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  • 12/30/12--19:05: Sports in brief
  • Times wires
    Sunday, December 30, 2012


    U.S. juniors Fall 2-1, face must-win

    UFA, Russia — Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Ryan Strome scored in the first period, and Canada beat the United States 2-1 Sunday to advance to the next round after pool play at the junior world championship.

    Jacob Trouba scored for the United States, which needed to beat Slovakia early today (replay, 8 tonight, NHL Network) in Group B to advance. Canada faces Russia at 9 a.m. today to determine which team gets a bye into the semifinals.

    Meanwhile, Lightning forward prospect Tanner Richard assisted on Switzerland's second goal, but Finland won 5-4 on the lone shootout goal by Markus Granlund.

    In other games, Slovakia beat Germany 2-1 in overtime, and the Czech Republic defeated Latvia 4-2 to advance.


    League, union return to negotiating table

    After two days of informational talks wrapped up, the players union held internal discussions and announced that negotiations with the NHL were planned for today.

    The union could be preparing a counteroffer to the one it received from the league on Thursday. Today's talks would be the first negotiations since the sides met with a federal mediator Dec. 13.

    The NHL would like to have a deal in place by Jan. 11 and begin a 48-game season no later than Jan. 19.

    Speed Skating

    Skater blazes to third crown in three days

    Heather Richardson set a national record in winning the 1,500 meters — her third title in three days — at the U.S. Long Track Championships in Kearns, Utah.

    Richardson's time of 1 minute, 53.84 seconds bettered the mark of 1:54.19 set by former Olympian Jennifer Rodriguez in 2009. Richardson won the 500 Friday with the fastest time in the world this year and claimed the 1,000 Saturday, setting national records in both races.

    "It's just a confidence wave," she said. "My first one carried into the 1,000 and after the 1,000 I said to myself, 'I only have one more race to go,' so today I was just really working on my technique. When you don't worry about that stuff, it just happens."

    On the men's side, Brian Hansen won his first 1,500 national title in 1:44.96, beating Shani Davis.


    Williams sisters post victories in Australia

    Venus Williams won her singles match in three sets, then teamed with John Isner as the United States beat South Africa 2-1 at the Hopman Cup mixed team event in Perth, Australia.

    Williams, playing for the first time since winning at Luxembourg in October, beat Chanelle Scheepers 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, then joined Isner to win 6-3, 6-2.

    Meanwhile, third-ranked Serena Williams started her season in Australia also, beating Varvara Lepchenko 6-2, 6-1 in the first round of the Brisbane International. Serena didn't show any signs of the minor surgery on her big toes.

    "Technically, I still had my 2012 rep on the line," she said. "I really needed to win so I could finish the year with still just the four losses."


    BOWLING: Scott Norton of Costa Mesa, Calif., the 2010-11 PBA rookie of the year, defeated Australian Jason Belmont 227-223 to win the Chameleon Championship in Las Vegas.

    GOLF: Spain's Miguel Angel Jimenez, 48, had surgery on a broken right shinbone and will be sidelined for up to five months. He was injured skiing.

    Soccer: Frank Lampard scored twice in a 2-1 victory at Everton, boosting Chelsea's hopes of catching Manchester United and Manchester City in the English Premier League race. Chelsea is four points behind second-place Manchester City with a game in hand. United is in first by seven points.

    Times wires

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    By Greg Auman, Times Staff Writer, Times wires
    Sunday, December 30, 2012

    TAMPA — Anthony Collins appears to have avoided a significant injury, though it's unknown how long USF will be without its star point guard.

    Collins, who left Saturday's win against George Mason on a stretcher with a frightening neck injury, was released from Florida Hospital Tampa late Saturday night after all tests came back negative.

    USF said Sunday that the sophomore had MRI exams, X-rays and CAT scans while in the hospital. Though he was resting, there was no sign of how quickly he would be able to return to the basketball court.

    The Bulls finish their nonconference schedule Wednesday in a rematch against Central Florida, which beat the Bulls in Tampa in the season opener. USF opens its Big East schedule in one week, facing No. 9 Syracuse in the Sun Dome on Jan. 6.

    Collins, who took a knee to the head while scrambling for a loose ball in the second half of Saturday's win, is among the national leaders in assists and was a huge part of USF's NCAA Tournament run last season. If he can't play, the Bulls will turn to junior Martino Brock, the team's starting shooting guard, who stepped in for Collins when he was sidelined by a calf injury last month in a win at Stetson.

    ECKERD 65, MILES 62: Darrien Mack had 16 points and 12 rebounds for the Tritons (6-2), who held off a late rally at the University of Tampa Classic.

    TAMPA 83, PAINE 80, 2 OT: Anthony Griffis had 22 points and eight rebounds for the host Spartans (12-0), off to the second-best start in program history. The 2010-11 squad opened 16-0.

    NO. 5 INDIANA: Freshman forward Jeremy Hollowell is expected back today at Iowa after the NCAA cleared him of any potential infractions.


    NO. 21 FSU 76, BC 70: Alexa Deluzio continued to be a thorn in the Eagles' side, guiding the host Seminoles to their fourth straight victory in both teams' Atlantic Coast Conference opener.

    Deluzio, who scored a career-high 28 at Boston College in a 68-59 win last season, tallied 25 points and 12 rebounds for her first career double double for Florida State (11-1).

    "Her confidence jump-started everything we did," coach Sue Semrau said. "We needed her to be a rebounder as we didn't do a very good job in that category."

    Natasha Howard added 12 points and 10 rebounds for FSU, which entered leading the ACC in field-goal percentage at 49.5 percent and shot 50 percent (31-of-62).

    ADELPHI 80, ECKERD 63: Sade Jackson had 19 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds for the visiting Panthers, who put away the Tritons (4-4) with a 17-0 run late in the first half.

    TREVECCA NAZARENE 64, SAINT LEO 51: The Trojans pulled away from the Lions (6-4) with an 18-4 run late in the game.

    NO. 4 DUKE 73, MONMOUTH 32: Tricia Liston scored 15 for the host Blue Devils (11-0), who held the Hawks to three points in the first half, tying an NCAA record. Savannah State scored three against FSU in 2003, and Tennessee State matched that two years ago against Georgia Tech.

