Wild cards hope to make deep playoff run

Updated 04 January 2013
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Wild cards hope to make deep playoff run

LOS ANGELES: With the National Football League’s regular season done and dusted, it’s time for the playoffs, and history shows that a team from the wild card weekend usually makes a deep run.
The fourth-seeded Washington Redskins in the NFC and fifth-seeded Indianapolis Colts in the AFC are two of eight teams in action this weekend trying to crash the Super Bowl party.
The 2012 NFL playoffs kick off with the wild card round, followed by the divisional round on January 12. Conference championship games will take place on January 20, ahead of the Super Bowl on Feb. 3.
The wild-card matchups are enticing, especially Sunday’s game between the Colts and the Baltimore Ravens. Long-time Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis, who said Wednesday he will retire at season’s end, is making a final bid for glory.
“This team’s getting healthy and we’re going to hit our stride going forward in the playoffs,” said Ravens all-star running back Ray Rice.
The Colts and Ravens know each other well and the outcome could be determined by quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Joe Flacco who are meeting for the first time.
Rookie Luck threw two touchdown passes in week 17 as the Colts moved to 11-0, becoming just the second team in league history to win 11 or more games following a season with two or fewer victories.
“They refused, they refused to let anyone write their story of what they could or do not do,” Indianapolis head coach and cancer survivor Chuck Pagano said of his team.
Emotions will be running high on the Indianapolis sidelines as Pagano will be making just his second appearance following a successful battle against leukemia. He is also a former Ravens assistant from 2008-2011.
“You have one thing that you find out is that you’re a lot stronger than you think you are,” Pagano said of beating cancer.
“Have a positive attitude, wake up every day, have faith and have a belief that you’re going to beat it and you’re going to win.” The Colts used to be Baltimore’s team and that city’s fans have never forgiven the Irsay family for loading up the moving vans under the cover of darkness and bolting the city for Indianapolis in 1984.
To add a little more intrigue to the matchup, Lewis says his playing days are finished at the conclusion of the Ravens’ playoff run.
“I talked to my team and I talked to them about life in general,” Lewis said. “Everything that starts has an end. It’s just life. I’m just going in another phase of life.” The Redskins and the Seattle Seahawks are trying to extend their seasons behind a pair of rookie quarterbacks.
Rookie Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III is coming off a Heisman Trophy win and he will lead Washington’s offense into a showdown against Seattle newcomer Russell Wilson.
Griffin was the number two overall pick in the draft while third round pick Wilson wasn’t even supposed to be the Seahawks starting quarterback. But he beat out Matt Flynn for the job and has never looked back.
FedEx Field, where the Redskins will host the game, is not far from where Wilson grew up.
“It’s pretty awesome. Obviously he was the number two pick overall and I was a third-round pick. So it’s a great opportunity to play a great quarterback, and their football team,” Wilson said. “But I’m playing the Redskins, we’re playing the Redskins. I’m not playing him.” In other wild-card contests, the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers will meet for the third time in six weeks, with each team credited with a win, and the Cincinnati Bengals will be riding a hot streak into Saturday’s game against the Houston Texans.

The winner of the Cincinnati-Houston game could move on to face the Denver Broncos, who enter the playoffs as the NFL’s hottest team, boasting an 11-game winning streak.


Mohamed Salah named Premier League’s best player of the year at PFA awards

Updated 23 April 2018
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Mohamed Salah named Premier League’s best player of the year at PFA awards

  • Egyptian superstar currently has 30 Premier League goals this season
  • Salah beat the likes of De Bruyne and Kane to the award

LONDON: Liverpool’s star forward, Mohamed Salah, was named the best player in the Premier League at the English PFA Player of the Year awards on Sunday.

Salah said  when he left the Premier League he had always wanted to return as he did not get a chance at Chelsea. “It was very clear in my mind, I will return back to the Premier League and I will show everyone my football,” he said after receiving the award adding that he was a changed person when he return to England’s top league. “I am very happy for this award, and very happy for my teammates and what we are doing in the Premier League,” the striker said.

When asked about his impressive form, Salah said “I play for the team, not just for myself,” and praised his teammates for their support: “The players help me a lot to be here.” 

The Egyptian, who was the clear favorite to pick up the prize, was going head-to-head with Manchester City’s Premier League-winning midfielder Kevin De Bruyne.
The other four nominees were David De Gea, Harry Kane, Leroy Sane and David Silva, though nobody expected them to pip Salah.
The PFA Player of the Year award is voted for by the players from England’s 92 professional clubs in the Premier League and Football League.
Salah, in his second spell in England following an unsuccessful move to Chelsea in 2014, also leads the race for the Premier League’s Golden Boot.
Currently top on 30 goals for the season, Tottenham’s Harry Kane is just four goals behind with four games left to play.
The Tuesday after the PFA awards, Liverpool and Salah face the Eygptian’s old team Roma in the Champions League semifinals.