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    Anthony Davis had a season-high 50 points and the Los Angeles Lakers improved to a league-best 21-3 with a 142-125 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday night. Davis hit a floater with 4:39 remaining to reach 50 points for the fourth time in his career. He was 20 of 29 from the field and made all 10 of his free throws to go along with seven rebounds and six assists. LeBron James had 32 points and 13 assists despite committing four fouls in the first half. Alex Caruso added 16 points as the Lakers won their fourth straight and improved to 10-2 at home. Each of the Timberwolves’ starters had at least 12 points. Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins each had 19 points as Minnesota lost its fourth straight game. Davis had 42 points through three quarters, one more than his previous single-game best this season, 41 points in his return to New Orleans on Nov. 27. He tacked on 15 points in the third, but balanced scoring allowed Minnesota to stay within 110-103 as the quarter closed. It wasn’t until the fourth quarter that the Lakers could relax. Davis went hard to the rim against Towns and drew a foul that put the Lakers in the bonus with 5:30 remaining. Davis had eight points during an 11-0 run that gave the Lakers a 73-65 lead at the half. He had 27 through two quarters, making 12 of 15 shots, including his first six attempts from the field. He provided a spark after James got his fourth foul with 2:27 left in the second quarter. The Timberwolves found success from long range to get back into contention after trailing 39-31 after the first quarter. Minnesota hit its first five 3-pointers to start the quarter, with Wiggins providing the first lead at 52-51 midway after trailing by as many as 11. TIP-INS Timberwolves: Towns passed Anthony Peeler (465) for second-most 3-pointers in team history. … G Shabazz Napier tied a season-high with 13 points. He also had 13 in the Timberwolves’ last game, a 137-129 overtime loss at Oklahoma City on Friday. Lakers: C Dwight Howard celebrated his 34th birthday with eight points and six rebounds in 22 energetic minutes off the bench. … G Rajon Rondo did not play because of a strained hamstring. … G Avery Bradley (leg) is likely to return during the Lakers’ upcoming trip after being cleared for full contact, coach Frank Vogel said. Bradley participated in 3-on-3 and 4-on-4 work in practice Sunday. He has not played since Nov. 13 because of a hairline fracture. UP NEXT Timberwolves: Wrap up a three-game trip at Phoenix on Monday. Lakers: Open a five-game trip at Orlando on Wednesday. ___ More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • Jared Goff passed for 293 yards and two touchdowns, Todd Gurley ran for 79 yards and a fourth-quarter TD and the Los Angeles Rams prevented the Seattle Seahawks from clinching a playoff berth with a 28-12 victory Sunday night. Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp caught TD passes while the Rams (8-5) kept their playoff hopes burning and ended the Seahawks’ five-game winning streak. With an aggressive, inventive game plan on both sides of the ball, Los Angeles recaptured a measure of the excitement from its previous two seasons on offense while also playing superb defense against Russell Wilson, who was sacked five times. The Rams won for the fifth time in seven games, while the Seahawks (10-3) fell out of first place in the NFC West with just their second loss since Sept. 22 and their first road defeat of the season. Wilson passed for 245 yards amid constant pressure from the Rams. Quandre Diggs returned an interception 55 yards for a touchdown early in the third quarter, but it was the Seahawks’ only touchdown. Woods had seven catches for 98 yards and his first touchdown of the season, and tight end Tyler Higbee had seven catches for a career-high 116 yards as the Rams looked like the thrilling offensive unit that dazzled the NFL during coach Sean McVay’s first two seasons. McVay called an inventive game full of jet sweeps and tricky plays, and he continued to give more late-season action to Gurley, who responded with a big game. Los Angeles still trails Minnesota (9-4) by a game for the second wild card spot, but its chances improved with this critical division win. Seattle dropped a game behind San Francisco atop the NFC West, tied with New Orleans and Green Bay at 10-3 in the jumbled conference playoff picture. The Seahawks host the Niners in the regular-season finale Dec. 29. These NFC West rivals’ first meeting of the season was decided by the Rams’ missed field goal with 11 seconds left two months ago in Seattle. Los Angeles didn’t let it get nearly that close this time. After the Seahawks’ opening drive ended with a field goal, the Rams’ offense started off with two touchdown drives, showing the same improved form from its blowout win at Arizona last week. Malcolm Brown punched in the opening TD after Higbee’s 33-yard reception put Los Angeles on the goal line. Woods then caught a short TD pass to cap an 85-yard drive, extending his torrid performance since returning from a one-game absence for undisclosed personal reasons. The veteran wideout has 26 catches for 367 yards in the ensuing three games. Goff led another TD drive late in the first half, connecting with Kupp from 10 yards out with 51 seconds left, while Wilson was left frustrated by the Rams’ defense and his own receivers’ drops. But Goff and Woods miscommunicated at midfield on the opening drive of the second half, and Diggs returned it untouched for his second career touchdown and his second interception in his first four games with Seattle. Diggs grabbed his third interception for the Seahawks on the next series, catching an overthrown pass by Goff. Former USC star Rasheem Green then blocked a field goal attempt by the Rams, but Seattle’s offense was unable to capitalize, with Wilson repeatedly getting rocked by blitzing Rams. The Rams seized control with a 95-yard TD drive to open the fourth quarter, capped by Gurley’s 7-yard TD run with 11:07 to play. LIGHTS OUT This was likely the final NFL night game at the venerable Coliseum. The Rams move into their multibillion-dollar palace in Inglewood next year after four post-relocation seasons at the 96-year-old stadium, which staged the first Super Bowl and also housed the Rams and the Raiders at different times. