Update on the latest sportsAP
Allen’s 3 TDs, McKenzie’s big day push Bills past Patriots
UNDATED (AP) — Josh Allen threw for three touchdowns and the Buffalo Bills hung on to beat the New England Patriots 33-21 Sunday to vault themselves back into first place in the AFC East title race. Buffalo now holds tiebreakers over the Patriots and Dolphins, and is in the driver’s seat to win its second straight division title.
Allen finished 30 of 47 passes for 314 yards, and he also rushed 12 times for 64 yards.
The Patriots saw rookie quarterback Mac Jones struggling to find openings against the Bills’ top-ranked defense. He went 14 of 32 for 145 yards and two interceptions.
In other NFL action:
— The Chiefs have wrapped up their sixth consecutive AFC West crown and improved to 11-4 with a 36-10 rout of the Steelers. Patrick Mahomes threw for 258 yards and three touchdowns, with Byron Pringle accounting for two of those scores. Clyde Edwards-Helaire had a touchdown run for Kansas City before leaving early in the second half with a collarbone injury. Pittsburgh fell to 7-7-1 and further behind the Bengals in the AFC North. Ben Roethlisberger threw for 159 yards with a meaningless fourth-quarter touchdown for Pittsburgh, along with throwing an interception and losing a fumble.
— Joe Burrow threw for a franchise-record 525 yards and four touchdowns, and the Cincinnati Bengals took sole possession of first place in the AFC North with a 41-21 win over the depleted Baltimore Ravens. Burrow broke Boomer Esiason’s team record of 522 yards. He was 37 of 46 and threw two touchdown passes to Tee Higgins and one each to Tyler Boyd and Joe Mixon. The Bengals swept the Ravens for the first time since 2015. Tee Higgins had 12 receptions for a career-high 194 yards. Josh Johnson started at quarterback for the Ravens with Lamar Jackson injured and backup Tyler Huntley sidelined by COVID-19.
— Tom Brady threw for 232 yards and a touchdown, Antonio Brown made a grand return to the lineup after missing the last eight games and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Carolina Panthers 32-6 to clinch their first NFC South title since 2007. In his first game since Oct. 13, Brown saw a prominent role on offense with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin sidelined with injuries, catching 10 passes for 101 yards while being targeted 15 times by Brady. Ronald Jones carried 20 times for 65 yards and a touchdown filling in for the injured Leonard Fournette, and Tampa Bay got big offensive contributions from unheralded players Ke’Shawn Vaughn and Cyril Grayson.
— Hours after clinching the NFC East, the Cowboys put an emphatic stamp on the title by blasting Washington, 56-14. Dallas scored three touchdowns in each of the first two quarters and led 42-7 at halftime. Dak Prescott was 28 of 39 for 330 yards and four scores as Dallas moved to 11-4 while crushing Washington’s playoff hopes. Cooper Rush threw the fifth scoring strike, helping the Cowboys reach 50 points for the first time since the Super Bowl in 1993.
— Brandon Powell returned a punt 61 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter to lift Los Angeles with Matthew Stafford mired in a slump. The Rams pulled out a 30-23 victory over the Minnesota Vikings to clinch a spot in the playoffs. Sony Michel rushed for a season-high 131 yards and a score, Matt Gay made three field goals and the defense did its part for the Rams. The Vikings were kept out of the end zone on two first-half trips inside the 10. The Rams are 11-4 in first place in the NFC West. The Vikings are 7-8.
— Jalen Hurts threw a touchdown to lineman Lane Johnson, linebacker Alex Singleton returned an interception for a score and the Philadelphia Eagles continued their late-season playoff push with a 34-10 win over the New York Giants. The Eagles remain in the hunt for a wild-card spot in the NFC. Hurts shook off a dismal first half and threw for 199 yards and two touchdowns to push the Eagles over .500 for the first time since they won the season opener. Jake Fromm flopped in his first NFL start with the New York Giants and was replaced in the third quarter by Mike Glennon.
— Josh Jacobs rushed for 129 yards and the Las Vegas Raiders came from behind to defeat the Denver Broncos 17-13 to stay relevant in the AFC playoff picture. The 8-7 Raiders severely damaged the postseason chances for AFC West rival Denver, which dropped its third game in the last four to fall to 7-8. Las Vegas quarterback Derek Carr completed 20 of 25 passes for 201 yards with one touchdown and an interception. Carr completed at least one pass to all seven of his targets, led by Zay Jones, who had six receptions for 50 yards. Hunter Renfrow had three catches for 40 yards and one touchdown, while Foster Moreau and DeSean Jackson each had four receptions.
— Matt Ryan threw a tie-breaking 12-yard touchdown pass to Hayden Hurst early in the fourth quarter and the Atlanta Falcons held on late to beat the Detroit Lions 20-16 to preserve their slim playoff hopes. Foye Oluokun’s interception of Lions fill-in quarterback Tim Boyle’s pass at the Atlanta 1 with 33 seconds remaining preserved the win. Boyle made his second career start as Jared Goff remained on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
— Rex Burkhead ran for a career-high 149 yards and two touchdowns, and the Houston Texans took advantage of three turnovers to beat the Los Angeles Chargers 41-29. Both teams were missing more than a dozen players because COVID-19 protocols. The Chargers’ playoff chances took a serious blow with the loss to the lowly, if recently improved, Texans. Outside linebacker Joey Bosa, running back Austin Ekeler, receiver Mike Williams and center Corey Linsley were among the major contributors on the COVID-19 list for LA.
