- Associated Press - Monday, December 28, 2020

NFL

SEATTLE (AP) - The Seattle Seahawks claimed the NFC West title with a 20-9 win over the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, with Russell Wilson throwing a 13-yard TD pass to Jacob Hollister with 2:51 left for the clinching score.

Seattle (11-4) earned its first division title since 2016 and its fifth since Pete Carroll arrived in 2010 behind a stellar defensive effort and a clutch late drive engineered by Wilson.

PITTSBURGH (AP) - The Pittsburgh Steelers are AFC North champions. Finally.

Ben Roethlisberger overcame a month-long malaise to throw for 342 yards and three second-half touchdowns as the Steelers locked up the division title with a stunningly improbable 28-24 victory on Sunday.



KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Kansas City clinched the top seed in the AFC and the only playoff bye when Patrick Mahomes threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Demarcus Robinson with just under two minutes for a 17-14 win over Atlanta on Sunday.

The Chiefs had to watch as Pro Bowl kicker Younghoe Koo missed a tying field-goal attempt with 9 seconds left to escape.

The Chiefs (14-1) won their NFL-record seventh straight one-possession game and matched a franchise record with their 10th straight win.

DETROIT (AP) - Tom Brady threw four touchdown passes in the only half he needed to play and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers went on to rout the Detroit Lions 47-7 Saturday, sealing a spot in the playoffs for the first time since 2007.

The Bucs (10-5) set a franchise record with 588 yards and snapped the NFL’s second-longest postseason drought behind Cleveland’s 18-year run that can end Sunday.

TENNIS

Roger Federer withdrew from the Australian Open while he continues preparing to return to action after two operations on his right knee and a tour absence that will have lasted longer than a year, his agent told The Associated Press.

Tony Godsick - Federer’s long-time representative and CEO of their management company, TEAM8 - said Sunday he is working on putting together a 2021 tennis calendar for the 20-time Grand Slam champion, who plans to get back to competition soon after the year’s first major tennis tournament.

This ends Federer’s streak of 21 consecutive appearances at Melbourne Park, a run that began with his 2000 debut there and includes six championships.

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) - Five-time Australian Open runner-up Andy Murray has been given a wild-card entry into the first Grand Slam tournament of next year.

Former top-ranked Murray has slipped to No. 122 in the ATP rankings after several years of battling hip injuries and surgery.

Murray made a teary retirement announcement in Melbourne two years ago before undergoing a second round of surgeries to extend his career.

NBA

Stephen Curry made 105 straight 3-pointers from the same baseline spot to finish practice Saturday leading into Golden State’s game Sunday game at Chicago.

The Warriors said they captured the final 103 on video at the Bulls’ practice facility. Curry’s shots were counted by his longtime shooting man, assistant Bruce Fraser, and coach Steve Kerr only heard about his shooting star afterward. Curry finally missed, then pumped his arms and yelled in delight.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

DALLAS (AP) - Ty Jordan, a star freshman running back for the University of Utah, died at a Dallas-area hospital after accidently shooting himself, authorities said Sunday.

University officials announced Jordan’s death Saturday, a day after he was named Pac-12’s newcomer of the year, but did not release details.

Jordan, 19, died in an emergency room at a hospital in Denton around 10:45 p.m. on Christmas Day, according to medical examiner’s records.

He finished the season with 597 yards rushing, 11 catches for 126 yards and six touchdowns.

NEW YORK (AP) - The Music City Bowl between Missouri and Iowa was canceled Sunday because COVID-19 issues left the Tigers unable to play.

The game scheduled for Wednesday in Nashville, Tennessee, is the second bowl called off since the postseason lineup was set on Dec. 20, joining the Gasparilla Bowl. Overall, 18 bowl games scheduled to be played this season have been canceled.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) - D’Eriq King transferred to Miami with the hope of competing for championships.

He’s staying with the same hope for 2021.

The Hurricanes’ quarterback - who came to Miami with the intention of spending just one year at the school - announced Saturday he is returning for another senior season, taking advantage of the NCAA rule that essentially gave all college athletes another year of eligibility in response to the hardships caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

VILLANOVA, Pa. (AP) - Villanova coach Jay Wright has tested positive for COVID-19 and the No. 5 Wildcats have paused basketball activities.

Wright says in a statement issued Sunday by Villanova that he another staff member tested positive. Wright says he has been experiencing mild symptoms.

