Report: Payton agrees to deal with Saints
NEW ORLEANS, Dec. 28 (UPI) -- Sean Payton has agreed to a five-year contract extension with the New Orleans Saints, a team spokesman said Friday night.
The new contract awaits NFL approval, The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune reported.
Payton will be paid about $7.5 million a year for five seasons, CBS Sports reported.
The Saints decided to stick with Payton despite his having to sit out the 2012 season under an NFL suspension imposed for the team's bounty scandal. The league had voided his original contract extension announced in September 2011.
The NFL had said Payton would be eligible to apply for reinstatement Feb. 4, but the newspaper said league officials declined to comment Friday night whether that was still the effective date.
"Very happy that it is offical. Never had any doubts though," Saints quarterback Drew Brees said via text.
Likewise, punter Thomas Morstead expressed his approval via Twitter: "BOOM HE'S BACK!!!!"
The Saints went 2-4 with offensive line coach Aaron Kromer as interim coach and are 5-4 under Joe Vitt, a Payton assistant who served a six-game suspension.
Payton, who was suspended for the alleged reward program for New Orleans defensive players who purposely injured members of opposing teams, lives in the Dallas area during the off-season. With the Cowboys struggling during the first half of the current season, there had been speculation he might be changing jobs in 2013.
His original contract extension had given him the right to void the contract if New Orleans General Manager Mickey Loomis left the club.
Payton took over as New Orleans coach in 2006 and led the Saints to the Super Bowl title at the end of the 2009 season with a 31-17 victory over Indianapolis.
New Orleans plays its regular-season finale Sunday against Carolina.
Virginia Tech downs Rutgers in OT
ORLANDO, Fla., Dec. 28 (UPI) -- Cory Journell's 22-yard field goal in the first overtime Friday lifted Virginia Tech to a 13-10 victory over Rutgers in the Russell Athletic Bowl.
Virginia Tech was held scoreless into the fourth period before putting together 10 points in a span of 72 seconds to tie the contest.
Journell's field goal came on the opening possession of the overtime and the Hokies won it when Nick Borgese missed a 42-yard field goal try for the Scarlet Knights.
The teams combined for 21 punts and the Hokies (7-6) overcame 190 yards in penalties to avoid what could have been their first losing season in two decades.
Light rain fell during halftime and turned into a downpour during the final two periods.
Rutgers scored all its points in the first quarter on a fumble recovery in the end zone by Khaseem Greene on the second play of the game and a field goal of 36 yards by Borgese.
Virginia Tech finally got on the scoreboard on Journell's 25-yard field goal with 12:14 left in regulation. Three plays into the ensuing possession Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova was intercepted and that led to a 21-yard scoring pass from Logan Thomas to Corey Fuller.
The Scarlet Knights, part of a four-way tie for the Big East Conference championship, finished at 9-5. They lost their last two regular-season games to Pittsburgh and Louisville.
Thomas completed only 15-of-39 passes for 192 yards with two interceptions. Nova was 17-of-40 for 130 yards.
Wizards record rare victory
WASHINGTON, Dec. 28 (UPI) -- Jordan Crawford equaled his season's best with 27 points Friday and carried Washington to a rare win with a 105-97 decision over Orlando.
Crawford was exiled to the bench for the second straight game after having missed his team's shoot around Wednesday prior to a meeting with Cleveland.
He came off the bench Friday to make 11-of-16 shots from the field and rally the Wizards from an early deficit to their league-low fourth victory of the year.
Washington broke an eight-game losing streak, which had been its second-longest of the season. The Wizards dropped their first 12 contests of the season and then won three out of six before starting another string of losses.
Orlando, which has dropped four in a row, was within three points early in the fourth period before Washington went on an 8-0 run to seize control. The Wizards reached 100 points for the first time in 12 games.
Nene added 21 points for Washington and Kevin Seraphin had 19. Arron Afflalo paced the Magic with 26 points while J.J. Redick scored 23.
Brooklyn hands Charlotte 17th straight loss
NEW YORK, Dec. 28 (UPI) -- Brook Lopez ignited Brooklyn to a quick start Friday and the Nets responded to their coaching change with a 97-81 victory over Charlotte.
The Bobcats lost their 17th in a row, their last victory having come over Washington on Nov. 24 in a game that went double overtime.
Johnson lost his job after the Nets had lost 10 out of 13 games following an 11-4 start to the campaign. His dismissal followed his being named Eastern Conference coach of the month in November.
The Nets rushed to an 18-point lead after one period with Lopez eventually scoring 26 points along with 11 rebounds. Deron Williams had 19 points and Joe Johnson chipped in 16. Reggie Evans came off the bench to grab 17 rebounds.
Charlotte was led by 13 points from Hakin Warrick and 12 from Ramon Sessions.
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