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Daily Archive : Sunday December 22, 2013

News

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    Shaw acquiring Joliet Herald-News newspaper

    Wrapports LLC, the parent company of the Chicago Sun-Times, plans to sell the Joliet Herald-News to newspaper publisher B.F. Shaw Printing Co. The pending sale, first reported by Crain's Chicago Business, was confirmed Sunday by an official familiar with the negotiations.

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    Frank Sesko stands by the entry tree, one of 18 in the Inverness home he shares with his wife, Mary Ann.

    Inverness couple want to share Christmas spirit

    Frank Sesko and his wife, Mary Ann love Christmas. They are soliciting people's Christmas memories for a book. Not that they don't have a lot of their own. Frank has been “bringing Santa Claus” to friends, relatives, nursing homes and schools for 50 years.

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    Amanda Jung, left, Hannah Dwinell and Rachel Biersdorf, all of Grayslake, decorate cookies in Santa’s Workshop during the 18th annual Prairie Crossing Cookie Walk and Bake Sale Sunday at Byron Colby Barn in Grayslake. Visitors could choose from thousands of homemade cookies, as well as handmade gifts and unique items from local artisans and merchants.

    Last-minute shopping at Prairie Crossing cookie walk

    Creative last-minute holiday shoppers visited the 18th annual Prairie Crossing Cookie Walk and Bake Sale on Sunday at the Byron Colby Barn in Grayslake. The event featured homemade holiday cookies, handmade gifts, stocking stuffers and other unique items offered by local artisans and businesses. All proceeds went to charity.

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    Chicago Bears' Jay Cutler scrambles during the first half of an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013, in Philadelphia.

    Images: Bears vs. Eagles
    The Chicago Bears played the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday night at Lincoln Financial Field In Philadelphia. The Bears lost an embarrassing game to the Eagles 54-11. The NFC North Division champion will be decided next week when the Bears play the Green Bay Packers.

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    Des Plaines police break up fight

    Fight at Higgins and Mannheim

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    Parkview Elementary third-grader Nathanial Santiago bows his head in prayer during the Veterans Day ceremony at the Carpentersville school in early November. This image jumped out at me during my edit that day, but I opted for images of veterans, first responders and current military personnel in attendance. I love the way he was bowing his head amid the sea of his classmates waving their flags and looking around. This photo was published in the weekly Perspective column in the print edtion.

    Images: The Week in Pictures
    This edition of The Week in Pictures features carolers, hot cocoa drinkers, Santa visitors, and snow shovelers.

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    Window on an American Eagle plane is covered with snow before it is de-iced at O’Hare International Airport Sunday. As Americans and Canadians ushered in the first official day of winter, the weather provided a variety of surprises. Snow and ice hit Michigan, Canada, New England and upstate New York. Some other eastern regions had temperatures in the 60s and 70s.

    Start of winter brings snow, ice and warm weather

    The first full day of winter brought a wild mix of weather across the U.S. on Sunday: ice and high wind in the Great Lakes and New England areas, flooding in the South, snow in the Midwest and record-shattering temperatures in the 60s and 70s along the mid-Atlantic.

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    Rachel Louise Snyder

    Author returning to Naperville with tale of second chance, survival

    Rachel Louise Snyder says she writes about survival. Snyder, whose first novel "What We've Lost is Nothing" comes out Jan. 21, says she owes a great deal of her own survival to a man in Naperville who gave her a second chance. “Everything I write is about how we survive the (stuff) the world throws at us, and the fact that we do survive is the important take-away.”

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    Apple Inc., ending years of negotiations, struck a deal to sell the iPhone through China Mobile Ltd., giving both companies a means to fight a declining share in the world’s largest wireless market.

    Apple reaches deal to bring iPhone to China Mobile

    Apple says it has reached a deal to bring the iPhone to China Mobile, the world’s biggest phone carrier. The deal ends a lengthy courtship and could boost sales of the iPhone in China.

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    Boy Scout Scott Haseman, 14 of Mundelein shakes the snow off Christmas trees Sunday at St. Andrew Lutheran Church in Mundelein, where his troop was conducting a tree sale. Towns in Lake and McHenry counties where heaviest hit by snow early Sunday.

    Wintry mix leaves snow, slick roads across suburbs

    The suburbs received a wintry mix overnight Sunday, with temperatures hovering around the freezing mark. Snowy conditions contributed to numerous crashes on suburban roadways, but there were no immediate reports of serious injuries. Snow and rain are expected to fall throughout the day.

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    Dogs rescued from North Chicago apartment up for adoption

    Five dogs rescued by police last week from a North Chicago apartment will are up for adoption in Bloomingdale. Police announced last Tuesday that about 30 dogs were found suffering from varying degrees of dehydration and malnutrition in a one-bedroom apartment after a complaint was filed to North Chicago Animal Control.

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    U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, at a press conference in Makati, south of Manila, Philippines, Sunday, expressed grave concern about the deteriorating security situation in South Sudan and demanded an end to violence there.

    Rebels hold key oil capital in South Sudan

    South Sudan’s central government lost control of the capital of a key oil-producing state Sunday, the military said, as renegade forces loyal to a former deputy president seized more territory in fighting that has raised fears of full-blown civil war in the world’s newest country.

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    Musician Tom Malouf sings Christmas carols Sunday as Miles Carlson, 3, joins him from his front row seat at the Batavia Public Library. Miles’ mother Jodi, of Batavia, said, “He’s got the spirit!”

    Holiday tunes get Batavia crowd dancing

    Tom Malouf’s folksy musical spirit was so engaging at the Batavia Public Library on Sunday he had to encourage some audience members to get back in their seats during his Holiday Sing-Along.

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    Five-time Major League Baseball All-Star and former Chicago White Sox slugger Jim Thome works with young players Sunday on hitting at the Chicago Bulls/White Sox Academy in Lisle. “This is great. It’s fun to give back,” Thome said.

    Former White Sox slugger Jim Thome talks hitting with suburban youngsters

    A group of young suburban baseball players got the thrill of a lifetime Sunday when former White Sox slugger Jim Thome led a three-hour clinic on hitting at the Bulls/White Sox Academy in Lisle. After the clinic, participants received autographed bats from Thome.

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    Winter dodgeball championships in Schaumburg

    The National Amateur Dodgeball Association (NADA) and dodgeball enthusiasts will take over the Schaumburg Park District’s Sport Center during the Winter Nationals Indoor Dodgeball Championships Jan. 3 and 4. The youth competition will begin at 4 p.m. Jan. 3 and the adult competition at 10 a.m. Jan. 4.

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    Celebrate the new year at museum

    You can celebrate the new year Dec. 30 and 31 with activities at the Lake County Discovery Museum, which is in the Lakewood Forest Preserve near Wauconda.

