The Associated Press
Playoff ratings are soaring, the messy concussion lawsuit is all but over, and the only thing the NFL really has to worry about now is keeping a bunch of corporate bigwigs warm at the Super Bowl.
MIAMI (AP) - The first airborne banner calling for Jeff Ireland to be fired flew over the Miami Dolphins' stadium in 2011. Other similar signs followed, most recently in November, and on Tuesday those wanting him out finally got their wish.
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) - Tom Brady head-butted teammates before his first Super Bowl.
METAIRIE, La. (AP) - Ever since getting pounded by the Seahawks early last month, the New Orleans Saints have learned to love the idea of going back to Seattle.
RENTON, Wash. (AP) - As the newest starter in the Seattle Seahawks secondary, cornerback Byron Maxwell had plenty of time earlier in his career to be an observer.
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Growing up, Andrew Luck kept trying to emulate the quarterbacks he watched on Sunday afternoons, guys like Peyton Manning and Phillip Rivers.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - The Memphis Grizzlies have acquired guard Courtney Lee and have sent guard Jerryd Bayless to the Boston Celtics as part of a three-team trade that also includes the Oklahoma City Thunder.
SANTA CLARA (AP) - Bring on Carolina once more, and another cross-country playoff flight.
RENTON, Wash. (AP) - Before Pete Carroll turns his full attention to Seattle's playoff opponent, he'll make sure the Seahawks aren't expecting another easy win against New Orleans like in Week 13.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Panthers coach Ron Rivera is expecting a few more big plays from San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick this time around.
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) - A defense that allowed 44 points in a playoff game might boost the confidence of its next opponent.
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - The Colts are getting some help from a former Patriot.
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) - Forget the Ravens.
Say these things for Dennis Rodman: He likes going to North Korea, and likes bringing a bit of a side show with him.
SAN JOSE (AP) - Antoine Vermette was tired during overtime. When the Arizona Coyotes had to kill a penalty, too, even more drama was added.
ALAMEDA (AP) - Tony Sparano gathered the Oakland Raiders in a victorious locker room and praised them for sticking together through a 16-game losing streak.
MACAU (AP) - Boxing is a hurt business, as Manny Pacquiao found out when he ended up face down on the canvas after being knocked out just three fights ago by Juan Manuel Marquez.
SANTA CLARA (AP) - Before DeSean Jackson signed with Washington this past April, the seventh-year wide receiver seriously considered first taking a formal visit to the San Francisco 49ers.
SACRAMENTO (AP) - DeMarcus Cousins had 22 points and 14 rebounds and Rudy Gay scored 20 points to help the Sacramento Kings beat Chicago 103-88 Thursday night, snapping the Bulls' six-game road winning streak.
SAN JOSE (AP) - Nick Bjugstad scored twice during regulation and added the winning goal in the shootout as the Florida Panthers won their fourth straight in San Jose, beating the Sharks 3-2 on Thursday night.
SANTA CLARA (AP) - Dropping passes is so out of character for Anquan Boldin that he and offensive coordinator Greg Roman shared a little laugh about it last week after a few balls went through Boldin's hands in New Orleans.
SAN DIEGO - Dwayne Polee II was the game's only player in double figures with 13 points and No. 16 San Diego State survived another awful shooting performance to win 51-27 Thursday night against Cal State Bakersfield, which missed its first 20 shots.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) - Jake Waters' special night has No. 12 Kansas State back in a first-place tie in the Big 12.
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Giants assistant general manager Bobby Evans says he has been given "every indication" Pablo Sandoval will give careful consideration to re-signing with the World Series champions.
OAKLAND (AP) - Rookie Derek Carr gave the Oakland Raiders something to celebrate for a change.
BERKELEY (AP) - It's hard to go anywhere near California's campus and not see Jared Goff these days.
STOCKTON (AP) Eric Thompson had a perfect shooting night, scoring 19 points and leading Pacific to a comfortable 81-56 win over NAIA opponent Pacific Union on Thursday night.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Praising the transition as quick and orderly, Bud Selig announced Thursday that baseball owners unanimously approved a five-year term for Rob Manfred, who will succeed the longtime commissioner early next year.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Jimmie Johnson believes NASCAR's new championship format produced the correct champion and a Ryan Newman victory would have been "tough to swallow for the sport."