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BC-AP Sports Digest

December 31, 2018

The supervisor is Bob Lentz, followed by Fred Lief at 9 a.m. The New York sports desk can be reached at 800-845-8450, ext. 1630. Sports photos, ext. 1918; graphics, ext. 7636; agate, ext. 1635. For up-to-the-minute information on AP’s coverage, visit Coverage Plan at https://newsroom.ap.org For access to AP Newsroom and other technical issues, contact AP Customer Support at apcustomersupport@ap.org or 877-836-9477. All times EST.

Gracious winners, brave losers and a homecoming queen with a kick top the list of PodcastOne Sports Now’s most heartwarming moments of 2018. Sister Jean, the 99-year-old nun who commanded the Final Four, recounts Loyola’s improbable run and reminds us what we like most about sports. Listen at podcastonesports.com, the podcastone app and apple podcasts. https://www.podcastone.com/ap-sports-weekly-podcast

TOP STORIES

FBN--PLAYOFF PICTURE

The playoff chase went down to the final minutes of the season Sunday, when Baltimore squeezed in as AFC North winner, and defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia got some help to secure an NFC wild card. That left Pittsburgh and Minnesota out. By Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner. SENT: 620 words, photos.

FBN--COLTS-TITANS

NASHVILLE, Tenn. —The Indianapolis Colts have Andrew Luck healthy and throwing the ball all over the field. That’s more than enough with an injured Marcus Mariota stuck watching from the Tennessee sideline. By Pro Football Writer Teresa M. Walker. SENT: 890 words, photos.

With:

—FBN--TITANS-MARIOTA — By Pro Football Writer Teresa M. Walker. SENT: 710 words, photos.

FBN--BEARS-VIKINGS

MINNEAPOLIS — While taking the NFC North champion Chicago Bears to the playoffs for the first time in eight years, coach Matt Nagy has displayed an energetic personality and aggressive mindset throughout his debut. Even with their postseason position all but set, the Bears refused to let up. They kept the rival Minnesota Vikings out of the playoffs in the process. By Pro Football Writer Dave Campbell. SENT: 910 words, photos.

FBN--BROWNS-RAVENS

BALTIMORE —The Baltimore Ravens flipped the script and put one heck of an ending on a regular season that featured countless surprises and plot twists. By David Ginsburg. SENT: 860 words, photos.

FBC--MIAMI-RICHT RETIRES

CORAL GALBES, Fla. —Manny Diaz woke up Sunday morning as the coach at Temple. And then the phone rang. What happened over the next 12 hours or so represented perhaps the most whirlwind day of his career, and certainly one of the wildest days in the history of Miami football. Mark Richt stunned the program by retiring as coach Sunday morning, the school gathered itself to begin a search for his replacement a few hours later, and before the day was done Diaz was announced as the new leader of the Hurricanes. By Tim Reynolds. SENT: 1,000 words, photos.

Also:

— FBC--HOUSTON-APPLEWHITE FIRED — SENT: 150 words.

COMMENTARY

FBN--ON FOOTBALL-PLAYOFF PICTURE

While the Kansas City Chiefs, New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams were mesmerizing pro football fans with their outlandish offensive onslaughts, something else might have gone unnoticed. More teams that failed to make the playoffs in 2017 are in this season than there are repeaters. By Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner. UPCOMING: 760 words, photos by 4 a.m.

YEAR-END STORIES

YE--SPORTS QUIRKS

Sports traveled to unconventional places in 2018: Golfer Vijay Singh settled his lawsuit with the PGA Tour over his use of deer antler spray; the head of cybersecurity for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics does not know how to use a computer; and the NHL admonished a player for licking opponents. By Fred Lief. SENT: 960 words, photos.

YE--EMERGING STARS

Some of the names you may not know now but might by the end of 2019: third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr., the son of a Hall of Famer who most likely makes his big-league debut for Toronto next season; Toby Miller, a teenage snowboarder tutored by Shaun White; and Stanford defender Tierna Davidson, who might make the U.S. women’s national team for the 2019 World Cup. By Pat Graham. SENT: 800 words, photos.

