Chiefs Rally to Keep Top Seed Hopes Alive; Cowboys Pound Eagles
The Kansas City Chiefs needed a comeback on the road Saturday afternoon, but they got just that for a 28-24 win over the Denver Broncos in the Mile High City. Linebacker Nick Bolton had an 86-yard fumble return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter, and now the Chiefs will clinch the top seed in the AFC with a Tennessee Titans loss to the Houston Texans on Sunday. The win was the Chiefs' 12th win of the season and 13th straight over Denver. They got this win despite Tyreek Hill injuring his heel during warmups and being held to just one catch for two yards. With him down, Mecole Hardman stepped in with eight catches for 103 yards, and now the Chiefs will focus on the postseason and potentially getting to their third consecutive Super Bowl. And the Dallas Cowboys ended their regular season on a high note away from home, pulling away for a 51-26 blowout of the Philadelphia Eagles on Saturday night. Dak Prescott threw a career-high five touchdown passes, while Cedrick Wilson and Dalton Schultz each caught two scoring passes, helping the NFC East Champions keep their hopes alive for a two-seed in the NFC. The Eagles rested starting quarterback Jalen Hurts and other key starters ahead of next week's Wild Card Game, but they can still end up with the sixth seed at 9-8 to finish the regular season. The 12-5 Cowboys need losses by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Los Angeles Rams, and Arizona Cardinals on Sunday to get the two-seed, but they cannot finish worse than a four seed. Prescott was nearly perfect on this night, completing 21 of his 27 passes for 295 yards and no interceptions, and he will now get to show off what he can do after a rough 2020 that included a fractured right ankle.
Buccaneers Extend DT Vita Vea
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be playing for the top seed in the NFC on Sunday, but on Saturday they were focused on taking care of a key part of their defense. The defending Super Bowl Champions gave defensive tackle Vita Vea a four-year contract extension worth $73 million. This deal includes $42 million in guaranteed money, and it comes after the team already picked up Vea's fifth-year option for 2022, but he is now under contract through the 2026 season. The former 12th overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft will make an annual salary of $18.25 million, making him the fifth-highest paid defensive tackle in the league. This was a major bounce back season for him after missing 13 games last season, but he did return for the NFC Championship Game and the Super Bowl. Over four NFL seasons, he has totaled 103 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, 31 quarterback hits, 11.5 sacks, six passes defended, and one fumble recovery.
Herro, Heat Top Suns; Hornets Top Struggling Bucks
The Miami Heat seem to never lose when Tyler Herro is on his game, and he was just that on Saturday night in their 123-100 win over the first-place Phoenix Suns. Herro had 33 points, as the Heat knocked down a franchise record-tying 22 three-pointers to beat the best team in the NBA. Duncan Robinson chipped in 27 points, as Miami got this big win despite being shorthanded with 11 players inactive, including star Jimmy Butler. The team made exactly half of their shots from beyond the arc, including Robinson going 8-of-16, while Herro added three three-pointers, shot 12-of-20 overall and chipped in five rebounds and three assists. The 21-year-old continues to be a spark plug for the Heat, averaging over 20 points per game despite getting just 10 starts thus far. And the Charlotte Hornets handed the Milwaukee Bucks an all too familiar loss as of late with a 114-106 victory at home. Terry Rozier had 28 points, while Miles Bridges added 21 points and eight rebounds, handing the defending NBA Champions their third loss in four games. LaMelo Ball had another complete effort with 19 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists, while the Hornets defense held the Bucks to just 38.9% shooting on the night. Despite that, Giannis Antetokounmpo still had a big night with 43 points and 12 rebounds, as did Khris Middleton with 27 points and 10 rebounds, but the Bucks could not keep things going after beating the Brooklyn Nets on Friday. The loss sent them to what is still a quality road record of 13-9, but it does knock them down to third in the Eastern Conference.
Other key scores from Saturday saw Jaren Jackson Jr. score 26 points as the Memphis Grizzlies won their eighth straight, 123-108, over the Los Angeles Clippers. The Boston Celtics got back at the New York Knicks behind Jaylen Brown's triple-double of 22 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists with a 99-75 blowout win. Damontas Sabonis had a career-high 42 points in the Indiana Pacers' 125-113 upset of the Utah Jazz. And Trey Lyles helped the Detroit Pistons win for the third time in five games, 97-92, over the Orlando Magic.
