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Bengals' Ossai laments late hit in AFC title loss to Chiefs

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Joseph Ossai stood in front of his clean-out locker inside Arrowhead Stadium, while Bengals teammate B.J. Hill stood by for support, and lamented a mistake Sunday night that could easily haunt the defensive end for the rest of his career.

The Kansas City Chiefs were driving for a potential winning field goal in the AFC championship game when Ossai, a second-year pro, gave chase to scrambling Patrick Mahomes. Both were running at full speed when the All-Pro quarterback made it to the Cincinnati sideline, where Ossai gave a push from behind the sent Mahomes sprawling to the ground.

Penalty flags flew and Ossai knew immediately what he had done.

The 15-yard penalty for a late hit was enough to give Harrison Butker a field-goal chance, and the Chiefs' big-legged kicker barely coaxed the ball over the crossbar, giving Kansas City a 23-20 victory and a berth in the Super Bowl.

“I was just in full chase mode and pushing to maybe get him going backwards, because I knew he was going for the sideline, so make him go backwards and get that clock running,” Ossai said. “I didn't know how far out of bounds we were.”

It was enough that the flag was indisputable.

Making things worse, Ossai lay in a heap on the sideline as Mahomes trotted back to the field. He wound up hurting his right knee on the play, and an MRI exam is due Monday to determine the nature and extent of the injury.

“I've just got to learn from experience and know not to get close to that quarterback when he's close to the sideline,” said Ossai, who had played well up to the last minute of the game, and bravely answered questions from reporters afterward.

“If there's anything that could possibly cause a penalty in the dire situation like that," he said, "I've got to do better.”

Not everyone on the Cincinnati sideline was supportive after Ossai's mistake. TV cameras caught linebacker Germaine Pratt asking with an expletive why he was even near Mahomes at that point in the game. But most of the Bengals were ready to stand by Ossai's side, even batting away questions that they didn't like in the postgame locker room.

“There were a lot of other plays that could have turned the tide in that game in one second, so that’s not the only one,” said Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, who was sacked five times and threw a pair of interceptions in the loss.

“This is emotional. We worked really hard to get here,” added Bengals coach Zac Taylor. "Any play that people feel like was left out there, you’re going to take it hard. We want guys like that, that this means a lot to. They care about it, care about their teammates. Joseph comes to work every day; he loves being a part of this team.”

Ossai's career has been a hard one so far. He was a third-round pick of the Bengals out of Texas in 2021, but a meniscus injury in his second preseason game landed him on injured reserve for the season. The Nigeria native returned this season and appeared in 16 regular-season games, making just 17 tackles to go along with 3 1/2 sacks.

Yet by the way teammates gathered around him Sunday, it was clear his attitude and perseverance had won them over.

“We’re one big family. It’s not fake. When the going gets tough, we lift each other up,” he said. "I am just happy I’ve got these group of guys around me, supporting me right now, because it’s hard. There’s a bunch of guys in that room that I’m very thankful for, B.J. being one of them. A lot of older ones. They’ve done a good job taking us under their wings.”

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Mahomes leads Chiefs to Super Bowl for matchup with Eagles

Chiefs head to Super Bowl

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Patrick Mahomes scrambled for a first down on his badly sprained right ankle, then was shoved late out of bounds by Joseph Ossai, giving Harrison Butker a chance to kick a 45-yard field goal with 3 seconds remaining and give the Kansas City Chiefs a 23-20 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC title game Sunday night.

The Chiefs (16-3) finally beat the Bengals (14-5) after three straight losses, including a three-point overtime defeat in last year’s title game, and will play the Philadelphia Eagles — coach Andy Reid’s old team — in their third Super Bowl in four years. The matchup between Mahomes and Philadelphia's Jalen Hurts will be the first in Super Bowl history between two Black starting quarterbacks.

Mahomes, who hurt his ankle against Jacksonville in the divisional round, threw for 326 yards and two touchdowns, even though he was missing three of his wide receivers to injuries by the end. Marquez Valdes-Scantling led the way with 116 yards and a touchdown, while Travis Kelce — bad back and all — had seven catches for 78 yards and a score.

The Chiefs got a crucial sack from Chris Jones to force a punt with 39 seconds left, and Skyy Moore broke free for 29 yards on the return. On third-and-4 at the Bengals 47, Mahomes eluded pressure and scrambled toward the Bengals sideline, barely picking up the first down before Ossai gave him a shove from behind.

The penalty flags flew, the ball moved 15 yards closer and Butker’s kick barely had enough to get over the crossbar.

Joe Burrow, who was sacked five times and was wobbly by the end, finished with 270 yards passing to go with a touchdown and two interceptions for the Bengals. Tee Higgins had six catches for 83 yards and the score.

EAGLES 31, 49ERS 7

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Jalen Hurts had one of Philadelphia’s four rushing touchdowns and the Eagles soared into the Super Bowl, forcing both of San Francisco’s quarterbacks out of the game with injuries and beating the wounded 49ers in the NFC championship game.

The Eagles (16-3), who won the Super Bowl five years ago with a different coach and quarterback, will try to do it again behind the formidable duo of Hurts and coach Nick Sirianni. Philadelphia will play former Eagles coach Andy Reid’s Kansas City Chiefs.

