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ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Just like two years ago, a St. Louis Rams team going nowhere jumped on the playoff-bound New Orleans Saints early and never let them up.

Drew Brees threw interceptions that led to touchdowns on the Saints' first two possessions and the Rams got big days from Zac Stacy, Robert Quinn and on special teams in a 27-16 victory Sunday.

"When you looked at their sideline, they realized, `Oh gosh, like, here we go again,'" Rams defensive end Chris Long said. "We hit `em early, and they were reeling."

The Rams were 0-6 and double-digit underdogs before upsetting the Saints in 2011. St. Louis was 2-14 that year and New Orleans went 13-3.

Everything went sour fast for the 10-win Saints. Brees was intercepted on the first snap, and again in the second series, and the Saints played catch-up all day.

"You want to talk about waking the whole place up," Brees said. "That did it."

Quinn had two sacks, giving him an NFC-leading 15, for a pass rush that took the heat off a young secondary. His quarterback hit on the Saints' first snap of the game altered the flight of the ball on T.J. McDonald's interception, and he had a sack, strip and fumble recovery to keep the Saints down in the third quarter.

Coach Sean Payton benched left tackle Charlie Brown after that play and shifted left tackle Zack Strief to the right side in an attempt to neutralize Quinn.

"I saw enough. Period. I mean, enough," Payton said.

The Saints (10-4) missed their first chance to clinch a playoff berth, trailing 24-3 at the half, but made it look respectable with two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. They're unbeaten at home, but just 3-4 on the road and play at Carolina with the NFC South lead on the line next week.

The Saints are averaging 32.9 points at home, with five of the wins by double-digits including playoff hopefuls Dallas and Arizona. They're averaging just 18.4 points on the road with the three wins by eight, four and two points.

Kellen Clemens threw for two TDs in the first quarter, matching his best performance in seven games as the fill-in starter for Sam Bradford. The Rams (6-8) recovered an onside kick to set up a field goal in the first quarter, and Michael Brockers blocked a field-goal attempt at the end of the half.

Brees was 39 for 56 for 393 yards, but with just one touchdown, and threw two interceptions in the first quarter for the first time in a decade.

The Rams played one of their strongest games of the year a week after getting eliminated, and the franchise is assured of a 10th consecutive season without a winning record.

St. Louis' offense had a nice day against Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, who had an extended interview with the Rams in January before joining New Orleans.

"When people change their mind, they change their mind, and I was fine with that," coach Jeff Fisher said. "He's a good coach."

Stacy shook off an early hip injury scare and set a franchise rookie record with 106 yards by halftime, bettering the likes of Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson, Steven Jackson and Jerome Bettis. Stacy finished with 132 yards on 27 carries.

"Questionable? Nah, I was never questionable," Stacy said. "I was always going back. I'm a competitor."

Brees scored on a 1-yard sneak and threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Marques Colston with 3:07 to go. The Saints recovered an onside kick, but their comeback ended when Garrett Hartley was wide left on a 26-yard field-goal attempt.

Last week, Brees became the fastest in NFL history to 50,000 yards passing while throwing for four TDs in a 31-13 victory over Carolina at home.

Cory Harkey broke three tackles on a 31-yard touchdown catch the first play - just his seventh reception of the year after Brees' first interception.

Brees floated a rollout aimed at Jimmy Graham, who was in triple-coverage, and Trumaine Johnson snared another underthrown pass at the goal line. The Rams drove 93 yards, helped by a pair of personal penalties, and made it 14-0 on Clemens' 4-yard pass to a wide-open Lance Kendricks.

The Rams followed up with perfect execution on an onside kick by kicker Greg Zuerlein recovered in the air by a leaping Stedman Bailey, setting up a field goal for a 17-0 cushion early in the second quarter.

Clemens got a chance to use the victory formation the Rams practice after Brockers blocked Hartley's 36-yard field-goal attempt with 2 seconds left.

