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Weekend Sports in Brief

Weekend Sports in Brief

One game is a rematch. The other might feel like one - at least to one of the teams.

For the second straight year in the AFC, the New England Patriots will host the Baltimore Ravens with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line.

In the NFC title game, San Francisco will travel to Atlanta, with the Falcons' defense trying to stop a versatile, running quarterback for the second straight week.

On Sunday, the Falcons barely got past Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks, who overcame a 20-point deficit to take a one-point lead, but gave it up after Matt Ryan drove Atlanta into field goal range and Matt Bryant made a 49-yard kick with 8 seconds left for a 30-28 win.

Colin Kaepernick passed for 263 yards and rushed for 181 - a playoff record for a quarterback - in San Francisco's 45-31 victory over Green Bay on Saturday.

The Ravens advanced when Justin Tucker kicked a 47-yard field goal 1:42 into the second overtime Saturday, ending the NFL's longest game in 26 years and giving the Ravens a 38-35 win over the Denver Broncos. The win postponed Ray Lewis' retirement at least one more game and ended Peyton Manning's sensational comeback season with the Broncos.

New England advanced to the AFC championship when Tom Brady threw for three touchdowns Sunday to beat Houston 41-28 and become the winningest quarterback in postseason play. The Patriots' win didn't come without a cost. Tight end Rob Gronkowski was injured on the Patriots' eighth offensive play and needs surgery on his broken left arm, a person with knowledge of the injury told The Associated Press. He previously missed five regular-season games and is done for the season.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) The Philadelphia Eagles interviewed former Ravens coach and current Fox analyst Brian Billick for their coaching vacancy, a person familiar with the meeting told The Associated Press on Sunday.

Billick, who led Baltimore to a Super Bowl title in the 2000 season, met with the Eagles last Monday, according to the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to discuss it.

The Eagles are known to have interviewed eight other candidates, including three high-profile college coaches who decided to stay at their schools. They were Notre Dame's Brian Kelly, Oregon's Chip Kelly and Penn State's Bill O'Brien.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Kansas City Chiefs hired longtime Packers personnel man John Dorsey to replace the fired Scott Pioli as their general manager.

CYCLING

AUSTIN, Texas - As days of preparations dwindled to hours before his blockbuster interview with Oprah Winfrey, Lance Armstrong went out for a training run and then retreated behind the stone walls of his Austin compound to huddle with a handful of close advisers.

After more than a decade of denying that he doped to win the Tour de France seven times, Armstrong was scheduled to sit down Monday for what has been trumpeted as a ``no-holds barred,'' 90-minute, question-and-answer session with Winfrey. He is expected to reverse course and apologize, as well as offer a limited confession about his role as the head of a long-running scheme to dominate the prestigious bike race with the aid of performance-enhancing drugs. Winfrey and her crew will film the interview at Armstrong's home and broadcast it Thursday on the Oprah Winfrey Network.

Armstrong was stripped of all seven Tour titles last year in the wake of a voluminous U.S. Anti-Doping Agency report that portrayed him as a ruthless competitor, willing to go to any lengths to win the prestigious race. USADA chief executive Travis Tygart labeled the doping regimen allegedly carried out by the U.S. Postal Service team that Armstrong once led, ``The most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.''

PRO HOCKEY

NEW YORK (AP) - NHL hockey is finally back.

Nearly a week after a tentative labor deal was agreed to by the league and its players, the sides agreed to a required memorandum of understanding (MOU) on Saturday night that makes the lockout a thing of the past.

Training camps opened Sunday, and a 48-game regular season will begin next Saturday. The signing of the memorandum also paved the way for the NHL to release the long-awaited revised schedule.

Twenty-six of the 30 teams will play on opening day. All games during the season will be played within the two respective conferences.

In all, 720 games will be played over a 99-day regular season. There will be at least one game on each day of the season, that will end on April 27. Again, 26 of 30 teams will be in action that day.

GOLF

HONOLULU (AP) - Russell Henley made his rookie debut with a three-shot win over Tim Clark in the Sony Open on Sunday that will not be forgotten anytime soon.

He birdied the last five holes to shatter the tournament scoring record by four shots.

His score of 24-under 256 was the second-lowest in PGA Tour history for a 72-hole event, two shots behind Tommy Armour III in 2003 at the Texas Open.

He set the Sony Open record for the 36-hole score (126), shared the 54-hole tournament record with fellow rookie Scott Langley (193) and set another tournament record with the lowest closing round by a champion at 7-under 63.

Clark played in the last group, closed with a 63 and still finished three shots behind. He made seven birdies over his last 11 holes and only made up one shot on Henley.

TENNIS

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) - Novak Djokovic cruised through his first match at Rod Laver Arena since his shirt-ripping victory celebration last year, opening his bid for a third consecutive Australian Open title with a 6-2, 6-4, 7-5 win over Paul-Henri Mathieu on Monday.

Maria Sharapova and Venus Williams had nearly flawless opening matches in the women's draw earlier in the day.

Sharapova finished her first match of the year in 55 minutes, cruising to a 6-0, 6-0 win over Olga Puchkova on center court. She showed no signs of trouble with her right collarbone.

Sharapova has a potential third-round match against Williams, who needed just an hour for her opening 6-1, 6-0 win over Galina Voskoboeva of Kazakhstan.

SKIING

ADELBODEN, Switzerland (AP) - Marcel Hirscher turned in a scintillating second run to win a World Cup slalom on Sunday, after being eighth in the opening leg.

