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Chiefs end home playoff curse, advance to AFC title game

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If the Kansas City Chiefs could have designed the way they will enter the AFC Championship Game, they would have drawn up their 31-13 divisional-round win against the Indianapolis Colts.

The Chiefs didn’t merely beat the Colts on Saturday, they used them as a launching pad. Kansas City will have a full head of steam going into next week’s game against the winner of the Los Angeles Chargers and New England Patriots (1:05 p.m. ET, Sunday). The AFC title game will be in Kansas City for the first time.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt said. “It’s something we feel as an organization we should have accomplished in recent history. Since Andy [Reid] came here, we’ve had a lot of shots. But finally we get a chance to win that AFC championship and to get to do it at home is so special for us.”nike nfl jerseys cheap china

The victory was a big confidence boost for the Chiefs, particularly on defense. They played their best defensive game of the season, forcing the Colts to go three plays and punt on each of their first four possessions.10

The defense pitched a shutout until the Colts scored an offensive touchdown with less than six minutes left. The Colts scored their first touchdown on a blocked punt in the second quarter.

The Chiefs, who entered the game allowing 18 points a game at home, didn’t allow a touchdown in their final regular-season game, a 35-3 win against the Oakland Raiders.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Kansas City made some recent defensive lineup changes that seem to be working. Third cornerback Charvarius Ward and safety Jordan Lucas, who is starting in place of the injured Eric Berry, have played well over the past couple of games.

The Chiefs had been plagued by defensive penalties most of the season but against the Colts they had just one — a pass interference call against Ward with 41 seconds remaining. They had no defensive penalties against the Raiders.

“You could feel the energy all week,” Reid said. “I think some of the young guys are maturing right in front of our eyes and playing well. We added a couple of guys in there. … Everybody’s taking up their game.”

With the emphatic victory, the Chiefs buried their many playoff demons. They won at Arrowhead Stadium in the playoffs for the first time since January 1994. The streak included losses of one, two, three and four points.

Rams QB Jared Goff is really funny … if you’re paying attention

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There’s sometimes a smirk or raised eyebrow. And it’s often coupled with a sly, dry barb launched at a reporter or aimed at a teammate.

Take Week 14, when a reporter asked, innocuously enough, how would the Rams quarterback prepare to play a defense that had intercepted a league-high 21 passes?

“Try to throw it to our guys,” Goff deadpanned.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

The response drew a chuckle from the small media contingent, and that smirk appeared on Goff’s face. It was another unexpected zinger from Goff, who is routinely dull in his delivery but chooses his spots wisely.

Goff’s humor is dry and nonchalant. He’ll deliver a one-liner, then continue like it never happened. If you’re not paying attention, or simply aren’t around Goff frequently, his jokes might go undetected.9

“He’s really good at poking the bear,” Rams receiver Cooper Kupp said. “If he can find something that kind of can get you, he’ll sit there as innocently as possible and just little pokes here and there, just to see how much of a rise he can get out of you.”

It’s also part of a budding, and almost unexpected, boldness off the field, where the Northern California native has shown more of a willingness to engage his personality as he adapts to shouldering the responsibilities of leading the NFC’s No. 2 seed against the Dallas Cowboys in the divisional round Saturday (8:15 p.m. ET, Fox).nike nfl jerseys cheap china

“As time goes on you become more comfortable in your role and I think that’s no different with [being a leader],” said Goff, who received an $18.5 million signing bonus as a rookie. “Just being able to be the leader I want to be, the teammate I want to be, the person I want to be, and just continue to mature and grow and be the best I can be every day.”

In his third season as a pro, and his second under coach Sean McVay, Goff has improved his timing, accuracy and decision-making. The proof is in his results. Goff has passed for 4,688 yards and 32 touchdowns, with 12 interceptions, while completing 64.9 percent of his throws. He also has rushed for a touchdown.

Manchester United target Herrera, Mata, Young extensions – sources

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They have been free to negotiate with clubs outside England from Jan. 1 but United are confident they will reach agreements as negotiations continue.

Mata, 30, is keen to stay at Old Trafford but has been the subject of interest from a number of clubs in the Premier League and across Europe.cheap nfl nike jersey

Herrera would also like to stay and is prepared to snub interest from former club Athletic Bilbao to extend his contract. Herrera, according to a source, is happy playing under caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after starting three of the Norwegian’s five games in charge. He was rested for the FA Cup victory over Reading and is expected to start against Tottenham at Wembley on Sunday.11

Young, 33, is also open to staying but is keen to seek assurances about how many games he is likely to play. The full-back has options in Italy, Spain, the United States and China and has not ruled out playing abroad if it means getting regular first team football. After spending last season at left-back under former manager Jose Mourinho, Young has made himself the regular right-back with Luke Shaw taking over on the left.

