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Archive for January 23rd, 2011

Steelers beat Jets 24-19 for AFC title

PITTSBURGH (AP)—The Pittsburgh Steelers found a fitting way to shut down the New York Jets’ season.

What started with “Hard Knocks,” ended with hard knocks.

For the third time in six seasons, Terrible Towels will twirl at the Super Bowl. The Steelers silenced Rex Ryan’s wild bunch with a fumble return for a touchdown and a goal-line stand in a 24-19 victory for the AFC championship Sunday. They will face Green Bay in Dallas in two weeks.

Look out Big D, here comes another Big D—in black and gold, and with an unmatched history of carrying off the Lombardi Trophy.

You can bet that unit led by James Harrison(notes), which shut down the Jets’ comeback in the fourth quarter, will test Aaron Rodgers(notes). That overwhelming defense set the tone for most of a frigid night at Heinz Field to end the Jets’ stunning postseason run. Ryan slammed down his headset when Antonio Brown(notes), also a hero last week, caught a pass for a first down that allowed Pittsburgh to hang on and run out the clock.

And the Steelers (14-4) will challenge the Packers’ defense with a versatile attack led by running back Rashard Mendenhall(notes) and quarterbackBen Roethlisberger(notes).

The Steelers ended the Jets’ season with a dominant first half for a 24-3 edge. Mendenhall had 95 of his 121 yards and a touchdown.

“We knew we were going to have a chance to run the ball well,” Mendenhall said. “The offensive line, they controlled the line of scrimmage all game.”

Roethlisberger has moved on from a four-game suspension at the beginning of the season to take Pittsburgh to its eighth Super Bowl; the Steelers own the most titles, six. He scrambled time and again for key gains, often against shoddy tackling.

At game’s end, he kneeled on the field, his face buried in an AFC championship T-shirt.

The cocky Jets seemed to have left everything they had in New England last Sunday. There was little trash talking all week and even less fire early in their biggest game since winning the championship 42 years ago. They haven’t been back to the Super Bowl.

The Steelers are regulars, including titles for the 2005 and 2008 teams, both led by Roethlisberger and a fierce defense sparked by playmaking safetyTroy Polamalu(notes).

Polamalu, his hair pouring from under his helmet as the black-and-gold signature towels flowed throughout Heinz Field, didn’t have to do a whole lot this time. Not with the way his teammates whipped the Jets at the line of scrimmage before a spirited New York surge in the second half.

And too often, New York’s defense was like a swinging gate that Roethlisberger and Mendenhall ran through with ease.

New York (13-6) failed for the fourth time in the AFC title game since 1969, when the Jets won perhaps the most significant of all Super Bowls. It was a devastating finish, particularly after the Jets beat Peyton Manning(notes) and the Colts, then Tom Brady(notes) and the Patriots on the road to get to Pittsburgh.

Asked if he would change anything about this season, Ryan said “I would change the outcome of this game and that’s the only thing I would change. We don’t need to apologize to anybody. We’ll be back, you’ll see.”

The Steelers snapped New York’s hopes of making the Super Bowl a sixth-seed spectacular; the Packers are the NFC’s No. 6 seed.

Coach Mike Tomlin had his Steelers eager for the fight from the outset, while Ryan’s guys were flat until it was too late. The Jets did get a 45-yard TD pass from Mark Sanchez(notes) to Santonio Holmes(notes)—the hero of Pittsburgh’s Super Bowl victory two years ago—and a safety after Pittsburgh’s goal-line stand.

But the early hole was too deep, even after a 4-yard TD pass to Jerricho Cotchery(notes) made it 24-19 with 3:06 remaining. The Jets never got the ball back.

Pittsburgh set the early tone with a 66-yard march that took up the first nine minutes, with Roethlisberger displaying his scrambling skills on several plays, including a key 12-yard run on third-and-12. Mendenhall reached the ball over the goal line from the 1, the final of a 15-play drive in which the Steelers pushed around Ryan’s pride and joy.

But Pittsburgh also lost outstanding rookie center Maurkice Pouncey(notes) with an ankle injury, leaving it with just one backup offensive lineman.

It was the Jets who were struggling to block, though. And catch, with the usually sure-handed Cotchery making a key third-down drop.