Hurts had a modest game by his standards after a season in which he was a finalist for MVP. He was 15-of-25 passing for 121 yards and ran for 39. His 1-yard rushing touchdown on Philadelphia’s signature rugby-style QB sneak made it 28-7 late in the third quarter.

Miles Sanders ran for two touchdowns and linebacker Haason Reddick made the hit that forced 49ers rookie quarterback Brock Purdy out of the game with an elbow injury. Reddick also recovered a fumble by Purdy’s replacement, Josh Johnson, who later suffered a concussion.

That forced Purdy back into the game, but his injury was clearly a factor as the 49ers all but gave up on throwing the ball, even while trailing by multiple scores.

San Francisco’s bad luck at quarterback was finally too much to overcome as its 12-game win streak ended. The Niners (15-5) lost both Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo to season-ending injuries. Purdy took over and was unbeaten as a starter before falling short in Philly.

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Super Bowl 57: Chiefs, Eagles meet for title in Arizona

Patrick Mahomes finally got the best of Joe Burrow.

All he needed was a little shove.

Harrison Butker made a 45-yard field goal with 3 seconds left — after Cincinnati's Joseph Ossai was flagged for a 15-yard penalty for shoving Mahomes after he was out of bounds — and the Chiefs beat the Bengals 23-20 in the AFC championship game to make it back to the Super Bowl.

Kansas City will face the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl on Feb. 12 in Glendale, Arizona.

The Eagles opened as a 1 1/2-point favorite, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

There are no shortage of storylines: Kansas City coach Andy Reid goes against his old team — which he led to Super Bowl 39 — in a game that's also the first matchup of Black starting quarterbacks in the Super Bowl with Mahomes and Philadelphia’s Jalen Hurts.

On top of that, there's a brother-against-brother showdown between Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce and Philadelphia center Jason Kelce.

Officially done being a Chiefs fan this season!! ” Jason Kelce tweeted immediately after the Chiefs won.

The Chiefs have been making deep postseason runs on a regular basis ever since Mahomes came to town as the franchise quarterback.

This was their fifth straight trip to the AFC title game and will be their third Super Bowl appearance in that span. They beat the 49ers for the NFL title in the 2019 season, but lost to the Bucs the following season.

The Eagles clobbered the Niners 31-7 in the NFC title game earlier Sunday. They've looked dominant in the playoffs so far, also beating the New York Giants 38-7 in the divisional round.

Philadelphia is back in the Super Bowl five years after beating the New England Patriots 41-33 on Feb. 4, 2018.

Now a mostly new generation of Eagles — led by coach Nick Sirianni and Hurts — will come to Arizona to try and win another title.

The Chiefs-Bengals game looked as if it was going to overtime before Ossai's ill-advised play. Mahomes — who was playing on a badly sprained ankle — was running to get a first down in the final seconds as Ossai desperately tried to track him down.

Mahomes was out of bounds when Ossai gave him a shove, sending both players tumbling to the turf. The ensuing 15-yard penalty was enough to push Butker into field-goal range and the kick split the uprights.

A distraught Ossai sat on the bench with his head in his hands, well after the game was over.

The Bengals and Chiefs were playing for the fourth time in less than 400 days and Cincinnati had won the previous three meetings — all by three points. This one was decided by a field goal, too, and all Burrow could do was watch.

The Bengals lost to the Rams in last year's Super Bowl and they just missed another chance at returning to the title game.

NO DRAMA IN NFC

Oddsmakers thought fans were in for some close conference championship games.

They'll have to settle for a 50% success rate.

The NFC title game was a blowout. Niners rookie quarterback Brock Purdy was injured in the first quarter when Eagles linebacker Haason Reddick drilled his right arm on a play that was ruled a fumble. The Eagles recovered that fumble and the injury proved to be a game-changer.

With Purdy hurt, San Francisco turned to 36-year-old journeyman Josh Johnson, who couldn't do much before eventually leaving with a concussion. Purdy came back into the game, but could barely throw, and the Eagles cruised to the win.

The 49ers dealt with quarterback injuries all season, losing Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo before turning to Purdy, a seventh-round draft pick out of Iowa State. Purdy stepped into a starter's role in December and won his first seven games before Sunday's injury.

Here's a few things to know about the upcoming Super Bowl:

WHAT'S THE UPCOMING SCHEDULE?

FEB. 5

Pro Bowl flag-football game, 3 p.m. EST, ABC/ESPN

FEB. 12

Super Bowl LVII, Philadelphia Eagles vs. Kansas City Chiefs, 6:30 p.m. EST, Fox

RIHANNA AT HALFTIME

Rihanna will take center stage as the headline act for this year's Super Bowl halftime show.

With sales of more than 250 million records worldwide, Rihanna ranks as one of the best-selling female artists ever. Her most recent album was 2016?s “Anti.” Rihanna last performed publicly at the Grammy Awards in 2018.

The singer said she turned down a similar opportunity for the 2019 Super Bowl that was ultimately headlined by Maroon 5. At the time, many artists voiced support for Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who protested police brutality against Black people and minorities by kneeling during the national anthem in 2016.

Country music star Chris Stapleton will sing the national anthem, while R&B legend Babyface will perform “America the Beautiful.”

PRO BOWL MAKEOVER

The Pro Bowl is getting a major makeover this year after the NFL eliminated its full-contact all-star game and replaced it with weeklong skills competitions and a flag football game.

