Kuchar shoots bogey-free 66 to hold Sony Open lead

Kuchar shoots bogey-free 66 to hold Sony Open lead

Matt Kuchar shot a bogey-free 6-under-par 66 to extend his lead in the Sony Open on Saturday at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu.

He’ll go into Sunday’s final round at 18-under 192 with a two-shot edge on Andrew Putnam, whose strong start allowed him to tie for the lead early in the third round.

The 40-year-old Kuchar was 3-under on the front side and regained the solo top spot.

Kuchar ended the round with six consecutive pars. Putnam birdied No. 18.

Kuchar will aim for his second championship in about two months after winning the Mayakoba Golf Classic in November in Mexico. He tied for 19th place last week in the Sentry Tournament of Champions.

Kuchar opened with consecutive rounds of 63 this week. He excelled with the irons again Saturday, leaving himself birdie putts of reasonable length.

Putnam pulled even with Kuchar with three birdies in the first five holes. He had a shot for another birdie on No. 6, but his chip from the fringe sat just outside the cup. That would have made for birdies on three consecutive holes.

Keith Mitchell and Chez Reavie share third place at 14-under.

Mitchell played a bogey-free round of 63, including four straight birdies on Nos. 7-10.

Reavie (66), who had three eagles Friday, was 5-under through nine holes of Saturday’s round. Then he went through a 3-over stretch from Nos. 11-13 and regrouped for two birdies the rest of the way.

Bryson DeChambeau made a move with 63, tying his best score on the PGA Tour. He opened the round with birdies on each of the first three holes.

He’s among a cluster of golfers at 11-under.

Corey Conners, Davis Love III, Charles Howell III, Dominic Bozzelli and Brian Stuard will all begin the final round tied at 11 under. They all checked in with 64s.

Hudson Swafford (67), Ted Potter Jr. (68) and Marc Leishman (68) are also in the bunch at 11-under.

–Field Level Media

Bettors quickly make Patriots slight favorite to beat Rams

Bettors quickly make Patriots slight favorite to beat Rams

Bettors quickly make Patriots slight favorite to beat Rams

The New England Patriots opened as a slight underdog to the Los Angeles Rams at some Las Vegas sports books, but it didn’t take long — mere minutes, actually — for bettors to make them the favorite.

The Patriots, who defeated the host Kansas City Chiefs for the AFC title on Sunday evening, opened as a slight favorite at some books and as a tossup or slight underdog at others. New England settled as a 1 1/2-point favorite around Las Vegas late Sunday.

The Rams advanced to the Super Bowl, set for Feb. 3 in Atlanta, by knocking off the host New Orleans Saints 26-23, also in overtime, earlier Sunday.

The over/under for total points scored hovered at 58-59. If it stays there, it would be the highest total for a Super Bowl, according to an ESPN report.

While both teams were underdogs entering Sunday’s games, neither team was considered a surprise to make the Super Bowl before the season.

Bettors made the Patriots the consensus favorite to win their fifth NFL title, and the Rams were among other top contenders, aided by their strong showing a season ago and also no doubt by Las Vegas’ proximity to Los Angeles.

The Patriots will be making their 11th appearance in the Super Bowl, and the Rams will be making their fourth.

New England will be playing in the Super Bowl for the third straight year, having beaten the Atlanta Falcons two years ago and lost to the Philadelphia Eagles last year.

The Patriots are 5-5 in past Super Bowl appearances, including a win over the then-St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI in February 2002.

The Rams won their only NFL title by defeating the Tennessee Titans in January 2000 in Super Bowl XXXIV.

–Field Level Media

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Patriots outlast Chiefs in OT thriller to reach SB LIII

Patriots outlast Chiefs in OT thriller to reach SB LIII

Patriots outlast Chiefs in OT thriller to reach SB LIII

The best move made Sunday by the New England Patriots may have been calling heads.

The visiting Patriots won the coin toss to begin overtime, then marched 75 yards in 13 plays for Rex Burkhead’s 2-yard rushing touchdown, which kept the Kansas City Chiefs’ offense from having a chance as New England prevailed 37-31.

New England advances to face the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII in two weeks at Atlanta, after the Rams survived an overtime thriller against the New Orleans Saints earlier Sunday for the NFC crown.

Quarterback Tom Brady, coupled with coach Bill Belichick, executed a ninth AFC title for New England, and the pair will have a chance at their sixth Super Bowl title. The Patriots are the third team in history — joining the Miami Dolphins (VI-VIII) and Buffalo Bills (XXV-XXVIII) — to reach three consecutive Super Bowls.

Brady passed for 348 yards, going 30 of 46 with one touchdown, and overcame two interceptions.

“Happy we won the (overtime) toss,” Brady said. “We got it and we took it down the field and scored. What a game.”

Indeed, it was. The teams combined for a whopping 38 fourth-quarter points, including 24 by the host Chiefs as they forged a 31-31 tie at the end of regulation while seeking an improbable comeback after trailing 14-0 at halftime.

First-year starting quarterback Patrick Mahomes passed for 295 yards, going 16 of 31, but the withered Kansas City defense could not give him an opportunity in overtime.

Taking possession with 32 seconds left in regulation, Mahomes completed passes of 21 yards to Spencer Ware and 27 yards to Demarcus Robinson to set up Harrison Butker for a 39-yard field goal with eight seconds left to forge a 31-31 tie to force overtime.