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    Lake Zurich seeking trustee

    Lake Zurich is seeking a replacement for Trustee Dana Rzeznik, who recently resigned due to job commitments.

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    Alzheimer’s Association seeks volunteers

    The Alzheimer’s Association, Greater Illinois Chapter is seeking outgoing and engaging volunteers interested in becoming Alzheimer’s Association support group facilitators.

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    Mikhail Khodorkovsky, right, listens to Checkpoint Charlie Museum curator, Alexandra Hildebrandt, left, as he arrives for a press conference at the museum in Berlin, Sunday. Former oil baron Khodorkovsky was reunited with his family in Berlin on Saturday, a day after being released from a decade-long imprisonment in Russia.

    Khodorkovsky will work to free political inmates

    Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the Russian oligarch who crossed President Vladimir Putin and ended up in jail for a decade, says he plans to devote his life to securing the freedom of the country’s political prisoners.

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    Antioch Fire Chief John Nixon is one of several local officials serving on a newly created fire safety commission tasked to streamline fire and rescue services in the village and Antioch Township.

    Commission studying Antioch-area fire, rescue services with goal to streamline protection

    Residents in Antioch and Antioch Township have what might be considered an embarrassment of riches when it comes to emergency protection. That’s because four fire or rescue agencies provide services to about 28,000 residents over a 37-square-mile area. A new committee has been formed to streamline the system and make it less confusing. “The overall goal is to deliver the highest...

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    Cosley Zoo in Wheaton offers a half-hour program each day that allows visitors to go behind the scenes at the bobcat exhibit. After feeding, bobcat Val licks remaining food particles from his cage.

    Cosley Zoo offers behind-the-scenes look at bobcats

    Cosley Zoo in Wheaton offers a half-hour program each day that allows visitors to go behind the scenes at the bobcat exhibit to see the animals up close and watch a training session. Event starts at 11 a.m. but you should sign in at the gift shop at 10:30 a.m. -- they'll be expecting you.

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    In her annual Thanksgiving letter to clients, Wheaton financial planner Theresa Hannon included a $100 bill and a request to use that money for a good cause. It proved to be a good investment in human nature.

    Financial adviser's $100 bills come with nice catch

    In her annual Thanksgiving letter to clients, Wheaton financial planner Theresa Hannon included a $100 bill and a request to use that money for a good cause. It proved to be a good investment in human nature. “It's so heartwarming,” Hannon says. “People say, 'Oh, what you've done is great,' and I haven't done anything. They did it.”

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    N. Aurora teacher wins top award in agriculture

    Cathy Britts-Axen of North Aurora was named the Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom Teacher of the Year for an agriculture unit she started at Central Middle School in Burlington three years ago. But she deflected the glory. “It’s a group effort — it’s really a team effort,” she said. “I think I had the vision, but all the teachers put in their vision and had...

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    Anthony Faormina, 7, attends Bell Graham School in St. Charles. “Wich is the best season of the year? Winter is the best season. It is football you get to tachle people hard. Also snow is fun to play in. You can make snow balls. Then Christmas is coming up and you get lots of presents. I hope you like your presents. Winter seems very fun to me.”

    Images: Weather Sketchers, Dec. 15-21
    Artwork from our young Weather Sketchers for the week of Dec. 15-21.

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    A Sami handler in traditional clothing holds two of his herd in Saariselka, Finnish Lapland.

    Some things you didn’t know about reindeer

    One fact: Reindeer eyes change color between summer and winter to adapt to the widely varying levels of light in the high north.

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    Jacque Erickson teaches a bilingual multi-age class of first- and second-graders, including Brayan Ponce, Ashley Aguilar, Victor Navidad and Emily Medina, at Jane Addams Elementary School in Palatine Elementary District 15, where the student minority population has grown to 56 percent.

    Schools seeing more diversity than communities they serve

    Diversity is a reality for more suburban school districts each year, as percentages of students from Hispanic, Asian, black and other minority backgrounds continue to grow. Educators such as Mary Zarr in Palatine District 15 see the face of these changes every day but wonder if the broader community is taking notice. “I don't think people have fully grasped the fast-changing demographics of...

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    A Malmstrom Air Force Base missile maintenance team removes the upper section of an ICBM at a Montana missile site. The hundreds of nuclear missiles that have stood war-ready for decades in underground silos along remote stretches of America, silent and unseen, packed with almost unimaginable destructive power, are a force in distress, if not in decline.

    U.S. nuclear missiles in distress

    The Congressional Budget Office on Friday estimated that strategic nuclear forces would cost the Pentagon $132 billion over the next 10 years, based on current plans. That would include $20 billion for the ICBM force alone. It does not include an estimated $56 billion for the 10-year cost of communications and other systems needed to command and control the whole nuclear force.

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    Soldiers of the East Africa Response Force, a Djibouti-based joint team assigned to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, depart from a U.S. Air Force C-130 Hercules in Juba, South Sudan to support of an ordered departure of personnel from the city. Gunfire hit three U.S. military CV-22 Osprey aircraft Saturday.

    Three U.S. military aircraft hit in South Sudan, 4 wounded

    The U.S. military said three CV-22 Ospreys — the kind of aircraft that can fly like a helicopter and plane — were “participating in a mission to evacuate American citizens in Bor.” A South Sudan official said violence against civilians there has resulted in bodies “sprinkled all over town.”

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    Target breach leads Chase bank to limit debit users

    Just in time for last-minute shopping, some JP Morgan Chase customers found out Saturday that limits have been placed on their debit and credit cards, due to the Target data breach.

Sports

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    Former White Sox catcher Herrmann dies
    Former White Sox catcher Ed Herrmann died Sunday at the age of 67 following a long battle with prostate cancer.

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    Hohlweg, St. Viator taste victory

    Jessica Hohlweg said the game plan for St. Viator on Monday night was to get the ball inside. The Lions succeeded quite often and Hohlweg was often the beneficiary. The 5-foot-11 junior forward scored a career-high 15 points to help lead the Lions to a 47-38 triumph over Leyden in the first-round game of the 31st annual St. Viator Snowflake Girls Basketball Tournament in Arlington Heights.

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    Bears coach Marc Trestman, left, and Eagles coach Chip Kelly meet on the field after Philadelphia’s rout of the Bears on Sunday night.

    So fitting that it comes down to Bears-Packers

    After the Packers gave the Bears an early Christmas gift, the Bears re-gifted it right back to them. The fallout is these two fabulously flawed teams will play for the NFC North title Sunday in Soldier Field.

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    Bears do little to slow down Eagles’ McCoy

    Sunday night’s game featured two of the top three players in yards from scrimmage, but only one of them put up typical numbers. The Eagles’ LeSean McCoy had an NFL-best 1,850 yards (1,343 rushing and 507 receiving through 14 games. He added 133 rushing yards on 18 carries and 29 yards on 6 catches to those totals. “We just missed too many tackles,” said Bears rookie linebacker Jon Bostic. “You can’t do that against a back like him.”

