The Washington Football Team has announced that it will unveil a new name and logo on February 2.

Team President Jason Wright released a statement on Tuesday saying, despite the preference appearing to be to use the name Wolves, trademarks by other teams meant that this, and the variation RedWolves, were not feasible.

"Early on we understood Wolves - or some variation of it - was one of our fan favourites," he said. "As I've said all along, we take feedback from our fans seriously, and because of your interest in this name, we put Wolves on a list of options to explore fully.

"Once we began looking into Wolves, however, we became aware of a notable challenge: trademarks held by other teams would limit our ability to make the name our own. And without Wolves, variations like RedWolves wouldn't have been viable either for these and other reasons.

"We can't wait to hit the ground running with our team name and identity on a clear path - one without distracting obstacles, legal or otherwise.

"And while we've always understood it would be a nearly impossible task to select a name that all of our fans would identify with as their first pick, we are very excited about our final selection, which aligns with our values, carries forth our rich history, represents the region and, most importantly, is inspired and informed by you, our fans."

Washington have been known simply as the Washington Football Team since July 2020 after dropping the previous name of the "Redskins".

The organization had been called the Redskins since 1933, but in July 2020, a group of 87 investment firms and shareholders signed three separate letters to Nike, FedEx and PepsiCo threatening to end relationships with the team unless it dropped the racially insensitive moniker.

FedEx, which sponsors the team's stadium, requested that action be taken by the franchise, and a review began the following day that ended with the decision to drop the name and seek a new one, which is finally set to be announced next month.

Washington sit third in the NFC East and out of playoff contention on a record of 6-10 after losing 20-16 to the Philadelphia Eagles last Sunday.

Their final game of the season is a trip to the New York Giants on Sunday.

Andy Murray stumbled out of the Melbourne Summer Set tournament after a first-round defeat to Argentinian Facundo Bagnis.

In his opening ATP Tour match of the year, three-time grand slam winner Murray slipped up 6-3 5-7 6-3 against Bagnis, a player who began the year with a 30-59 win-loss career record.

Left-hander Bagnis rose to the occasion on Rod Laver Arena to earn the scalp of the former world number one.

Murray, down at 134th in the rankings after another injury-hit year, is looking to make headway on that front in 2022 under new coach Jan de Witt, so that he can avoid having to take wildcards into tournaments.

He was allowed into this tournament by that back-door route, and has also been confirmed for an Australian Open wildcard, but the Scot could not find the form that saw him beat Rafael Nadal at an exhibition event in Abu Dhabi in late December.

Bagnis said of his win: "In the beginning it was a pleasure to play against Andy and right now to beat him is amazing. I'm really happy."

He added, according to the tournament website: "Yesterday, I came to see the stadium, to see it all around because the atmosphere is different when you play on any court outside… I enjoyed it a lot. It was so good for me."

Nadal was also back in action on Tuesday, playing his first match on the main tour since August as he teamed up with fellow Spaniard Jaume Munar for a doubles win.

A foot injury meant Nadal's 2021 season ended early, but he warmed up for singles tests that lie ahead by joining Munar for a 6-3 3-6 10-4 win over Argentinians Sebastian Baez and Tomas Martin Etcheverry.

At the Adelaide International 1 tournament, there was a notable first-round win on Tuesday for Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis, who saw off compatriot John Millman 6-4 6-3.

Kokkinakis, a major talent as a youngster, is battling to reassert himself on tour after injury troubles, and beating Millman put his name up in lights for at least one day.

He reflected afterwards on the battle it has taken so far, with last year spent largely living out of a suitcase on the second-tier Challenger Tour.

"It was a gruelling year travelling," said Kokkinakis. "I've played a couple of times [in Adelaide] but just in exhibitions, so to play a real meaningful tournament and beat such a quality opponent, a proven veteran like Johnny, means a lot. I played great, and the support was great, so I'm really happy."

Daniil Medvedev quietened the home crowd in Sydney as he dispatched Australia's Alex De Minaur in straight sets to seal victory for Russia in the ATP Cup.

Medvedev, who led Russia to victory in last year's tournament, lost his first singles match at the 2022 edition, going down to France's Ugo Humbert.

However, the US Open champion hit back in convincing fashion against De Minaur, winning 6-4 6-2 in 80 minutes.

