NFL rankings: A new No. 1 in town


NFL rankings: A new No. 1 in town

After the 49ers' showing in New England, we have a new No. 1 atop the NFL power rankings. In fact, there was a lot of shuffling in the Top 5 this week while the Raiders ended their six-game losing streak and moved out of the bottom 3…

1 (3) 49ers (10-3-1) Colin Kapernick threw 4 TDs against Patriots. Alex Smith has never thrown 4 TDs in a game.
2 (2)  Denver Broncos (11-3) Since opening season 2-3, Broncos have outscored opponents by 12.3 points per game.
3 (5) Atlanta Falcons (12-2) Think Matt Ryan wants home-dome advantage in playoffs? He is 33-4 at home in career.
4 (4) Houston Texans (12-2) Arian Foster has rushed for 100 yards in 46.9 percent of his games, third-best percentage in NFL history, beind Barry Sanders and Jim Brown.
5 (9) Seattle Seahawks (9-5) First since 1950 Giants to drop at least 50 points on consecutive opponents in same season.
6 (6) Green Bay Packers (10-4) Bad omen for postseason? Mason Crsoby has missed field goal in eight straight games.
7 (1) New England Patriots (10-4) Wait, wasn't Bill Belichick a defensive mastermind? Pats' D ranked 27th overall.
8 (7) Indianapolis Colts (9-5) Andrew Luck or RG III? RG III or Andrew Luck?
9 (12) Washington Redskins (8-6) RG III or Andrew Luck? Andrew Luck or RG III?
10 (13) Minnesota Vikings (8-6) Is Adrian Peterson NFL MVP, or "merely" Offensive Player of the Year?
11 (14) Dallas Cowboys (8-6) December struggles? What December struggles? Tony Romo suddenly 3-0 in season's final month.
12 (15) Cincinnati Bengals (8-6) Trying for consecutive playoff appearances for first time since Ken Anderson's mustache was under center in 1981 and 1982.
13 (8) New York Giants (8-6) The 34-0 shellacking ties 1981 Raiders for worst margin of defeat by defending Super Bowl champ.
14 (10) Baltimore Ravens (9-5) Only in NFL would three-game losing streak culminate with clinching of playoff spot.
15 (11) St. Louis Rams (6-7-1) Lambs 0-4 vs. NFC North; Rams 6-3-1 against everyone else.
16 (16) Chicago Bears (8-6) Jat Cutler just 1-7 against the Packers, including playoffs, with the Bears.
17 (17) Pittsburgh Steelers (7-7) Big Ben has thrown for 300 yards three times this season. Steelers are 0-3 in those games.
18 (19) New Orleans Saints (6-8) So either there WAS or there was NOT a bounty run by the Saints, right?
19 (18) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-8) Doug Martin's 1,647 yards from scrimmage second-most in franchise history.
20 (23) Miami Dolphins (6-8) By air -- a 123.2 passer rating -- and by ground -- 52 yards rushing -- Ryan Tannehill sets career highs.
21 (25) Carolina Panthers (5-9) Cam Newton attempting to join Bobby Douglass, Randall Cunningham (four times) and Donovan McNabb as QBs to lead team in rushing.
22 (27) Tennessee Titans (5-9) Blame the schedule-makers for putting this product on national television.
23 (20) New York Jets (6-8) Would be funny were it not so sad…or somesuch.
24 (21) Cleveland Browns (5-9) Trent Richardson's 28 rushing yards only his third-lowest total of season.
25 (23) Buffalo Bills (5-9) Setting pro football back in Canada more than 1994 Las Vegas Posse.
26 (24) San Diego Chargers (5-9) Ryan Mathews breaks left clavicle, to join right clavicle he broke in preseason.
27 (29) Arizona Cardinals (5-9) The Cardinals have now won a game more recently than the Diamondbacks. 
28 (30) Raiders (4-10) And the Raiders have now won a game more recently than the San Francisco Giants.
29 (26) Philadelphia Eagles (4-10) Iggles' pratfall on national TV a clarion call for change in Philly.
30 (28) Detroit Lions (4-10) At least Calvin Johnson continues to play -- his seventh straight 100-yard receiving game ties NFL mark co-held by Michael Irvin and Charlie Hennigan.
31 (32) Jacksonville Jaguars (2-12) Cecil Shorts 75 yards shy of becoming first Jag with 1,000 yards receiving since Jimmy Smith in 2005.
32 (31) Kansas City Chiefs (2-12) As someone tweeted after watching Brady Quinn on Sunday, they would STILL draft JaMarcus Russell over Quinn. Ouch.

Altidore, Dempsey lead US past Costa Rica, into Gold Cup final at Levi's


Altidore, Dempsey lead US past Costa Rica, into Gold Cup final at Levi's


ARLINGTON, Texas — Clint Dempsey fed Jozy Altidore for the go-ahead goal, then scored on a free kick to match Landon Donovan’s American record with his 57th international goal and lead the United States over Costa Rica 2-0 Saturday night and into the CONCACAF Gold Cup championship game.

Playing in his home state of Texas, the 34-year-old Dempsey entered in the 66th minute and made a perfectly timed through pass six minutes later that allowed Altidore to break in alone and beat Patrick Pemberton with a left-footed shot from 10 yards.

Dempsey doubled the lead in the 82nd minute with a 27-yard shot that went around a four-man defensive wall and got past Pemberton on two bounces.

