Blackhawks vs. Blues 2017 final score: Vladimir Tarasenko scores twice in St. Louis¡¯ first outdoor game win

After a thrilling Centennial Classic in Toronto over the weekend, the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues had a high bar to clear in the 2017 Winter Classic on Monday.

They cleared it, weather and all.

The Blues pleased their home fans at Busch Stadium with a hard-fought 4-1 win over their division rivals. Vladimir Tarasenko¡¯s two goals late in the third period put the game away behind a good day from goalie Jake Allen.

The Red Wings only got a point out of the game, as Auston Matthews won the Centennial Classic for the Leafs in overtime.
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Dayton Moore stubbornly stuck to his guns in 2014 as many called for the Royals to trade veterans like James Shields when the team was 48-50 and 4.5 games out of a playoff spot on July 21. The team rewarded his faith by winning 24 of their next 30 to erase an eight game lead in the division and take over first place, eventually taking the Wild Card. In 2016, the team again stood pat, despite being 49-55 on July 31, 8.5 games out of a playoff spot. But a hot August got them to within two games of a playoff spot in late August before they faded.

Can the Royals get back to the post-season?

Game Youth Teemu Selanne Jersey The Royals made a valiant run last year, but they fell far short of reaching the post-season for a third consecutive season. Injuries took their toll, and they¡¯ll get players like Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain, and Jason Vargas back healthy this year, but the loss of Wade Davis is a major blow, and even losing Kendrys Morales and Edinson Volquez leaves the team very thin.

Sam Bradford sets record for highest completion percentage in a season

The Minnesota Vikings are finishing off a disappointing season, but Sam Bradford made a bit of history on Sunday. He ended the year with a 71.6 completion percentage, breaking the single-season record. Drew Brees previously held the mark with a 71.2 percentage in 2011.

These teams last met in Week 3, with the Packers surging to a 34-17 lead and holding on for the 37-24 victory. Rodgers lit up the Lions’ defense for four touchdown passes, two of them going to Jordy Nelson.

Both teams look a little different this time around — Green Bay lost Eddie Lacy for the year, but Ty Montgomery has done a fine job moving from wide receiver to running back. The Lions are dealing with the loss of cornerback Darius Slay, who sat out last week’s loss with a hamstring injury. His absence was sorely felt as Bryant torched the Lions’ secondary. Slay returned to practice this week, and is expected to play Sunday night.

The Lions have even more injury concerns at running back, with Theo Riddick battling a wrist injury that’s kept him out the past three games. Fortunately for Detroit, Zach Zenner stepped up and gave the run game something of a spark last week, so we’ll see if that carries over here.

The Packers are shaping up as a team nobody wants to face in the playoffs, but they’ll have to get past one last obstacle in the regular season. The Lions have been playing by the skin of their teeth all year, but how much luck do they have left? All the chips are down for this one, and it should be a thrilling game to close out the Sunday Night Football schedule.

Kobe was backing down Grizzlies guard Tony Allen in the post and spun around and his knee buckled

Three seasons ago, that Kobe played much of the fourth quarter of a game in Memphis with what turned out to be a broken kneecap. He was just six games back from the ruptured Achilles tendon. Had just started finding his game again, his timing, his Kobe face. You know the one — bottom teeth bared, nostrils flaring, eyes piercing through you, looking for signs of weakness to attack.

Mens Eugene Sims Jersey Kobe was backing down Grizzlies guard Tony Allen in the post and spun around and his knee buckled. He got up and played the rest of the game, even hit a late 3-pointer to hold off Memphis for the win.
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As the Lakers’ plane flies toward Memphis for his last game in town, I send a note asking how long ago that game seems.

The reply comes swiftly.

“It feels like a yesterday from another life.”

Consecutive seasons ended by major injuries — a ruptured Achilles (2012-13), a broken kneecap (2013-14) and a torn rotator cuff (2014-15) — turned him into the wax statue of Kobe that tourists visit and take selfies with, not the Black Mamba.

THE NEXT AFTERNOON, Kobe walks into the restaurant with tired eyes. It’s been raining for about an hour. Just a light shower, not the downpour they were expecting. His dark gray tracksuit is enough. He doesn’t bother with an umbrella.

