Pats win controversial decision
FOXBORO, Mass., Jan. 20 (UPI) -- The New England Patriots advanced to the NFL's conference championship round in controversial fashion Saturday night while the Philadelphia Eagles moved on in dominating fashion.
An instant replay reversal that will be debated for years gave New England a chance to send its divisional playoff game into overtime and, with a snowstorm raging unabated, Adam Vinatieri kicked a 23-yard field goal 8:29 deep in the extra session to move the Patriots within one win of the Super Bowl with a 16-13 victory over the Oakland Raiders.
Earlier in the day in Chicago, the scrambling skills of quarterback Donovan McNabb combined with the mistakes of the previously-charmed Bears gave the Philadelphia Eagles a 33-19 decision.
New England's offense was virtually non-existant through the night as snow piled deeper and deeper on the field, but the Patriots scored 10 points in the final eight minutes of regulation and then drove 61 yards on the only possession of overtime to win what was their first home playoff game in four years.
Tom Brady, who executed a conservative game plan in the first half, was turned loose when the Patriots fell behind and completed 32 of 52 passes for 312 yards to improve to 12-3 as New England quarterback. After winning his first playoff start in the divisional round, Brady will lead the Patriots into the AFC title game next weekend against either the Pittsburgh Steelers or defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens.
Brady scored New England's only touchdown, that coming on a five-yard run with 7:52 to play in regulation that cut the Patriots' deficit to 13-10, and soon thereafter became involved in the most controversial instant replay decision of the season.
The Patriots might not have even had a chance to be a party to the controversy had not their defense stopped Oakland running back Zack Crockett on third and one from the Raiders' 44 with just over two minutes to play. If Crockett had picked up a first down on that play, Oakland would likely have been able to run out the clock.
Instead, Oakland punted the ball away and the Patriots began their game-tying drive at their own 46.
Two plays later, having picked up a first down and owning the ball at the Oakland 42, Brady went back to throw. Oakland safety Charles Woodson blitzed on the play and hit Brady just as the quarterback was pulling the ball down from the start of a throwing motion. The hit caused the ball to pop free and it was recovered by Oakland's Greg Biekert, apparently sealing the game for the Raiders.
The replay official in the press box signaled to the field, however, letting referee Walt Coleman know that the play needed to be reviewed. And when he did, Coleman declared the play was an incomplete pass and that New England still had possession.
Although it was obvious on replays that Brady had no intention of throwing the ball, NFL officials explained that any forward movement of the arm is considered to be a passing motion until such time as the ball is "tucked" back into the body.
Given another chance, Brady hit David Patten with a 13-yard pass to the 29 and, after three unsuccessful plays, Vinatieri was called upon to try a 45-yard field goal to tie the game. His kick through the snow was a low, line drive that just cleared the bar.
New England won the toss to start overtime and did not surrender the ball, marching to the winning field goal.
Philadelphia will play in the NFC title game for the first 22 years against either Green Bay or St. Louis.
McNabb threw for 262 yards and two touchdowns, ran for another score that clinched the victory and kept drives and eventual scoring plays alive by successfully eluding the Chicago pass rush. The Bears, meanwhile, made critical miscues on offense, defense and special teams to fall in their first playoff appearance in seven seasons.
Chicago also lost quarterback Jim Miller in the first half to a separated shoulder when he was blocked into the ground by Philadelphia defensive end Hugh Douglas following an interception. The Bears' offense promptly disappeared with the only second-half Chicago touchdown coming from its defense.
The divisional round will be completed today when Pittsburgh hosts Baltimore and Green Bay visits St. Louis.
Williams, Seles to meet in quarterfinals
MELBOURNE, Australia, Jan. 20 (UPI) -- Venus Williams, Martina Hingis and four-time champion Monica Seles all moved into the quarterfinals of the Australian Open today with Seles enjoying what almost amounted to a day off.
The young Spaniard had raced away to a 2-0 lead in the first set before the former world No. 1 recovered and reeled off the next three straight games. Medina Garrigues then tumbled over in the last point of the sixth game and lay on the court in agony, unable to move, for five minutes while the trainer attended to her.