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    Bears quarterback Jay Cutler fumbles the ball as he is hit by the Eagles’ Mychal Kendricks during the second half Sunday night.

    NFC North does Bears big favor

    Amid the misery, there was good news for the Bears Sunday. The rest of the division lost and the Bears are still in a position to win the NFC North with a victory over the Packers.

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    Bears receiver Alshon Jeffery watches from the sidelines during the second half of an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013, in Philadelphia.

    Bears totally dismantled by Eagles

    The Bears were horrendous in every phase of the game in Sunday night's blowout loss to the Eagles in Philadelphia. But Marc Trestman's team still can win the NFC North and make the playoffs with a victory over the Packers Sunday at Soldier Field.

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    LeSean McCoy looks for room to run as Bears linebacker Jonathan Bostic attempts to close in during the Eagles’ win Sunday. McCoy rumbled for 133 yards and now has 1,476 on the season.

    Defense gets shredded from beginning to end

    With everything to play for, facing a Philadelphia Eagles’ team which knew going in it essentially had little to gain by winning, the Bears realistically couldn’t have wished for more.Then that old axiom proved true once again. “Be careful what you wish for.’’ Not even the return of Lance Briggs to bolster a struggling defense could save them from the 54-11 onslaught that would follow. Now, instead of having essentially a week off to rest up for the playoffs as NFC Central champs, they’ll be forced to play for their lives Sunday vs. a Packers team that must be shocked to be getting a reprieve.“Everybody was in tune with what was happening,” said cornerback Tim Jennings, after the 9-6 Eagles surged to a 21-0 first-quarter lead and never looked back, chewing up the defense for 514 yards, 289 on the ground. “We knew the Packers and Lions had both lost.“But they (the Eagles) started out fast and capitalized on opportunities. They got the momentum quick, jumped out on us early and never stopped. They didn’t do anything we hadn’t seen on film. Obviously we missed some tackles and didn’t get off the field on third down. “(LeSean) McCoy’s shifty. He’ll make you miss in open space. You have to gang tackle him.”McCoy, on the verge of winning the NFL rushing title with 1,476 yards, ran 18 times for 133 yards and 2 touchdowns. Nick Foles, whom Bears nose tackle Stephen Paea compared to the Steelers’ QB Ben Roethlisberger, picked the secondary apart, going 21-for-25 for 230 yards and 2 scores.Despite knowing they still must beat Dallas next week, Philadelphia was the aggressors from the start, dismantling a Bears defense Dick Butkus and Mike Singletary would surely disown. “No excuses. We got beat,” said defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff. “There’s not much to really say. “Today obviously we didn’t get it done. Thank God we have next week. You can sit here and beat yourself up and talk about how bad it is, get in a funk and Green Bay can come in and do the same thing. “You just have to put it behind you and move on.”At least the Bears won’t have to wonder about a play here or there that might have spelled the difference. They were crushed in this one from the start, as the Eagles erased the sting of last week’s 48-30 pratfall in Minnesota by scoring on their first three possessions.It would only get worse from there. “We just couldn’t make tackles,” said rookie linebacker Jonathan Bostic. “They played better than us all around.“We weren’t paying attention to the other games. We just worry about us.”Based on the sorry performance they put on before the eyes of the nation, these Bears clearly have a lot to worry about. Because by the time the gun mercifully sounded no one was happier than the Bears, the team who had everything to play for — yet responded with absolutely nothing.

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    The Philadelphia Eagles’ Bryce Brown, right, breaks free of Bears James Anderson, top left, and Roc Carmichael during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013, in Philadelphia.

    Bears annihilated by Eagles, 54-11

    PHILADELPHIA — With little on the line until next week, Chip Kelly didn’t rest his starters until they finished whipping the Bears.Nick Foles threw two touchdown passes, LeSean McCoy ran for two scores and the Philadelphia Eagles routed the Bears 54-11 on Sunday night in a matchup of first-place teams with opposite stakes.Chicago’s loss sets up two winner-take-all games for NFC division crowns next week.The Bears (8-7) came in needing a win to clinch the NFC North and secure the No. 3 seed while Philadelphia was just trying to stay healthy. But the Eagles (9-6) played like the team trying to lock up a playoff berth. Now, the Bears must tie or beat the Packers (7-7-1) at home next week to win the North.The Eagles (9-6) have to tie or beat the Cowboys (8-7) in Dallas next Sunday night to win the NFC East and complete a worst-to-first season under their rookie coach. Once Dallas rallied to beat Washington earlier in the day, the Eagles knew they were only playing for a No. 3 seed even if they win the division. Still, Kelly played all his guys,Foles was 21 of 25 for 230 yards, and set a franchise record with a completion percentage of 84.0. In only nine starts, Foles has 25 TD passes and two interceptions. He was replaced by Michael Vick midway through the fourth quarter. By that time, fans were chanting: “We want Dallas!”McCoy, trying to become the first Eagles player to lead the NFL in rushing since Hall of Famer Steve Van Buren in 1949, ran for 133 yards and leads Kansas City’s Jamaal Charles by 189 going into the last game.Bryce Brown had 115 yards rushing, including a 65-yard TD run.The Eagles dominated from the start.Trent Cole sacked Jay Cutler to force a three-and-out on Chicago’s first possession, and the Eagles went right down the field and scored when Foles hit Riley Cooper going across the back of the end zone on a 5-yard pass.Bradley Fletcher then forced Devin Hester to fumble after a 36-yard kickoff return and Cary Williams recovered at the Bears 39. Foles connected with Zach Ertz for 27 yards and McCoy ran in from the 1 to make it 14-0. The Bears went three-and-out again and Foles drove the Eagles 72 yards, tossing a 10-yard TD pass to Brent Celek on third down.Cedric Thornton tackled Matt Forte in the end zone for a safety and a 26-3 lead in the third quarter. McCoy then ran in from the 1 to make it 33-3.Chris Polk had a 10-yard TD run in the fourth quarter and Brandon Boykin returned an interception 54 yards for a score to make it 47-11. Chicago’s only TD came when Cutler tossed a 6-yard pass to Brandon Marshall on the final play of the third quarter.Cole had three of Philadelphia’s five sacks on Cutler, who hadn’t gone down more than three times in a game previously this season.Bears seven-time Pro Bowl linebacker Lance Briggs returned to the lineup after missing seven games because of a fractured shoulder. He wasn’t much help.The Eagles racked up 514 yards.The Bears had a chance to secure a division title because Green Bay lost to Pittsburgh and the New York Giants eliminated Detroit from playoff contention.

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    Aucoin’s goal lifts Wolves in OT

    The Chicago Wolves and center Keith Aucoin needed only 27 seconds to finish off the Milwaukee Admirals in overtime Sunday afternoon, claiming a 2-1 victory in an Amtrak Rivalry game at the Allstate Arena.