Medvedev's win took Russia into an unassailable 2-0 lead prior to the doubles encounter between the two nations, which the world number two also featured in alongside the in-form Roman Safiullin, who made it three wins from as many games by overcoming James Duckworth 7-6 (8-6) 6-4.

The Russian duo then made sure of a 3-0 match win in the doubles, coming back from losing the second set to triumph 10-6 in the decider.

"We fight when we play for our country, to the last point," said Medvedev, who also revealed he felt unwell before his singles game and had to take painkillers.

"I'm really happy for Roman, he's winning every match he's played so far. I watched his match tonight from the locker room. I've known him since he was 10, he had a good junior career and has been unlucky with injuries."

Russia have put themselves in a strong position to qualify from Group B, though they face Italy – in a repeat of last year's final – in their last match, with Australia taking on France, who are already eliminated.

France's elimination came at the hands of Italy, with Matteo Berrettini's singles win over Humbert was enough to secure victory for the 2021 runners-up.

Great Britain suffered disappointment in Group C, with Canada's Felix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov coming out on top 6-4 6-1 in the decisive doubles encounter against Joe Salisbury and Jamie Murray. 

Dan Evans defeated Shapovalov in straight sets to nudge Great Britain ahead, yet Auger-Aliassime started Canada's comeback with a 7-6 (7-4) 6-3 win over Cameron Norrie.

It is all to play for in that group, with Germany having overcome the United States 2-1 – world number three Alexander Zverev in commanding form once more.

That leaves all four teams on 1-1 records and in with a chance of making the semi-finals.

Novak Djokovic went through "rigorous" checks before being handed a medical exemption to compete at the Australian Open, tournament chiefs insisted.

A wave of criticism followed Djokovic's announcement that he was on his way to Melbourne for the season's first grand slam tournament.

The Serbian has not directly addressed whether he has been vaccinated against COVID-19, but players who compete at Melbourne Park either require proof they have been jabbed or an exemption.

He has spoken openly and critically about vaccine mandates, insisting there should be freedom of choice in all walks of life.

Many Australians on social media spoke out against the decision to welcome Djokovic into the country, predicting he could face a frosty reception while the country battles surging cases of the Omicron variant.

Djokovic will be bidding to win a 10th Australian Open title and a record 21st singles grand slam, more than any man in history.

The 34-year-old had his bags packed and was awaiting a flight at an airport when he broke the news of his trip to Australia on Tuesday.

Australian Open chiefs confirmed he had been granted permission to play, saying in a statement: "Novak Djokovic will compete at the Australian Open and is on his way to Australia.

"Djokovic applied for a medical exemption which was granted followting a rigorous review process involving two separate independent panels of medical experts. One of those was the independent medical exemption review panel appointed by the Victorian Department of Health."

There has been no detail given of why Djokovic qualified for an exemption, and unless he is willing to disclose personal medical information it is set to remain that way.

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said it remained the case that all involved with the tournament, from fans through to players, must be fully vaccinated or have an exemption permission allowing them to attend.

Tiley said: "Fair and independent protocols were established for assessing medical exemption applications that will enable us to ensure Australian Open 2022 is safe and enjoyable for everyone.

"Central to this process was that the decisions were made by independent medical experts and that every applicant was given due consideration."

Explaining the process of securing exemptions, the Australian Open indicated in its statement that Djokovic would not have been treated as a special case.

It pointed out that a government-appointed panel assessed all cases that got past the first stage of checks, and that "the process included the redaction of personal information to ensure privacy for all applicants".

This should mean Djokovic was not identifiable to those making the crucial decisions about whether he should be allowed to take part.

"The multi-step independent review process was designed to ensure the safety of everyone at the Australian Open," the tournament statement added.

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield revealed after defeat to the Pittsburgh Steelers that he will undergo shoulder surgery during the offseason.

Mayfield has carried the problem – a torn labrum in his non-throwing left shoulder – since Week 2 of the season.

The 26-year-old has endured a difficult campaign, and was sacked nine times against the Steelers on Monday as Pittsburgh kept their playoff hopes alive. The Browns were already out of postseason contention before the game at Heinz Field.

