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Cowboys score 33 points in 4th quarter, rout Colts 54-19

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ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Dallas safety Malik Hooker had no idea what he was starting with a fumble return for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter against his former team.

The 38-yard TD return was part of a 33-point fourth quarter that turned a close game into the Cowboys’ 54-19 rout of the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday night.

It was just the third time in NFL history a team has scored at least that many in the fourth. And it was a little bit personal for Hooker, who also had one of three interceptions of Matt Ryan.

Hooker was drafted 15th overall by the Colts in 2017, but didn’t get a second contract after four injury-plagued seasons. He signed with Dallas during training camp last year.

“It was definitely some extra motivation,” Hooker said. “Sorry how it ended and everything, but I just wanted to come out here and prove that I’m still the player I was drafted to be and I feel like I showed that tonight.”

Dallas led 21-19 entering the fourth when Dak Prescott threw the last of his three touchdown passes. Hooker’s scoop-and-score was the first of four fourth-quarter takeaways by Dallas, all of which led to touchdowns.

Ryan threw his second and third interceptions and lost a fumble during the nightmare finish for the Colts (4-8-1), who fell to 1-3 under interim coach Jeff Saturday and lost for the sixth time in seven games.

Ryan, who threw two touchdown passes, has 18 giveaways this season (13 interceptions, five lost fumbles) to lead the NFL by three over Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen.

“It was tough there at the end,” said Ryan, who was re-inserted as the starter by Saturday when Indy’s former All-Pro center took over as coach. “When you turn the ball over like we did in the fourth … credit to them.”

Michael Gallup had two touchdown catches and CeeDee Lamb the other when he rolled over safety Rodney McLeod Jr. and stayed on his feet as the Cowboys remained two games behind NFL-leading Philadelphia in the NFC East.

After Gallup’s second TD, Hooker scooped up a fumble from tight end Mo Alie-Cox and took off untouched down the right sideline for a 34-19 lead early in the fourth.

Rookie cornerback DaRon Bland was next, intercepting Ryan on consecutive possessions to set up pile-it-on touchdown runs from Tony Pollard, a 30-yarder, and Ezekiel Elliott.

Ryan’s fumble was forced by Osa Odighizuwa, and rookie Sam Williams’ TD return on the recovery was overturned on review. Rookie Malik Davis’ first career TD on a 23-yarder came three plays later.

“That’s the football Gods. That’s what they say,” Hooker said of the bevy of turnovers. Honestly, though, those guys are just after it up front. You watch the game from beginning to end, those guys are dominating up front. They were creating a lot of those takeaways.”

BENCHED ELLIOTT

Owner Jerry Jones said Elliott didn’t start for the first time in 98 career regular-season games because of some “discipline issues” with the coaching staff.

The two-time rushing champ entered the game in the middle of the second series. He finished with 77 yards on 17 carries. Pollard had 91 yards on 12 carries.

“I think there was a little issue he had with his coach, some discipline issues that were being tardy for a meeting or a phone going off,” Jones said. “But I won’t get into that, but I’m not giving out that punishment. I’d be a lot more lenient than that.”

RECRUITING TIME

Gallup and Lamb scored the first three Dallas touchdowns and combined for nine catches for 94 yards on the eve of free agent receiver Odell Beckham Jr.’s Dallas visit.

Beckham has already visited the New York Giants, his first team, and Buffalo. He has been rehabbing an ACL tear from the Super Bowl in February when he won the title with the Los Angeles Rams.

PASSING HIS FAVORITE COWBOY

Prescott’s first-quarter TD toss to Lamb gave him 154 career scoring passes, breaking a tie with Pro Football Hall of Famer Roger Staubach for fourth in club history.

Made aware of the possibility during the week, Prescott said Staubach was his favorite Dallas player. He grew up a Cowboys fan in Louisiana, but well after Staubach’s time.

“There’s certain people that you meet and their energy and just their aura, the way that they carry themselves, is glowing in a sense and that’s who Roger is,” said Prescott, who also moved past Danny White (155) for third, finishing the night at 156 TD passes.

INJURIES

Colts: CB Kenny Moore II was inactive after injuring an ankle in a 24-17 loss to Pittsburgh last Monday night.

Cowboys: CB Anthony Brown left the game in the third quarter with an ankle injury and didn’t return.

UP NEXT

Colts: After a bye, Indy visits another NFC playoff contender in Minnesota on Dec. 18.

Cowboys: Houston visits next Sunday in the second of three consecutive games against sub-.500 AFC South teams.