The flag football contest is Feb. 5 in Las Vegas at Allegiant Stadium, one week before the Super Bowl.

The Pro Bowl debuted in January 1951 in Los Angeles and stayed there for 21 seasons before the game moved to different cities from 1972-80. Hawaii hosted from 1980-2009, and the game has had several homes in the years since, including Miami, Phoenix, Orlando and Las Vegas.

“The game was kind of silly, I guess,” Saints two-time Pro Bowl offensive lineman Ryan Ramczyk said back in September when the news was announced. “Guys weren’t out there playing true football. Hopefully, there’ll be a lot of interactions with the fans and guys will get their opportunity to go out there and show some skills. I could see that being a good change.”

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AP Entertainment Writers Jake Coyle and Jonathan Landrum Jr. and AP Pro Football Writer Rob Maaddi contributed to this story.

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AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL



198929


Burrow comes up short of leading Bengals back to Super Bowl

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Joe Cool's calm demeanor for the Cincinnati Bengals melted on a frigid night against the Kansas City Chiefs.

The brilliant Bengals quarterback was sacked five times, threw two interceptions and was unable to drive his team downfield late in the fourth quarter of the AFC title game. That gave the Chiefs a chance in the closing seconds, and Patrick Mahomes made the Bengals pay, setting up Harrison Butker's last-second field goal for a 23-20 victory Sunday night.

The Bengals came in having beaten the Chiefs by three points three straight times, including last year's AFC title game.

Burrow finished with 270 yards passing and a touchdown, though the two picks were costly. He also was penalized for intentional grounding on the Bengals' last possession, then was sacked by Chris Jones on third down. Cincinnati was forced to punt with 41 seconds to go — plenty of time for Mahomes.

The All-Pro quarterback scrambled for a first down with 8 seconds left, and was pushed late out of bounds by Bengals linebacker Joseph Ossai. That was enough to give Butker an opportunity to kick the winning field goal.

“This is emotional. We worked really hard to get here,” Bengals coach Zac Taylor said. "Any play that people feel like was left out there, you’re going to take it hard. We want guys like that, that this means a lot to, they care about it, care about their teammates. Joseph comes to work every day; he loves being a part of this team.”

So much for “Burrowhead Stadium" — the name some Bengals had taken to calling the home of the Chiefs. Theirs was the only QB to beat Mahomes three straight times, and in fact, Burrow was 3-0 against the mighty AFC West champs.

“We’ve always got belief that we’re going to win the game,” Cincinnati's Sam Hubbard said. "Sometimes you don’t get it.”

Burrow had been exceptional all season, setting Cincinnati records for pass attempts and completions along with his 35 touchdown passes. And his performance against the Chiefs in early December was vintage: Joe Cool was 25 of 31 for 286 yards passing, two touchdowns and no picks in his third straight triumph over them.

Perhaps most important, the Chiefs only sacked him once in Cincinnati.

But after putting together three failed game plans trying to stop Burrow and the Bengals, Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo changed things up Sunday night. He knew they were missing two starting offensive linemen, and that center Ted Karras was dealing with a bum knee, so he began to blitz almost from the opening snap.

Frank Clark was the first to bring Burrow down on the game's fifth play, forcing the Bengals to punt. Clark combined with Willie Gay Jr. for a sack on the second play of their next possession, then Jones got to Burrow — the first postseason sack of his superlative career — to force a second consecutive punt.

Burrow was rattled and it was evident. He had minus-9 yards passing in the first quarter.

“Their quarterback is a heck of a player,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “For our guys to grit up like that, it was beautiful.”

Burrow mostly settled down in the second quarter, though, leading the Bengals on a 63-yard drive that ended with a field goal to get within 6-3. And Burrow added a near-flawless 90-yard drive to end the half, though that also netted just a field goal, and the AFC North champions headed to the locker room trailing 13-6.

Burrow regained his cool in the second half. And quickly went to work.

After the Bengals forced a three-and-out, he led them on a 62-yard scoring drive to tie the game 13-all. It included a nifty draw through a huge hole in the Kansas City defense to convert on third down and a tough TD throw to Tee Higgins.

When the Chiefs answered with a 77-yard scoring drive to regain the lead, Burrow fought right back. He connected with Ja'Marr Chase for 35 yards on fourth-and-6 for a first down before Samaje Perine's TD tied the game again.

Burrow simply couldn't keep making plays when the Bengals needed them down the stretch.

The Chiefs' defense had a lot to do with it, too.

“I'm just proud of this team,” Taylor said. “This is where character is going to be tested the most, in moments like this, where it’s fresh and it’s raw. You’re so close to winning an AFC championship back-to-back, going to the Super Bowl, on the road. There’s been a lot of obstacles thrown in front of this team and we knocked them all down.

"We just couldn’t get past this last one here.”

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AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL



Antetokounmpo scores 50 for Bucks; Pelicans lose 8th in row

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo says he wants to keep producing outstanding performances that he can show his kids one day when they're old enough to appreciate them.

The two-time MVP added one more to the list Sunday night.

Antetokounmpo scored 50 points while playing only 30 minutes as the Milwaukee Bucks rolled to a 135-110 victory over the slumping New Orleans Pelicans. Antetokounmpo shot 20 of 26 from the floor – including 3 of 4 from 3-point range – and 7 of 12 from the foul line.