Mayfield has been sacked 43 times across 14 games, up from 26 sacks in 16 appearances last season, while he has also been intercepted on five more occasions (13 to eight).

Only two quarterbacks – Joe Burrow (51) and Ryan Tannehill (46) – have been sacked more times this term.

His 3,010 passing yards is the lowest total of his career, with his tally of touchdown throws also a low mark (17), while his interception percentage of 3.1 ranks as the fifth-worst in the league.

Mayfield's season may now be over, with discussions set to take place within his camp on whether he will be available for the Browns' final game of the season against the Cincinnati Bengals, who have already clinched the AFC North.

"I'm an extremely competitive guy," Mayfield told reporters after Monday's game, in which he at one stage failed to complete a pass on 10 consecutive throws.

"Now it's time for me to start looking at what's in the best interest of me and my health. It's not gonna always be pretty or smooth, but I'm a fighter.

"If anybody ever questions how much I want it, just turn on this tape. It wasn't pretty, but I kept going, kept swinging; that's who I am, and that's what I will continue to be.

"I've continued to lay it out on the line when I haven't been healthy and tried to fight for our guys. Right now, I'm pretty damn beat up, to be honest with you. There's no way around it. I gave it everything I had tonight."

Next season could be Mayfield's last with the Browns. His rookie contract runs through the 2022 campaign.

Naomi Osaka marked her return to tennis with a hard-fought win in Melbourne and declared her love for competing had been reignited during a break from the sport.

The former world number one beat French player Alize Cornet 6-4 3-6 6-3 on Tuesday, in her first match since a third-round US Open defeat to eventual runner-up Leylah Fernandez.

The Japanese star said after that Flushing Meadows loss in September that she would put her tennis career on hold indefinitely.

Across several months, Osaka has adjusted her personal and professional priorities, pointing to the joy of San Francisco sleepovers with friends and reconnecting with normal life.

She believes there is a way to focus on the joy of competing, rather than the strains of performing in the public eye that caused her so much consternation last season, and there were glimpses of Osaka's best in the win over world number 61 Cornet at the WTA 250 Melbourne Summer Set 1 tournament.

Osaka pulled out of the 2021 French Open after one match and then elected not to play Wimbledon, as she addressed the importance of protecting her mental health.

She was reluctant to take part in media conferences, finding them harrowing at times, but on Tuesday the 24-year-old embraced the stage and explained how she had surprised herself by coming back to the court so soon.

"I actually really thought I wasn't going to play for most of this year," Osaka said. "I'm really happy with myself that I love the sport that much because I literally said that I was unsure when I was going to play after the US Open and I'm here right now.

"In the break I was feeling like I didn't know what my future was going to be. I'm pretty sure a lot of people can relate to that. Of course, you never know what the future holds, but it was definitely an indecisive time. But I'm really happy to be sitting here right now."

 

Osaka had envisaged a spell of globe-trotting – without a tennis racquet in her luggage – but the pandemic left her wary of following that route.

In the end, she settled on enjoying a quiet life for a while, saying: "I kind of stayed at home. My friends live near San Francisco, so I was driving to go see them and stay over at their house and bother them quite a few times.

"I feel like that's also an experience that I haven't been able to have in my life, just based on the fact that I play tennis and I travel a lot and I haven't been able to have sleepovers and stuff like that. It was cool to be able to do that."

Osaka said she has just "one major goal for 2022".

"For me, I just want to feel like every time I step on the court I'm having fun," she said. "I can walk off the court knowing that even if I lost, I tried as hard as I could. Also, I have a goal in the press room, that I'm never going to cry again, so hopefully that works out in my favour.

"I'm the type of person that cared a little bit too much about the results and the ranking and stuff like that, and I just need to find a way to enjoy the game again. Because that's the reason why I was playing in the first place."

Quoted on the WTA website, Osaka said opening up to others about the tribulations of life on the circuit helped her to adjust her goals.

"During the off-season I just hung out with my friends and talked to my family a lot. I felt like that was a way of decompressing the pressure I had on myself. Then I just slowly started to regain the feeling of love that I had towards the game," she said. "It's not like it ever completely went away, but I felt like it got overshadowed by a lot of emotions that I was feeling just by constantly playing year after year. Sometimes it's just good to remember why you're playing and stuff."