    NO. 7 KENTUCKY 78, MARIST 56: Jennifer O'Neill scored a career-high 21, and the host Wildcats (12-1) pulled away for their 11th straight victory.

    NO. 13 TENN. 66, RUTGERS 47: Isabelle Harrison had 18 points and 11 rebounds for the host Vols (9-3), who used a strong defensive performance and balanced scoring to win for the NCAA-best 1,200th time in program history.

    NO. 14 OKLA. ST. 80, SAN DIEGO ST. 72: Toni Young scored 30 and Liz Donohoe 25 for the Cowgirls (11-0), who ran their nation-best winning streak to 17 and took the Surf 'N Slam Classic title in San Diego.

    BOWLING GREEN 65, NO. 15 DAYTON 40: Alexis Rogers scored 20 for the host Falcons, who pulled away from the Flyers (12-1) with a 19-2 second-half run.

    NO. 16 UNC 65, CLEMSON 58: Xylina McDaniel had 19 points and six steals for the visiting Tar Heels (13-1), who used a 19-2 second-half run to rally in their ACC opener.

    CENT. MICH. 73, NO. 20 TEXAS 65: Niki DiGuilio scored 21 to help the Chippewas upset the Longhorns (7-4) in the consolation game of the Surf 'N Slam Classic.

    Information from Times wires was used in this report.

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  • 12/30/12--19:14: Bears 26, Lions 24
  • Times wires
    Sunday, December 30, 2012

    Bears top one rival, two others seal fate

    DETROIT — Jay Cutler led the Bears to victory, then uttered three words that must have felt awkward coming out of his mouth.

    "Go Pack Go," he said.

    It was no use.

    Chicago kept its playoff hopes alive — but only momentarily. The Bears beat the Lions, then were eliminated from postseason contention when another rival, Minnesota, edged Green Bay 37-34 to earn the final NFC wild card.

    The Bears became only the second club since the playoffs expanded to 12 teams to miss out after a 7-1 start, according to STATS. The other was Washington in 1996.

    The Lions lost their last eight games and turned the ball over four times in the finale. Calvin Johnson fell short in his attempt to become the first player with 2,000 yards receiving in a season. Johnson, who broke Jerry Rice's record of 1,848 yards receiving last week, finished at 1,964.

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  • 12/30/12--19:17: NFL eyes on PSU's O'Brien
  • Times wires
    Sunday, December 30, 2012

    Bill O'Brien, the former New England Patriots offensive coordinator who was named Big Ten coach of the year in his first season at scandal-rocked Penn State, is garnering interest from NFL teams looking to fill vacancies, according to multiple media reports Sunday.

    O'Brien, who took over for Joe Paterno in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky sexual-abuse scandal, might have been contacted already through third parties by several teams, including the Browns and Eagles, to gauge interest, ESPN and collegefootballtalk.com reported.

    O'Brien took the job at Penn State but the NCAA handed down severe sanctions, including a four-year bowl ban and scholarship reductions, that could have surprised him, ESPN reported.

    Still, it is believed that O'Brien would not leave for just any NFL position, as he has passed on the Jaguars before.

    Another hurdle: ESPN reported that he has a buyout of $9.2 million, but it is unknown whether it dictates terms pertaining to an NFL job.

    O'Brien, 43, had not been reached for comment.

    Davis nixes FIU: Bucs special assistant Butch Davis will remain with Tampa Bay and is not interested in the Florida International coaching vacancy, Jon Sasser, Davis' attorney, told the Miami Herald. The former North Carolina and Miami coach did not give a reason despite a month of speculation that a deal was in the works.

    Shannon to Arkansas: Former Miami coach Randy Shannon will join Bret Bielema's staff at Arkansas as linebackers coach. Shannon had been coaching linebackers at TCU.

    To the draft: Texas A&M defensive end Damontre Moore will forgo his senior season to enter the NFL draft.

    Spartans win Wild one: Michigan State won its final game by one point late Saturday, an appropriate ending to a season full of close victories and excruciating defeats.

    The Spartans (7-6) played nine games decided by four points or fewer, topping the year with a 17-16 rally over TCU in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl in Tempe, Ariz. Le'Veon Bell ran for 145 yards and a score, and Dan Conroy kicked a 47-yard field goal with 1:01 left.

    The Spartans trailed 13-0 at halftime, but Connor Cook, in for quarterback Andrew Maxwell, threw a touchdown pass in the third quarter and Bell ran for a score in the fourth.

    A long field goal had put the Horned Frogs up 16-14, but there was enough time for Cook to drive 45 yards in eight plays.

    "With so many close games and losing like we did during the season, to have one go our way was definitely sweet," Conroy said.

    Getty ImagesGetty Images

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  • 12/30/12--19:21: Bengals 23, Ravens 17
  • Times wires
    Sunday, December 30, 2012

    Bengals, Ravens rest more than play

    CINCINNATI — Andy Dalton, A.J. Green and the other Bengals playmakers watched from the sideline as their backups pulled another victory out — with the defense leading the way, of course.

    It's been their way during one breakthrough win after another.

    Former Gator Carlos Dunlap returned an interception 14 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter as Cincinnati beat Baltimore in a regular-season finale that had more of a preseason feel.

    The Ravens had clinched their second straight AFC North title and decided to use the finale to get healthier. They had several stars inactive and pulled quarterback Joe Flacco and running back Ray Rice after two series.

    "I'm glad that's over," Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. "That's a difficult situation to be in. I thought our guys handled it about as well as you can handle it."

    The Ravens host Andrew Luck and the Colts next weekend, while the Bengals play at Houston, just as they did last season.

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  • 12/30/12--19:25: Titans 38, Jaguars 20
  • Times wires
    Sunday, December 30, 2012

    Happy (4) returns

    NASHVILLE — The Titans made history and coach Mike Munchak thinks their young talent showed enough to keep him on the job. Top jobs in Jacksonville look much shakier.