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll also might have made his final coaching appearance at the stadium where he led USC to a decade of excellence. INJURIES: Seahawks: RB Rashaad Penny injured his knee during the opening drive and was ruled out for the rest of the night. The busy backup running back had 203 yards rushing and two touchdowns in Seattle’s previous two games. ... Two defensive starters — DE Ziggy Ansah and LB Mychal Kendricks — didn’t play. Rams: Gerald Everett missed another game with a knee injury, and the absence of Goff’s top tight end target has led to more chances for Higbee, who surpassed his career high in yards receiving for the second straight game. UP NEXT Seahawks: Visit the Carolina Panthers on Sunday for their final road game of the regular season. Rams: Visit the well-rested Dallas Cowboys, who still lead the NFC East despite losing three straight, on Sunday. ___ More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL
  • Ted Simmons can thank WAR, on-base percentage and other modern measures of baseball players for helping him reach the Hall of Fame 31 years after he retired. The eight-time All-Star catcher was elected to the Hall by a veterans committee after falling one vote short two years ago. Simmons received 13 of 16 votes when the modern era committee gathered Sunday ahead of the winter meetings. Also elected was Marvin Miller, the union leader who revolutionized baseball by empowering players to negotiate multimillion-dollar contracts and to play for teams of their own choosing. “This is a great, great day in my life,” Simmons said during a conference call. “It's obviously a very special day for me and Marvin's family and I'm just very, very pleased to be a part of it.' Primarily a catcher in a 21-year big league career, the switch-hitter batted .285 with 248 homers and 1,389 RBIs for St. Louis (1968-80), Milwaukee (1981-85) and Atlanta (1986-88). He will be inducted into Cooperstown during ceremonies on July 26 along with any players chosen next month by the Baseball Writers' Association of America from a ballot headed by former New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter. Simmons made just one appearance on the BBWAA ballot, receiving 17 of 456 votes (3.7%) in 1994, falling shy of the 5% threshold to remain on the ballot. Simmons was on 11 of 16 ballots when the modern era committee met in 2017 and elected Jack Morris with 14 votes and Alan Trammell with 13. He has benefited from modern metrics such as a Baseball Reference WAR of 50.3. Eight other players who were primarily catchers topped 50, and they are all in the Hall: Johnny Bench, Yogi Berra, Gary Carter, Bill Dickey, Carlton Fisk, Gabby Hartnett, Mike Piazza and Iván Rodríguez. Simmons said he thought his one-and-done on the BBWAA ballot would forever keep him out of Cooperstown. But then analytics came along. “If it weren't for the analytics people, my career as a potential Hall of Famer probably would have been shut down and forgotten about a long time ago,” he said. “When people started talking about on-base percentage and WAR, and explained how WAR comprised, then it became a real look into a real study and thena real comparison started to develop. “”I played in an era with Bench and (Manny) Sanguillén and Fisk, Carter, (Bob) Boone, (Steve) Yeager, all those people through that period as catchers. It's difficult to match up with people like Bench, who won World Series year in, year out, Fisk in Boston, who had great, great years. 'As analytics departments became so in depth, people started telling me about WAR, what was involved with that. People started looking at me and it revitalized my whole candidacy for the Hall of Fame.' Nicknamed Simba for his shoulder-length hair, Simmons was an outspoken opponent of President Richard Nixon and the Vietnam War. In the days before free agency, he played much of the 1972 season without a contract because of a pay dispute, finally agreeing to a two-year deal in late July. Simmons hit .300 or higher seven times and finished with 2,472 hits. Among players who were primarily catchers, his RBIs are second to Berra's 1,430 and his hits are second to Rodríguez's 2,844. He had a career .348 on-base percentage and struck out only 694 times in 8,680 at-bats. Following his retirement as a player, Simmons became the Cardinals' director of player development. He was hired as Pittsburgh's general manager in January 1992 and the Pirates came within one strike out reaching the World Series before losing Game 7 of the NL Championship Series to Atlanta. He presided over a teardown that included the departures of Barry Bonds and Doug Drabek, then quit in June 1993 following an angioplasty procedure to unclog a blocked artery to his heart.