Then the Patriots won the overtime coin flip, and Brady consulted with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.

“I looked at Josh and said, ‘You got any touchdown plays still on that call sheet? He said, ‘Yes, we do,'” Brady recounted.

New England converted three third downs in overtime on completions of 20, 15 and 15 yards, the first two to Julian Edelman and the third to Rob Gronkowski. For the game, the Patriots were 13 of 19 on third down and amassed 524 yards and 36 first downs.

“These guys just competed and competed,” Belichick said. “We said 60 minutes, but what did it take? Seventy?”

Before Mahomes’ late drive, Brady actually appeared to have won the game with one of his patented late-game drives.

He got a break when an interception was wiped away because Chiefs linebacker Dee Ford lined up in the neutral zone and was ruled offsides. A 25-yard strike to Gronkowski on the next play set up a 4-yard touchdown rush by Burkhead with 39 seconds left in regulation for a 31-28 lead.

Burkhead finished with 12 carries for 41 yards and two scores, while rookie Sony Michel added 113 yards on 29 carries, including two touchdowns. Edelman led the New England receivers with 96 yards on seven grabs.

Sammy Watkins caught four passes for a whopping 114 yards to lead the Chiefs’ receivers. Running back Damien Williams scored three touchdowns, two off receptions and one off a rush as he added 96 yards from scrimmage.

“It was back and forth and we had opportunities,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “We’ll figure out a way to take advantage of those down the road. You’re sitting here thinking it was a pretty good year, but it’s going to hurt here for a little bit.”

The AFC Championship appearance was the first ever at home for Kansas City, which participated in Super Bowl I and won Super Bowl IV, both of which were played before the AFL-NFL merger.

“We wanted to bring the Hunt Trophy home,” Reid said of the hardware awarded to the AFC champion. “We’re going to get that son of a gun. We’re going to have to bear down this offseason.”

The Patriots took a 14-0 halftime lead, beginning with a 15-play, 80-yard touchdown drive on the first possession. The march, which began after the Chiefs won the coin toss and deferred, took 8:05, the most time-consuming playoff drive ever engineered by Brady. Michel scored on a 1-yard plunge.

New England, which outgained Kansas City 245-32 in the half and held a 16-3 advantage in first downs, was again at the Chiefs 1 on its second possession. Linebacker Reggie Ragland, however, intercepted a pass in the end zone, ending a playoff-record streak of 237 pass attempts without an interception by Brady.

The Chiefs blew an opportunity to score midway through the second quarter. Mahomes connected with Tyreek Hill for a 42-yard strike to the New England 23. On the next play, Williams broke wide open on a wheel route, but Mahomes overthrew him. Field-goal range was squandered when Mahomes was sacked for a 14-yard loss by Trey Flowers.

Phillip Dorsett tacked on a 29-yard TD snag with 27 seconds left in the half to cap a 90-yard drive by the Pats. Brady went in at the break with 146 yards passing, while Michel had 75 rushing.

It was the second time in history the AFC Championship Game went to overtime, joining the Denver Broncos’ victory over the Cleveland Browns in January of 1987. Never before had both conference championship games gone to overtime in the same year.

–Field Level Media

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Saints coach Payton: NFL admitted blown non-call

Saints coach Payton: NFL admitted blown non-call

Saints coach Payton: NFL admitted blown non-call

New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton said the NFL admitted that its officials missed a critical pass interference call late in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s NFC Championship Game.

The Los Angeles Rams capitalized on the lack of a flag, which forced the Saints to settle for a field goal and a 23-20 lead with 1:41 remaining, rather than running the clock down before kicking what would have been the game winner as time expired. With the extra time, the Rams forced overtime with a 48-yard field goal and won the game in the extra session to advance to the Super Bowl.

“The explanation … it was simple,” said Payton, who said he spoke with Alberto Riveron, the NFL’s senior vice president of officiating, on the phone shortly after the game. “They blew the call. Not only was it (pass) interference, but it was helmet-to-helmet (contact). That was the first thing Al said.

“…I don’t know if there was ever a more obvious pass interference call. That’s a tough one to swallow.”

On third-and-10 with 1:49 remaining, quarterback Drew Brees lofted a pass for wide receiver Tommylee Lewis. Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman had his back turned to the ball and ran helmet-first into Lewis, clearly before the ball arrived. Lewis was knocked to the ground, away from the ball.

Robey-Coleman admitted that he made contact before Lewis had a chance to catch the pass.

“Yes, I got there too early,” he said. “I was beat, and I was trying to save the touchdown.”

Referee Bill Vinovich briefly addressed the play during a postgame interview with a pool reporter.

“It was a judgment call by the covering official,” Vinovich said. “I personally have not seen the play. …It is not a reviewable play.”

Considering the prominence of the non-call, Brees suggested it could lead to rules changes about reviewable plays in the future.

“I’m sure that because of this, as a result of this, there’s going to be a lot of talk about (reviewing) game-changing plays within two minutes,” he said. “Maybe that’s something that will happen.”

But Brees and others said that one play did not define the entire game. The Saints failed to score touchdowns on a pair of early red-zone drives, instead settling for field goals, and the Rams picked off a pass in overtime to set up the win.

For his part, Rams coach Sean McVay said he could understand the non-call.