She tried to return to the match, but finally gave up after hobbling through the next two points. Seles was leading, 4-2, 30-0 when Medina Garrigues decided to stop playing. The match had been in progress 33 minutes. She shook the American's hand before collapsing into her courtside chair and weeping.
Seles, the No. 8 seed, will now take on the second-seeded Williams, who earlier in the tournament had complained of knee problems but who waltzed past Magdalena Maleeva of Bulgaria, 6-0, 6-3.
Hingis advanced with a 6-1, 6-0 drubbing of Amanda Coetzer of South Africa while Adriana Serra Zanetti reached the quarterfinals with a 6-1, 7-5 victory over Martina Sucha.
The No. 6 Henman was the highest seeded player left in the tournament, but he exited at the hands of Bjorkman, 6-1, 7-6 (8-6), 6-4. The players seeded seventh (Tommy Haas), eighth (Pete Sampras) and ninth (Marat Safin) all remain, but they are all in the same half of the draw.
Duke wins big again
DURHAM, N.C., Jan. 20 (UPI) -- Jason Williams led all five starters into double figures with 23 points Saturday and top-ranked Duke used a 16-0 run late in the game to pull away for a 103-80 victory over 13th-ranked Wake Forest.
After its 22-game winning streak was snapped in a 77-76 loss to Florida State on Jan. 6, Duke has rebuilt its reputation as the nation's top team.
In a span of less than 48 hours, the Blue Devils (16-1, 5-1 ACC) easily handled a pair of ranked teams. Duke routed No. 3 Maryland, 99-78, on Thursday night for its most lopsided win ever against a top-five team and continued its onslaught against the Demon Deacons (13-5, 3-2).
"Wake is really good," Duke coach Mike Kyzyzewski said. "Wake is an experienced team, a confident team and they can hit you and score from all different positions. We had to really do some tough things at the end to win."
The Blue Devils have won four straight since the loss at Florida State. Kyzyzewski pointed to improved defense.
Elsewhere in the top 10 Saturday, No. 2 Florida fell to No. 23 Georgia, 84-79; No. 4 Kansas fought off No. 5 Oklahoma, 74-67; No. 6 Oklahoma State was clubbed by Texas tech, 94-70; No. 7 Syracuse was beaten by Tennessee, 66-62; and No. 8 Cincinnati prevailed over Louisville, 77-50.
In another highlight contest, No. 18 Arizona staged a big rally to defeat No. 11 UCLA, 96-86.
Jordan wins in return
CHICAGO, Jan. 20 (UPI) -- Michael Jordan, returning to the city where he is an icon, scored 16 points Saturday as the Washington Wizards matched their win total for all of last season (19) in a lethargic 77-69 victory over the Chicago Bulls.
Jordan's No. 23 jersey hangs from the rafters of the United Center and outside is a large statue of perhaps the greatest player in NBA history, who led the Bulls to six NBA titles in the 1990s.
With that as a backdrop, Jordan made his first appearance at the United Center since Game Five of the 1998 NBA Finals and received a three-minute standing ovation during pregame introductions.
It would have been much longer had the lights not been dimmed before the Bulls' players were announced, a move that drew boos from the sellout crowd of 23,534.
Jordan was far from spectacular, making seven of 21 shots from the floor and committing a season-high nine turnovers. He also had 12 rebounds, four assists and two steals, enough to help the Wizards (19-18) snap a four-game losing streak.
Other NBA results: Los Angeles Lakers 98, San Antonio 81; Milwaukee 116, Atlanta 107; Philadelphia 93, New York 89; Detroit 94, Boston 91; Toronto 91, Chiarlotte 89; New Jersey 99, Houston 90; Miami 100, Indiana 88; Orlando 119, Memphis 103; Dallas 106, Utah 103; Seattle 104, Denver 77; Portland 113, Los Angeles Clippers 93; Minnesota 105, Golden State 102.
Kings finally surrender power-play goal
LOS ANGELES, Jan. 20 (UPI) -- The New York Islanders became the first team in 12 games to score a power-play goal against the Los Angeles Kings Saturday and completed a successful road trip with a 3-2 victory.
