Broncos' Prater Kicks Record-Breaking 64-Yard Field Goal: In the second quarter against the Tennessee Titans, kicker Matt Prater of the Denver Broncos set a new NFL record Sunday with a 64-yard field goal, passing the four kickers who hit a 63 yarder: Tom Dempsey of New Orleans in 1970, Jason Elam of Denver in 1998, Sebastian Janikowski of Oakland in 2011 and David Akers of San Francisco in 2012. Prater's kick was made in high-altitude Denver, which helps kick distance, but only in 14 degree weather.
Ohio State Falls, Auburn Likely to Face Florida State: Ohio State's winning streak ended at 24 games as the Buckeyes lost 34-24 to Michigan State, a defeat that appears all but certain to put Auburn in the National Championship game Jan. 6. They would face undefeated Florida State, which rolled over Duke in the ACC Championship Game.
Sporting KC Wins MLS Cup on 10th Round of Penalty Kicks: Before their home stadium in 20 degree weather (7 degrees factoring in wind chill), by far the coldest final in MLS Cup history, Sporting Kansas City defeated Real Salt Lake on penalty kicks 7-6 Saturday. The teams were tied 1-1 after 120 minutes from a goals by Alvario Saborio of RSL and an Aurelien Collin equalizer for KC. Keeper Jimmy Nielsen outdueled Nick Rimando on PKs and then spray-painted "2013" under "MLS Champions" at Sporting Park in the postgame celebration.
U.S. in World Cup's Group G (as in Grim): The draw for the 2014 World Cup was telecast live at 11 a.m. Eastern, and the United States has ended up in Group G alongside Germany, Ghana and Portugal, an extremely tough draw for the Americans.
Meet the New York Times 4th Down Bot: The New York Times has launched a Twitterbot that will analyze every fourth down play in an NFL game, determining whether the coach made the right call or not. The analysis uses a statistical model created by Brian Burke of Advanced NFL Stats. "In general, it finds N.F.L. coaches far too conservative," the paper observes.
USC Hires Steve Sarkisian: The USC Trojans have hired head coach Steve Sarkisian away from Washington, according to reports Monday. Since taking over in 2009, Sarkisian led the Huskies to a 34-29 record. Prior to that he was a USC assistant for seven seasons and was the assistant head coach and offensive coordinator under Pete Carroll. Ed Orgeron, the interim coach who led the team to a 6-2 record, is being pursued to stay on in another job.
Did Mike Tomlin Do That on Purpose?: Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin interfered with a Jacoby Jones kick return during Thursday night's game against the Baltimore Ravens, possibly denying Jones a touchdown. Tomlin, facing away from the play in the direction of a video board, was standing on the field, jumping out of the way at the last second. Several Ravens accused him of doing it intentionally. The Ravens won 22-20.
FCS School Passes for 0 Yards, Beats Florida: The box score for Georgia Southern's 26-20 upset of Florida is insane. The FCS school, which will be joining the Sun Belt Conference, had 0 yards passing. Run-option quarterback Kevin Ellison made three passing attempts, none completed. But his team amassed 429 yards rushing on 54 attempts, with nine players toting the rock. The 28-point underdog Eagles were paid $550,000 by the Gators to come to Gainesville and beat them. Florida falls to 4-7 and will miss a bowl for the first time since 1990 and has lost to an FCS school for the first time in ever. "Nobody needs to point a finger right now," said Florida coach Will Muschamp, who got a "1000 percent" vote of confidence to return next season from athletic director Jeremy Foley.
New England Overcomes 24-Point Deficit to Beat Denver: After staking the Denver Broncos to a 24-point halftime lead, the New England Patriots scored 31 points to take the lead, gave it up in the waning minutes of the game and then won late in overtime 34-31 on a cold, windy Sunday night at Gillette Stadium. The game-winning field goal came after New England kicked a punt that touched a Broncos defender because he wasn't warned to get away from the ball soon enough by former Patriots wideout Wes Welker, who was on punt return duty. Knowshon Moreno ran for 224 yards in a losing effort.
Bulls Lose Derrick Rose to Another Knee Injury: Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose suffered a torn medial meniscus in his right knee that will require surgery, the team announced Saturday. Rose, the 2010-11 NBA MBP, missed the last season recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his other knee. He's out indefinitely.
