HOUSTON (AP) — Lovie Smith was fired as coach of the Houston Texans on Sunday night after just one season in which the team went 3-13-1.
It’s the second straight season in which the Texans have fired a coach after just one year. They parted ways with David Culley last January after he went 4-13 in his only season.
Smith was asked about his future after Sunday’s game at Indianapolis and seemed confident that he’d return next season. Hours later, he was out of a job.
The Texans had the league’s worst record for most of the season, but won two of their last three games, capped by Sunday’s win over the Colts that cost the team the No. 1 overall pick in next year’s draft. The 32-31 victory over Indianapolis gave Chicago the top pick and left Houston to choose second in April’s draft.
The 64-year-old Smith was one of the few Black coaches in the NFL along with Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin, Tampa Bay’s Todd Bowles and Miami’s Mike McDaniel, who is biracial. It is the third time since the merger that a team has fired its head coach in consecutive years after just one season.
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Nyheim Hines ignited an emotionally charged atmosphere celebrating injured Bills safety Damar Hamlin by returning two kickoffs for touchdowns, and Buffalo clinched the AFC’s second playoff seed with a 35-23 win over the New England Patriots on Sunday.
The loss, coupled with Miami beating the New York Jets, eliminated the Patriots (8-9) from the playoffs for the second time in three years, and just the fourth time in 23 seasons during Bill Belichick’s coaching tenure. Buffalo will now host their division rival Dolphins in the wild-card round next weekend.
With the game in hand, Bills players held up three fingers in honor of Hamlin’s number with the crowd chanting “Hamlin! Hamlin!”
The Bills (13-3) closed their season by winning their final seven games and overcame an emotional week in which the team was left devastated in watching Hamlin collapse after going into cardiac arrest and having to be resuscitated on the field in Cincinnati on Monday night.
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers was intercepted by Kerby Joseph on the final pass of what might be his last game, and the Green Bay Packers lost 20-16 to the Detroit Lions on Sunday night to miss the playoffs.
After winning four straight games and receiving plenty of help from other teams, the Packers had control of their postseason fate heading into the final game of the NFL regular season. But they fell short against the Lions, who had been eliminated from the playoffs earlier Sunday when the Seattle Seahawks beat the Los Angeles Rams 19-16 in overtime.
Seattle (9-8) instead earned the NFC’s last playoff spot and will play at San Francisco (13-4) in the opening round. The Packers (8-9) missed the playoffs for the first time in Matt LaFleur’s four seasons as coach.
Rodgers went 17 of 27 for 205 yards with one touchdown in what may be the final appearance at Lambeau Field for the four-time MVP. Although he is under contract for next season, the 39-year-old Rodgers has said he doesn’t know whether he will continue playing.
During the game, Rodgers became the eighth NFL player to have at least 5,000 career completions.
CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago will pick No. 1 for the first time since 1947 after it lost 29-13 to the Minnesota Vikings in its season finale on Sunday. It was the 10th straight loss for the Bears (3-14), extending a franchise record, and the 14 losses overall also marked the most in team history.
Even with all that misery, the Bears were headed for the No. 2 selection before Lovie Smith coached Houston to a wild 32-31 victory at Indianapolis. Davis Mills passed for three touchdowns as the Texans (3-13-1) rallied for their second win in three games.
It was Smith’s last game with Houston. He was fired by the Texans on Sunday night.
ATLANTA (AP) — Tom Brady broke his own NFL record for most completions in a season, quickly gaining the needed nine connections in Tampa Bay’s game against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.
Brady had a record 485 completions with the Buccaneers in 2021. The 45-year-old Brady entered Sunday’s game against the Falcons with 477 completions, leaving him only nine away from a new record.
Brady set the mark on a 5-yard completion to Russell Gage, the former Falcons receiver, early in the second quarter. The sideline pass gave Brady nine completions on his first 12 attempts and 486 for the season.
Brady completed 13 of 17 passes for 84 yards with a touchdown, giving him 490 completions for the season. He was replaced by Blaine Gabbert late in the first half.
MIAMI (AP) — Royce O’Neale’s putback with 3.2 seconds left put Brooklyn to stay, and the Nets beat the Miami Heat 102-101 on Sunday night in a game where Kevin Durant left early with a right knee injury.
Kyrie Irving scored 29 to lead the Nets, who have now won 18 of their last 20 — after winning only nine of their first 20 games. Durant had 17 before departing and Seth Curry scored 14 for Brooklyn.
Nic Claxton had 13 points and 11 rebounds for the Nets.
Jimmy Butler scored 26 for Miami, which got 24 from Tyler Herro. Butler missed a contested shot at the rim on the game’s final play, and Herro was shaken up on it as well before limping off — replays showing he may have slipped.
PHOENIX (AP) — Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell both scored 22 points and the Cleveland Cavaliers pulled away late to beat the banged-up Phoenix Suns 112-98 on Sunday night.
The Cavaliers won for the fourth time in five games. It’s the second time this week the Cavs have topped the Suns after beating them 90-88 on Wednesday.
Struggling Phoenix — playing without their All-Star backcourt of Chris Paul and Devin Booker — has dropped six in a row and nine of 10. The Suns now have a 20-21 record, which is the first time they have been under .500 all season.
The offensively challenged Suns failed to top 100 points for a fourth straight game.
KAPALUA, Hawaii (AP) — Jon Rahm began the bold new year on the PGA Tour by coming from seven shots behind to win the Sentry Tournament of Champions on Sunday with plenty of help from Collin Morikawa, who had a spectacular wipeout even by Maui standards.
Rahm was six shots behind on the 13th hole at Kapalua when he ran off three straight birdies and a 12-foot eagle putt, and his final birdie gave him a 10-under 63.
Morikawa was two groups behind him. He had gone bogey-free over 67 holes on the Plantation Course when it all fell apart with his wedges and his putter, the two areas that had carried him to a six-shot lead at the start of the day.
Morikawa looked to be in a state of shock as he walked down the 17th fairway, leading by as many as seven shots during the final round and suddenly finding himself two shots behind and running out of hope. He wound up tying a PGA Tour record for losing the largest 54-hole lead at six shots. Eight other players have done that, most recently Scottie Scheffler at the Tour Championship last year.
Rahm finished at 27-under 265 to win by two shots over Morikawa, who birdied the 18th hole — his first birdie since No. 6 — to close with a 72.
CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago White Sox closer Liam Hendriks says he has non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Hendriks announced Sunday on Instagram that he was diagnosed in recent days. The three-time All-Star was scheduled to begin treatment on Monday.
Hendriks said he is “confident” he will “make a full recovery and be back on the mound as soon as possible.”
The five-year survival rate for non-Hodgkin lymphoma is 73.8%, according to the National Cancer Institute. Some forms are aggressive while others are slow growing.
General manager Rick Hahn said in a statement the White Sox don’t expect to have an update on Hendriks’ status prior to opening day.