Football Focus 2014

Daily Archive : Sunday December 1, 2013

News

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    Joseph M. Maloney

    Police: Streamwood man tried to hit driver repeatedly with car

    A Streamwood man faces felony charges after following another driver t to his home Friday and trying to hit him with a car multiple times, according to a police report. Police responded to a report of an altercation in front of a house on the 500 block of Ridge Circle around 4 p.m. While approaching the scene, the responding officer came upon a red 1998 Pontiac driving on the wrong side of the...

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    The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services has launched a new statewide “You are not alone” campaign to stop child abuse and neglect. In light of the Maine West High School boys soccer hazing scandal, the state agency is doing more to educate school personnel of their reporting responsibility.

    DCFS campaign emphasizes anti-hazing message

    A year after the suburban hazing scandal at Maine West High School, the state agency responsible for safeguarding the welfare of children is renewing its push to educate school districts about the state's “mandated reporter” law and to empower students to speak up about abuse. “We've reached an estimated 1.5 million students statewide so far. It's an effort to speak directly to...

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    The Lake Zurich High School football team, led by captain Colton Moskal, marches in a parade Sunday after finishing second in the state Class 7A championship this weekend. A rally was held at the school in support of the team and its football season.

    Lake Zurich celebrates football team at parade, rally

    While Lake Zurich High School fell short of winning a state title, the community treated the players and coaches like champions with a parade and rally Sunday afternoon. Lake Zurich Mayor Thomas Poynton was among the rally speakers in the high school field house. “You were a state championship game finalist,” Poynton told the squad. “You are in very rare company. It’s a phenomenal achievement...

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    Two injured in Elgin rollover

    Two teens were injured Friday in a rollover crash in Elgin in which their vehicle broke through a fence and hit a deck.

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    Officials with the National Transportation Safety Board inspect a derailed Metro North commuter train where it almost fell into the Harlem River, Sunday.

    Images: New York City train derailment
    A New York City commuter train rounding a riverside curve derailed Sunday, killing four people and injuring more than 60 in a crash that threw some riders from toppling cars and swiftly raised questions about whether excessive speed, mechanical problems or human error could have played a role.

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    Health website users see uneven outcomes

    The Obama administration has says the troubled healthcare.gov website largely functions smoothly now. Those paid to help enroll Americans in Obamacare remain doubtful.

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    The first year of President Barack Obama’s second term has been mostly marked by setbacks and little achieved.

    Does Obama have turnaround plan?

    By almost any measure, this has been a lost year for President Barack Obama on the domestic front. The flawed rollout of the health-care law, the most important initiative of his tenure, has been a huge setback. This is hardly what Obama envisioned as he looked toward his second term in the weeks after his reelection.

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    One dead in I-55 crash

    One person died in a two-vehicle crash Sunday on I-55 southbound near Darien, according to officials. The male victim, who has not yet been identified by officials, was a driver of one of the vehicles, according to a news release from the DuPage County Coroner’s Office. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

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    Two-year-old Emilie Patterson, center, of Geneva, is in complete awe of the “balloon barrage” at the end of the Smarty Pants Big Balloon Show Tuesday at the Geneva Public Library.

    Images:The Week in Pictures
    This edition of The Week in Pictures features turkey hats, holiday tree lighting ceremonies, and Santa Claus appearances.

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    Santa travels down Main Street during the Little Friends Parade of Lights Sunday in downtown Naperville.

    Families enjoy Naperville holiday parade on new night

    Moving the Little Friends Parade of Lights to a different night didn’t seem to deter many who visited downtown Naperville for the holiday parade on Sunday night. “It’s great because it’s at night so everything is lit up,” said Randy Markham of Aurora.

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    Gubernatorial candidates differ on pension plan

    Republican candidates for Illinois governor are staking out positions on what could be a landmark pension-reform deal that could go to a vote in the General Assembly as early as Tuesday.

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    Members of the Fox Valley Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol watch the GPS tracking of a paper airplane on a computer screen.

    Paper plane world record attempt falls short

    Although they didn’t break the world record, members of the Fox Valley Composite Squadron, the local unit of the Civil Air Patrol, said they don’t consider Sunday’s attempt to launch the highest paper airplane in history a failure. “Of course it’s disappointing,” said Arizonia Williams, mission control commander for the group. “It fell slowly, so there may have been a leak in the balloon or some...

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    Education topic of citizens meeting:

    Parents, teachers, administrators, and school board members can discuss the state of education in the community, share their ideas for future legislation, identify concerns, and review current education bills during an advisory committee meeting from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 12. It will be at the Vernon Hills High School library, 145 Lakeview Parkway, Vernon Hills.

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    Citizen input sought on local issues:

    A series of citizens’ advisory committee meetings will be hosted in coming weeks by 62nd District state Rep. Sam Yingling. The public meetings will be held at his local office, 20 W. North St., Hainesville.

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    Veterans share personal stories:

    The Lake-McHenry Veterans and Family Services program and the Lake Villa District Library will present “Managing the Memories of Combat” from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 5 and Dec. 12, at the library, 1001 E. Grand Avenue in Lake Villa.

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    Hanover Township, Streamwood HS hosting heroin forum

    Hanover Township and Streamwood High School are hosting a community forum from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 11, called “From Prescriptions to the Streets: Heroin in Our Community.”

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    Jacob Franklin, 16, stands on the curb in front of his grandmother’s house Sunday at the Merry Cary Holiday Parade on Main Street in Cary. He used a remote control car with an attached box to collect candy. “It gets a lot of attention,” he said.

    Teen’s ‘candy magnet’ a success at Merry Cary Holiday Parade

    Jacob Franklin has been attending the Merry Cary Holiday Parade and Festival for as long as he can remember, so the 16-year-old knows there’s free candy to be had if you stand out from the rest of the festive crowd. As the nearly 1,000 parade marchers danced past his grandmother’s house Sunday on Main Street in Cary, Jacob stood on the curb, driving his remote control car with a small box...

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    Anna and Darek Fraczek of Northbrook, right, hold onto Izabella, 4, during the free Skating in the Park Sunday at MB Financial Park in Rosemont.

    Skaters test ice in Rosemont park

    Skaters of all ages got a chance Sunday to check out the NHL-sized rink in Rosemont’s MB Financial Park, which is offering ice skating through Feb. 2.

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    Wine tasting and radio drama:

    A holiday wine tasting and radio drama will be presented Saturday, Dec. 7, by the Round Lake Beach Cultural & Civic Center Foundation at the center on Hook Drive, just west of Route 83 in Round Lake Beach.

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    Protesters clash with police outside the presidential office in Kiev on Sunday. A protest by about 300,000 Ukrainians angered by their government’s decision to freeze integration with the West turned violent Sunday.

    Anti-government rally in Ukraine turns violent

    A protest by about 300,000 Ukrainians angered by their government’s decision to freeze integration with the West turned violent Sunday, when a group of demonstrators besieged the president’s office and police drove them back with truncheons, tear gas and flash grenades. Dozens of people were injured.