“I just thought it was a bang-bang type play,” he said. “One of the things I respected about the refs is that they let the guys play. I thought it was a competitive-type play. I’m certainly not going to complain about the way the play was officiated.”

The NFL might want to move on from the controversial call as quickly as possible, but Rams running back Todd Gurley has other ideas. He posted a doctored photo on his Instagram account after the game that depicted him exchanging jerseys with Vinovich.

Gurley, who has 1.4 million Instagram followers, accompanied the photo with three skull emojis and four laughing emojis.

The photo appeared to be edited from an original photo following a 2016 game, in which Gurley and Saints running back Mark Ingram were swapping jerseys on the field at the Superdome.

Meanwhile, an electronic sign over the Pontchartrain Causeway near New Orleans offered a different message shortly after the game. Drivers who looked up at the sign saw three simple words in all-caps: “WE WERE ROBBED.”

–Field Level Media

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Saints QB Brees confirms he will return next season

Saints QB Brees confirms he will return next season

Saints QB Brees confirms he will return next season

Drew Brees has some unfinished business he would like to address.

The New Orleans Saints’ veteran quarterback confirmed Sunday that he plans to return for his 19th NFL season in the fall. The 40-year-old addressed questions about his future shortly after the Saints were eliminated by the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Championship Game.

“I plan on being here next season and making another run at it,” said Brees, who had previously voiced plans to play at least another season or two.

Brees, whose 40th birthday was Tuesday, already is No. 1 on the all-time list with 74,437 career passing yards. He needs 563 more yards to become the first signal-caller in league history to reach the 75,000-yard milestone.

The Purdue product figures to climb other charts, as well. He is No. 2 on the all-time list for passing touchdowns with 520 — only 19 scores behind the Peyton Manning (539) for the top spot.

Brees passed for 3,992 yards, 32 touchdowns and five interceptions in 15 games this season, setting a single-season record by completing 74.4 percent of his passes. He is under contract through 2019, as he’ll make $23 million between base salary and a roster bonus next year, while counting $33.5 million against the cap.

–Field Level Media

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Broncos CB Harris will replace Gilmore in Pro Bowl

Broncos CB Harris will replace Gilmore in Pro Bowl

Denver Broncos cornerback Chris

Broncos CB Harris will replace Gilmore in Pro Bowl

Denver Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr. is headed to the Pro Bowl to replace New England Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore, according to a report Sunday night from KUSA-TV in Denver.

Gilmore has a good reason to miss the game in Orlando: He will be preparing for the Patriots’ Super Bowl LIII showdown against the Los Angeles Rams.

Harris, named a first alternate for the game, said earlier this week that he would be ready to play if called upon. He broke his fibula and missed the final four games of the regular season, but he told KUSA-TV that he would be able to play in the Pro Bowl if asked, which would be his fourth such selection.

“I’m cleared, I’m ready to roll,” Harris said. “I’ve been training and everything.”

In 12 games, all starts, Harris finished this season with 49 tackles to go along with three interceptions (one returned for at touchdown), 10 pass break-ups, one sack. He has 19 interceptions in eight seasons with Denver, earning Pro Bowl honors from 2014-16.

–Field Level Media

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Zuerlein kicks Rams past Saints in OT, into SB LIII

Zuerlein kicks Rams past Saints in OT, into SB LIII

Zuerlein kicks Rams past Saints in OT, into SB LIII

After forcing overtime with a 48-yard field goal with 15 seconds left in regulation, Greg Zuerlein nailed a 57-yard field goal 4:17 into overtime to lift the visiting Los Angeles Rams to a controversial 26-23 victory over the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday and a berth in Super Bowl LIII.

Zuerlein’s game-winning field goal came after the Rams intercepted a Drew Brees pass on the fourth snap of overtime. Brees’ right arm was hit by linebacker Dante Fowler Jr., and his fluttering pass was picked off by safety John Johnson at the Los Angeles 46.

Jared Goff found tight end Tyler Higbee for a 12-yard gain on first down to the New Orleans 42, and the Rams got 3 more yards in three plays before Zuerlein, who has career field goals of 60 and 61 yards, came in to connect on the game winner.

Overtime came after a wild final two minutes in regulation.

With the game tied at 20 with 4:57 left, the Saints drove inside the Rams’ 15 — with Ted Ginn Jr. outleaping safety Lamarcus Joyner for a 43-yard catch.

Three plays later, New Orleans appeared to be the victim of a blown pass-interference call that would have allowed them to run the clock down and kick a game-winning, chip-shot field goal. On third-and-10 from the Los Angeles 13, Brees threw for Tommylee Lewis on the right side, who was clobbered by safety Nickell Robey-Coleman just before the ball arrived. The ball fell incomplete, and no penalty was called.

Instead, the Saints had to settle for a 31-yard field goal by Wil Lutz, for a 23-20, lead with 1:41 left.

The Rams then drove 45 yards to the New Orleans 30, where Zuerlein tied it with 15 seconds left with a 48-yard field goal, sending the game to overtime.

Brees put the Saints up 20-10 midway through the third quarter with a 2-yard screen pass to Taysom Hill, Hill’s first career TD reception. But the Rams came right back to make it 20-17 on Goff’s 1-yard toss to a wide-open tight end, Tyler Higbee, on third down.

