#SportsReport: Bengals Surprise Steelers; Pro Bowl Picks Announced
The Pittsburgh Steelers look nothing like the team that opened the NFL season with 11 straight wins. The Steelers wasted a chance to clinch the AFC North title by falling to the struggling Bengals, 27-17. Giovani Bernard scored two touchdowns while Cincinnati was building a 17-0 halftime lead. Quarterback Ryan Finley completed seven passes for 89 yards, but his 23-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter all but sealed it as the Bengals handed the Steelers their third straight loss. The Steelers got within 17-10 before Finley ran untouched around the left side with 11:21 left. Ben Roethlisberger completed 20 of his 38 passes for 170 yards, one touchdown and an interception.
In NFL news:
Led by their star quarterbacks, the Seahawks, Chiefs and Packers join the Ravens as having seven players selected to the Pro Bowl. Kansas City's Patrick Mahomes joins Buffalo's Josh Allen and Houston's Deshaun Watson as the AFC quarterbacks. For the NFC, it's Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers, Seattle's Russell Wilson and Arizona's Kyler Murray. Mahomes and Rodgers are the starters, though there will be no actual game this season because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jalen Hurts has earned a third consecutive start following an impressive performance in Philadelphia's 33-26 loss at Arizona. Hurts threw for 338 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 63 and a score against the Cardinals. He helped the Eagles rally from a 16-0 deficit to tie it 26-26 late in the third quarter. Philly visits Dallas on Sunday.
Browns offensive lineman Chris Hubbard will miss significant time with a knee injury suffered in Sunday's win over the Giants. Coach Kevin Stefanski would not comment on a report that Hubbard needs season-ending surgery to repair torn ligaments and a dislocated kneecap.
The Panthers have fired general manager Marty Hurney after the team lost eight of its last nine games and failed to make the playoffs for a third straight season. Hurney's contract was set to expire after the season.
Hall of Fame linebacker Kevin Greene has died at 58. The Hall of Fame and his family confirmed the news without providing cause of death. Greene is considered one of the fiercest pass rushers in NFL history. The two-time All-Pro and five-time Pro Bowl selection finished his career with 160 sacks, which ranks third in league history behind only Bruce Smith and Reggie White.
Camerun Peoples ran for a bowl-record 319 yards and tied a record with five rushing touchdowns as Appalachian State beat North Texas 56-28 in the Myrtle Beach Bowl. Peoples surpassed the 307 yards rushing of Georgia Tech's PJ Daniels in the 2004 Humanitarian Bowl. The Mountaineers finished with 508 yards rushing and remain perfect in bowls since joining the Sun Belt Conference in 2014.
In other college football news:
The Military Bowl has been canceled after a host of teams opted not to play in bowl games this season. The bowl game has been held annually at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Maryland, since debuting in 2008. The bowl matches teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference and the American Athletic Conference.
Army has replaced Tennessee as West Virginia's opponent at the Liberty Bowl. The Volunteers had to withdraw because of COVID-19 test results, becoming the first team to back out since bowl berths were announced. The 9-2 Black Knights had been left without a postseason game when the Dec. 26 Independence Bowl was canceled Sunday night.
No. 15 Iowa says it's pausing football activities for at least five days because of a COVID-19 outbreak but still hopes to play in next week's Music City Bowl. Iowa is scheduled to play Missouri in the bowl game in Nashville on Dec. 30. Coach Kirk Ferentz says he met with team leaders "and they overwhelmingly want to play in the bowl game."
LSU will be searching for a new defensive coordinator. A person familiar with the situation tells The Associated Press that Bo Pelini is leaving the program after one difficult season in which the Tigers allowed six opponents to gain more than 500 yards. Pelini was in his second stint as defensive coordinator at LSU, having served in the same capacity under Les Miles when the Tigers won a national title in the 2007 season.
In men’s college basketball, Vermont lost its long-awaited season opener to UMass-Lowell 73-65, and Bryant topped UMass 93-88.
In top-25 basketball:
Top-ranked Gonzaga successfully began a stretch in which they are facing Northwestern State on back-to-back nights. The Bulldogs rolled to a 95-57 victory as Corey Kispert poured in 27 points on 10 of 13 shooting. Anton Watson provided 15 points and seven rebounds in the rout, while Jalen Suggs had 12 points, seven boards and seven assists. The Bulldogs had a comfortable 13-point lead at halftime before Mark Few's team outscored the Demons, 52-27 the rest of the way. Drew Timme was among five Zags to score in double figures, finishing with 12 points, nine rebounds and four assists.