Two bodyguards flank him as he enters the front door of the Majestic Grille, a classic spot in downtown Memphis inside an old theater that still shows silent films. The restaurant is empty this time of day, so he shoos his security guards away, directing them to sit out of earshot.

Hill was able to play on Saturday night

Vernon Davis, TE, Redskins: Pressed into starting duty with Jordan Reed (shoulder) sidelined, Davis managed just one fantasy point, his worst total in any of his four games played this season in which Reed was absent. Davis was started in 28.2 percent of ESPN leagues, 13th-most among tight ends.

Thomas Rawls, RB, Seahawks: A shoulder injury contributed to his quiet effort on Saturday, but even before exiting he was held scoreless on the fantasy scorecard despite receiving eight rushing attempts. Rawls has been held to three fantasy points or fewer in three of his past five games, and he was started in 61.0 percent of ESPN Authentic Mens Karl Klug Jersey leagues, 21st among running backs.

LA Family Housing has been around Limited Mens Rodney Gunter Jersey since 1983 and is now one of the largest comprehensive real-estate developers and homeless service providers in the city. Last year, it helped 6,429 people, according to the organization’s website. The Rams have partnered with several local charitable organizations since their return to L.A., but, as Higgins said, “We’ve gravitated a lot to homelessness just because it’s such a serious issue.”

In its 33-year existence, LA Family Housing has never seen a contribution like this, with an entire apartment fully furnished and packed with presents for a family of seven.

Wednesday marked the first night Carter slept under the same roof with all six of her kids, a moment she longed for “every single day.”

The next morning, they woke up to everything they could have wanted.

“It was crazy seeing everything happen, and knowing that me and Rob made this happen,” said Austin, who had quickly decided to help Quinn fund the project. “It feels good. A lot of times, people don’t think that we’re out here doing stuff. But we are. I’m just glad I was a part of it.”

Ben McAdoo and the Giants punished for using walkie-talkie to communicate from sideline

The NFL was swift to dole out punishment to the New York Giants after head coach Ben McAdoo used a walkie-talkie to communicate with quarterback Eli Manning from the sideline.

The NFL fined the Giants $150,000 and McAdoo $50,000 for the use of the walkie-talkie, and also had their fourth-round pick in 2017 moved to the end of the fourth-round after any compensatory picks, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

S Eric Weddle, Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens are making a lot of noise about Weddle getting left out. The safety has consistently been one of the best players at the position for years. He’s not on pace to post career bests in any major statistical category like tackles or interceptions, but with 81 tackles and four interceptions, he’s still playing at a high level. Eric Berry, Devin McCourty, and Reggie Nelson are all in ahead of him, and while the first two have played great football, Nelson has struggled quite a bit this year, and it’s surprising to see him ahead of Weddle.

RB LeGarrette Blount, New England Patriots

Blount is having the best year of his career, with 1,060 yards and 15 touchdowns on the ground. It’s worth noting that the three AFC running backs selected — Le’Veon Bell, LeSean McCoy, and DeMarco Murray — all have better per-carry averages and more yards than Blount. But Blount’s 15 touchdowns leads the league, and he fits so well into the Patriots offense. He broke the Patriots’ record for rushing touchdowns in a single season, and smart money is on him getting a couple more before all is said and done.

With Fitzpatrick, Marshall lobbied constantly, which probably explains the inordinate number of targets

“I won’t do that, and I haven’t done that,” he said. “You really can’t do that. … (Petty) has so much going through his head. You don’t want to disrupt that. If you ask for the ball, you’re selfish. It can be disruptive.”

With Fitzpatrick, Marshall lobbied constantly, which probably explains the inordinate number of targets. Fitzpatrick forced balls to Marshall, perhaps to appease him. Petty is simply following the script.

A revolving door: Because of injuries, the Jets have used a league-high 68 players. Remarkable. The biggest impact is felt on special teams, prompting coordinator Brant Boyer to say, “It’s like a yard sale when you put all your stuff out on the grass and you try to mix and match and fit it in.”

Petty struggled in his second start since being named the No. 1 quarterback. He completed 20 of 36 passes for 235 yards and a touchdown, but he threw two interceptions and lost a fumble on a strip sack.