The Saints wasted a great scoring opportunity after taking over at the Rams’ 46 with 12:22 left, but they could not overcome a first-down holding penalty on left tackle Terron Armstead.

Goff then drove the Rams 90 yards to the Saints’ 1. Instead of gambling for the touchdown on fourth-and-goal from the 1, Rams coach Sean McVay sent in Zuerlein for the tying 24-yard field goal, 24-24, with 5:03 left.

Goff converted two big throws on the drive — for 39 yards to tight end Gerald Everett and 33 yards to wide receiver Josh Reynolds.

The Saints jumped out to a 13-0 lead with field goals of 37 and 29 yards Wil Lutz and a 5-yard touchdown pass from Brees to tight end Garrett Griffin, but the Rams settled in and scored 10 straight points to make it 13-10 at halftime.

Goff seemed rattled by the crowd noise in the first quarter, but he led the Rams 81 yards in seven plays just before halftime to set up Todd Gurley’s 6-yard touchdown run 23 seconds before intermission.

Goff set up the touchdown with two tough throws to former Saints wide receiver Brandin Cooks — a 17-yard completion on third-and-10 and a 36-yarder down the left sideline to the New Orleans 6, where Gurley scored on the next play.

Gurley’s jitters had a lot to do with the Rams’ 13-0 hole. Trailing 3-0, Gurley dropped a pass from Goff that fell into the arms of Saints linebacker Demario Davis at the Los Angeles 16. But the Rams’ defense held the Saints to a field goal, and a 6-0 lead.

Brees made it 13-0, driving the Saints 68 yards in eight plays, and finding the little used Griffin for the score. It was Griffin’s second career reception and first TD catch.

Trailing 13-0 and faced with a fourth-and-5 from their own 30, the Rams had punter Johnny Hekker throw a sideline pass to cornerback Sam Shields for 12 yards and a first down.

The fake punt extended the drive and led to Zuerlein’s 36-yard field goal, cutting the deficit to 13-3 and giving the Rams some momentum.

–Field Level Media

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Long birdies 18 at Desert Classic for first career win

Long birdies 18 at Desert Classic for first career win

Adam

Long birdies 18 at Desert Classic for first career win

Adam Long sunk a 14-foot birdie putt at No. 18 to clip Phil Mickelson and Canada’s Adam Hadwin on the final hole Sunday at the Desert Classic in La Quinta, Calif., claiming his first title in his sixth career start on the PGA Tour.

The trio came to the 18th hole on the Stadium Course — the site for Sunday’s action after three courses were used on Thursday, Friday and Saturday — tied at 25 under. Hadwin’s approach found the back left bunker, while Mickelson, from the right rough, put his approach to 38 feet. Approaching from the left rough and about 35 yards closer than Mickelson, Long dropped his shot to 14 feet.

After Mickelson missed, Long buried a slight right-to-left breaker in the center of the cup, capping a bogey-free round of 7-under-par 65, Long’s lowest career round on the PGA Tour.

“Honestly, I got a pretty good read off Phil’s putt,” Long said afterward. “It was one of those putts that you just stand over it and you just know you’re gonna make it. You can’t control that, but when you have that feeling, it’s a good one, and I’m in disbelief right now.”

The 31-year-old Long turned pro in 2010 but made just one PGA Tour start — a missed cut at the 2011 U.S. Open — before October. He tied for 63rd at the Safeway Open in October and was cut in all three events since before this week. Ranked 417th in the world entering the tournament, Long is projected to jump to No. 205 and to No. 12 in the FedEx Cup Standings. He also will take home winnings of $1.063 million after earning $13,568 the rest of the season to date.

Long had to be resourceful to chase down Hadwin, who used a 5-under 31 on the front nine to get to 25 under and take a two-stroke lead over Mickelson, who was 1 under on the front. Three strokes off the pace entering the back nine, Long chipped in from 16 feet for birdie at the 12th and then again from 20 feet at No. 15, which came just after he sunk a short putt for birdie at the 14th.

“The chip-ins were huge, and some putts on the front nine as well to just hang in there,” Long said. “It was a huge thrill to play with Phil obviously. I’ve looked up to him my whole life, and I’m a big fan of his and he couldn’t have been greater to me.”

Mickelson began the day with a two-shot lead, but he opened and closed his front nine with bogeys, including a three-putt at No. 1. With two precise approaches, he made short birdie putts at Nos. 15 and 16 to regain a share of the lead, before a par-par finish left him a stroke short.

“I had a terrible putting day, I mean, one of the worst I can recall in a while,” said Mickelson, who matched his career-low score with a 12-under 60 at La Quinta Country Club in the opening round. “…I missed a bunch of short ones on the front and some birdie opportunities. It felt awful with the putter. I hit a lotta good shots today, though. I just couldn’t get the ball to go in the hole.”

Hadwin went cold after the turn, following a birdie at No. 11 with a bogey at No. 13 before five pars to finish. He missed birdie opportunities from five feet on No. 12 and just under 10 feet on No. 15.

Talor Gooch, the only player to go lower than Long on Sunday, fired an 8-under 64 to claim fourth place alone at 24 under for the tournament.

Dominic Bozzelli (66) finished two strokes back in fifth, with defending champion Jon Rahm (67) at 21 under for sixth place.

