Baltimore is back
MIAMI, Jan. 14 (UPI) -- The Baltimore Ravens were the last team to make the playoffs, but on Sunday they looked like the team that was the last one standing a year ago.
With their defense returing to its typically stingy form, the Ravens became the only visiting team to win on the opening weekend of the playoffs by brushing aside the Miami Dolphins, 20-3.
The Green Bay Packers also advanced Sunday, getting yet another brilliant performance from Brett Favre to down the San Francisco 49ers, 25-15.
Those results set up next weekend's divisional round, in which the top four teams from the regular season will enter the fray.
On Saturday, the Philadelphia Eagles will visit the Chicago Bears and Oakland will be at New England. On Sunday, it will be Baltimore at Pittsburgh and Green Bay at St. Louis.
Baltimore once more displayed the formula it used to claim the NFL crown last season -- a suffocating defense combined with a mistake-free offense that produced timely big plays as well as touchdown drives of 90 and 99 yards.
A year ago, Baltimore set the NFL record for fewest points in a 16-game season (165) and its defense then allowed just one touchdown in four playoff games. The Ravens again kept an opponent out of the end zone Sunday, allowing 151 total yards, recording three sacks and producing three turnovers -- one of them coming on a fluke bounce with nine minutes to play that symbolized Miami's frustrating afternoon.
Trailing by 14, owning the ball on the Baltimore 42 and needing a huge play to give them hope, the Dolphins appeared to have come up with it when Miami quarterback Jay Fiedler found receiver James McKnight racing behind the Baltimore secondary.
But McKnight stumbled as the ball arrived at the Ravens' four and it bounced off his shoulder pads into the hands of trailing defensive back Duane Starks. Instead of closing within seven points, Miami faced the reality of another early playoff exit. The Dolphins reached the playoffs each of the last five seasons, but did not get to the AFC Championship game in any of them.
In Green Bay, Favre feasted in the playoff atmosphere he has missed the past two seasons by driving the Packers to four second-half scores.
Favre threw for 269 yards and two touchdowns, eventually putting the game away with a 93-yard march on which he completed all three of his pass attempts for 54 yards.
After throwing for just 43 yards in the first half while his team was limited to a mere 18 offensive plays, Favre heated up in the 28-degree temperatures by completing 16 of 21 for 226 yards in the final two quarters.
His highlight-reel plays included a 51-yard bomb down the left sideline to Corey Bradford that set up a go-ahead field goal in the third quarter and a 37-yard bullet pass over the middle to Antonio Freeman in the final Packers scoring drive of the contest.
Green Bay improved to 11-0 in postseason games at Lambeau Field - six of those victories coming with Favre at quarterback. Favre has a 31-0 home record when the temperature is 34 degrees or below and he is 9-1 lifetime against San Francisco with four of those victories coming in the playoffs.
Redskins fire Schottenheimer
WASHINGTON, Jan. 14 (UPI) -- The Washington Redskins dismissed Coach Marty Schottenheimer Sunday night and the Washington Post reported he would be replaced by Steve Spurrier.
In a statement released by the Redskins, franchise owner Daniel Snyder indicated he and Schottenheimer could not agree on what Snyder felt was the need for a separate player personnel chief.
"It is in the best interests of the team to hire an experienced professional to oversee non-coaching player personnel matters," Snyder said.
"Coach Schottenheimer gave 100 percent of his efforts to the Redskins and made positive contributions to the team. Our decision was a difficult one and was based on philosophical and management issues, not on coaching ability."
In his only year with the team, Schottenheimer saw the Redskins produce an 8-8 record. That was a triumph, however, considering that Washington began the year with a five-game losing streak. The Redskins became the first team in NFL history to win five in a row after losing its first five games of the campaign.
"I think Marty's a fine coach," Snyder said. "I wish we could have worked it out, but it became clear the Redskins and Marty had irreconcilable differences."
The Post, citing informed sources said Spurrier would likely be announced as the team's new coach Monday - signing for five years and close to $25 million.
Spurrier, 56, surprisingly resigned as coach of the Florida Gators earlier this month and made it clear he would like to try his hand at the NFL.
Withdrawals, upset mars Australian Open
After a shocking morning in which two of the event's top stars said they could not play because of injury, Kuerten was outsted in the opening match at Rod Laver Arena by Julien Boutter of France, 3-6, 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-3.
Kuerten took an injury time out in the fifth set after apparently suffering from leg cramps, but a brief massage from a trainer failed to help him turn the match around.
The sudden departure of some of the sport's biggest names cast gloom on the tournament and that was only intensified by an hour-long rain delay early on the first day of the opening Grand Slam event of the season.
Agassi announced prior to the start of play that he would be unable to compete because of a wrist injury and, a few hours later, Williams withdrew because of a strained right ankle she suffered last week in a semifinal match at Sydney.
