SAN FRANCISCO—New York boasted a physical, intimidating defence with athletic linebackers and stout linemen capable of stifling the NFL’s most productive offences.
San Francisco featured a high-powered passing attack led by an eventual Hall-of-Fame quarterback in his prime with receivers capable of turning short passes into big gains.
MELBOURNE, Australia—Serena Williams was only two points from her 500th career match win when she tumbled to the court in the second round of the Australian Open.
It’s OK, she thought, it’s the good ankle.
MONTREAL—The fading Montreal Canadiens had no answers for a stand-up performance by Washington Capitals’ back-up goalie Michael Neuvirth.
The 23-year-old made 31 saves for his second shutout of the season as the Capitals blanked the Canadiens 3-0 last night.
BOSTON—The Boston Celtics had two reasons to be thankful last night: their five-game losing streak finally was over and a scary fall by point guard Rajon Rondo resulted in only a sore right wrist.
Rondo still led the Celtics with 21 points before leaving the game late in the third quarter of a 96-73 win over the Toronto Raptors, giving Boston its first win in two weeks.
OTTAWA—Chris Mason stayed modest—even after his second shutout of the season.
Mason put the focus on his Jets’ teammates last night after stopping 25 shots in Winnipeg’s 2-0 victory over the Ottawa Senators.
“Shutouts are something the team does together,” he stressed.
“I wouldn’t have got that if they didn’t do the things they did tonight.”
ATLANTA—Josh Smith believes the Atlanta Hawks can keep winning even though centre Al Horford will miss the next three-four months with an injury.
“We have veteran guys who have been there and done that before,” Smith noted.
“All we need is to just keep flying under the radar.”
FOXBOROUGH, Mass.—On a rare Sunday off, Patriots’ players relaxed in front of their TV sets to watch the only team standing between them and another Super Bowl appearance.
They were impressed, though not surprised, by the Baltimore Ravens.
“They’re a great team,” New England wide receiver Wes Welker said yesterday. “They wouldn’t be in this spot if they weren’t.
GREEN BAY, Wis.—With their own star quarterback and a dominating defence, the N.Y. Giants exposed the Green Bay Packers for what they now are—former Super Bowl champions.
The Packers dropped passes, fumbled the ball, and simply couldn’t stop Eli Manning and his receivers in the Giants’ shocking 37-20 divisional playoff victory yesterday.
MONTREAL—After struggling to find the back of the net over the past month, Max Pacioretty appears to be regaining his goal-scoring groove.
Pacioretty scored twice and added an assist to lead the Montreal Canadiens to a 4-1 win over the NHL-leading N.Y. Rangers last night.
LANGLEY, B.C.—Thomas Ulsrud gave himself a reason to celebrate his first drink in almost a week last night.
Ulsrud made the decisive shot against Jeff Stoughton of Winnipeg in the final men’s skins game as Team World claimed the World Financial Group Continental Cup of Curling over Team North America, avenging a one-sided loss a year ago.