–Field Level Media

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Report: Mahomes could sign $200M deal

Report: Mahomes could sign $200M deal

Report: Mahomes could sign $200M deal

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is in just his second year in the NFL, but the talk already has started that he could become the league’s first $200 million man.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Sunday that the Chiefs are expected to extend Mahomes’ rookie contract after the 2019 season and that the deal could break league records. He said it likely would eclipse Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ contract, which has an annual average payout of $33.5 million.

After next season, Mahomes will have two years left on his contract, including the fifth-year team option.

And regardless of whether the Chiefs beat the New England Patriots in Sunday’s AFC championship game to earn a berth in the Super Bowl, Mahomes will be more visible this offseason. His agent, Leigh Steinberg, wanted him to stay in the background until he’d proved himself on the field, Schefter said. In his rookie year, he backed up Alex Smith.

“He’s a fresh face,” Steinberg told ESPN this weekend. “By holding him back, we haven’t overexposed him.”

Steinberg said Mahomes will be seen more in the offseason with new television commercials and marketing deals.

The 23-year-old Mahomes in an MVP candidate. He led the Chiefs to a 12-4 record and threw for 5,097 yards. His 50 touchdown passes led the league, and only Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (5,129) threw for more yards.

–Field Level Media

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Report: Kitna to become Cowboys QB coach

Report: Kitna to become Cowboys QB coach

Former NFL quarterback Jon Kitna is in line to become the new

Report: Kitna to become Cowboys QB coach

Former NFL quarterback Jon Kitna is in line to become the new quarterbacks coach of the Dallas Cowboys, ESPN reported Sunday.

Kitna is currently the offensive coordinator for the San Diego Fleet in the Alliance of American Football, a league that begins play next month.

Current Cowboys quarterbacks coach Kellen Moore is the leading candidate to become the Cowboys’ offensive coordinator, according to ESPN.

Dallas recently parted ways with offensive coordinator Scott Linehan after four seasons in that role. Linehan spent five seasons as the primary play caller.

There is a possibility that Cowboys coach Jason Garrett will call plays in 2019.

Kitna spent seven seasons as a high school football coach before agreeing to join the Fleet, who are coached by former NFL head coach Mike Martz.

Kitna, 46, played 14 NFL seasons, including two with the Cowboys in 2010-11. He also came out of retirement to be on the roster for one game in 2013. He passed for 29,745 yards, 169 touchdowns and 165 interceptions with the Seattle Seahawks, Cincinnati Bengals, Detroit Lions and Cowboys.

The 2018 season was Moore’s first as quarterbacks coach after retiring as a player.

Moore, 29, played in three NFL games for Dallas in 2015 and passed for 779 yards, four touchdowns and six interceptions in 104 passing attempts.

–Field Level Media

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Report: NFL to wrap up Hunt investigation by March

Report: NFL to wrap up Hunt investigation by March

Report: NFL to wrap up Hunt investigation by March

The NFL is expected to finish its investigation into three different off-field incidents involving running back Kareem Hunt and decide on a final punishment before free agency opens in March, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

Rapoport reported Sunday that Hunt is expected to face a suspension of six-plus games but is likely to be back on the field at some point in the 2019 season.

The former Kansas City Chiefs running back was released by the team in November after TMZ released a video showing Hunt pushing and kicking then-19-year-old Abigail Ottinger from Berea, Ohio, in Cleveland last February.

Hunt also allegedly was involved in an altercation at a restaurant last June, an incident the NFL was aware of and questioned the running back about. However, TMZ also reported that Hunt was involved in a violent incident last January at a nightclub in Kansas City, an altercation the NFL did not previously know about, according to ESPN.

In that incident, TMZ reported that Hunt and others — including then-Chiefs running back George Atkinson — beat a man to the point of unconsciousness at a nightclub in Kansas City on Jan. 11.

The NFL placed Hunt, the 2017 rushing leader, on the commissioner’s exempt list while it investigates all three incidents, meaning Hunt is unable to play for any team that might sign him.

Hunt went unclaimed on waivers and is officially a free agent.

Hunt, 23, is from the Cleveland suburb of Willoughby and spends a significant part of his offseason in the area. He played college football at Toledo and burst onto the scene as a third-round draft pick in 2017.

Hunt rushed for an NFL-best 1,327 yards as a rookie. He had 824 yards through 11 games this season.

–Field Level Media

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Report: Berry to play, but surgery likely after season

Report: Berry to play, but surgery likely after season

Report: Berry to play, but surgery likely after season

Kansas City Chiefs safety Eric Berry is expected to play in Sunday’s AFC Championship Game against the New England Patriots, but he’ll likely need surgery to repair a lingering heel injury after the season, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Sunday.

Rapoport said the heel will be examined further whenever the Chiefs’ season ends, and that corrective surgery is the likely outcome.

Berry was removed from the injury report following Friday’s practice, his third straight day as a full participant.

“I feel pretty good,” Berry told reporters after the practice.

The five-time Pro Bowl selection missed the preseason and the first 13 regular-season games because of the heel injury. He played in two regular-season games in December before missing the finale after reinjuring it, and he also missed last weekend’s divisional-round victory over the Indianapolis Colts.

“I wanted to go in that game,” Berry told reporters of the Colts’ game. “Just a lot of complications that I can’t really explain. Hopefully this weekend it will be different.