Their departure followed that of No. 1 ranked Lindsay Davenport, who pulled out of the tournament last week and faces up to a half year of rehabilitation from ankle surgery.
Agassi said he began to feel pain in his wrist during a match against Pete Sampras last week.
Irakli Labadze of Georgia took Agassi's place in the men's draw.
The 1999 U.S. Open champion, Williams tried delaying her match with Spain's Conchita Martinez from Monday to Tuesday, but her request was denied.
Williams was replaced in the field by Lina Krasnoroutskaya of Russia.
Among the early winners today was No. 4 seed Yevgeny Kafelnikov of Russia, who coasted past Michael Kohlmann of Germany, 6-3, 6-3, 6-2. Sixth-seeded Tim Henman of Britain got by Australian Todd Larkahm, 7-5, 6-2, 6-2.
In the women's draw, France's Nathalie Dechy pulled off the first big upset by ousting countrywoman Sandrine Testude, the ninth seed, 7-5, 4-6, 6-3.
Modano keeps goal streak alive
ST. PAUL, Minn., Jan. 14 (UPI) -- Mike Modano tallied twice Sunday night to extend his goal-scoring streak to six games and Ed Belfour made 25 saves as the Dallas Stars shut down the Minnesota Wild, 3-1, to complete a winning road trip.
Modano has nine goals during the streak, which matches the longest of his career. Dallas has lost just twice during the run and has won five of its last seven games to climb within one point of first-place San Jose in the Pacific Division.
Belfour stopped all 18 shots over the first two periods, but lost his shutout bid midway through the third on Antti Laaksonen's fourth goal in five games. In the midst of another feud with coach Ken Hitchcock, Belfour has won back-to-back starts for the first time since Dec. 1-2.
The only other NHL game played Sunday saw Tampa Bay and Atlanta tie at 2-2.
Clippers snap four-game slide
TORONTO, Jan. 14 (UPI) -- Lamar Odom and Michael Olowokandi scored 16 points apiece Sunday as the Los Angeles Clippers defeated the Toronto Raptors, 79-72, to snap a four-game slide and record their first win on a season-long, six-game road trip.
Los Angeles, which climbed back to .500, concludes the trip Tuesday at Minnesota.
Down one point at halftime, the Clippers took control in the third quarter and carried a 67-61 lead into the final period, when the teams combined for just 23 points.
Los Angeles, which outscored the Raptors in the fourth quarter, 12-11, opened a 75-63 lead on Quentin Richarson's jumper with 5:23 remaining.
Chris Childs' jumper capped a 6-0 spurt that pulled Toronto within 77-72 with 1:17 left. But the Raptors came up empty on their final four possessions and Earl Boykins hit two free throws with 23 seconds remaining for the final margin.
Vince Carter scored 31 points for the Raptors but did not get much help. Antonio Davis was the only other Toronto player in double figures with 10.
After holding a 44-43 lead at intermission, the Raptors managed just 28 points in the second half.
Other NBA results: Sacramento 103, Phoenix 100; Portland 96, Cleveland 64.
Duke rolls past North Carolina St.
RALEIGH, N.C., Jan. 14 (UPI) -- Mike Dunleavy scored 22 of his career-high 27 points in the first half Sunday night as the top-ranked Duke Blue Devils rolled to a 76-57 Atlantic Coast Conference victory over North Carolina State.
A week ago, Duke had its 22-game winning streak snapped by Florida State, 77-76. Again playing before a national television audience, the Blue Devils got off to a slow start, but closed the first half with a 23-2 run to take control.
Carlos Boozer added 22 points for Duke (14-1, 3-1 ACC), which has taken the last 11 meetings with North Carolina State for its longest winning streak in the series since 1941-47.
Josh Powell scored 12 points and Clifford Crawford and reserve Scooter Sherrill added 10 apiece for the Wolfpack (12-4, 2-1), who have not beaten the Blue Devils since March 7, 1997.
Kelly wins first PGA Tour event
The triumph came in Kelly's 169th tour event.
Kelly never relinquished the lead he earned Saturday, shooting an even-par 70 as the chase group faltered. He also avenged a disappointing loss to Cook at last year's Reno-Tahoe Open.
A two-time runner-up in 200 career starts, Kelly finished the first full-field event of the season at 14-under 266 and earned the $720,000 top prize.
Cook shot a 69 and settled for second at 267. He tied for the lead at 13-under with a birdie at the 18th, but could not overcome a bogey at the par-3 17th, where his backswing was affected by a ringing cell phone.
In New Zealand, Tiger Woods wound up sixth at the New Zealand Open -- failing to post a charge on the final day after a four-putt at the second hole. Australian Craig Parry won the tournament by a shot over New Zealanders Michael Campbell and Steve Alker and countryman Stephen Leaney.