— Jimmy Graham caught a 15-yard touchdown pass from Nick Foles with 1:01 remaining, Damiere Byrd made an acrobatic reception for the 2-point conversion, and the Chicago Bears beat the Seattle Seahawks 25-24. Making his first start since last season, Foles led the Bears 80 yards in the closing minutes, capping the drive with his TD toss to Graham, who spent three seasons with the Seahawks. Graham posted up a pair of smaller defensive backs to make the catch in the corner of the end zone, his third TD of the season.
— Zach Wilson threw a touchdown pass and ran for another and the short-handed New York Jets used a goal-line stand at the end of the game to beat Trevor Lawrence and the Jacksonville Jaguars 26-21. It was the fourth matchup of rookie quarterbacks taken with the first two picks in the NFL draft and the No. 2 selection came out on top. After Eddy Pineiro’s 20-yard field goal gave the Jets a five-point lead with 1:47 remaining, Lawrence and the Jaguars got the ball back and had a chance to win. But his fourth-down throw fell incomplete. The Jets had 20 players on the COVID-19 list.
Heat defeat Magic
UNDATED (AP) — A pair of returning Miami Heat players helped the team earn its third straight win.
Jimmy Butler returned from a bruised tailbone to score 17 points and grab 11 rebounds as the Heat topped the Magic, 93-83.
Caleb Martin added 17 points and Omer Yurtseven (oh-MEHR’ YURT’-si-vihn) was productive in his first career start at center, finishing with 16 points and 15 boards.
Butler had missed 12 of Miami’s last 13 games because of the injury. Martin had missed Miami’s last seven games because of a stint in the NBA’s health and safety protocols.
Checking out Sunday’s other NBA action:
— The Cavaliers tied their franchise record with 46 points in the third quarter of a 144-99 rout over the COVID-19 depleted Raptors. Kevin Love and Darius Garland scored 22 points apiece, with Garland grabbing eight assists. Lauri Markkanen added 20 points to the laugher.
— Zach LaVine (lah-VEEN’) provided 32 points in his first game since emerging from the NBA’s health and safety protocols, helping the Bulls earn a 113-105 win over the Pacers. DeMar DeRozan added 24 in Chicago’s third win in a row. Nikola Vucevic had 16 points and 15 rebounds as the Bulls improved to 20-10.
— Desmond Bane scored 28 points and the Grizzlies defeated Sacramento for the second time in 10 days, 127-102. Ja Morant had 18 points, nine assists and seven rebounds to help the Grizzlies end a three-game losing streak. Jaren Jackson scored 21 points and John Konchar added 11 points and 14 rebounds to the win.
— Nikola Jokic had 26 points, grabbed 22 rebounds and hit a pair of big free throws in the closing seconds of the Nuggets’ 103-100 victory over the Clippers. Will Barton added 17 points for Denver, which blew a 19-point lead before snapping a two-game skid. Brandon Boston and Bledsoe led the Clippers with 18 points apiece, Bledsoe also had 10 assists and Ivica Zubac chipped in 17 points and 11 rebounds.
— Joel Embiid had 36 points and 13 rebounds in the 76ers’ 117-96 win over the Wizards. Consecutive 3-pointers by Tyrese Maxey, Seth Curry and Embiid keyed a 15-0 run that put the 76ers ahead 80-59 with 5:22 to play in the third quarter. Tobias Harris added 23 points in the Sixers’ second win in six games.
— Keldon Johnson dropped in 27 points and the Spurs had their highest-scoring game of the season in a 144-109 thumping of the Pistons. San Antonio has won three straight to move into 10th in the Western Conference. Spurs reserve center Jock Landale had 18 points, starting center Jakob Poeltl added 14 and Doug McDermott scored 13.
— Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 31 points and rookie Aaron Wiggins added a season-high 24 as the Thunder ended the Pelicans’ four-game winning streak, 117-112. Oklahoma City scored 15 straight points in taking a 17-3 lead. Josh Hart had 29 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Pelicans.
COVID-19 still ravaging in NBA
UNDATED (AP) — The NBA’s virus numbers continue to rise.
By early Sunday evening, the number of NBA players disclosed by teams as being in the protocols was up to 116. The real number, considering some teams had yet to update injury reports, was believed to be slightly higher.
And some teams were stuck simply trying to piece rosters together just to try and play.
NHL to bring back taxi squads in effort to keep season going
UNDATED (AP) — The NHL will emerge from an extended holiday break with taxi squads and other roster revisions to guard against more disruptions to the season. Each team will be allowed to have a taxi squad of up to six players and to make emergency recalls from the minors if COVID-19 absences would cause anyone to play without a full lineup. The taxi squad is set to be in effect until at least the All-Star break in early February.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-COLLEGE SPORTS
Virus outbreaks at UVa, BC scuttle Fenway, Military Bowls
UNDATED (AP) — The Fenway Bowl and Military Bowl have been canceled due to the pandemic as coronavirus outbreaks at Virginia and Boston College forced them to call off their postseason plans. The game scheduled for Fenway Park was to pit the Cavaliers against SMU on Wednesday. The Military Bowl scheduled for Monday at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium between Boston College and East Carolina was canceled because of positive COVID-19 tests at BC.
In other college bowl games news:
— Top-ranked Alabama was without offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien and offensive line coach Doug Marrone when it arrived in North Texas for its playoff semifinal gam. Coach Nick Saban says he expects both coaches to join the team before Friday’s Cotton Bowl game against Cincinnati. Saban says there are no known COVID-19 issues among players.
Equal pay appeal by US women soccer players set for March 7
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Oral arguments in the appeal by American female soccer players seeking equal pay have been scheduled for March 7 in Pasadena, California, by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Players led by Alex Morgan sued the U.S. Soccer Federation in March 2019. They contend they have not been paid equitably under their collective bargaining agreement compared with what the men’s team receives under its agreement, which expired in December 2018.
The women asked for more than $64 million in damages plus $3 million in interest under the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.