“You obviously want to be one of the top defenses in the league, but our mindset is, ‘Get a stop on third down. Get a stop. Get our offense back on the field in good field position.'”

Washington has battled ankle injuries throughout this season and Zenner suffered a concussion last week against Chicago.

Wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin, who suffered a back injury earlier in the week, also is on track to face Washington.

The Panthers ruled defensive end Charles Johnson (hamstring) and offensive tackle Daryl Williams (ankle) out.

Project Petty 2.0: The Jets’ coaches were kind in their public assessment of Bryce Petty’s first start as the No. 1 quarterback. True, he made a couple of plays with his arm and a couple with his legs last week against the San Francisco 49ers, but he also committed an alarming number of mistakes at the line of scrimmage. His failure to recognizes blitzes resulted in unblocked rushers on three of the six sacks. At times, he held the ball too long, freezing up when his No. 1 read was covered. He held it so long on one sack that a three-man rush had time to beat a six-man protection.

“I hope he’ll learn from that experience and, hopefully, he’ll be better this week,” offensive coordinator Chan Gailey said. “That’s what you hope young players do.”

Problem is, the Dolphins are a better defensive team than the 49ers, starting with a seasoned front four that includes Ndamukong Suh and Cameron Wake. They smell blood. With right tackle Brent Qvale (hamstring) listed as doubtful, the Jets are expected to start rookie Brandon Shell — the fourth man up. His only game experience at the position came last week — all of eight snaps. Look for them to give Shell plenty of help. He’ll need it.

Silent Brandon: In two starts, Petty has attempted only 11 passes to Brandon Marshall, who usually received twice as many targets from Ryan Fitzpatrick. A close review of the San Francisco tape reveals how little Petty actually looked in Marshall’s direction. The bigger upset? Marshall isn’t complaining.

Adrian Peterson intends to play for Vikings vs. Colts

The Minnesota Vikings running back told Dash Radio on Friday that he intends to play this week against the Indianapolis Colts.

“Being out there confirmed I’m ready to roll,” Peterson said, via the Star Tribune. “I’ve had my head in the playbook.”

The Vikings would need to make a corresponding move to activate Peterson to the 53-man roster.

All Day has been out since Sept. 18 with a torn meniscus. He returned to practice this week.

The Vikings could certainly use a boost on the ground. Behind a porous offensive line, Minnesota ranks last in the NFL with just 73.4 rushing yards per game. Prior to the injury in Week 2, Peterson was averaging just 1.6 yards per carry.

Coach Dan Quinn said Thursday that he wanted to see Jones “explode pain-free” before green-lighting him for Sunday. That obviously didn’t happen, leaving Mohamed Sanu and Taylor Gabriel to operate as the team’s top two receivers against the Niners.

If there’s a week to sit Jones, this would be it. The 49ers are allowing more points per game than any team in the league while the versatile Falcons are scoring more per tilt than anyone else. With Jones out of the lineup last week, the Falcons still dropped 42 points on the Rams.

In the thick of a playoff race, Atlanta can hardly afford to rest Jones after Week 15, but it makes plenty of sense to get him as healthy as possible for the final two weeks of the regular season — and beyond.

Cam Newton just keeps setting records

It’s pretty clear that the league has been trending toward more prolific passing numbers, and 2015 was no exception. With Matthew Stafford and Ryan Fitzpatrick joining the club on Sunday, the league saw 11 quarterbacks throw 30-plus touchdowns this year, up two from the nine that accomplished that last year, and up six from the five quarterbacks that did it in 2013.

Not surprisingly, there were more passing touchdowns this year than any previous NFL season ever.

So let’s take a look at a few players that broke records this year. First up, the surprising and intriguing case of Kirk Cousins. After a rough start, Cousins turned a corner for Jay Gruden and put up some truly amazing numbers en route to leading Washington to a playoff berth. Cousins finished with 29 touchdowns to 11 picks and became the first Washington quarterback since 1978 to throw a touchdown pass in all 16 games.

Hickey, who spent 14 years with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and worked his way up to the team’s director of personnel, was hired by the Dolphins in January 2014. One year later, however, after a second straight 8-8 season, Miami brought in former Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum. Tannenbaum was assigned the label of executive vice president of football operations and became Hickey’s boss.

