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Preview: Seattle Post-Intelligencer: AP: Top Sports

seattlepi.com: Top Sports Headlines from the AP





 



Williams relies on Plan B to reaches Australian Open QFs

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 05:50:05 UT

Williams relies on Plan B to reaches Australian Open QFs Williams knuckled down and just scrapped her way to a 7-5, 6-4 win over No. 16-seeded Barbora Strycova on Monday to reach the quarterfinals of the Australian Open for the 11th time. Despite four service breaks — two in the first four games — and 46 unforced errors, and with the fluky net cord and the off-balance, scrunched-shouldered backhand that bounced flatly and clinched her the first set on her eighth set point, she ground down Strycova. Williams' fourth-round match started with four straight service breaks, with only two points going with serve. Kerber, who beat Williams in the final here last year and then ended the 22-time Grand Slam winner's 186-week streak at No. 1 by winning the U.S. Open, was upset in the fourth round in a straight-sets loss to CoCo Vandeweghe. Kerber's exit capped a chaotic middle Sunday when both top seeds went out — top-ranked and five-time finalist Andy Murray was upset by No. 50-ranked Mischa Zverev.



They're Back: Brady and Patriots win AFC, 36-17 vs Steelers

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 05:48:04 UT

After beginning the 2016 season suspended for four games for his role in the "Deflategate" scandal, the New England quarterback relentlessly carried the Patriots to an unprecedented ninth appearance in the title game, and his seventh. Brady threw for a franchise playoff-best 384 yards and three touchdowns in a 36-17 rout of the helpless Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday in New England's sixth consecutive AFC championship game. The Patriots, who have won nine in a row, are early 3-point favorites heading to face Atlanta in two weeks in Houston, seeking their fifth NFL title with Brady at quarterback and Bill Belichick as coach. Brady was banned by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell when New England (16-2) went 3-1 to open the schedule. Since his return in Week 5, the only defeat came at home to Seattle, and Brady, 39, had one of the best seasons of a Hall of Fame-caliber career. Top wideout Julian Edelman added eight receptions for 118 yards and a touchdown as Brady tied Joe Montana's playoff record with nine three-TD passing performances. [...] video review showed James down at the 1, and the Steelers couldn't get into the end zone, Chris Boswell connecting for a 23-yard field goal. Belichick and Brady have won 24 playoff games together, most in league history by a head coach and starting quarterback. Brady's 24 playoff wins are the most by a starting quarterback in league history. Stephen Gostkowski's 31-yard field goal to open the scoring set a franchise record with 27, surpassing Adam Vinatieri's 26. After winning the AFC East with the conference's top record, New England defeated the Texans 34-16 and the Steelers to reach Super Bowl 51 in Houston on Feb. 5; New England won the 2002 and 2005 Super Bowls after beating Pittsburgh for the AFC championship.



Le'Veon Bell was hurt heading into AFC championship game

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 03:58:22 UT

Le'Veon Bell was hurt heading into AFC championship game (AP) — Steelers star running back Le'Veon Bell was bothered by a groin injury even before he was forced to leave the AFC championship game in the second quarter of Pittsburgh's 36-17 loss to New England. DeAngelo Williams had a touchdown run for Pittsburgh, but the Steelers rushed for just 54 yards. Bell was sensational in playoff wins over Miami and Kansas City, rushing for 167 yards vs. the Dolphins and 170 against Kansas City.



Current, former major leaguers die in Dominican crashes

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 03:54:39 UT

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) — Kansas City Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura and former major leaguer Andy Marte died in separate traffic accidents early Sunday in their native Dominican Republic. Metropolitan traffic authorities said they had opened an investigation into the crash, as well as that of Marte, who died when the Mercedes Benz he was driving hit a house along a road between San Francisco de Macoris and Pimentel, about 95 miles (150 kilometers) north of the capital. Traffic authority spokesman Diego Pesqueira told The Associated Press there were no rains registered at the time of Ventura's accident but that it is often foggy in the early morning. Ventura, 25, burst onto the baseball scene with a 100 mph fastball and an explosive attitude to match. Born June 3, 1991, in Samana, Dominican Republic, Ventura quit school at 14 and was laboring on a construction crew to support his family when he heard about a tryout, which led to a spot in the Royals' academy on the island. A 2015 study by the World Health Organization found that the Dominican Republic had the highest traffic accident death rate in the Americas, with a rate of 29.3 per 100,000 inhabitants.



