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Texas A&M puts exclamation mark on 1st SEC season

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Texas A&M puts exclamation mark on 1st SEC season

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) For everybody who wondered how Texas A&M would do in the SEC, Johnny Football and the Aggies had an emphatic answer.

Led by their Heisman Trophy-winning freshman quarterback, the 10th-ranked Aggies won 11 games, and never even trailed while winning the last six. They capped their SEC debut season with a 41-13 Cotton Bowl victory over No. 12 Oklahoma, a former Big 12 rival that had dominated them so often.

``It's momentum for everything. It's momentum for next year and all the people that are returning,'' Johnny Manziel said. ``We went to the Cotton Bowl this year. A BCS bowl and national championship is the goal next year.

``For people to see what we're in the SEC and what we did this year and with the people that we have coming back it's a big exclamation point,'' he said.

Four weeks after becoming the first freshman to win college football's highest individual award, Manziel was finally back on the field. He responded with a Heisman-worthy performance.

Manziel accounted for four touchdowns and had a Cotton Bowl-record 516 total yards, including an FBS bowl record for quarterbacks with his 229 yards rushing on 17 carries. The redshirt freshman who wasn't named the Aggies starter until two weeks before the season opener finished with 5,116 total yards, the most for a Heisman winner and the first SEC player over 5,000.

The Aggies (11-2), barely a .500 team in their final Big 12 season, were the first SEC team to gain more than 7,000 yards.

Their only losses were by a combined eight points to Florida and LSU, current Top 10 teams. The season-ending winning streak included a win at SEC champion Alabama, which plays Monday night for the league's seventh consecutive national title.

``We never doubted ourselves. Everybody acts like I didn't know what we were getting into when I took the job. We were already in the SEC,'' first year Aggies coach Kevin Sumlin said. ``We weren't coming in the league just trying to play games.''

Texas A&M had lost in its previous six Cotton Bowl appearances, and was 0-4 at Cowboys Stadium.

``I think with the exposure that we've had, answering some questions about being able to not only compete, but win against the co-champion of the Big 12, for us to come out and play the way we did, you've got to figure out what kind of statement that makes,'' Sumlin said.

Oklahoma (10-3) had won 11 of the previous 13 games in the series, including a 77-0 victory in 2003 that is the worst loss in Aggies history.

It is only the Aggies' fourth 11-win season, and the first since 1998 when they won their only Big 12 title. That was the only time in their 16 Big 12 seasons that they won more than nine games and they left that league with a 7-6 record only after beating Northwestern in a bowl game.

``It's been a rough and long ride, but we ended it with a success,'' senior cornerback Dustin Harris said.

The Aggies have scored first in 18 consecutive games, and went ahead to stay in the Cotton Bowl when Manziel tiptoed the sideline on a 23-yard touchdown run to end the game's opening drive. He had already had a 24-yard run.

His other TD run was a 5-yard bootleg when he got into the end zone untouched, two plays after his impressive fake throw before a pitch to a receiver who then threw a 20-yard pass.

Among the other highlights for Manziel was a 44-yard run when he started left, then reversed and ran parallel to the line of scrimmage before finding a seam and not getting tackled until the Oklahoma 11.

Manziel completed 22 of 34 passes for 287 yards with two touchdowns, one a short pass to Ryan Swope on fourth-and-5 that became a 33-yard score and the other hitting Uzoma Nwachukwu in stride for a 34-yard pass.

There was an interception, but that pass deflected off the hands of receiver Malcome Kennedy and was picked off in the end zone.

Texas A&M had 633 total yards in the Cotton Bowl even without offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury, who was hired last month as Texas Tech's new coach.