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    University students supporting Egypt’s ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi occupy in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Sunday. Police on Sunday used heavy tear gas to clear hundreds of supporters of Egypt’s ousted Islamist president from Cairo’s famed Tahrir Square shortly after they took over the plaza.

    Egypt police clear protesters; constitution agreed

    Police fired tear gas to drive hundreds of supporters of Egypt’s ousted Islamist president from Cairo’s famed Tahrir Square on Sunday, as a panel tasked with amending the constitution adopted during his time in office agreed on changes to the text.

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    An anti-government protester throws back a tear gas canister fired by riot police in Bangkok Sunday. Riot police fired tear gas at anti-government mobs trying to force their way into the prime minister’s office complex and Bangkok’s police headquarters on Sunday.

    Thai protest leader meets PM after street clashes

    The leader of Thailand’s anti-government protests said unexpectedly that he had met the prime minister Sunday after daylong clashes between his supporters and police but defiantly told her he would accept nothing less than having her elected government step down to be replaced by an appointed council.

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    Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder (7) is sacked by Chicago Bears defensive end Shea McClellin, right, and strong safety Craig Steltz, left, during the first half.

    Images: Bears vs. Vikings
    The Chicago Bears battled the Minnesota Vikings at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis on Sunday.The Bears lost to the Vikings in overtime 23-20.

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    Naperville cops probe attempted armed robbery

    Naperville police are searching for a man armed with a semiautomatic handgun who approached a resident Saturday on the 600 block of Porter Avenue and demanded his cellphone and wallet.

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    The National Zoo is naming its giant panda cub Bao Bao after receiving more than 123,000 votes from the public. The cub was born Aug. 23 and is only the second surviving panda cub born in Washington.

    National Zoo names 100-day-old panda cub Bao Bao

    The most popular giant panda in U.S.-China relations finally was given an identity Sunday as the Smithsonian’s National Zoo named its female 100-day-old cub Bao Bao (bow-BOW) after receiving more than 123,000 votes online from the public.

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    ASSOCIATED PRESS Administration officials announced Sunday that they had met their Saturday deadline for improving HealthCare.gov after completing a series of hardware upgrades and software fixes to the troubled Web site.

    Officials: Worst tech bugs over for Healthcare.gov

    The worst of the online glitches, crashes and delays may be over for the problem-plagued government health care website, the Department of Health and Human Services said Sunday. But that doesn’t mean HealthCare.gov is ready for a clean bill of health.

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    Neighbors, left to right, Sue Lello, Larry and Rosemary Hinkemeyer, Tom and Renae McGovern, Carol Tortorello, Roberta Edmonson and Lorelei McDermott stand in front of a tree planted in memory of Tommy McGovern.

    'Tommy Tree' a symbol of togetherness for Mt. Prospect neighborhood

    A tree planted in memory of a teen has grown into a living monument that brings an entire Mount Prospect neighborhood together. “We were handed this legacy,” Lorelei McDermott says, noting the neighborhood spirit has been passed from elders to parents to kids, some of whom move back as parents on their way to becoming elders. “We're teaching them how to do it, how to be a...

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    Schaumburg, police command staff agree to new contract

    After negotiations stalled for nearly 18 months, Schaumburg and the union representing its police command staff recently reached a new three-year contract giving the commanders small annual raises through 2015. The deal also includes random drug testing for police supervisors.

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    Gov. Jay Inslee speaks to reporters in Olympia, Wash. after Boeing machinists rejected an eight-year contract proposal. Boeing said the agreement was necessary to guarantee that the new 777x would be assembled in the state, and that it would open up the competition for the project to include other states.

    States compete for Boeing assembly line

    Boeing barely waited for the ink to dry on the election results before it began calling other states in search of a new assembly site.“I think the first phone call that Boeing made was to Utah. We didn’t call them. They called us,” Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said in an interview. With potentially tens of thousands of jobs in the balance, Herbert cleared his calendar. “We adjusted our schedule to...

Sports

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    Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28) runs from Bears cornerback Tim Jennings during overtime of an NFL football game on Sunday, Dec. 1, 2013, in Minneapolis. The Vikings won 23-20.

    Gould, Trestman, leaky defense all contribute to demoralizing defeat

    A rare missed field goal by Robbie Gould and a questionable decision by coach Marc Trestman were the most obvious misadventures in the Bears 23-20 overtime loss to the Vikings, but the loers had plenty of opportunities to win a game they probably didn't deserve to.

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    Sweet turnaround continues for Carmel

    Carmel hoped last year was just a start toward bigger and better days for its boys basketball program. That appears to be the case after the Corsairs reached a Class 3A sectional final and ended a streak of 21 consecutive losing seasons. Now they have started this season with four victories after claiming the title of Crystal Lake Central’s 7th Annual Coaches vs. Cancer Thanksgiving Tournament with a 66-56 win over McHenry on Saturday afternoon.

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    Luol Deng’s recent strong play makes it even less likely that he will be with the Bulls beyond this season.

    Will Luol Deng be ex-Bull by season’s end?

    Luol Deng has averaged 25 points in the four games since Derrick Rose was lost with another knee injury. Oddly enough, Deng's strong play might make it even less likely he stays in Chicago beyond this season.

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    Niklas Hjalmarsson celebrates after scoring a first-period goal in the Blackhawks’ 5-2 victory Saturday to close their 6-1 road trip.

    Whole lot to love about Blackhawks’ trip

    After losing the opener of their circus trip at Colorado on Nov. 18, the Blackhawks reeled off 6 straight victories, capped by a 5-2 win at Phoenix on Saturday to return home with an NHL-best record of 20-4-4. “We loved the trip,” Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said.

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    Sluggish first half not acceptable, McCown says

    Backup quarterback Josh McCown continued to put up excellent numbers, but his record as a Bears starter fell to 2-2 despite his 355 passing yards and 114.9 passer rating.

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    Vikings running back Adrian Peterson tries to break away from Bears safety Chris Conte during the fourth quarter Sunday. Peterson finished with 211 yards on a career-high 35 carries.

    211 yards: Bears just can’t stop Adrian Peterson

    Adrian Peterson has had a lot of big days against the Bears' but his 211-yard outing Sunday on a career-high 35 carries, was the key to the Vikings' 23-20 overtime victory.

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    San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis (85) faces off with St. Louis Rams defensive end Chris Long during the fourth quarter in San Francisco.