Bookies make Patriots a 3-point pick with record over/under

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 03:30:11 UT

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Oddsmakers like the New England Patriots by a field goal over the Atlanta Falcons in what experts think will be a high-scoring Super Bowl. Most are also expecting an offensive showdown, with an over/under of 59 at some sports books the biggest ever in Super Bowl history. The AFC title game had barely entered the fourth quarter when oddsmakers around town began putting up their numbers. In addition to the point spread and total bets, sports books will offer hundreds of different parlay bets ranging from which team will win the opening coin flip to how many points will be scored in the third quarter.



Super Bowl will pit Brady's Patriots against Ryan's Falcons

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 03:28:11 UT

A season that began with Tom Brady serving a four-game suspension will end with him in the Super Bowl, where his New England Patriots will take on Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons. The guy nicknamed "Matty Ice" went 27 for 38 for 392 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions, while adding a rushing TD, to boot, leading Atlanta past Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers 44-21 on Sunday in the NFC championship game. Later Sunday, the 39-year-old Brady tied Hall of Famer Joe Montana's record with a ninth three-TD postseason game, helping the Patriots beat Ben Roethlisberger 36-17 for the AFC championship. New England opened the season with a 3-1 record despite using two backup quarterbacks while playing those games without Brady after he went through a lengthy court battle in an unsuccessful bid to have his ban overturned for what became known as "Deflategate." NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Brady because the league said it determined the Patriots intentionally underinflated footballs used in an AFC championship game victory two years ago. MVP favorite Ryan, meanwhile, directed a unit orchestrated by offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan — expected to be hired after the season as San Francisco's new head coach, he's the son of two-time Super Bowl champion coach Mike Shanahan — that topped the league in scoring (33.8) and ranked second in yards (415.8).



Super Falcons: Atlanta routs Packers 44-21 for NFC title

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 03:08:21 UT

With another MVP-worthy performance and plenty of help from Julio Jones, Matty Ice guided the Atlanta Falcons to a 44-21 rout of the Green Bay Packers for the NFC championship Sunday, a showing that erased any doubts about whether Ryan can win the big games. Ryan threw for 392 yards and four touchdowns, but it was his 14-yard scoring run — his first TD on the ground since 2012 — that really set the tone . After barely practicing during the week because of a lingering toe injury, he finished off the Packers with a 73-yard catch-and-run on Atlanta's second snap of the second half, pushing the lead to 31-0 and essentially turning the rest of the Georgia Dome finale into one long celebration. Jones finished with nine catches for 180 yards and two scores, which included a toe-dragging catch for a 5-yard touchdown with 3 seconds left in the first half, sending the Falcons to the locker room up 24-0. MVP! as he carved up an injury-plagued Packers secondary that had no way of stopping a team that averaged nearly 34 points a game during the regular season and romped to a 36-20 victory against Seattle's Legion of Boom last week. The Packers, riding an eight-game winning streak and coming off a thrilling upset of the top-seeded Dallas Cowboys , got a taste of what they'd be in for on Atlanta's very first possession. [...] Mason Crosby, who hit two field goals longer that 50 yards in the closing minutes against the Cowboys, pushed a 41-yard attempt right of the upright to snap a playoff-record streak of 23 straight field goals. Fullback Aaron Ripkowski was breaking tackles and rumbling toward the end zone when Jalen Collins stripped the ball from behind and fell on it just across the goal line for a touchback. After the fumble, Ryan hooked up with Jones three times for 56 yards and finished it off from the 14 with some surprisingly nimble running skills, faking out one defender with a pump fake before sprawling into