Orlando Lands Major League Soccer Team: The Orlando City Lions are making the jump from the US Pro League to Major League Soccer. Commissioner Don Garber announced Tuesday night that Orlando is becoming the 21st MLS team in 2015. A $84 million, 18,000-seat stadium is being built for the team near the Magic's Amway Center with around half funded by local tourism taxes. This will be the first MLS team in the southeastern U.S. since Tampa and Miami franchises folded in 2001. New York City also is getting an MLS team in 2015, and two as-yet-undecided cities are expected to be added by 2020.
Panthers Edge Patriots, Win Sixth in a Row: The Carolina Panthers beat the New England Patriots 24-20 on Monday night in a game that ended on a controversial non-call. The zebras threw a flag on Carolina for pass interference against Rob Gronkowski in the end zone, but Tom Brady's pass to Gronk was intercepted and they said this made it uncatchable. Cam Newton kept several drives alive with long third down scrambles, threw three touchdowns and was the game's leading rusher.
Deep-Water Diver Dies Seeking U.S. Record: At the Vertical Blue free diving championship in the Bahamas, a 32-year-old American seeking to set his second national record died this weekend. Nicholas Mevoli was hoping to reach 72 meters on a single inhalation Sunday when he had trouble at 68 meters and seemed to turn back, reports the New York Times. Instead, he dove deeper seeking the record depth and fell unconscious after his climb back to the surface. "Diving to that depth with no fins, that's a hard, physical dive," said Mike Board, the British record-holder. "I was thinking, OK, he's going to have a hard time getting up." Resuscitation attempts for 90 minutes were unsuccessful. In May, Mevoli became the first American to dive below 100 meters using a monofin.
Together We Fear Football: Pop Warner Down 9.5%: Pop Warner football, the largest youth football program in the U.S., saw the number of players drop 9.5 percent from 2010 to 2012, a sign that the rise in severely debilitating brain injuries among former pro football players is scaring parents away from the sport. The organization's chief medical officer, Julian Bailes, called concerns about head injuries the "No. 1 cause" for the drop and said, "Unless we deal with these truths, we're not going to get past the dropping popularity of the sport and people dropping out of the sport."
Fresno State's Mascot Also Used by Gang: A California street gang that began in prison calls itself the Bulldogs and has caused problems for Fresno State University, which is popular in the state's agricultural interior and has a Bulldogs mascot. Sales of the school's athletic gear have increased tenfold, often for the wrong reasons. In 2011, Stephen Maciel, a father of four, was shot and killed by a Bulldogs gang rival in a liquor store parking lot wearing a red Fresno State shirt. He had no gang affiliations. "If you love sports, you want to be all geared up in the team's colors. But I don't wear it any more, and I don't let my kids wear it. It's too dangerous," said Maciel's widow, Marisol Aguirre.
Cubs to Hire Rick Renteria as Manager: The Chicago Cubs are hiring Rick Renteria to succeed Dale Sveum as manager, signing him to a three-year contract. Renteria, 51, was bench coach for the San Diego Padres the past two seasons. He speaks Spanish and served eight seasons as a manager in the Marlins’ and Padres' farm system. The news comes as the Cubs are angling to end the team's TV contract with WGN, which would end a relationship that began in 1948.
Ace Parker, Who Played in NFL in a Leather Helmet, Dies: Ace Parker, who at 101 was the oldest living member of the NFL Hall of Fame, died Wednesday in Portsmouth, Va. Parker played for the Philadelphia Athletics in baseball and the Brooklyn Dodgers, New York Yankees and a merged Brooklyn Tigers/Boston Yanks team in football. He was the NFL MVP in 1940. The NFL was a more ragtag operation back then. He was expected to supply his own equipment and one of the Dodgers' owners, John "Shipwreck" Kelly, also played on the team. Elected to the hall in 1972 at age 60, Parker said in his acceptance speech, "I'm sure glad it happened when I'm still around."