    Rams fail to slow down 49ers’ passing game in loss

    SAN FRANCISCO — The St. Louis Rams arrived in San Francisco ready to grab some momentum for the December push with a third straight victory.They even caught a break when 49ers left tackle Joe Staley went down with a knee injury early, providing a possible opening to get more pressure on quarterback Colin Kaepernick.Yet Kaepernick shined with a healthy receiving corps at last as Michael Crabtree made his season debut, and San Francisco’s stingy defense flustered Kellen Clemens all day in the Rams’ 23-13 loss Sunday.“We went into the ballgame knowing that it was going to be a slug-out kind of physical game up front,” coach Jeff Fisher said. “We would have liked to carry on what we’ve been doing over the last couple of weeks, but for some reason we didn’t match up well against these guys.” Crabtree’s return opened up the field all the more for Anquan Boldin — not to mention Vernon Davis and his high-hurdle show.Boldin caught nine passes from Kaepernick, Crabtree made his long-awaited debut six months after Achilles tendon surgery, and the 49ers pressured the Rams defense from every angle.On the other side of the ball, St. Louis managed only 73 total yards in the first half and regularly thwarted drives with its own mistakes.Clemens went 19 of 37 for 218 yards with a late TD pass in a dismal afternoon by the Rams (5-7), who were trying for their first three-game winning streak of the season.“There were some plays out there that we had opportunities to make which would have gotten us into a little bit of a better rhythm offensively,” Clemens said. “We didn’t make them.” The Rams committed 11 penalties for 105 yards. They settled for a 43-yard field goal by Greg Zuerlein just before halftime in their best drive to that point, then Zuerlein kicked a 34-yarder in the third quarter. St. Louis scored a late touchdown against the second-team defense.Kaepernick went 19 of 28 for 275 yards and Frank Gore ran for a 3-yard touchdown as the reigning NFC champion Niners (8-4) boosted their position in the playoff picture. Crabtree had a 60-yard catch, while Vernon Davis hurdled into the end zone on a 17-yard touchdown reception.With Hall of Famer Jerry Rice in the house, Boldin had six receptions in the first half on the way to his second-most productive game of the year behind his 13-catch performance in the season opener against Green Bay. Crabtree, San Francisco’s leading wide receiver during last season’s Super Bowl run, had two catches just more than six months after he tore his right Achilles tendon and had surgery. Just having him on the field kept the St. Louis defense from focusing all its attention on Boldin and Davis.“He’s a big physical receiver, and his presence out there is definitely felt,” linebacker James Laurinaitis said of Crabtree. “You have to pay attention to him. Whenever you have big receivers, physical guys like Boldin and Crabtree, and you have to worry about the speed of Vernon Davis ... they have a lot of weapons.”Davis displayed his athleticism with a new signature move, and did so not once but twice: a high hurdle over defenders. He led with his right foot while leaping over safety Rodney McLeod in the first half, then again to reach the end zone on his team-leading 10th touchdown catch. Davis also was tackled by T.J. McDonald with a prolonged, painful grab to his crotch. That was a first in his career.“I was hurting,” Davis said. A year after the teams left Candlestick with a 24-24 tie, the 49ers methodically took care that it didn’t happen again. They made it consecutive commanding victories in a short week following a 27-6 win at Washington on Monday night that snapped a two-game skid.

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    Denver Broncos wide receiver Eric Decker (87) makes a touchdown reception against Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Brandon Flowers (24) during the second half Sunday in Kansas City, Mo.

    Manning, Decker lead Broncos past Chiefs 35-28

    KANSAS CITY, Mo. — In the words of Chiefs safety Eric Berry, Peyton Manning does not discriminate.If you’re playing wide receiver for the Denver Broncos, and you manage to get yourself open, you can bet that Manning is going to find a way to get you the ball.On Sunday, he rewarded Eric Decker all afternoon.Manning threw for 403 yards and five touchdowns, four of them to Decker, and the Broncos held off a rally to beat the Chiefs 35-28 and seize control of the AFC West.“I think he showed people why he’s so great,” Decker said. “How we run our offense, we’re very versatile as far as going inside, outside, left, right, whatever it may be. Fortunately I had some play calls and took advantage of the opportunities I got.”Decker had eight catches for a career-high 174 yards for the Broncos (10-2), who moved a game clear of the Chiefs (9-3) in the division. With four games left, Denver also holds the tiebreaker by virtue two wins over Kansas City in the past three weeks. The Broncos have the AFC’s best record.“It was a great, gritty effort on the road,” said interim coach Jack Del Rio, who led Denver to a 3-1 mark while John Fox was recovering from heart surgery. Fox is due back Monday.“We figured they would have some type of surge early and I loved the way our guys responded,” Del Rio said. “It puts us in first place and now we’ll go welcome Coach Fox back.”The Chiefs jumped out to a 21-7 lead, but the Broncos answered with 28 points. Jamaal Charles scored from a yard out with 6:32 left to get Kansas City within a touchdown, and then the Chiefs forced a punt with 3:32 remaining to get the ball back.Three long passes moved the Chiefs downfield, but Alex Smith’s pass to Dwayne Bowe in the end zone on fourth-and-4 with 1:45 left fell incomplete, allowing the Broncos to run out the clock.“Hard-fought game,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “Two good football teams playing each other, and it came right down to the end.”Smith threw for 293 yards and two touchdowns for Kansas City, while Knile Davis returned a kickoff 108 yards for another score. Charles finished with 93 yards rushing.Denver won despite missing a slew of injured players, including three starters on defense and tight end Julius Thomas, who has developed into one of Manning’s favorite red-zone options.No need to worry. Decker more than shouldered the burden.The fourth-year pro caught a 41-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter, two more TD passes in the third and a short fade for a score in the fourth quarter. Most of the time, Decker was going against Chiefs defensive back Marcus Cooper, an undrafted free agent who’d become a starter.Manning has 41 TD passes, breaking his franchise record of 37 set last season.“Sometimes, when you play a team close to back-to-back, there are some ideas that are fresh in your mind,” Manning said. “We thought there were some chances to get down the field in that first game that we never got to. We wanted to get to some of those plays.”The Chiefs, who lost for the third straight week, squandered far too many chances, including one right out of the gate when Smith was picked off by Wesley Woodyard in the end zone.Still, Kansas City seemed to have more energy in the first half.The Chiefs took the lead when Smith hit Junior Hemingway for a touchdown. And after Decker beat Brandon Flowers for a tying score, Davis took the ensuing kickoff 108 yards the other direction.It was the longest return in franchise history, and the first TD return by a Chiefs player since Jamaal Charles took a kickoff back against the Steelers during the 2009 season.Smith’s touchdown pass to Anthony Fasano made it 21-7.That’s went Denver scored 28 unanswered points.

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    Buffalo Bills quarterback EJ Manuel recovers his own fumble against the Atlanta Falcons during first half NFL football action in Toronto on Sunday.