Notes: Former Rams two-time Pro Bowl QB Marc Bulger, holding his daughter, was introduced during the break while Stacy was helped off the field. ... According to STATS, the first seven games, the Saints forced 15 turnovers and scored 48 points. They had no turnovers or sacks against the Rams, and over the last seven games they have just two takeaways.

---

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Monday, 16 December 2013 07:07
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Between 2015 and 2018, St. Louis will play host to eight NCAA Championships.

The Gateway City will have championships in: Bowling, Women's Gymnastics, Women's Ice Hockey, and wrestling for division one and two.

This is a breakdown of what the NCAA just announced:

Bowling Championships to be held at Tropicana Lanes in St. Louis MO on April 9-11, 2015 and April 12-14, 2018

Women’s gymnastics championships to be held at Chaifetz Arena on April 14-16, 2017 and April 20-22, 2018

Women’s Ice Hockey “Frozen Four” finals to be held at Family Arena in St Charles Mo on March 17-19, 2017.

Men’s Wrestling championship to be held at Scottrade Center in St Louis on March 19-21, 2015 and March 16-18, 2017.

Division II Wrestling championships at the Chaifetz Arena on March 13-14, 2015.

In addition, for the area soccer fanatics, the NCAA Division 1 Championships will come to Sporting Park in Kansas City on December 11-13, 2015.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013 17:36
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WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) -- Kevin Shattenkirk scored a power-play goal at 16:58 of the third period to give the St. Louis Blues a 2-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday night.

Bryan Little scored early in the third for the Jets, who outshot the Blues by an 8-2 margin in the first period.

Four of those came during the Jets' one power play late in the period. Great saves by Brian Elliott kept the puck out of the St. Louis net.

Alex Steen turned things around in the second with the Blues' first goal.

He was behind the Winnipeg goal line midway between the net and the boards at 4:44 when he slid a puck behind Ondrej Pavelec that banked off the Winnipeg goalie to put the Blues ahead 1-0.

Pavelec was focusing on those in front of the net rather than the Blues' leading scorer to his right. It was Steen's 21st goal of the season.

Steen's goal helped give the Blues energy and they outshot the Jets 8-5 in the second, although Winnipeg also had to kill a Blake Wheeler interference penalty.

But Little evened things up just three minutes into the third as he won a faceoff and then snapped a pass from linemate Andrew Ladd past Elliott on a power play.

Winnipeg failed to get a shot off on a second power play in the third and killed another Wheeler minor for slashing. The Jets also failed to score on another power play about 13 minutes in.

Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien was sent off with just over three minutes left for hooking, which gave Shattenkirk his chance to score his third goal of the season.

St. Louis was coming off a 5-2 home-ice loss to Anaheim and had lost three of its past four coming to Winnipeg. The Jets hadn't played at home since Nov. 23, but were 4-2 on an Eastern road swing.

Notes: Jets' Mark Stuart left in the third bleeding from the mouth after a goalmouth scramble. ... Wheeler had been on a three-game point streak going into the game. ... The Jets are still the only team in the Central that has managed to beat the Blues this season, 4-3 in a shootout Oct. 18. ... St. Louis went into Tuesday's game with an impressive 9-0-1 record against division opponents.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013 22:36
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   When the new members are inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame next summer, former Cardinal's manager Tony La Russa will be among them.  The third winningest manager in the major leagues was voted in Monday at Baseball's winter meetings in Orlando.

   Mangers Joe Torre and Bobby Cox were also voted in unanimously.  

   La Russa skippered the Cardinals from 1996 to 2011, retiring after the Cards won the World Series.  Before coming to St. Louis, he steered the Oakland A's and Chicago White Sox.

   The Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be July 27, 2014 in Cooperstown.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013 02:28
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COLUMBIA, Mo. - The University of Missouri football team (11-2 overall and Southeastern Conference East Division champions) has accepted an invitation to play in the 2014 AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic, set for January 3rd in Arlington, Texas at the world-renowned AT&T Stadium.  Kickoff for the game, which will pit the Tigers against former conference foe Oklahoma State (10-2, 2nd place in Big 12), is set for 7pm.