“They might say, ‘Daddy, you’re boring. You're lame. We don't want to see your highlights. We've heard so much about you. We want to watch Scooby-Doo' or whatever the case might be,” Antetokounmpo said. “I'm just going to keep creating the way people in the past created, the way I can go back and watch Magic Johnson highlights, Kevin Garnett highlights, Kobe Bryant highlights, Allen Iverson highlights, KD's, LeBron's. They've created so much art throughout the years, and we can go back and see it and admire what they did. Tim Duncan."

Antetokounmpo's 50 points were five off the career high he set Jan. 4 in a 123-113 victory over the Washington Wizards.

Jrue Holiday scored 17 and Brook Lopez added 15 for the Bucks, who shot 55.2%.

New Orleans never led and lost its eighth straight. The Pelicans were playing for the second consecutive night - they lost 113-103 at home to the Wizards on Saturday - and were missing their top three scorers.

Zion Williamson hasn't played since Jan. 2 due to a strained right hamstring. Brandon Ingram (toe injury on left foot) and CJ McCollum (sprained right thumb) also were out Sunday.

Jose Alvarado stepped up to lead the Pelicans with 18 points, while Trey Murphy III and Jonas Valanciunas had 16 each.

“I thought our effort was there,” Pelicans coach Willie Green. “I thought we fought. It just wasn't enough tonight.”

Even at full strength, the Pelicans would have struggled to slow down Antetokounmpo on a night when he seemingly couldn't miss.

This marked the 10th time this season that Antetokounmpo has scored at least 40 points, matching the career high he set last year for 40-point games in a single season.

“He made it look easy all night long,” Bucks forward Khris Middleton said. “He’s playing efficient. He’s playing dominant. He’s playing unstoppable. He’s playing like the MVP again. We need that from him every night, and he knows that.”

Antetokounmpo already had 16 points midway through the first quarter. He went 8 of 9 for 18 points in that opening period, nearly matching New Orleans’ scoring total while helping the Bucks build a 37-19 advantage.

He finished the night as well as he started it.

Antetokounmpo scored 12 straight Bucks points during a stretch that began with less than four minutes left in the game. Antetokounmpo capped that spurt by making consecutive 3-pointers, the last of which put him at the 50-point mark with 1:38 remaining.

“It's one of those moments you can never take for granted because you never know if you're going to have that moment again,” Antetokounmpo said.

TIP-INS

Pelicans: Kira Lewis Jr. played for the first time since Jan. 18 and scored 15 points. .... Larry Nance Jr. had a season-high 12 rebounds ... The Pelicans were outrebounded 57-38. They had a minus-11 rebound margin Saturday against the Wizards.

Bucks: The Bucks reached the 130-point mark for the fifth time in their last seven games. ... Middleton came off the bench for a fourth straight game and had nine points in 17 1/2 minutes as the Bucks continue to monitor the three-time All-Star's workload in his return from right knee soreness. Middleton has played just 11 games this year, missing time first to recover from offseason wrist surgery and later to deal with his knee issue.

UP NEXT

Pelicans: At Denver on Tuesday in the second game of a three-game road swing. The Pelicans have split two home matchups with the Nuggets this season.

Bucks: Host Charlotte on Tuesday. The Bucks won at Charlotte, and a month later lost to them at home.

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AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports



Chiefs top Bengals 23-20 on last-second kick for AFC title

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Patrick Mahomes was forced to rely on his badly sprained right ankle rather than his strong right arm when the Kansas City Chiefs were desperately driving with a chance to win the AFC championship.

The All-Pro quarterback, missing three wide receivers to injuries and battered himself, took off on a third-down play near midfield in another gut-check game with the Cincinnati Bengals. Mahomes strained to reach the mark he needed and was headed out of bounds when he felt the hands of Joseph Ossai send him sprawling into the bench.

The mad dash, coupled with the 15-yard penalty for a late hit, was all Kansas City needed.

Harrison Butker strode confidently onto the field, sent a 45-yard kick through cold, gusting wind over the crossbar with 3 seconds to go, and put the Chiefs back in the Super Bowl for the third time in four years with a 23-20 victory.

“I don’t think we have any cigars,” Mahomes said with a smile, "but we’ll be ready to go in the Super Bowl.”

It was vindication for the AFC West champions, who had lost three straight to their newfound nemeses, including a three-point overtime loss to Cincinnati in last year's conference title game. All of those defeats were by three points.

Now, the Chiefs are headed back to the big game.

Awaiting them is coach Andy Reid's old team, the Eagles, in the first matchup of Black quarterbacks in the Super Bowl with Mahomes and Philadelphia's Jalen Hurts. It will also feature a brother-against-brother showdown between Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce and Philadelphia center Jason Kelce.

“I’ve watched them all year," Mahomes said. “It’s going to be a great challenge for us. But I’m going to celebrate this first.”

Mahomes, who hurt his ankle against Jacksonville in the divisional round, threw for 326 yards and two touchdowns, even though he was missing three of his wide receivers to injuries by the end. Marquez Valdes-Scantling led with 116 yards and a touchdown, while Travis Kelce — bad back and all — had seven catches for 78 yards and a score.

“It’s a tough bunch. My heart goes out to them, man, they’re tough guys,” Reid said. “They worked so hard this week. Pat and Kelce were both banged up a little bit. They pushed through and great things happened."