  • Twelve of the 26 first-year coaches in the Football Bowl Subdivision are taking their teams to bowls. Ohio State’s Ryan Day is among six first-year coaches at bowl-bound Power Five schools. His unbeaten Buckeyes are the No. 2 seed in the College Football Playoff and will play Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl. The Military Bowl will pit first-year coaches in Temple’s Rod Carey and North Carolina’s Mack Brown. Brown took off five years from coaching after leaving Texas in 2013. He’s in his second go-round at Carolina, where he coached from 1988-97. Chris Klieman, who jumped from FCS powerhouse North Dakota State to Kansas State, is heading to the Liberty Bowl to face Navy. Louisville’s Scott Satterfield, who won bowls his last four years at Appalachian State, leads Louisville into the Music City Bowl against Mississippi State. Manny Diaz will take Miami to the Independence Bowl to play Louisiana Tech. Other first-year coaches heading to bowls are Central Michigan’s Jim McElwain, Utah State’s Gary Andersen, Liberty’s Hugh Freeze, Charlotte’s Will Healy, Western Kentucky’s Tyson Helton and Appalachian State’s Eli Drinkwitz. SORRY, ROCKETS Toledo is not headed to a bowl despite going 6-6 this season. With 79 teams bowl eligible and 78 slots available, there was going to be a team left out. The Rockets lost their final three games of the regular season and will have their streak of nine straight winning seasons snapped. The last time Toledo missed a bowl was when the Rockets went 7-5 in 2013 and still stayed home. The Mid-American Conference did put seven other teams in bowls this season, matching the league’s best mark. The MAC also had seven bowl invitations in 2012 and 2015. NO ROOM AT THE INN The College Football Playoff selection committee ranked more Group of Five schools than ever before – but the major bowls only had room for one of them. Five schools from outside the Power Five showed up in the final playoff rankings. That’s the most in a final poll since the system began six years ago. But a spot in the New Year’s Six was assured to only one of them and it went to Memphis (12-1, No. 17 CFP), which will play Penn State in the Cotton Bowl after beating Cincinnati in the American Athletic Conference title game. For the others, they’ll have to be content with their lower-level bowl berths. Mountain West winner Boise State (12-1, No. 19) will face Washington and former coach Chris Petersen in the Las Vegas Bowl. Sun Belt champion Appalachian State (12-1, No. 20) drew UAB in the New Orleans Bowl. Cincinnati (10-3, No. 21) plays Boston College in the Birmingham Bowl. And Navy (9-2, No. 23) takes on Kansas State in the Liberty Bowl. In each of the past four seasons, only three Group of Five schools appeared in the committee’s final rankings. LIBERTY, CHARLOTTE FIRST-TIMERS Liberty and Charlotte will be making their first bowl appearances. Liberty completed its two-year Football Bowl Subdivision reclassification process over the summer and qualified for a bowl in its first year of eligibility under first-year coach Hugh Freeze. The Flames (7-5) will play Georgia Southern (7-5) in the Cure Bowl on Dec. 21. Freeze took over the Liberty job last December after being out of college football for two seasons. He resigned from Mississippi in July 2017 for unbecoming personal conduct and NCAA rules violations. Charlotte (7-5) went on a school-record, five-game win streak to end the regular season and will play Buffalo (7-5) in the Bahamas Bowl on Dec. 20. The 49ers also have a first-year coach in Will Healy. Healy was hired at Charlotte after he turned around Austin Peay in the Football Championship Subdivision. THOSE TRANSFER QBS Three of the four starting quarterbacks in the College Football Playoff are transfers. Former Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts is back in the playoff for the fourth straight year, this time with Oklahoma, after going three times with the Crimson Tide. Hurts follows Heisman winners Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray as quarterback transfers to find success in coach Lincoln Riley's offense. LSU, the Sooners’ opponent in the Peach Bowl, is led by Heisman Trophy front-runner Joe Burrow. He started his career at Ohio State before transferring to LSU in 2018. Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields was at Georgia last season. The Buckeyes play in the Fiesta Bowl against Clemson, whose quarterback, Trevor Lawrence, led the Tigers to a national championship as a freshman last season. PONY UP SMU is getting a bowl trip to Florida after its first 10-win season in 35 years in what will be a true road game. The Mustangs are playing the Boca Raton Bowl on Dec. 21 against Conference USA champion Florida Atlantic in the Owls’ home stadium. “I don’t think any of us will care too much about that. That’s certainly not going to affect the way we prepare,” coach Sonny Dykes said. “Sometimes that’s the way things go when it comes to bowl games. It’s a little bit unusual, but it’s not going to have an impact on us.” Despite the best season for the Mustangs (10-2) since the program resumed play following the NCAA death penalty when the school didn’t field a team in 1987 or 1988, there had been some projections that they would play in the Frisco Bowl — just more than 25 miles from campus — for the second time in three years. SMU instead gets to go to the Sunshine State to play against another 10-win team. “We really wanted to make sure that the players felt like we were in a game that would be exciting for them, and be deemed a reward for a great season,” athletic director Rick Hart said. “Candidly, this is where they wanted to go. It worked out great in that way, because bowl games should be all about the student-athletes and their experience.” ___ More AP college football: https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and twitter.com/ap_top25