    Tennessee became the first team ever with two players scoring twice on returns in a game as the Titans beat the Jaguars. Darius Reynaud scored on two punt returns and Zach Brown returned two interceptions for touchdowns, all in less than 5 minutes. "We got a glimpse of what we should be capable of doing more regularly on Sundays," Munchak said.

    The Jaguars wrapped up their worst season (and the No. 2 overall draft pick) and owner Shad Khan has to decide whether to fire general manager Gene Smith and possibly coach Mike Mularkey.

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  • 12/30/12--19:26: Panthers 44, Saints 38
  • Times wires
    Sunday, December 30, 2012

    Panthers end well

    NEW ORLEANS — A season marred by the bounty scandal ended with one final frustrating, mistake-prone loss for the Saints.

    DeAngelo Williams rushed for 210 yards, including two touchdowns, as Carolina closed the season by winning its fourth straight.

    Drew Brees passed for 396 yards, giving him 5,177 this season to make him the first player to eclipse 5,000 yards three times. Jonathan Vilma, a central figure in the bounty scandal who was initially suspended the season, had an 18-yard interception return for a touchdown.

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  • 12/30/12--19:28: Colts 28, Texans 16
  • Times wires
    Sunday, December 30, 2012

    Pagano enjoys his return to sideline

    INDIANAPOLIS — Chuck Pagano put on his dancing shoes and savored every moment.

    He signaled Colts touchdowns, patted Deji Karim on the helmet after a 101-yard kickoff return for a game-changing touchdown, and gestured for penalty flags.

    And after Indianapolis beat Houston, Pagano jumped around with players, assistants and team owner Jim Irsay like he was a kid.

    Why not?

    "There was a lot of high-fiving, a lot of dancing, a lot of hugging going on and a lot of celebrating," an emotional Pagano said.

    It was his first game back on the sideline after taking leave to undergo three rounds of chemotherapy for leukemia.

    "Man, this has been a great year, a storybook ending," Pro Bowl receiver Reggie Wayne said. "Let's keep it going (in the playoffs). Hopefully we can continue to write this movie."

    The Texans fell from No. 1 in the AFC to the No. 3 seed, denying them a bye week.

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  • 12/30/12--19:31: Seahawks 20, Rams 13
  • Times wires
    Sunday, December 30, 2012

    Seahawks remain in playoff groove

    SEATTLE — In case the recent blowouts clouded the memory, Seattle rookie Russell Wilson can still put together a fourth-quarter, winning drive.

    That came after he put his name alongside Peyton Manning's in the NFL record book.

    Wilson tied Manning's record for most touchdown passes by a rookie with 26, and his 1-yard TD run with 1:39 left gave Seattle a victory over the Rams and an 8-0 home mark.

    "To tie that record is really something special," Wilson said. "It's a tribute to my faith and all God has put me through, but also to my team and what they've done."

    Seattle settled for a wild card after San Francisco clinched the NFC West by defeating Arizona.

    Still, the Seahawks ended up as the only undefeated team at home. And they've won seven of eight, including a five-game winning streak to close the season.

    Wilson's 10-yard touchdown to Michael Robinson in the third quarter pulled him even with Manning for the rookie TD record.

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  • 12/30/12--19:36: Patriots 28, Dolphins 0
  • Times wires
    Sunday, December 30, 2012

    Patriots crank it up, get week off

    FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The Patriots are rolling again, right into a playoff bye.

    Tom Brady threw two touchdowns, the defense had a season-high seven sacks and New England ended a rare slump by dominating the Dolphins.

    Rebounding from two mediocre performances, the Patriots earned the second seed in the AFC and an extra week to savor the win.

    Shortly before the game, the Patriots learned Houston had lost, opening the door for one of the two AFC byes.

    "Coach (Bill) Belichick just said, 'Look, the only people that can improve our position are us, so, regardless what anyone else does, we have to win,' " Brady said. "And that's what we did."


    One of Brady's touchdowns was a 23-yarder to tight end Rob Gronkowski, who missed the previous five games after breaking his left forearm.

    Brady moved into second in NFL history with a touchdown pass in 48 consecutive games, breaking a tie with Hall of Famer Johnny Unitas.

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  • 12/30/12--19:42: NFL news and notes
  • Times wires
    Sunday, December 30, 2012

    Around the league


    EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Andy Reid was out after 14 seasons as Eagles coach, multiple outlets reported after Sunday's season-ending loss to the Giants.

    The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Reid was actually told Friday that he will not be the coach next season. Multiple sources said owner Jeffrey Lurie is expected to announce the decision today.

    The Eagles' 12 losses are the most since the team went 3-13 in 1998, a season that prompted Lurie to fire Ray Rhodes and hire Reid.

    "We weren't very good," Reid said. "That's my responsibility and I take complete blame for it."

    Team spokesman Derek Boyko denied the reports that Reid had been fired.

    Newtown families have day at game

    EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — They carried signs expressing gratitude and love. They exchanged high-fives with players and ringed the field during the national anthem.

    About 400 residents of Newtown, Conn., attended Sunday's Giants-Eagles game. Among them were a few families who lost children in this month's school massacre, the Giants said. One was the family of Jack Pinto, the 6-year-old boy buried in a No. 80 jersey of Giants receiver Victor Cruz. The families arrived in nine chartered buses. There were some 200 students from the school system to which Sandy Hook Elementary School belongs.

    "It was awesome," Giants DE Osi Umenyiora said after his team won 42-7. "Imagine what they went through on that horrific day. For them to come out here and support us as they did, it was an unbelievable feeling."

    On Dec. 14, 20 children and six adults were slain at Sandy Hook Elementary in one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history.

    BILLS: Players had the sticker "WWFD" on the back of their helmets, honoring two West Webster (N.Y.) Fire Department firefighters who were shot and killed Monday while responding to a fire in the Rochester suburb.

    LIONS: Matthew Stafford set a season record for pass attempts. He had 42 against Chicago for 727 total, surpassing Drew Bledsoe (691 for the 1994 Patriots).

    RAVENS: Justin Tucker was 1-for-2 to finish 30 of 33 on field-goal tries; at 90.9 percent he set an NFL record for a rookie.