LJ Cryer furnished a team-high 15 points off the bench as second-ranked Baylor blew out Arkansas-Pine Bluff, 99-42. Jared Butler contributed 14 points and seven assists, while MaCio Teague added 13 points. The Bears' bench outscored Arkansas-Pine Bluff's subs, 55-0.
Eighth-ranked Tennessee is 5-0 after blowing out Saint Joseph's, 102-66. The Volunteers had six players score in double-figures, led by Victor Bailey Jr.'s 18 points. Santiago Vescovi delivered 16 points, seven rebounds and five assists for the Vols, who built a 56-33 halftime lead and dropped the Hawks to 0-5.
Anthony Polite had a career-high 15 points and Balsa Koprivica added a season-best 14 as No. 21 Florida State topped Gardner-Webb, 72-59. The 5-1 Seminoles outrebounded the Runnin' Bulldogs, 53-30 and hit 75% of their 32 free throws to put the game away.
Jalen Cone came off the bench to score a game-high 18 points and Keve Aluma added 14 in Virginia Tech's 84-58 trouncing of Longwood. The 24th-ranked Hokies outscored the Lancers, 50-28 in the second half, hours after cracking the AP poll.
In college basketball news:
The Syracuse and Buffalo men's basketball programs are on pause after a member of the Bulls tested positive for COVID-19. The decision by both teams comes after they played Saturday in the Carrier Dome in Syracuse. Buffalo did not reveal who tested positive, except to say it involved either an athlete or member of the team's coaching or support staff. The school was notified of the positive test on Sunday. It's unclear how long the Buffalo pause will last, with the school saying it will follow NCAA, conference and local health protocols. Contact tracing is underway at Syracuse.
Penny Hardaway has agreed to a five-year extension worth $12.2 million with Memphis to keep the third-year men's basketball coach under contract through April 2026. Hardaway is 48-27 and had the No. 1 recruiting class in 2019. And game attendance rebounded during his first two seasons.
Gonzaga has strengthened its hold on the No. 1 spot in The Associated Press men's college basketball poll after beating Iowa. The Zags received 61 of 64 first-place votes from a media panel and No. 2 Baylor got the remaining three. No. 3 Kansas moved up 2 spots this week, with Iowa and Villanova rounding out the top 5. No. 10 Texas cracked the top 10 for the first time since reaching No. 6 in 2014-15. No. 12 Michigan State dropped 8 spots after losing to Northwestern.
The Milwaukee Bucks have lost a 2022 second-round draft pick as punishment for their negotiations with Bogdan Bogdanovic. The NBA has determined the team held discussions with Bogdanovic or his agent before it was allowed under free agency rules. The league says the violation constituted "conduct detrimental to the NBA." The sign-and-trade fizzled as the NBA announced its investigation. Bogdanovic ended up signing with with Atlanta when Sacramento chose to not match the Hawks' four-year, $72 million offer sheet.
Also: The Clippers have signed guard Luke Kennard to a multiyear contract extension. Kennard was acquired as part of a three-team trade on Nov. 19 after averaging a career-high 15.8 points, 4.1 assists and 3.5 rebounds in 28 games for Detroit last season. The 6-foot-5 guard was selected by the Pistons as the 12th overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft out of Duke.
Howie Kendrick has announced his retirement after 15 major league seasons that included earning NLCS MVP honors during the Washington Nationals' 2019 World Series run. The Nationals decided in October not to pick up their side of Kendrick's $6.5 million mutual option for next season, but general manager Mike Rizzo recently said the 37-year-old utility player would be welcomed back. Kendrick was a lifetime .294 hitter with a .430 slugging average, 127 home runs and 724 RBIs.
Also: Chicago White Sox manager Tony La Russa says he doesn't have a drinking problem. He also says he has to prove that with his behavior. The 76-year-old La Russa has pleaded guilty to a lesser charge to resolve misdemeanor drunken driving charges stemming from his arrest nearly 10 months ago on a freeway in metro Phoenix. He pleaded guilty to reckless driving in Maricopa County Justice Court and was sentenced to one day of home detention, a fine of nearly $1,400 and 20 hours of community service. La Russa said he feels "deep remorse and regret" about what happened. He underwent 20 hours of alcohol counseling after his arrest, which he described as "very helpful."
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