“Right now, I just know it’s moving in the right direction and I want to get on the field on Sunday.”

–Field Level Media

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NFL fines Colts DL Autry, Rams CB Peters

NFL fines Colts DL Autry, Rams CB Peters

The NFL has

NFL fines Colts DL Autry, Rams CB Peters

The NFL has fined Indianapolis Colts defensive lineman Denico Autry and Los Angeles Rams cornerback Marcus Peters for separate incidents in last weekend’s divisional playoffs, NFL Network reported Saturday.

Autry was fined $13,369 for his hip-swiveling celebratory dance after sacking Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes in the third quarter of the Colts’ 31-13 loss, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.

Autry, whose performed his celebration directly in front of an official, was also penalized 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Peters was fined $10,026 for unnecessary roughness during the Rams’ 30-22 win against the Dallas Cowboys, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

Peters drew a 15-yard flag after shoving receiver Amari Cooper out of bounds after a fourth-down run by Ezekiel Elliott.

–Field Level Media

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Report: Cardinals hire Clements, won’t have OC

Report: Cardinals hire Clements, won't have OC

The Arizona Cardinals will hire former

Report: Cardinals hire Clements, won’t have OC

The Arizona Cardinals will hire former Green Bay Packers assistant Tom Clements as their passing game coordinator/quarterbacks coach, NFL Network reported Saturday.

The network also reported the Cardinals are not expected to hire an offensive coordinator, despite interviewing a number of candidates.

New head coach Kliff Kingsbury will run his own offense and call plays, but he said at his introductory press conference he hoped to hired a veteran coordinator with NFL experience. Clements, who was the Packers’ OC from 2012-2014 and led the Buffalo Bills’ offense from 2004-05, brings experience to the staff, without the coordinator title.

Clements, 65, helped groom Aaron Rodgers while serving as the Packers’ quarterbacks coach from 2006-11 before his promotion to coordinator, and he was the team’s assistant head coach from 2015-16. Clements will now be charged with developing 2018 first-round pick Josh Rosen, a friend of Rodgers’ who struggled behind a poor offensive line as a rookie.

According to various reports, the Cardinals interviewed at least five other former offensive coordinators before hiring Clements:

–Jim Bob Cooter, ex-Detroit coordinator, whose contract was not renewed by the Lions.

–John DeFilippo, fired by Minnesota late in the season but hired by Jacksonville to be OC.

–Steve Sarkisian, ex-Atlanta coordinator who reportedly turned down the Cardinals’ job to return to Alabama.

–Ben McAdoo, former coordinator and head coach with New York Giants.

–Hue Jackson, former Cleveland head coach and Cincinnati coordinator.

Jackson reportedly interviewed for the job on Friday. He spent the second half of the 2018 season with the Bengals after being fired in October by the Browns, ending a tenure of two-plus years in which he went 3-36-1.

–Field Level Media

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Jaguars sign S Wilson to 3-year extension

Jaguars sign S Wilson to 3-year extension

The Jacksonville Jaguars have

Jaguars sign S Wilson to 3-year extension

The Jacksonville Jaguars have signed safety Jarrod Wilson to a three-year contract extension, the team announced Saturday.

Wilson, who turns 25 next month, was set to become a restricted free agent in March.

Originally signed by the Jaguars as an undrafted free agent in May 2016, Wilson has appeared in 47 games and has 26 tackles, two passes defensed, two tackles for loss and one forced fumble in his career.

Wilson played all 16 games in 2018, starting the last two. He played 222 snaps on defense and 262 snaps on special teams, after logging 592 of his 673 snaps from 2016-17 on special teams.

–Field Level Media

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S Burnett seeking release from Steelers

S Burnett seeking release from Steelers

S Burnett seeking release from Steelers

Pittsburgh Steelers safety Morgan Burnett told NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport on Saturday he would like the team to release him before free agency.

Per Rapoport, Burnett wants to join a team that will use him in a pure safety role, after he played what he believes was out of position at dime linebacker in Pittsburgh.

Burnett, who turned 30 last Sunday, joined the Steelers on a three-year, $14.4 million deal as a free agent last March, but he started just two of 11 games this season as the third safety. Sean Davis primarily played free safety, with rookie first-rounder Terrell Edmunds at strong safety and Burnett playing in sub packages, logging 55.7 percent of the defensive snaps.

Burnett is set to cost just under $6.5 million against the cap in 2019. His release would save Pittsburgh about $3.6 million in cap space, while bringing a $2.8 million dead-money hit.

After eight seasons with the Green Bay Packers, Burnett registered 30 tackles and six passes defensed in his first season with the Steelers in 2018. In 113 career games (104 starts), he has 747 tackles, 50 passes defensed and nine interceptions.

–Field Level Media

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Reports: Ravens, Harbaugh finalizing extension

Reports: Ravens, Harbaugh finalizing extension

Reports: Ravens, Harbaugh finalizing extension

The Baltimore Ravens are finalizing an extension with head coach John Harbaugh, according to multiple reports Saturday, a month after the team announced its plans to retain him and work on a new deal.

Harbaugh was set to enter the final year of his contract, but the Ravens announced Dec. 21 that they planned to keep him and begin discussing an extension. Prior to that announcement, many had speculated about Harbaugh’s job security, and some had speculated in the weeks since that another team might pursue him via trade.

