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Smith, Washington in 1st after Thanksgiving win over Cowboys

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Alex Smith has Washington at least temporarily in first place in the NFC East after winning on Thanksgiving for the first time, two years after a planned holiday showing was wrecked by the quarterback’s career-threatening leg injury.

Smith and his teammates aren’t going to concern themselves with how bad their division might be.

Antonio Gibson ran for three touchdowns, Smith threw a scoring pass and Washington pulled away in the fourth quarter of a 41-16 Thanksgiving victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday.

Smith was days away from a second career Thanksgiving start in a visit to Dallas two years ago when he was injured. Now he has a second straight victory in his improbable comeback.

“It’s hard to put into words,” said Smith, who was a modest 19 of 26 for 149 yards and got bailed out on his only interception when receiver Terry McLaurin ran down Dallas linebacker Jaylon Smith to prevent a tying touchdown before the Cowboys had to settle for a field goal.

“I never would have dreamt in a million years something like this would be happening. Just thankful for it and making the most of it every day.”

Gibson’s second score was a 23-yard run on the first play after an ill-advised fake punt by Dallas as Washington beat its division rival on Thanksgiving for just the second time in 10 tries. Washington has been the most frequent visitor for the Cowboys in their annual holiday home game.

Washington (4-7) slides ahead of Philadelphia (3-6-1) in the NFC East and will stay in first place if the Eagles lose to Seattle on Monday night. It was the third win in five games since a five-game losing streak dropped Washington to 1-5.

The New York Giants can pull even with Washington by beating Cincinnati on Sunday, and they currently hold the tiebreaker because they went 2-0 against Washington this season.

“Our record’s not the best,” Gibson said. “We’re still in it. That gives us hope. That’s what we’re pushing for is we can still make the playoffs right now. We’re going to keep going.”

Dallas (3-8) couldn’t build on a big win at Minnesota, losing for the fifth time in six games since star quarterback Dak Prescott’s season-ending ankle injury.

The Cowboys were playing a day after strength coach Markus Paul died at a hospital following a medical emergency at the team’s facility. Paul was honored with a moment of silence before the game.

The Cowboys trailed 20-16 when they faced a fourth-and-10 from their 24-yard line early in the fourth quarter. Darian Thompson took the snap in front of punter Hunter Niswander and pitched to Cedrick Wilson on a reverse that was stuffed for a 1-yard loss.

On the next play, Gibson easily beat the Dallas defense to the left pylon. After another Dallas punt, Gibson capped a clock-killing drive with a 37-yard score for a 34-16 lead.

Washington made it a blowout when Montez Sweat tipped and intercepted a pass right in the face of Andy Dalton and was free to run 15 yards for a TD.

Gibson, who already was the rookie leader in touchdowns rushing and now has 11, finished with 115 yards on 20 carries.

And two-time rushing champion Ezekiel Elliott of Dallas had just 32 yards while losing his fifth fumble of the season, by far the most of his five-year career.

McLaurin had the defensive play of the game, tackling Smith at the Washington 4 after Smith’s interception in the open field near the 50. The Cowboys went 6 yards in the wrong direction and had to settle for a short field goal and a 20-16 deficit late in the third quarter.

“I was just trying to make a play,” said McLaurin, who led Washington with seven catches for 92 yards. “But when our defense got that stop, that’s when I kind of felt like, ‘Wow, that was a big play.’ You never give up on any plays because you never know what’s going to happen.”

Dallas’ last lead was 10-7 in the second quarter after Dalton’s 54-yard touchdown pass to Amari Cooper, who had 112 yards on six catches.

PASS AND CATCH

Smith’s touchdown pass was a 5-yarder to tight end Logan Thomas, the former college quarterback who chunked the ball into the second deck of seats not long after his 28-yard pass to McLaurin on a trick play set up Gibson’s first TD.

“I told him he’s got a pretty good QB rating right now,” Smith said. “Gadget plays are a part of football, and what better day to run it on than Thanksgiving? Obviously we do multiple things with Logan. He’s a talented guy.”

INJURIES

A Dallas offensive line that has been in flux all season lost both starting tackles to injuries on the opening drive, which ended in a field goal. And that’s with the original starting tackles already out for the season with injuries.