  • Marvin Miller, the union leader who revolutionized baseball by empowering players to negotiate multimillion-dollar contracts and to play for teams of their own choosing, was elected to baseball's Hall of Fame on Sunday along with former St. Louis Cardinals catcher Ted Simmons. After falling short in his first seven times on veterans committee ballots, Miller received 12 of 16 votes from this year's 16-man modern committee, exactly the 75% required. Simmons was on 13 ballots, and former Boston outfielder Dwight Evans was third with eight. Miller, who died at age 95 in 2012, led the Major League Baseball Players Association from 1966-82, a time when players gained the right to free agency after six seasons of big league service, to salary arbitration and to grievance arbitration. He led the union through five work stoppages and was an adviser during three more after he retired. Miller and Simmons will be inducted into Cooperstown during ceremonies on July 26 along with any players chosen next month by the Baseball Writers' Association of America from a ballot headed by former New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter. After several turndowns, Miller had asked not to be considered for the Hall, calling the process “a farce.' He asked his children not to participate and his son, Peter Miller, confirmed in an email to The Associated Press that planned to not attend the induction. “It would have been a great honor 20 years ago,' Miller's daughter Susan said in a telephone interview with the AP. Simmons, involved in a high-profile contract dispute in 1972, recalled how Miller united a disparate group of players. 'Marvin would patiently wait for every single player to speak their mind,' Simmons said. “No matter how inane, no matter how un-thought out, no matter how off the mark the question came, Marvin painstakingly, patiently waded through it all. And in the end, after everyone had spoke their mind, he would bring it all together and present it in a way that everyone felt as though, yes, this is exactly what we collectively think.” Simmons, an eight-time All-Star during a 21-year big league career, was a switch-hitter who batted .285 with 248 homers and 1,389 RBIs for St. Louis (1968-80), Milwaukee (1981-85) and Atlanta (1986-88). Despite his accomplishments, Simmons was up for election by voters from the BBWAA just once. He drew only 3.7 percent support in 1994 and was removed from future BBWAA ballots. Miller will be inducted 12 years after Bowie Kuhn, the baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn whom Miller routinely defeated in labor negotiations, and three years after Bud Selig, the commissioner who in 1994-95 presided over the longest work stoppage in baseball's history. “The Hall of Fame is called the Hall of Fame and Museum. Imagine a museum of baseball without Marvin Miller in it?' former union chief operating officer Gene Orza said. “It's like having a museum of modern art without Picasso in it. I guess I'm happy for all the people who are happy. But I don't think Marvin would lose any sleep one way or the other over this.' In 2008, four years before he died, Miller sent a letter to the BBWAA saying he didn't want to be considered anymore. “He repeatedly reaffirmed that wish during his lifetime, as well as his intention not to participate in any HOF activity if elected,” Peter Miller wrote in an email to the AP. “He requested that I do likewise, and I'm sure all his well-wishers will understand that I am bound to honor his wishes. So the HOF results this year change nothing.' Peter Miller called baseball free agency “an integral part of the story of American freedom' and said a reception in his father's honor will be held at National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., on April 22, to mark the display of a photograph of his father. Players averaged $19,000 in 1967, when the union first started calculating, and just over $240,000 during Miller's final year. The average is now over $4 million. “He gave players freedom and money that has made the game better for everyone,' Hall of Fame catcher Johnny Bench tweeted. Miller received 44% of the votes in 2003 and 63% in 2007 when all Hall of Famers could participate on a veterans panel. After the Hall downsized the veterans committees, he got three of 12 votes later in 2007 from a committee considering executives that elected Kuhn. “I am surprised,' said Donald Fehr, the union's head from 1983-2009. “Ï have long thought that eventually academics if no one else would create the necessary momentum to rectify the omission, rectify the wrong. I'm glad to see that they have bestowed that recognition. It's long overdue and immensely deserved.' Miller got seven of 12 votes in 2009 and then, when the format was changed again, he got 11 of 16 from an expansion era committee in 2010 — falling one vote short. He received six votes or fewer of 16 in 2013 and seven of 16 from the new modern era committee in 2017. “Players are pleased that Marvin will now take his rightful and long overdue place in the Hall of Fame in recognition of the monumental and positive impact he had on our game and our industry,” current union head Tony Clark said in a statement. Nicknamed Simba for his shoulder-length hair, Simmons was an outspoken opponent of President Richard Nixon and the Vietnam War. In the days before free agency, he played much of the 1972 season without a contract because of a pay dispute, finally agreeing to a two-year deal in late July. Now 70, Simmons received 17 of 456 votes in 1994, falling shy of the 5% threshold to remain on the ballot. Simmons was on 11 of 16 ballots when the modern era committee met in 2017 and elected Jack Morris with 14 votes and Alan Trammell with 13. Simmons has benefited from modern metrics such as a Baseball Reference WAR of 50.3. Eight other players who were primarily catchers topped 50, and they are all in the Hall: Johnny Bench, Yogi Berra, Gary Carter, Bill Dickey, Carlton Fisk, Gabby Hartnett, Mike Piazza and Iván Rodríguez. Simmons hit .300 or higher seven times and finished with 2,472 hits. Among players who were primarily catchers, his