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    Pittsburgh Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger breaks away from Green Bay Packers’ Jamari Lattimore (57) for a touchdown run during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013, in Green Bay, Wis.

    Packers drop wild game to Steelers

    GREEN BAY, Wis. — Remarkably, the Pittsburgh Steelers are still in the playoff chase, thanks to a wild win at snowy Lambeau Field.Le’Veon Bell ran for a 1-yard touchdown with 1:28 left, then Pittsburgh withstood Green Bay’s last throw into the end zone and dealt the Packers’ playoff hopes a blow with a 38-31 victory Sunday.It’s a longshot, but the Steelers (7-8) are still mathematically in the hunt for an AFC wild-card spot. They need a lot of help.The loss meant Green Bay (7-7-1) needed Chicago to lose at Philadelphia on Sunday night to stay in playoff contention.Bell’s TD came soon after scrambling Packers quarterback Matt Flynn fumbled while being tackled by safety Troy Polamalu. The Steelers recovered at the Packers 17 and scored five plays later. Micah Hyde’s 70-yard kickoff return to the Steelers 31 gave the Packers one last chance. Green Bay got to the 1, but after a Packers penalty the game ended when Flynn’s pass to Jarrett Boykin sailed incomplete in the end zone.The Steelers overcame a rarely-seen illegal batting penalty that negated a blocked field goal, and won after a roller-coaster second half.Bell finished with 26 carries for 124 yards. The Packers’ Eddie Lacy had 15 carries for 84 yards and two scores in a game featuring two of the league’s top rookie running backs. Steelers cornerback Cortez Allen returned an interception 40 yards for a touchdown and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger dashed through the snow for a 13-yard score.It all happened in a wild second half, but those plays were overshadowed by the illegal batting call. After the Steelers blocked the kick, a scramble ensued and the jostled ball ended up near the sideline, where Steelers defensive lineman Ziggy Hood poked it out of bounds. After conferring for a few minutes, the officials gave possession to Green Bay, ruling the Steelers never controlled the ball after the block and that it never crossed the line of scrimmage of the Steelers 5.One play later, Lacy barreled into the end zone from 2 yards for a 21-17 lead.Instead of sulking, the Steelers answered quickly.Roethlisberger found Matt Spaeth for an 11-yard touchdown pass with 2 minutes left in the third. Fourteen seconds later, Allen made his leaping interception and ran untouched into the end zone.The Packers roared back with a 22-yard field goal by Mason Crosby before John Kuhn’s 1-yard touchdown run with 7:17 left tied the game at 31. But the Steelers finally finished things off with Bell’s touchdown run and the Packers’ failed last-ditch throw into the end zone.Flynn finished 21 of 39 for 232 yards and a touchdown making his fourth start in place of injured quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who has been out since fracturing his left collarbone on Nov. 4. Linebacker Clay Matthews also left following a sack apparently re-aggravating a right thumb injury that kept him out of action for four games this year. Steelers receiver Emmanuel Sanders left with a knee injury. He had a 1-yard touchdown grab in the first quarter.

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    Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford, seen here in a June file photo, skated before Sunday’s practice and coach Joel Quenneville expects the veteran to be back with his teammates following a three-day holiday break this week.

    Blackhawks’ Crawford closer to returning

    The return of Corey Crawford to a net near you is drawing closer and closer. Crawford skated before Sunday’s practice — his fourth straight day on the ice — and Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville expects the veteran to be back with his teammates following a three-day holiday break this week.

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    Blackhawks game day
    Blackhawks coverage

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    New York Giants wide receiver Jerrel Jernigan (12) scores a touchdown defended by Detroit Lions cornerback Bill Bentley, center, and free safety Louis Delmas during the second quarter of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013, in Detroit.

    Lions lose in overtime to Giants

    DETROIT — The Detroit Lions eliminated themselves from the playoff picture.Sure, Josh Brown’s 45-yard field goal on the third drive of overtime lifted the New York Giants to a 23-20 win over Detroit on Sunday. But the Lions (7-8) lost for the fifth time in six games, blowing fourth-quarter leads in each setback that might seal Jim Schwartz’s fate.The embattled coach chose to play for overtime by running out the clock with 23 seconds and two timeouts left from the Detroit 25. When the crowd reacted with a chorus of boos, Schwartz turned his head toward the stands and appeared to angrily shout back at the fans.Schwartz has lost nine straight games in December or January, leading to his job being in jeopardy.Detroit needed some help to stay in postseason contention and got it when Pittsburgh won at Green Bay, but the Packers’ loss turned out to be moot when the lowly Lions fell.The Giants (6-9) overcame Eli Manning’s interception late in regulation and Andre Brown’s fumble on the opening possession in overtime to win for the second time in five games.With nothing to lose, New York went on fourth-and-7 from the Lions 42. Manning connected with Jerrel Jernigan to set up the winning kick the second straight by a visitor at Ford Field.Manning was 23 of 42 for 256 yards with a TD pass to Jernigan — his first career score and an NFL-high 26th interception.Stafford was worse: 25 of 42 for 222 yards and two interceptions, the second returned by Will Hill for a TD that to tied it at 20 with 4:57 left in the lackluster game.Stafford’s first interception and Reggie Bush’s career-high fourth fumble in the first half let the offensively challenged Giants take a 13-3 lead at halftime.New York started the game with an NFL-high 39 turnovers and Detroit ranked third in the dubious category with 31.The Giants didn’t have a turnover in the first half, while the Lions gave away the ball twice in the first half. It was costly each time.Manning’s 20-yard pass to Jernigan gave the Giants a 10-3 lead after Bush’s fumble. Jernigan, a third-year receiver, took advantage of more playing time with Victor Cruz out after left knee surgery Thursday. Detroit cornerback Bill Bentley was beaten by Jernigan on the play and hit by safety Louis Delmas, who gave his teammate a concussion.Brown’s 52-yard field goal put New York ahead by double digits with 9 seconds left in the half. The kick came two snaps after Lions safety Don Carey got a delay-of-game penalty.Detroit’s Jeremy Ross returned the first punt of the second half 50 yards to set up a 1-yard TD run by Joique Bell to make it 13-10.Lions defensive tackle Nick Fairley sacked Manning in the end zone to pull the Lions within a point late in the third quarter.Detroit went ahead for the first time on the ensuing possession. Rookie running back Theo Riddick ran for a 2-yard TD and Fauria caught a pass for a 2-point conversion to give the Lions a 20-13 lead.The Lions, though, blew it and their chance to possibly win their first division title since 1993.

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    Chicago Bears defensive tackle Henry Melton, shown here celebrating a sack in a game last year against the Dallas Cowboys, was arrested early Sunday morning after an altercation at a suburban Dallas bar. Police said Melton, who is out for the season with a knee injury, was charged with assault and public intoxication.