NFL

FBN--NFL-ICYMI

All the Ravens had to do to make the playoffs was beat the Browns. It’s not as easy as it used to be. Baltimore needed a late fourth-down interception to stifle Baker Mayfield’s momentum, secure a 26-24 victory over Cleveland and wrap up the AFC North. By National Writer Eddie Pells. UPCOMING: 860 words, photos by 4 a.m.

FBN--DENVER’S DROUGHT

DENVER — The Denver Broncos were saddled by bad play-calling and riddled with injuries in 2018. The result was a third straight season without a playoff berth. The primary culprit was a feeble offense that averaged 20 points a game, 10 fewer than Broncos star cornerback Chris Harris Jr. predicated back in August. By Pro Football Writer Arnie Stapleton. UPCOMING: 860 words, photos.

FBN--EAGLES-REDSKINS

LANDOVER, Md. — Nick Foles’ magic stretched all the way back to Minnesota. Foles did it again, leading the Philadelphia Eagles to a 24-0 victory over the Redskins and the defending Super Bowl champions earned the NFC’s final wild-card berth when Chicago beat the Vikings on Sunday. The Eagles (9-7) will play at the Bears (12-4) next weekend. By Pro Football Writer Rob Maaddi. SENT: 800 words, photos.

FBN--JETS-BOWLES FIRED

NEW YORK — The New York Jets fired coach Todd Bowles Sunday night after four seasons, ending a disappointing tenure that began with plenty of promise but finished with lots of losses and no playoff appearances. The team announced the long-expected decision that it moved on from Bowles, who went 24-40, a few hours after the Jets wrapped up their season with a 38-3 loss at New England. By Pro Football Writer Dennis Waszak. SENT: 1,000 words, photos.

FBN--BUCCANEERS-KOETTER FIRED

TAMPA, Fla. — Dirk Koetter seemed resigned to his fate. The coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was fired Sunday night a little more than three hours after the Bucs concluded a disappointing season with a 34-32 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. By Fred Goodall. SENT: 670 words, photos.

Also:

— FBN--JAGUARS-FOURNETTE — By Mark Long. SENT: 530 words, photos.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Monday Bowls:

FBC--GATOR BOWL PREVIEW

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. —Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher has dozens of players on his roster without a bowl victory. Most of them, actually. By Mark Long. SENT: 800 words, photos. With capsule.

FBC--LIBERTY BOWL PREVIEW

MEMPHIS, Tenn. —Missouri quarterback Drew Lock wants to make sure he ends his college career with a positive memory. By Steve Megargee. SENT: 760 words. With capsule.

With:

— FBC--MILITARY BOWL PREVIEW — Cincinnati (10-2) vs. Virginia Tech (6-6), in Annapolis, Maryland. By David Ginsburg. SENT: 790 words, photos. With capsule.

— FBC--SUN BOWL PREVIEW — Stanford (8-4) vs. Pittsburgh (7-6) in El Paso, Texas. SENT: 740 words, photos. With capsule.

— FBC--REDBOX BOWL PREVIEW — Michigan State (7-5) vs. Oregon (8-4) in Santa Clara, California. By Josh Dubow. SENT: 760 words, photos. With capsule.

— FBC--HOLIDAY BOWL PREVIEW — Northwestern (8-5) vs. Utah (9-4) in San Diego. By Bernie Wilson. SENT: 790 words. With capsule.

FBC--ROSE BOWL-QBs

PASADENA, Calif. — The Rose Bowl will be the final collegiate game for Washington’s Jake Browning. Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins still hasn’t announced if Tuesday’s contest will be his last. By Joe Reedy. SENT: 700 words, photos.

With:

— FBC--ROSE BOWL-TRAINING DAY — By Greg Beacham. SENT: 740 words, photos.

Also:

— FBC--CFP-SEMIFINAL TV RATINGS — Lopsided games, schedule drag down CFP television ratings. SENT: 250 words, photos.

NBA

BKN--AROUND THE NBA

James Harden has scored 40 points in three straight games and 35 or more in seven in a row. He has helped Houston recover from a shaky start as it prepares to visit Golden State this week. By Basketball Writer Brian Mahoney. UPCOMING: 800 words, photos by 4 a.m.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

BKC--T25-TOP 25 REWIND

RALEIGH, N.C. —It looks like Kentucky has figured a few things out, just in time for Southeastern Conference play. The 16th-ranked Wildcats won at rival Louisville on Saturday in their first road game of the season. That followed a win against a ranked North Carolina team a week earlier and marked their third straight victory against a power-conference opponent — promising signs in a season that started with a blowout loss to Duke. By Aaron Beard. SENT: 740 words, photos.