RBIs are second to Berra's 1,430 and his hits are second to Rodríguez's 2,844. Dave Parker received seven votes, and Steve Garvey and Lou Whitaker six each. Tommy John, Don Mattingly, Thurman Munson and Dale Murphy all got three or fewer. ——— AP Sports Writer Bernie Wilson contributed to this report. ——— More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • Patrick Mahomes got some help from the Chiefs defense to hold off the New England Patriots and wrap up the division title. Kansas City clinched the AFC West when Bashaud Breeland knocked away Tom Brady's fourth-down pass attempt to Julian Edelman in the end zone and the Chiefs beat New England 23-16 win on Sunday. After building a 20-7 lead, the Chiefs survived a series of mistakes and questionable officiating to hold off a late rally by the defending Super Bowl champions. Combined with Oakland's loss to Tennessee, the Chiefs (9-4) clinched the AFC West. The loss ended the Patriots' 21-game home win streak in the regular season and playoffs, which was tied for the longest in team history. It also was the third-longest string in NFL history. Mahomes was 26 of 40 for 283 yards, a touchdown and interception, playing through a hand injury he suffered during Kansas City's second offensive series. Tight end Travis Kelce added a 4-yard TD run. Mahomes now is the third quarterback this season to earn his first win against the Patriots, joining Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson and Houston’s Deshaun Watson. All three were previously 0-2. “You want to beat the best. You want to go out and play against the best and give your best effort, 'Mahomes said. “It wasn’t pretty the whole time. It was just a tough, hard-fought win. He said he got creative after his injury. “I let the trainers look at it. They gave me to good to go,' Mahomes said. “I went out there, battled and figured out ways to throw the ball across the middle. Maybe not shoot those long shots I usually throw. But enough to get them back and still score touchdowns.” New England (10-3) has lost two in a row. Tom Brady was under pressure all game and finished 19 of 36 for 169 yards, a touchdown and interception. the 169 yards are his second-fewest passing yards this season. He spoke after the game with his right elbow heavily wrapped. “They threw a lot of different defenses at us,” Brady said. “Some we handled well and some we didn't.' Trailing 23-16, New England got the ball back on its 32 with 5:04 to play. The Patriots immediately gained 35 yards on a pass from halfback James White to Jakobi Meyers to get into Kansas City territory. Officials appeared to miss a pass interference call on a deep pass to Phillip Dorsett and the Chiefs forced a fourth-and-6 at the 29. But the 42-year-old Brady got free and scrambled 17 yards for a first down. The Patriots couldn't get into the end zone, however, losing the rematch of January's AFC title game in Kansas City. The Chiefs led 23-7 in the third quarter before they committed multiple miscues that helped the Patriots close the gap. First, Patriots special teamer Nate Ebner blocked Dustin Colquitt's punt, which rolled out of bounds at the Chiefs 19. It set up a 10-yard run by Brandon Bolden that made it 23-13, but James White was stopped short on his 2-point conversion run attempt. The Chiefs gave the Patriots another opportunity late in the third quarter. Kelce caught a pass and was hit by Devin McCourty, forcing a fumble and recovery by Stephon Gilmore, who had a clear path the the end zone. The play was blown dead, though, with Kelce ruled down by contact. It prompted an immediate challenge by Patriots coach Bill Belichick, which resulted in the call being overturned and the ball awarded to New England. The Patriots quickly drove to the Kansas City 15 and Brady found N'Keal Harry with a short pass. Harry weaved through multiple defenders and appeared to stretch the ball over the pylon. Yet he was ruled to have stepped out of bounds at the 3. “Yeah, I mean, it's — yeah. Doesn't happen very often.,' Brady said of the ruling. “So, it happened. We still had a chance and wish we could have scored there at the end.” Brady was sacked three plays later and the Patriots kicked a field goal to close within 23-16. Referee Jerome Boger told a pool reporter after the game that the covering official on the Harry play was blocked out by defenders. “The downfield official who was on the goal line and looking back toward the field of play had that he stepped out at the 3-yard line,' Boger said. “So, they got together and conferred on that. The final ruling was that he was out of bounds at the 3-yard line.” The Chiefs were without two of their leading rushers, Damien Williams (rib injury) and Darrel Williams (placed on injured reserve Thursday with a hamstring injury). It left the rushing duties primarily in the hands of LeSean McCoy, with support from Darwin Thompson and Spencer Ware. They didn't get much traction in the run game other than from McCoy, who finished with 11 rushes for 39 yards. But after a slow start, Kansas City's receivers were able to find space and passing lanes for Mahomes. One notable example came early in the second quarter. Mecole Hardman got behind Patriots cornerback Jonathan Jones and Mahomes withstood pressure to deliver a deep pass off his back foot for a 48-yard touchdown to put the Chiefs in front 10-7. Brady was intercepted by Breeland on the first play of the Patriots' ensuing drive and Kansas City went right back to work. Taking over on the New England 39, Mahomes found Kelce in the middle of the field for a 20-yard gain to get the Chiefs inside the 5. Two plays later Kelce took a direct snap and ran it in for a 4-yard TD. INJURIES Chiefs: LG Andrew Wiley left in the second quarter with a shoulder injury. Patriots: Harry left in the fourth quarter with a hip injury. TRICKERY The Patriots received the game's opening kickoff and needed just five plays to drive 83 yards and take 7-0 lead on a 37-yard flea-flicker from Brady to Edelman. The series was aided by