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Bucs, Steelers, Redskins Head to Playoffs (AP)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Dewayne White, right, celebrates with teammate Ronde Barber after returning a fumble by New Orleans Saints quarterback Todd Bouman for a touchdown during fourth quarter of the Buccaneers 27-13 win in an NFL football game  Sunday afternoon Jan. 1, 2006 in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)AP - The last time Joe Gibbs coached a playoff game for Washington, Bill Cowher was a rookie coach in Pittsburgh and Jon Gruden was just starting out as a receivers coach in Green Bay. All three guided their teams into the postseason Sunday, claiming the final NFL playoff berths on a day when three other coaches departed. Mike Tice and Dom Capers were fired and Dick Vermeil retired.


Flutie Hits NFL's 1st Drop Kick Since '41 (AP)
New England Patriots quarterback Doug Flutie (2) is congratulated by teammates Christian Fauria (88), Ben Watson (84), and Stephan Neal, right, after Flutie drop-kicked an extra point during the fourth quarter of their 28-26 loss to the Miami Dolphins in NFL football at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. Sunday, Jan. 1, 2006. The extra point was the first point scored on a drop kick in the NFL since 1941. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)AP - For 21 years, Doug Flutie's career has been defined by one play. Now the "Hail Flutie" has its historic bookend.


Blog: Coach Mack Brown a 'Fast Talker' (AP)
AP - With college football's elite preparing for bowl action, The Associated Press is on the scene. We have sports writers at all the major bowl sites, and they will file periodic reports leading up to the games.

USC, Texas Aim to Avoid Rose Bowl Shootout (AP)
Southern California quarterback Matt Leinart, left, hands off to tailback Reggie Bush during a workout in Los Angeles, Sunday, Jan. 1, 2006. The Trojans face the University of Texas in the national championship game at the Rose Bowl on Wednesday, Jan. 4.(AP Photo/Francis Specker)AP - The numbers alone must be enough to make the guys playing defense in the Rose Bowl shudder. Imagine a 51-50 national title game. If Texas and Southern California hit their averages, that will be the final score Wednesday night in Pasadena.


Fiesta Bowl Leaves Tempe After 35 Years (AP)
Notre Dame Fans cheer as President Rev. John Jenkins, rides past during the 35th Annual Fort McDowell Fiesta Bowl Parade, Saturday, Dec. 31, 2005, in Phoenix. Ohio State will face Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl college football game Monday, Jan. 2, 2006. (AP Photo/Roy Dabner)AP - After 35 years, the Fiesta Bowl is saying goodbye to Sun Devil Stadium, where the event grew to become of the four biggest postseason games in college football.


Source: Texans to Fire Dom Capers, Keep GM (AP)
AP - Dom Capers' once successful plan for the Houston Texans' steady improvement derailed so miserably this season that it will cost him his job.

With Kobe Out, Jazz Defeat Lakers 98-94 (AP)
Utah Jazz's Deron Williams, center, shoots over the outstretched arms of Los Angeles Lakers' Devean George, right, and Sasha Vujacic of Slovenia, left, in the first half on NBA basketball game in Los Angeles on Sunday, Jan. 1, 2006. (AP Photo/ Francis Specker)AP - The Los Angeles Lakers have struggled to win with Kobe Bryant at his best this season. Without the suspended star, they didn't have much of a chance to hold off the Utah Jazz in the fourth quarter.


Pirates Sign Edwards to Minor League Deal (AP)
AP - Utilityman Mike Edwards is the latest former Los Angeles Dodgers player to sign with the Pittsburgh Pirates, agreeing to a minor league contract Sunday.

England's Owen Out With Broken Foot (AP)
Newcastle United's Michael Owen, center, breaks free from Tottenham Hotspur's Anthony Gardner's challenge during their English Premiership League soccer match at White Hart Lane, London, Saturday Dec. 31, 2005. Tottenham won the match 2-0. (AP Photo/PA, Johnny Green)AP - England striker Michael Owen will be sidelined up to 10 weeks after breaking his foot Saturday while playing for Newcastle at Tottenham.


Hockey Today (AP)
AP - Dallas at Los Angeles (10:30 p.m. EST). The Pacific Division-leading Kings beat the second-place Stars 3-2 on Saturday night in Dallas to take a three-point lead.