Harbaugh, 56, has spent 11 seasons with the Ravens, making him the fourth-longest-tenured head coach in the NFL behind Bill Belichick (19 years), Mike Tomlin and Sean Payton (12 each). The Ravens have had just three head coaches since arriving in Baltimore in 1996.

After winning a playoff game in each of his first five seasons at the helm — culminating in a Super Bowl XLVII victory — Harbaugh and the Ravens had missed the playoffs in four of the last five seasons, including three straight years, before winning the AFC North in 2018. After winning six of their final seven regular-season games behind quarterback Lamar Jackson, they were bounced in the first round of the playoffs by the Los Angeles Chargers.

Harbaugh is 114-78 with the Ravens, including 10-6 in the postseason.

His extension will maintain some continuity as the team undergoes its first change at general manager since it arrived in Baltimore. Longtime assistant GM Eric DeCosta took over the lead job last week as Ozzie Newsome retired to take a smaller advisory role in the organization.

–Field Level Media

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Texans sign RT Henderson to 1-year extension

Texans sign RT Henderson to 1-year extension

Texans sign RT Henderson to 1-year extension

The Houston Texans have signed right tackle Seantrel Henderson to a one-year contract extension, the team announced Saturday.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported the deal was worth a maximum value of $4.5 million.

Henderson started the Texans’ 2018 season opener at New England, but suffered a broken left ankle in the first quarter and missed the rest of the season.

Henderson, who turns 27 on Monday, played the previous four seasons with Buffalo. A seventh-round pick out of Miami in 2014, he appeared in 34 games for the Bills with 27 starts from 2014-17.

–Field Level Media

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NFL notebook: Ravens, Harbaugh reportedly near extension

NFL notebook: Ravens, Harbaugh reportedly near extension

The Baltimore Ravens are

NFL notebook: Ravens, Harbaugh reportedly near extension

The Baltimore Ravens are finalizing an extension with head coach John Harbaugh, according to multiple reports Saturday, a month after the team announced its plans to retain him and work on a new deal.

Harbaugh was set to enter the final year of his contract, but the Ravens announced Dec. 21 that they planned to keep him and begin discussing an extension. Prior to that announcement, many had speculated about Harbaugh’s job security, and some had speculated in the weeks since that another team might pursue him via trade.

Harbaugh, 56, has spent 11 seasons with the Ravens, making him the fourth-longest-tenured head coach in the NFL behind Bill Belichick (19 years), Mike Tomlin and Sean Payton (12 each).

After winning a playoff game in each of his first five seasons at the helm — culminating in a Super Bowl XLVII victory — Harbaugh and the Ravens had missed the playoffs in four of the last five seasons, including three straight years, before winning the AFC North in 2018. They were bounced in the first round of the playoffs by the Los Angeles Chargers.

–Philadelphia quarterback Nick Foles fell four snaps shy of earning a $1 million bonus this season, but the Eagles reportedly paid him anyway in a good faith gesture.

Playing for injured starter Carson Wentz, Foles went 4-1 in five regular-season starts and finished with 357 snaps — 32.69 percent of the team’s 2018 total. He needed to play 33 percent of the snaps to earn the $1 million incentive, leaving him four snaps short.

ESPN’s Field Yates reported Philadelphia opted to pay the Super Bowl LII MVP despite the shortfall.

–The Arizona Cardinals will hire former Green Bay Packers assistant Tom Clements as their passing game coordinator/quarterbacks coach, NFL Network reported.

The network also reported the Cardinals are not expected to hire an offensive coordinator, despite interviewing a number of candidates.

New head coach Kliff Kingsbury will run his own offense and call plays, but he said at his introductory press conference he hoped to hired a veteran coordinator with NFL experience. Clements, who was the Packers’ OC from 2012-2014 and led the Buffalo Bills’ offense from 2004-05, brings experience to the staff, without the coordinator title.

–Pittsburgh Steelers safety Morgan Burnett told NFL Network he would like the team to release him before free agency.

Per Rapoport, Burnett wants to join a team that will use him in a pure safety role, after he played what he believes was out of position at dime linebacker in Pittsburgh.

Burnett, who turned 30 last Sunday, joined the Steelers on a three-year, $14.4 million deal as a free agent last March, but he started just two of 11 games this season as the third safety.

–The Houston Texans have signed right tackle Seantrel Henderson to a one-year contract extension, the team announced.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported the deal was worth a maximum value of $4.5 million.

Henderson started the Texans’ 2018 season opener at New England, but suffered a broken left ankle in the first quarter and missed the rest of the season.

–The Jacksonville Jaguars have signed safety Jarrod Wilson to a three-year contract extension, the team announced.

Wilson, who turns 25 next month, was set to become a restricted free agent in March.

–The NFL has fined Indianapolis Colts defensive lineman Denico Autry and Los Angeles Rams cornerback Marcus Peters for separate incidents in last weekend’s divisional playoffs, NFL Network reported.

Autry was fined $13,369 for his hip-swiveling celebratory dance after sacking Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes in the third quarter of the Colts’ 31-13 loss, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.

Peters was fined $10,026 for unnecessary roughness during the Rams’ 30-22 win against the Dallas Cowboys, according to Rapoport.

