NFL playoffs: Four QBs make postseason debuts Saturday
Four teams get the NFL’s postseason started on Saturday, featuring four quarterbacks making their postseason starting debuts. Seattle veteran Geno Smith spent years trying to find a starting job before settling with the Seahawks this season. They will travel to face rookie Brock Purdy and the San Francisco 49ers in Saturday’s first game. The nightcap features two of the league’s up-and-coming young quarterbacks: Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers head to Jacksonville, where they’ll face 2021 No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence and the Jaguars. There will be three more games on Sunday and one more on Monday this weekend.
AP source: Hamlin visits teammates for 1st time since injury
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Damar Hamlin visited with teammates at the Bills facility on Saturday for the first time since being discharged from a Buffalo hospital, and about two weeks after the Bills safety went into cardiac arrest and needed to be resuscitated on the field during a game in Cincinnati. Bills linebacker Matt Milano posted a photo on his Instagram account of a smiling Hamlin shaking hands with a teammate. A person with direct knowledge of Hamlin’s schedule confirmed to The Associated Press the player’s visit. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because Hamlin has kept his schedule and recovery private.
NFL All-Pros: Kelce, Jefferson unanimous; 16 first-timers
Travis Kelce and Justin Jefferson are unanimous choices for The Associated Press 2022 NFL All-Pro Team, and Sauce Gardner is the first rookie cornerback selected in 41 years. The Chiefs’ Kelce and the Vikings’ Jefferson received first-team votes Friday from all 50 members of a nationwide panel of media members who regularly cover the league. Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes, San Francisco 49ers edge rusher Nick Bosa and Chiefs defensive lineman Chris Jones each got 49 of 50 first-team votes. Gardner, the fourth overall pick by the New York Jets, was named on all 50 ballots, receiving 43 first-place votes. Pro Football Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott was the last rookie cornerback chosen for the first team in 1981.
Calipari, Kentucky silence doubters, beat No. 5 Tennessee
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Antonio Reeves scored 18 points and Oscar Tshiebwe had 15 points and 13 rebounds to lead Kentucky to a 63-56 victory over No. 5 Tennessee on Saturday. Kentucky led 58-50 with 3:28 left in the game. Two free throws by Santiago Vescovi and two buckets by Uros Plavsic closed the gap to two with less than a minute to play. A Wildcat turnover gave Tennessee a shot to tie or take the lead, but Zakai Zeigler and Plavsic missed down low. The Wildcats showed a physical presence and dominated the Volunteers on the boards. Plavsic scored 19 points for Tennessee.
Nadal in rut, Djokovic on roll as Australian Open approaches
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Rafael Nadal acknowledges feeling vulnerable as the Australian Open approaches. He is the defending champion but also has lost six of his past seven matches. Novak Djokovic says he likes his chances at a place he could not compete at a year ago because is not vaccinated against COVID-19. And why wouldn’t he feel confident? He has claimed nine titles at Melbourne Park and has won 30 of his past 31 tournament matches overall. Nadal and Djokovic are two long-time rivals who have a lot in common but could hardly be facing more contrasting circumstances with the 2023 Grand Slam season beginning Monday.
Bencic defeats Kasatkina in Adelaide International final
ADELAIDE, Australia (AP) — Belinda Bencic beat Daria Kasatkina 6-0, 6-2 to win the Adelaide International women’s title, her sixth on the WTA Tour. The 13th-ranked Swiss player took barely an hour to beat the eighth-ranked Kasatkina. Bencic converted five of her seven break points and won almost double the amount of points than the Russian, who had been impressive in reaching the semifinals before both women had walkovers to advance to the final. In the men’s title match, Soonwoo Kwon, who lost in qualifying but was a late call-up to the main draw due to an injury withdrawal, beat Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (4).
Rashford scores again as Man United beats Man City 2-1
MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Marcus Rashford struck the winner as Manchester United came from behind to beat Manchester City 2-1 in the Premier League. United issued a statement of its title intent with victory in the 189th Manchester derby to move within a point of the reigning champions. Substitute Jack Grealish had put City ahead in the second half, but goals from Bruno Fernandes and Rashford secured the win for Eric ten Hag’s team at Old Trafford. Ten Hag says, “The belief is back and we’re in a good direction.”
33 players left in arbitration as 170 reach agreements
NEW YORK (AP) — A total of 170 major league players agreed to contracts in the hours before Friday night’s arbitration deadline to exchange proposed salaries with teams, and just one reached a multiyear deal: Minnesota right-hander Chris Paddack. While 33 players swapped figures with their clubs and remain headed toward hearings, 169 agreed to one-year contracts, led by the Padres’ Juan Soto at $23 million and the New York Mets’ Pete Alonso and Toronto’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr. at $14.5 million each.
Kaillie Humphries of US wins 100th major bobsled medal
ALTENBERG, Germany (AP) — Kaillie Humphries of the U.S. got a milestone medal Saturday, winning a World Cup women’s monobob race for the 100th top-three finish of her career in major international competition. Humphries has won 70 medals in two-woman races in her career. That includes 60 in World Cups, seven at the world championships and three at the Olympics. She’s won another 11 medals in monobob events, including an Olympic gold medal, 10 more on the North American Cup circuit and nine medals in team competitions.
Australian Open 2023: Coco Gauff, a teen in a tennis hurry
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Coco Gauff acknowledges she tends to be in a bit of a hurry as she moves through life. The 18-year-old American doesn’t stick around in a city after a tennis tournament ends. She doesn’t like to linger at a restaurant after dinner. Her philosophy, in a nutshell: Why wait if you don’t need to? When the Australian Open begins the 2023 Grand Slam season, Gauff will be scheduled to start the action in Rod Laver Arena against Katerina Siniakova. Win that, and Gauff next could face Emma Raducanu, who won the 2021 U.S. Open as a teenager. Keep going all the way to the semifinals, and the No. 7-seeded Gauff might just end up facing No. 1 Iga Swiatek.