A Sports Filled Weekend
The NFL playoffs will have a new, yet retro, look this season. The Oakland Raiders are back.
Absent from the postseason since 2002, the Raiders (11-3) nipped the San Diego Chargers 19-16 in the Dislocation Bowl (both teams are threatening to move) to earn no worse than a wild-card bid. The Raiders lead the AFC West by a game over the Kansas City Chiefs, and wait until you hear how the Chiefs lost.
They were tied 16-16 at home on a frigid day when Tennessee Titans kicker Ryan Succop strolled out to try a 53-yard field goal on the last play of the game. His kick was no good, but the Chiefs (10-4) had called a timeout to ice him (this with temps of -1 and -19 wind chill). The second attempt? Good.
And so Succop beat the team he had played for over his first five NFL seasons. The NFL, which has a lovely way with arcane stats, tell us that he is first kicker in NFL history to defeat his former team by converting a game-winning, come-from-behind 50+ yard field goal as time expired.
The New England Patriots also set a record – they won their division for the eighth consecutive season, beating the Denver Broncos 16-3. The Patriots (12-2) also clinched a first-round playoff bye.
Another streak is over – the Cincinnati Bengals’ run of five consecutive playoff berths. They blew a 20-6 lead at home and fell 24-20 to the Pittsburgh Steelers and are now eliminated from the chase.
Lastly, the Jacksonville Jaguars fired coach Gus Bradley, whose 14-48 record (including nine straight losses) over four seasons is among the worst in NFL annals. And the Houston Texans benched their ineffective quarterback, Brock Osweiler, for Tom Savage, who led them to a comeback win over the Jaguars.
There were several minor bowl games over the weekend. That is all you need to know.
Bernard Hopkins’ 28-year career ended in defeat Saturday night, when Joe Smith Jr. punched him out of the ring and onto floor of The Forum in Inglewood, California.
Hopkins, soon to turn 52, landed on his head when knocked out of the ring, complained of an ankle injury and was unable to continue.
The Oklahoma City Thunder’s Russell Westbrook posted his 50th career triple-double on Saturday against the Phoenix Suns. He’s sixth on the all-time list, nine behind Larry Bird. Oscar Robertson holds the record with 181.
Post By: Larry Weisman, a longtime sportswriter for USA TODAY, blogs for Twistity.com. Follow him on Twitter @MrLarryWeisman