BKW--T25-ICYMI

Muffet McGraw earned a milestone win against the school where she got her coaching start. McGraw became the fourth-fastest coach to reach 900 victories on Sunday when No. 2 Notre Dame beat Lehigh 95-68. By Basketball Writer Doug Feinberg. UPCOMING: 920 words, photos by 4 a.m.

SOCCER

SOC--PREMIER LEAGUE-CHIEF EXECUTIVE

The English Premier League has restarted its search for a chief executive after Susanna Dinnage withdrew from the job before starting work leading the world’s richest soccer competition. By Rob Harris and Mattias Karen. SENT: 470 words, photos.

SOC--ENGLISH ROUNDUP

LONDON — Manchester City finally rediscovered the kind of football that made it Premier League champion, just in time for this week’s crucial top-of-the-table clash against Liverpool. By Mattias Karen. SENT: 720 words, photos. With separates on four games.

OTHER

MMA--PROFESSIONAL FIGHTERS LEAGUE

Olympic judo gold medalist Kayla Harrison can take another step toward one day staking claim as the best female fighter in mixed martial arts in her headline fight at PFL 11. Harrison competes in a 155-pound bout on Monday night at the Hulu Theatre in Madison Square Garden. The Professional Fighters League season wraps on New Year’s Eve with six championship fights and a $1 million prize awarded to each winner. By Dan Gelston. SENT: 780 words.

Also:

— TEN--HOPMAN CUP —Serena Williams overcame a sluggish start to power past Maria Sakkari in straight-sets at the Hopman Cup on Monday in her first competitive match since melting down in the U.S. Open final. SENT: 400 words, photos. Will be updated.

CAPSULES

— FBN--NFL CAPSULES

— BKN--NBA CAPSULES

— BKW--T25-TOP 25 CAPSULES

___

Monday Time Schedule (EST)

NBA

Atlanta at Indiana, 3 p.m.

Orlando at Charlotte, 6 p.m.

Boston at San Antonio, 7 p.m.

Memphis at Houston, 7 p.m.

Dallas at Oklahoma City, 8 p.m.

Minnesota at New Orleans, 8 p.m.

Golden State at Phoenix, 9 p.m.

NHL

Nashville at Washington, 12:30 p.m.

Vancouver at New Jersey, 1 p.m.

Philadelphia at Carolina, 6 p.m.

Pittsburgh at Minnesota, 6 p.m.

N.Y. Islanders at Buffalo, 6 p.m.

N.Y. Rangers at St. Louis, 7 p.m.

Ottawa at Columbus, 7 p.m.

Florida at Detroit, 7:30 p.m.

Tampa Bay at Anaheim, 8 p.m.

Los Angeles at Colorado, 8 p.m.

Montreal at Dallas, 8:30 p.m.

San Jose at Calgary, 9 p.m.

Winnipeg at Edmonton, 9 p.m.

BOWL GAMES

Military Bowl at Annapolis, Md.: Cincinnati vs. Virginia Tech, Noon

Sun Bowl at El Paso, Texas: Stanford vs. Pittsburgh, 2 p.m.

Redbox Bowl at Santa Clara, Calif.: Michigan State vs. Oregon, 3 p.m.

Liberty Bowl at Memphis, Tenn.: Missouri vs. Oklahoma State, 3:45 p.m.

Holiday Bowl at San Diego: Northwestern vs. Utah, 7 p.m.

Gator Bowl at Jacksonville, Fla.: NC State vs. Texas A&M, 7:30 p.m.

TOP 25 BASKETBALL

Men

No. 4 Virginia vs. Marshall, 1 p.m.

No. 7 Gonzaga vs. Cal State Bakersfield, 9 p.m.

Women

No. 4 Maryland vs. Rutgers, Noon

No. 7 Baylor vs. Texas-Rio Grande Valley, 1 p.m.

No. 12 Minnesota at Michigan, 2 p.m.

No. 19 DePaul vs. Providence, 3 p.m.

No. 20 Gonzaga at Pepperdine, 3 p.m.

No. 22 Marquette vs. Creighton, 3 p.m.

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