Ravens

Friday's Sports In Brief

Friday's Sports In Brief

TENNIS

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Andy Murray finally beat Roger Federer at a Grand Slam.

The U.S. Open champion defeated 17-time major winner Federer 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-7 (2), 6-2 in the semifinals of the Australian Open, calling it a massive confidence boost as he attempts to win his second consecutive major.

Murray, who missed his chance to serve out the match at 6-5 in the fourth set, will play defending champion and top-seeded Novak Djokovic in Sunday's final. Djokovic, who lost to Murray in the U.S. Open final last September, cruised past David Ferrer in straight sets in just under 90 minutes - 2 1/2 hours less than Murray's semifinal.

While Murray came into the match against Federer with a 10-9 career advantage, he had never beaten the Swiss star in their three previous meetings at a major - the finals of the 2008 U.S. Open, 2010 Australian Open and last year at Wimbledon.

LANCE ARMSTRONG

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Lance Armstrong's lawyers say the cyclist will talk more about drug use in the sport, just likely not to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency that led the effort to strip him of his Tour de France titles.

In a testy exchange of letters and statements revealing the gulf between the two sides, USADA urged Armstrong to testify under oath to help ``clean up cycling.''

Armstrong's attorneys responded that the cyclist would rather take his information where it could do more good - namely to cycling's governing body and World Anti-Doping Agency officials.

USADA's response to that: ``The time for excuses is over.''

LONDON (AP) - Cyclists will be offered a chance to confess to past doping offenses without fear of retribution in an attempt to uncover the full scale of the Lance Armstrong scandal and drug use in the sport.

The UCI agreed to introduce a ``truth and reconciliation'' commission with the World Anti-Doping Agency, cutting out the independent panel established to investigate the governing body's links to Armstrong.

UCI President Pat McQuaid said he wants to ensure cycling has ``drawn a line in the sand finally - and for the last time'' on doping scandals that have tarnished the credibility of the sport.

Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned for life from Olympic sports following a report by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency that portrayed him as a longtime user of performance-enhancing drugs. After years of denials, Armstrong admitted to doping in an interview last week with Oprah Winfrey.

GOLF

SAN DIEGO (AP) - Tiger Woods made it look easy on a dreary day at Torrey Pines and wound up in a place he hasn't been in five years.

He had the 36-hole lead by himself at one of his favorite PGA Tour stops - the Farmers Insurance Open.

Woods didn't miss a shot during a four-hole stretch around the turn on the North Course that included a 5-iron to 5 feet for eagle and a wedge that one-hopped off the pin to set up birdie. It carried him to a 7-under 65 in the second round for an 11-under 133 total and a two-shot lead over Billy Horschel.

Horschel, who had to go back to Q-school to get his card last year, had a 69 on the South Course.

Brad Fritsch, a rookie from Canada, had a 67 on the South Course to lead the group of six players at 8-under 136. The others were Casey Wittenberg, Steve Marino, Jimmy Walker, Josh Teater and Erik Compton.

DOHA, Qatar (AP) - England's Chris Wood shot an 8-under 64 to take a three-stroke lead over New Zealand's Michael Campbell and two others after the third round of the Qatar Masters.

Wood had a 15-under 201 total. Campbell had a 68 to match England's Simon Khan (64) and Sweden's Alexander Noren (66) at 12 under. Spain's Sergio Garcia (70) and South Africa's Branden Grace (67) were 11 under.

FOOTBALL

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Criminal charges won't be filed against 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree after an alleged sexual assault in a hotel after the team's playoff victory over the Green Bay Packers.

After examining information submitted by police, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon said his office determined that no charges would be filed ``at this time.''

Crabtree's attorney, Joshua Bentley, didn't immediately return a call seeking comment.

San Francisco police said Crabtree was never detained or arrested in the matter, and that he cooperated fully with their investigation.

The 49ers are preparing to meet the Baltimore Ravens in the Super Bowl on Feb. 3 in New Orleans.

BASEBALL

NEW YORK (AP) - Yankees general manager Brian Cashman says it's possible third baseman Alex Rodriguez could miss the entire season while recovering from hip surgery.

Cashman says ``there's no guarantees in this stuff'' that Rodriguez will be able to play this year.