    Bears’ DT Henry Melton arrested in Texas bar dispute

    Chicago Bears defensive tackle Henry Melton has been charged with assault and public intoxication after refusing to leave a bar and fighting with employees in a Dallas suburb.Grapevine police Sgt. Robert Eberling says Melton was arrested early Sunday at Chill Sports Bar after becoming belligerent. The nearly 300-pound Melton, who suffered a cut nose but declined treatment, was freed on $1,210 bond.

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    Patriots roll past Ravens 41-7

    BALTIMORE — Logan Ryan had two interceptions, LeGarrette Blount scored twice and the playoff-bound New England Patriots breezed past Baltimore 41-7 Sunday, ending the Ravens’ four-game winning streak and diminishing the postseason hopes of the defending Super Bowl champions.This rematch of the AFC championship game was a mismatch from the outset. New England took a 17-0 lead early in the second quarter and never let up behind a defense that forced four turnovers and had four sacks.The Patriots (11-4) were assured their fifth straight AFC East title before the game started when Miami lost at Buffalo. It’s the 11th division crown for New England coach Bill Belichick, tied with Don Shula for most since the 1970 merger.The loss eliminated the Ravens (8-7) from contention in the AFC North and dropped them into a tie with Miami and San Diego for the final AFC wild-card slot. Baltimore closes the regular season at Cincinnati, which displaced the Ravens as division champs.

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    Arizona scores late to stun Seattle

    SEATTLE — Carson Palmer delivered in time to keep the Arizona Cardinals’ playoff hopes alive. Palmer overcame four interceptions to throw a 31-yard touchdown to Michael Floyd with 2:13 left. The Cardinals kept their postseason hopes going with a 17-10 win over Seattle on Sunday, snapping the Seahawks 14-game home win streak. Arizona (10-5) had to win after Carolina beat New Orleans. And the Cardinals did thanks to a stingy defense that flustered Russell Wilson into one of his worst days as a pro, delaying any celebration of an NFC West championship. The Seahawks can still clinch the NFC West with a win over St. Louis next Sunday. Palmer twice was intercepted in the end zone, including Richard Sherman’s second pick of the game early in the fourth quarter. After Seattle (12-3) took a 10-9 lead with 7:26 left, Palmer led the Cardinals 75 yards and found Floyd for a juggling TD catch with 2:13 left. Arizona wrapped up the stunning victory when Wilson’s pass deflected off Doug Baldwin’s arm and was intercepted by Karlos Dansby with 1:56 left. The Cardinals were able to celebrate handing Seattle its first home loss since Dec. 24, 2011 against San Francisco — and the first for Wilson. Palmer finished 13 of 25 for 178 yards. Floyd’s TD reception was his only catch and Larry Fitzgerald was held to three catches for 18 yards. It was the second time in three weeks the Seahawks let a fourth-quarter lead slip away. Despite those paltry numbers and Palmer’s interceptions, the Cardinals had a chance late because of their defense. Wilson finished 11 of 27 for 108 yards, taking his first home loss since he was at North Carolina State. He rarely had time to throw and when he did, he missed open receivers. His final pass was underthrown, with Doug Baldwin wide open if the throw was on target. Palmer’s winning drive made up for his earlier errors. He was intercepted in the end zone first by Kam Chancellor on Arizona’s opening drive. He was picked off by Malcolm Smith in Seattle territory in the second quarter, and twice threw interceptions into Sherman’s arms. But Palmer was fantastic on Arizona’s decisive drive. It started with a third-down completion as he was about to get sandwiched by Clinton McDonald, flipping a pass to Jake Ballard for 17 yards. The drive was kept going when Smith was flagged for defensive holding on a third-down incompletion.On third-and-6, Palmer dropped a perfect throw beyond cornerback Byron Maxwell and into Floyd’s hands. He juggled it at first but controlled the ball as he hit the turf. Rashard Mendenhall scored easily on the 2-point conversion with 2:13 left.

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    Chargers beat Oakland to stay alive

    SAN DIEGO — Philip Rivers threw a go-ahead, 4-yard touchdown pass to rookie Keenan Allen in the third quarter and the San Diego Chargers remained alive in the playoff race by overcoming three turnovers to beat Oakland 26-13 on Sunday.The Chargers also got help from Buffalo, which beat Miami 19-0, and was getting help from New England, which was leading Baltimore.The Chargers (8-7), who have won three straight games for the first time this season, need more help to end a three-year playoff drought. They have to beat Kansas City at home next Sunday and have Miami and Baltimore both lose.Oakland (4-11) helped San Diego, too, by committing 12 penalties for 73 yards. Mike Jenkins was penalized 15 yards for taunting Ryan Mathews after he pushed the running back out of bounds. Allen scored six plays later.

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    Bills blitz Dolphins in 19-0 win

    ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Kyle Williams had two sacks as the Buffalo Bills set a single-season record and put a dent into the Miami Dolphins’ playoff chances with a 19-0 win Sunday afternoon.Fred Jackson had 111 yards rushing and scored on a 9-yard run, while the Bills limited the Dolphins to a season-low 103 yards offense and six first downs. The Bills (6-9) closed their home schedule with seven sacks for 56 this season, breaking their previous high of 50 during a 14-game season in 1964.Dan Carpenter sealed the win by hitting four field goals, including a 45-yarder.The Dolphins (8-7) had a three-game winning streak snapped and are in jeopardy of missing the playoffs for the fifth consecutive season. Miami needs help from other teams to have a shot, and closes the season hosting the New York Jets next weekend.

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    Luck, Brown lead Colts past Chiefs

    KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Indianapolis Colts took Round 1 against the Kansas City Chiefs.Depending on how things shake out, Round 2 could come in the playoffs in two weeks.Andrew Luck threw for 241 yards and a touchdown, Donald Brown ran 51 yards for another score and the Colts beat the Chiefs 23-7 on Sunday in a potential preview of an AFC wild-card game.The Colts (10-5), who have already wrapped up the AFC South, took advantage of four turnovers by the Chiefs (11-4) to win for the fifth time in their last six tries against Kansas City. If Indianapolis ends up as the No. 4 seed in the playoffs, and the Chiefs are the fifth seed, the two teams will meet again in the warmer environs of Lucas Oil Stadium. Kansas City’s hopes of winning the AFC West and earning the No. 1 seed were dashed when Denver beat Houston on Sunday.Alex Smith threw for 153 yards, but he fumbled once and was picked off twice after throwing just six interceptions his first 14 games. Jamaal Charles ran for 106 yards and the game’s opening score, but Kansas City failed to keep him involved as the Colts scored the final 23 points.Both teams came into the game with a league-low 14 turnovers, and the Chiefs had been plus-21 in turnover differential. The Colts did not commit a turnover in the game.After missing his first field-goal attempt, Adam Vinatieri hit his next three despite frigid temperatures and swirling winds at Arrowhead Stadium. He came into the game needing just one point to pass fellow kicker Jason Elam (1,983) for the seventh-most points in NFL history.Early on, the Chiefs appeared as if they were going to pick up right where they left off last week, when they hung 56 points on the Raiders. They marched downfield on the opening drive, and Charles took a carry around the right side 31 yards for a touchdown.The Colts defense stiffened after that, though, and the closest Kansas City came to scoring again in the first half came when Ryan Succop yanked a 47-yard field goal wide left.Meanwhile, Indianapolis kept taking advantage of breakdowns in the Kansas City pass defense, the most glaring one coming after running back Knile Davis fumbled in the second quarter.Brown leaked out of the backfield unnoticed by the Kansas City defense, Luck hit him with a dump-off pass that he took virtually untouched 33 yards for a score.Vinatieri’s second field goal pushed the Colts’ lead to 13-7 at the break.The definition of disciplined most of the season, the Chiefs came unglued with a series of turnovers and inopportune penalties that ruined any chance of a second-half comeback.Smith was picked off on the third play of the third quarter when he was hit from behind by Robert Mathis and the ball was caught by linebacker Jerrell Freeman. Two plays later, Brown raced through a gaping hole and then tight-rope walked down the sideline 51 yards for a score.Vinatieri added to the Colts’ cushion with his third field goal, capping a drive kept alive by a defensive holding penalty on cornerback Sean Smith and a taunting penalty on defensive tackle Dontari Poe that came after the Chiefs had already held on third down.Smith was picked off again by Freeman in the end zone midway through the fourth quarter, and then the quarterback fumbled the ball away with 3:24 left to seal the outcome.

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    Titans’ Washington scores to beat Jaguars 20-16

    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Nate Washington spoiled Brad Meester’s home finale. He also may have helped save Mike Munchak’s job.Washington scored on a 30-yard reception in the fourth quarter and Tennessee got a much-needed defensive stop late — both equally huge in helping the Titans beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 20-16 and end a three-game losing streak Sunday.Munchak surely didn’t need getting swept by Jacksonville on his resume.And with lowly Houston up next, the Titans (6-9) could make a case for keeping their longtime player and coach another year.Tennessee overcame a 10-point deficit in the second half and won for just the third time since September.Washington made several key plays, none bigger than when he slipped behind Alan Ball and caught Ryan Fitzpatrick’s pass early in the fourth period for the go-ahead score. He finished with six catches for 117 yards.The Jaguars (4-11) were in position to take the lead after that, but Ropati Pitoitua stuffed Maurice Jones-Drew on a fourth-and-1 play at the Tennessee 20 with 5:21 remaining.It was the seventh fourth-down attempt in a fairly entertaining game, one of three on this weekend’s NFL schedule with no playoff implications.The highlight came when Jacksonville honored the retiring Meester with a reception — the pass-catching kind.The Jaguars called a screen play for the 14-year veteran center who announced Wednesday that Sunday’s game would be his home finale.Meester spent his entire career in Jacksonville, and the team recognized him before the game by only announcing him in pregame introductions. It was a nice tough. The Jaguars also honored him after the game, presenting him with four framed jerseys.But offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch didn’t wait for the postgame celebration. He dialed up a play for Meester in the first quarter.Meester reported as an eligible receiver, lined up at tight end and then caught the screen pass. Meester had fellow offensive linemen Uche Nwaneri and Austin Pasztor out front and plenty of open space.But Meester ran into Nwaneri’s back — maybe expected for someone making his first career catch.Still, the play gained 9 yards and set up Chad Henne’s 4-yard touchdown pass to Marcedes Lewis.The Jaguars were up 13-6 after Henne hooked up with Mike Brown late in the first half, but Josh Scobee’s extra point was blocked. That proved big, especially when Jacksonville was in field-goal range late but had to go for it on fourth down.Jones-Drew finished with 45 yards, becoming the 46th player in NFL history with 8,000 yards rushing.Henne completed 24 of 34 passes for 237 yards, with two touchdowns and an interception. Fitzpatrick was 17-of-26 passing for 181 yards, with a touchdown and an interception for Tennessee. Shonn Greene ran for 91 yards and a score, and Chris Johnson finished with 90 yards on the ground.Losing to Jacksonville could have been the final blow for Munchak, whose team had dropped eight of 10 heading in Sunday. The Texans fired Gary Kubiak after getting swept by the Jaguars.And Jacksonville was about as banged up as any team late in the season. The Jags played without several starters and lost a few more — defensive tackle Brandon Deaderick, linebacker John Thomas and cornerback Dwayne Gratz — in the game.

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    Jets fly past Browns 24-13

    EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — If this was Rex Ryan’s home finale as the New York Jets’ coach, his players made it a good one.Geno Smith threw two touchdown passes to David Nelson and ran for another score as the Jets topped the Cleveland Browns 24-13 on Sunday.With Ryan’s job status uncertain, the Jets showed no signs of a team playing out the string. The players and coaches took a victory lap and high-fived fans after the game.Smith had his first game with at least two TD passes since October, with no turnovers or sacks. The rookie was 20 of 36 for 214 yards and also ran for 48 yards — including a 17-yard scoring scamper in the fourth quarter.Chris Ivory rushed for 109 yards on 20 carries for the Jets (7-8), who were eliminated from the playoff picture last week. Nelson, cut by the Browns after training camp, finished with four catches for 33 yards.Jason Campbell was intercepted twice as the Browns (4-11) lost their sixth straight, and the offense was hurt with star tight end Jordan Cameron out with a concussion.Edwin Baker had a touchdown run, and Josh Gordon was somewhat held in check by rookie Dee Milliner, catching six passes for 97 yards.With the game tied at 10, Nelson got his second touchdown catch of the game on the second play of the fourth quarter, a 5-yarder. Smith last threw at least two touchdown passes at Atlanta in Week 5 — on Oct. 7.Two plays after Baker’s 2-yard touchdown run was nullified by a false start penalty on Gary Barnidge, Billy Cundiff kicked a 21-yard field goal to make it 17-13.New York took control of the game with a drive of over 6 minutes capped by Smith zipping up the middle for a 17-yard touchdown, his fifth rushing score of the season, to make it 24-13 with 3:19 left. The Jets converted four third-down plays on the drive, including Smith’s TD.Ed Reed intercepted Campbell in the closing moments to seal the win for the Jets.The Browns led 10-0 late in the first half, but it could have been more. Campbell threw three straight incompletions — the last two to Gordon — from the Jets 1 early in the second quarter to turn the ball over on downs.Then the Jets scored twice in 78 seconds to tie the game. Nelson capped a 13-play drive by catching a 6-yard pass in the back of the end zone for his first touchdown with New York.After the Browns went three-and-out, the Jets got the ball back with 34 seconds left. Bilal Powell ripped off a 39-yard run to put New York in Browns territory, followed by an 8-yard scramble by Smith. Smith then took off again for an 11-yard gain and was shoved by Tashaun Gipson out of bounds — and the quarterback appeared to embellish it, dropping to the ground. The late hit angered the Jets’ sideline, including a fired-up Ryan, and a few players on both sides shoved each other a bit. It ended up being an unnecessary roughness penalty on Gipson that put the ball at the 14.After Kellen Winslow’s 11-yard catch, Nick Folk kicked a 21-yarder as time expired.The Jets couldn’t take advantage of first-round pick Dee Milliner’s first NFL interception midway through the third quarter as Folk hit the right upright on a 49-yard attempt, only his second miss of the season.