Or tackle. Mendenhall found seams to the left, right or up the middle. His 35-yard sprint in the second quarter led to Shaun Suisham’s(notes) 20-yard field goal and a 10-0 lead that was insurmountable the way the Jets were whiffing.

It became 17-0 as Roethlisberger, who was not prosecuted after being accused in March of the sexual assault of a 20-year-old college student, scooted into the end zone from the 2. Just 47 seconds later, Ike Taylor(notes)sacked Sanchez, forcing a fumble that William Gay(notes) ran 22 yards for a 24-0 lead.

 

http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/recap?gid=20110123023

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Renovations that can hurt home values

Most homeowners think that all renovations or home improvement project ideas will increase the value of their property. After all, who wouldn’t love a super-deluxe kitchen, or a bathroom fancy enough to be in a five-star spa? Sure, we’d all love that. But the problem is that most people don’t want to pay extra for someone else’s pet project when it comes to buying a home.

[Click here to check home equity rates in your area.]

Homeowners should of course invest in renovations that are going to make them happy and improve quality of life. It is “home” after all! But if you’re going to be putting your home on the market any time soon or are in the business of flipping houses, certain upgrades could end up doing you more harm than good.

If you think you might be selling your home sooner than later, here are four improvements to avoid:

1. Over-the-Top Kitchen Renovations

You may love gourmet cooking, so a $30,000 kitchen upgrade might be just to your liking. But this could be a turnoff for potential buyers who aren’t crazy about cooking. To them, the restaurant-sized stainless-steel stove, kitchen island and fridge just seem excessive, and they’re not going to want to pay for them. Instead, they’ll pass on your home and end up buying one with a regular kitchen.

[See Remodeling Projects that Will Increase the Value of Your Home]

Take a look at some kitchen remodeling ideas on a budget. You can still enjoy an upgraded kitchen without going overboard and compromising the value of your home. In fact, remodeling a kitchen for less than $1,000 is definitely a possibility.

2. Over-the-Top Bathroom Renovations

That ultra-deep jacuzzi tub and custom Kohler 360-degree shower you just installed might make your mornings a blast. But to budget or eco-minded buyers, all that water use is going to be a serious drawback. As with your kitchen, keep your bathroom remodeling ideas modest if you think you’ll be putting your home on the market any time soon.

3. A Pool or Hot Tub

Yes, a pool addition can add significant value to your home (11 percent on average in the Southwest, but only 6 percent in the Midwest where the swimming season is much shorter). If it’s above-ground, though, then knock 2 percent of your home’s purchase price, since they’re less appealing than in-ground pools. The problem is that pools are polarizing. There are constant swimming pool costs ($1,500 on average per year) and they require a lot of maintenance.

They’re also a liability, especially for families with young children, and could affect your homeowners insurance coverage. Pools will limit how many people want to buy your home, so keep that in mind before you have one installed (or consider buying a home with an existing pool).

[See the New Rules of Remodeling]

4. Overly Specialized Rooms

So, you just tore down the garage (which you never used) and built a four-season sunroom which resembles an English manor conservatory. You’re thrilled, but your potential buyers are going to be rolling their eyes. Where are they going to park the car and store the lawn mower and all their kids’ sport equipment? Installing nontraditional customized rooms (like indoor basketball courts or a basement music studio) is great if you’re going to be in your home for awhile. But potential buyers are likely to see this as a waste of space, and a project (and expense) they’ll have to deal with if they buy your home.

Final Word

We all want to live in a home that reflects our tastes and interests, and our homes should be exactly how we want them to be. Just keep in mind that if you plan to sell your home in the near future, those upgrades and expensive renovations might end up devaluing the home you’re trying to sell for top dollar.

http://financiallyfit.yahoo.com/finance/article-111886-8194-2-4-renovations-that-will-devalue-your-home?ywaad=ad0035&nc

 

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Packers beat Bears 21-14 to win NFC title

CHICAGO (AP)—Aaron Rodgers(notes) ran for a touchdown and made a saving tackle, B.J. Raji(notes) returned an interception for a score and Sam Shields(notes) had two interceptions to lead the Green Bay Packers to a 21-14 win over the Chicago Bears in the NFC championship game Sunday.

The victory sends the Packers (13-6) to the Super Bowl in Dallas on Feb. 6 to meet the winner of the New York JetsPittsburgh Steelers AFC title game later Sunday.