    Bills fumble away playoff hopes 34-31 in OT

    TORONTO — The Buffalo Bills headed north for their annual “home” game in Toronto, and then watched what was left of their realistic playoff hopes go south.Buffalo (4-8) fumbled in Falcons territory on its final drive of regulation and the first drive of overtime to hand the Atlanta Falcons a 34-31 victory Sunday.“I’m just... I’m just hurting,” said Bills coach Doug Marrone. After the Falcons (3-9) tied the game at 31 on Steven Jackson’s 1-yard run, his second touchdown of the game, Buffalo rookie quarterback EJ Manuel had 1:22 to march the Bills downfield.He was well on his way before cornerback Robert McClain knocked the ball out of receiver Stevie Johnson’s hands at the Falcons 30 with 20 seconds remaining.“Caught it and ran across the field,” Johnson said. “The guy came from behind and ripped it out. He made a good play.”Still, Buffalo got the ball in overtime and had another big completion end in mistake as Falcons safety William Moore stripped the ball from tight end Scott Chandler after a 22-yard gain.“Really disappointing,” Chandler said. “You want to be able to protect the ball in that situation and you want to make a play that helps your team win and not the play that turns the tide to make your team lose.”Falcons kicker Matt Bryant won it with a 36-yard field goal 3 minutes into overtime.The Bills are 1-5 during the “Bills in Toronto” series in the Rogers Centre, a game that has traditionally meant a friendlier, warmer late-season climate for the opposition. This time the loss stings even more, essentially eliminating Buffalo’s hopes for a playoff spot for the 14th straight season, extending the NFL’s longest active streak.It’s a pain of which the team is keenly aware.“We want to bring this town, this region, the playoffs and to know that that kind of slipped away on that play is tough,” Chandler said.Atlanta snapped a five-game skid and won for the first time in six road games this season. Antone Smith also scored on a 38-yard run, while Tony Gonzalez scored on an 11-yard pass from Matt Ryan.“We went out there and got it done,” said Atlanta coach Mike Smith. “There were times when it looked like we weren’t in the first four quarters, and there was a time there in the fifth quarter where it looked like it wasn’t going to happen, but we did get the strip.”Bryant also made a 49-yarder that tied the game at 17 at the end of the half.The Bills squandered a 14-0 lead and were unable to hang on while ahead 31-24 against an opponent already eliminated from playoff contention.Jackson’s score came a play after Bills cornerback Nickell Robey was flagged for interfering with Harry Douglas in the end zone. The penalty came with Atlanta facing third-and-goal from 11.Atlanta receiver Roddy White had 10 catches for 143 yards to nearly double his season total. Ryan went 28 of 47 for 311 yards and a touchdown.Fred Jackson scored twice for Buffalo, who will also finish their ninth straight season without a winning record. Fellow running back C.J. Spiller had 149 yards rushing and a score.There was plenty of entertainment in the sixth installment of the yearly Bills In Toronto series at the domed Rogers Center.The Beach Boys, minus leader Brian Wilson, played the halftime show, and even embattled Toronto Mayor Rob Ford showed up, causing a stir late in the first quarter. Ford, who has admitted to smoking crack cocaine in a “drunken stupor,” arrived with just over five minutes left wearing a No. 22 Fred Jackson jersey just as Buffalo’s running back scored on a 4-yard run.“I appreciate him showing his support for me, you know, wearing my jersey,” Jackson said. “With all the things going on, that still means a lot.”

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    Wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, after almost single-handedly lifting the Bears to victory with a pair of highlight-reel touchdown catches, can do little but look on from the sideline during Sunday’s overtime.

    Bears’ playoff hopes on life support after loss

    The Bears would have to win out against Dallas, Cleveland, Philadelphia and Green Bay to win the division or sneak into the wild card -- and even then they would need help. That hardly seems impossible given the quality of opponent, but the Bears also couldn’t finish off a Minnesota team that was 2-8-1 coming in and ranked 30th in defense.

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    Things have gotten so bad for Bears coach Marc Trestman that he can’t make the correct decision even when the decision is correct.

    Just no way to figure out this Bears loss

    After an oddly confusing loss at Minnesota, the Bears likely will have to win out to make the playoffs. Fat chance considering the offense can't pick up a yard when they need it, the defense can't stop the run and Marc Trestman can't make the correct decision even when his decision is correct.

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    Chicago Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (17) runs from Minnesota Vikings outside linebacker Chad Greenway, left, after making a reception during the second half.

    Bears blow game in overtime, lose to Vikings 23-20

    The Bears had their chance to win their game against the Vikings in overtime, but they blew it when Robbie Gould missed a 46-yard field goal attempt. The Vikings won in overtime instead 23-20 on a field goal kick.

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    Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew runs against the Cleveland Browns in the fourth quarter in Cleveland.

    Short’s TD catch gives Jaguars 32-28 win

    CLEVELAND — Cecil Shorts came home and broke some hearts.A Cleveland kid who grew up rooting for the Browns, Shorts caught a 20-yard touchdown pass from Chad Henne with 40 seconds left, rallying the Jacksonville Jaguars to a 32-28 win on Sunday.On 3rd-and-9, Henne lofted a perfect pass to the left corner for Shorts, who had beaten cornerback Joe Haden to get open. Shorts got both feet down in the end zone before tumbling out of bounds. It was a dream moment for Shorts, who earlier this week talked about the excitement of returning to play in front of family members and friends. As a kid, his father raised him to support the local teams.“I’m all Cleveland — Browns, Indians, Cavaliers,” he said. “That’s all I knew growing up.”He’s added another entry to the city’s pained sports history.Henne drove the Jaguars (3-9) 80 yards in nine plays for the winning TD as Jacksonville continued its stunning turnaround after losing its first eight games — all by at least 10 points. The Jaguars are 3-1 since their bye with all three victories on the road.Before Shorts’ catch, it appeared Browns beleaguered quarterback Brandon Weeden was going to shake off a rough afternoon. He had given the Browns (4-8) a 28-25 lead with a 95-yard TD pass to Josh Gordon with 3:55 left.But Henne marched the Jaguars down the field and Jacksonville stopped Cleveland’s final chance by batting down a desperation pass by Weeden into the end zone on the game’s final play.Josh Scobee kicked three field goals for the Jaguars.Gordon returned from a head injury and finished 10 catches for a team record 261 yards. According to STATS, Gordon is the first player in NFL history to have consecutive 200-yard games. He had 237 in a loss last week against Pittsburgh, and Gordon has 1,249 games this season despite missing two games with a drug suspension.Down 21-20 and their offense doing nothing, the Jaguars took the lead when Browns center Alex Mack snapped the ball over Weeden’s head into the end zone and the QB kicked it out of bounds for a safety.Weeden, back in the starting lineup because Jason Campbell has a concussion, finished 24 of 40 for 370 yards with three TDs and two interceptions — both coming in the final 2:35 of the first half.Henne went 24 of 40 for 195 yards and two TDs.Gordon left briefly in the third quarter after sustaining a head injury while trying to make a leaping catch.He was drilled by safety Winston Guy, who knocked Gordon’s helmet off as he tried to snag a forced throw by Weeden. Gordon’s head snapped back and he appeared to bang it as he landed on the hard ground. Guy was penalized for an illegal hit.Gordon got to his feet and walked to the sideline without any help, but after he was examined on the bench, the second-year pro was escorted to the locker room for further evaluation.He returned to a large ovation in the final minute of the quarter and caught a 10-yard pass on his first play back.A few plays after Gordon went out, Weeden connected with Greg Little for a 4-yard TD to put the Browns ahead 21-20.Weeden fell apart late in the second, throwing the two picks and getting stripped of the ball as the Jaguars converted three turnovers into 13 quick points to take a 20-14 halftime lead.Until his meltdown, Weeden had looked sharp for most of the opening half.He connected with Gordon on a 21-yard TD to give the Browns a 14-7 lead early in the second quarter.Weeden targeted Gordon on nearly every play as Jacksonville’s young secondary struggled to handle the 6-foot-3, 225-pounder, who has emerged as a rising NFL star.Willis McGahee’s 1-yard TD run gave the Browns a 7-0 lead, but the Jaguars responded with Henne’s 18-yard scoring toss to tight end Clay Harbor.