Zack Martin, a four-time All-Pro at right guard making a second straight start at right tackle, injured his left calf in the first half. Four plays earlier, left tackle Cameron Erving exited with a knee injury.

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SPORT SPORT_NFL

Goff throws for 376 yards, 3 TDs in Rams’ 27-24 win vs Bucs

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers faced a tough opponent in the Los Angeles Rams, losing to the former Super Bowl runner-up on Monday night. Here are the highlights:

  • “We can be as good as we want to be, honestly. We’ve got it all in front of us. Everything is there for us to take. I’ve always believed in myself in any situation, but when you actually do it in a tough environment, it makes you feel good,” Goff said.
  • Goff threw for 376 yards and three touchdowns. He completed 39 of 51 passes.
  • Jordan Fuller’s interception sealed the deal.
  • Kupp ended the night with receptions for 145 yards and Woods finished with 10 catches for 130 yards.
  • Brady was 26 of 48 for 216 yards and two touchdowns.
  • “Disappointed. I have to do a better job,” Brady said. “They did a good job preventing (the big play). They play a defense that makes them tough to hit. Not impossible, but we didn’t hit any.”

 

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SPORT SPORT_NBA

NBA players hailed by pope at Vatican for demanding justice

Pope Francis met with NBA players at the Vatican on Monday, lauding them as “champions” and highlighting their work on social issues, including Black Lives Matter. Here are the highlights:

  • Marco Belinelli, Sterling Brown, Jonathan Isaac, Kyle Korver and Anthony Tolliver attended the meet and greet.
  • “We’re here because, frankly, we’re inspired by the work that you do globally,” Roberts told the pope during the meeting in the papal library.
  • The NBA Players Union said the players spoke about their “individual and collective efforts addressing social and economic injustice and inequality occurring in their communities.”
  • “You’re champions,” the pope said. “But also giving the example of teamwork, you’ve become a model, giving that good example of teamwork but always remaining humble … and preserving your own humanity.”
  • “I was there to support my colleagues in their daily struggle in the United States, and not just for that,” Belinelli said later Monday on Twitter. “I also went to show that athletes have an active responsibility in society and need to dedicate themselves toward changing things that don’t work. We athletes have a very big media platform and we’ve got to use it positively to reach where institutions are lacking.
  • “The pope had important words for us: We need to continue to be united, to operate as brothers, like a team, and to set an example for the younger generations,” Belinelli continued. “The key is to remain humble. I will never forget this experience.”
  • The Pope said he sought to meet the players after hearing about their crusade for justice.
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SPORT SPORT_MLB

Mets 2B Cano suspended 162 games by MLB after drug test

Robinson Cano’s Hall of Fame career is in danger, after testing positive for a PED. Here are the highlights:

  • The New York Mets second baseman was suspended for 162 games by Major League Baseball on Wednesday
  • He tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug for the second time in his career.
  • The 38-year-old Canó will miss the entire 2021 season and lose $24 million in salary. He is said to be preparing an appeal.
  • The penalty comes less than two weeks after Steve Cohen, a billionaire hedge fund manager, bought the Mets for $2.4 billion.
  • The commissioner’s office said Canó tested positive for Stanozolol, an anabolic steroid.
  • He was penalized 80 games in May 2018 while with Seattle after a positive test for Furosemide, a diuretic that some athletes have used to mask other substances.
  • “We were extremely disappointed to be informed about Robinson’s suspension for violating Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program,” new Mets president Sandy Alderson said in a statement. “The violation is very unfortunate for him, the organization, our fans, and the sport. The Mets fully support MLB’s efforts toward eliminating performance-enhancing substances from the game.”
  • There was no immediate comment from Cano
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SPORT SPORT_NCAA

Maryland-Michigan State canceled after Terps’ virus outbreak

The Big Ten game between Maryland and Michigan State was canceled Thursday after a COVID-19 outbreak. Here are the highlights:

  • It’s the second straight cancellation for the Terrapins, who were scheduled to face Ohio State last week.
  • The past seven days have seen 15 Maryland players tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. There were seven positive cases among staff over that same time period.
  • Overall, 16 out of 62 games involving Bowl Subdivision teams scheduled for this week have been canceled.