The Chiefs also managed to shut the mouths of the Bengals, some of whom had taken to calling their home “Burrowhead” for Joe Burrow, who had never lost to Kansas City. Even Cincinnati Mayor Aftab Pureval started in on the trash talk.

“I’ve got some wise words for that Cincinnati mayor,” Kelce said. "Know your role and shut your mouth, you jabroni!”

Burrow, who was sacked five times and wobbly by the end, finished with 270 yards passing to go with a touchdown and two interceptions for the Bengals. Tee Higgins had six catches for 83 yards and the score.

“We’re not going to make it about one play. There was plenty of plays we left on the field today that could have put us in a better position,” Bengals coach Zac Taylor said. “The character of this football team, that’s never going to change. We’ve got the right people in the locker room, the right men leading this team and this organization.

“I know that this is a team that our city and our fan base can be proud of,” Taylor added. "They represent themselves the right way, and we’re going to fight, scratch and claw to be back in this position next year.”

The Chiefs were able to do early what the Buffalo Bills could not in last week’s divisional round: They ran roughshod over an ailing Bengals offensive line missing two starters to injury with another bothered by a sore knee.

Burrow was sacked three times in the first quarter alone and the Bengals offense did not gain a single yard.

Mahomes looked just fine on his sore ankle in leading Kansas City to a field goal on its opening possession. When the Chiefs got the ball back, Mahomes did it again, but only after Kadarius Toney failed to pull in a nifty throw for a would-be touchdown — the incompletion was upheld upon review.

Cincinnati finally got moving in the second quarter, but it also had to settle for Evan McPherson’s chip-shot field goal.

So much for two of the league’s highest-scoring offenses.

The Chiefs finally reached the end zone late in the second quarter when Mahomes hit Kelce, loosely covered by Jessie Bates III, with a fourth-down throw for the touchdown. The Bengals drove 90 yards in the closing minutes, but only added a field goal to get within 13-6 at the break.

Turns out their offense was just hitting its stride. And another classic was brewing.

After the Chiefs went three-and-out to start the second half, Burrow led the Bengals downfield, bolting through a yawning hole in the defense for a third-down conversion before hitting Higgins from 27 yards out to knot the game 13-all.

Mahomes, suddenly down three wide receivers to injuries and beginning to limp, gamely pressed on. He answered Burrow with a touchdown drive of his own, capped by a third-down throw to Valdes-Scantling to regain the lead.

The Chiefs had a chance to gain some breathing room later in the third quarter, but Mahomes somehow lost control of the ball before throwing a pass and the Bengals pounced on the fumble. Six players later — including an audacious fourth-down throw from Burrow to Ja’Marr Chase — Samaje Perine ran into the end zone to tie it at 20.

Burrow gave the Chiefs a chance when his deep throw to Higgins on third down was batted into the air and picked by rookie cornerback Josh Williams. Mahomes managed to move the Chiefs past midfield, but two runs went nowhere and his third-down throw to Jerick McKinnon was well short, forcing them to punt in Bengals territory.

Kansas City's defense held, though, got a crucial sack from Chris Jones to force a punt with 39 seconds left, and shaky return man Skyy Moore broke free for 29 yards on the return. That gave Mahomes and the offense one more try.

“It was a tough road to get here. To win 10 in a row, it was a pretty incredible feat,” Taylor said. "We came up short. We wanted to play longer than that, but really proud of these guys.”

INJURIES

Bengals: WR Tyler Boyd left with a quadriceps injury early in the second half.

Chiefs: Lost CB L’Jarius Sneed (concussion), LB Willie Gay Jr. (shoulder) and WRs Toney (ankle), Mecole Hardman (pelvis) and JuJu Smith-Schuster (knee).

UP NEXT

The Chiefs are headed to their third Super Bowl in four seasons. They ended a 50-year championship drought when they rallied to beat the San Francisco 49ers in 2020, then lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers the following year.

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AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL



Osman ties career high with 29 points, Cavs rout Clippers

CLEVELAND (AP) — Cedi Osman tied his career high with 29 points and matched the franchise record by making all seven of his 3-pointers as the Cleveland Cavaliers built a 40-point lead on their way to a 122-99 rout of the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday night.

All-Star starter Donovan Mitchell had 11 points in his return for Cleveland after missing three games with a strained groin. The Cavaliers never trailed and took their largest lead of the season at 82-42 on Jarrett Allen’s first 3-pointer since Nov. 5, 2021.

“It was a great feeling, everybody was sharing the moment with me,” Osman said. “We played great offensively, and it was a great game for everybody. We’ve got such a good group of guys who support each other at all times.”

The Clippers, who had won five in a row, opted not to dress Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Reggie Jackson, all of whom played Saturday in Atlanta. Officially, George and Leonard did not play because of right knee trouble and Jackson has a sore right Achilles.

Turkey national team member Osman made 11 of 13 shots on Turkish Heritage Night at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. He joined Kyrie Irving and Mo Williams as the only Cavaliers to go 7 of 7 beyond the arc in a game.

“That’s what Turkish Heritage Night will do for you,” Allen said, laughing. “Every single thing, except for his layups, went in. He did everything he was supposed to all night.”

Darius Garland collected 16 points and 10 assists, and Allen had 15 points and eight rebounds for Cleveland, which has the best home record in the East at 21-5.

The performance was in stark contrast to the Cavaliers’ 120-114 home loss to Golden State nine days earlier, when the Warriors sat Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins.