    TEXANS: Andre Johnson (12 catches, 141 yards) was the second player with three seasons of 100 or more catches and 1,500 yards, joining Marvin Harrison.

    TITANS: They set a franchise mark and league high for points allowed, 471.


    7 Consecutive seasons that the Super Bowl champion failed to win a playoff game the next year


    7,042 Yards allowed this season by the Saints, breaking the record of 6,793 by the 1981 Baltimore Colts

    Times wires

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  • 12/30/12--19:50: Clippers' streak reaches 17
  • Times wires
    Sunday, December 30, 2012

    LOS ANGELES — Jamal Crawford scored 11 of his 19 in the fourth quarter and the Clippers beat the Jazz 107-96 Sunday night for their 17th consecutive victory, making them the third team in NBA history to record a perfect month.

    The Clippers went 16-0 in December to join the Spurs in March 1996 and the Lakers in November and December 1971 as the only teams to go undefeated over a month. Their franchise-record winning streak is the longest since Boston won 19 in a row four years ago.

    Caron Butler led the Clippers with 29 points, making all six of his 3-pointers. Chris Paul added 19 points and nine assists to help them maintain the league's best record at 25-6.

    Al Jefferson scored 30, one off his season high, to lead Utah, which fell victim for the third time during the Clippers' streak. The Jazz lost 116-114 Friday when the Clippers rallied from 19 points down and fell 105-104 on Dec. 3, both times at home.

    Utah lost its third in a row.

    GAME HIGHLIGHTS: Isaiah Thomas scored 27 and made one of Sacramento's two four-point plays in the second half as the Kings handed the Celtics their third straight lopsided loss on a California road swing, 118-96. … Tony Parker had 21 points and nine assists, Manu Ginobili had several key baskets among his 20 points and the visiting Spurs handed the Mavericks their sixth straight loss, 111-86.

    AROUND THE LEAGUE: Former Magic coach Stan Van Gundy told the Los Angeles Times he believes Dwight Howard's April back surgery and diminished role in the offense have contributed to his slow start with the Lakers. "I don't think he looks quite as explosive or as quick as he has in the past," said Van Gundy, who coached Howard in Orlando for five seasons. "Now, he's still above almost everyone in the league at that size athletically, but he has not totally looked like himself to me." … Rockets first-round pick Royce White refused his assignment to Houston's D-League affiliate. White, the 16th overall pick in June, has spent most of the season on the inactive list while he and the team figure out how to handle his anxiety disorder and overall mental health. … Nets general manager Billy King said the team has "not contacted anybody" about replacing fired coach Avery Johnson.

    Clippers 107, Jazz 96

    UTAH (96): Carroll 2-5 1-2 6, Millsap 2-7 5-9 9, Jefferson 13-22 4-5 30, Tinsley 3-7 1-2 8, Foye 3-8 2-3 10, Hayward 5-15 5-5 16, Watson 0-3 0-0 0, Favors 3-6 5-6 11, Burks 1-4 0-0 2, Kanter 1-3 2-2 4. Totals 33-80 25-34 96.

    L.A. CLIPPERS (107): Butler 10-14 3-4 29, Griffin 3-5 1-5 7, Jordan 4-7 6-8 14, Paul 7-14 5-5 19, Green 2-4 1-1 5, Crawford 7-16 4-4 19, Odom 0-5 0-0 0, Barnes 3-4 0-0 7, Bledsoe 2-5 0-0 4, Turiaf 1-4 1-2 3. Totals 39-78 21-29 107.

    Utah 24 21 31 20— 96

    L.A. Clippers 29 25 25 28— 107

    3-Point GoalsUtah 5-13 (Foye 2-2, Carroll 1-2, Tinsley 1-3, Hayward 1-4, Watson 0-1, Burks 0-1), L.A. Clippers 8-18 (Butler 6-6, Barnes 1-2, Crawford 1-5, Odom 0-1, Green 0-1, Paul 0-3). Fouled OutNone. ReboundsUtah 51 (Jefferson, Carroll 8), L.A. Clippers 52 (Odom 8). AssistsUtah 29 (Tinsley 11), L.A. Clippers 25 (Paul 9). Total FoulsUtah 24, L.A. Clippers 26. TechnicalsTinsley, Barnes, Griffin. A19,111 (19,060).

    Kings 118, Celtics 96

    BOSTON (96): Pierce 8-15 0-0 20, Garnett 7-13 2-2 16, Collins 0-2 0-0 0, Rondo 1-6 0-0 2, Terry 7-12 4-4 20, Bass 3-5 0-0 6, Green 5-17 5-7 16, Sullinger 2-5 6-6 10, Lee 0-6 0-0 0, Barbosa 1-3 0-0 2, Varnado 2-2 0-0 4. Totals 36-86 17-19 96.

    SACRAMENTO (118): Salmons 9-12 3-3 23, Thompson 8-11 4-8 20, Cousins 4-12 4-4 12, Thomas 10-15 4-5 27, Thornton 2-7 0-0 5, Robinson 1-1 0-0 2, Garcia 2-7 0-0 5, Hayes 0-2 2-2 2, Johnson 3-5 3-3 10, Fredette 4-9 0-0 10, Honeycutt 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 44-82 20-25 118.

    Boston 18 31 24 23— 96

    Sacramento 24 30 30 34— 118

    3-Point GoalsBoston 7-22 (Pierce 4-8, Terry 2-4, Green 1-4, Barbosa 0-1, Lee 0-2, Rondo 0-3), Sacramento 10-20 (Thomas 3-7, Fredette 2-3, Salmons 2-4, Johnson 1-1, Garcia 1-2, Thornton 1-3). Fouled OutNone. ReboundsBoston 43 (Garnett 12), Sacramento 52 (Cousins 10). AssistsBoston 25 (Rondo 10), Sacramento 28 (Cousins 10). Total FoulsBoston 23, Sacramento 21. A15,305 (17,317).