Top seed Osaka's win came on Rod Laver Arena, the main show court at the Melbourne Park complex that will stage the Australian Open later this month, when Osaka will be defending her title. Fellow seeds Liudmila Samsonova, Bernarda Pera and Alison Riske were beaten.

At the concurrent Melbourne Summer Set 2 event, American top seed Jessica Pegula was ousted in the first round by Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu, losing 7-6 (8-6) 6-3.

The Adelaide International 1 event contains the strongest field this week, and Tuesday saw straight-sets wins for Coco Gauff and a pair of 2020 grand slam winners in Iga Swiatek and Sofia Kenin.

Eighth seed Elina Svitolina had a bad day though, the Ukrainian losing 5-7 6-4 6-3 to Russia's world number 130 Anastasia Gasanova.

Novak Djokovic has announced he will play at the Australian Open, revealing he has been given "exemption permission" to compete.

The world number one and nine-time champion in Melbourne has not declared whether he has been vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus.

Australia has stringent rules about who should be allowed to enter the country, with tennis players needing to be either vaccinated or hold a medical exemption in order to play the grand slam tournament.

Serbian superstar Djokovic wrote on Instagram on Tuesday: "I’ve spent fantastic quality time with my loved ones over the break and today I'm heading Down Under with an exemption permission. Let's go 2022!!"

Djokovic's message was accompanied by a picture of him at an airport, with a tennis racquet bag atop his luggage on a trolley, indicating he was ready to board his flight to Australia.

He told his followers: "Happy New Year, everybody! Wishing you all health, love, and happiness in every present moment and may you feel love and respect towards all beings on this wonderful planet."

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said on Sunday he expected defending champion Djokovic's status for the event to become clear within days. The grounds for Djokovic receiving an exemption have yet to be disclosed, and it is unclear whether they will ever be made public.

The 20-time grand slam winner withdrew from the ATP Cup in Sydney last week, begging questions of whether he would head to Australia at all, but now that appears to have been cleared up.

Djokovic has steadfastly refused to disclose whether he has been jabbed. His declaration that he has been given an exemption points to him not having been vaccinated.

The 34-year-old won in Melbourne last February and followed up by triumphing at the French Open and Wimbledon to join Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer on 20 major titles.

Djokovic will be attempting to seize the outright lead by capturing a 21st slam, with the Australian Open running from January 17-30 at Melbourne Park.

He was on the same mission at the US Open but lost out to Daniil Medvedev in the New York final in September, as the Russian landed his first grand slam title at Flushing Meadows.

Medvedev was the man Djokovic beat in last year's Australian Open final, and is again expected to be a major challenger this time around.

Novak Djokovic has announced he will play at the Australian Open, revealing he has been given "exemption permission" to compete.

The world number one and nine-time champion in Melbourne has not declared whether he has been vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus.

Australia has stringent rules about who should be allowed to enter the country, with tennis players needing to be either vaccinated or hold a medical exemption in order to play the grand slam tournament.

Serbian superstar Djokovic wrote on Instagram: "I’ve spent fantastic quality time with my loved ones over the break and today I'm heading Down Under with an exemption permission. Let's go 2022!!"

Kevin Durant questioned the intensity shown by the Brooklyn Nets after they suffered a home defeat to the Memphis Grizzlies.

The Nets lost for a third game running on Monday, with Ja Morant starring for the Grizzlies at Barclays Center.

Morant scored a game-high 36 points as the Grizzlies won 118-104, claiming a fifth consecutive victory.

While Memphis had five players in double figures for points, the Nets relied on the shooting prowess of Durant and fellow star James Harden.

Durant led the way with 26 points, three rebounds and six assists, with Harden adding a further 19 points, four rebounds and eight assists, but other than Nic Claxton (11), no other Brooklyn player had above 10 points.

Now 23-12 and behind the Chicago Bulls at the top of the Eastern Conference, the Nets have to recover before facing the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday.

Durant said Brooklyn "relaxed too much" after the defeat to a depleted Los Angeles Clippers team last time out, and the 11-time All-Star put Brooklyn's latest defeat down to a lack of urgency.

"It's about coming into the games with a sense of urgency on both ends of the floor," Durant told reporters. "Making the correct play on both ends of the floor."

 

While Durant's frustration with the Nets' performance was evident, he was full of praise for the game's star performer Morant.