Red Sox Write Love Letter to Cardinals: The Boston Red Sox have bought a full-page ad in St. Louis praising the Cardinals, their fans, the Red Sox and their fans. "We're both home to the most loyal fans in the game," states the ad. "We look forward to seeing you again next August. Let's hope that it's just a prelude to meeting again in October."
Wisconsin Columnist: What If Rodgers Got Hurt Monday?: Two days before Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers suffered a collarbone break, Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel wrote a column stating the team could win if he was lost to injury. "Fools will cry that I'm jinxing Rodgers and the Packers by writing about this," McGinn wrote. "Injury is the grimmest fact of life in the NFL. The Packers have been immune at quarterback for 21 years, but it doesn't represent the unthinkable for them. ... [T]he guess here is that even if the Packers were to lose Rodgers early Monday night against the Chicago Bears they'd find ways to finish 11-5."
Gary Kubiak Collapses on Texas Sideline: Houston Texans coach Gary Kubiak collapsed at the start of halftime during the Sunday night game against the Indianapolis Colts. Kubiak, 52, was walking off the field when he became stricken, and he was taken off on a stretcher to an ambulance. "He had an episode; he was light-headed and dizzy," Houston general manager Rick Smith said. Earlier this weekend, Denver Broncos coach John Fox felt light-headed at a golf course in Charlotte, and he will be having surgery for an aortic heart valve replacement.
Jaguars' Justin Blackmon Suspended for Drugs: Justin Blackmon, the second-year wide receiver who was the fifth pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2012 draft, was suspended indefinitely by the NFL Friday and is going into drug rehab. Blackmon missed the first four games of the season on a previous drug suspension and has been in the league substance-abuse program since a month after the draft, when he was pulled over for driving drunk at three times the legal limit. Blackmon put up good numbers in the four games he played -- 29 catches, 415 yards, one touchdown -- but Florida Times-Union columnist Gene Frenette believes the team should cut ties. Jacksonville has been here before with wideouts Jimmy Smith and R. Jay Soward, both who fought substance abuse woes while on the team.
Tom Landry Died a New York Giants Fan: Hall of Fame Dallas Cowboys coach Tom Landry was a New York Giants fan when he died, his widow Alicia Landry is quoted as saying in a new book. Landry was disgusted with how he and his family were treated by Jerry Jones, the Cowboys owner who fired him. Alicia Landry said after Jones bought the team and fired Landry, he took away the Landry family's suite at Texas Stadium and barred Tom Landry Jr. from continuing to buy season tickets. "It’s not the same Dallas Cowboys," said Alicia, who has not been to AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, to see the statue of her husband, who died in 2000.
St. Louis Cardinals Radio Signal Going, Going ...: At a time when other newspapers have trouble keeping enough staff to cover city council meetings, during game 4 of the World Series the New York Times had David Waldstein try to outdrive the signal of 50,000-watt blowtorch KMOX 1120 AM, the St. Louis station that helped turn a wide region of listeners into Cardinals fans. "The signal for the pregame show is strong and clear as I leave the parking lot," Waldstein writes at the start of the project. "Certainly no other baseball writer in the country is heading away from Busch Stadium at this moment." Hours later: "Reception is still strong as I head back across the Mississippi south of Memphis, 288 miles from home plate. The game is in the eighth inning."
Red Sox Win Game 5, Go Home to Fenway: Jon Lester outdueled Adam Wainwright and graybeard David Ross hit a go-ahead double, putting the Boston Red Sox over the St. Louis Cardinals 4-2 and just one game from a World Series crown. The Red Sox go home to Fenway leading the series 3-2, with two chances to be the first Boston team to clinch at home since 1918. Just how hard is the task ahead for the Cards? "'It will be legendary if we go into Boston and win two games," Wainwright said.
Brandon Meriweather Calls Out Brandon Marshall's Domestic Abuse: Chicago wide receiver Brandon Marshall said that Washington safety Brandon Meriweather "needs to get suspended or taken out of the game completely" for hits to the head and neck of defenseless receivers. Meriweather responded, "He feel like I need to be kicked out of the league? I feel like people who beat their girlfriends should be kicked out, too. You tell me who you'd rather have: Somebody who play aggressive on the field, or somebody who beat up their girlfriend?" The Marshall had four alleged domestic violence incidents in 2007, though no charges were filed.