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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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Ravens already pumped for Monday night matchup against Patriots

Ravens already pumped for Monday night matchup against Patriots

The Ravens have already turned their attention to beating the Patriots.

It didn’t take long for the Ravens (7-5) to put their most impressive win of the season behind them. Minutes after whipping the Dolphins, 38-6, the Ravens were already talking about their next game, a Monday night matchup against the Patriots (10-2) in Foxborough, Mass. on Dec. 12.

Asked if the Patriots game would be a measuring stick for the Ravens, cornerback Jimmy Smith didn’t shy away.

“Definitely,” Smith said. “I would say even more than the Dallas game, especially because they (the Patriots) are in the AFC. That’s who you’ve got to go through to get where we want to go.”

RELATED: Flacco-Mornhinweg meeting helps Ravens unleash offense

There is no love between the Ravens and Patriots, but they love competing against each other. It’s a rivalry with a great history, but the Ravens and Patriots haven’t faced each other since the 2014 divisional playoffs. In that memorable game, the Ravens suffered a heartbreaking 35-31 loss, after twice leading the Patriots by 14 points.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is having another terrific season, and even without star tight end Rob Gronkowski (season-ending back injury), the Patriots have other formidable weapons like running back LeGarrette Blount (957 yards rushing), wide receiver Julian Edelman (72 catches) and tight end Martellus Bennett (four touchdown catches).

This upcoming matchup will have huge playoff implications, especially for the Ravens, who are in a far more precarious position than the Patriots. The Ravens still control their playoff destiny, but if they don’t win the AFC North, the door to the post-season could be slammed in their face.

“We don’t have any choice but to keep winning,” Smith said. “At 7-5, we have to play our best football now.”

Against the Dolphins, the Ravens played their best game of the season. But already, they are looking forward to seeing the Patriots.

“Now we have to go up into a hostile place that we really enjoy playing,” said Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco. “It’s going to be another important game up there on a Monday night, and it’s going to be a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to it, big time.”

MORE: Dennis Pitta relieved after his two-touchdown performance against the Dolphins

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Ruth's Chris 5 Sizzling Stats: What decided Ravens-Dolphins

Ruth's Chris 5 Sizzling Stats: What decided Ravens-Dolphins

Here are 5 Sizzling Stats, brought to you by Ruth's Chris, that helped to decide Ravens-Dolphins. 

36 -- Number of completions by Joe Flacco, a franchise record. He completed 36 of 47 passes.

381 -- The number of passing yards for Flacco on the day, his highest total of the season.

6 -- The number of points scored by Miami’s offense, the lowest total to which Baltimore has held an opponent to this season. The Ravens held Cleveland to seven points on two separate occasions, both Baltimore wins.

2 -- Touchdown receptions for Dennis Pitta, marking his first score since Week 14 of 2013. It was his first multi-touchdown game since Dec. 2012.

61 -- Rushing yards by Miami’s Jay Ajayi. His rushing average was 5.1 yards per carry, but he only carried the ball 12 times because of Baltimore’s early (and large) lead.