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    AP source: Florida fires offensive coordinator Pease

    GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A person familiar with the situation says Florida has fired offensive coordinator Brent Pease after the program’s first losing season since 1979.The person spoke on condition of anonymity Sunday because it has not been officially announced.Pease was let go a day after the Gators (4-8) ended the season with a humbling, 37-7 loss to rival Florida State. Offensive line coach Tim Davis also was let go, according to the person.The moves had been expected for weeks, as the losses mounted and it became clear coach Will Muschamp would make changes on the offensive side of the ball.Pease and Davis were the primary scapegoats for a dismal season that included a dreadful offense and the worst loss in school history. The Gators finished the season ranked 112th in total offense. Florida managed just 279 yards in a 26-20 loss to lower-division Georgia Southern on Nov. 23 and then 193 against the Seminoles. Florida’s offense was ravaged by injuries, losing quarterback Jeff Driskel, running back Matt Jones, receiver Andre Debose and three offensive tackles for the season. Backup quarterback Tyler Murphy also missed the final three games with a sprained throwing shoulder, leaving third-stringer Skyler Mornhinweg to start.The injuries surely were a viable excuse for this season, but they can’t be blamed for Florida’s offense being ranked in the triple digits for three consecutive years.Pease replaced Charlie Weis and handled play-calling duties the last two years. He joined Muschamp after six years at Boise State, choosing Florida over Alabama — a decision he surely regrets now.Pease was saddled with a first-year starting quarterback in 2012 (Driskel), a bungling offensive line and few, if any, playmakers. And the team’s receivers coach resigned at the beginning of fall practice. Still, the Gators won 11 games last season and earned a spot in the Sugar Bowl.Pease’s second year was supposed to be better.But Driskel (broken leg) and Jones (knee) went down early in the season, joining Debose (knee) and right tackle Chaz Green (labrum) on the sideline.So Pease was stuck calling plays with a third-string quarterback down the stretch. And it surely didn’t help that Pease spent two years running the kind of offense Muschamp wanted — a run-heavy, try-to-wear-defenses-down style that leads to close games and leaves little margin for error.The offensive line was the biggest problem the last two years, allowing 66 sacks during Davis’ tenure.“I think Will is a really good self-evaluator,” athletic director Jeremy Foley said Saturday. “He can look in the mirror and isn’t afraid to take responsibility for what’s happened. ... We look at ourselves and how we get better. Not just sit here and say, `Yeah, we’ve got a bunch of injuries, we’ll be fine.’ That better not be our attitude. It better be our attitude to reevaluate every single facet of what we’re doing and get this thing fixed.“Yeah, it stinks. It stinks for every Gator fan. This season has been no fun because we care.”Florida owes Pease about $1.2 million for the remaining two years on his contract. It’s unclear what direction Muschamp will go with his third offensive coordinator in four years, but the better question is what will the offense look like after the change.“We need to take a look at ourselves schematically with what we’re doing,” Muschamp said Saturday. “There have been some things that have happened that are very difficult to overcome, but schematically there’s no question we need to take a look at ourselves. ... I’m willing to do what we need to do to score points and win games.”

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    Philadelphia Eagles’ Brent Celek celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the first half against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.

    Foles tosses 3 TDs to lead Eagles over Cardinals

    PHILADELPHIA — Another sharp performance by Nick Foles and tough defense at the end kept the Philadelphia Eagles on a roll. Foles threw three touchdown passes and the Eagles held on for a 24-21 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.Zach Ertz had two TD catches, LeSean McCoy ran for 79 yards to help the Eagles (7-5) win their fourth straight game to remain tied with Dallas for first place in the NFC East. Carson Palmer threw for 302 yards and three TD passes, but also had two interceptions and lost a fumble as the Cardinals (7-5) had their four-game winning streak snapped.Foles picked up where he left off in November, when he was the NFC’s Player of the Month and tied an NFL record with seven TDs in a game. Foles finished 21 of 34 for 237 yards against a defense that came in ranked eighth in the league.Foles set a team record for most passes without an interception (233), breaking Michael Vick’s mark of 224 set in 2010. He also moved within one TD pass of tying Peyton Manning’s record of 20 TD passes and zero interceptions to start a season.He threw an interception that was negated by a penalty, however.Foles got away with a poor decision late in the fourth when he was intercepted by Patrick Peterson at the Philadelphia 43. But a holding penalty on Tyrann Mathieu gave the Eagles a first down. The Cardinals forced a punt and took over at their 10 with 2:08 left. But Palmer misfired on third-and-5, and Bradley Fletcher knocked down a pass to Michael Floyd on fourth down.In a game featuring two defensive coordinators going against former teams, Bill Davis’ unit outplayed Todd Bowles’ group. The Eagles have held opponents to 21 points or fewer in eight straight games after giving up an average of 27.5 points per game the first four weeks.Trent Cole and Brandon Graham each had two sacks for the Eagles, who put Palmer down five times. Down 24-7 after Foles threw a 24-yard TD pass to Ertz on the first series in the third quarter, the Cardinals rallied. Palmer tossed a 23-yard TD pass to Floyd to cut it to 24-14 on the next series.A holding penalty on Kurt Coleman negated DeSean Jackson’s 54-yard punt return for a score early in the fourth. Palmer then threw a 3-yard TD pass to Jim Dray to get the Cardinals within a field goal at 24-21 with 4:45 left. Foles drove the Eagles 78 yards late in the second quarter, tossing a 1-yard TD pass to Brent Celek to make it 17-7 before halftime. A 28-yard pass interference penalty on Jerraud Powers put the ball at the 1.Palmer connected with Larry Fitzgerald on a 43-yard TD pass to tie it at 7 midway through the second quarter. Fitzgerald made the catch over the middle on a third-and-20 pass, two defenders collided into each other and the seven-time Pro Bowl receiver ran untouched into the end zone.Alex Henery’s 32-yard field goal gave the Eagles a 10-7 lead in the second quarter. Riley Cooper gained 24 yards on a leaping one-handed catch-and-run to give the Eagles a first down at the Cardinals 6. Chip Kelly then called a wildcat play for the first time this season, but Brad Smith dropped the snap and lost 4 yards. On the third play from scrimmage, Cole sacked Palmer and forced a fumble that was recovered by Bennie Logan at the Cardinals 25. Foles then tossed a 6-yard TD pass to Ertz for a 7-0 lead.

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    Carolina Panthers’ Cam Newton (1) celebrates his touchdown pass against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first half in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday.