a pair of third-down pass interference penalties called on Chiefs cornerbacks Charvarius Ward and Breeland. BLOCKED Ebner's punt block in the third quarter was the Patriots fourth of 2019, setting a franchise record for a season. With one more they will tie the 1990 Chiefs for the most blocked punts in a season in NFL history MISSING EQUIPMENT The Kansas City Chiefs needed a police escort to get their equipment to Foxborough, Massachusetts, in time for kickoff. Chiefs spokesman Ted Crews confirmed that some of the gear was sent to the wrong place and had to be rushed to the stadium. It arrived about two hours before kickoff. The Massachusetts State Police tweeted that they helped the equipment get to the stadium from Logan Airport. UP NEXT Chiefs: host Broncos next Sunday. Patriots: visit Bengals next Sunday. ___ Follow Kyle Hightower on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/khightower ___ More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL
  • Former Red Sox slugger David Ortiz made his first public appearance in the Dominican Republic on Sunday nearly six months after he was shot in what authorities called a case of mistaken identity. The Dominican-born superstar was greeted by a standing ovation and raucous cheers when he entered the Quisqueya Stadium Juan Marichal for the Game of Legends, a charity exhibition and home run derby featuring Dominican major league players and retired stars. “Praise God and long live the Dominican Republic,” Ortiz said to the thousands of fans in the country's most important stadium. He thanked his fans, fellow players and the press for its support after the shooting. “I'm happy to be here with my people,” he told The Associated Press before the game. He did not play. Also present were Dominican stars such as Hall of Famers Pedro Martínez and Juan Marichal, Mets second baseman Robinson Canó and Nationals outfielder Juan Soto. A 10-time All-Star and three-time World Series champion, Ortiz helped the Red Sox end their 86-year championship drought in 2004 and batted .688 against the St. Louis Cardinals in 2013 to win the Series MVP. Ortiz retired after the 2016 season with 541 home runs, and the team retired his uniform No. 34. He maintained a home in the Boston area and had been living part of the year in the Dominican Republic, where he was often seen getting his cars washed and hanging out with friends, including other baseball players, artists and entertainers. He was seriously wounded June 9 when a hit man allegedly hired by a drug trafficker mistakenly shot him as he sat with friends in a Santo Domingo bar, authorities have said. They said the target was meant to be Sixto David Fernandez, a cousin of the man alleged to have arranged the attack. Authorities said the hit men confused Ortiz with Fernandez. The two men are friends and were sharing a table. Officials said the killing was contracted by Victor Hugo Gomez, described as an associate of Mexico's Gulf Cartel. Authorities said Gomez wanted Fernandez killed because he believed his cousin turned him into Dominican drug investigators in 2011. They said Gomez then spent time in prison in the Dominican Republic with one of at least 11 suspects arrested in the shooting. Gomez later resurfaced in the U.S. as one of dozens of suspects sought by federal authorities following a March 2019 drug trafficking sting in Houston. Doctors in the Dominican Republic removed Ortiz's gallbladder and part of his intestine after the shooting and he underwent further surgery in the U.S. “I thought he was never going to come back here,” said Filvia Núñez, a fan who said she was surprised and delighted to see Ortiz Sunday.
  • Denver coach Vic Fangio expected to see some improvement from rookie quarterback Drew Lock on Sunday in his second career start. He didn't dream he'd see this big of a jump. Lock threw for 309 yards and three touchdowns, Kareem Jackson had an interception and returned a fumble 70 yards for a touchdown against his former team as the Broncos built a huge first-half lead and coasted 38-24 over the Houston Texans. Fangio at first joked that the second-round pick out of Missouri was “just OK” before getting serious. “He played, obviously, very well,” Fangio said. “Made a great jump from Week 1 to Week 2, which is what you’re hoping for. I thought he threw the ball much, much better than he did last week. I don’t think he missed many today. To do that on his first road start against a team that’s going to be in the playoffs makes it even better.” Lock, who made his NFL debut in a win over the Chargers last week, threw for 235 yards with three TDs in the first half. It was the most yards passing in a first half by the Broncos since Peyton Manning had 282 in Week 5 of 2014. “We were ready to rock and roll from the get-go,' Lock said. “We were fired up. We were ready to go. It was exciting to be a part of.” The Broncos (5-8) scored on their first five possessions to build 38-3 lead early in the third quarter. They scored more than 24 points for the first time since Oct. 19, 2018. Houston's hold on the AFC South took a hit as the Texans (8-5) came out flat in a terrible first half a week after downing the Patriots 28-22 for their first win in the series since 2010. Tennessee (8-5) beat Oakland later Sunday to move into a tie with Houston for first place in the division. “I don't think there was anything very good,” Houston coach Bill O'Brien said. “I take full responsibility for that. Just did not have this team ready to play. I thought I did, but I was wrong.” Deshaun Watson threw for 292 yards with one TD pass and two interceptions after throwing three touchdown passes and grabbing his first career TD reception in a stellar performance against New England. The Broncos took an early lead when Lock threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Noah Fant with about 7 1/2 minutes left in the first quarter. Fant, who finished with 113 yards receiving, had a 48-yard reception earlier in that drive. Keke Coutee, inactive for the past two games