“Tonight was a similar situation, but we took it serious,” Osman said. “We knew Golden State was missing a lot of pieces and learned a tough lesson from it.”

Brandon Boston Jr. scored 24 points and Moses Brown had 13 points and 16 rebounds for Los Angeles. Rookie Jason Preston from Ohio University had season highs of 12 points and eight assists.

The Clippers are 1-1 on a six-game road trip that ends Feb. 6 in Brooklyn. They missed 16 of their first 17 3-pointers and finished 2 of 19.

“I had a couple of friends and family here, so it was a good night, for sure,” Preston said. “The more I was out there, I kept getting a little more confident.”

WELCOME BACK

Clippers coach Tyronn Lue took the Cavaliers to three straight NBA Finals appearances, winning their lone championship in 2016. F Kevin Love and Osman are the only remaining players who played for Lue.

“When you lose LeBron (James) and Kyrie (Irving), usually it’s going to take a long time to get back,” said Lue, who went 128-83 in four seasons with the Cavaliers. “To be where they are now, they’ve done a great job putting together this team.

“It started with the trade for Jarrett Allen, which was out of this world, and getting Donovan Mitchell this year took them to the next level.”

TIP-INS

Clippers: G Terance Mann had the sole assist by a Los Angeles starter in the first half. … F Marcus Morris (bruised rib) missed his third consecutive game and F Robert Covington (personal reasons) sat out his second. G John Wall (abdominal soreness) last played on Jan. 13 against Denver. … Two-way C Brown was recalled from Ontario in the G League.

Cavaliers: Love (low back spasms) was inactive for the third straight game. The 34-year-old has missed six contests with the injury since the start of December. … Cleveland must win its next game to finish a winning record for the fourth consecutive month. It hasn’t started a season with four straight winning months since its 2015-2016 title campaign.

UP NEXT

Clippers: Visit Chicago on Tuesday night.

Cavaliers: Host Miami on Tuesday night.

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Graham Arnold reappointed Australian national coach

SYDNEY (AP) — Graham Arnold is set to become the first man to lead Australia at successive FIFA World Cups after signing a four-year contract extension as national men’s coach which will take him through the 2026 world tournament.

Arnold’s position was in doubt last year as Australia struggled to qualify for Qatar. He guided Australia to a penalty shoot-out win over Peru which clinched its place at the World Cup, then oversaw Australia’s most successful campaign, in which it won two group matches before losing to eventual champion Argentina in the round of 16.

Arnold’s contract expired at the end of the World Cup. He had been weighing his future, considering offers overseas, before Football Australia on Monday confirmed he had agreed to a four-year extension.

“I love Australia and I love Australian football and nothing in football can ever match the elation, pride and sense of achievement I and the entire set-up felt in Qatar,” Arnold said in a statement.

“The hunger to continue in the role has never been stronger and I know I have more to give to the Socceroos’ program and Australian football, where I want to deliver more smiles for our fans as we did in Qatar.”

Arnold is the first national coach since Frank Farina to be awarded a second term. His first major goal will be the Asian Cup in Qatar in January, 2024. Qualifying for the 2026 World Cup begins for Australia in November.

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Grizzlies use Morant's triple-double, rally to beat Pacers

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Ja Morant had 27 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds, Jaren Jackson Jr. added 28 points and the Memphis Grizzlies overcame a lackluster first half to defeat the Indiana Pacers 112-100 on Sunday.

Brandon Clarke had 13 points, hitting all five of his shots as Memphis snapped a five-game losing streak and ran its home record to 21-3. It was Morant's fifth triple-double of the season and second in a row.

“We needed it,” Morant said. “Obviously going through a terrible slump that we haven't been in in years, dropping five games on the road. That's not our identity. That's not us.”

But the game started as if Memphis was going to continue its losing ways. The Grizzlies were down by 12 at half, but the second-half change, fueled by defensive adjustments, allowed them to outscore the Pacers 62-38 in the final two quarters.

“Pretty clear that the first half was really excellent and exactly what we were trying to do, which was make it tough on them with solid defense," Indiana coach Rick Carlisle said. “... The second half, they were able to flip the whole thing.”

Bennedict Mathurin, the sixth pick in the 2022 draft, led the Pacers with 27 points and eight rebounds. Aaron Nesmith had 16 points and Myles Turner added 15 points. Indiana has lost 10 of its last 11.

The Pacers dominated the first half, leading by as many as 19. Indiana's first-half shooting, which hovered at 60% at the midway point of the second quarter, helped it to a 62-50 lead at the break.

But 14 straight points brought Memphis back into the game early in the third quarter, and the Grizzlies outscored Indiana 30-17 in the third to retake the lead.

“It's hard to play away,” Mathurin said of the second-half collapse. “They had momentum. The crowd got into it. ... We should have stayed locked in. Defense was pretty bad in the second half.”

Memphis' 13-2 run to open the fourth opened the game up.

“We just accepted the challenge,” said Jackson, who also had five blocks. “We have to come out and compete every night. This is nothing new. We're just glad to be back home and get a nice win.”

TIP-INS

Pacers: Guard Tyrese Haliburton continued to sit out with left knee and elbow sprains, but there were indications Indiana's top scorer could return to action soon. Carlisle expects Haliburton to practice this week “and looking toward the real possibility that he could play this weekend.”