    Spurs 111, Mavericks 86

    SAN ANTONIO (111): Leonard 2-5 0-0 5, Duncan 7-14 4-4 18, Splitter 4-9 5-6 13, Parker 10-17 1-1 21, Green 3-7 0-0 8, Diaw 4-6 1-2 10, Ginobili 6-12 6-6 20, Jackson 2-3 3-3 8, Mills 2-6 0-0 5, Blair 0-0 1-2 1, De Colo 0-1 0-0 0, Bonner 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 41-81 21-24 111.

    DALLAS (86): Carter 5-11 2-2 13, Marion 0-4 2-2 2, Kaman 6-12 1-2 13, Collison 9-13 0-0 18, Mayo 4-14 0-0 8, Crowder 2-6 2-2 6, Brand 7-11 0-0 14, Nowitzki 3-9 2-2 8, Douglas-Roberts 1-4 0-0 2, Beaubois 1-7 0-0 2, Wright 0-4 0-0 0, Da.Jones 0-0 0-0 0, Do.Jones 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 38-95 9-10 86.

    San Antonio 27 30 25 29— 111

    Dallas 22 23 25 16— 86

    3-Point GoalsSan Antonio 8-19 (Green 2-3, Ginobili 2-5, Diaw 1-1, Leonard 1-2, Jackson 1-2, Mills 1-4, De Colo 0-1, Parker 0-1), Dallas 1-16 (Carter 1-4, Nowitzki 0-1, Crowder 0-2, Douglas-Roberts 0-2, Beaubois 0-3, Mayo 0-4). Fouled OutNone. ReboundsSan Antonio 49 (Duncan 10), Dallas 52 (Brand 10). AssistsSan Antonio 21 (Parker 9), Dallas 23 (Collison 8). Total FoulsSan Antonio 9, Dallas 21. A19,928 (19,200).

    Pistons 96, Bucks 94

    MILWAUKEE (94): Daniels 3-9 1-2 7, Mbah a Moute 1-3 0-0 2, Sanders 2-4 0-2 4, Jennings 3-12 2-2 9, Ellis 12-22 3-4 30, Ilyasova 9-12 3-4 24, Dunleavy 3-7 0-0 9, Udoh 0-0 0-0 0, Udrih 0-1 0-0 0, Gooden 3-7 3-3 9. Totals 36-77 12-17 94.

    DETROIT (96): Prince 8-16 4-4 20, Maxiell 5-8 0-0 10, Monroe 6-12 2-3 14, Knight 4-12 1-2 11, Singler 2-11 4-4 8, Bynum 4-9 0-0 8, Drummond 4-4 0-0 8, Villanueva 4-8 0-0 11, Daye 2-2 0-0 5, English 0-0 1-2 1. Totals 39-82 12-15 96.

    Milwaukee 23 22 26 23— 94

    Detroit 30 25 23 18— 96

    3-Point GoalsMilwaukee 10-23 (Ilyasova 3-3, Dunleavy 3-5, Ellis 3-7, Jennings 1-4, Gooden 0-1, Udrih 0-1, Daniels 0-2), Detroit 6-18 (Villanueva 3-7, Knight 2-5, Daye 1-1, Bynum 0-1, Prince 0-2, Singler 0-2). Fouled OutNone. ReboundsMilwaukee 37 (Jennings, Daniels 6), Detroit 55 (Monroe, Maxiell 10). AssistsMilwaukee 19 (Ellis 9), Detroit 16 (Bynum 5). Total FoulsMilwaukee 18, Detroit 13. A14,219 (22,076).

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  • 12/30/12--19:52: Vikings 37, Packers 34
  • Times wires
    Sunday, December 30, 2012

    MINNEAPOLIS — Adrian Peterson picked up the Vikings and gave them a thrilling ride to the playoffs, where the next stop on this improbable journey is, yes, Green Bay.

    This game was so full of action, intrigue and tension, they'll stage it again Saturday.

    Peterson finished 9 yards shy of breaking Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record, but he powered the Vikings past the Packers 37-34 Sunday with 199 yards to set up a rematch at Lambeau Field in a first-round playoff game.

    "I told myself to come into this game focused on one thing, and that's winning," Peterson said.

    He finished with 2,097 yards, becoming the seventh player in NFL history to reach 2,000.

    "It wasn't meant to happen, or it would've happened. Not to say it doesn't hurt, because it does," Peterson said of Dickerson's 28-year-old record. "But we came in here tonight and accomplished the ultimate goal, and that was getting a win and punching our ticket to the playoffs."

    Peterson rumbled left for a 26-yard gain in the closing seconds, his career-high 34th carry exactly one year after reconstructive surgery on his left knee. That set up Blair Walsh's 29-yard field goal as time expired and put the Vikings in the postseason after consecutive last-place finishes.

    "For our guys to be as resilient as they were, it has you swelling with pride," Minnesota coach Leslie Frazier said.

    The division champion Packers dropped to the NFC's No. 3 seed. Their five-game winning streak against the Vikings ended.

    "I had a feeling that we had the game in the bag the whole game," Vikings cornerback Chris Cook said. "It was just a vibe that I had on the sideline, in how we were carrying ourselves."

    Aaron Rodgers, who threw for 365 yards and four touchdowns, hit Jordy Nelson from 2 yards to tie it with 2:54 left. But former Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder threw for three scores, one to Peterson.

    "It's disappointing. A lot of us wanted that extra week," Rodgers said.

    The Packers cut their deficit to 27-24 late in the third quarter on a touchdown reception by James Jones. The ruling was a fumble at the goal line, triggering an automatic review. But because Green Bay threw the challenge flag after the replay process began, it was only penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct, not kept from benefiting from the overturned call. That's what happened to Detroit infamously on Thanksgiving, when a disputed score by Houston was prevented from review.

    Associated PressAssociated Press

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  • 12/30/12--19:54: Chargers 24, Raiders 21
  • Times wires
    Sunday, December 30, 2012

    Turner wins in likely S.D. finale

    SAN DIEGO — Norv Turner expects to be fired this morning.

    Turner watched his Chargers beat the rival Raiders on a wet, gloomy day that seemed to sum up the state of the franchise.

    San Diego will miss the playoffs for the third straight season. The only thing left is a final team meeting today.