The Latest: Patriots will face Falcons in Super Bowl

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 02:54:35 UT

A season that began with Tom Brady serving a four-game suspension will end with him in the Super Bowl, where his New England Patriots will take on Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons. The New England quarterback has broken his franchise record, passing for 384 yards and three touchdowns to power the Patriots to a 36-17 lead over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Brady has completed 32 of 42 passes, picking apart Pittsburgh's defense, often hitting wide open receivers who found plenty of room to move in Pittsburgh's zone defense. With nearly 10 minutes remaining in the AFC championship game, oddsmakers in Las Vegas had seen enough. With the game decided, Patriots fans turned their attention to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell with a "Where is Roger?" chant at the AFC championship game. Pittsburgh thought it has produced a turnover when New England quarterback Tom Brady appeared to fumble during a quarterback sneak. The Patriots have a 17-9 lead over the Steelers at the half after Pittsburgh was forced to settle for a 23-yard field goal after having first and goal at the New England 1. The Steelers offense has moved the ball well even with running back Le'Veon Bell on the sideline nursing a left groin injury. Brady hit Chris Hogan with a 34-yard touchdown pass to give the Patriots a 17-6 lead over the Steelers in the second quarter. Hogan, a lacrosse player at Penn State who moved to Monmouth to play one year of football, already has seven receptions for 117 yards and two scores. The veteran pulled the Steelers within 10-6 of the Patriots with a 5-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter. Hogan caught four passes in all on the drive and was wide open in the back of the end zone when New England's offensive line picked up the Pittsburgh blitz. Tom Brady took the Patriots 62 yards in six plays, leading to a 31-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski. The Atlanta Falcons are headed to their second Super Bowl appearanc



Hudson Swafford wins CareerBuilder for 1st PGA Tour title

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 01:28:33 UT

Hudson Swafford wins CareerBuilder for 1st PGA Tour title (AP) — A day after making a mess of the 16th and 17th holes on PGA West's Stadium Course, Hudson Swafford birdied them Sunday to take control in the fittingly named CareerBuilder Challenge. A few minutes later, with rain approaching the desert over the snow-capped mountains, the 29-year-old former Georgia player celebrated his breakthrough first PGA Tour title and first Masters spot. Swafford tied Bud Cauley for the lead with a 12-foot birdie putt on the par-4 15th, and pulled ahead with the birdies on 16 and 17 — a day after dropping three strokes on the daunting duo. On the par-5 16th, he hit a 4-iron 230 yards to 12 feet — staying out of the 18-foot deep bunker he hit into Saturday en route to a double bogey — and two-putted to take the outright lead. Hadwin's final drive settled in the dormant Bermuda an inch from the green rye rough and his approach stayed right and settled into a bad lie in the thick dormant rough. Swafford got off to a rough start in the final round in the chilly morning, three-putting for bogey on the par-4 first, and was five strokes behind leader Chad Campbell after five holes. The winner rallied with birdies on Nos. 7-9 to join Campbell and Hadwin atop the leaderboard.



Chen lands 5 quads to win US figure skating title with ease

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 00:59:02 UT

(AP) — Nathan Chen stood on the top step of the podium and stifled a smile as U.S. Figure Skating president Samuel Auxier, preparing to drape a gold medal around his neck, bowed down before him. Chen followed a record-setting short program with a near-flawless free skate featuring five quadruple jumps Sunday to become the youngest men's U.S. figure skating champion in more than five decades. Chen's aerial showcase began with a quad lutz-triple toe combination and never slowed down, his only bobble coming on a triple flip-triple toe as his sprightly program was coming to an end. Jason Brown skated a smooth, stylish routine to move into the bronze medal position. Former champ Max Aaron, the silver medalist a year ago, took himself out of the running at nationals with a poor short program. Chen followed a few minutes later with a performance that not only stamped him as one of the favorites heading into the world championships in March, but perhaps next year's Winter Olympics.