The 22-year-old leads the Grizzlies for points per game (25.1), and assists per game (6.7), while his 5.7 rebounds per game ranks him second in Memphis' roster.

Morant's field goal percentage of 49.2 is up on his previous seasons (47.7 in 2019-20 and 44.9 in 2020-21), while he is well on course for a career-best points tally.

"He's just controlling the game," Durant said of Morant.

"He's always been an efficient player who can run the point guard spot, he's developed into a major scorer as well. He just plays with a great pace out there, plays with joy and enthusiasm, and you see him blossoming in front of our eyes.

"Since college, he's been on this trajectory. As a basketball fan, you can't wait to see what he's like in years going forward."

It was a sentiment echoed by Morant's team-mate Desmond Bane, who contributed 29 points to the Grizzlies' score.

"People will debate whether or not [Morant] should be an All-Star," Bane said of Morant.  "I think we should be debating whether or not he's the best point guard in the league."

For his part, Morant believes Memphis are finally getting the respect they deserve.

"Since I [came] here, I've been saying we deserve more respect," Morant said. "The stuff we're doing now, obviously that recognition and everything will come."

Barcelona want to sign Alvaro Morata and it would appear the Juventus striker wishes to join Xavi's team.

After bringing in Ferran Torres, Xavi would reportedly like to add experienced Spain international Morata to his ranks at Camp Nou.

Morata has scored five Serie A goals for the Bianconeri this season.

 

TOP STORY – JUVENTUS WANT MORATA REPLACEMENT BEFORE AUTHORISING BARCA SWITCH

According to Mundo Deportivo, Barcelona target Morata has informed Juve of his desire to leave the club in January.

Massimiliano Allegri met with the 29-year-old on Monday, with the upshot being that Juve will only grant Morata his move should they be able to find a replacement.

Paris Saint-Germain striker Mauro Icardi is seen as a possible option for the Bianconeri, who are having a poor season in Serie A, sitting 12 points off the summit.

However, further complicating matters in Morata's potential switch to Barca is that he is on loan at Juve from Atletico Madrid, who would need to authorise any transfer.

 

ROUND-UP

- Erling Haaland , who has been holidaying in Marbella, has told people close to him that he sees his next destination being Spain, with Real Madrid and Barcelona on high alert. That is according to Marca.

- Sky Sports believe that Romelu Lukaku will stay at Chelsea after holding talks with Thomas Tuchel following his comments in an interview with Sky Italia, which resulted in the striker missing Sunday's clash with Liverpool.

- The Daily Mail, citing Gianluca Di Marzio, claim that Barcelona are monitoring the situation of Lukaku's Chelsea team-mate Andreas Christensen, who is out of contract at the end of the season.

- Another Chelsea defender into the last six months of his deal is Antonio Rudiger, with Sky Sports reporting Real Madrid , Bayern Munich , PSG and Juve have all entered talks with the Germany international's representatives. 

- According to The Daily Mail, Newcastle United are aiming to sign Zenit striker Sardar Azmoun. The Iran forward has agreed personal terms with Ligue 1 club Lyon, but the French side may be unable to match Zenit's asking price for the 27-year-old.

The Brooklyn Nets suffered a third straight defeat as Ja Morant inspired the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday, while the Milwaukee Bucks also slipped up.

Morant scored a game-leading 36 points to lead the Grizzlies to a 118-104 victory – Memphis' fifth successive win.

He was ably supported by Desmond Bane (29 points), Brandon Clarke (16), Jarret Culver and Tyus Jones (both 12), with Kevin Durant and James Harden unable to prevent the Nets' recent slump continuing.

Memphis' victory at the Barclays Center was taken in by Antonio Brown, the NFL wide receiver who was dismissed as a Tampa Bay Buccaneer after his remarkable walk-out against the New York Jets on Sunday.

While the Grizzlies travel to Cleveland to face the Cavaliers on Tuesday, Brooklyn must lick their wounds after relinquishing top spot in the Eastern Conference to the Chicago Bulls, who edged out the Orlando Magic 102-98 to win an eighth straight game.

Pistons stun Bucks

The Pistons had the worst record in the league heading into their clash with reigning champions Milwaukee, but Saddiq Bey's career-high 34 points saw Detroit overcome the odds.