despite being healthy, grabbed an 8-yard reception on Houston's next drive but fumbled. Jeremiah Attaochu picked up the ball and handed it off to Jackson, who dashed 70 yards for the score against the team he spent the last nine seasons with. Jackson wanted to treat this like any other game but admitted to getting a little emotional when he arrived at the stadium and began seeing so many familiar faces. “It’s all about me being a piece of the puzzle,” he said. “I didn’t want to make it all about me and my return here. We had to come here and execute as a team. It’s all about executing the day, and I felt like we did that in all three phases.” Denver pushed the lead to 21-0 in the second quarter when Lock connected with Jeff Heuerman on an 8-yard pass. Lock had completions of 37 and 25 yards on that drive. The Texans went on fourth-and-1 from their 34 with two minutes left in the first half and Watson's pass was tipped at the line and fell incomplete to give the Broncos a short field. They took at advantage when Royce Freeman caught a 3-yard touchdown pass to make it 31-3 at halftime. Houston's Lonnie Johnson had two defensive holding penalties on that drive. Phillip Lindsay pushed Denver's lead to 38-3 with a 1-yard run early in the third quarter. DeAndre Hopkins gave the Texans their first touchdown on a 43-yard reception on their first drive of the second half. Tashaun Gipson intercepted Lock near the goal line on Denver's next drive and returned it 26 yards. The Texans made it 38-17 early in the fourth quarter when Watson leaped into the end zone at the end of a 6-yard scramble. Houston got a stop and Watson converted a fourth-and-19 with a pass to Hopkins on the next drive before his pass on fourth-and-3 was tipped three times and intercepted by Jackson to end any hope of a comeback. Watson added another touchdown run with 32 seconds left. INJURIES Broncos: DE Dre'Mont Jones injured his ankle in the first quarter and didn't return. ... Fant left in the second half with a foot injury. BUZZ LIGHTYEAR Lock's teammates joked last week that the big wristband he wore with the plays on it looked like the laser beam that Buzz Lightyear, the animated star of Disney's “Toy Story” movies, wears on his forearm. So this week he decided to have a little fun with their mockery and pretended to shoot laser beams out of his wristband after throwing a touchdown pass against the Texans. “It was definitely a lot of fun with Buzz Lightyear this week, blew up on Twitter to where the offensive line (said) we should shoot the laser after you score a touchdown,” Lock said. “All right you want to do it, we'll do it. We fully embraced it.” The 23-year-old Lock wasn't born when the first movie came out in 1995, but he's caught up on all four movies since then. “Buzz is older than me, but we’ve got to bring back some legends sometimes,” he said. LINEBACKER COSTUMES Houston's linebackers continued their ritual of wearing themed outfits to games this week by dressing up like characters from the movie “Dodgeball.” The group has also dressed as members of a swat team, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Super Mario Bros characters, and in jerseys from the movie “Space Jam.” UP NEXT Broncos: Visit the Chiefs next Sunday. Texans: Visit the Titans next Sunday. ___ More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL
  • Pittsburgh's defense was great and the Duck was just fine. After weeks of wondering how this bunch keeps piecing together victories, a clearer picture is beginning to emerge. Maybe the Steelers are just pretty good. Diontae Johnson returned a punt 85 yards for a touchdown and the defense had three crucial interceptions in the second half as Pittsburgh beat Arizona 23-17 on Sunday for its seventh win in eight games. “We're going to be unashamed and unafraid,' Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin said. “Today was enough. We'll get ready for the next challenge that the National Football League presents us.' Pittsburgh's defense came up big with the interceptions — two by Joe Haden and another by T.J. Watt —- to end promising Arizona drives, including two that had ventured into Steelers territory. “Everybody expects to make the play,' Haden said. “We're just depending on ourselves, everybody's looking at the man in the mirror and feeling like they're the next one who's going to make the play.” Pittsburgh (8-5) won again to stay in the AFC playoff race. Rookie free agent quarterback Devlin “Duck” Hodges made his third career start, completing 16 of 19 passes for 152 yards and a touchdown. Hodges didn't need to make many tough throws but came through with a good one in the third quarter, hitting Johnson in the front corner of the end zone for a 2-yard touchdown that gave the Steelers a 20-10 lead. “Great protection, great route,” Hodges said. “It's all about timing, we've been practicing it and it's nice to execute it in a game.' Hodges also finished with 34 yards rushing. Arizona's Kyler Murray completed 20 of 30 passes for 194 yards and two touchdowns, but his three interceptions were very costly. “That’s a great defense, and they obviously made more plays than us today,' Murray said. The Cardinals (3-9-1) lost their sixth consecutive game. They pulled within 20-17 on Murray's 24-yard touchdown pass to David Johnson with 6:44 left, taking advantage of a short field after Steelers punter Jordan Berry fumbled. The Cardinals had a chance to win on the final drive, but Murray's desperation fourth-down heave was intercepted by Haden. “He's just a quality, low-maintenance, high-production veteran player,” Tomlin said of Haden. The Steelers never trailed, pulling ahead 10-0 late in the first quarter after Johnson's 85-yard touchdown. He caught Andy Lee's 60-yard punt, used a few blocks and then cut across the field to his right, where he found lots of room to run. From that point, he was escorted down the sideline by a handful of teammates, running into the end zone untouched. The Cardinals spent the second quarter slowly recovering