Packers, 49ers, Ravens clinch playoff berths

Updated 18 December 2012
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Packers, 49ers, Ravens clinch playoff berths

CHICAGO: Green Bay, San Francisco and Baltimore secured playoff berths and the Dallas Cowboys boosted their post-season chances with a victory over Pittsburgh on “Showdown Sunday” in the National Football League.
Six matchups of NFL clubs with winning records prompted extra attention to the third-to-last week of the season. Never before had so many games between teams with winning records been staged on the same day so late in a campaign.
Atlanta and Houston, each 12-2, kept their edge in the chase for home-field playoff advantage, while Green Bay downed Chicago 21-13 to clinch the NFC North division title and San Francisco beat New England 41-34 to seal a playoff spot.
Baltimore also took a playoff spot when host Dallas beat Pittsburgh 27-24 in overtime, after Brandon Carr intercepted a pass from Ben Roethlisberger to set up Dan Bailey’s game-winning 21-yard field goal.
“I just broke for the ball and waited for it to come my way,” Carr said. “I saw it clear as day. I jumped for the ball, went with my instincts and got it.” Dallas defensive tackle Josh Brent, charged with drink-driving manslaughter in the car crash that killed teammate Jerry Brown, was on the sidelines for the Cowboys, although not in uniform. He is free on bond but suspended by the team.
All NFL contests observed a pre-game moment of silence in tribute to the 20 children and six adults who were killed Friday by a gunman at a school in Newtown, Connecticut.
New York Giants players wore helmet decals with the initials “SHES,” standing for Sandy Hook Elementary School, where the tragedy took place.
The Giants suffered their fourth loss in six games when host Atlanta blanked New York 34-0. Matt Ryan threw three touchdown passes, two to Julio Jones, and the Falcons’ defense imposed the first shutout on the Giants since 1996.
New York fell to 8-6 with the loss, allowing Dallas and Washington to match the Giants atop the NFC East division with two weeks remaining in the season.
Kirk Cousins, making his first NFL start as a fill-in for injured fellow rookie Robert Griffin III, threw for 329 yards and two touchdowns to spark Washington to a fifth consecutive victory with a 38-21 triumph at Cleveland.
The Redskins are on their longest win streak since 2005.
“The coaches had a great game plan,” Cousins said. “They kept it simple and put me in situations that allowed me to be successful.” NFC West leader San Francisco squandered a 31-3 lead but held off the host Patriots. Colin Kaepernick completed 14-of-25 passes for 216 yards and four touchdowns, the most touchdown tosses by a 49er in one game since 2003.
“I have great players around me who do a phenomenal job,” Kaepernick said. “We just knew we had to keep scoring. You have to be ready for teams to come back.” Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers completed 23-of-26 passes for 291 yards and three touchdowns, all to James Jones, and the visiting Packers downed their arch rivals to seal a playoff trip.
The Packers, 10-4, have lost only once in their past nine games while the Bears fell to 8-6 with their third loss in a row and fifth in six games.
Matt Schaub completed 23-of-31 passes for 261 yards and a touchdown and Arian Foster ran 27 times for 165 yards to power host Houston over Indianapolis 29-17, clinching the AFC South title for the 12-2 Texans.
The Colts fell to 9-5 but remain in position for a wild-card playoff spot.
Peyton Manning completed 17-of-28 passes for 204 yards and a touchdown to spark the Denver Broncos to their ninth victory in a row, a 34-17 romp at Baltimore.
The AFC West champion Broncos, 11-3, have not won so many consecutive games since taking 13 in a row in 1998 on the way to a Super Bowl title.
It was the third loss in a row for the Ravens, who fell to 9-5 and lead the AFC North by only one game.
In Buffalo’s fifth annual regular-season game at Toronto, Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson ran for three touchdowns in the Seahawks’ 50-17 rout of the Bills.
The Seahawks became only the third team in NFL history to score 50 points in consecutive games and at 9-5 are the team to beat for an NFC wild-card berth.
Adrian Peterson ran 24 times for 212 yards and a touchdown to lead Minnesota over host St. Louis 36-22 and into the playoff hunt at 8-6.
Peterson’s 1,812 rushing yards this year are 293 shy of Eric Dickerson’s one-season NFL record with two games to play.
Arizona snapped a nine-game losing streak with a 38-10 home rout of Detroit, while Carolina ripped host San Diego 31-7, Oakland blanked visiting Kansas City 15-0, Miami dumped Jacksonville 24-3, and New Orleans blanked Tampa Bay 41-0.