Road worriers
OAKLAND, Calif. – To be a Super Bowl team, the Giants must make themselves at home away from the Meadowlands.

Mike Tice fired after Vikings win finale (AP)
The Minnesota Vikings became an embarrassment on Mike Tice's watch, with a ticket scalping scandal, the infamous lake cruise and a Whizzinator somewhere in between. There weren't enough wins to cover up the ugliness, and now Tice is out of a job. Owner Zygi Wilf fired Tice after Sunday's victory over Chicago capped a disappointing 9-7 season in which the Vikings, a trendy preseason pick to go to...

Texans to fire Capers, keep GM Casserly (AP)
Dom Capers' once successful plan for the Houston Texans' steady improvement derailed so miserably this season that it will cost him his job. The Texans will fire Capers as coach, but will retain general manager Charley Casserly, a person close to the organization told The Associated Press on Sunday. The Texans planned to make the announcement Monday, according to the person, who spoke on condition...

Bucs defeat Saints to clinch NFC South (AP)
Even as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were slipping into hats commemorating their first NFC South crown in three years, linebacker Derrick Brooks was issuing a stern message to his teammates. "It's just the first leg of the championship -- division, conference and Super Bowl," the nine-time Pro Bowl selection said Sunday after the Bucs beat the New Orleans Saints 27-13 to guarantee themselves a home...

Steelers beat Lions, clinch playoff spot (AP)
Jerome Bettis acted like a man ready to retire. He received two standing ovations, signed dozens of jerseys and footballs for his teammates and posed for pictures on the field for a half-hour after the game ended. What Bettis hopes is the Pittsburgh Steelers delay his anticipated retirement for four more games.

Panthers rip Falcons to make playoffs (AP)
The Carolina Panthers had just the right opponent for clinching a trip to the playoffs -- the listless, banged-up Atlanta Falcons, who seemed more interested with getting started on the offseason. DeShaun Foster rushed for 165 yards, including the longest scoring run in team history, and Jake Delhomme threw for two touchdowns to lead the Panthers to a 44-11 rout of the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.

Portis runs Redskins into playoffs (AP)
Going back to the basics put Joe Gibbs and the Washington Redskins back in the playoffs. Clinton Portis ran for 112 yards and two touchdowns, leading the Redskins to a hard-fought 31-20 victory over the woeful Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. Washington (10-6) clinched the NFL's final playoff spot and its first postseason berth since 1999 with its fifth straight win.

Vermeil retires, vows he's done for good (AP)
With trademark tears in his eyes, Dick Vermeil said this is really it -- a third retirement means he's out of football. Honest. Unlike his other two retirements, there'll be no returning to the profession he loves so dearly, Vermeil tearfully told a news conference Sunday after his Kansas City Chiefs beat Cincinnati 37-3.

Packers win in possible Favre finale (AP)
If Sunday's game was the last of Brett Favre's career, at least he went down slinging. And, in his first losing season with the Green Bay Packers, at least he went out a winner as they beat the playoff-bound Seattle Seahawks 23-17 Sunday. "If this were to be his last game, then I'm really glad I was here," said Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren, Favre's former coach in Green Bay.

Texans lose finale, win top overall pick (AP)
When Joe Nedney booted an overtime field goal through a drizzle as miserable as these teams' records, everybody won something in the San Francisco 49ers' season finale against the Houston Texans. The 49ers salvaged some pride with consecutive victories -- and the Texans definitely won by losing soon-to-be-fired coach Dom Capers' final game, wrapping up the No.

Eastern Conference equals
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. – The Pistons showed they can beat the Heat, but Miami is just as capable of defeating Detroit.

Wade, Heat roll over Timberwolves (AP)
Shaquille O'Neal couldn't specifically say why the Miami Heat changed their defensive ways. He wasn't being coy, either. "If I said what I heard, it'd all be whistles," O'Neal said, referring to coach Pat Riley's halftime remarks. "It'd all be bleeps." Whatever Riley said at halftime certainly worked. The Heat held Minnesota to 23.5 percent shooting over the final two quarters and beat the slumping...

Riley signs contract extension with Heat (AP)
Miami Heat coach Pat Riley has signed a contract extension, the team announced Sunday without specifying any terms of the deal, including whether it addressed his role as coach or team president. Riley did not address the extension on Sunday, when the Heat defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves 97-70. Since taking over for Stan Van Gundy, who resigned as coach last month, Riley is 8-3 with Miami.