The Cotton Bowl appearance will mark Mizzou's 11th New Year's Day (or later) bowl game in program history, and its first since playing in the 2008 Cotton Bowl against Arkansas.  The invitation is a reward for an outstanding season which saw the Tigers post one of the top turnaround years in the nation, going from 5-7 in 2012 to 11-2 - a 6 1/2 game improvement.  This is MU's 30th alltime bowl appearance.

"We are honored and excited to accept a bid to play in the Cotton Bowl," said Head Coach Gary Pinkel, who will be making his ninth bowl game appearance in 13 seasons at Mizzou.  "We know first-hand just how great of a trip this is, and how first-class of an operation the Cotton Bowl runs.  We have a chance to play an outstanding team in Oklahoma State, and this is an opportunity to finish up a special season in front of a great Mizzou crowd," Pinkel said.

This will mark the 78th Cotton Bowl Classic, and the Tigers will be making their third appearance in the tradition-rich game.  Mizzou rolled to a 38-7 win over Arkansas in the 2008 game, as TB Tony Temple rushed for a Cotton Bowl-record 281 yards and four touchdowns against the 25th-ranked Razorbacks.  That win closed a stellar season for Mizzou, who finished with a 12-2 record and a school-best final ranking of 4th in the final polls.  Mizzou's other appearance in the Cotton Bowl was back in 1946, when Texas claimed a 40-27 victory.

"Mizzou is very pleased to be part of the 78th annual Cotton Bowl Classic," said Director of Athletics Mike Alden.  "The Cotton Bowl is one of the iconic bowl games in all of college football, and it will be a great reward to our team to have the opportunity to play in AT&T Stadium.  We have an outstanding alumni base in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and I know our fans will be excited to see the Tigers come their way once again," he said.

The chairman of the Cotton Bowl is Tommy Bain. Bain said, "We just landed two of the preeminent teams in the country, and we couldn’t be more thrilled. Missouri and Oklahoma State are capable of lighting up the scoreboard in a hurry, and defensively, each team is strong. Something is going to have to give come January 3rd. OSU beat three ranked teams in November and one of the nation’s longest winning streaks going into the Oklahoma game. Missouri was absolutely sensational in just its second season in the SEC. The Tigers won the SEC’s Eastern Division and gave Auburn all it wanted in the conference championship game. We can’t wait to get these two teams to Arlington, pamper them with some Texas hospitality, and then prepare for another exciting Classic.”

Sunday, 08 December 2013 21:14
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GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Carson Palmer didn't throw a pass in practice all last week, then completed practically every one he tried Sunday.

So much for that sore right elbow.

Palmer completed 27 of 32, 12 of them to Larry Fitzgerald, and the Cardinals ended an eight-game losing streak against NFC West foes by beating the St. Louis Rams 30-10.

It was the second-highest completion percentage (84.4) in franchise history. Only Kurt Warner's NFL record of 92.3 percent (24 of 26) against Jacksonville in 2009 was better.

Palmer said he had no idea what his statistics were, just that things were working at a nice clip.

"When the plays were coming in I knew exactly where to go with the ball," he said.

Palmer hurt his throwing elbow in last week's loss at Philadelphia. From Monday on, trainer Tom Reed decided there would be no passing in practice.

"I didn't throw one ball, and I was definitely worried about that," Palmer said, "but that was the plan."

It worked to near perfection.

Palmer threw for 269 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions as the Cardinals (8-5) won for the fifth time in six games. He was sacked once.

"I can't say enough about where he is right now," Arizona coach Bruce Arians said. "The level he's playing is extremely high."

Arizona's Karlos Dansby returned an interception 23 yards for a touchdown and John Abraham tackled Kellen Clemens for a safety.

Tavon Austin's 56-yard run set up the only touchdown for the Rams (5-8), a 1-yard run by Zac Stacy. Austin injured his left ankle on the play and didn't return. The loss mathematically eliminated the Rams from postseason contention.

