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National

  • Vonn is a scratch for Sochi Games

    Lindsey Vonn will miss the Sochi Olympics because of a right knee injury, leaving the Winter Games without one of its biggest stars.
    The 29-year-old skier from Vail, Colo., announced her decision Tuesday, exactly one month before the opening ceremony in Russia. Her personal publicist, Lewis Kay, said in a statement Vonn will have surgery “shortly.”
    In a Facebook posting, Vonn said she is “devastated” to miss the Olympics, “but the reality has sunk in that my knee is just too unstable to compete at this level.”
    She took home two medals from the 2010 Vancouver Games, including becoming the first American woman to win an Olympic gold in the downhill. Vonn is also a four-time overall World Cup champion, the most recognized name in Alpine skiing — and the girlfriend of Tiger Woods.
    Add it all up, and she would have been the focus of plenty of media coverage in Sochi, and certainly a main character in NBC’s coverage for a U.S. audience.

  • Winston engineers late TD drive

    PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — After a regular season filled with blowout victories and easy fourth quarters, Jameis Winston and Florida State showed they could close like champions, too.
    No. 2 Auburn wobbled the top-ranked Seminoles by jumping out to an 18-point lead in the first half, and then put Florida State on the brink of defeat for the first time this season.
    Winston responded with the drive of his life and a game-winning touchdown pass with 13 seconds left that topped everything else he has done in one of the most sensational debut seasons a college quarterback has ever had.
    The Heisman Trophy winner led the Seminoles 80 yards in the final 79 seconds, flicking a 2-yard TD pass to Kelvin Benjamin to give No. 1 Florida State a 34-31 victory against Auburn in the last BCS championship game Monday night.
    “The last drive, that’s a great way to cap off our season,” Winston said. “That’s the way we wanted to cap off our season.”
    The Bowl Championship Series went out with a bang, too, with one of the best title games in its 16-year history, right there with Texas 41, USC 38 at the Rose Bowl in 2006. That night it was Vince Young leading the Longhorns and capping a comeback by scooting into the end zone with 19 seconds left.
    Now Winston is the Prince of Pasadena.

  • Manning is unanimous choice for All-Pro

    NEW YORK (AP) — Peyton Manning has responded to a lost season the way he reacted to all of his great seasons.
    By having more great seasons.
    Manning was the only unanimous choice for the 2013 Associated Press NFL All-Pro team Friday. It was his seventh time as a first-teamer, tying Hall of Famer Otto Graham for the most by a quarterback.
    The Denver star set NFL records this season with 55 touchdown passes and 5,477 yards through the air.
    He was chosen on all 50 ballots from media members who regularly cover the NFL. Manning also was an All-Pro for Indianapolis in 2003, ’04, ’05, ’08 and ’09 and last season made it as a Bronco. He’s been on the All-Pro team in both seasons since missing 2011 after several neck surgeries.
    “I think it’s well documented that this is the second chapter of my career, and didn’t know what to expect off that injury and new team, new players and new physical state after an injury,” said Manning, a four-time league MVP who never missed a pro start before 2011. “So I had no idea what to expect, and I’ve put a lot of time and a lot of hard work in to it. But I’ve received a lot of help along the way from coaches and trainers and strength coaches and teammates. So I’m very grateful.”

  • Maple Leafs win sloppy Winter Classic

    ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — A lot of winter. Very little classic hockey.
    Light snow swirled down in the Big House, making it tough to push the puck through piles of the white stuff on a sheet of ice where football is usually played.
    Teeth-chattering temperatures and a brisk wind were factors, too, that made the NHL’s Winter Classic much more of an event than a game.
    Tyler Bozak scored the winning shootout goal and Jonathan Bernier made two saves in the heart-pounding final moments, lifting Toronto to a 3-2 victory over Detroit on Wednesday in front of 105,591 fans — the largest crowd to watch a hockey game.
    “I was just lucky to get a stick on it and keep it low enough,” Bozak acknowledged.
    The Red Wings were not as fortunate in the closely contested spectacle that was altered in a lot of ways because of the conditions.
    Detroit captain Henrik Zetterberg appeared to have good chance in overtime with the puck in the Maple Leafs’ end and defenseman Cody Franson on his left side. The horn, however, sounded to stop play at the 2:30 mark of the extra period so that both teams played into a 10-plus mph wind for an equal amount of time.
    “I think I would have had a clear breakaway,” Zetterberg said.

  • Defense comes up roses for Michigan State

    PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — When Kyler Elsworth soared over the pile to deliver the final hit of Michigan State’s season, the storybook ending came with a moral.
    After so many years outside the spotlight, the Spartans are in nobody’s shadow anymore. And for the first time in 26 years, they’re Rose Bowl champions.
    Connor Cook passed for a career-high 332 yards and hit Tony Lippett with a tiebreaking 25-yard touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter, leading No. 4 Michigan State to a 24-20 victory over No. 5 Stanford on Wednesday night.
    Cook also threw a TD pass to Trevon Pendleton, and Jeremy Langford rushed for 84 yards and a score for the Big Ten champion Spartans (13-1), who finished their season with 10 straight wins and their first Rose Bowl victory since 1988.
    Michigan State overcame its first double-digit deficit of the entire season along the way, and the Spartans’ FBS-best defense capped a dominant season with one more old-school, smash-mouth performance befitting the centennial celebration of the Granddaddy of Them All.
    “It’s a special time for all Spartans, and we came here in force,” coach Mark Dantonio said. “I’m very happy for our football team, the resilience we showed all season long.”