Brand, Clippers finally win in Portland (AP)
Elton Brand was slightly taken aback when told he had never won before at Portland's Rose Garden as a Clipper. In fact, the Clippers hadn't won up north since 1999. That streak ended Sunday night. Brand had 20 points and 11 rebounds and the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Trail Blazers 100-94. Brand, who is in his fifth season with Los Angeles, was more immediately concerned with the future than his...

Jazz take advantage of Kobe-less Lakers (AP)
Surprisingly, the Utah Jazz weren't overjoyed about facing the Los Angeles Lakers without Kobe Bryant in uniform. Their egos say they want to beat teams when they're at full strength. And besides, this time they had to guard everybody closely instead of just one player who monopolizes the ball on a regular basis.

Injury-plagued Nuggets carry on (AP)
The Denver Nuggets limped into the new year a season-worst three games under .500 and without the league's top rebounder in Marcus Camby, who is out indefinitely with a broken finger. Riddled with injuries all season, beginning with the loss of forward Nene in the opener, the Nuggets had hoped to use their six-game homestand to climb back above the Minnesota Timberwolves in the Northwest Division.

Mavericks win 16th straight over Hornets (AP)
Slowing Dirk Nowitzki was not enough for the New Orleans Hornets to end their six-year losing streak to the Dallas Mavericks. The Hornets did a decent job on Nowitzki most of the night, but he still scored 24 points and got help from Jason Terry and Josh Howard in the Mavs' 95-90 victory Saturday night.

Jones' late basket lifts Grizzlies (AP)
Tired and short-handed, the Memphis Grizzlies picked up their most resilient victory of the season. Dahntay Jones made a one-handed 14-footer with 6.6 seconds left, and the Grizzlies held off a late Seattle rally for a 100-96 win over the SuperSonics on Saturday night. Jones scored after Bobby Jackson appeared to travel.

Surging Suns top slumping Bulls in OT (AP)
Every move Shawn Marion made was emphatic. And the Phoenix Suns forward punctuated his night by scoring eight of his 28 points in overtime in a 107-98 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Saturday night. "I was just trying to be aggressive, and my teammates responded to me," Marion said. Tied at 92 after regulation, Marion scored the Suns' first six points in overtime.

Warriors hold off reeling Rockets 94-89 (AP)
Baron Davis and Jason Richardson have the Golden State Warriors playing their best basketball in nearly a month. Davis scored 23 and Richardson added 22 to help Golden State hold off the reeling Houston Rockets 94-89 on Saturday night. Davis also had seven assists and five rebounds and Richardson added six rebounds and five assists for the Warriors, who have won three straight games.

Power rankings
An explosive week returns Ottawa to the top spot in the year-end Yahoo! Sports NHL Power Rankings.

Hossa, Kovalchuk lead Thrashers by Caps (AP)
Marian Hossa helped the Atlanta Thrashers start a new streak in the new year. Hossa scored twice, Ilya Kovalchuk had a goal and two assists, and the Thrashers beat the Washington Capitals 5-2 Sunday. Hossa, traded to Atlanta by Ottawa in the offseason, scored the Thrashers' first two goals and jump-started a victory that prevented a losing streak.

Sens' Heatley set for return to Atlanta (AP)
Dany Heatley expects a warm reception Monday when he faces the Atlanta Thrashers for the first time since being traded to the Ottawa Senators. If boos are sprinkled in that's OK, too. "They've always been good to me," Heatley said. "They paid their tickets, they can do what they want." Heatley was a cornerstone player in the Thrashers' young stable of stars.

Panthers pin rare loss on Sabres (AP)
Joe Nieuwendyk got the Florida Panthers off to a good start to solving their road woes. Nieuwendyk scored 32 seconds into the game on the first shot on net and Gary Roberts connected on the game-winner in the Panthers' 2-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday. "Any time you get a goal early it really lifts the team, especially on the road," Nieuwendyk said.

Lupul sparks Ducks past Predators (AP)
Anaheim's Joffrey Lupul has been impressed with the play of his team on the road lately. Lupul scored two goals to spark the Mighty Ducks to a 4-2 victory over the Nashville Predators. "To start out the road trip with a loss at Columbus, and then win the next two, especially this one against Nashville which has the best home record in the league is pretty impressive," said Lupul.