    Panthers top Bucs 27-6 for 8th straight win

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Cam Newton threw for 263 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another score, and the Carolina Panthers defeated Tampa Bay 27-6 Sunday for a franchise-record eighth straight regular-season victory.Newton threw touchdown passes to Brandon LaFell and Ted Ginn Jr. and “Superman” leaped over the pile for another score as the Panthers (9-3) outgained the Buccaneers 426-206.The Carolina victory sets up a huge showdown next Sunday night with New Orleans with first place in the NFC South on the line.Newton ran for 68 yards and overcame two interceptions. The third-year quarterback has thrown 13 touchdown passes and run for five scores during the Panthers’ current win streak.Carolina’s defense, which came in allowing the fewest points in the league, forced two turnovers and sacked rookie Mike Glennon four times to snap a three-game winning streak for Tampa Bay (3-9).

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    Indianapolis Colts’ Adam Vinatieri (4) kicks a 37-yard field goal out of the hold of Pat McAfee during the first half against the Tennessee Titans Sunday, Dec. 1, 2013, in Indianapolis.

    Vinatieri’s 5 FGs lead Colts past Titans 22-14

    INDIANAPOLIS — Adam Vinatieri tied a career high with five field goals and Donald Brown scored on a 4-yard touchdown run with 1:56 left Sunday, giving the Colts a 22-14 victory over Tennessee.Indianapolis (8-4) now has a three-game lead in the AFC South and the tiebreaker after sweeping the season series. The Colts can wrap up their eighth division crown in 11 seasons with one win, one Titans loss or if either team ties.Indy’s offense struggled again, failing to get in the end zone until Brown’s late plunge sealed it. Until then, the Colts relied on Vinatieri’s reliable right foot.He made four field goals in the first half and gave Indy the lead for good with a 49-yarder with 2:33 left in the third quarter. That erased the 14-12 lead Tennessee (5-7) took with a 1-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick to Chris Johnson early in the half.

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    New England Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski (87) is hit by Houston Texans’ Shiloh Keo, left, after making a catch during the third quarter in Houston.

    Patriots rally for 34-31 win over Texans

    HOUSTON — The New England Patriots needed another big second half to grab another victory.Tom Brady threw for 371 yards and two scores, and Stephen Gostkowski made two long field goals in the fourth quarter Sunday as the Patriots rallied for a 34-31 win over Houston. The Texans’ franchise-record skid reached 10 games. Gary Kubiak coached from the sideline for the first time since suffering a mini-stroke Nov. 3. He missed one game before working the last two games from the booth. New England overcame a 24-point first-half deficit last week to beat the Broncos 34-31 in overtime. The Patriots (9-3) trailed by 10 at halftime in this one and the lead changed five times in a wild second half. New England tied it with a 53-yard field goal and took a 34-31 lead with another one from 53 with about three minutes left. The Texans (2-10) had a chance late, but the offense stalled. On fourth-and-13, Case Keenum threw an incompletion as he was being hit. Ben Tate ran for 102 yards and three touchdowns for the Texans, who haven’t won since Sept. 15. It was the first 100-yard rushing game since 2011 for Tate, who has been slowed since Oct. 20 with four broken ribs. The victory ended a three-game road skid for the Patriots, who have won 16 of their last 17 December games. Rob Gronkowski had six receptions for 127 yards and Julian Edelman added 101 yards receiving on nine catches. New England didn’t miss starting running back Stevan Ridley, who was not active after having fumbling problems recently. Keenum threw for 272 yards with an interception and Andre Johnson had eight receptions for 121 yards. Tate’s third score came when he ran 10 yards to make it 31-28. The key play of that drive came on a 66-yard reception by rookie DeAndre Hopkins.LeGarrette Blount’s 7-yard touchdown run had given New England a 28-24 lead. Before that, Keenum put Houston back on top when he took a keeper 5 yards late in the third quarter. That gave Houston four touchdowns rushing Sunday after entering the game with two this season. Brady had picked apart Houston’s secondary on a drive he finished by finding Shane Vereen wide open for a 9-yard touchdown to give New England its first lead, 21-17. Brady used a 50-yard pass to Gronkowski to get New England to the Houston 13 early in the third quarter. James Develin was hit by four Texans but kept his feet moving and plunged into the end zone for a 1-yard score to cut the lead to 17-14. A 20-yard touchdown run by Tate extended Houston’s lead to 17-7 late in the second period. Brady had at least five seconds to throw on a 23-yard TD pass to Gronkowski in the first quarter. Gronkowski scooped up the low throw and fell into the end zone for the score. Keenum was intercepted by rookie Logan Ryan when he threw as he was being hit on Houston’s ensuing possession.Gostkowski’s 55-yard field goal attempt that sailed wide right broke his streak of 21 straight made field goals, the second longest in team history. Tate put Houston up early on an 8-yard run and Randy Bullock made a 43-yard field goal to push the lead to 10-0.

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    Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees, left, is sacked by Stanford linebacker Shayne Skov during the second half of an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013, in Stanford, Calif. Stanford won 27-20. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

    Irish loss to Stanford about sums up season

    At times, Tommy Rees and the offense looked unstoppable and the defense forced quick stops. Other times, both were wildly erratic and inconsistent. Just like Notre Dame’s season. Rees threw two interceptions late in the fourth quarter, and No. 25 Notre Dame lost 27-20 at No. 8 Stanford on Saturday night in the regular-season finale for both teams.

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    Prospect, Barrington wrap up tourney titles

    Taylor Will scored 37 points as Prospect wrapped up a tournament championship at York, while Barrington topped Westinghouse to earn a tournament of its own.

Business

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    Coaches are just one source for career help

    Almost daily, people ask me how they can find career help. They feel stuck, they can't find a job, they want to change positions, and the list goes on. What to do? There are a number of career assessment tools, self-help career books, and career coaches — all of which are valuable for enabling people to navigate their career progress.

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    Work Advice: Jewish worker needs a holiday from clueless bosses

    Karla L. Miller writes an advice column on navigating the modern workplace. Each week she will answer one or two questions from readers.

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    A record 248 million people are expected to shop in stores and online over the four-day Thanksgiving weekend that ends Sunday.

    Record crowds over weekend, but spending declined

    Did retailers shoot themselves in the foot? U.S. retailers offered holiday discounts in early November and opened stores on Thanksgiving Day to attract more shoppers. Those tactics drew bigger crowds, but they didn’t motivate Americans to spend.

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    Three credit card issuers — Discover, Barclaycard US and First Bankcard — have signed up to allow some 35 million cardholders to check their FICO scores every month at no cost. Besides those three credit card companies, more lenders are expected to sign up.

    Credit card companies offer free credit scores

    Want to check your credit score? It might be included on your next credit card statement. The FICO score, which is widely used by lenders to gauge your financial health, should be checked before applying for a car loan or a mortgage. But it can cost as much as $20 to do so. Now three credit card issuers — Discover, Barclaycard US and First Bankcard — have signed up to allow some 35 million cardholders to check their FICO scores every month at no cost.

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    Christmas Lights Etc. employee Ashley Hollis fluffs a Christmas tree on the company's temporary showroom floor in Alpharetta, Ga. Christmas Lights Etc., which sells trees, lights and decorations online to consumers and corporate customers year-round, gets under 5 percent of its annual revenue from showroom sales to the public during the holidays. Like other online retailers with temporary stores, the company uses the showroom as an opportunity to let shoppers see the merchandise before they buy, especially since a tree can be a big-ticket item.