The 37-year-old Rodriguez had surgery on his left hip last week. The team said the rehabilitation time was expected to be six months, which would sideline the star slugger until the All-Star break.

GYMNASTICS

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - A solid effort by Jeremy Abbott looked downright spectacular after the splatfest the rest of the U.S. men put on.

With just about everyone else stumbling, bumbling or worse, Abbott's clean but conservative short program was more than enough to give him the lead at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships. The three-time champion finished with 84.10 points, three points ahead of Ross Miner. Joshua Farris, the silver medalist at last year's junior world championships, was third. The free skate is Sunday.

Out of the 20 men, only four managed to get through their program without a major error.

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Ravens fans celebrate new energy injected by Lamar Jackson-run offense

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USA Today Sports

Ravens fans celebrate new energy injected by Lamar Jackson-run offense

Lamar Jackson is the most popular man in Baltimore. 

In his second season with the Ravens, it’s impossible to *not* see his name everywhere you look. His number eight jersey is quickly becoming as synonymous with the Ravens as Cal Ripken Jr.’s was with the Orioles.

Jackson has taken the NFL by storm in 2019, forcing himself into the MVP debate.

Longtime fan Rick Gibson said the Jackson era has a different feel than the previous Joe Flacco-led team.

“It’s fun coming to games,” he said before Sunday's matchup against the Texans. "A lot better than it has been in the past, so it’s more exciting.”

With the flip of a switch -- or rather, the draft pick of a quarterback -- fan enthusiasm is all of a sudden at an all-time high.

And it starts (and ends) with number eight.

“It’s incredible,” said Ravens fan Jonathan Greene. “Most excited for a Ravens team, and I’ve been a fan for years. It’s awesome. He has elevated this team.”

The words fans use to describe Jackson’s game are all similar. Phenomenal. Awesome. Incredible. Spectacular. Magic.

Jackson’s stats this season speak for themselves: 2,036 passing yards and 15 touchdowns against just five interceptions. A 65.9 completion percentage. 702 rushing yards -- 11th-most in the NFL -- and six touchdowns. And of course, a 7-2 record.

Even those who would discount Jackson’s performance as beating up on weak competition are forced to recognize his brilliance. Against the winless Bengals, for example, Next Gen Stats estimated an average quarterback should have a completion percentage of 57.7%, based on how covered his receivers were, how much pressure he was under, and more. 

His actual percentage? 88.2%, or 30.5% higher than what was expected. It was the best difference for *any* quarterback in *any* game in 2019.

Fans are excited for the future as well. Not just for the Ravens but for young football fans across the city.

“He’s only 22 years old,” another fan, John Ford, said. “I think he appeals to the younger generation coming up through the high school and college ranks, because they can relate to him...I think he’s a role model for a lot of young kids coming up. And you watch him on the sidelines, he does some great things, but he takes it in stride. So he’s not celebrating too much, he knows what he’s got to do. That’s a unique thing for a young man, only 22 years old, at this level.”

The near future looks more daunting than in the long term. The Ravens enter Week 11 on a five-game winning streak, hoping to win six straight for the first time since 2000. 

They are beginning a tough slate of four straight against playoff contenders, but with Jackson leading an unstoppable offense, three or four wins doesn’t seem far-fetched. Regardless of what happens, Jackson has emphatically won over the city of Baltimore and the NFL writ large.

One longtime Ravens fan, Stan Nasiatka, put it best when asked about Jackson.

“That’s all we’re talking about," he said. "It’s everywhere.”

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Mr. Consistency Justin Tucker misses first field goal of the season

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Mr. Consistency Justin Tucker misses first field goal of the season

Justin Tucker is the best kicker in the NFL. That much hasn’t changed.

But something different happened on Sunday against the Texans: Tucker’s attempt on the Ravens’ first drive of the game -- from 43 yards out -- bounced off the right upright.

The miss snapped a streak of 22 consecutive made field goals for Tucker, who is the NFL’s all-time leader in field goal percentage. He is the only kicker in NFL history to convert more than 90% of his field goal attempts.

While it's shocking, this wasn't Tucker's first miss this season. He missed an extra point two weeks ago against New England.

It’s too soon to be concerned about Tucker going forward. For now, just pick your jaws up off the floor and go back to feeling confident in the Ravens’ most consistent player the next time he jogs out onto the field.

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