- Associated Press - Monday, January 22, 2018

PRO FOOTBALL

Tom Brady and the New England Patriots are going back to the Super Bowl in search of a sixth title. They’ll face a Philadelphia Eagles team looking for their first Lombardi Trophy.

Brady led the Patriots (15-3) back from a 10-point, fourth-quarter deficit to beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 24-20 in the AFC championship game Sunday.

Starting his 36th playoff game, Brady shook off an injury to his right hand and the loss of top target Rob Gronkowski to rally the Patriots to their record 10th Super Bowl appearance.

The Patriots will try to match the Pittsburgh Steelers’ six Super Bowl trophies when they face the Eagles (15-3) on Feb. 4 in Minneapolis.

Nick Foles, the backup QB who was thrust into the starting role when Carson Wentz blew out his left knee last month, led the Philadelphia to a 38-7 rout of the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC championship game.

Foles threw for 352 yards and three touchdowns, showing poise and moxie in going 26 for 33.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The Tennessee Titans hired Houston defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel as their new coach in a fast search that wrapped up after three interviews and just five days after firing Mike Mularkey.

The Titans announced Saturday they have agreed to terms with Vrabel. A news conference was scheduled for Monday.

Vrabel was the first person Tennessee interviewed after firing Mularkey on Monday. Mularkey, who also coached Buffalo and Jacksonville, went 21-22 and led the franchise to its first playoff victory in 14 years . This will be Vrabel’s first head coaching job after 18 years in the NFL - 14 as a player and four as a coach.

Titans owner Amy Adams Strunk said in a statement it was easy to see Vrabel’s commanding presence and relationship with general manager Jon Robinson. The GM got his start in the NFL as a scout with the New England Patriots, where Vrabel won three Super Bowls as a linebacker.

OLYMPICS

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - Conservative activists burned a large photo of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as the head of the North’s extremely popular girl band passed by them Monday during her visit to Seoul amid a flurry of cooperation between the rivals ahead of next month’s Winter Olympics in the South.

Hyon Song Wol, a Pyongyang celebrity who heads the Moranbong Band hand-picked by Kim, began a two-day visit on Sunday, triggering media frenzy in South Korea about the woman who is also in charge of the North’s artistic performance during the Olympics.

It has been rare for such a high-profile North Korean figure to travel to South Korea in recent years as they saw their ties deteriorating over the North Korean nuclear standoff before they recently abruptly sought to improve ties this month ahead of the Feb. 9-25 Olympics.

UNDATED (AP) - Longtime USA Hockey executive and U.S. Olympic men’s hockey general manager Jim Johannson died unexpectedly Sunday at age 53, shocking the sport less than three weeks before the start of the Pyeongchang Games.

Johannson died in his sleep at his home in Colorado Springs, according to USA Hockey. His death came in the midst of the most high-profile role in his career: putting together the U.S. men’s Olympic hockey team without NHL players going to South Korea, a position he relished after doing so at several world junior and world championships.

With the NHL out of the Olympics for the first time since 1994, Johannson was excited about putting together a 25-man roster that would include “25 great stories.” He picked Tony Granato as coach and on Jan. 1 unveiled a diverse roster made up of players from European professional leagues, the American Hockey League and the NCAA.

Johannson was proud of the unheralded roster, one that will now try to capture a gold medal for him.

“I think it would be huge,” former USA Hockey executive director Dave Ogrean said by phone. “If we ever had a ‘Win one for the Gipper’ moment, this is it.”

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

SPARTANBURG, S.C. (AP) - High-flying high school power forward Zion Williamson has committed to Duke, giving the Blue Devils the nation’s three top-rated college prospects.

Williamson is a 6-foot-6, 275-pound forward from Spartanburg who’s rated second among high school players by ESPN. He picked Duke on Saturday over Clemson, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina and South Carolina.

It was thought in recent weeks that Williamson was focused on his home-state schools of Clemson and South Carolina - the Tigers because they were the first school to heavily recruit Williamson and the Gamecocks because earlier this month they signed former Louisville recruit Brian Bowen Jr.

Instead, Williamson joined a powerhouse young class that includes top-rated R.J. Barrett and third-rated Cam Reddish - both 6-foot-7 forwards - and point guard Tre Jones, ranked 10th. Those three have signed with Duke.


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