Duke Falls to Miami; Texas Tech Takes Down Kansas
The Miami Hurricanes went on the road Saturday night and pulled off a major upset in the college basketball world, taking down the second-ranked Duke Blue Devils, 76-74, at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Kameron McGusty had the game-winning layup with 22.8 seconds left, leading Miami to their first win over a top-five opponent in six years. The 'Canes defense got a big stop in the Blue Devils' final possession, moving them to an impressive 13-3 overall and a perfect 5-0 in ACC play. Charlie Moore added 18 points and a career-best seven steals, as the Hurricanes extended their win streak to nine games in a row. This win comes after they came back from an 18-point deficit to beat Syracuse, and now they hand the Blue Devils their second loss of the season, and first in conference play. And the 25th-ranked Texas Tech Red Raiders got a major conference win on their home floor Saturday afternoon, taking down the sixth-ranked Kansas Jayhawks, 75-67. Bryson Williams led the way with 22 points, while Clarence Nadolny had a career-high 17 points for the home team, who never trailed in the second half. Both teams moved to 1-1 in conference play, but this was just the second loss of the season for Kansas. Ochai Agbaji had 24 points, including six three-pointers, and one of those cut the deficit to four points with just 1:12 left. Jalen Wilson added 20 points in the loss for Kansas, who had their eight-game winning streak snapped. For the Red Raiders, they were able to bounce back from a 51-47 loss to the 11th-ranked Iowa State Cyclones in which they had just seven players available due to COVID-19.
Other key scores saw the top-ranked Baylor Bears extend their winning streak to 21 games with a 76-64 win over the TCU Horned Frogs. Tari Eason's 24 points helped the 21st-ranked LSU Tigers pull away from the 18th-ranked Tennessee Volunteers, 79-67, at home. There were multiple upsets on the day, including the unranked Oklahoma Sooners downing the 11th-ranked Iowa State Cyclones, 79-66, behind Umoja Gibson's 20 points. Keylan Boone came off the bench with a career-high 17 points as the unranked Oklahoma State Cowboys took down the 14th-ranked Texas Longhorns, 64-51, at home. The unranked Missouri Tigers topped the 15th-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide, 92-86, thanks to Kobe Brown's 30-point effort. And Matt Bradley had 26 points as the unranked San Diego State Aztechs blew past the 20th-ranked Colorado State Rams, 79-49.
Stars Rally to Snap Penguins' Streak; Avs Earn 11th Straight Home Win
The Dallas Stars put an end to the Pittsburgh Penguins' win streak on Saturday afternoon, rallying for a 3-2 win at home, stopping the road team's win streak at 10 games in a row. Roope Hintz and Joe Pavelski scored just 1:15 apart in the third period, with Hintz getting the game-winner with 3:46 to play. It was his fourth game-winning tally of the season and he is tied with Pavelski for the team lead with 13 goals overall. Denis Gurianov also scored, while Jake Oettinger made 27 saves, as the Stars won their fourth straight game. Jason Robertson got the assist on all three goals, extending his home point streak to 10 straight games. Brian Dumoulin and Kasperi Kapnen both scored 25 seconds apart for the Penguins, who got 25 saves from Tristan Jarry, as they were 18-1-1 when leading after two periods and 18-2 when scoring first. And the Colorado Avalanche rallied from three goals down to beat the Toronto Maple Leafs in overtime, 5-4, for their franchise record 11th straight home victory. Devon Toews scored 1:12 in to the extra period, his sixth of the season, as he beat Jack Campbell to get the puck to the back of the net. The Avs have not lost at home since November 3rd against the Columbus Blue Jackets, and they surpassed the previous record of 10 straight home wins, which they have done three other times. Gabriel Landeskog scored his 14th goal of the season in this one, as they put an end to the Maple Leafs' four-game winning streak. Campbell made 45 saves in the loss, while Auston Matthews scored twice in 33 seconds and Alexander Kerfoot had a goal and two assists on the night.
Other key scores saw Anthony Duclair score 2:53 in to overtime to lift the Florida Panthers over the Carolina Hurricanes, 4-3. David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand each scored twice as the Boston Bruins took care of the Tampa Bay Lightning, 5-2. Kevin Fiala and Frederick Gaudreau both scored in the shootout as the Minnesota Wild took advantage of the Washington Capitals' miscues for a 3-2 victory. And Ryan Lindgren scored twice in the final 20 minutes to rally the New York Rangers past the Anaheim Ducks, 4-1, out west.