Meanwhile, goalkeeper Joel Pereira has returned early from a season-long loan spell at Vitoria Setubal. The 21-year-old is likely to head back out on loan before the end of the January transfer window.

Timothy Fosu-Mensah is also free to return to Old Trafford from Fulham after being told he is not in manager Claudio Ranieri’s plans. The Dutchman, 21, was due to spend the season at Craven Cottage but could now find a new club ahead of the second half of the campaign.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

Sources have told ESPN FC that United also expect a number of under-23 players to head out on loan with Ethan Hamilton, Regan Poole and Ro-Shaun Williams among those who could secure a temporary move for the rest of the season.

Siakam, Leonard lead Raptors to a huge road win in Milwaukee

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The Milwaukee Bucks’ campaign to clinch the regular-season series against the Raptors fell short on Saturday. The Raptors were able to hold off Giannis Antetokounmpo’s 43 points and 18 rebounds, including three 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, and pull out a 123-116 win after trailing by as many as 10 points in the first half.

“We had a double-digit lead,” Antetokounmpo said after the game. “We gave it away. Then, we came back in the third quarter. We didn’t play hard. We didn’t move the ball. Not rotating defensively.”china nike nfl jerseys cheap

It was the first time the Bucks had lost at home to an Eastern Conference team this season and the first time they lost to the Raptors; Milwaukee won the first two matchups.
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After the game, a shirtless Antetokounmpo soaked his feet in a large ice bucket and stared at his iPhone for upwards of 20 minutes — his routine after losses. No Bucks player has had a 40-point, 15-rebound game since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1975, but still the loss nagged at him. Every few minutes, he would look up and mention a certain play to Thon Maker before returning to scrolling.

“This night is not going to change who we are,” Antetokounmpo said. “We still feel like we are one of the best teams in the NBA.“nfl cheap jerseys nike

The Bucks and the Fiserv Forum crowd held up their end of what could become a playoffs rivalry. Fans donning white, green and yellow Bucks jerseys stood shoulder to shoulder in Fiserv Forum’s standing-room-only sections, craning their necks to watch Eric Bledsoe steals and Antetokounmpo dunks over their Eastern Conference foe. They vehemently booed Toronto center Serge Ibaka after he blocked an attempted dunk from Antetokounmpo.
In the first matchup between the Bucks and Raptors, Antetokounmpo and Kawhi Leonard did not play. It was a back-to-back for Toronto, and Antetokounmpo was in the league’s concussion protocol. Backup power forward Ersan Ilyasova led seven Bucks in double figures with 19 points in a 124-109 October win in Milwaukee. The second time the teams saw each other, Toronto point guard Kyle Lowry missed all five shots in a 34-minute, scoreless performance that saw the Bucks escape with a 104-99 December road win.

In this third matchup, the Raptors were without Lowry (back) and backup center Jonas Valanciunas (dislocated thumb). Milwaukee maintained control of the game for the first quarter, but by halftime, their once-double-digit lead had been whittled down to just one point. Sterling Brown’s 3-pointer ignited an 8-0 run to bring the Bucks back within four before a quick five points from Siakam pushed the Raptors’ lead back to nine. Toronto shot 56 percent from the field after Milwaukee took a 47-37 lead with 5:41 left in the first half.

Warriors, Kings set 3-point record in ‘incredible offensive display’

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The Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings combined for an NBA-record 41 3-pointers during Saturday night’s 127-123 Warriors win at Golden 1 Center.

It marked the first game in NBA history in which both teams made at least 20 3-pointers; the Warriors went 21-for-47, and the Kings went 20-for-36.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr was happy with the result and said his team knows that shooting from distance has become the new normal around the league.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

The Warriors and Kings eclipsed the previous mark of 40 3-pointers, set in a February 2018 game between the Minnesota Timberwolves (19) and the Cleveland Cavaliers (21).9

Warriors star Kevin Durant said he did not believe the 3-point barrage the league has seen in recent years will continue much longer.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

“It’s fast,” Durant said of the current pace. “I’d rather play inside the 3-point line, but you got to adapt. I think a lot of players have adapted their games and changed how they play. But I don’t see this lasting too much longer.”

Why not?

“Just the volume of 3s,” Durant said. “The way the game is played, pick-up style. It will cease here in a second, but I think a lot of guys are just adjusting their games to the times. It’s fun for the fans, it’s fun for us at times. But it’s also tough to watch and tough to play against. But hey, that’s what we signed up for.”

The Kings, whose 20 3s set a franchise record, fell short down the stretch in a game that had 18 lead changes.

