NFL playoffs: Bengals win streak hits 10, 49ers also advance
The Kansas City Chiefs learned they’ll get to host the AFC championship game against the Cincinnati Bengals instead of playing at a neutral site. They have to play the Bengals and Cincinnati is now on a 10-game winning streak after an impressive 27-10 road victory over the Buffalo Bills on a snow-covered field in Sunday’s NFL divisional round. Joe Burrow threw for 242 yards and two touchdowns while Joe Mixon ran for 105 yards and a TD. The 49ers beat the Cowboys 19-12 in the NFC. The 49ers will travel to face the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC title game.
Analysis: Defense still wins in the NFL playoffs
Defense stills wins in the NFL playoffs. The San Francisco 49ers and Cincinnati Bengals advanced to the conference championship games with excellent defensive performances on Sunday. The Philadelphia Eagles also had a standout defensive effort Saturday night. While high-flying offenses led by star quarterbacks get most of the attention, defense matters. It was evident in the NFL divisional round this weekend. The Bengals will meet the Chiefs again in a rematch of last year’s AFC championship game that was won by Cincinnati. Burrow is 3-0 against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. Next up for the 49ers is a trip to Philadelphia to face one of the league’s most well-rounded offenses in the NFC championship game.
Scandals highlight lack of women coaches at top of US soccer
Few women are coaching at the top of American soccer — a result of how the sport offers scarce opportunities for female players and imposes a high price on coaching licenses. The shortage of qualified women was highlighted by a glut of vacancies created by men who were pushed out of the sport. When scandal rocked the National Women’s Soccer League in 2021, five male coaches were dismissed or forced to resign because of misconduct or harassment. Today, just three women hold head coaching jobs in the 12-team league. Five coaches, all men, are embarking on their first season with their teams this year.
Shelton, Paul give US 3 men in quarters at Australian Open
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The next stop on Ben Shelton’s impressive debut run at the Australian Open will be the quarterfinals. The 20-year-old NCAA champion from the University of Florida pulled out a five-set victory over J.J. Wolf in an all-American matchup at Melbourne Park. Shelton is playing in only his second Grand Slam tournament. He joins Tommy Paul and Sebastian Korda to give the U.S. three men in the quarterfinals in Australia for the first time since 2000. Paul advanced by defeating 24th-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut in the fourth round. Also reaching the men’s quarterfinals were Novak Djokovic and Andrey Rublev. Magda Linette made it to the quarterfinals of a major for the first time and will meet Karolina Pliskova next. Aryna Sabalenka will play Donna Vekic in another women’s quarterfinal.
With Djokovic’s leg OK, he sees Australian title realistic
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — It took about a week for Novak Djokovic to go from worrying about whether he simply could play a match at all on his injured left hamstring to thinking he can win the Australian Open. And one pain-free, nearly perfect performance in the fourth round has made a world of difference. Djokovic now says he thinks he “can go all the way” to a 10th championship at Melbourne Park and 22nd Grand Slam trophy overall. He beat 22nd-seeded Alex de Minaur 6-2, 6-1, 6-2 to reach the quarterfinals. The 35-year-old from Serbia looked like his usual flexible, court-covering, dominant self at Rod Laver Arena and said he felt “fantastic.”
Purdue back at No. 1 in AP Top 25, Alabama right behind
Purdue is back at No. 1 in the AP Top 25. Alabama is right behind the Boilermakers. Purdue returned to the top spot in The Associated Press men’s college basketball poll, moving up two spots after Houston’s loss to Temple. The Boilermakers received 39 first-place votes after a volatile week where just two teams kept the same spot from a week ago. Alabama climbed two spots to No. 2, its highest ranking since reaching No. 1 in 2002-03. Houston, Tennessee and Kansas State round out the top five.
Ovechkin Chasing Gretzky: Assisting Ovi on goals is an art
ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) — Alex Ovechkin earlier this season became the third player in NHL history to surpass 800 career goals. Only Wayne Gretzky has scored more than Ovechkin’s 810. But Ovechkin has not gotten within range of Gretzky’s record of 894 goals by himself. Dozens of Washington Capitals teammates have assisted on goals by Ovechkin during his 18-year career since coming to North America. How to pass him the puck and where he wants it on the ice and on his stick is part of the art that is assisting Ovechkin.
Prescott, Cowboys stuck in divisional-round rut another year
FRISCO, Texas (AP) — Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys still can’t get out of their divisional-round rut. The Cowboys have lost a record seven consecutive games in that round after a 19-12 loss to San Francisco. Prescott threw two interceptions, but owner/general manager Jerry Jones says he remains committed to his star quarterback. It’s been 27 years since Dallas advanced beyond the divisional round. Jones says he hasn’t changed his mind about coach Mike McCarthy leading the team after the latest failed attempt at a deep postseason run.
AP source: Chiefs’ Mahomes sustained high ankle sprain
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Patrick Mahomes sustained a right high ankle sprain in the Kansas City Chiefs’ divisional playoff win over the Jaguars, a person familiar with the nature of the injury told The Associated Press on Sunday. But the All-Pro quarterback is expected to play in next weekend’s AFC championship game. Mahomes was hurt late in the first quarter Saturday when a Jacksonville defender landed on him. X-rays taken during the game came back negative, and Mahomes returned after halftime to lead Kansas City to the 27-20 victory. He had an MRI on Sunday that showed no structural damage.
Chiefs’ Henne delivers with Mahomes hobbled in playoff win
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Chad Henne has spent most of the season holding clipboards behind Chiefs star Patrick Mahomes. But when the All-Pro quarterback hurt his right ankle in Saturday night’s playoff game against Jacksonville, the 37-year-old journeyman entered the game and proceeded to lead Kansas City on a 98-yard touchdown drive. Mahomes eventually returned to finish off a 27-20 victory that ushered the Chiefs to their fifth consecutive AFC championship game. But the performance by his backup amid the intense pressure of the postseason may have been what kept Kansas City’s season alive.