–Field Level Media

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Mickelson maintains 2-stroke lead at Desert Classic

Mickelson maintains 2-stroke lead at Desert Classic

Mickelson maintains 2-stroke lead at Desert Classic

Phil Mickelson’s strategy for the third round at the Desert Classic on Saturday was a simple one: use his driver off the tee whenever he could to hit the ball as far as possible, then go find it and try to score.

That approach worked well for Mickelson, who fired a bogey-free 6-under-par 66 to maintain a two-shot lead after 54 holes of play at the 60th edition of this event, contested at a trio of courses in La Quinta, Calif.

Mickelson, playing for the first time this week at the Stadium Course at PGA West, enters the final round at 22-under-par 194. He had three straight birdies on holes six through eight and two more on the 13th and 14th before making a gutsy 6-foot putt for par on the 15th.

Mickelson then rolled in a 45-foot putt for birdie on the daunting par-3 17th hole, the water- and rock-surrounded “Alcatraz,” to re-establish the two-shot advantage he held after 36 holes. Sunday’s final round will be held on the Stadium Course.

“I played okay,” Mickelson explained. “My goal or game plan was to hit drivers and bomb the ball down there as far as I could to set up wedges or short irons in, even if I was off the fairway. It seemed to play out okay. I missed some putts, but I also made some long ones that were little bonuses.”

Canadian Adam Hadwin fired a 7-under 65 at the Nicklaus Tournament Course to pull into solo second place while rookie Adam Long ripped off a 9-under 63 at La Quinta Country Club to move into third at 19 under.

Steve Marino carded a 5-under 67 at Nicklaus to end up alone in fourth, four shots off Mickelson’s lead. Michael Thompson (65 at Stadium) and Patrick Cantlay (66 at La Quinta CC) are tied for fifth five shots back.

The 48-year-old Mickelson matched his career-low score with 12-under 60 at La Quinta CC in the opening round and had a 68 at Nicklaus to reach 16 under after 36 holes.

Mickelson, whose most recent win was at the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship last year for his 43rd PGA Tour title and first since the 2013 British Open, will sleep on the lead for the 38th time in his career.

He will stick to his third-round strategy for the final 18 holes Sunday.

“This is a course you don’t have to be perfect on,” Mickelson said. “You have to hit a lot of good shots in certain spots, but if you miss it and miss it properly, you can still play this course. I want to come out and play aggressive and get as close to the greens as possible to make some more birdies.”

If there is a horse for the course, or courses in this case, this week, it’s Hadwin. He began Saturday’s round three shots behind Mickelson and took advantage of the easiest of the three courses in use this week to sweep to the lead while Mickelson was making the turn at Stadium.

This is the fourth consecutive year Hadwin has been in contention in the Coachella Valley, after finishing sixth in 2016, runner-up in 2017 (after shooting a third-round 59 at La Quinta) and third last year.

“I was playing one of the easier golf courses, so I knew I had to keep the pedal down,” Hadwin said after his Saturday round. “I had kind of a slowish start, and then just kind of caught fire midway, made a couple putts, hit some good shots. I’ve been playing really solid all week, and luckily I’ve got a chance going into Sunday.”

Defending champion Jon Rahm of Spain opened with back-to-back 66s in a bid to join Johnny Miller as the only player to successfully defend his tournament title (1975-76) at the event. Rahm fired a 68 on Saturday at Stadium to finish in a tie for seventh at 16 under.

“I played solid, but didn’t take advantage of chances, especially early on in the round,” Rahm said. “I’m not surprised I’m as far back as I am, but it makes me think about the shots I missed during today’s round that could have made a difference. The course is there for the taking.”

Curtis Luck, the 2016 U.S. Amateur champion from Australia who was second after a 66 at Nicklaus on Friday, struggled to a 4-over 76 at Stadium on Saturday, finishing the third round at 10 under and tied for 46th.

The field was cut to the top 73 players at 9 under after 54 holes rather than after the first two rounds as in most PGA Tour events. Jamie Lovemark withdrew from the event before start of the third round. Former Desert Classic champion Pat Perez also withdrew after four holes of the third round with a thumb injury.

–Field Level Media

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Report: Eagles pay Foles $1M bonus despite shortfall

Report: Eagles pay Foles $1M bonus despite shortfall

Report: Eagles pay Foles $1M bonus despite shortfall

Philadelphia quarterback Nick Foles fell four snaps shy of earning a $1 million bonus this season, but the Eagles reportedly paid him anyway in a good faith gesture.

Playing for injured starter Carson Wentz, Foles went 4-1 in five regular-season starts and finished with 357 snaps — 32.69 percent of the team’s 2018 total. He needed to play 33 percent of the snaps to earn the $1 million incentive, leaving him four snaps short.

ESPN’s Field Yates reported Saturday that Philadelphia opted to pay the Super Bowl LII MVP despite the shortfall.

“Philly does right by the clutch QB,” Yates tweeted.

Foles completed 72.3 percent of his passes for 1,413 yards with seven touchdowns and four interceptions in the regular season. He set a franchise record with 471 passing yards in a Week 16 win against Houston and tied an NFL record with 25 consecutive completions at Washington in a Week 17 win.

Foles, who turns 30 on Sunday, also led the Eagles to a 16-15 wild-card victory at Chicago. The defending champions fell short in the division round last Sunday, losing 20-14 at New Orleans.

–Field Level Media

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