Pats host Ravens for Super Bowl berth

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Updated 18 January 2013
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Pats host Ravens for Super Bowl berth

FOXBORO, Massachusetts: The New England Patriots host Ray Lewis and the Baltimore Ravens with a Super Bowl berth on the line tomorrow — a rematch of last year’s American Conference championship game.
It’s the first time since Denver and Cleveland faced off in AFC title games in 1986 and 1987 that the same two AFC teams will duel for a spot in the NFL’s championship spectacular.
The winner of the game will take on the winner of tomorrow’s National Conference championship contest — in which the Atlanta Falcons host the San Francisco 49ers — in the Super Bowl in New Orleans on Feb. 3.
Baltimore haven’t been back to New England since they were edged 23-20 by the Patriots in last season’s AFC title game. A potential go-ahead touchdown catch was knocked away from Lee Evans and in the waning seconds Billy Cundiff missed a field goal that would have tied the score and forced overtime.
Neither Evans nor Cundiff are on this Ravens team, which is seeking the club’s second Super Bowl appearance.
“We fought hard to get back to this point,” Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco said. “We know what it felt like last year. We walked off that field without that win. We know what we’ve put in to get back to this point.” A victory for the Ravens would give veteran defensive star Lewis a Super Bowl swansong. Sidelined for 10 games this season with a torn triceps, he announced shortly before the playoffs began that this would be his last season.
But the Ravens will have to stop perennial contenders New England, who are aiming at a sixth Super Bowl appearance in the era of superstar quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick.
The Patriots’ 41-28 second-round win over Houston made Brady the winningest quarterback in NFL playoff history.
New England had the league’s top regular-season offense, producing 427.9 yards per game, and 34.8 points per game.
“I think the two best teams are in the (conference) finals,” Brady said. “Baltimore certainly deserves to be here and so do we, so it’s very fitting ... We’re going to have to play our best game this week.” While Atlanta are the top seeds in the NFC, their second-round victory over Seattle was a huge relief for a team whose quarterback, Matt Ryan, had lost his first three playoff starts.
“I thought that collectively as a team, and as a coaching staff, nobody flinched,” Ryan said of the roller-coaster contest against the Seahawks, in which the Falcons built a 20-point first-half lead but barely escaped with the 30-28 win.
The 49ers are in their second straight NFC Championship game, largely thanks to second-year quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Given the starting job in the midst of the season, Kaepernick set an NFL rushing record for a quarterback with 181 yards and scored twice in the 49ers’ second-round win over Green Bay.
“We’re one step closer to where we want to be,” Kaepernick said.
A victory for San Francisco would send them to the Super Bowl for the first time since the 1994 campaign. They lost their NFC title tilt last year to the New York Giants, who went on to win the Super Bowl.
Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan admitted that Kaepernick’s ability to push the offense both on the ground and in the air will be a tough challenge.
“These young guys, they are athletic and they can run,” Nolan said. “That creates a whole new set of problems.” That doesn’t bode well for a Falcons defense that ranked 29th in the NFL in allowing 5.9 yards per play.
However, the Falcons have a better than usual home field advantage at the rollicking Georgia Dome and Ryan is a formidable weapon with strong receivers to target in Roddy White and Julio Jones.
“They’ve got a good quarterback, a real good quarterback,” 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis said. “The team, they’re fundamentally sound, have some great skill players. I feel like they have a complete offense.”


LeBron James' last-second shot gives Cavs 98-95 win over Pacers in Game 5

James pushes the Cavaliers within one victory of advancing in the Eastern Conference playoffs. (Getty Images/AFP)
Updated 26 April 2018
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LeBron James' last-second shot gives Cavs 98-95 win over Pacers in Game 5

  • James' 3-pointer buzzer beater puts Cavaliers within one victory of advancing in the Eastern Conference playoffs
  • James finished with 44 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists.

CLEVELAND: LeBron James hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer, a crowning moment for another brilliant performance, to give Cleveland a 98-95 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night in Game 5, putting the Cavaliers within one victory of advancing in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Moments after blocking Victor Oladipo’s possible go-ahead driving layup, James caught the inbounds pass, took two dribbles and dropped the winner over Thaddeus Young.
As Cleveland’s sellout crowd exploded, James hugged rookie teammate Cedi Osman before jumping on the scorer’s table to celebrate another of those moments that will define his career.
James finished with 44 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists and went 15 of 15 from the line.
Kyle Korver added 19 points and Cleveland’s much-maligned defense tightened just in time as the Cavaliers seized their first lead in the first-round series after being down 1-0 and 2-1.
Cleveland can close out Indiana with a win Friday night in Indianapolis.
Domantas Sabonis scored 22 points, and Young had 16 for the Pacers, who battled back to tie it 95-all on Sabonis’ 15-foot jumper with 33 seconds left. Indiana, which held Cleveland without a field goal for more than seven minutes during their fourth-quarter rally forced James into a turnover and had a chance to re-take the lead.
Oladipo, who shot just 2 of 15, drove the left side and was at the rim when James swooped in for a block on a play reminiscent of his Game 7 block on Andre Iguodala in the 2016 NBA Finals.
Oladipo’s shooting woes continued. He’s only 12 of 50 from the field in the last three games. He scored 32 in the Pacers’ Game 1 win, but the Cavs have been double-teaming him ever since.
The third quarter has been a major problem for Cleveland all season. The Cavs had tried everything to try and shake things up after halftime, even doing layup lines at the break in Game 4 like a high school squad.
Turns out, all it took was some defensive intensity.
Down by seven at half, the Cavs swarmed the Pacers in the third quarter, forcing five turnovers in the first six minutes and holding Indiana to one field goal over the first 6:52 while opening with a 19-3 run.
Cleveland outscored Indiana 32-17 in the third, when the Pacers shot just 5 for 16 (31 percent) and committed seven turnovers.
The Cavs were again without starting point guard George Hill, who missed his second straight game with back spasms.
DWYANE’S WORLD
James had enough to worry about with the Pacers that he didn’t want to discuss close friend Dwyane Wade’s future.
Miami’s star is mulling retirement after the Heat were eliminated Tuesday in Philadelphia. James spent four years playing in Miami with Wade, who began this season with the Cavs before being traded.
James said that following his last game against Wade he told him, “’If it’s like our last time going against each other, then it’s been everything and more.” James wants to wait for Wade to make his decision and will then “give a more in-depth analysis of his career if he decides to hang ‘em up.”
TIP-INS:
Pacers: Following Lance Stephenson’s aggressive, wrestling-like takedown of Jeff Green in the waning moments of Game 4, coach Nate McMillan said he reminded the fiery forward to be careful. “The officials are going to be watching that, Lance knows that and there are some times where I think they (the Cavs) are taking advantage.” ... Dropped to 2-12 in their last 14 games in Cleveland. ... James’ triple-double in Game 4 was the sixth against Indiana in the playoffs. James has done it to the Pacers three times.
Cavaliers: With his 21st 40-point game in the playoff, James tied the logo — Jerry West — for the second-most all-time. Michael Jordan scored at least 40 in 38 postseason games. .... Hill’s back has improved in the past few days, but he didn’t look close to playing while sitting stiffly in his locker-room chair before the game. ... Browns Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown sat courtside.
UP NEXT
Game 6 is Friday night at Indianapolis.