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Bengals hold on, finally win in playoffs, 26-19 over Raiders

CINCINNATI (AP) — Paul Brown Stadium nearly shook in triumph. The city of Cincinnati might have, too.

Its latest hero, Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, merely seemed to shrug after leading his team to its first playoff victory in 31 years, 26-19 over Las Vegas on Saturday in an AFC wild-card game.

“It’s exciting for the city, for the state, but we are not going to dwell on that, we are moving forward,” said Burrow, who threw two touchdown passes. “This is expected, this isn’t like the icing on top of the cake, this is the cake. So we are . . .

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Game 17 in NFL brings playoff race, record-breaking wrinkles

That sweet 16-game symmetry of the NFL, with each team’s schedule neatly divided into quarters just like the action on the field, has been brushed aside after 43 seasons.

The long-discussed 17th game has finally arrived, another weekend of the made-for-television inventory that turned the league into an annual 11-figure revenue generator.

Deep into Sunday night, the playoff field will still be filling out with a win-and-in game between the Los Angeles Chargers and Las Vegas . . .

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NFL’s 2nd season of COVID just as trying as 1st, maybe more

The NFL worked around COVID-19 with pauses and postponements during a 2020 season that figured to be the worst in dealing with the virus.

Now the league — and its teams, coaches and players — are just working through coronavirus concerns in 2021, even with positive tests skyrocketing compared to late in the season a year ago.

Las Vegas and the Los Angeles Chargers are set for a playoffs-or-bust finale to the first 17-game regular season on Sunday. Masks and large meeting rooms — even virtual position-group gatherings — are as much a part of game . . .

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Analysis: Where will the coaching carousel land this time?

Just like the Super Bowl, the draft, and the Jets missing the playoffs, there is another ritual in every NFL season. The coaching carousel.

It’s spinning already with two openings, in Las Vegas and Jacksonville, forced by the departures of two disgraced coaches, Jon Gruden and Urban Meyer. It might also hit in Chicago, Minneapolis, Charlotte and New York. There are even rumblings . . .

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Cincinnati showcases names to keep in mind for NFL draft

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Desmond Ridder could be the one to end Cincinnati’s 50-year stretch without a first-round pick in the NFL draft, or the quarterback could watch a teammate get that historic phone call in Las Vegas this spring.

Either way, the Bearcats will showcase talent on a scale rarely seen at their school in a College Football Playoff semifinal against Alabama, which had 10 first-rounders the past two years and at least one for 12 years running.

“If they’re surprised, then they haven’t been watching our games,” said Ridder, a potential first-round choice along with cornerback . . .

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US-Australia basketball game canceled because of protocols

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The United States’ men’s basketball exhibition game against Australia scheduled for Friday night in Las Vegas has been canceled because of health and safety protocols.

USA Basketball cited “an abundance of caution” in making the decision Thursday night. The U.S. women’s game against Australia will be played as scheduled Friday in Las Vegas.

The decision to cancel the game came hours after Washington Wizards star Bradley Beal was ruled out of the Olympics after being placed into health and safety protocols. The team also said Detroit Pistons forward . . .

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