And there was obviously no Heisman hangover for Manziel, the 20-year-old who did plenty in the aftermath of winning the award. He made late-night show appearances with David Letterman and Jay Leno, played golf with members of the Jonas Brothers and was seen in a suite at a Dallas Cowboys game and sitting courtside at a Dallas Mavericks game.

```They weren't distractions. People tried to make it out to be `He's doing all these things; he's going to games; he's going everywhere.' I just did the same thing before and people just didn't care,'' Manziel said. ``My teammates never changed on me. I never changed on them. It was never any different after I won the Heisman, and it never will be.''

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Did you know Bill Belichick has deep ties to Navy football?

Did you know Bill Belichick has deep ties to Navy football?

Sports Uncovered is a six-part weekly podcast series that explores the stories that took the national sports world by storm. The newest episode, The Bill Belichick You Don't Know, explores the lesser-known side of the New England Patriots head coach.

On the outside, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick seems pretty easy to read. A man of few words -- at least to the media -- Belichick has made it clear that he has two things he cares about above all else: football and winning.

However, there is another side to the six-time Super Bowl-winning head coach that most may not be aware of. On the latest Sports Uncovered podcast by NBC Sports, 'The Bill Belichick You Don’t Know’ takes a look at some lesser-known stories, facts and passions that Belichick has.

Among them all, one thing many may not know about the Patriots head coach is that he has deep ties -- and a strong love -- for Navy football. Yes, despite his longtime rivalry with the Baltimore Ravens, Belichick does indeed have a soft spot for some football in the state of Maryland.

Belichick's connection to the Naval Academy football team stems from his father's history of coaching at the program. Steve Belichick, who passed away in 2005, spent 30 years as an assistant coach while also teaching classes at Navy.

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During that time, Bill Belichick became embedded in his father's world of football. Spending time so close to the team, he carried a close personal connection to the team and school. Being the football genius that he is, the head coach can still recall specific moments, players and uniforms from games that took place over 40 years ago.

Though Belichick now resides in New England, his relationship with Navy Football is as strong as ever. As NBC Sports' Peter King showed in 2019, Belichick and his father's legacy will remain in Annapolis forever as the school has a special archive named the "Belichick Collection."

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There, football books dating back 100 years can be found, and read. For a family dedicated to football, it's the perfect touch.

For as long as he is the head coach of the Patriots -- and even after -- Belichick may not be the most popular person in the state of Maryland. However, his lesser-known side shows that he does have at least one positive connection to football in the state. 

To never miss an episode, subscribe to Sports Uncovered and get every episode automatically downloaded to your phone. Sports Uncovered is also available on the MyTeams app, as well as on every major podcasting platform: AppleGoogle PodcastiHeartStitcherSpotify, and TuneIn

Stay connected with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

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The most memorable moments between Bill Belichick and the Ravens organization

The most memorable moments between Bill Belichick and the Ravens organization

Sports Uncovered is a six-part weekly podcast series that explores the stories that took the national sports world by storm. The newest episode, The Bill Belichick You Don't Know, explores the lesser-known side of the New England Patriots head coach.

Bill Belichick and the Ravens have been attached at the hip for longer, and more deeply, than people might assume. 

Perhaps the NFL’s best coach of all time, Belichick has had a great impact on Baltimore football, even when he’s not been actively on the team’s staff. 

He was an assistant coach for the Baltimore Colts and coach Ted Marchibroda in 1975, his first ever coaching job in the NFL. After a few stints as an assistant coach, he moved on to the Giants where he led one of the most successful defensive teams in NFL history to two Super Bowls. 

There’s no shortage of memorable moments between the famed coach and the Ravens, and here are a few that stand out: 

The 1996 NFL Draft

Belichick was the head coach for the Cleveland Browns from 1991-1995 before the Browns’ move to Baltimore. Even with Art Modell’s assurances that he’d be the head coach in Baltimore too, where Belichick started his career, he was fired in early 1996. 

But while the Ravens’ first draft in the NFL was one of the best drafts of any team in NFL history, it couldn’t have happened without Belichick. 

He made a trade in the 1995 season, still as the coach of the Browns, with the 49ers that gave the Ravens two first round picks in 1996. The Ravens’ first pick ever, their own pick, went to the selection of Jonathan Ogden at fourth overall. 

Later in the first round, with the pick Belichick had traded for, the Ravens selected linebacker Ray Lewis. 

 

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Ed Reed

Belichick perhaps had no greater admiration for a Ravens player than Ed Reed. That manifested itself on one play against the Colts. 

Reed had studied Peyton Manning’s tendencies and found out that a pump fake indicated where Manning wanted to throw the football. He intercepted a would-be touchdown in that week’s game. 

Reed’s play still sticks out in his mind.

“Best play I’ve ever seen a free safety make,” Belichick said.

Tom Brady was understandably worried about Reed in his career, and both he and Belichick have marveled at Reed’s ability for years. 

Brady once had “Find 20 on Every Play” written on his quarterback armband.

2007 Ravens/Patriots

The Ravens nearly ended the perfection of Belichick’s best team of all time. 

On Monday Night Football late in the 2007 season, Belichick took his unbeaten Patriots to M&T Bank Stadium to face the Ravens. There, one of the wildest finishes in the storied rivalry took place. 

The Ravens thought they had the Patriots stopped on 4th down on three separate occasions as the Patriots drove for the game-winning touchdown, but each time had to replay the down. 

Belichick’s Patriots escaped with the win as the end of the Brian Billick era in Baltimore was set in motion, which led to John Harbaugh’s hiring as coach.

2012 Justin Tucker winner

In one of the least proud moments of the rivalry, the Ravens knocked off the Patriots 31-30 on a last-second field goal by Justin Tucker early in the 2012 season. 

Late in the game, Harbaugh was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct after coming onto the field, while yelling, “I was trying to call timeout!” That led to a “manure” chant by Ravens fans that Al Michaels noted on the NBC broadcast. 

The Ravens got the ball back and marched into Patriots territory, where Tucker’s game-winning kick sailed seemingly directly over top of the right upright. As Vince Wilfork ran screaming toward the officials, Belichick ran off the field and tried to grab the arm of an official who was running off the field.

At the time, the NFL’s referees were in the midst of a lockout and replacement referees were the biggest story of the season.

“Deflategate”

The Ravens, at least publicly, denied any involvement in their role in the “Deflategate” controversy. But according to documents released in August of 2015, the Ravens were the ones who let the Colts know about deflated footballs. 

After a 35-31 loss in the divisional round, Ravens special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg called Chuck Pagano, then the coach of the Colts, to warn him about the condition of the footballs in New England.

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2019 Lamar

In what was the future of the rivalry, Lamar Jackson and the Ravens handed the Patriots their first loss of the 2019 season. 

Jackson threw for 163 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 61 yards as the Ravens won 37-20. It was the Ravens’ most notable win of the season to that point and the win that propelled them to a 14-2 finish.

And, as it turns out, it was Belichick’s last game against the Ravens with Brady at the helm and the turning of the page in the rivalry to the next chapter.

To never miss an episode, subscribe to Sports Uncovered and get every episode automatically downloaded to your phone. Sports Uncovered is also available on the MyTeams app, as well as on every major podcasting platform: AppleGoogle PodcastiHeartStitcherSpotify, and TuneIn

Stay connected with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

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