Janikowski, Lechler, Seymour headed to Pro Bowl

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Janikowski, Lechler, Seymour headed to Pro Bowl

Placekicker Sebastian Janikowski, taken with the 17th overall pick in the 2000 draft by the Raiders, has been selected to his first Pro Bowl as rosters were announced by the NFL late Tuesday afternoon. Janikowski joins his holder and teammate, punter Shane Lechler, on the AFC squad, as well as defensive tackle Richard Seymour.Both specialists won the fan vote, which counted for one-third of the selection, for their respective positions.
It is the seventh Pro Bowl selection for both Lechler and Seymour.Janikowski, the Raiders' all-time leading scorer, tied the NFL record for longest field goal when he kicked a 63-yarder at Denver in the season opener on Sept. 12.Known for having the strongest leg in the game, Janikowski has converted 27 of his 31 field-goal attempts thus far, including six of nine from at least 50 yards. Two misses came on kicks from 56 and 59 yards, at home against the New York Jets and at Kansas City, respectively, and he's had two blocked, from 49 yards at Minnesota and 65 yards at home against Detroit. Janikowski missed the Oct. 23 game against Kansas City with a hamstring strain to his left (kicking) leg and was slowed for the next month or so.Lechler, meanwhile, is leading the NFL with a 50.7-yards-per-punt average and had an 80-yard punt at home against Chicago. His 40.9 yards net average is third in the AFC. He was in the same draft class as Janikowski.Seymour, in his 11th season, has six sacks, his most as a member of the Raiders, and blocked two field goals last weekend in Kansas City.The Pro Bowl is scheduled for Jan. 29 at Honolulu's Aloha Stadium, the week before the Super Bowl. Thus, members of teams playing in Super Bowl XLVI will not play in the Pro Bowl.

Also, strong safety Tyvon Branch, defensive tackle Tommy Kelly, running back Darren McFadden and fullback Marcel Reece were all named as alternates.Pittsburgh's Troy Polomalu was the lone strong safety named while Baltimore's Haloti Ngata and New England's Vince Wilfork are the starting interior defensive linemen, with Seymour backing them up. Baltimore's Vonta Leach was the lone fullback whole Baltimore's Ray Rice, Jacksonville's Maurice Jones-Drew and Houston's Arian Foster were the three running backs named.The Pro Bowl is scheduled for Jan. 29 at Honolulu's Aloha Stadium, the week before the Super Bowl. Thus, members of teams playing in Super Bowl XLVI will not play in the Pro Bowl.

Patriots pummel Pittsburgh, return to Super Bowl to face Falcons

Patriots pummel Pittsburgh, return to Super Bowl to face Falcons

BOX SCORE

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The Tom Brady redemption tour is headed to the Super Bowl.

After beginning the 2016 season suspended for four games for his role in the "Deflategate" scandal, the New England quarterback relentlessly carried the Patriots to an unprecedented ninth appearance in the title game, and his seventh. Brady threw for a franchise playoff-best 384 yards and three touchdowns in a 36-17 rout of the helpless Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday in New England's seventh consecutive AFC championship game.

The Patriots are early 3-point favorites heading to face Atlanta in two weeks in Houston, seeking their fifth NFL title with Brady at quarterback and Bill Belichick as coach. Belichick's seventh appearance in a Super Bowl will be a record for a head coach.

Brady was banned by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell when New England (16-2) went 3-1 to open the schedule.

Since his return in Week 5, the only defeat came at home to Seattle, and Brady, 39, had one of the best seasons of a Hall of Fame-caliber career. He punctuated that in dreary weather similar to the 2014 conference title game that precipitated the deflated footballs investigation by flattening Pittsburgh's secondary.

Chris Hogan was his main weapon. The previously unheralded receiver found open spaces everywhere on the field against a leaky secondary. Hogan caught nine balls for 180 yards and two scores.

Top wideout Julian Edelman added eight receptions for 118 yards and a touchdown as Brady tied Joe Montana's playoff record with nine three-TD passing performances. Brady also had his 11th 300-yard postseason game, extending his NFL record, completing 32 of 42 throws.

Pittsburgh (13-6) lost star running back Le'Veon Bell late in the first quarter to a groin injury. It didn't seem to matter much in a record 16th conference title match for the Steelers, who made mistakes in every facet of the game. The franchise that has won the most Super Bowls, six, and the most postseason games, 36, never seemed likely to challenge in the misty rain.

Hogan's second touchdown came on a flea-flicker and he easily beat safety Mike Mitchell to the corner of the end zone. At that point, Hogan had seven catches for 117 yards and the first multi-touchdown game of his four-year career.

His first score made it 10-0 and came after Brady could have taken a nap before throwing, a common occurrence against a nonexistent pass rush. Hogan was all alone in the back of the end zone for the 16-yard score.

Pittsburgh had drawn to 10-6 on DeAngelo Williams' 5-yard run to cap an 84-yard drive. Veteran Williams is a nice security blanket in the backfield, though he's no Bell these days.

Still, he contributed on a 70-yard drive toward the end of the second quarter that appeared to be capped by Jesse James' TD reception. But video review showed James down at the 1, and the Steelers couldn't get into the end zone, Chris Boswell connecting for a 23-yard field goal.

The Steelers never threatened to get back into it.LeGarrette Blount punctuated the romp with a bruising 18-yard run on which he carried nearly the entire Pittsburgh defense with him. He then scored from the 1.

By the end, the crowd was chanting "Where is Roger?" and celebrating yet another Super Bowl trip for the Patriots.

BIG LEG:

Stephen Gostkowski's 31-yard field goal to open the scoring set a franchise record with 27, surpassing Adam Vinatieri's 26. Gostkowski is fourth all-time. He made a 47-yarder in the third quarter, a 26-yarder in the fourth, but he missed an extra point.

Boswell, who set an NFL mark with six field goals in the Steelers' 18-16 win at Kansas City last week, missed an extra point wide left and made a 23-yard kick.

INJURIES:

Steelers: Bell's early departure left him with 20 yards on six carries and no receptions.

Patriots: DB Nate Ebner left with a head injury.

UP NEXT:

After winning the AFC East with the conference's top record, New England defeated the Texans 34-16 and the Steelers to reach the Super Bowl. They will take on Atlanta, which beat Green Bay 44-21 for the NFC crown. Super Bowl 51 will be in Houston on Feb. 5; New England won the 2002 and 2005 Super Bowls after beating Pittsburgh for the AFC championship.

Reports: Former Raiders QB expected to join Cal's coaching staff

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AP

Reports: Former Raiders QB expected to join Cal's coaching staff

It looks as though Marques Tuiasosopo is heading back to the Pac-12, again. The former Rose Bowl MVP and Washington quarterback has reportedly been added to the coaching staff at Cal under new head coach Justin Wilcox.

The news was first reported by Bruin Sports Online and later followed up by Bruce Feldman of FOX Sports, via Twitter.

Tuiasosopo is no stranger to coaching in the Pac-12. After spending 12 seasons in the NFL, Tuiasosopo returned to his alma mater to take on a role as assistant strength coach for the Washington Huskies in 2009.

After two years in that role, he joined the UCLA coaching staff as a graduate assistant in 2011 and took on a role as tight ends coach in 2012 under Jim Mora. The following year, in 2013, Tuiasosopo returned to Washington to be the quarterback coach to work for Steve Sarkisian. 

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