In his one season calling the shots, after replacing the deposed Jeff Ireland, Hickey drafted offensive tackle Ja’Wuan James and wide receiver Jarvis Landry. He also made a number of free agent signings. The most notable was the five-year, $47 million contract he handed left tackle Branden Albert.

This is the seventh straight year the Dolphins missed out on the playoffs. They haven’t finished with a winning record since 2008.

In the AFC the Cincinnati Bengals will play host to the division rival Pittsburgh Steelers in a Wild Card Weekend matchup, with the Bengals having lost 33-20 at home to the Steelers as a 1-point favorite when they last met in Week 14. Cincinnati topped the Steelers 16-10 as a 1-point underdog at Pittsburgh in the Week 8 battle between the two teams at Heinz Field.

The White Sox would want right-hander Tyler Glasnow and outfielder Austin Meadows

Unlike Sale, whose fastball velocity declined in 2016 (perhaps because he made more of a conscious effort to pitch to contact but perhaps because he simply wasn’t throwing as hard), Quintana averaged a career-high 92.0 mph with his fastball. There are no signs that he is due to regress. And Buster’s right: In what looks like a weak AL Central aside from the Indians in the coming years, the White Sox might be contenders sooner than most rebuilding jobs, especially if they can dig into the lucrative free-agent market that will arrive after the 2018 season.

Anyway, Quintana remains a valuable trade chip, and deals will be discussed. Let’s see if we can find one that might work.

Houston Astros: This is the team everybody mentions as a potential trade partner. The Astros have improved their lineup, and adding Quintana alongside Dallas Keuchel, Collin McHugh and a healthy Lance McCullers would make for a nice rotation. Any deal would have to start with Francis Martes, Houston’s top prospect and one of the top pitching prospects in the minors. He pitched in Double-A last season, so he isn’t far away.

Four teams that could have been fits (Blue Jays, Yankees, Astros, Rockies) all turned elsewhere. So the theme I heard most from executives and agents is this: Encarnacion should stop counting money he never had, take a short or creative deal with a team like Cleveland or Texas, and then try this again next winter, with no qualifying offer attached.

The Pirates and Nationals got so far down the line on a deal to send McCutchen to Washington — for a package that would have been extremely close to what the Nationals offered for both Chris Sale and Adam Eaton — that some of the Pirates’ delegation thought it was on the verge of happening. But once the Nationals decided they preferred Eaton and pivoted away, the Pirates had a whole different sort of challenge on their hands.

By which we mean … damage control.

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Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson entered this season as a relative unknown

Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson entered this season as a relative unknown, with more than one hurdle to clear. He’ll exit it with the Heisman Trophy.

Jackson capped his remarkable rise with the first Heisman Trophy in school history, having wowed enough voters — despite losses in his final two games — with 51 total touchdowns and 4,928 total yards.

What Jackson accomplished in 2016 goes down as the greatest season ever at Louisville — a school where Hall of Famer Johnny Unitas starred in the 1950s.

Jackson had a speech prepared but he stopped at various points to say, “This is crazy.” He got through the written portions while also improvising, saying his speech “started coming from the heart.”

“To be the first person from Louisville to win it, it’s an honor. I’m humbled.”

Jackson is the third player in FBS history — joining Cam Newton and Tim Tebow — with 30 passing touchdowns and 20 rushing touchdowns in a season. He set ACC and school records for touchdowns responsible (51) in a season and yards in a single game (610, versus Syracuse), plus school records for most single-season rushing yards (1,538) and most touchdowns in a single game (eight), and he became the first quarterback in school history with a 1,000-yard rushing season.

After finishing third in the balloting in 2015, Watson, meanwhile, became the 11th player with multiple top-three finishes without a Heisman win and the first to do so since Andrew Luck during the 2010-11 seasons.

It is only the seventh time in Heisman history — and first since 2008 (Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford and Texas’ Colt McCoy) — that the winner and runner-up hailed from the same conference.

Before the ceremony began, Jackson was asked whether he ever dreamed about winning the Heisman.

“I thought about it a lot growing up, playing the NCAA video games,” Jackson said. “I was like, ‘Man, it would be great to go to college and win that award.’ So just to be sitting here right now and having my name talked about, it’s crazy.”