  • Russian attacks worry athletes heading to Sochi Winter Games

    The suicide bombings in Russia serve as a chilling reminder of what the Winter Olympics represent to terrorists: A high-profile target with more than 2,500 athletes, some of them world-famous, waving the flags of nearly 90 nations.
    So, while many Olympic leaders offered reassurance on the day after two bombings 400 miles from Sochi killed at least 31 people, some of those getting ready to compete in the Games spoke of a different reality. They know their security is never a sure thing.
    “I am concerned,” said U.S. speedskater Jilleanne Rookard. “I’m scared their security may be involved. I don’t know if I necessarily trust their security forces. But they don’t want a national embarrassment, either. I use that thought to relieve some of my worry. I’m sure they want to save their image and their pride.”
    Indeed, the Russians vow the athletes will be safe, even though they will be competing in a city 300 miles away from the roots of an Islamic insurgency that has triggered security concerns for the Games, which start Feb. 7.
    The country has spent a record $51 billion preparing for its first Winter Games and has promised to make the Games “the safest in Olympic history.”

  • Orton in, Romo out for Cowboys

    IRVING, Texas (AP) — Tony Romo had back surgery and will miss Dallas’ third straight season finale with the NFC East title and a playoff berth on the line.
    Coach Jason Garrett said Romo underwent surgery Friday after consultation with doctors during the week following his injury during a loss to Washington.
    Kyle Orton will start for the Cowboys in the winner-take-all game against Philadelphia on Sunday night.
    Romo lost the past two winner-take-all finales — to the New York Giants two years ago and Washington last season. He also lost to the Eagles in the same situation in 2008.
    Philadelphia (9-6) is trying to complete a worst-to-first turnaround from a 4-12 season under first-year coach Chip Kelly. The Cowboys (8-7) want to end a three-year playoff drought.

  • Boston bombing is top sports story of year

    NEW YORK (AP) — The Boston Marathon bombing was selected the sports story of the year Friday in an annual vote conducted by The Associated Press.
    Two pressure cooker bombs exploded near the finish line of the April 15 race in an area packed with fans cheering the passing runners. Three people were killed and more than 260 injured, including at least 16 who lost limbs.
    Authorities say brothers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, ethnic Chechens from Russia who emigrated to the United States as children, planned and carried out the bombings in retaliation for U.S. involvement in Muslim countries.
    Ninety-six ballots were submitted from U.S. editors and news directors. Voters were asked to rank the top 10 sports stories of the year, with the first-place story receiving 10 points, the second-place story nine points and so on.
    The marathon attack received 761 points and 67 first-place votes. It was also second in AP's national/international story of the year poll.
    The No. 2 sports story, Lance Armstrong's admission of doping, had five first-place votes and 517 points.

  • Serena Williams is top female athlete

    Serena Williams likes to make one thing clear: She is never satisfied, no matter how many matches and tournaments she wins.
    Driven as ever, Williams won plenty this year. She went 78-4 with 11 titles, including at the French Open and U.S. Open, raising her Grand Slam championship total to 17. She compiled a 34-match winning streak. She earned more than $12 million in prize money, a record for women’s tennis. In February, she became the oldest No. 1 in WTA rankings history and never left that perch.
    Thanks to all of that, Williams was honored Wednesday as The Associated Press’ 2013 Female Athlete of the Year. It’s the third AP award for Williams, following 2002 and 2009. Only two women have been chosen more often as AP Athlete of the Year since the annual awards were first handed out in 1931.
    “Whenever I lose, I get more determined, and it gives me something more to work toward,” Williams told the AP in an interview shortly before the start of the U.S. Open. “I don’t get complacent, and I realize I need to work harder and I need to do better and I want to do better — or I wouldn’t keep playing this game.”

  • Manning regains TD pass record Sunday

    HOUSTON (AP) — Peyton Manning never dreamed he’d throw an NFL record 51 touchdowns just two years removed from neck surgeries that threatened to end his career.
    Manning reflected on his remarkable comeback soon after regaining the NFL record for touchdown passes in a season in Denver’s 37-13 win over the Houston Texans on Sunday that gave the Broncos their third straight AFC West title.
    “There was major unpredictability,” Manning said. “So a lot of (doctors) said: ‘Maybe you’ll come back to this level and maybe not.’ So there was definitely some wait and see ... but no, it would be hard to say you could have imagined this at that point.”
    He missed the entire 2011 season after four neck surgeries weakened his right triceps and put his future in question.
    Now 37, Manning regained his record when he threw for 400 yards and four touchdowns, including three in the fourth quarter.
    He surpassed the 50 TD passes Tom Brady threw in 2007 and led the Broncos (12-3) to the victory over the Texans (2-13) that extended Houston’s franchise-record skid to 13 games.
    Manning did it on a 25-yard pass to Julius Thomas with 4:28 remaining. Just 2½ minutes earlier, he tied the mark with a 20-yard pass to Eric Decker.