Grizzlies: Have won eight straight at home; their last home loss was Dec. 27 to Phoenix. ... Guard Desmond Bane sat out with right knee soreness. Coach Taylor Jenkins classified Bane as day-to-day and expects him to return this week.

TURNER EXTENSION

Turner will stay with Indiana after agreeing to a two-year contract extension. Carlisle said the team has a news conference planned for Monday.

MOMENT OF SILENCE

Sunday was the Grizzlies' first home game since the video was released of Memphis police officers beating Tyre Nichols to death after a traffic stop. The Grizzlies held a pregame moment of silence for Nichols, 29, who died three days after the confrontation with police. Five officers were fired and indicted on an array of charges, including second-degree murder.

“Obviously, our city is going through a really tough time right now, I'm kind of focused on that more than basketball,” Jenkins said, adding that the video was “very disturbing.”

Guard Tyus Jones, who was in Minnesota at the time of George Floyd's death, said it is hard to deal with the emotions when it happens in your city.

“It's a sad situation. It's unfortunate,” Jones said. “A lot of emotions flowing. ... Anger because that shouldn't happen That's not supposed to happen.”

UP NEXT

Pacers: Host the Lakers on Tuesday.

Grizzlies: Host Portland on Wednesday.

___



Aho extends scoring streak, Hurricanes beat Bruins 4-1

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Sebastian Aho scored a goal for the fourth straight game and the Carolina Hurricanes beat the Boston Bruins 4-1 on Sunday in a matchup of the teams with the two best records in the NHL.

Paul Stastny Seth Jarvis and Jordan Staal also scored as the Hurricanes won their fifth in a row and extended their points streak to eight games (7-0-1). Frederik Andersen made 24 saves.

Pavel Zacha scored for the Bruins, who lead the NHL with 81 points but have lost three games in a row for the first time this season. Linus Ullmark stopped 32 shots.

MAPLE LEAFS 5, CAPITALS 1

TORONTO (AP) — Morgan Rielly scored his first goal of the season and Toronto beat Washington.

Michael Bunting had a goal and an assist, and William Nylander, Pierre Engvall and Zach Aston-Reese also scored for Toronto. John Tavares had two assists and Ilya Samsonov made 23 saves in his sixth straight start.

Nicklas Backstrom scored and Darcy Kuemper allowed four goals on 20 shots before being replaced by Charlie Lindgren with 5:40 left in the third. Lindgren finished with six stops.

The Maple Leafs honored Tavares, who played the 1,000th regular-season game of his career, before puck drop.

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AP NHL: www.apnews.com/hub/NHL and www.twitter.com/AP_Sports



Aho scores again, Hurricanes beat Bruins 4-1

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Sebastian Aho scored a goal for the fourth straight game and the Carolina Hurricanes beat the Boston Bruins 4-1 on Sunday in a matchup of the teams with the two best records in the NHL.

Paul Stastny scored on a second-period power play, Seth Jarvis posted a goal in the third, and Jordan Staal added a short-handed empty-netter as the Hurricanes won their fifth game in a row and extended their points streak to eight games (7-0-1).

“We know that team was the cream of the crop,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “They’re lapping everyone right now and I think it was a good test.”

Frederik Andersen, playing for the first time since he left Wednesday night’s game in Dallas with an upper-body injury, made 24 saves.

Pavel Zacha scored for the Bruins, who lead the NHL with 81 points but have lost three games in a row for the first time this season. Linus Ullmark stopped 32 shots.

“There’s a reason why they’re at the top of the standings,” Aho said. “So we needed to bring our best.”

With Saturday’s overtime loss at Florida, the Bruins suffered consecutive losses for the first time this season. So this turned out to be an unusual weekend.

“On a back-to-back like this, you have to rely on your goaltender to make enough saves and unfortunately I didn’t do that,” Ullmark said.

Boston was a season-worst 0 for 6 on power plays, now failing to score with man advantages in its past three games.

Aho stole the puck at his defensive blue line took off on a breakaway for his 21st goal of the season with 9:08 left in the first. He has seven goals during his scoring streak.

“He seems to have picked that step up again,” Brind’Amour said. “He’s playing at a high level, that’s for sure.”

After Carolina’s four successful penalty kills through 30 1/2 minutes, the Hurricanes scored on a power play as Stastny converted from in front of the net with 7:55 left in the second. It was his fourth.

Jarvis made a nifty move along the boards to gain control of the puck from Boston defenseman Brandon Carlo and sped into the zone on a breakaway, beating Ullmark at 1:56 of the third for his eighth of the season and first in seven games.

“They are good at pressuring you everywhere. Their checking led to turnovers,” Bruins coach Jim Montgomery said. “We didn’t generate chances.”

Boston struck back on Zacha’s 10th at 3:22, but failed to reach two goals for just the third time this season.

“They play a simple, straight-forward hockey that works for them,” Ullmark said. “You’ve got to be honest with yourself and bring your best. That’s what everybody does to us right now.”

Staal capped the scoring with 4:20 left.

GOALIES GALORE

Andersen has won in his last five decisions, giving him a 10-3-0 record.

“I don’t think we really gave up a ton,” Brind’Amour said. “He was good when he had to be.”