    Small businesses pop up for the holidays

    Here today, gone in weeks — pop-up shops and temporary stores are back for the holiday season. The temporary store pulls in additional sales and the company finds it's good marketing for its core business of selling online and to commercial and wholesale customers.

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    IRS could determine if Affordable Care Act succeeds

    WASHINGTON — The success of the Affordable Care Act could ultimately turn on the performance of an agency that has so far eluded the public spotlight amid the program’s tumultuous rollout.Whether the new law can be enforced will be up to the Internal Revenue Service, an already beleaguered agency charged under the act with carrying out nearly four dozen new tasks in what represents the biggest increase in its responsibilities in decades. None is more crucial than enforcing the requirement that all citizens secure health insurance or pay a penalty.But those efforts have been hampered by a one-year delay in applying new insurance regulations to large employers. Those employers had been expected to provide insurance coverage information that the IRS would use to help identify who has insurance and who does not.While failures in launching the federal insurance website and online exchanges have thrust the Department of Health and Human Services to the center of public attention, the IRS also has a huge role in carrying out the law, including helping to distribute trillions of dollars in insurance subsidies and penalizing people who do not comply.The fine is intended to encourage healthy people to enroll even if they do not have an immediate need for care. If the elderly and the sick dominate the ranks of those who sign up, it could lead to what health economists call an “ insurance death spiral” of rapidly escalating costs, premium hikes and declining enrollment.Besides lacking coverage information that would help the agency enforce the “individual mandate,” the IRS also is hamstrung in penalizing those who do not sign up. The lawmakers who drafted the health care law intentionally barred the IRS from using its customary tools for collecting penalties — liens, foreclosures and criminal prosecution. The only means of collecting the fine is to essentially garnish tax refunds for people who overpaid their taxes.Enforcing compliance with the law is just part of what one Treasury Department official calls “the largest expansion of IRS responsibilities in recent history.” And the increased workload comes as the IRS is suffering from high turnover of senior managers, years of budget cuts and congressional inquiries into the alleged politicization of the agency.“This is really quite a heavy lift,” former IRS commissioner Mark Everson, who served under President George W. Bush, said in recent testimony on Capitol Hill, adding that he was concerned about the agency’s ability to fulfill the wide-ranging demands of the Affordable Care Act.IRS officials say that they are on track to meet the law’s requirements and that their computer systems are performing as hoped. They acknowledge that some systems involving other departments — such as those distributing subsidy checks to insurers — are not completely built. But the officials note that most of the new responsibilities for the agency do not begin in earnest until the 2014 tax season.Some of the tasks are so vital to the success of President Barack Obama’s health care initiative that any uncertainty about whether the IRS can do its job raises doubts about the overall endeavor. Health-policy researchers say they know relatively little about what level of enforcement is necessary to nudge citizens into buying coverage or whether the health law’s low fees -- $95 in 2014 or 1 percent of income, whichever is greater — will succeed in doing so.“We should be absolutely clear we don’t know how this will work,” said MIT economist Jon Gruber, referring to the size of the penalty. Gruber helped design the mandate used in the insurance plan Massachusetts launched six years ago.

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    A profitable General Motors Co. is poised to shake off a half decade of U.S. government oversight next month, underscoring the comeback of a once-moribund industry and gaining leeway over a $26.8 billion cash pile that it can use to lure talent while weighing a dividend.

    GM, free of government control, underscores auto industry comeback

    A profitable General Motors Co. is poised to shake off a half decade of U.S. government oversight next month, underscoring the comeback of a once-moribund industry and gaining leeway over a $26.8 billion cash pile that it can use to lure talent while weighing a dividend.

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    The dashboard on the new Sonata Hybrid displays not only gas levels but economy and electric motor information at the New York International Auto Show in New York in 2010. All of it contributes to the true gas mileage.

    'Mileage may vary' proves all too true

    The EPA has used the disclaimer “your mileage may vary” to warn drivers that real-world fuel economy may not live up to its certified ratings. To prevent that mantra from becoming “but nobody gets that,” the agency is stepping up the portion of vehicles it reviews and confirms for mileage.

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    A screen shot from the video game, “Grand Theft Auto V.”

    Gift Guide: 10 games to make any player happy

    A video game store can be daunting if you don’t know what you’re looking for. It’s not easy to tell the winners from the losers, and sales clerks typically make the same salary whether they sell you a gem or a stinker. (“Farming Simulator,” anyone?) So when you head to the mall, take this list. These are some of the best games of 2013.

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    This photo of part of the HealthCare.gov website was photographed Friday in Washington. The beleaguered health insurance website has had periods of down times as as the government tries to fix the problems.

    White House: On track for health care website goal

    The nation’s largest health insurer trade group said significant problems remain.Karen Ignagni, president and CEO of America’s Health Insurance Plans, said insurers have complained that enrollment data sent to them from the website include too much incorrect, duplicative, garbled or missing information. She said the problems must be cleared up to guarantee consumers the coverage they signed up for effective Jan. 1.

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    President Barack Obama, with daughters Sasha, center partially hidden, and Malia, pays for his purchase Saturday at the local bookstore Politics and Prose in Washington.

    Thanksgiving takes more Black Friday sales

    Overall, the retail trade group expects sales to be up 3.9 percent to $602 billion for the season, which encompasses the last two months of the year. That’s higher than last year’s 3.5 percent growth, but below the 6 percent pace seen before the recession.

Life & Entertainment

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    This image released by Disney shows, from left, Anna, voiced by Kristen Bell, Olaf, voiced by Josh Gad, and Kristoff, voiced by Jonathan Groff in a scene from the animated feature “Frozen.” The animated musical opened with $67 million over the Thanksgiving weekend making it the biggest opening on the holiday ever — beating out “Harry Potter and the Scorcer’s Stone.”

    ‘Catching Fire,’ ‘Frozen’ break box office records

    “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” and 3-D animated musical “Frozen” dished up box office records over the Thanksgiving holiday. Lionsgate’s sequel earned a prodigious $75 million in its second weekend, while Disney’s frosty fete opened with $67 million, according to studio estimates Sunday. Both films bested the previous Thanksgiving record holder, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” which earned $57.5 million in 2001 over a three-day period.

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    Paul Walker

    Officials: Speed a factor in Paul Walker crash

    Details continue to emerge about the fiery car crash that killed “Fast & Furious” star Paul Walker and one other person.The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department says speed was a factor in the one-car crash in the community of Valencia. Deputies found a red Porsche engulfed in flames when they arrived Saturday afternoon.

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    Carrie Underwood, left, and Stephen Moyer rehearse a scene for “The Sound of Music Live!,” airing on NBC Thursday, Dec. 5.

    Carrie Underwood steps into Julie Andrews' role

    When “The Sound of Music Live!” airs on NBC Dec. 5, it will make history: More than a half-century has passed since a broadcast network has dared to mount a full-scale musical for live TV. It would have been risky enough revisiting this Rodgers and Hammerstein classic on any terms. But this is no remake of the Julie Andrews juggernaut. Rather, “The Sound of Music Live!” is the 1959 Broadway musical reimagined for TV.

