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National

  • Pirates headed to playoffs

    CHICAGO (AP) — The long wait is over, Pittsburgh. Your Pirates are finally headed back to the postseason.
    After a 21-year absence, the Pirates clinched at least a National League wild card Monday night when they beat the Chicago Cubs 2-1 and the Washington Nationals lost to St. Louis.
    Now, they can turn their attention toward bigger goals, the kind that seemed like nothing more than a pipe dream through all those losing seasons.
    “Even though I didn’t lose for the last 20 years, they make you feel like you are. You feel like you lost those 20 years,” Andrew McCutchen said. “That’s all you hear. You hear it every single day — ‘When’s it going to change? You think this is the year?’ You get sick and tired of hearing that. It’s awesome that there won’t be any questions anymore. The question is, ‘Are we going to be able to go farther?’”
    It will be Pittsburgh’s first trip to the postseason since Barry Bonds, Jim Leyland and Co. won three straight NL East titles from 1990-92. Bonds then left for San Francisco as a free agent, and the small-budget Pirates piled up 20 consecutive losing records — the longest streak in the four major professional sports.

  • Reid, Kansas City top Eagles in Philly

    PHILADELPHIA (AP) — This was one time Andy Reid didn’t mind being a big target.
    The man in the bull’s-eye so often when he coached in Philadelphia was easy for Chiefs receiver Donnie Avery to find.
    At the end of Kansas City’s 26-16 victory over the Eagles in Reid’s homecoming Thursday night, Avery gave Reid a Gatorade shower.
    Reid already looked strange decked in all red on the visitors’ sideline.
    “Yeah, it was different,” Reid said. “I was on the opposite side of the field than I normally am at. But I can’t tell you that I was caught up in that part of it.”
    The result was similar to what he gave Philadelphia in his 14 years in charge of the Eagles, thanks to a dynamic Chiefs defense that forced five turnovers and sacked a harried Michael Vick five times. Vick even limped off after a late fumble — he said his ankle got rolled, but he was fine — but stayed around to hug Reid following the final play.
    “It was great to see the players that are here,” Reid admitted. “I had a chance to talk to them after the game.”

  • Former Heavyweight Champion Ken Norton Dies
  • Pittsburgh stumbles to 0-2 start

    CINCINNATI (AP) — The Steelers haven’t opened a season so badly in 11 years.
    Rookie running back Giovani Bernard scored his first two NFL touchdowns, and Pittsburgh’s offense had trouble getting first downs as the Cincinnati Bengals pulled away to a 20-10 victory on Monday night.
    For the first time since 2002, the Steelers are off to an 0-2 start.
    “We have work to do,” coach Mike Tomlin said. “We aren’t going to hide from that fact. We are going to embrace it and accept it, and understand that there is some misery that comes from the position we are in right now.”
    There’s plenty of misery to embrace.
    The Bengals (1-1) piled up 407 yards, holding the ball for more than 35 minutes. On offense, the Steelers had another game full of self-destruction, turning the ball over twice in scoring range.
    Pittsburgh failed to get a first down on seven of its 12 possessions, giving the defense little time to catch its breath.
    “There’s not a lot of positives going on right now,” said Ben Roethlisberger, who was 20 of 37 for 251 yards with one touchdown and an interception. “We can’t start doubting each other. Right now, there’s a general feeling of being upset.”

  • The AP college football top 25

    The Top 25 teams in The Associated Press college football poll, with first-place votes in parentheses, records through Sept. 14, total points based on 25 points for a first-place vote through one point for a 25th-place vote, and previous ranking:

  • Patriots hold off Jets Thursday

    FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Tom Brady knows it will take a while to get in sync with his rookie receivers. Meanwhile, he keeps winning.
    The 14-year veteran threw a 39-yard touchdown pass to one of those newcomers, hitting a wide-open Aaron Dobson on the game’s first series before both offenses played as sloppily as the second-half weather, and the New England Patriots got by the New York Jets 13-10 on Thursday night.
    Thirteen of Brady’s 19 completions went to veteran Julian Edelman, who knew the offense better than the three rookie wide receivers.
    “It’s unrealistic for them to feel like they can do it like 10-year veterans. That’s not what they are,” Brady said, “but they’re trying hard and they work real hard and they have a lot of skill.”
    That applies to another rookie, Jets quarterback Geno Smith. But he completed just 15 of 35 passes for 214 yards with three fourth-quarter interceptions.
    “Geno had his (good) moments,” Jets coach Rex Ryan said. “I don’t know how many balls we dropped today, but it was a bunch.”

  • The AP college top 25

    The Top 25 teams in The Associated Press college football poll, with first-place votes in parentheses, records through Sept. 7, total points based on 25 points for a first-place vote through one point for a 25th-place vote, and previous ranking:

  • Class is now in session for Johnny Football

    The real education of Johnny Football is just beginning. So he better enjoy all the clowning while he still can. He’s about to learn there’s no more wearying job in sports than being a marked man all the time.
    For starters, you’re always looking over your shoulder for the next guy trying to make his name. It’s dispiriting, too, hearing nothing but boos on the road and knowing that even the guys who are supposed to have your back think of you as a calculated risk.
    A few athletes have done it well for a while. But you can count on one hand how many of those — Ty Cobb comes to mind — parlayed the role into a long and productive career.
    At the moment, sure, it seems like nobody can stop Manziel.
    The NCAA whiffed on its shot and Rice — Texas A&M’s opening opponent — turned out to be overmatched. And this weekend’s opponent, Sam Houston State, arrives straight from the tomato-can division.
    Neither A&M’s chancellor, a fanboy named John Sharp, nor its coach, Kevin Sumlin, who got a big raise riding the Manziel wave, are inclined to change a thing about him. He brings in too much money. Judging by recent remarks from his father, Paul, even Manziel’s parents have given up.

  • Federer suffers from a lack of confidence

    NEW YORK (AP) — Surrounded by a half-dozen tournament security guards, Roger Federer made the long, slow trek across the U.S. Open grounds from the court in Louis Armstrong Stadium to the locker room in Arthur Ashe Stadium.
    Head down, he carried a racket bag on his left shoulder.
    The hour was a little past 8 p.m. on Monday evening, one week to the day before the men’s final is scheduled to be played in Flushing Meadows, and Federer was, once again in this difficult season, heading home far earlier than he is used to at Grand Slam time.
    And the words he spoke after his surprisingly straightforward 7-6 (3), 6-3, 6-4 loss to 19th-seeded Tommy Robredo of Spain made it sound as if Federer is having doubts about his game.
    “Confidence ... takes care of all the things you don’t usually think about,” Federer said. “But I just think it’s been a difficult last three months, you know. Maybe ... my consistency is just not quite there.”
    Maybe?
    This caps a poor-by-his-standards Grand Slam season for Federer, whose record collection of 17 major trophies includes five in a row at the U.S. Open from 2004-08.

  • 'Landmark Study' Focuses on NFL Players Brains