The Hurricanes have three goalies – also Antti Raanta (12-2-3) and Pyotr Kochetkov (10-4-0) – with 10-plus wins. It’s only the 14th time in NHL history that a team has three goalies with double-digit victories in the same season. Carolina has played 49 games this season.

ICE MATTERS

Hurricanes D Brent Burns had an assist on Stastny’s goal in his 1,300th NHL game. ... This was just the second regulation road loss in Boston’s last 13 road games (9-2-2). ... Staal has 13 goals, but only three since Christmas.

UP NEXT

Bruins: At Toronto on Wednesday night.

Hurricanes: Host Los Angeles on Tuesday night.

___

AP NHL: www.apnews.com/hub/NHL and www.twitter.com/AP_Sports



Morgan Rielly scores first goal of the season, Maple Leafs down Capitals 5-1

TORONTO — Morgan Rielly playfully predicted his first goal of the season was right around the corner.

Turns out the snake-bitten Toronto defenceman was right.

Rielly finally found the back of the net Sunday as part of a second-period outburst as the Maple Leafs defeated the Washington Capitals 5-1 and celebrated the 1,000th NHL regular-season game in the career of captain John Tavares.

"Important to us to play well for Johnny," Rielly said. "He's worked extremely hard in his career to get to this point."

Toronto held the team's annual Easter Seals charity skate Saturday afternoon, and some of the kids on the ice at the fan-friendly event quizzed Rielly about when he would finally open his 2022-23 account.

"Tomorrow night, obviously," he recounted telling them.

Asked about that exchange after finally breaking his goose egg, Rielly flashed a wry smile.

"I wouldn't call it a promise," he said. "It was more of a hopeful guess."

Michael Bunting, with a goal and an assist, William Nylander, Pierre Engvall and Zach Aston-Reese provided the rest of the offence for Toronto (31-12-8). Ilya Samsonov made 23 saves in his sixth straight start — and seventh consecutive appearance.

Tavares added two assists on a memorable afternoon and early evening that included a pre-game ceremony with his family.

"Something I tried to be aware of," the 32-year-old said of the hoopla. "But just tried to be where my feet were all day long and stick to the preparation."

Nicklas Backstrom replied for Washington (26-20-6). Darcy Kuemper allowed four goals on 20 shots before being replaced by Charlie Lindgren. The Capitals backup finished with six stops for a team that allowed four goals in the middle period and has just one regulation victory in its last eight.

"We gave it away," Backstrom said. "Tough to come back when they score four goals in the second."

Toronto head coach Sheldon Keefe said before the game goaltender Matt Murray (ankle) will be out through the NHL all-star break and the club's subsequent bye week, but added the injury isn't expected to keep him out long-term. 

Murray was scheduled to start Friday's ugly 6-2 loss to Ottawa only to be made a late scratch that forced Samsonov into action. Joseph Woll was called up from the AHL on an emergency basis Sunday. The Leafs were also minus star centre Auston Matthews for a second straight game with a knee injury that will keep him out until at least mid-February.

"We wanted to respond," Rielly said of Friday's performance. "We weren't very proud of ourselves when we were leaving here after that game against Ottawa."

Down 1-0 through 20 minutes Sunday, Toronto got even at 1:29 of the second when Bunting slid his 15th past Kuemper on a power play.

Rielly then snapped his first of the campaign — the blue-liner looked skyward in celebration — at exactly seven minutes to make it 2-1.

"Just relief, that's all," Rielly, who missed 15 games earlier this season with a knee injury, said of what was going through his mind. "Felt good. Got some good karma (Saturday)."

"So happy for him," added the colourful Samsonov. "Probably gets some confidence for him."

Tavares said he's been impressed with how Rielly navigated his dry spell.

"Don't know if I've ever played with a better professional," said the captain. "A world-class player and person and leader."

Rielly seemed taken aback when told of the compliment.

"Probably just in cliche-mode there," he deadpanned. "Let that one slip."

Nylander scored his team-leading 28th on a delayed penalty at 10:45 before Engvall scored his 10th at 14:20 for a 4-1 advantage that spelled the end for Kuemper. David Kampf picked up an assist on Toronto's fourth goal for the 100th point of his career.

Aston-Reese added his fifth with 3:13 left in regulation to round out the scoring.

Washington opened the scoring with 2:43 left in a sleepy first when Backstrom, who played just his ninth game of 2022-23 following hip surgery, fired his first of the campaign through a screen on Samsonov.

The netminder signed with Toronto in free agency after being cut loose by Washington, which drafted him 22nd overall at the 2015 NHL draft, in the summer when he wasn't tendered a qualifying offer.

"He's been a pro," Rielly said of Samsonov. "Our group has a ton of confidence in him. He just goes out there and does his thing and then he provides some pretty good quotes after game. 

"It's going good."

TAVARES HITS 1,000

The 32-year-old expected "quite a few" family and friends in attendance for his milestone moment. "Probably the most I've had in my career," Tavares said Saturday. "Great to share it with so many people." Selected first overall by the New York Islanders in 2009, the Oakville, Ont., product is the 375th player in NHL history to play 1,000 games.

LEAFS INJURIES

The Leafs announced before the game Matthews has been put on injured reserve. Toronto also activated defenceman T.J. Brodie (ribs) off IR. 

UP NEXT

Washington: Visits Columbus on Tuesday.

Toronto: Hosts Boston on Wednesday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 29, 2023.

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Follow @JClipperton_CP on Twitter.



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