Ramadel Falcao, Juan Cuadrado and Yerry Mina star as stylish Colombia break Polish hearts

Updated 25 June 2018
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Ramadel Falcao, Juan Cuadrado and Yerry Mina star as stylish Colombia break Polish hearts

  • The disappointing Poland became the first European side eliminated from the tournament
  • The South Americans’ bid for a place in the last 16 will be determined by the results from their final game with Senegal

KAZAN: Radamel Falcao, Yerry Mina and Juan Cuadrado scored as stylish Colombia boosted their World Cup last 16 hopes with a comprehensive 3-0 win over Poland on Sunday.
In a match destined to see the loser sent home after the group stages, Colombia overcame a nervous start against Adam Nawalka’s men to move up to third place in Group H, one point behind Japan and Senegal.
The disappointing Poland became the first European side eliminated from the tournament.
“I’m very sorry and very sad about the result, but tomorrow’s another day and we have to come to terms with things,” said Poland coach Adam Nawalka.
“Our players did their best until the end of the game. We lost to a very strong team and this is something we have to accept.
“I extend my congratulations to Colombia.”
The South Americans’ bid for a place in the last 16 will be determined by the results from their final game with Senegal, who drew 2-2 with Japan earlier in the day.
Colombia’s march to the quarter-finals in Brazil four years ago came thanks to James Rodriguez’s six-goal tally for Los Cafeteros.
And days after a troublesome calf injury restricted him to a half-hour cameo role as 10-man Colombia stumbled to a 2-1 defeat against Japan, the Bayern Munich midfielder was back to his best.
Starting alongside Juan Quintero and Cuadrado on the right, Colombia’s ultra-offensive starting line-up was a forewarning.
After riding a tense start that forced Mina and then Wilmar Barrios to react quickly to thwart early threats from Robert Lewandowski, Colombia eventually got into their stride.
Cuadrado was wasteful on several occasions when finding space deep on the right flank.
The Juventus winger’s trickery would eventually pay dividends, but it was Falcao — who has dreamed all his life of scoring a World Cup goal — who turned on the style, dancing through the Polish defense to win the corner that led to Colombia’s opener.
Rodriguez’s short corner eventually found Quintero, whose smart through ball back to Rodriguez gave him time and space to curl a perfect left-footed cross that Mina rose to header powerfully past Szczesny on 40 minutes.
Colombia resumed in positive fashion, Cuadrado holding up well to set up Falcao for a first-time drive that sailed over Szczesny’s crossbar.
A Colombia counter saw Falcao’s drive from the edge of the area deflected out for a corner.
Nawalka replaced Dawid Kownacki with the more experienced Kamil Grosicki and the switch almost paid dividends.
Only the bravery of goalkeeper David Ospina saved Colombia from conceding what looked like the equalizer when he rushed out to block from Lewandowski after the Bayern Munich striker did well to get a shot away from a long ball from midfield.
Poland threatened again, but when Lewandowski got his head to a cross into the area he was marked by both Mina and Davinson Sanchez.
Colombia, however, were not to be denied.
When right-back Sanitago Arias found Quintero, the midfielder sliced Poland’s defense apart with a low pass that found Falcao on the run before he beat Szczesny down low with the outside of his right boot.
Five minutes later, Rodriguez produced arguably the assist of the night, drawing several Polish players on the left flank before somehow finding Cuadrado on the run with a superb cross-field pass that the pacey winger tucked away.