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    Newton’s TD pass lifts Panthers over Saints

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Cam Newton threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Domenik Hixon with 23 seconds left to lift the Carolina Panthers to a 17-13 win over the New Orleans Saints and clinch the team’s first playoff berth since 2008.Carolina (11-4) can wrap up the NFC South and a first-round bye in the playoffs with a win next Sunday at Atlanta.The Panthers intercepted Drew Brees twice and sacked him six times to avenge a 31-13 loss two weeks ago.Still, the Panthers needed some last-minute big plays from Newton to seal the win. After being held to 116 yards passing for the game’s first 59 minutes, Newton led the Panthers 65 yards in 32 seconds for the go-ahead score.The Saints (10-5) can still clinch a playoff berth if Arizona loses to Seattle.New Orleans’ road woes persist. The Saints have dropped five of their last six games away from the Superdome.

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    Bengals clinch playoff spot

    CINCINNATI — Another big game at home got the Bengals back into the playoffs.Linebacker Vincent Rey returned an interception 25 yards for a touchdown and Cincinnati’s defense set up another fast start on Sunday, and Andy Dalton threw four touchdown passes and the Bengals pulled away to a 42-14 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.The Bengals (10-5) remained perfect at home and clinched an unprecedented third straight playoff appearance when Miami lost at Buffalo 19-0. They could clinch the AFC North title if Baltimore lost at home to New England later Sunday.Something about Paul Brown Stadium brings out the best in Dalton. In his past four home games, Dalton has thrown for five, three, three and four touchdowns. The Bengals have topped 40 points in each of their past four home games, a club record.The Vikings (4-10-1) had knocked off playoff contenders Chicago and Philadelphia in the past three weeks. Even with Adrian Peterson back from a foot injury, they couldn’t keep up.The Vikings had allowed the second-most points in the league heading into the game. They gave up 40 for the third time this season.Dalton has thrown 31 touchdown passes this season, one shy of Carson Palmer’s club record from 2005. Dalton replaced Palmer in the 2011 season and has led the Bengals to the playoffs in each of his first three seasons.His biggest shortcoming: 0-2 with two poor showings in the playoffs. The Bengals haven’t won a playoff game since the 1990 season, tied for the seventh-longest stretch of futility in NFL history.He had good conditions for throwing the ball — breezy with temperatures in the 50s. And the defense helped out, too.Dalton threw touchdown passes of 29 yards to A.J. Green and 16 yards to Jermaine Gresham as the Bengals pulled ahead 28-7 before halftime, the most points that Minnesota had allowed in an opening half. Two of Cincinnati’s first three touchdowns came courtesy of the defense. Rey’s interception and touchdown return made it 21-7.Giovani Bernard pulled off the game’s flashiest play, turning a short pass into a 41-yard play in the third quarter by doing a complete spin to avoid a tackler, stiff-arming another and reaching the 7-yard line. Dalton passed to Mohamed Sanu for his third touchdown.Green made a one-hand grab of a 2-yard pass for another TD and a 41-14 lead.Peterson returned after missing a game with a sprained right foot. He got the ball on Minnesota’s first two plays and gained only 4 yards. On third down, Cassel was sacked on a blitz and fumbled. End Carlos Dunlap picked up the ball and returned it to the 4-yard line.Two plays and 12 seconds later, BenJarvus Green-Ellis ran it in for a 7-0 lead.Peterson was held to 45 yards on 11 carries. Cassel was 13 of 27 for 114 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions. The Vikings took advantage of Dre Kirkpatrick for their first touchdown — the cornerback played off Jarius Wright, went for a fake and stumbled, allowing the receiver to run past him for a 36-yard score.

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    Quinn, Rams sack Bucs 23-13

    ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis Rams wore throwback jerseys from their Super Bowl title season, then Robert Quinn outdid one of those former stars.Quinn got three of St. Louis’ seven sacks and set a franchise season record in a 23-13 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.The Rams won without left tackle Jake Long, who injured his knee on the first series. Coach Jeff Fisher believes Long tore a knee ligament.Quinn leads the NFC with 18 sacks. He broke Kevin Carter’s franchise record of 17 sacks in that 1999 Super Bowl title season.Zac Stacy rushed for 104 yards on 33 carries and a touchdown, and two other rookies also had big games for the Rams (7-8), who matched their victory total from last year. Stedman Bailey scored on a 27-yard reverse, and Alec Ogletree forced two fumbles.Ogletree stripped Bobby Rainey early in the second quarter. Bailey scored his first career touchdown on the next snap on the reverse to put the Rams up for good at 14-7.The Buccaneers (4-11) managed just 170 total yards, setting a season low for the second straight week. Vincent Jackson had five catches for 98 yards.Rainey opened the scoring with a 1-yard run in the first quarter and Stacy scored on a 1-yard run early in the second quarter. There were thousands of empty seats for an unattractive matchup with attendance announced at 54,423 — about 12,000 shy of capacity.James Laurinaitis added two sacks and Greg Zuerlein kicked three field goals, including a season-best 54-yarder in the third quarter after Tampa Bay had cut the deficit to a point.The Buccaneers are 1-6 on the road, the lone win in overtime at Seattle after an 0-8 start to the season. Tampa Bay finishes at New Orleans next week.Quinn’s first sack helped force the Bucs to settle for a 35-yard field goal by Rian Lindell to cut the Rams’ lead to 14-10 at the half.Bailey has gotten involved in the offense the last few weeks and stepped up with Tavon Austin, his former teammate at West Virginia, sidelined for a second straight week by a left ankle injury. The reverse was his first career NFL TD and first rushing at least before college, and he had three catches for 44 yards.Bailey was just as prolific as Austin in college, scoring 27 touchdowns as a senior. Sloppy play helped the Bucs keep it close in the first half. Quarterback Kellen Clemens fumbled on a scramble at the Tampa Bay 4 to burn a scoring opportunity, with Gerald McCoy knocking it loose and Keith Tandy recovering. On the Rams’ next snap, Dekoda Watson stripped Stacy and Lavonte David recovered at the Bucs 47.Tampa Bay had first and goal at the Rams 9 near the end of the half before sacks by Laurinaitis and Quinn on consecutive plays pushed the Buccaneers back 16 yards.

