AP Sports SummaryBrief at 11:23 a.m. EST
NFL playoffs: Seahawks are in field after Lions stun Packers
The NFL’s Week 18 saved its best drama for the final game of the weekend. The Detroit Lions rallied to beat Green Bay 20-16 on Sunday night to deny quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Packers a spot in the postseason. The Lions were eliminated from playoff contention earlier Sunday when the Seahawks beat the Rams, but played the role of the spoiler. Instead of the Packers, it’s the Seahawks who will be the No. 7 seed in the NFC. They’ll travel to face division rival San Francisco in next weekend’s wild-card round.
Analysis: Teammates gave Damar Hamlin the ultimate tribute
An emotional week for the NFL filled with fear, tears, prayer and uncertainty ended with exciting games, dramatic finishes and a celebration for Damar Hamlin. When Hamlin left the stadium in an ambulance Monday night fighting for his life, football didn’t matter. A pivotal game between the Bills and Bengals suddenly was irrelevant. The primary concern for players, coaches, the league and fans around the world became Hamlin’s health. The 24-year-old Bills safety went into cardiac arrest after making a tackle and needed to be resuscitated on the field in a scary scene witnessed by millions watching “Monday Night Football.” For a couple days, it was unknown when the NFL would resume playing.
TCU’s improbable season comes at perfect time for Big 12
LOS ANGELES (AP) — TCU’s unlikely run to the College Football Playoff championship has come at a most fortuitous time for the Big 12. The third-ranked Horned Frogs face No. 1 Georgia on Monday night at Sofi Stadium in Inglewood, California, for the CFP title. The Big 12 seemed in real danger of falling apart or being relegated to second-tier status during the summer of 2021 when it was revealed flagship members Texas and Oklahoma were planning to leave the league and join the Southeastern Conference. TCU became the first Big 12 team to win a playoff game and is the first from the league to play for a national title since 2009.
Shiffrin can break Vonn’s record — if she can stay awake
KRANJSKA GORA, Slovenia (AP) — Staying awake might be Mikaela Shiffrin’s biggest challenge as she prepares to try to set a record for women’s World Cup skiing victories. Shiffrin poured out her emotions after matching Lindsey Vonn with career win No. 82 in an early morning giant slalom in Slovenia on Sunday and now needs to refocus and shift her sleeping patterns in time for a slalom to be held under the lights in Austria on Tuesday. She noted that “if I have a good first run then I don’t start until 9:45 in the second run and normally I’m well asleep by then. So we have to change the whole rhythm again.”
Hurts refuses day off after NFC East champ Eagles clinch bye
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Philadelphia Eagles finished the regular season 14-3. They won the NFC East and clinched the No. 1 seed in the conference. They have a bye week in the playoffs. In two week, the Eagles will have a home game versus the lowest-remaining seed out of Tampa Bay, Dallas, New York or Seattle in the divisional round. Eagles coach Nick Sirianni told the team to take Monday off and rest up for a potentially lengthy postseason grind. Pro Bowl quarterback Jalen Hurts instead said he was coming to the office to watch game film.
Chelsea in free fall as new leadership faces early problems
Chelsea is in free fall under its new leadership. The team finds itself in 10th place in the Premier League approaching the halfway point of the season and is already out of both domestic cup competitions. The club’s new American leadership implemented sweeping changes to the playing squad, the coaching staff and the board after former owner Roman Abramovich sold up and they haven’t yet worked. Recently hired manager Graham Potter is highly rated but has never previously coached at this level. The pressure is already mounting on Potter after just one win from Chelsea’s last eight matches.
AUSTRALIAN OPEN 2023: Ash Barty still in news, not on court
BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — Ash Barty finished 2022 the way she started it. She was in the spotlight even if it was nine months after she retired at age 25 while the No. 1-ranked woman in tennis. Barty won’t be defending the title she won a year ago when the 2023 Australian Open begins next week. That made her the first Australian player in 44 years to win a singles trophy at the tournament. She is still a celebrity at home and still in the news. Barty got married in 2022, wrote a book, worked on her golf game, won two major Australian sports awards and just announced she is expecting a baby.
Jon Rahm gets another trophy and this one surprised even him
KAPALUA, Hawaii (AP) — Jon Rahm thinks he has played as well as anyone of late, and he has three victories worldwide in his last five tournaments to show for it. The latest was one he never saw coming. He started seven shots behind Collin Morikawa in the Sentry Tournament of Champions and shot 63 as Morikawa had a stunning collapse on the back nine. Rahm thinks he’s been the best player in golf for the last six months or so. He’s been out of the top 10 only once in nine tournaments dating to August.
Houston Texans fire coach Lovie Smith after just one season
HOUSTON (AP) — Lovie Smith has been fired as coach of the Houston Texans on Sunday night after just one season where the team went 3-13-1. It’s the second straight season in which the Texans have fired a coach after just one year. They parted ways with David Culley last January after he went 4-13 in his only season.
Bears get No. 1 pick after Texans rally for win at Indy
CHICAGO (AP) — Thanks to an old friend, the Chicago Bears are on the clock for the NFL draft. Chicago will pick No. 1 for the first time since 1947 after it lost 29-13 to the Minnesota Vikings in its season finale. It was the 10th straight loss for the Bears, extending a franchise record. Even with all that misery, the Bears were headed for the No. 2 selection before Lovie Smith coached Houston to a wild 32-31 victory at Indianapolis. The 64-year-old Smith coached the Bears from 2004-12, going 81-63 and making the playoffs three times.
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