Hirscher, the overall World Cup leader, was at least 0.83 seconds faster than any rival in the afternoon to best Austrian teammate Mario Matt by 0.30.

Ted Ligety of the United States remained third overall after finishing 11th, 2.44 behind Hirscher.

ST. ANTON, Austria (AP) - Tina Maze of Slovenia reached another milestone in her stellar season by winning her first super-G on Sunday and becoming the sixth female skier to win a World Cup race in all five Alpine disciplines.

In perfect, sunny conditions, Maze attacked the Karl Schranz course in impressive style to time 1 minute, 16.55 seconds and edge Anna Fenninger of Austria by 0.04.

SOCCER

LONDON (AP) - Manchester United's seven-point lead over Manchester City stayed intact Sunday after the title-chasing rivals defeated two former powers in the Premier League.

United scraped its way to a 2-1 victory at home against Liverpool. City won 2-0 at Arsenal after playing against 10 men for most of the match.

AUTO RACING

TUCUMAN, Argentina (AP) - Rain halted the eighth stage of the Dakar Rally in Argentina with only 12 cars finishing on Saturday.

It was not immediately clear when the stage would be completed, as Sunday was scheduled to be a rest day.

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Proposed NFL rule change would eliminate Ravens' intentional holding strategy

Proposed NFL rule change would eliminate Ravens' intentional holding strategy

BY TYLER BYRUM, @theTylerByrum

It made everyone do a double-take, then it made perfect sense to non-Cincinnati and non-Pittsburgh fans.

Back in Week 12 when the Baltimore Ravens held off the Cincinnati Bengals 19-14, it wasn't a single touchdown that made national headlines. Rather it was a game ending safety that cut a seven-point deficit to only five. 

On the final play, numerous Ravens players held the opposing Bengals, who were setting up to receive punt, with 11 seconds left on the clock. Punter Sam Koch, just sat back, draining the clock before finally running out the back of the end zone with the clock at zero. 

SEE LINK FOR FULL RULE EXPLANATION

Thursday it was proposed to the NFL's Competition Committee to make plays like this illegal. 

While it may be considered unfair to some, making this new rule would simply add to an already expanding rule book and only be used for a select handful of plays a year, maybe. 

Eliminating cleverness of coaches that are well versed in the NFL rule book, should not be the approach of the of rule adaptations. There is no impact on player safety nor does it make the game 'more watchable' (like the extra-point rule).

Not only that, but the new proposed rule just leaves another set of loopholes for coaches to take advantage of at the end of a game. What if team trying to score on the last play commits two offensive penalties just to get another shot at the endzone?

But before making a massive overhaul to fix all of the loopholes in the NFL rule book, can we establish what a catch is first?

MORE RAVENS: Tony Jefferson used Madden to make free agency decision

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Ravens mock draft roundup: Mike Williams continues to pop up

Ravens mock draft roundup: Mike Williams continues to pop up

Just over a month away from the NFL Draft, mock drafts across sport media sites are beginning to narrow in on players that fit specifically into blaring holes on a team's roster.

As the first wave of free agency has come through, a majority of the top names at each position has been snatched up. While the Baltimore Ravens can still sign a handful of free agents on the open market, getting backup or a young star in a key position can be a the primary goal. 

Here's a look at who some of the various analysts have the Ravens taking with their No. 16 pick in the first round. The general consensus is help in the defensive secondary and at the wide receiver position.

DE Taco Charlton, Michigan, Ben Standig, CSN-Mid Atlantic

Standing: At some point the Ravens must find an edge pass rushing replacement for Terrell Suggs. Charlton might be better stopping the run than rushing the passer right now and yet he had nine sacks in 10 regular season games.  

SEE STANDIG'S FULL 2017 MOCK DRAFT

SS Jabrill Peppers, Michigan, Rob Rang, CBS Sports

Rang: With starting safety Matt Elam a pending free agent and Eric Weddle poised to enter his 11th NFL season, the Ravens may very well be looking for help in the secondary in the 2017 draft. Peppers starred as a linebacker in 2016 but possesses the agility and speed to handle coverage.

WR Mike Williams, Clemson, Dane Brugler, CBS Sports

Brugler: The Ravens have plenty of speed at receiver, but only average size. Williams has only average speed, but his body control, catch radius and overall size are where he shines.

WR John Ross, Washington, Bucky Brooks, NFL.com

Brooks: An electric playmaker with speed to burn would be a welcome addition to an offense that wants to play long ball with Joe Flacco at quarterback.

DE Charles Harris, Missouri, Daniel Jeremiah, NFL.com

Jeremiah: Harris is a very productive edge rusher who is plenty athletic enough to drop in coverage if needed.

WR Mike Williams, Clemson, Chris Burke, SI.com

Burke: Baltimore has two receivers, Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman, who can scorch defenses deep. They need a physical, intermediate threat. Check.

CB Marlon Humphrey, Alabama, Peter Schragers, FOX Sports

Schragers: I seem to be a lot higher on Humphrey than other mock draft pundits. Oh well. I’ll ride with the star of the Alabama defensive backfield from last season. The son of NFL running back Bobby Humphrey, he was a stud at the well-known Hoover High and a prime recruit of Nick Saban’s. An opportunistic player who started for two seasons in Tuscaloosa, Humphrey forced three fumbles and intercepted two passes in 2016. Baltimore already has added Brandon Carr and Tony Jefferson to its defensive backfield but might not be done.

RELATED: REDSKINS MOCK DRAFT ROUNDUP