from the slow start. They capitalized after Pittsburgh's Benny Snell Jr. fumbled, ending the ensuing drive with a 30-yard field goal to pull within 10-3. Murray hit Charles Clay for a 5-yard touchdown with 1:51 left in the second quarter to tie the game at 10. Pittsburgh took a 13-10 halftime lead on Chris Boswell's 37-yard field goal as time expired. Boswell made three field goals. “We played hard, had a chance to win it at the end,' Arizona coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “I thought the fight was much better than last week. You've got to give them credit — (Hodges) came in and didn’t turn the ball over, executed their offense and gave them a chance to win.' JOHNSON'S GROWTH Tomlin said he was pleased that Johnson bounced back with a big game one week after a rough performance against the Browns. Johnson a rookie drafted in the third round out of Toledo, finished with six catches for 60 yards and the huge special teams touchdown. “He's a rookie,” Tomlin said. “Days like today are days that we like. Last week, we don't. We'll see what next week holds.' PAIN FOR THE PUNTER Pittsburgh's Berry took a big hit in the fourth quarter when he tried to run the ball on a fake punt. Berry said the initial play call was a fake punt, but it was changed at the line of scrimmage after the Steelers saw the Cardinals' defensive formation. The problem was Berry didn't hear the change. “That's why I got smacked in the face,” he said. JONES MAKING PLAYS Cardinals LB Chandler Jones forced his sixth fumble of the season in the second quarter when he smacked Hodges' right arm just as he was trying to throw. Pittsburgh recovered the fumble. The play was also Jones' 14th sack of the season and his 55th in 61 games since joining the Cardinals in 2016. INJURIES Steelers: TE Vance McDonald left with a concussion. Tomlin said RB Jaylen Samuels had a groin injury. UP NEXT The Steelers host the Bills next Sunday. The Cardinals host the Browns next Sunday. ___ More AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL
  • Roy Williams spoke in very calm tones, but his words said something else after No. 7 North Carolina lost 56-47 at No. 5 Virginia. “It's the most frustrated I've ever been,” the veteran coach with three national championships in 17 years with the Tar Heels said Sunday. “I've been very fortunate coaching-wise, but this is the most frustrated I've ever been. I don't think we're playing basketball the way I want us to play and that's probably the most frustrating.” Mamadi Diakite scored 12 points and the Cavaliers rebounded from a blowout loss while handing the Tar Heels their second straight sub-50-point game. It was the first time since the 1947-48 season that the Tar Heels failed to reach 50 points in back-to-back games. “We tried to play at a fast pace, tried to score and we go 1 for 14 (from 3-point range),” Williams said. “... We had one assist at halftime. One assist. ... It was like a 2- or 3-point game and we fouled a jump-shooter three times in a row. I'm just, I'm beside myself.” Tomas Woldetensae made three 3-pointers to double his season total and added 11 points and Francisco Caffaro had 10 and six rebounds for the Cavaliers (8-1, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), who won despite their own poor shooting. They finished 16 for 49 (32.7%) and the Tar Heels were 17 for 46 (37%). Virginia lost 69-40 at Purdue in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge on Wednesday night. The Tar Heels lost 74-49 at home to Ohio State in the challenge. “Carolina and us are both trying to keep finding our way,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said. “You just have to fight.” Freshman Cole Anthony led North Carolina (6-3, 0-1) with 12 points, but made just 4 of 15 shots, and fellow freshman Armando Bacot had 11. The Tar Heels became the seventh team held below 50 points by Virginia this season. “That's how we are right now,” Bennett said. “We have to fight and scrap and play with guts and sometimes we have and sometimes we haven't.” Virginia led 39-35 before two free throws by Kihei Clark sparked a 10-0 run just past the midpoint of the second half. Woldetensae and Justin McKoy each added a pair of free throws and redshirt freshman Caffaro finished the burst with a pair of inside baskets. The second came after a rugged scrum under the basket and drew roars from the crowd. BOMBS AWAY Woldetensae arrived at Virginia with a reputation as a 3-point shooter, but came into the game 3 for 21 from 3-point range and made his first three tries. “It make me smile for sure,” he said, adding that coming back from a wrist injury might have affected his mind. “It's time to take one step at a time and I'll be back.” BIG PICTURE North Carolina: The Tar Heels' offensive weaknesses were on full display in their 74-49 home loss to Ohio State on Wednesday as they shot 27.4% and managed only four points more than the Buckeyes scored in the second half. It wasn't much better against the Cavaliers, who limited them to 37% (17-46) and only one 3-pointer in 14 attempts. They also missed 10 of 22 free throws. Virginia: The Cavaliers continue looking for scoring. Three of their expected 3-point threats — freshman Casey Morsell (25%), sophomore Kody Stattmann (25%) and junior college transfer Tomas Woldetensae (20.6%) — entered the game shooting poorly overall and far worse from beyond the arc. As a team, the Cavaliers were shooting 23.8% from 3-point territory. QUICK RECOVERY Bacot played 25 1/2 minutes after rolling his left ankle in the loss to the Buckeyes. Williams said he was trying to be cautious with the 6-foot-10 freshman, but the team trainers indicated Bacot was better off than expected as quickly as the day after the injury and kept improving. UP NEXT The Tar Heels don't play again until next Sunday when they host Wofford. Virginia is off until Dec. 18 when it faces Stony Brook at home. ___ For more AP college basketball coverage: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and http://twitter.com/AP_Top25