Villanova’s game against Xavier scheduled for Saturday has been postponed, but the school outside Philadelphia says no determination has been made for games beyond this week. The next game on the Wildcats’ schedule is Jan. 5 at DePaul.

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) - Syracuse University has paused all women’s basketball-related activities Sunday and contact tracing is underway after a positive COVID-19 test was confirmed within the program.

The 22nd-ranked Orange women have also canceled a game against Morgan State scheduled for Monday night. The team is adhering to all public health guidelines. Syracuse’s next scheduled game is Thursday at home against North Carolina.

Syracuse men also has been on pause since Monday.

SOCCER

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) - Lionel Messi won’t make a decision on his long-term future at Barcelona until the season is over, with the soccer great also raising the possibility of playing in the United States one day in a TV interview broadcast Sunday.

About fifth-place Barcelona’s future prospects, the 33-year-old Messi said “there is no money” and “it is not going to be easy to turn this around.”

As of Jan. 1, Messi could negotiate with other clubs as his contract with Barcelona is set to expire in June.

HORSE RACING

ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) - A 2-year-old colt racing in the $80,150 Eddie Logan Stakes at Santa Anita was fatally injured Sunday, becoming the Southern California track’s first fatality since June.

Trained by Peter Miller, Ebeko was lagging the field when he injured his left front leg at the top of the stretch in the 1-mile turf race, throwing jockey Joel Rosario to the ground.

The colt was triaged on the turf course, but a statement from Santa Anita said veterinarians determined it was an unrecoverable injury. The colt was euthanized.

KEMPTON, England (AP) - Bryony Frost became the first female jockey to win the King George VI Chase when she rode 20-1 shot Frodon in an impressive front-running display on Saturday, giving trainer Paul Nicholls a record-extending 12th victory in the prestigious English horse race.

Frodon - one of Nicholls’ four runners - dictated the pace of the 3-mile (4.8-kilometer) jumps race at Kempton after going out in front early and jumped excellently throughout under the 25-year-old Frost.

AWARDS

NEW YORK (AP) - Tennis star Naomi Osaka has been selected by The Associated Press as the Female Athlete of the Year.

The results were revealed Sunday after a vote by AP member sports editors and AP beat writers. Osaka got 18 of 35 first-place votes.

WNBA Finals MVP Breanna Stewart finished second, followed by Sarah Fuller, the Vanderbilt soccer player who kicked for the school’s football team.

Osaka won the U.S. Open in September for her third Grand Slam title.

NEW YORK (AP) - LeBron James’ on-court performance this year was spectacular again.

A fourth NBA title and fourth NBA Finals MVP trophy were his, as he lifted the Los Angeles Lakers back atop the basketball world.

And after a year that also included brilliant off-court work, James was announced Saturday as the winner of The Associated Press’ Male Athlete of the Year award for a record-tying fourth time.

Tiger Woods and Lance Armstrong are the only other men to win the AP award four times.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) - Three-time U.S. champion Johnny Weir has been elected to the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame.

Also elected to the Class of 2021 are Sandy Schwomeyer Lamb and Gale Tanger.

Due to the COVD-19 pandemic, their inductions will be postponed until the 2022 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Nashville.

OBITUARY

ATLANTA (AP) - Baseball Hall of Famer Phil Niekro, who pitched well into his 40s with a knuckleball that baffled big league hitters for more than two decades, mostly with the Atlanta Braves, has died after a long fight with cancer, the team announced Sunday. He was 81.

Niekro won 318 games over his 24-year career, which ended in 1987 at age 48 after he made one final start with the Braves.

Known for a pitch that befuddled hitters and catchers - heck, Niekro didn’t even know where it was going - he was a five-time All-Star who had three 20-win seasons with Atlanta.

DUNDEE, Scotland (AP) - Jim McLean, the Scottish soccer manager who led Dundee United to its only domestic league title in 1983 and the European Cup semifinals the following year, has died. He was 83.

McLean’s death was announced by the club on Saturday. The cause was not disclosed.

Together with Alex Ferguson’s Aberdeen, McLean’s Dundee United helped to shake up the Scottish game in the 1980s as the so-called “New Firm” challenged the hegemony of Celtic and Rangers - the Glasgow giants long referred to as the “Old Firm.”

McLean spent 22 years as United’s manager from 1971, leading the team to Scottish League Cup trophies in 1980 and ’81 as well as two more finals. The team was runner-up in the Scottish Cup six times under his charge.

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More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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