K.J. Wright hopes he won’t be the Seahawks’ latest big-name departure

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One of the biggest contract questions facing the Seattle Seahawks this offseason shouldn’t actually be that much of a question if you ask Bobby Wagner.

But even as Wagner doubled down on his comments from the summer about how the Seahawks would be erring in letting fellow linebacker K.J. Wright leave as a free agent, what he said in the same breath underscored how and why it’s anyone’s guess as to what will happen.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

“I don’t know,” Wagner said after the Seahawks’ season ended Saturday with a 24-22 wild-card loss to the Dallas Cowboys, which was the best game Wright played in his injury-shortened season. “… It’s a crazy business. I watched a lot of guys leave last year, so I don’t know. The right thing to do would be to bring him back. He’s been an amazing teammate, amazing person in the community, he helps young guys, he never held out, he did everything right.10

Working against his return are his age — he turns 30 in July — and that he missed all but five regular-season games with a knee injury. It required surgery late in the summer, kept him out for the first six games and then sidelined him for another five after he suffered a setback in his return.

But if this game was Wright’s last shot to make his case for a third contract from Seattle, he sure made a strong one. His juggling interception of a Dak Prescott pass in the end zone gave the Seahawks life in the fourth quarter. He adeptly sniffed out an earlier fly-sweep to drop Tavon Austin for a 3-yard loss. That was one of his nine tackles, second most on the team behind safety Bradley McDougald’s 10.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Wright and receiver Doug Baldwin are the second-longest-tenured Seahawks behind safety Earl Thomas. Adding to the uncertainty over Wright’s future is how the Seahawks started to drastically reshape the core of their roster over the offseason by moving on from defensive mainstays like Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril.

But if they had no use at all for aging starters, they wouldn’t have extended left tackle Duane Brown this summer right before his 33rd birthday. And Wright’s experience carries tremendous value for a defense whose youth was all too evident at times this season, including Saturday in Dallas. Wright said he anticipated the route that receiver Noah Brown was going to run on the play that resulted in his interception after seeing the Arizona Cardinals run the same thing last week with Larry Fitzgerald. Indeed, Wright was a step in front of Brown the entire time.

On fast track: Lamar Jackson set to become youngest QB to start in playoffs

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Now, Jackson not only is suiting up for a postseason game in his eighth career start, he’s making NFL history: He will become the youngest quarterback ever to start an NFL playoff game.

The fact he will be the first quarterback to start a playoff game before his 22nd birthday has seemed to impress everyone except Jackson himself.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

“I’m here to play football. I was 21 all year,” Jackson said. “So, it’s another game for me.”

Jackson will start Sunday’s wild-card game between the Ravens and Los Angeles Chargers at 21 years, 364 days. He will surpass Bernie Kosar, who was 22 years, 40 days old when he started for the Cleveland Browns and threw his first touchdown pass in a 1985 postseason game to Ozzie Newsome (who drafted Jackson 33 years later).

Young quarterbacks have recorded mixed success in the postseason. Since 2001, only four quarterbacks 23 years old and under have won a playoff game (Michael Vick, Ben Roethlisberger, Flacco and Mark Sanchez). Over that span, quarterbacks 23 and younger have a 10-11 record (.476) in the postseason.9

Jackson shows his youthful exuberance on the field, from dancing in the huddle to somersaulting into the end zone. But the Ravens don’t think too much about Jackson’s age. Players and coaches have praised Jackson for his poise in going 6-1 as a starter this season.

“Lamar’s maturity has impressed me greatly,” coach John Harbaugh said. “Players see it when he walks around. He’s very comfortable with who he is. That’s a sign of maturity, for sure.”

In comparison, Jackson will be making his eighth career start, while Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers will be starting in his 10th postseason game.

When Jackson and Rivers, 37, square off, it will be the third-largest age gap between starting quarterbacks for an NFL postseason game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Jackson was only 7 years old when Rivers threw his first NFL pass, against the Kansas City Chiefs on Jan. 2, 2005.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

But Jackson appears unnerved by his whirlwind season. At this time last year, Jackson was playing in the TaxSlayer Bowl. He’s now three wins from reaching the Super Bowl.

“It’s just a name — ‘the playoffs,'” Jackson said. “You’re trying to get the championship now. It was for us to get in it, and we’re in it now, so we want the big thing. We want the big thing now.”

Lionel Messi: Neymar return from PSG welcome; Barcelona my ‘home’

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And, while Messi said he believes a reunion for the pair in Spain is unlikely, he would be delighted should it happen.