 

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SPORT SPORT_NBA

Thompson has torn Achilles tendon, expected to miss season

News that Klay Thompson has torn his Achilles and will miss another season is making a return to glory for the Warriors seem less and less likely. Here are the highlights:

  • Thompson tore his right Achilles tendon playing in a pickup game Wednesday.
  • An MRI exam Thursday in Los Angeles revealed the severity of the injury that typically requires surgery.
  • The Warriors aren’t prepared to say what is next for Thompson.
  • “What hurts the most — and speaking on behalf of Klay, we will move on and we will be OK and he will be OK — but what hurts the most is the time we put into our jobs, the sacrifices we make to do what we do and to do what he does,” the team said. “And for him to have to now not be able to play basketball, that’s the pain. That’s the pain we feel, the pain we feel for him.”
  • Thompson didn’t play during the coronavirus-shortened 2019 season. He worked back from surgery for a torn ACL in his left knee, which he suffered during the deciding Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors.
  • Myers said Thompson’s injury had Golden State considering altering its draft decisions Wednesday night.

 

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SPORT SPORT_NBA

Play-in tourney on, Olympics likely out for NBA in 2020-21

It’s decided. The 2020-21 NBA schedule will feature a play-in tournament and an NBA Finals that may run up until July 22. That date may make it untenable for some players to compete in the Olympics. Here are the highlights:

  • The league’s 75th season, delayed and shortened because of the coronavirus pandemic, will begin Dec. 22.
  • Teams will play 42 intraconference games, with each facing the others within its conference three times apiece.
  • The play-in tournament, approved Tuesday by the board of governors on a one-year basis, follows involving the teams with the seventh through 10th-best records in each conference. They will play for the final two playoff spots in the East and the West.
  • This time, the team with the seventh-best record in each conference will host No. 8 in one game. The winner secures the No. 7 seed, while the loser hosts the winner of a game between No. 9 and No. 10. The winner of that game gets the final playoff spot.
  • If all goes according to plan, preseason games will be held Dec. 11-19. The first half of the season then runs Dec. 22 through March 4, followed by an All-Star break March 5-10 — though the All-Star Game in Indianapolis was scrapped.
  • The second half is March 11 to May 16, with the play-in tournament May 18-21. The postseason could then last for two months from May 22 to July 22.
  • That almost certainly eliminates a number of players from considering going to Tokyo for the postponed 2020 Olympics.
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SPORT SPORT_MLB

Hall of Fame Dodgers manager Lasorda hospitalized in ICU

  • Hall of Fame manager Tom Lasorda has been hospitalized in Southern California. Here are the highlights:
  • The Los Angeles Dodgers said Sunday that their 93-year-old former manager was in intensive care and resting comfortably.
  • He recently attended the team’s Game 6 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Oct. 27 in Texas that clinched the Dodgers’ first World Series title since 1988.
  • Lasorda had a record of 1,599-1,439 while managing the Dodgers from 1976-96, guiding them to World Series championships in 1981 and ’88.
  • In 2012, Lasorda was hospitalized in New York after having a heart attack.
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SPORT SPORT_NFL

Hail Murray: Cardinals stun Bills 32-30 in final seconds

The Arizona Cardinals shocked three Buffalo defenders with a Hail Mary, last second touchdown to win. Here are the highlights:

  • “Two plus two equals four,” three-time All-Pro Deandre Hopkins said. “Go downfield. Throw it up.”
  • QB Kyler Murray completed a stunning 43-yard pass to Hopkins with two seconds left, lifting Arizona to 32-30 victory over the Bills.
  • The catch was quickly dubbed “Hail Murray.”
  • “I knew when it left my hand it had a chance,” Murray said. “You play quarterback, you can tell the trajectory, the touch of the ball.”
  • Somehow, Hopkins nabbed the ball away from a mass of defenders, sealing the victory as the final seconds clicked off.
  • “I’m still kind of at a loss for words,” Arizona coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “What a phenomenal play.”

Josh Allen threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Stefon Diggs with 34 seconds left that looked like it would win it for the Bills (7-3). But Murray and the Cardinals (6-3, tied for the NFC West lead) ended the Bills’ winning streak at three games with the improbable throw and catch.