Milwaukee's six-game winning streak was snapped by a 115-106 reverse, with a 31-point turn from talisman Giannis Antetokounmpo not enough.

It was a stunning result for the Pistons, who had lost 12 straight regular-season games to the Bucks by an average of 16.7 points heading into the game – while Milwaukee had also downed Detroit four times in the 2019 playoffs.

Detroit are now 7-28 for the season, meaning it is the Magic who have the league's worst winning percentage. The Bucks must now bounce back against the Toronto Raptors, who beat them in December, on Wednesday.

Jazz get back on the horse

The Utah Jazz responded to their defeat to Western Conference leaders the Golden State Warriors with a 115-104 triumph over the New Orleans Pelicans.

Donovan Mitchell was the standout performer, topping up his game-high 29 points with three rebounds and five assists. It is now nine road wins in a row for the Jazz, who sit third in the West behind the Warriors and the Phoenix Suns.

While the Suns are at New Orleans on Tuesday, Golden State kept themselves secure at the top by collecting a fifth win in six games with a 115-108 victory at home to the Miami Heat.

Doncic and Embiid lift Mavs, Sixers

Luka Doncic claimed another double-double with 21 points and a joint season-high 15 assists to propel the Dallas Mavericks to a convincing 103-89 triumph over the Denver Nuggets.

Doncic's team may have come out on top, but fellow Balkan star Nikola Jokic led the game with 27 points, adding 16 rebounds, albeit last season's MVP could not stop Denver having a three-game winning run ended.

The Mavs are sixth in the West, one place behind Denver but having won a game more.

Joel Embiid, meanwhile, is a player well in the running to take Jokic's regular-season MVP crown, and he turned in a brilliant display in the Philadelphia 76ers 133-113 rout of the Houston Rockets.

Embiid turned in a fourth straight 30-point game with a triple-double of 31 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists.

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger struggled to rein in his emotions as he reflected on what seems likely to be his final home game.

Roethlisberger is all set to retire at the end of the season, but he gave the Steelers fans another reason to laud his name as he helped Pittsburgh to a vital 26-14 win over the Cleveland Browns on Monday.

Pittsburgh are now 8-7 in the AFC North, and will need to beat the Baltimore Ravens in Week 18, whole relying on the Jacksonville Jaguars to do them a favour against the Indianapolis Colts, to make the playoffs.

Should the Steelers clinch a postseason berth, it will be the 12th time they have reached the playoffs in Roethlisberger's 18 seasons with the team.

The 39-year-old threw for one touchdown, 123 yards and a touchdown on what was his last regular-season start at Heinz Field, which he has called home since 2004.

He has thrown for 69,478 yards across his 18-season career so far (both regular and postseason), ranking him third among NFL quarterbacks during that time, behind Tom Brady (85,046) and Drew Brees (80,111), who are also the only QBs to have tallied up more appearances than Roethlisberger's 269.

Roethlisberger ranks fourth during that timespan for touchdown passes (450), behind Aaron Rodgers (492), Brees (579) and Brady (629). Only eight quarterbacks to have played over 100 games have registered a higher touchdown percentage than the Steelers veteran (4.9).

In a postgame, on-field interview with ESPN, Roethlisberger could not hold back the tears.

"It's funny. Probably not the way you wanted it, other than the win, and that’s all that really matters, that's kind of been the story of my career," he began.

"Not always pretty but we find a way. Man, did our defense step up tonight and it was just so much fun to be out here. These players, this place.

"I didn't think I was going to take the field again, but it's the best play as an offensive player in football, to take a knee. I'm glad I got to do it one last time."

Asked what it felt like leaving Heinz Field, Roethlisberger replied: "I don't know, with a win."

"I'm just so thankful for the fans, my family obviously," he added.

"The good Lord has blessed me in so many ways. We’ve still got another game obviously, excited for that but this is just an awesome place."

"Probably about now," he said when asked if the occasion had sunk in. "This is the end of it, having the chance to go back out there.

"I'm just so excited for these fans and this place, there's not another place like it.

"I'm so thankful and blessed to be able to call this place home for almost half my life. In front of these fans, seeing all the signs, all the jerseys. I've been so blessed and I'm just so thankful."