Crosby lifts Penguins over Rangers in OT (AP)
Memo to the Canadian Olympic team: This Sidney Crosby kid is pretty good. Crosby scored with 1 1/2 minutes left in overtime by steering a rebound past New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist and also set up the first goal as the Pittsburgh Penguins won 4-3 Saturday despite squandering three leads. With Pittsburgh on the power play throughout the overtime -- every goal but one came on the power...

Huselius lifts Flames over Oilers 6-5 (AP)
Kristian Huselius was simply trying to put a shot on goal. The Calgary forward did that and more -- with a lot of help from two Edmonton defensemen -- to give the Flames a 6-5 victory over the Oilers on Saturday night. After Calgary captain Jarome Iginla won a faceoff in the Edmonton zone, Huselius fired a shot that caromed off Oilers defensemen Marc-Andre Bergeron and Chris Pronger and bounced...

Leafs beat Devils for fifth straight win (AP)
An embarrassing loss to the Ottawa Senators got the Toronto Maple Leafs' attention. The Leafs have won five of six since that 8-2 blowout on Dec. 17. The latest victory came Saturday night in a 6-3 win over the New Jersey Devils that gave Toronto a season-best, five-game winning streak. "You have that kind of thing to discuss among the group," coach Pat Quinn said.

Brind'Amour's two goals lift Hurricanes (AP)
Things didn't go exactly to plan for the Carolina Hurricanes, from blowing an early two-goal lead to giving up a tying goal seconds after denying a third-period penalty shot. And that's what made Saturday night's win so satisfying for coach Peter Laviolette. Rod Brind'Amour scored his second goal with 1:52 left to lead the Hurricanes past the Montreal Canadiens 5-3, giving Carolina its sixth win in...

Dallas to host 2007 All-Star game (AP)
The Dallas Stars will host the 2007 NHL All-Star game at the American Airlines Center. "The team and the organization are very excited about the All-Star game coming to Dallas," Stars spokesman Rob Schichili said Saturday. "Dallas has become a hockey city." The date of the game will be announced Jan. 23.

Offseason capsules: Said, Bliss, Wimmer, Kvapil
Yahoo! Sports breaks down the '06 Cup field as the season-opening Daytona 500 approaches.

Auto Racing 2005: Stewart grows up amid youth movement (SportsTicker)
MOORESVILLE, North Carolina (Ticker) - In a season where youth was not only served it was showcased, Tony Stewart topped the auto racing headlines by simply growing up.

NASCAR to restructure regional tours in 2007 (SportsTicker)
DAYTONA BEACH, Florida (Ticker) - NASCAR announced Wednesday that it will restructure its regional touring series divisions beginning in 2007.

Legge completes Champ Car test (AP)
Katherine Legge spent two days this week testing a Champ Car to see if she's ready to become the first female driver in the open-wheel series. The 25-year-old Legge ran a total of 238 laps for PKV Racing on the road course in Sebring, Fla. It was just the second time in a Champ car for the British racer, who ran 70 laps at Sebring in a test for Rocketsports Racing on Dec.

Kyle Busch to run full season in NASCAR Busch Series in 2006 (SportsTicker)
CONCORD, North Carolina (Ticker) - Despite making a splash in his first season on NASCAR's premier series, Kyle Busch has some unfinished business in the Busch Series.

Judge: Speedway lawsuit against NASCAR will stay in Kentucky (AP)
A federal judge has ruled that Kentucky Speedway's $400 million antitrust lawsuit against NASCAR will be heard in Kentucky and not moved to a Florida court.

Talladega Superspeedway to get first repaving since 1979 (AP)
Talladega Superspeedway will be repaved next year, the first time since 1979, and several drivers say they're looking forward to a smoother ride.

NASCAR champ to drive midget races under his own name (AP)
Tony Stewart will drive a midget car again, and won't try to fool anybody. The two-time NASCAR champion will drive in a pair of U.S. Auto Club indoor midget car races at Fort Wayne, where he won a 60-lap feature a year ago under an assumed name in an old junker he bought during a poker game the night before.

Iowa Speedway project gets more financing (AP)
NEWTON, Iowa - An Iowa-based construction company said it has obtained the financing to complete construction of...

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