Ravens shock Broncos, 49ers oust Packers

Updated 13 January 2013
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Ravens shock Broncos, 49ers oust Packers

DENVER, Colorado: Justin Tucker booted a 47-yard field goal in the second overtime Saturday to give the Baltimore Ravens a wild 38-35 victory over the Denver Broncos in the second round of the NFL playoffs.
The improbable victory means Baltimore veteran Ray Lewis — who says he’ll retire at the end of the season — isn’t done yet, while quarterback great Peyton Manning’s stellar first season in Denver ended on a disappointing note.
The Ravens advanced to the American Conference (AFC) championship game, where they will face either New England or Houston for a berth in the Super Bowl. The NFL championship spectacular will be played in New Orleans on February 3.
In San Francisco, the 49ers advanced to the National Conference (NFC) championship game with a 45-31 victory over the Green Bay Packers.
San Francisco signal-caller Colin Kaepernick, making his post-season debut, recovered from an early interception to set an NFL rushing record for a quarterback with 181 yards and two scores. He also threw for 263 yards and two touchdowns — both to Michael Crabtree.
The 49ers next play the winner of Sunday’s game between NFC top seeds Atlanta and Seattle.
Kaepernick, a Wisconsin native who was a fan of the Packers as a youngster, outplayed reigning NFL Most Valuable Player Aaron Rodgers, who threw for 257 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.“It’s pretty frustrating,” Rodgers said. “To go out and play like that is disappointing. We didn’t do enough on offense to help our defense.”
Kaepernick got off to a rocky start when Green Bay’s Sam Shields picked off his second pass of the game and returned it 52 yards for a touchdown.
“He does a great job of responding. He’s done that every time he’s thrown an interception, safety, or turnover,” 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said.
“He’s responded with a scoring drive. That’s a rare quality. He’s shown he’s had the ability to come back.” The 49ers set a club record for most yards in a playoff game with 579, surpassing their total of 537 yards in a Super Bowl win over Miami after the 1984 season.
“It’s a great accolade. It means a lot to this team,” Kaepernick said of the record.
In Denver, Tucker’s deciding field goal came four plays after the Ravens’ Corey Graham intercepted Manning in Broncos territory for the second time of the game.
Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco had connected with Jacoby Jones on a 70-yard touchdown pass with just 31 seconds left in regulation to tie the score at 35-35 and force overtime.
Flacco also hit Torrey Smith for a pair of touchdowns earlier in the game, finishing with 331 passing yards.
Ray Rice contributed 131 rushing yards and a touchdown.
“It was pretty incredible,” Flacco said. “We overcame some things today and we fought until the very end.” Manning entered the matchup having beaten the Ravens nine consecutive times — including a pair of post-season contests — during his long tenure with Indianapolis. He threw for 290 yards and three touchdowns and the two interceptions.
The Broncos, who had won their last 11 regular-season games to claim the top seed in the AFC and a first-round bye, endured their first playoff loss at home since 1996.
Speedster Trindon Holliday delivered a stand-out performance in the defeat, returning both a punt and a kickoff for Denver touchdowns and establishing an NFL playoff record for the longest return for each.
“Unless you’re hoisting that Lombardi Trophy at the end, it’s disappointing,” said Broncos head coach John Fox. “We had plenty of opportunities in this game, we just came up short.”


Saudi Arabia out to make Kingdom 'proud' and repay faith of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

Updated 23 May 2018
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Saudi Arabia out to make Kingdom 'proud' and repay faith of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

  • Juan Antonio Pizzi’s side are in Zurich on a three-week training camp
  • SAFF have left no stone turned in preparing the team for their first appearance at the finals since 2006

RIYADH: The president of the Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) acknowledges there will be added scrutiny on the Green Falcons when they kick off this summer’s World Cup against hosts Russia in the opening game, but is confident the players can overcome any first-night nerves and rise to the challenge.
Juan Antonio Pizzi’s side are in Zurich on a three-week training camp as they start to fine-tune preparations ahead of the first game on June 14. The Argentine coach has taken 28 players with him, but must whittle the squad down to 23 by June 4.
SAFF have left no stone turned in preparing the team for their first appearance at the finals since 2006, sanctioning five training camps and arranging nine friendlies, several against high-profile opposition. Their final three games are against sides with top 20 FIFA’s rankings, a deliberate strategy to ensure they are not undercooked heading into Group A games against Russia, Uruguay and Egypt.
“We are at a critical stage of our preparations, one that needs concentration and discipline, especially as we face three strong teams in Italy, Peru and Germany,” said president Adel Ezzat in a video on the federation’s Twitter account. “Our objective is to be on form by June 14 when the eyes of the world will be on us in the opening match. We have a bright history in the World Cup and Asian Cup, so it’s our duty to live up to that reputation. I would like to address all Saudi fans, whether they will be watching the games on TV or from the stadiums in Russia: They should pray for the players. The players are our brothers and sons, and we should all love our Saudi national team. I urge the fans and the media to be united around the national team.”
Ezzat said the players have been energised and inspired by a meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman before they left for Switzerland. The crown prince demonstrated his commitment to the game in the Kingdom by this week vowing to cover all external debts totalling SR1.277 billion (around $340 million) owed by Saudi Pro League clubs.
“We are optimistic after the historic meeting between the players, staff and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman,” said Ezzat. “The meeting set the tone for the final stage of preparations, and the players are up for the challenge of meeting His Highness’ expectations.
“We are grateful for Prince Mohammed for his constant support and generosity toward Saudi football, be it the national team, clubs or the league. It’s our duty to repay the faith of our leaders. This is something that drives us forward and I’m fully confident in the players’ ability to do us proud in Russia.”