    "Obviously, we're going to meet with the team and I'm sure they'll start looking for a new coach," said Turner, who has one year left on his contract, at $3 million.

    Team president Dean Spanos said: "I haven't talked to anybody."

    General manager A.J. Smith also is expected to be fired.

    Micheal Spurlock, who broke the Bucs' long dry spell without a kickoff return for a touchdown in 2007, returned the opening kickoff 99 yards for a TD for San Diego.

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  • 12/30/12--20:07: 49ers 27, Cardinals 13
  • Times wires
    Sunday, December 30, 2012

    Niners wrap up division title, bye

    SAN FRANCISCO — Joe Staley and Mike Iupati jumped up and down wearing only shorts, each offensive lineman trying to will the Vikings to victory from afar.

    The 49ers — sporting fresh red NFC West champion caps after beating Arizona — watched with joy as Minnesota's win over Green Bay gave San Francisco the No. 2 seed. Which means one thing.

    "C'mon, baby, bye week!" defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois shouted.

    Michael Crabtree caught touchdowns of 49 and 7 yards and had with a career-high 172 yards on eight receptions. Colin Kaepernick threw for a career-best 276 yards.

    "It was a lot harder this time around to get it," safety Donte Whitner said of the division title.

    Frank Gore's 2-yard touchdown was his 51st rushing score, breaking a tie with mentor Roger Craig and late Hall of Famer Joe Perry for the franchise record.

    The Cardinals finished 5-11, worst ever for a team after a 4-0 start.

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    Stephen F. Holder, Times staff writer
    Sunday, December 30, 2012

    Wright stays on sideline

    When the Bucs went through the trouble of activating CB Eric Wright from the suspended list Saturday night, it suggested he might play after all.

    But Wright ultimately was left inactive Sunday, the Bucs opting to sit him though he was eligible to play after serving his four-game NFL suspension for violating the league's performance-enhancing drugs policy.

    The Bucs didn't attribute the decision to anything contract-related, but it can't be ignored that Wright's suspension enables the Bucs to void the guarantees in his $37 million contract. Even Wright acknowledged the possibility.

    "That's something we have to visit later, in the next few weeks or so," Wright said.

    When the Bucs departed Tampa for Atlanta on Saturday, Wright still was unclear about whether he'd play. He said he performed well in practice last week and that his Achilles' injury has healed.

    "I came ready to play," Wright said. "But that wasn't my role (Sunday). I tried to help out on the sideline and support my teammates any way I could. That was my role today. I obviously wanted to play, but I'm glad we at least got the win."

    If the Bucs are considering voiding Wright's deal, they perhaps considered the fact that the 2011 collective bargaining agreement enables players to collect up to $1.5 million under the injury-protection benefit if they're hurt in a game that prevents them from playing the following season.

    Martin goes out with a bang

    It had been several weeks since RB Doug Martin showed some of the sizzle that made him a phenomenon midway through the season.

    But in the third quarter, with the Bucs trying to fend off a Falcons rally, Martin did what he does best: bust a big run.

    He sliced through a hole on the left side of the line, then with a spin move out of Barry Sanders' repertoire, he bounced off S Thomas DeCoud and into the open field for a 40-yard touchdown run.

    "Erik Lorig, our fullback, did a good job of staying on his guy, and (left tackle) Donald Penn did a good job staying on his guy," Martin said. "I was able to get through there and make a move."

    Martin finished with 142 rushing yards, his fifth game this season with 100 or more. It pushed his season total to 1,454, second most in Bucs history. His 11 rushing TDs tied for second most by a Buccaneer in a season, and his 12 total TDs were also second best.

    Awestruck TE Dallas Clark said of Martin: "I don't know if I've been around a better young running back, or a running back like that in general. Some of the runs he's had this year, you have to remind yourself constantly that he's a rookie. He runs so hard. He's a special player."

    The spin move wasn't planned. It was just one of the many plays Martin has made this season that were a result of his feel for the game.

    "That was definitely instinctive," Martin said.

    Freeman sets Bucs records

    For as much as Josh Freeman has been critiqued for some of the worst play of his career in recent weeks, the fourth-year QB put the finishing touches on a career season Sunday.

    With 222 yards on 19-of-35 passing, Freeman added some entries into the franchise record book, setting Bucs records for touchdown passes in a career (78) and a single season (27). Freeman also became the first Bucs quarterback to surpass 4,000 yards passing, finishing with 4,065.

    The numbers don't mean much to him, he said. But it was meaningful to finish with a win in which he played well, especially after throwing a combined eight interceptions in his previous two games. Of particular importance was Freeman's improved play in the early going, something that enabled the Bucs to take a 13-3 halftime lead.

    "We had a lot of success early in the game," he said. "Being able to get that going and keeping it (going) in a game that's back and forth, we feel like if we get in those games, we can outlast the other team and play 60 minutes."

    What Freeman will spend the next few months lamenting, however, is the fact that his third full season as a starter will again end without a playoff berth. That's the next step for a quarterback the Bucs think can win for them long term.

    "It's what you play for," he said. "If you end the year without winning the Super Bowl, the season can't be considered a success. But we're optimistic. We have a number of pieces and a number of guys we'll get back on the team next season. It's very exciting."

    Pass rush finishes strong

    Few teams have protected their quarterback as reliably this season as the Falcons, who had given up 26 sacks entering Sunday's game, fifth fewest in the NFL.

    But you might not have guessed that considering the assault the Bucs unleashed on QB Matt Ryan, who was sacked only twice but was under duress throughout the game.

    The Bucs accomplished the feat without using the endless number of blitzes they'd come to rely on. Instead, they rushed mostly with their primary four defensive linemen, who won enough matchups with Atlanta's blockers to keep Ryan on the run.

    "That's it. It was the four of us," DE Da'Quan Bowers said. "Any time you can get pressure on the quarterback with just four guys, it's an amazing feeling."

    S Ronde Barber said, "The few (blitzes) we did bring were really run stoppers."

    The Bucs haven't consistently pressured quarterbacks for most of the season, entering the game ranked 30th with 25 sacks. Sunday's performance might be a foreshadowing, Bowers said.