The Cardinals lost rookie safety Tyrann Mathieu in the third quarter. Arians said it "appears to be an ACL" injury to his left knee.

Arizona had not beaten an NFC West opponent since downing Seattle in the 2012 opener. The Cardinals lost three in a row this season, including 27-24 at St. Louis in the opener. Arians hammered that home last week.

"I can't use the words he used," Dansby said. "My mom would get at me if I do that, but he let it be known that we were at the bottom of the totem pole and we've got to climb our way out."

Fitzgerald's 12 catches went for 96 yards, including a 7-yarder for a touchdown. It was his most receptions since he matched his career high with 13 against Seattle on Oct. 18, 2009.

Dansby had his second touchdown return of an interception in three games. He returned one 22 yards in Arizona's 40-11 rout of Indianapolis.

Mathieu, the "Honey Badger" having a terrific rookie season, was hurt after returning the free kick that followed the safety in the third quarter. He jogged toward the Arizona bench but his knee buckled and he collapsed, then he was carted off the field.

The Arizona safety came after a Cardinals punt was downed at the Rams 1. On third down from the 5, Clemens retreated to the end zone and was hit by Abraham, who had three sacks to give him 11 this season.

Other than Austin's big run, St. Louis managed just 44 yards on the ground in 18 attempts. Rams coach Jeff Fisher said he was well aware how strong Arizona's defensive front was.

"I thought we would do a better job than we did, but we couldn't run the football today," he said.

In the first half, Palmer completed 16 of 17 for 169 yards and a touchdown. He would have had another TD had Jim Dray not fumbled at the half-yard line. Palmer completed his first 10 passes.

Arizona took the opening kickoff and went 80 yards in eight plays, Rashard Mendenhall scoring on a 3-yard run. The Rams responded with Greg Zuerlein's 44-yard field goal.

On St. Louis' second play from scrimmage in the third period, Calais Campbell pressured Clemens. Dansby stepped in front of intended receiver Jared Cook, picked off the pass and ran untouched 23 yards to make it 21-3.

Notes: Abraham moved past Lawrence Taylor and Leslie O'Neal into ninth on the NFL career sacks list with 133. ... Dansby has four interception returns for scores for the Cardinals in two stints with the team. Only Aeneas Williams (six) and Larry Wilson (five) have more in franchise history. ... Arizona has outscored its last two opponents at home 70-21 and is 6-1 at home. ... The Rams were penalized 11 times for 90 yards. ... With his 10th TD catch of the season, Fitzgerald became the ninth player with double-digit touchdown receptions in five seasons.

Sunday, 08 December 2013 21:06
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ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Corey Perry scored his team-high 18th goal and rookie Frederik Andersen made 26 saves to lead the Anaheim Ducks to a 5-2 win over the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night.

Anaheim won its second in a row, after beating defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago 3-2 in a shootout Friday. St. Louis lost for the third time in four games and fell to 12-2-2 at home.

Ryan Getzlaf, Andrew Cogliano, Nick Bonino and Mark Fistric also scored for the Ducks, who had not won in regulation in their previous eight trips to St. Louis.

Getzlaf, who also added an assist, has a point in his last 13 games. He has 10 goals and 10 assists during that span. Getzlaf missed three games in November with an injury and has a point in his team's past 11 games, the longest current run in the NHL.

Andersen, who won his first six starts, improved to 8-1 with his second successive victory. He leads all rookie goalies in wins.

Jaden Schwartz and Patrik Berglund scored third-period goals for St. Louis, which had won five straight home games.

Anaheim scored three times in the opening 7:29 to chase Blues goalie Jaroslav Halak, who faced eight shots.

Bonino converted at 17:16 of the second period to push the lead to 4-0.

Andersen stopped the first 20 shots he faced and helped kill off 4-minute power plays in each of the first two periods.

