day starter posted a 13-9 record, compiling an ERA of 5.06 for the Fish last season.

2014       A thief breaks into a baseball museum located in Safeco Field, stealing historical Mariner memorabilia and various items on display from other teams, including a 1947 Vancouver Capilanos championship silver cigarette case and a baseball used at a Vancouver Beavers championship game in 1908. The perpetrator will be arrested tomorrow, with all of the stolen goods eventually recovered.

SPORTS IN NUMBERS

7 – 9 – 12 – 3 – 77 – 6 – 8 – 42 – 10 – 1

December 18, 1956 – Ballon d’Or: Blackpool & England winger Number 7, Stanley Matthews won the inaugural award for best football player in Europe; beats Real Madrid pair Number 9, Alfredo Di Stéfano and Number 7, Raymond Kopa

December 18, 1932 – The NFL decided that a final game to determine a Champ would be played in a special Chicago at Wrigley field on December 18, 1932. The NFL Title was supposed to be given to the team with the best record. This had been the case for over a decade in the young NFL. The 1932 season ended with the Chicago Bears and the Portsmouth Spartans in a virtual tie for the top record in the League.

Rumor is that George Halas challenged the Spartans to play a game to settle the tie. They wanted no part of any type of Co-Champion bologna. Thus we had the first NFL Championship! This first postseason game in NFL history had some massive twists and turns to make it a remarkable story, even though a game was going to be played to determine an NFL Champion. The first odd occurrence was that Spartans star Earl Dutch Clark, Number 12 could not play in the game because he had to work. Clark, who worked as the Head Basketball Coach at Colorado College, and his hoops team had a game on that December 18, and Dutch couldn’t get off work to make the football game in Chicago. The second crazy thing that happened was that due to a freak late-fall blizzard in Chicago, the game had to be moved inside the Chicago Stadium because Wrigley was covered with deep snow and frozen with dangerous sub-zero temperatures. The playing field had to be modified to play inside, so the game was played on a field only 80 yards long and some 30 yards narrower than the normal width the teams played on all season. The last item surrounding the game happened on the contest’s only touchdown. Bears Number 3, Bronko Nagurski threw a scoring jump pass to Number 77, Red Grange, but the Spartans argued that Nagurski did not meet the requirement of legal forward passes in those days of being 5 yards or more behind the line. The play stood, and the Bears won the NFL title by 9-0. The Spartans franchise would become the Lions in 1933 when they moved from Portsmouth, Ohio, to Detroit.

December 18, 1962 – Ballon d’Or: Dukler Prague midfielder Number 6, Josef Masopust won the award for best European football player; beats Benfica striker Eusébio, Number 8 and FC Köln defender Number 6, Karl-Heinz Schnellinger

December 18, 1977 – NBA Cleveland Cavaliers retire jersey Number 42, Nate Thurmond

December 18, 2001 – Ballon d’Or: Liverpool forward Number 10, Michael Owen was named best football player in Europe ahead of Real Madrid striker Number 7, Raúl and Bayern Munich goalkeeper Number 1, Oliver Kahn

TV SUNDAY

COLLEGE BASKETBALL – MEN’STIME ETTV
Canisius at Penn State12:00pmBTN
Howard at Harvard12:00pmESPN+
Washington (MD) at Navy12:00pmESPN+
Stanford vs. Texas1:00pmESPN
Army West Point at Stony Brook1:00pmFLOHOOPS
William & Mary at UMBC1:00pmESPN+
Western Michigan at Iowa State1:00pmESPN+
North Carolina A&T vs. Norfolk State2:00pmESPNU
UAlbany at Loyola Chicago2:00pmESPN+
Belmont at Chattanooga2:00pmESPN+
Merrimack at Bucknell2:00pmESPN+
Niagara at NJIT2:00pmESPN+
Quinnipiac at Saint Peter’s2:00pmESPN+
Rhode Island at Georgia State2:00pmESPN+
Northeastern at UIC2:00pmESPN+
Elon at Valparaiso2:00pmESPN+
US Coast Guard at Fairfield2:00pmESPN+
Robert Morris at Mount St. Mary’s2:00pmESPN+
LIU at James Madison2:00pmESPN+
Miami (OH)-Hamilton at Northern Kentucky2:00pmESPN+
High Point at UNCW2:00pmFLOHOOPS
Green Bay at Oregon State3:00pmPAC12
Warren Wilson at UNCG3:00pmESPN+
Detroit Mercy at Eastern Michigan3:00pmESPN+
McNeese at Southern Miss3:00pmESPN+
Tarleton at Air Force3:30pmMWN
Oakland at Boise State4:00pmMWN
Illinois Tech at SIUE4:00pmESPN+
Bethune-Cookman at UTSA4:00pmCUSAtv
Hampton vs. Texas Southern4:30pmESPNU
Southern at UAB4:30pmCBSSN
Northern Colorado at Colorado5:00pmPAC12
California at Santa Clara5:00pmWCC
Cleveland State at Loyola Marymount5:00pmWCC
Concord at Kent State5:00pmESPN+
Buffalo at West Virginia5:00pmESPN+
Mississippi Valley State at TCU5:00pmESPN+
Auburn at USC5:30pmESPN
Notre Dame vs. Georgia5:30pmESPN2
Northern Nrew Mexico at NM State6:00pmESPN+
Alcorn State at Seattle U6:00pmESPN+
Central Michigan at Missouri State6:00pmESPN+
Iona at New Mexico6:30pmFS1
San Diego at Arizona State7:00pmPAC12
Houston Christian vs. UTRGV7:00pmESPN+
Colorado State at Saint Mary’s8:00pmWCC
Washington State vs. Baylor10:00pmESPN2
Sonoma State at California Baptist10:00pmESPN+
COLLEGE BASKETBALL – WOMEN’STIME ETTV
USC vs. Texas3:30pmESPN2
Providence at St. John’s4:30pmFS1
Arizona vs. Baylor7:30pmESPN2
GOLFTIME ETTV
Champions Tour: PNC Championship Pro-Am1:30pmNBC
NBATIME ETTV
Orlando at Boston3:00pmBally Sports
NBCS-BOS
New York at Indiana5:00pmBally Sports
MSG
Brooklyn at Detroit6:00pmBally Sports
Golden State at Toronto6:00pmSportsnet
NBCS-BAY
Chicago at Minnesota7:00pmBally Sports
NBCS-CHI
Charlotte at Denver8:00pmALT
Bally Sports
Washington at LA Lakers9:30pmNBCS-WSH
Sportsnet
NFLTIME ETTV
Atlanta at New Orleans1:00pmFOX
Philadelphia at Chicago1:00pmFOX
Detroit at NY Jets1:00pmFOX
Pittsburgh at Carolina1:00pmCBS
Dallas at Jacksonville1:00pmFOX
Kansas City at Houston1:00pmCBS
Arizona at Denver4:05pmFOX
New England at Las Vegas4:05pmFOX
Tennessee at LA Chargers4:25pmCBS
Cincinnati at Tampa Bay4:25pmCBS
NY Giants at Washington8:20pmNBC
NHLTIME ETTV
Ottawa at Minnesota2:00pmNHLN
Sportsnet
Bally Sports
Pittsburgh at Carolina5:00pmATTSN-PIT
Bally Sports
NY Rangers at Chicago7:30pmESPN
Winnipeg at Seattle8:00pmRoot Sports
Sportsnet
Calgary at San Jose10:00pmNBCS-CA
Sportsnet
SOCCERTIME ETTV
FIFA World Cup Finals: Argentina vs France2:00pmFOX
Peacock
Telemundo