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AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

Source: https://apnews.com/article/dallas-cowboys-indianapolis-colts-nfl-sports-74070c4f7190645729ca74a4aba653c2

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Tokyo Olympic official, 3 others held in bid-rigging probe

TOKYO (AP) — A senior official with the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee and three company executives were arrested Wednesday in an ongoing bid-rigging scandal related to the Games.

Yasuo Mori, the Olympic official, was arrested along with Koji Henmi, who headed the sports division at Japanese advertising giant Dentsu. Two other business executives were also arrested on charges of violating anti-monopoly laws, the Tokyo District Prosecutors said in a statement.

Prosecutors have also been investigating a separate bribery scandal centered around former Dentsu executive Haruyuki Takahashi, who was a member of the organizing committee.

The bid-rigging probe in general involves the choice of venues for Olympic test events as well as for the actual Games. It is a joint operation of the Japan Fair Trade Commission, which looks at violations of anti-monopoly laws.

Prosecutors said the officials secretly agreed on the bids in 2018.

Some of the contracts had only one bidder, according to Japanese media reports. Prosecutors say the bid-rigging scandal arrests have just begun and could embroil more companies.

Upon conviction of violation of anti-monopoly laws, individuals can be sentenced to up to five years in prison.

The sprawling corruption allegations surrounding Tokyo have caused the bid by the northern Japanese city of Sapporo for the 2030 Winter Games to be placed “on hold.” Sapporo was considered the favorite before the scandal.

Salt Lake City is the only other known bidder that might consider taking 2030. Salt Lake officials have said they favor a bid for 2034.

The Tokyo Games were postponed for a year and held in 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The official price tag is $13 billion, though a government audit suggests it might be twice that much.

Takahashi and officials at several other companies were earlier arrested in the bribery scandal. Plans for those trials are beginning. Takahashi was released on bail after being held for several months.

Among the companies embroiled in the scandal involving Takahashi are Aoki Holdings, a clothing company that dressed Japan’s Olympic team; Sun Arrow, which produced the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic mascots named Miraitowa and Someity; and Kadokawa Group, the publisher of the Games program and guidebooks.

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Yuri Kageyama is on Twitter https://twitter.com/yurikageyama

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More AP sports: https://apnews.com/hub/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Jessica Pegula reveals her mother Kim Pegula’s health crisis

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Pro tennis player Jessica Pegula has revealed that her mother, Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres co-owner and president Kim Pegula, went into cardiac arrest in June and is still recovering while dealing with significant language and memory issues.

In an essay that The Players’ Tribune published Tuesday, Jessica Pegula detailed for the first time the medical crisis that abruptly removed her mother from the public eye and suggested that her mother may not resume the same level of involvement in the family’s sports franchises.

Kim Pegula, she wrote, went into cardiac arrest while sleeping and received lifesaving CPR from another daughter until paramedics arrived and restored her heartbeat. The family previously said only that Kim Pegula was receiving medical care for “some unexpected health issues” that arose shortly after she celebrated her 53rd birthday.

“My mom is working hard in her recovery, she is improving, but where she ends up is still unknown,” Jessica Pegula, 28, wrote.

She said she decided to write about her mother’s ordeal after Bills player Damar Hamlin went into cardiac arrest on the field during a Jan. 2 game in Cincinnati in what Pegula described as “some bizarre, messed-up, full circle moment.”

“My stomach sunk because it felt like the exact same thing all over again. I was sitting on the bench for a tennis event in Sydney, Australia. I wanted to throw up,” wrote Jessica Pegula, who is No. 4 in the WTA’s singles rankings. “I was supposed to go on for mixed doubles in 15 minutes and I remember telling one of my teammates, `I am a little freaked out right now, this is too close to home, and I feel like I am going to have a panic attack.’”

As Hamlin began his recovery, Jessica Pegula joined in an outpouring of support from fans and the NFL and wore a white screen-printed patch with Hamlin’s uniform number while playing at the Australian Open. “It didn’t feel like it was just for him, it felt like it was for my mom as well,” she said.

Jessica Pegula had been home in Florida months earlier when she got a call from her sister, Kelly, around midnight on their mother’s birthday and learned that their mother was being rushed to the hospital.

“My mom was asleep when my dad woke up to her going into cardiac arrest and she was unresponsive for quite a while,” she wrote. Kelly Pegula, who was staying with their parents, performed CPR — just three months after telling her family that she planned to become certified in the procedure for a job.

