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Weekend In Review – Rams, Patriots Bound For A Tainted Super Bowl, College Basketball And More

Weekend Sports Review Starting With The NFL Semi-Finals The Los Angeles Rams, aided by a horrendous officiating gaffe, and the New England Patriots, will meet on Feb. 2 in...

Weekend Sports Review Starting With The NFL Semi-Finals

The Los Angeles Rams, aided by a horrendous officiating gaffe, and the New England Patriots, will meet on Feb. 2 in Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta.

Both NFL conference championship games went to overtime on Sunday, a first, and the Rams beat the New Orleans Saints 26-23, while the Patriots topped the Kansas City Chiefs 37-31.

Late in regulation of the eventual Rams victory, the officials missed what could have been two penalties on the same play – helmet-to-helmet contact and pass interference – against Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman. If the obvious infraction had been called, the Saints could have either run out the clock or kicked a field goal that likely would have cemented their victory. Instead, the Rams had time to get down the field and tie the game and force overtime.

Asked if he had committed a penalty, Robey Coleman replied: “Oh, hell yeah. That was P.I. (pass interference).”

The NFL apparently admitted the error to Saints coach Sean Payton in a phone call after the game, but made no public statement.

The Patriots, meanwhile, earned their third straight Super Bowl berth by beating the Chiefs for the second time this season. The Chiefs erased an early 13-point deficit, but the Patriots won the overtime coin toss and drove down the field for a touchdown. If the first team with the ball in OT scores a touchdown, the game ends without the other team getting a chance on offense. The Patriots went 75 yards in 13 plays – the Chiefs’ defense was a weak spot all season – and Rex Burkhead scored on a 4-yard run for the win.

College basketball:
No. 1 Duke held off No. 4 Virginia 72-70 on Saturday. R.J. Barrett scored 30 points and Zion Williamson added 27 – the five other Blue Devils who appeared in the game totaled 15, and two of them didn’t score at all. No. 2 Michigan absorbed its first loss of the season, falling 64-54 to Wisconsin. No. 3 Tennessee beat Alabama 71-68. The new poll comes out on Monday.

Elsewhere:
Roger Federer lost in the Australian Open.

Boxer Manny Pacquiao, 40, retained his piece of the welterweight title by winning a unanimous decision over Adrian Broner on Saturday night in Las Vegas.

James Harden scored 48 points on Saturday night as the Houston Rockets overcame an 18-point halftime deficit and beat the Los Angeles Lakers 138-134 in overtime.

Adam Long picked up his first PGA Tour victory, edging Phil Mickelson by one shot at the Desert Classic.

 
 
Post By: Larry Weisman, a longtime sportswriter for USA TODAY, blogs for Twistity.com. Follow him on Twitter @MrLarryWeisman

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