Los Angeles extended its streak to 46 successful penalty kills over 11 games before defenseman Adrian Aucoin scored in the opening minute of the second period to give New York a 2-0 lead.
Kip Miller and Mariusz Czerkawski had the other goals for the Islanders, who started the trip with a 4-0 loss in Montreal but won three of the last four games to strengthen their hold on second place in the Atlantic Division.
Adam Mair and former Islander Ziggy Palffy scored for Los Angeles, which had a three-game winning streak snapped and lost for just the second time in its last nine contests.
Miller was the leading scorer in the American Hockey League before signing with New York on Wednesday. He put the Islanders ahead for good just 62 seconds into the game with his first NHL goal since Jan. 12, 2001.
Other NHL results: Carolina 3, New Jersey 3; Ottawa 4, Minnesota 1; Montreal 5, Tampa Bay 1; Philadelphia 3, Toronto 0; Vancouver 5, Washington 1; Atlanta 6, Florida 1; St. Louis 2, Boston 1 in overtime; Nashville 2, Columbus 1; Calgary 2, Anaheim 1; Buffalo 3, Phoenix 1; Pittsburgh 1, Edmonton 0; Colorado 3, San Jose 1.
Haas seeks Hope victory
LAQUINTA, Calif., Jan. 20 (UPI) -- Closer to the Senior Tour than his prime, Jay Haas shot a 9-under-par 63 Saturday to take a one-stroke lead over Kenny Perry and Cameron Beckman after the fourth round of the Bob Hope Classic.
The 48-year-old Haas holed out from the fairway for an eagle at No. 1 and added eight birdies around a late bogey at Indian Wells Country Club to reach 26-under 262.
Haas won here in 1988, but claimed the last of his nine PGA Tour titles in 1993. He leads active PGA Tour players with 703 starts -- over 100 more than his closest peer -- and will be eligible for the Senior Tour in 2004.
Perry, 41, blitzed the host PGA West course, matching the lowest round of his career with a 62 while extending his bogey-free stretch to 54 holes.
The Kentucky native will return to PGA West today and aim for his second win in nine starts following a six-year drought that began after his win at this event in 1995.
On the Senior Tour, Tom Kite opened his lead to five shots at the MasterCard Championship.
Americans win in Gold Cup
PASADENA, Calif., Jan. 20 (UPI) -- DaMarcus Beasley scored in injury time Saturday to give the United States a 2-1 triumph over South Korea in the first round of the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Beasley notched the goal in the third and final minute of injury time. Landon Donovan and Jeff Cuningham combined to spring him free, setting up a point-blank shot.
The Americans recorded just their second victory in six meetings with the Koreans, who will face the United States again in June in the first round of the 2002 World Cup.
The Americans will play Cuba on Monday and need only a tie to ensure a spot in the quarterfinals. South Korea downed the United States, 1-0, in an international friendly in December.
Saturday's effort, however, was a largely unimpressive performance from the United States. That was not unexpected since many of the country's best players were not in the lineup.
Mexico won the day's other game, 1-0 over El Salvador.
Helling goes to Diamondbacks
PHOENIX, Jan. 20 (UPI) -- Unable to land David Wells, the World Series champion Arizona Diamondbacks tried to deepen their rotation Saturday by signing durable Rick Helling to a one-year contract.
Financial terms were not disclosed. The deal also includes a mutual option for a second season.
Helling, 31, has spent the bulk of his career with the Texas Rangers. Last season, he was 12-11 with a 5.17 ERA in 215 2/3 innings over 34 starts, his fourth straight year of at least 215 innings and 33 starts.
Hall of Fame coach Alex Hannum dies
PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 20 (UPI) -- Hall of Famer Alex Hannum, the first to coach two different teams to an NBA championship, died Friday, officials of the Philadelphia 76ers announced Saturday. He was 78.
The 76ers said Hannum died in San Diego, but gave no other details. Hannum guided the 76ers to a record 68 wins and the NBA title in the 1966-67 season.
Prior to Saturday night's game against the New York Knicks, a moment of silence was held for Hannum, the only other coach to win a title during the Boston Celtics' run of 11 championships in 13 years from 1957-69.