- Associated Press - Monday, January 25, 2016


DENVER (AP) - When Peyton Manning was watching games from the locker room a few months ago, none of this seemed possible.

Manning back on the field, playing the role of the most decorated game manager in history. Manning churning his 39-year-old legs around right end for a 12-yard gain and a first down. Manning back in the Super Bowl.

The strangest season of No. 18’s Hall of Fame-ready career will play itself out all the way to the last game. Manning and the Denver Broncos are heading to the Super Bowl, thanks to his efficient offense and a big-play defense that saved a 20-18 victory over Tom Brady and the New England Patriots on Sunday.

Manning’s third-quarter scramble for a first down - “The run,” he called it, using air quotes - might be the most celebrated scramble by a Broncos quarterback since John Elway helicoptered in the Super Bowl, 18 years ago.

That play helped flip the field early in the second half for the Broncos (14-4). Then, defense saved the day.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Superman is headed for the Super Bowl. He’s taking the Carolina Panthers with him.

Cam Newton threw for two touchdowns and ran for two others, and Carolina’s big-play defense stifled the league’s top-ranked offense in a 49-15 romp Sunday for the NFC championship. It was the most points for a winner of an NFC title game.

The NFL’s new top man at quarterback - Newton is an All-Pro this season - will lead the Panthers against five-time MVP Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos in two weeks. Carolina is favored by four points.

It will be Newton’s first trip to the Super Bowl and the second trip to the big game for the Panthers (17-1), who lost to New England 12 years ago. xxxxxxxxxxxx

LAS VEGAS (AP) - The Carolina Panthers will go to San Francisco favored by more than a field goal to win the Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history.

Oddsmakers didn’t even wait until the Panthers finished off the Arizona Cardinals to install them as favorites for the game against the Denver Broncos on Feb. 7. At most books in this gambling city, the Panthers were a 4-point pick, though the early line varied, with the over/under settling in at 45.


RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) - Rio de Janeiro’s Olympic venues will be inspected daily during the games in a bid to prevent the spread of a mosquito-borne virus linked to a rare birth defect and also a condition that can cause paralysis, local organizers said Sunday.

Brazil is suffering from an outbreak of Zika virus, which health officials here say may be behind a spike in cases of microcephaly, which sees infants born with unusually small heads, as well as the paralysis-causing Guillain-Barre syndrome.

The Rio 2016 local organizing committee stressed that because the Aug. 5-21 games are during the southern hemisphere winter, Brazil’s dry season, the mosquito population will be smaller.


BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) - Brice Johnson and North Carolina are hardly worried about moving back into the top spot in The Associated Press poll. They’re focused on playing better.

Johnson scored 19 points and grabbed 17 rebounds Sunday, leading the No. 2 Tar Heels over Virginia Tech 75-70 for its 12th straight victory.

With No. 1 Oklahoma losing to 19th-ranked Iowa State this week, North Carolina (18-2, 7-0 ACC) could find itself back atop the poll Monday.

Roy Williams earned his 350th victory with the Tar Heels and a unique place in basketball history, becoming the first NCAA coach to win at least 350 games at two Division I schools. He won 418 games at Kansas before joining North Carolina in 2003.


LA QUINTA, Calif. (AP) - Jason Dufner won the CareerBuilder Challenge with a par on the second hole of a playoff Sunday, taking advantage of David Lingmerth’s shot off the rocks that bounced into the water.

Dufner finished with a 2-under 70 on PGA West’s TPC Stadium Course to match Lingmerth at 25-under 263. Lingmerth shot a 65, matching the best score of the day on the difficult course that was used in the tournament for the first time since being dropped after its 1987 debut.

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) - Rickie Fowler won the Abu Dhabi Championship for his fourth worldwide victory in nine months, shooting a 3-under 69 in his final round Sunday for a 16-under 272 total and a one-stroke win over playing partner Thomas Pieters.

Fast-finishing Rory McIlroy (68) and Henrik Stenson (67) tied for third at 274.


ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Adam Rippon won his first U.S. title in a victory sure to reignite the debate about the value of artistry vs. athleticism in figure skating.

Rippon fell on his only quadruple jump attempt Sunday, while runner-up Max Aaron landed two and 16-year-old Nathan Chen did a stunning four but had to settle for third place.

But the 26-year-old Rippon, who had struggled to live up to his potential for much of his career, is vastly ahead of Aaron and Chen in the expression and choreography that still make up a huge part of scores.

Rippon earned 182.74 points for his free skate for a total of 270.75. Aaron, the 2013 U.S champ who led after the short program, received 177.72 points for 269.55 total. Chen, who fell on a triple axel, had 180.60 points for 266.93 total.


CORTINA D’AMPEZZO, Italy (AP) - Another day in Cortina, another record for Lindsey Vonn.

The American won a World Cup super-G Sunday for her 11th career victory in Cortina, breaking the resort record of retired Austrian standout Renate Goetschl.

Vonn beat Tina Weirather of Liechtenstein by 0.69 seconds, with Viktoria Rebensburg of Germany third, 1.15 back.

By winning a downhill on Saturday, Vonn eclipsed Annemarie Moser-Proell’s mark of 36 career wins in skiing’s marquee event. And last year in Cortina, Vonn surpassed Moser-Proell’s women’s record of 62 wins across all events.

KITZBUEHEL, Austria (AP) - Henrik Kristoffersen used a blistering second run to win a men’s World Cup slalom on Sunday, becoming the first skier to triumph in the classic slaloms in Adelboden, Wengen and Kitzbuehel in the same year.

Having won four of the first five slaloms this season, the Norwegian looked out of contention this time after coming 0.85 seconds behind in 12th in a poor opening run. In the second run, Kristoffersen finished in 1 minute, 43.96 seconds to edge Marcel Hirscher of Austria by 0.03. It was Kristoffersen’s eighth career slalom win, making him the most successful Norwegian in the discipline.

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