NOTES: Anaheim RW Teemu Selanne was a healthy scratch after playing Friday in Chicago. The 43-year-old has played on back-to-back nights only once this season. ... St. Louis C Derek Roy is one assist shy of 300 for his career. ... The Blues are an NHL-best 57-16-8 at home since the beginning of the 2011-2012 season. ... Anaheim G Jonas Hiller was given the night off after facing 76 shots and 12 shootout attempts in the previous two games. ... St. Louis has scored at least two goals in all 16 home games this season.

Saturday, 07 December 2013 23:52
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ATLANTA (AP) — Tre Mason struck a pose — a Heisman Trophy pose.

Looks like the Auburn Tigers running back will get a shot at something he wants even more.

A national title.

Mason rushed for 304 yards and four touchdowns, leading No. 3 Auburn to a wild 59-42 victory over No. 5 Missouri in a Southeastern Conference title showdown Saturday that resembled a video game.

Auburn (12-1) took care of business, then got the help it needed to claim a spot in the BCS championship. No. 2 Ohio State lost to Michigan State 34-24 in the Big Ten title game, which likely pushes the Tigers up to face top-ranked Florida State in Pasadena. The Seminoles routed Duke 45-7 in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship.

"We won the SEC championship," Auburn receiver Sammie Coates said. "What else do you want us to do?"

Added Mason: "We feel like we beat the best teams .... We feel like we deserve to be in the game."

Missouri (11-2) should be in the mix for a New Year's Day bowl, with the Capital One, Cotton and Outback games among the possible destinations.

But Auburn was the big winner on this day. The official announcement won't come until Sunday night, but there appears to be no other outcome than Auburn-Florida State for No. 1.

"We're playing our best football right now," said Auburn coach Gus Malzahn, making his pitch for Pasadena about the time Ohio State was kicking off against Michigan State in Indianapolis. "I don't know if any other team can say that."

Auburn is certainly playing its best offensively. The Tigers set an SEC championship record with 677 yards, including 545 on the ground.

Mason had scoring runs of 7, 3 and 1 yards before bursting up the middle on a 13-yard TD that clinched the victory with 4:22 remaining. He carried the ball a staggering 46 times, an easy choice as the game's MVP. He celebrated by breaking out the familiar Heisman pose, his longshot candidacy getting a huge boost.

"You're looking at one of the top running backs in college football," Malzahn said. "He was a warrior today. Unbelievable."

In a game where neither team played a lick of defense, Auburn finally stopped Missouri on fourth-and-1 deep in its own territory, setting up Mason's final score. Chris Davis broke up the pass, not quite as thrilling as his 109-yard return of a missed field goal to beat Alabama, but another huge play for the nation's biggest turnaround team.

Auburn, which was 3-9 a year ago and didn't win a game in the SEC, claimed the title in its first year under Malzahn. The Tigers didn't even need a dramatic finish to do it, holding Missouri scoreless in the final quarter while Mason notched two more TDs to break open a game that was close most of the way.

Missouri had its own impressive bounce-back after struggling its first year in the SEC. But coach Gary Pinkel's team was denied a quick championship in its new league after leaving the Big 12, unable to slow — must less stop — Auburn's dynamic offense.

"There's a real frustration that comes over you on defense when they're coming after you over and over and over again," Pinkel said. "We had trouble stopping it, obviously, and couldn't get it fixed."

James Franklin passed for 303 yards and three touchdowns, while Dorial Green-Beckham hauled in six passes for 144 yards and a couple of scores. Missouri piled up 534 yards — the teams combined for 1,211 yards in a conference supposedly known for defense — but it wasn't nearly enough against Auburn's hurry-up spread.

Coming into the game, Missouri was one of the top teams in the nation against the run and ranked second in the SEC behind Alabama. The most yards they had given up on the ground was 184 the previous week in a victory over 2012 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M.

Mason had more yards than that in the first half, putting up 195 by the time he trotted to the locker room and just 6 yards off the SEC championship game record. He broke the mark set by LSU's Justin Vincent in 2003 on the second play of the second half — and kept right on going from there.