Raji’s TD return in the final quarter put the Packers up 21-7. Green Bay then withstood a rally led by Chicago third-string quarterback Caleb Hanie(notes). He led two fourth-quarter TD drives, but Chicago’s last chance to tie the game ended in the final minute when Shields came up with his second interception in Packers’ territory.

Bears starter Jay Cutler(notes) hurt his knee and played only one series in the third quarter. Todd Collins(notes) replaced him but was ineffective. Chicago ends the season at 12-6.

The sixth-seeded Packers have now won road games in Philadelphia, Atlanta and Chicago.

The Packers won this 182nd meeting of the NFL’s most played rivalry and will be playing for the Vince Lombardi Trophy—named for their former coach—in their in fifth Super Bowl.

Rodgers and James Starks(notes) had short scoring runs in the opening half as the Packers built a 14-0 lead.

In the third quarter, Rodgers went back to work, connecting withJordy Nelson(notes) for 21 yards and Greg Jennings(notes) for 20. After a pass interference call on Chicago’s Tim Jennings(notes), the Packers had a first down at the 8.

But on third-and-6, Bears star linebacker Brian Urlacher(notes) intercepted a pass by Rodgers and had just the QB to beat for a long TD return. But Rodgers got in Urlacher’s way and grabbed just enough of his legs to pull him down at the Bears 45.

The Bears couldn’t muster much of anything offensively.

Cutler was having a rough afternoon, going 6 for 14 with 80 yards and an interception before Chicago turned the offense to the little-used Collins. It wasn’t immediately apparent when or how Cutler got hurt. Collins lasted two series before he was replaced by third-stringer Hanie.

Rodgers started where he left off last week against Atlanta, throwing passes of 22 and 26 yards to Jennings to open an 84-yard drive on the opening series of the game. He later hit Nelson with a 22-yarder to the Bears 2, then ran in from the 1 on a bootleg after withstanding a hard hit from safetyDanieal Manning(notes).

And just like that, the Packers were ahead in the first four minutes.

Taking the ball at the Bears 44 after forcing Brad Maynard(notes) to put out of his end zone, the Packers moved in again early in the second.

Rodgers got off a nice dump pass under pressure to Brandon Jackson(notes)and the running back made a beauty of a fake to go right past Urlacher and gain 16 yards. Starks then broke off a 12-yard run before Rodgers found Nelson for a 15-yard gain to the 4.

The rookie Starks carried right and weaved his way over the goal line, putting the Packers ahead 14-0 with 11:13 left in the half.

Rodgers was 10 of 15 for 156 yards and an interception in the first half.

The Bears got their offense moving midway through the second quarter but still couldn’t score. Cutler had a 24-yard pass to Johnny Knox(notes) and then found Chester Taylor(notes) for 12 more, carrying to the Packers 30, their deepest penetration of the game.

But the drive stalled after a completion was wiped out by a holding penalty and two carries by Cutler. Instead of trying a long field goal, the Bears punted again and Maynard’s kick went over the goal line into the end zone.

Rodgers couldn’t find an open receiver on second down and took off for a 25-yard gain to the Bears 45. Chicago’s defense dug in and stopped Starks on a third-and-1, forcing a Packers punt.

Shields forced a Cutler fumble with just under two minutes to go—the Bears’ Matt Forte(notes) recovered—but once again Chicago had to punt.

Finally, the bundled up predominantly Bears crowd had something to cheer when Lance Briggs(notes) intercepted a pass from Rodgers intended for Donald Driver(notes) with 48 seconds to go.

But after a pass to Forte gained 17 yards, Cutler’s long heave for Knox down the sideline was picked off by Shields near the goal line with 32 seconds left.

The Packers and Bears met only one other time in the postseason, a 33-14 win by Chicago in 1941, shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

After splitting two regular-season games—the Packers beat the Bears 10-3 in the finale just to get in—the hype for this matchup overflowed all week.

Green Bay got in as the sixth seed and behind the play of Rodgers, went into Philadelphia and Atlanta for impressive victories. Rodgers had 366 yards passing and threw for three TDs in Green Bay’s surprisingly lopsided 48-21 win against the Falcons.

 

http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/recap?gid=20110123003

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