The night may have belonged to Roethlisberger, who walked to the midfield logo alone for the opening coin toss, on what was his 135th start at Heinz Field.

However, Najee Harris was the star man for the Steelers, running in a career-best 188 yards and a touchdown, with Chris Boswell kicking four field goals and Defensive Player of the Year candidate T.J. Watt sacking Cleveland quarterback Baker Mayfield four times.

Watt is now on 21.5 sacks for the season, one short of the NFL record set by Michael Strahan in 2001.

Peter Wright captured his second PDC World Championship title after a 7-5 victory over Michael Smith in the final at Alexandra Palace.

The Scotsman claimed the top prize of £500,000 as he became the sixth multiple winner of darts' blue-riband event after Phil Taylor, John Part, Adrian Lewis, Gary Anderson and Michael van Gerwen.

It was his fourth title of the season, having already won the World Matchplay, Players Championship Finals and World Cup of Darts.

Wright, who also lifted the Sid Waddell trophy in 2020, was appearing in his third world final having hit 24 180s during his 6-4 win over compatriot Anderson in the semi-finals.

The 51-year-old took a 2-0 lead but 2019 runner-up Smith – who hit a record 83 maximums during the tournament – won five of the next seven sets to move two away from victory at 5-4 up.

However, Wright was not to be denied. The world number two, who also captured the World Matchplay title in July, averaged 113.93 during the next three sets as he won nine of the next 10 legs, before securing the crown on double 16.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians insisted he had "no regrets" over signing Antonio Brown following his bizarre walk-off during the clash with the New York Jets on Sunday.

With the Buccaneers down 24-10 and just over three minutes left in the third quarter, Brown appeared to be talking to team-mate Mike Evans on the sidelines before removing his jersey and shoulder pads, taking off his under-shirt and throwing it into the crowd, and then waving as he jogged towards the tunnel.

The 33-year-old had taken three receptions for 26 yards before leaving the game, which the Bucs went on to win 28-24 and move to a 12-4 record in the NFC.

Speaking after the comeback victory, Arians told reporters: "He is no longer a Buc. That's the end of the story. Let's talk about the guys that went out there and won the game."

The Bucs signed Brown in October 2020 after a short stint at the New England Patriots in 2019.

Arians had initially called Brown a "diva" and said "there's no room" for him at the Bucs.

But despite an eight-game suspension for violating the league's personal conduct policy after punching a delivery truck driver, they did eventually sign him. 

He served another three-game ban this season after an NFL investigation found that he had produced a fake COVID-19 vaccine card.

Arians is happy with his decision to sign Brown, however, and hopes this latest incident can act as a turning point for the 33-year-old. 

"I have no regrets [over signing him]. I just hope the best for him," he told a media conference.

"It was very hard. I wish him well. If he needs help, I hope he gets some. It's very hard because I do care about him; I care about him a bunch. I hope that he's OK."

Asked if Brown told him he was injured, Arians said: "No. It's pretty obvious what happened. He left the field and that was it. We had a conversation, and he left the field."

Brown had played in just six games this season prior to Sunday, managing 39 receptions for 519 yards and four touchdowns.

Kyle Shanahan praised an efficient and at times explosive performance from Trey Lance but did not rule out Jimmy Garoppolo returning and starting for the San Francisco 49ers in Week 18.

With Garoppolo sidelined due to torn ligaments in his thumb, rookie third overall pick Lance got the start and recovered from a shaky first half to help the 49ers to a 23-7 win over the Houston Texans.

Lance tossed a bad interception in the first half but appeared more settled after a field-goal drive to end the second quarter and subsequently threw a pair of touchdowns, including a 45-yard strike to Deebo Samuel, to put the Niners a win away from a playoff berth.

He finished the game 16 of 23 passing for 249 yards and also ran for a further 31 yards.

The Niners will reach the postseason for the second time in three seasons if they beat the 12-4 Los Angeles Rams in Week 18 or if the New Orleans Saints lose to the Atlanta Falcons. Should San Francisco lose and the Saints beat the Falcons, the Niners will miss out on the postseason.

That places the situation at quarterback into sharp focus, with head coach Shanahan leaving the door open to Garoppolo making a quick return despite reports he will need surgery after the season.