It was a crazy ending to another entertaining Cardinals game, which usually have come down to the final seconds in recent weeks. Murray threw for 245 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Hopkins had seven catches for 127 yards — and he’ll remember the last one for a long, long time.

“It was on three people. They were in position. It was just a better catch by I,” Hopkins said.

The Cardinals trailed 23-9 midway through the third quarter but responded with two touchdown drives sandwiched around a field goal to take a 26-23 lead by the beginning of the fourth. Murray, wearing bright yellow cleats, ran for both of the touchdowns, including a 15-yard dash up the middle that gave Arizona its first lead of the day.

“He is playing at a ridiculous level,” Kingsbury said. “You have seen it the last few weeks after that first month. Offensively, we have really settled in. Mixing in tempo making great decisions whether it is with his feet, his arm. It is fun to watch. He’s making us right on a lot of plays.”

Allen was having a mediocre game until the late drive that lasted 12 plays and went 73 yards. The quarterback capped the series with a perfect throw to a diving Diggs, who finished with 10 catches for 93 yards. But it wasn’t enough for the Bills, who couldn’t stop Hopkins in the end zone.

“Yeah, I thought we guarded it pretty well,” Bills safety Jordan Poyer said. “We had three people around him . … It’s really not a whole lot of anything else to say, just got to find a way to get that ball out of his hands some way, somehow.”

Allen completed 32 of 49 passes for 284 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Cole Beasley had 11 catches for 109 yards and a touchdown.

“You’re not gonna win every game, but to lose this one the way we did — it hurts,” Allen said.

Buffalo pushed ahead 23-9 when Allen hit Beasley for a 22-yard touchdown after Arizona’s Kenyan Drake lost a fumble.

But the Cardinals responded with a nine-play, 85-yard drive that ended with Murray’s 1-yard touchdown run. Zane Gonzalez followed with a 45-yard field goal and Murray ran for a 15-yard score for the 26-23 lead.

Allen handed the ball off to Isaiah McKenzie, who then turned and threw it back to the quarterback, who ran 12 yards for Buffalo’s opening score. Allen is the 11th Buffalo player to catch a touchdown pass this season, a franchise record.

Tyler Bass added field goals from 58, 55 and 54 yards for a 16-9 halftime lead. The rookie’ 54-yarder bounced off the right upright before going through for three points. They were the three longest field goals of his short career.

The Cardinals had a frustrating first half with 206 total yards but zero touchdowns. Gonzalez made field goals from 23, 42 and 21 yards.

CONSISTENT MURRAY

Murray has run for at least one touchdown in five consecutive games to tie a franchise record. He’s the first quarterback in the NFL to do it since Green Bay’s Tobin Rote in 1956.

INJURIES

Bills: Four players missed the game when put on the reserve/COVID-19 list, including cornerback Josh Norman. … LB A.J. Epenesa left in the first half and was evaluated for a head injury. … CB Dane Jackson (knee) left in the third quarter.

Cardinals: TE Darrell Daniels (ankle) left in the second quarter. … DL Corey Peters was carted off the field in the second quarter with a knee injury. … LB De’Vondre Campbell (calf) left the third quarter.

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SPORT SPORT_Golf

Dustin Johnson buries some major memories, wins the Masters

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — In this one-of-a-kind Masters, with no fans and no roars, Dustin Johnson took control and ended the day with a five-shot victory Sunday. Here are the highlights:

  • Johnson spoke to a small gathering on the putting green in absence of the official ceremony, but only briefly.  “I’ve never had this much trouble gathering myself,” Johnson finally said. “On the golf course, I’m pretty good at it.”
  • Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s Masters was the first played in November. Only one guest for each player was allowed, as well as coaches and Augusta National members and officials.
  • Johnson closed with a 4-under 68 and finished at 20-under 268, breaking by two shots the record set by Tiger Woods in 1997 and matched by Jordan Spieth in 2015.
  • “Having Tiger [Woods] put it on was awesome. You wouldn’t want it any other way,” Johnson said. And then he smiled before adding, “But any guy could put it on me and I’d be just fine.”
  • About 250 people offering warm applause and partner Paulina Gretzky rushed onto the green to celebrate with Johnson and his brother, caddie Austin Johnson.
  • Johnson now has two majors to go along with his 25 victories worldwide, a combination that validates him as one of the greats of his generation.