“It would be difficult,” Messi, 31, told Marca when asked about the idea of the Brazil international returning to Barca. “We would love it if he came back for what he means as a player and in the dressing room.nike nfl jerseys for cheap

“We are friends, we enjoyed nice moments, as well some which were not so nice, but we spent a lot of time together. It is undoubtedly difficult to imagine him leaving Paris. PSG won’t let Neymar go.”8

Barcelona forward Lionel Messi has said he would love to have Neymar back at Camp Nou, while ruling out the possibility of leaving the Catalan side.

Neymar, 26, left Barca to join Paris Saint-Germain in a world record €222 million deal in 2017. Since leaving, he has regularly been linked with a return to the club — as well as a move to rivals Real Madrid.cheap nike nfl jerseys china

“I don’t need to change anything,” Messi said. “I am playing for the best team in the world.

“My goals change from year to year. I don’t need to change team or league in order to find new objectives.

“I am at home, at the best team in the world and I don’t have any reason to want to change.”

Former Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood has died at age of 82

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Hill-Wood served as chairman for 31 years after taking over the post from his father, Denis Hill-Wood, in 1982. He stepped down because of health reasons in 2013, handing over to Chips Keswick.

“It is with deep regret that we announce the death of former chairman Peter Hill-Wood, at the age of 82,” Arsenal said in a statement. “During his time at the helm, the club enjoyed unparalleled success.cheap nike nfl jerseys china

“Early in Peter’s tenure he presided over the appointment of George Graham as manager and a subsequent, trophy-laden spell that incorporated two league titles, the FA Cup, League Cup and European Cup Winners’ Cup.

“That success was followed by the remarkable era of Arsene Wenger, appointed by Peter and the board of directors to some surprise from the footballing world in 1996.”7

While Hill-Wood was not in charge of any football operations as chairman, he helped oversee the move from Highbury to the Emirates Stadium. His family have been an integral part of Arsenal since the 1920s, with his grandfather Samuel Hill-Wood having also served as club chairman.nike nfl jerseys for cheap

He was initially against Stan Kroenke’s takeover of the club, saying in 2007 that “we don’t need Kroenke’s money and we don’t want his sort.”

However, he ended up selling his last shares in the club to Kroenke, having previously allowed former vice-chairman David Dein to buy up most of his holdings.

“As we celebrate the unique achievement of 100 consecutive years in the top flight this season, the Hill-Wood family were at the helm for the lion’s share of this special century, a testament to their tenacity and judgment in ensuring we have remained a significant force in English football for so long,” Arsenal said. “Peter and his family’s influence on the club cannot be understated, but at this most difficult time for his family and friends, it is Peter the man who we remember with great fondness.

Popovich exercising patience as Spurs navigate uneven start to season

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So when the embarrassing San Antonio Spurs losses stacked early in December the way the sweaty jerseys piled on the floor of the locker room after their 108-101 setback Saturday at the hands of the Houston Rockets, the organization seemed almost flippant in not displaying even the slightest hint of frustration.

Step 2 in this process involves the players justifying Popovich’s faith by continuing to make strides toward achieving continuity through trust in one another and familiarity from time spent together on and off the court. Despite the loss to the Rockets, the Spurs believe they’re getting there.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

With 10 new players on the roster (counting two-way players), San Antonio appears to be trending toward its consistency of old.

“We’ve gotten better for sure,” LaMarcus Aldridge said after finishing with 18 points and six rebounds. “We’re playing a better brand of basketball. I think we’ve learned how to play with each other.”8

Until the third quarter of Saturday’s game, that certainly appeared to be the case. San Antonio built an early seven-point lead in the second quarter, and led at intermission 43-41 despite shooting just 38.6 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from range.

But Houston changed the complexion of the game in the third quarter with a high-powered display from long range. Houston knocked down nine 3-pointers in the third quarter, which ranked as its most long-range connections of any quarter so far this season. The Rockets drained 69.2 percent of those attempts, outscoring San Antonio 43-26 in the quarter to go up 84-69 at the buzzer on Gary Clark’s 25-footer. Houston jumped out to an 18-9 run over the first six minutes of the quarter.

Eric Gordon then handed Houston its largest lead of the night (17 points) just 15 seconds into the fourth quarter on a driving layup.

Still, San Antonio found a way to cut through the deficit to go up 97-96 with 3:03 left to play on a Rudy Gay 3-pointer off an assist from DeMar DeRozan.buy nike nfl jerseys cheap

“We stayed in it and fought,” said DeRozan, who led the Spurs with 28 points and eight assists. “We had a chance. It came down to a couple of rebounds. I thought we could’ve taken advantage of the one-point lead. We fought. We’ve got to be happy about that. But we can’t have the start in third quarter like we had.”

The Spurs also can’t afford to be outworked on the boards the way they were in this one. Houston held the rebounding edge 58-43, but where that showed up most was in second-chance scoring. The Rockets scored 26 second-chance points to San Antonio’s seven.