“I saw the keeper cheating a little bit, and it went in,” Dempsey said.

Dempsey has 136 international appearances, trailing only Cobi Jones (164) and Donovan (157) among American players. The assist was his 20th for the national team.

“Coming back from two heart procedures, being able to still play at this level,” Dempsey said in his Texas twang, “living a dream. So I’m happy.”

Trying for their sixth Gold Cup title and first since 2013, the Americans play Mexico or Jamaica in the final on Wednesday at Santa Clara, California.

The U.S. improved to 8-0-5 since Bruce Arena replaced Jurgen Klinsmann in November and returned for a second stint as national team coach. Arena can become the first coach to win three Gold Cup titles following championships in 2002 and 2005.

Tim Howard got his second straight shutout, making key saves on Marco Urena in the 37th and 71st minutes.

After the second save, Dempsey took a pass from Darlington Nagbe in the center circle, made a cut, and took three touches as he sprinted toward goal. Altidore one-timed a shot for his first national team goal since September and ripped off his No. 27 jersey in a wild celebration, earning a yellow card.

Dempsey’s goal sealed the win, putting the U.S. back in the championship after a shocking semifinal loss to Jamaica two years ago. He was playing for the first time in AT&T Stadium, the $1.2 billion home stadium of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys that is about 180 miles from his hometown of Nacogdoches.

“Congratulations, Clint,” Donovan said while working on the Fox telecast of the game. “Feel free to stop now, we’ll share it together.”

After starting in Wednesday’s quarterfinal win over El Salvador, Dempsey moved to a reserve role against the Ticos. While the U.S. inserted five new starters in a roster rotation, Costa Rica went with the same 11 players who started in Wednesday’s win against Panama.

Costa Rica routed the U.S. 4-0 at home in a World Cup qualifier in November, the final game before Klinsmann was fired and Arena was brought back. And up ahead is another matchup, a qualifier on Sept. 1 at Harrison, New Jersey.

Morris, one of the new starters, hit a post just 11 seconds in.

Just before kickoff, El Salvador defender Henry Romero was suspended for his nation’s next six competitive matches and midfielder Darwin Ceren for the next three, those penalties coming three days after Romero bit Altidore and Ceren bit Omar Gonzalez during the quarterfinal. The Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football said the discipline was issued by the Gold Cup disciplinary committee for “anti-sporting behavior.”

A's blow five-run lead, watch Mets walk off with victory

A's blow five-run lead, watch Mets walk off with victory


NEW YORK -- Wilmer Flores hit a solo home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, and the New York Mets rallied from an early five-run deficit to beat the Oakland Athletics 6-5 Saturday night for their fourth consecutive victory.

Pinch-hitter Lucas Duda delivered a tying single with two outs in the eighth off left-hander Daniel CoulombeJay Bruce hit a two-run homer in the sixth to begin New York's comeback, and Jose Reyes tripled twice.

Flores connected on a 96 mph fastball from Simon Castro (0-1), sending a line drive to left field for the second game-ending homer of his career. That sent a frenzied crowd of 39,629 home happy - hours after fans lined up early in the heat outside Citi Field to get their Noah Syndergaard as Thor bobbleheads.

Matt Joyce hit a leadoff home run and Matt Chapman added a prodigious shot for Oakland, which scored four in the first off struggling Mets starter Zack Wheeler.

Sean Manaea took a shutout into the sixth but then wilted after throwing a career-high 115 pitches Sunday in his previous start, a win against Cleveland.

Hansel Robles (6-1) tossed a hitless inning to win for the second straight day.

With Mets second baseman Neil Walker nearing a return from the disabled list, perhaps Monday in San Diego, Asdrubal Cabrera made his first major league start at third and played flawless defense after working out at the position once. Cabrera's only previous appearance at the hot corner came during his rookie season in 2007 with Cleveland. "He's a middle infielder who's going to play third base. Got great hands, great arm. He'll be fine," manager Terry Collins said. Cabrera initially balked at shifting from shortstop to second when he came off the DL about a month ago.

Athletics: Ryon Healy had a pinch-hit single after getting hit near the left temple by a bad-hop grounder Friday night. Healy went through the concussion protocol and was cleared, manager Bob Melvin said. ... Melvin said he would have news after the game regarding RHP Jharel Cotton, on the DL since July 4 with a blister on his right thumb. Cotton threw a bullpen Friday. Oakland needs a starter for Monday night at Toronto. ... INF-OF Chad Pinder (strained left hamstring) homered Friday on his rehab assignment with Triple-A Nashville and could come off the DL when Oakland begins a homestand next weekend. "That's kind of the target area," Melvin said.

Mets: Walker (left hamstring) went 1 for 3 with Triple-A Las Vegas at Memphis in the first game of rehab assignment. The switch-hitter has been on the DL since June 15. ... LHP Josh Smoker threw a scoreless sixth in his first outing since coming off the disabled list Thursday. Smoker had been sidelined since June 14 with a strained left shoulder.

Oakland rookie right-hander Daniel Gossett (1-5, 5.79 ERA) makes his eighth career start in Sunday's series finale against RHP Rafael Montero (1-6, 5.40). Gossett has given up 10 homers in 37 1/3 innings after yielding only four in 60 2/3 innings at Triple-A.