    "I think we put some good film out there despite the five-game losing streak," he said. "There's a lot to build off of. We see what we're capable of doing."

    DE Daniel Te'o-Nesheim registered a sack, as did LB Lavonte David on one of the few blitzes used. Most of the six hits on Ryan came from defensive linemen, including Bowers, DT Gerald McCoy and DE Michael Bennett.

    "We've been through ups and downs," DT Roy Miller said. "We wanted to go out there and put our identity out there. It wasn't there for the last few games. We just wanted to go out and fight and put it on film. We needed to do it for each other and for the coaches."

    Big decisions looming

    Ronde Barber and his family gathered outside the visitors' locker room at the Georgia Dome, and something about the whole scene seemed final. Barber and his wife and two daughters posed for pictures with Barber's parents and friends, raising questions about whether Barber might have played his last game. The Bucs safety, in his 16th season, said he hasn't made a decision on returning, which is likely true. But because the decision involves others — do the Bucs want him back and how much will they pay him? — he is preparing himself for anything. "If it is (the last game), it is," said Barber, 37. "I've always been all right with that." Barber, who moved to safety this season after 15 years at cornerback, is on a year-to-year agreement with the Bucs. That means the club will have to decide whether it wants him back, what his role will be and how much to pay him before the sides can proceed. Another player who is in limbo is TE Dallas Clark, who will become a free agent in March and hasn't committed to anything yet. "I haven't even thought about that," he said. "We'll see what the options are, and we'll go from there and make a reasonable response for myself and my family. Whatever else happens, it's been a heck of a run with this team. We left a lot out there, which is unfortunate, but there are a lot of positives coming back next year with this team." Clark, 33, answered the biggest question about him: Could he stay healthy? He played in all 16 games, catching 47 passes for 435 yards.

    Falcons play to win

    It's a question that can be endlessly debated, but the Falcons made an emphatic decision when it came to playing their regular players in a game that was mostly meaningless.

    With the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs already sewn up, the Falcons still played QB Matt Ryan and all their starters against Tampa Bay, exposing them to injuries that could impact their availability for the playoffs.

    CB Dunta Robinson suffered a possible concussion in a collision with Bucs RB Doug Martin, and star DE John Abraham sustained an ankle injury that coach Mike Smith believed to be minor.

    Did the coach even consider sitting his starters?

    "Absolutely not," Smith said. "We've said from the very beginning that we're going to play this game to win. I think we did that. We just didn't get it done."

    It could be argued the Falcons played without a great deal of energy given the fact that nothing was at stake, but Smith rejected that thinking.

    "You get 16 opportunities," he said. "You want to go out and play your best. To go out there and not play your best and try to win is counter­intuitive to guys in that locker room and it's counterintuitive to us as football coaches. I know there are different philosophies with that and it flips back and forth, but we're paid to go out and try and win football games."

    Capping a comeback

    WR Mike Williams had another strong showing, leading the team in receptions (six) and receiving yards (65), including an 8-yard touchdown. It was his ninth TD reception, tied for third in franchise history for receiving TDs in a season.

    2013 Bucs opponents

    Along with the annual home-and-home with NFC South teams, the Bucs next season face each team from the NFC West and AFC East. And because they finished fourth in the NFC South, they face the fourth-place team from the NFC East and NFC North. Times and dates will be announced in April.

    Home Away

    Falcons Falcons

    Panthers Panthers

    Saints Saints

    Cardinals Rams

    49ers Seahawks

    Bills Patriots

    Dolphins Jets

    Eagles Lions

    Quick hits

    • Among Sunday's unsung heroes was LB Dekoda Watson, who pushed the man blocking him (TE Michael Palmer) backward into the path of Matt Bosher's punt, which bounced off Palmer's back and out of bounds at the Atlanta 26. The play set up a field goal that gave the Bucs a 13-3 halftime lead.

    • The Bucs came close to earning the title as the worst pass defense in NFL history, but that honor still belongs to last season's Green Bay Packers. By giving up only 238 passing yards Sunday, Tampa Bay yielded 4,783 on the season, 13 better than last year's Packers.

    • Connor Barth's three field goals gave him 28 on the season (tied for third most in a single season in franchise history) and 123 points (fourth most in a season).

    Single-season records

    Among the single-season records set Sunday by the Bucs: most TDs scored (44), most points scored (389), most net yards (5,820), most net passing yards (3,983) and fewest rushing yards allowed per game (82.5).

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    Times wires
    Sunday, December 30, 2012

    Greg Schiano, Bucs coach:

    "I'm really proud of our guys for locking in this week in practice and focusing on facing the No. 1 seed in the playoffs and going out and playing them in their place, and there are a lot of ways teams approach these things and the way teams play, and I'm really proud of how our team fought."

    Doug Martin, Bucs RB, on restoring momentum after the Falcons' last TD:

    "I saw everybody's eyes and they weren't going to let that happen (lose). Everybody just started to show up."

    Donald Penn, Bucs tackle, on winning the finale:

    "We were hoping that they would play all of their guys as we wanted to get the full Falcons, not the half Falcons. We came out and finally executed the right way. … We cut down on turnovers and were able to run the ball. Any game that we can run the ball, we are a different team."

    Mike Smith, Falcons coach, on playing starters with top seed clinched:

    "I think you get 16 opportunities. You want to go out and play your best. To go out there and not play your best and not try to win is counterintuitive to guys in that locker room and it's counterintuitive to us as football coaches."

    Tony Gonzalez, Falcons TE, on team's failures:

    "(The Bucs) came out and played well, we have to give them their credit. They showed up to play today, and we failed to meet their intensity."

    Asante Samuel, Falcons CB:

    "We're going to play like champs from now on."

    Mark Bradley, Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

    To no great surprise, the Falcons appeared caught between Sunday. They weren't quite sure how hard to try, so they wound up falling 13 points behind a Tampa Bay team that hadn't won since Nov. 18. The inevitable — inevitable when you consider that Ryan took every offensive snap — rally fell a touchdown short.