"I've never had holes that big to run through," Mason said, crediting the guys in the trenches. "No one expected 300 yards. I didn't expect it."

Quarterback Nick Marshall shook off two early fumbles, one of which Missouri returned for a touchdown. He ran for 101 yards and a touchdown and passed for 132 yards and another score.

The lead changed hands seven times. Missouri's last gasp was Franklin's 5-yard touchdown run, followed by a two-point conversion, that closed the gap to 45-42 heading to the final period. But Auburn dominated the final 15 minutes behind the play of Mason.

Late in the game, when Auburn had finally wrapped it up, Mason got a hug on the sideline from Auburn's greatest back, Bo Jackson.

"He's one of the better players ever to wear an Auburn helmet," Malzahn said, referring to Mason, not Bo.

"Thanks, coach," Mason said.

Saturday, 07 December 2013 23:50
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COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — A little more than two years ago, Henry Josey ripped his left knee to shreds making a cut. He tore the ACL, MCL and patellar tendon on a 2-yard gain against Texas at home, an injury so extensive Missouri coach Gary Pinkel thought it looked like his star tailback had been in an automobile accident.

It was serious enough that Texas coach Mack Brown crossed the field at a hushed Faurot Field to have a look.

In the SEC championship game on Saturday, No. 3 Auburn will see a player who's made it all the way back.

Coaches and teammates couldn't have been more pleased that the 5-foot-9, 190-pound junior got a chance to really stretch his legs on the go-ahead touchdown late in the victory over Texas A&M that wrapped up the SEC East.

"You saw Henry, when he got that one hole how fast he took off," center Evan Boehm said. "And that's something special to see. What better person to get that than Henry?"

Josey is a cinch for a second 1,000-yard season in as many years starting for the fifth-ranked Tigers (11-1, 7-1 SEC), needing just 50 yards with two games remaining. He's busted four 50-yard-plus gains this season, serving notice with a 68-yard TD in the opener and scoring on an 86-yard run at Kentucky.

He has eight carries of 20 yards or longer and is averaging 6.2 yards per carry. Though it's down from a scintillating 8.1-yard average in 2011, Josey believes he's a better back now.

"I hope I'm better than I used to be," Josey said.

Faster, too?

"I think so," he said.

There's no doubt he's an inspirational presence, what Pinkel refers to as "untouchable."

"You don't say a bad word about Henry Josey," Pinkel adds, "no matter what."

Josey was all-Big 12 as a sophomore with 1,168 yards despite missing the last three games with an injury that required multiple operations. He spent all of 2012 rehabbing.

"We saw it every day, just tirelessly working, and coming back mentally, too," guard Max Copeland said. "You've got to be a special dude to come back from something like that mentally."

Missouri has been careful not to overload Josey his first season back, plus there's plenty of depth. Sophomore Russell Hansbrough (624 yards, 6.3-yard average, 4 TDs) and junior Marcus Murphy (561, 6.9, nine TDs) are speedsters, and quarterback James Franklin (412, 4.5, three TDs) is a shifty threat.

"Sometimes we don't even block the right guys and he still scores," right guard Conner McGovern said of Murphy. "That's why we call him 'Magic Murph.' But we definitely take a little extra pride with Henry, with what he's been through and how he's sacrificed."

That balance definitely has Auburn's attention.

"You can pull out the sheets and look," Auburn defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson said. "They're right up at the top in total offense, rushing and passing."

Running backs coach Brian Jones said he's made it a point to keep Josey fresh for "crunch time" like the third-and-1 play that produced the winning score against Texas A&M.

"He's sitting on the bench; at times he's all by himself," Jones said. "He's very aware of what's going on, very aware of the situation."

On the deciding play, McGovern and center Mitch Morse opened big holes. Wide receiver Jimmie Hunt contributed, too.

"All three of those guys had great blocks on that play, and Henry finished it off," offensive coordinator Josh Henson said. "It's always great when you see a guy return from an injury like he had and have the success he's had. It just makes you feel good."

Thursday, 05 December 2013 22:54
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