Asked if Garoppolo tried throwing on Saturday or Sunday, Shanahan replied: "I don't know if he threw today [Sunday]. I didn't even ask, just talking to him yesterday I had a pretty good idea that we weren't going to even push it today.

"I think he'll be able to do it this week. Still, that's just me giving you guys an honest guess. Hopefully, I'll have a better idea by Wednesday.

"If Jimmy's a hundred per cent healthy and could do everything, like perfect, then I would definitely go with Jimmy. I'm not just going to throw a guy in after one game like this, when Jimmy's been doing it for us all year.

"I think it's going to be hard for Jimmy to be a hundred percent, which is how most people are right now at this time of year. But Trey did a good job, if Jimmy can't go, we won't hesitate at all. But if we feel Jimmy can go and play confident, then Jimmy will be out there."

Assessing Lance's performance, Shanahan said: "I think he did some real good things, besides the bad interception, I thought he protected the ball real well.

"That was a big thing going into this game and he did a good job on all those except for one play. I think he was very efficient, just looking at his numbers. That big play at the end was huge. For the most part, he made some pretty good decisions running the ball.

"I thought the defense and special teams played really well. Holding them to three yards per play on defense, special teams, we've been down here over this last month and this at least felt like that was one of our better games in a while.

"I think that allowed us to be more comfortable on offense, start to get into a rhythm and not really press and just let it happen naturally."

World number four Stefanos Tsitsipas is optimistic he will be fit for this month's Australian Open after coming through his first complete singles match since undergoing surgery on his right elbow last November.

Following a gruelling three-set defeat to Diego Schwartzman at the ATP Cup in Sydney on Monday, Tsitsipas was upbeat about his prospects of performing in Melbourne.

"It gets better and better every single day", Tsitsipas said of his injury. "We have plenty of time before the Australian Open begins, and I think if I take the right precautions and follow what my doctor says, then I can see myself performing at 100 per cent.

The Greek went on to reveal that medics had harboured serious doubts over his participation at the first Grand Slam of 2022, after he had been forced to withdraw from November's ATP Finals in Turin.

"Going into that surgery, even the doctor was unsure if it was a good idea to perform and play at the Australian Open.

"My recovery was much better than he expected, in comparison with other players that he has treated in the past, so he was surprised. He came to Dubai, and he was surprised to see me hitting close to 100 per cent.

The 2021 French Open finalist also claimed to have enjoyed his contest with Schwartzman, despite the defeat.

"It was good to see myself perform at such a level. I didn't expect it," he said. "It worked out better than I thought. I was able to hit balls that I was scared to hit two weeks ago, so I’m heading towards the right direction."

Tsitsipas, who has won seven ATP Tour events to date, is due to be in action once more in Sydney this week against Georgian, Nikoloz Basilashvili.

Ryan Tannehill insisted the Tennessee Titans are "just getting started" after they clinched the AFC South title and moved into the one seed in the conference.

Tennessee punched their ticket to the postseason as division champions with a 34-3 rout of the Miami Dolphins, who were eliminated from playoff contention.

With the Kansas City Chiefs losing to the Cincinnati Bengals, the Titans' victory saw them jump to the top of the AFC, meaning they will clinch a first-round bye and homefield advantage throughout the playoffs with a Week 18 win over the lowly Houston Texans.

While the Titans donned AFC South champion t-shirts in the locker room after the game, Tannehill conceded he was struggling to find a balance between celebrating that achievement and focusing on what they still have to do.

"That was a battle I was having in [the locker room] myself," the Titans quarterback said. "I'm thinking: Try to enjoy the moment and celebrate, but I'm going around telling the guys that we're just getting started.

"It's a big step and enjoy it, but we're just getting started. We've got a long way to go and that was kind of my message going around to the guys.

"Definitely try to enjoy the moment and celebrate today for what it is, but just knowing in the back of our minds that our ultimate goals aren't done yet.

"We've still got a long way to go."

Tannehill's top target, wide receiver A.J. Brown, added: "We had to worry about ourselves and we had to win today.

"We are not really worried about anyone else no matter what cards we were dealt. We had to win today, and we got the win today.

"Next week, it's going to be winning next week, against Houston. We know that right now, it's playoff football. And we are already trying to get in form, because it gets tougher."

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