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#SportsReport: Atlanta Falcons Vs. New England Patriots



It will be the New England Patriots against the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl 51 at Houston's Reliant Stadium on Feb. 5. Atlanta crushed Green Bay 44-21 to claim the NFC Championship title and the right to play in the Super Bowl. It's Atlanta's second trip to a Super Bowl. Joining the Falcons will be the New England Patriots who rallied to beat Pittsburgh 36-17. The Patriots have earned their NFL-record ninth AFC Championship.

Larry Fitzgerald, Eli Manning and Greg Olsen have been chosen as finalists for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award that recognizes an athlete's contribution to the sport and to society. The winner among the Arizona Cardinals wide receiver, New York Giants quarterback and Carolina Panthers tight end will be announced on Feb. 4, the night before the Super Bowl, at NFL Honors in Houston. The Associated Press individual NFL awards also will be handed out then, on the eve of the Super Bowl.


In the NBA, Golden State beat Orlando 118-98, Dallas won against the Lakers 122-73, Phoenix topped Toronto 115-103, and it was Minnesota over Denver 111-108.


In the NHL, the Rangers shut out Detroit in overtime 1-0, Pittsburgh topped Boston 5-1, Philadelphia beat the Islanders in overtime 3-2, Columbus defeated Ottawa in overtime 7-6, Chicago doubled up Vancouver 4-2, and Nashville bested Minnesota 4-2.


In men’s college basketball, Siena beat Manhattan 81-68, UAlbany never trailed in beating Maine 81-63, UConn won against East Carolina 72-65, and Binghamton beat Stony Brook 71-67.

The 22nd-ranked Xavier Musketeers have put an end to their longest losing streak in three years. Trevon Blueitt scored a game-high 24 points and J.P. Macura added 20 as the Musketeers knocked off Georgetown, 86-75 to halt a three-game skid. Edmond Sumner withstood a painful left shoulder injury to score six points during a 12-3 run after Xavier blew a 12-point lead in the second half.

In women’s college basketball, Syracuse beat No. 14 Miami 81-48, Maine beat UAlbany 84-71, and UConn crushed Tulane 100-56.


The Major League Baseball community is mourning the deaths of Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura and former big league infielder Andy Marte in separate traffic accidents in their native Dominican Republic.

A highway patrol spokesman said Ventura died about 40 miles from Santo Domingo, adding that it was not clear if Ventura was driving. Marte died when the Mercedes Benz he was driving hit a house along a road about 95 miles from the capital.

Ventura was 11-12 with a 4.45 ERA in 32 starts for the 2016 Royals at age 25. He was 38-31 with a 3.89 ERA in four major league seasons with Kansas City, helping the team win two pennants and the 2015 World Series. Marte spent most of his seven-year major league career with the Indians before playing in Korea the last two seasons. Marte was 33.

Catcher Kurt Suzuki reportedly is heading to the National League. A person familiar with the negotiations tells The Associated Press that the Atlanta Braves have worked out a one-year contract with Suzuki, pending a physical. The 33-year-old likely will share time with returning starter Tyler Flowers. Suzuki spent the last three seasons with Minnesota, batting .263 with 160 RBIs and 92 extra-base hits in 368 games. He hit .288 for the 2014 Twins, his lone All-Star season.


Hudson Swafford has claimed his first PGA victory with a strong finish at the CareerBuilder Challenge at La Quinta Country Club. Swafford followed three straight birdies with a par on the final hole to complete a one-stroke win over third-round leader Adam Hadwin. Swafford fired a 5-under 67 on Sunday for a 20-under total that earned him just over $1 million and a spot in the Masters. Hadwin's second-place finish came after he became the ninth player in PGA Tour history with a sub-60 round. Brian Harman and Bud Cauley were two strokes back.


Serena Williams is three match victories away from her 23rd Grand Slam singles title. The second-seeded Williams has reached the Australian Open quarterfinals by beating No. 16 Barbora Strycova, 7-5, 6-4. The six-time Australian Open champ had 23 unforced errors in the first set and needed eight set points to clinch it.

Williams' prevailed one day after top seed Angelique Kerber was beaten in the fourth round. Next up for Williams is ninth seed Johanna Konta, who rolled to a 6-1, 6-4 rout of Ekaterina Makarova. Marjina Lucic-Baroni also reached the quarters with a straight-sets win over American Jennifer Brady, 6-4, 6-2.

Over to the men's side, where No. 11 David Goffin dropped the opening set before reaching the quarterfinals. Goffin was a 5-7, 7-6, 6-2, 6-2 winner against eighth seed David Thiem.

©2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.