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    Richardson Farm is Spring Grove offers thousands of trees across 75 acres.

    Suburban Christmas tree farms celebrate tradition

    For many families, searching for — and cutting down — the perfect Christmas tree is the first ritual that kicks off the festive season. And cut-your-own-tree farms around the suburbs don't just offer the tree, but also perks like visits with Santa, wagon rides and hot chocolate.

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    Grandparents just need a little respect, response

    Q. I need help in handling my son and his wife, so I can keep my dignity, and still see my grandchild.

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    Judi Dench, left, and Steve Coogan in “Philomena.” The British comic and Oscar-winning actress co-star in the film, which explores the benefits and costs of faith through the true story of Philomena Lee.

    ‘Philomena’ explores friendship, family, faith

    Steve Coogan and Judi Dench were drawn to “Philomena” by faith. The British comic and Oscar-winning actress co-star in the film opening Friday, which explores the benefits and costs of faith through the true story of Philomena Lee. Lee was an unwed, pregnant teenager in 1952 when her Irish Catholic family sent her to a convent in shame. She worked seven days a week for her keep but allowed only an hour a day with her son, Anthony. After three years, the boy was sold for adoption in the United States, and Lee spent the next five decades looking for him.

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    A gift for your physical and mental health: a spa vacation

    A good gift for travelers? A spa vacation. Columnist Gail Todd recommends a few that will promote good mental and physical health, and alleviate holiday stress.

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    A skier takes to the slopes at Park City Mountain Resort in Park City, Utah. About half of Utah’s 14 resorts are up and running on snow that piled up during November.

    Ski season off to strong start in Utah

    Utah’s ski industry is getting an early-season intravenous shot. Ski-pass sales and lodging reservations are up as resorts reap the benefit of an improving economy. Even the weather is cooperating, with November building up snow equity on the slopes. Utah boosters hope the Sochi Olympics whip up enthusiasm for skiing, too. Many of the 14 Utah resorts are stepping up offerings for season-pass holders, daily visitors and young learners. They’re holding prices, offering special deals and notably, more multiresort privileges.

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    People visit the British Museum in London recently. The museum’s collection covers millennia of human culture, from ancient to modern times, and best of all, admission is free.

    5 free things to do in London, from art to parks

    There’s no getting around it: The basics of life are pricey in London. The good news is that Britain’s teeming capital is also a city of cultural riches, historic buildings and gorgeous parks, many of which can be experienced for free. It’s also a magnificent city in which to wander. A walk through almost any area of central London will uncover eclectic architecture, intriguing monuments and surprising pockets of greenery.

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    The master bedroom was an addition to the home of Johanna and Jason Patterson in Geneva, and looks decidedly more modern than most of the home.

    Dream home on display for holidays

    See how a Geneva couple has made a Craftsman house the place they intend to nurture their family for years to come, on the annual Christmas House Walk Dec. 6 and 7.

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    “A Permanent Member of the Family” is a collection of short stories by Russell Banks.

    Banks delivers in short story collection

    Russell Banks has long been criticized as being too depressing, too edgy, too dark. But one could argue that life is also many of those things and struggle is often a key to hope and future happiness. These are the moments that Banks chooses to focus on in “A Permanent Member of the Family,” his new collection of 12 short stories, six of which haven't previously been published.

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    Courtesy of Kohler Choosing a quality faucet is key. However, most kitchen faucets can easily be replaced down the road.

    Put your kitchen sink to work with these accessories

    Q. We’re replacing our counters and plan to install stone countertops with an under-mount-style sink. What current trends do you recommend we include with our new kitchen sink?

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    Organizing your attics and basements

    Attics and basements are the obvious places to store seasonal, overflow and keepsake items. But before you shove a bunch of cardboard boxes into the dark attic or damp basement, consider how and where to store your items so they’ll be in good condition and easy to find.

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    Steps can be taken when repair delays threaten closing

    Q. My contract to buy includes an addendum listing requested repairs. Now, two days before closing is scheduled, there are windows the seller agreed to replace “when they arrive” that won’t be available until after the closing.

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    Glass blocks can be as energy efficient as windows

    Q. My house needs more efficient windows. I live alone, so I am considering some glass block windows for security. Are they very efficient and how can I have some summertime ventilation with them?

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    Bug expert may be able to explain mysterious stains

    Q. All of the sudden this past summer, on two occasions, the wood siding on our front entryway was covered with black/brown spots from some type of bug. They also appeared under both exterior lights. I literally had to scrub each board with soap and water and a hard scrub brush to clean it off.

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    Larry Moats, left, consults with Paul Seils of Busse’s Flowers, who will help decorate the Moats’ family home for Mount Prospect’s holiday housewalk.

    Prospect Park homes, history featured in holiday housewalk

    One of Mount Prospect’s “toniest” neighborhoods will be on display Dec. 6 when the Mount Prospect Historical Society holds its 26th annual Holiday Housewalk. When Axel Lonnquist planned his Prospect Park Country Club subdivision , he promised large, improved lots, a community center, golf course, tennis courts, bowling greens and a bridge path.

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    Courtesy of The Kirk Players The Kirk Players present “The Velveteen Rabbit” at Loyola's Cuneo Museum and Gardens in Vernon Hills.

    Sunday picks: Help a "Velveteen Rabbit" become real

    Mundelein's Kirk Players present an adaptation of "The Velveteen Rabbit" at Vernon Hill's Cuneo Museum and Gardens. Make your own colorful hard candies at Kline Creek Farm in West Chicago. Or tickle your funny bone as comedian Taylor Williamson brings his stand-up to the Improv Comedy Showcase in Schaumburg this weekend.

Discuss

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    Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, U.S. President Jimmy Carter and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin clasp hands on the north lawn of the White House in Washington as they completed the signing of the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel in 1979.

    Editorial: The rise of government-shaped news
    A Daily Herald editorial warns that while the Digital Age brings an amazing wealth of information to our fingertips, it also brings a rise in government propaganda.

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    Arne Duncan’s moment of truth

    Columnist Ruben Navarrette: When we talk about improving public education in America, should we mention race and ethnicity? Here’s a better question: If we’re honest about one of the biggest problems — i.e., the low expectations that many educators have of some students that become a self-fulfilling prophesy — how can we avoid the topic?

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    Obama puts his legacy over citizens’ needs
    A letter to the editor: Thank you, President Obama for shoving the Affordable Care Act down our throats. It appears that in making health care a little more affordable for those on welfare, it has made it unaffordable for everyone.

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    Get facts on Obama’s Gettysburg reading
    An Arlington Heights letter to the editor: After hearing all the GOP outrage regarding President Obama’s omission of “Under God” from his reading of the Gettysburg Address for a documentary by Ken Burns, I figured that the readers and letter writers would soon be penning their own misinformed letters.

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    Our nation wasn’t built on handouts
    A Palatine letter to the editor: After World War II the government started a program for veterans called the 52-20 club. They gave vets $20 a week for 52 weeks. I never took a dime of it, I went to work.

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