    Again, no big deal. And it's possible that Sunday's injuries won't amount to much and the Flowery Branch Birds will be hoisting the Lombardi Trophy five weeks hence. Still, a game of no consequence needn't have spawned such drama.

    Pat Yasinskas, ESPN.com NFC South blogger:

    This game was much more significant for the Bucs. They had lost their past five games and appeared to be in a deep funk that had the potential to set the tone for a dismal offseason. A strong showing on the road against the NFC's best team changes a lot of that. The Bucs finished 7-9 and carry a little positive momentum into the offseason. Overall, you have to consider coach Greg Schiano's first season a success.

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  • 12/30/12--20:23: Broncos 38, Chiefs 3
  • Times wires
    Sunday, December 30, 2012

    DENVER — Peyton Manning figured one one-handed catch deserved another.

    So, up the ladder he went — throwing high in the back of the end zone to Demaryius Thomas.

    Thomas leaped and brought it down with his right hand, then got both feet down inside the line for a touchdown. With that, he joined Eric Decker in Denver's one-handed-touchdown club and helped give the Broncos homefield advantage throughout the AFC playoffs after a 38-3 runaway over the Chiefs.

    "They claim they can do that all the time," said Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey, who saw replays of both catches about half a dozen times on the scoreboard. "They say they practice that. I don't see it. But as long as they do it on Sunday, I'm all for it."

    Manning, in search of a second Super Bowl title, was 23-for-29 for 304 yards, three scores and a 144.8 passer rating. He was out of the game by the fourth quarter — by which time one of his biggest competitors for the MVP award, Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, was surpassing 2,000 yards rushing this season.

    "I threw it okay today, I guess," said Manning, who finished with 4,659 yards, 37 touchdowns and a 105.8 rating, all second best in his 15-year career.

    Thanks to Houston's loss at Indianapolis — Manning's home from 1998-2011 — Denver will be the top seed in the AFC. The Broncos last owned that distinction in 1998, when they won the last of consecutive Super Bowls.

    The Chiefs gave the Broncos as tough a tussle as anyone during their 11-game winning streak — in a 17-9 loss last month — but put up little resistance this time and clinched the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 draft.

    Kansas City finished a dreadful season, punctuated by the tragedy of Jovan Belcher's murder-suicide in which he killed his girlfriend and himself.

    Associated PressAssociated Press

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  • 12/30/12--20:44: BUCSEXTRA

  • Sunday, December 30, 2012

    Monday, December 31, 2012 , Section C | 


    Wild card Division round NFC title Super Bowl XLVII

    Feb. 3, 6:30 p.m., Superdome, New Orleans

    TV: Ch. 10

    AFC title Division round Wild card
    6. Vikings (10-6) 6. Bengals (10-6)
    8 p.m. Saturday, Ch. 8 Vikings, Seahawks or Redskins Bengals, Colts or Ravens 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Ch. 8
    3. at Packers (11-5) Jan. 13, 1 p.m., Ch. 13 Jan. 12, 4:30 p.m., Ch. 10 3. at Texans (12-4)
    1. at Falcons (13-3) Jan. 20, 3 p.m., Ch. 13 Jan. 20, 6:30 p.m., Ch. 10 1. at Broncos (12-3)
    2. at 49ers (11-4-1) 2. at Patriots (12-4)
    5. Seahawks (11-5) Jan. 12, 8 p.m., Ch. 13 Jan. 13, 4:30 p.m., Ch. 10 5. Colts (11-5)
    4:30 p.m. Sunday, Ch. 13 Seahawks, Redskins, Packers Colts, Ravens or Texans 1 p.m. Sunday, Ch. 10
    4. at 'Skins (10-6) 4. at Ravens (10-6)

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  • 12/30/12--20:48: Redskins 28, Cowboys 18
  • Times wires
    Sunday, December 30, 2012

    LANDOVER, Md. — Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris needed only four months to put the Redskins in a place they haven't been this millennium — on top of the NFC East.

    Led by two rookies serenaded loudly and lovingly as "R-G-3!" and "Al-fred Mor-ris!," the Redskins claimed their first division title since 1999, beating the archrival Cowboys 28-18 Sunday night in a winner-take-all finale to end the NFL's regular season.

    Griffin, the Heisman Trophy winner drafted second overall, ran for 63 yards and a touchdown. Morris, the out-of-nowhere sixth-rounder from Florida Atlantic, ran for 200 yards and three scores. He set the franchise single-season rushing record for the Redskins, who became the first team to rally from 3-6 and make the playoffs since the Jaguars in 1996.

    "I could never imagine coming in here my rookie year and doing what I've been able to do," Morris said. "It's better than my wildest dreams."

    After the final whistle, team captain Griffin walked off the field with a big smile, holding up his left index finger in a No. 1 gesture.

    "These aren't ordinary rookies," cornerback DeAngelo Hall said. "For a guy to win the Heisman Trophy, be the top pick, the savior of the franchise, come in here so humble — from Day 1 he came in here working, that's why he has that 'C' on his chest."

    The No. 4 seed in the NFC, the Redskins are 10-6 and will host the No. 5 Seahawks next Sunday, having won seven straight since their bye week. Seattle eliminated the Redskins the past two times Washington has been to the playoffs, in 2005 and 2007.

    The Cowboys, meanwhile, will miss the playoffs for the third straight season, having stumbled in a make-or-break finale for the third time in five years.

    Tony Romo had three interceptions including one by linebacker Rob Jackson with 3:00 left with the Cowboys down 21-18.

    This was another post-Christmas disappointment for Romo. He also had Week 17 losses to the Eagles (44-6) in 2008 and the Giants (31-14) last year, plus a 1-3 playoff record.

    Morris finished with 1,613 yards, topping Clinton Portis' 1,516 in 2005. Griffin's 10-yard touchdown run in the third quarter came when Griffin faked to Morris and ran around left end for a 14-7 lead.

    Trying to play catch-up, Dallas pulled within three on a 10-yard pass to Kevin Ogletree and a two-point conversion with 5:50 to play. But Morris' third touchdown, a 1-yard run with 1:09 left, sealed the win.

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