“I remember her telling us what she was doing in our family group chat,” Jessica Pegula wrote, “and my mom even responded, `Nice Kells! Now if we have a heart attack you can revive us.’”

Today, Kim Pegula “can read, write, and understand pretty well, but she has trouble finding the words to respond,” Jessica Pegula wrote. “It is hard to deal with and it takes a lot of patience to communicate with her, but I thank God every day that we can still communicate with her at all. The doctors continue to be blown away by her recovery, considering where she started, and her determination is the driving force of that.”

As the first woman to serve as president of an NHL and NFL team at the same time, Kim Pegula “lived it and loved it, and it was felt by everyone she met,” Jessica Pegula wrote. “Now we come to the realization that all of that is most likely gone. That she won’t be able to be that person anymore.”

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Mat Ishbia to AP: Suns ‘will be one of best places to work’

Mat Ishbia said his first major project as owner of the Phoenix Suns will be to listen to employees and figure out what problems they’ve faced.

After that, he’ll start fixing.

The tenure of embattled Robert Sarver as owner of the NBA’s Suns and WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury officially ended Tuesday, when Ishbia — the chairman, president and chief executive of United Wholesale Mortgage, plus a member of Michigan State’s NCAA championship team in 2000 — took over. He will be governor, while his brother, Justin Ishbia, will be alternate governor.

Justin Ishbia will be the team’s second-largest shareholder, behind his brother. They acquired more than 50% of the franchise, which includes all of what was Sarver’s stake as well as some holdings of minority partners, and the sale valued the Suns and Mercury at $4 billion.

“I’m going to spend a lot of time listening and learning, then make the adjustments to make this not only one of the best organizations in the NBA but also one of the best places to work,” Mat Ishbia told The Associated Press. “That’s a huge part of my success here in Michigan and it will be a big part of our success now in Phoenix. I don’t have enough information to know what exactly it’s been like, but I will dig in and roll up my sleeves and figure it out over the next three, four, five months-plus.”

The 43-year-old Ishbia was announced as the owner-in-waiting of the Suns on Dec. 20, and the last hurdle before the purchase became official was cleared Monday night when it was revealed that the NBA’s board of governors approved him as the next owner.

The transaction was completed Tuesday. Ishbia will hold a news conference in Phoenix on Wednesday.

Sarver was suspended for one year by the NBA in mid-September after an investigation found he engaged in workplace misconduct that included racist speech and hostile behavior toward employees. About a week after NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced the suspension and $10 million fine — the most allowed by league rule – Sarver said he would start the process of finding a buyer.

Ishbia’s name had been linked to other potential sales of pro sports teams in the past, including the NFL’s Washington Commanders. And the self-described basketball nut jumped quickly to acquire the Suns and Mercury.

“This is what I wanted the whole time,” Ishbia said. “My name got linked to a lot of things. That doesn’t mean it was actually necessarily right. The Phoenix Suns, in my opinion, is one of the elite franchises in one of the elite cities in America. To have a chance to be one of the owners of the Suns and Phoenix Mercury is a dream come true.”

Ishbia’s company, UWM, employs about 7,000 people. It had over $226.5 billion in mortgage originations in 2021, which the company says is a record for wholesale volume.

“We’re all about culture,” Ishbia said. “We’re all about people. We’re all about the word ‘team.’ It’s almost like a match made in heaven — the city, the location, the NBA, my love of basketball. And I can come in, take some of the really good things they’re doing but maybe make some changes from a culture perspective.”

There is one immediate order of business: The NBA trade deadline is Thursday.

The Suns — who went to the NBA Finals in 2021, losing a 2-0 lead and falling to Milwaukee in six games, had the best regular-season record in the league last season — are in a muddled Western Conference playoff race this season.

Ishbia said he and team president of basketball operations James Jones, who is also the general manager, have talked and will keep talking while Jones gauges the market to see what moves, if any, are right for the Suns.

“We’ve got to make sure we put ourselves in a great position,” Ishbia said. “I think we have an amazing team and I think we’re in a great position right now. Will I be involved? Yes. Are we highly active? Yes. But at the same time, I think we have a championship-contending team without doing anything over the next two days.”

Ishbia played for Tom Izzo at Michigan State, and he got into the 2000 title game against Florida at the end. He knew he was out of bounds when he picked up a loose ball in the final moments, but no referee blew the whistle. Sensing opportunity, Ishbia tried a reverse layup at the buzzer; it missed, but he celebrated anyway.

He senses another opportunity now.

“For me, this is a lifelong dream,” he said.

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AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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