Chiefs, Packers join 49ers, Titans in NFL championship round
The conference championships will be all about rematches, including a classic rivalry in the NFC.
San Francisco will host Green Bay after the Packers held on to edge undermanned Seattle 28-23 at Lambeau Field on Sunday. These teams met in November, a 37-8 romp for the Niners, but their postseason history includes some tight games. They will be meeting in the playoffs for the eighth time, all since 1995. Green Bay leads 4-3.
In the AFC, Kansas City’s sizzling comeback from a 24-0 hole to a 51-31 victory over Houston sets up a rematch of a November loss to Tennessee. The Titans also beat the Chiefs in a 2017 wild-card game.
Titans-Chiefs is the early game next Sunday, starting at 3 p.m. EST. The NFC game kicks off at 6:30 p.m. EST.
Like Houston, Green Bay (14-3) built a sizable lead. Thanks to the receiving of Davante Adams (eight catches for 160 yards and two TDs) and some key completions late by Aaron Rodgers, the Packers survived after Seattle stormed back.
“He had an unbelievable night, carried us on offense,” Rodgers said of Adams. “His route-running ability is just unbelievable.
“We started off the game the right way, we finished the right way.”
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson threw for 277 yards and rushed for 64, while Marshawn Lynch scored two touchdowns.
The 49ers (14-3) romped past Minnesota 27-10 on Saturday with a balanced performance. They set a franchise playoff record by allowing only 147 yards to the Vikings.
Jimmy Garoppolo threw a TD pass on his opening drive as a playoff starter and then mostly watched his defense and running game (186 yards) take over. Two turnovers also hurt Minnesota, and Tevin Coleman rushed for 105 yards and two scores.
The Chiefs secured their place Sunday by getting four touchdown passes from Patrick Mahomes in the second quarter.
Mahomes threw for five scores, three to star tight end Travis Kelce.Damien Williams also scored three times and second-seeded KC (13-4) never was challenged after taking the lead at halftime.
“I mean, it was an amazing thing. Everything was working,” Mahomes said. “The play calls were open, everybody was getting open against man coverage which we’ve been preaching all season long, and guys were making plays.”
So now it’s on to hosting the AFC championship contest again; the Chiefs lost in overtime to the Patriots a year ago.
The last time Kansas City and Tennessee met was also the last time the Chiefs were beaten, 35-32 in Nashville on Nov. 10. Ryan Tannehill threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Adam Humphries with 23 seconds left, and Joshua Kalu blocked a last-second field goal attempt.
Jokic helps Nuggets hold on for 114-104 win over Clippers
DENVER (AP) — The Denver Nuggets put an ugly loss behind them with a statement win over a top-tier team.
Nikola Jokic had 20 points and 15 rebounds, and the Nuggets withstood a big rally to beat the Los Angeles Clippers 114-104 on Sunday night.
This bounce-back performance was just what they needed to soothe their psyche after a clunker the night before against a struggling Cleveland squad.
“We looked like a totally different team less than 24 hours later,” guard Monte Morris said.
The moral was easy to decipher: “We have to come to play against teams we’re supposed to beat,” Morris said. “Because we always show up against teams we know that can beat us.”
Trailing by as many 20 points in the second half, Los Angeles had pulled within six with 1:11 remaining when Patrick Beverley was called for a foul on Jokic. After the Nuggets big man made a pair of free throws, Clippers coach Doc Rivers argued with official Nick Buchert. He was given two technical fouls and tossed from the game. Jamal Murray hit both free throws to restore some much-needed breathing room.
“Listen, coaches can lose their composure, so can officials,” Rivers explained. “There’s no way I should have been thrown out of the game.”
Rivers had simply reached his boiling point. He was still seething from a crucial call earlier in the quarter when Montrezl Harrell got whistled for an offensive charge when he stepped in front of Jerami Grant as Grant guarded Kawhi Leonard. The Clippers were in the midst of a 10-0 run at the time.
“The pick was solid,” Rivers said. “The bottom line is I shouldn’t get a tech. That’s No. 1. That’s on me.”
Murray finished with 19 points and reserve Michael Porter Jr. provided a spark by scoring 13 for the Nuggets, who made their last field goal with 6:12 remaining. They went 9 of 10 on free throws from there.
AP source: Dodgers sign Alex Wood to $4 million, 1-year deal
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles Dodgers and pitcher Alex Wood agreed to a $4 million, one-year deal Sunday, a person familiar with the agreement said.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal had not been announced.
“We back,” Wood tweeted on Sunday, his 29th birthday.
Wood returns to Los Angeles after spending last season with the Cincinnati Reds. He was part of a deal in which the Dodgers sent Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp to the Reds last offseason.
Wood’s time in Cincinnati was plagued by injury. His back flared up in spring training and then he began last season on the injured list. The left-hander was activated in July and made just seven starts before his season ended early in September. He was 1-3 with a 5.80 ERA.
Wood’s best year in Los Angeles was 2017 when he was a National League All-Star and had a 16-3 record with a 2.72 ERA. He took a no-hitter into the sixth inning against Houston in Game 4 of the World Series that fall.
He returns with a chance to join the Dodgers’ starting rotation, which he was part of at various times during four seasons.