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    Romo’s late TD keeps Cowboys alive

    LANDOVER, Md. — Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys pulled off their usual December swoon in the third quarter, leaving more than enough time for a comeback.Romo recovered from a bad interception and rallied the Cowboys from a nine-point, fourth-quarter deficit Sunday, finding DeMarco Murray for a 10-yard touchdown pass on fourth down with 1:08 remaining to give the Cowboys a 24-23 win over Washington.The victory ended a two-game Dallas skid — as well as a five-game December losing streak — and sets up a winner-take-all regular season finale for the NFC East title next week, when the Cowboys (7-6) host the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles, 8-6 entering their Sunday night game against the Chicago Bears, lost at home to Dallas 17-3 on Oct. 20. Washington (3-12) lost its seventh straight, the second in a row by one point. Pierre Garcon (11 catches, 144 yards) broke Art Monk’s single-season franchise reception record, while coach Mike Shanahan clinched his worst record in his 20 seasons as a head coach. After blowing a 23-point lead in a one-point loss to the Green Bay Packers the previous week, Romo and the Cowboys nearly pulled a repeat. They blew a 14-6 halftime lead by committing turnovers on back-to-back drives, including an interception by DeAngelo Hall that led to a touchdown that gave the Redskins a 20-14 lead.Romo was picked off twice late in the game against the Packers, and his pick on Sunday came when he was trying to get the ball to Dez Bryant — but Hall had the inside position even before Bryant slipped on the wet turf.Romo walked off the field slowly, looking at the huge scoreboard to watch the replay of his latest late-season gaffe.The next Dallas drive was a three-and-out with a sack, and a late hit personal foul on J.J. Wilcox during Washington’s subsequent possession helped set up a field goal that put Washington ahead 23-14 on the first play of the fourth quarter.But Romo and the Cowboys mounted a comeback. A fourth-and-6 at the Washington 40-yard line was converted with a 20-yard pass to Cole Beasley, leading to a 25-yard field goal by Dan Bailey that cut the lead to six with 6:09 to play.Then the Cowboys’ worst-in-the-NFL defense held steady — despite the mounting injuries that have decimated the linebackers — allowing one first down before forcing the Redskins to punt. Romo and the offense took over at their 13 with 3:39 remaining. On the fourth play of the drive, Romo scrambled and scrambled some more — until he looked far downfield and spotted Terrance Williams, who was all alone after cornerback Josh Wilson slipped on the turf. Romo flung the ball on the run for a 51-yard completion to the Washington 21. Then came a 17-yard completion to Bryant to set up a first-and-goal at the 4, and a 3-yard run by Murray that put the ball at the 1. Then came another near-meltdown. After Murray was stuffed on second-and-goal, the Cowboys called a sweep to the left that resulted in a 9-yard loss. Romo and Murray then pulled it out with the 10-yard TD pass, a play in which Romo had to scramble again and in which Murray managed to get to the end zone just beyond the pylon.Romo completed 17 of 27 passes for 226 yards with two touchdowns. Murray ran for 96 yards, becoming the first Cowboys back to rush for 1,000 yards since Julius Jones in 2006.Kirk Cousins, starting while Robert Griffin III is benched for the rest of the season, was 21 for 36 for 197 yards for Washington.

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    Manning’s big day leads Broncos over Texans

    HOUSTON — Peyton Manning owns the NFL record for touchdown passes in a season and the Denver Broncos own the AFC West title.Manning regained his record with 51 when he threw for 400 yards and four touchdowns, including three in the fourth quarter. He surpassed the 50 TD passes Tom Brady threw in 2007 and led the Broncos (12-3) to a 37-13 win over the Texans (2-13) that extended Houston’s franchise-record skid to 13 games. Manning did it on a 25-yard pass to Julius Thomas with 4:28 remaining. Just 2½ minutes earlier, he tied the mark with a 20-yard pass to Eric Decker.He entered the game with 47 and his first touchdown came on a 36-yard pass to Demaryius Thomas in the second quarter. The second was a 10-yard throw to Decker earlier in the fourth period.Manning had previously established the record by throwing 49 touchdown passes in 2004. The Broncos already had a spot in the playoffs, but their victory, combined with Kansas City’s loss to Indianapolis, gave them the division crown. They could secure home-field advantage throughout the playoffs if New England doesn’t win its late game at Baltimore.Matt Schaub started for the first time since Oct. 13 in place of an injured Case Keenum. He finished with 176 yards and one touchdown with two interceptions for the Texans. The Broncos couldn’t do anything offensively in the third quarter, gaining just 38 yards, and had to punt on each of their four possessions. Their defense helped them out after that, with Mike Adams intercepting Schaub at the Houston 28. Manning wasted no time making Houston pay, and found Decker two plays later for the touchdown that extended the lead to 23-13. It was all Broncos after that, with Manning grabbing the record with two more touchdown passes. Manning made the record-setting throw to Thomas and walked toward the end zone, where his teammates patted him on the head. He then took off his helmet and walking to the sideline and pumped his fist once. His teammates came out to greet him and he gave dozens of high-fives as he grinned and walked to the bench. Decker somehow got the ball after the touchdown and tucked it in the side of his jersey, where it remained as he walked off the field.Decker led the Broncos with 10 receptions for 131 yards, and Demaryius Thomas had eight catches for 123 yards. Wes Welker missed his second straight game after sustaining his second concussion in four weeks on Dec. 8. Schaub found Keshawn Martin on a 15-yard touchdown pass to get Houston within 16-13 early in the third quarter. Andre Johnson dropped a pass in the end zone on the play before. Rookie tight end Ryan Griffin had a 40-yard reception early in that drive.Johnson finished with four catches for 63 yards. He has 103 catches this season to reach 100 for the fifth time in his career, tying an NFL record for most seasons with at least that many receptions.Johnson entered the game needing one catch to reach the mark held by Welker. He did it on a 33-yard reception in the first quarter. Johnson also had more than 100 receptions in 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2012. Manning’s TD pass to Demaryius Thomas on the first play of the second quarter put Denver up 10-3. Houston used a 35-yard field goal to cut the lead to 10-6 after a 51-yard punt return by Martin. Matt Prater made field goals of 25 and 44 yards to extend Denver’s lead to 16-6 at halftime. The Broncos lost star linebacker Von Miller to a knee injury in the first quarter, and Houston cornerback Johnathan Joseph went out with a foot injury in the second quarter and didn’t return.

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    Louisiana-Lafayette quarterback Terrance Broadway gets around Tulane safety Sam Scofield during the second half of the New Orleans Bowl on Saturday.

    Louisiana-Lafayette slips by Tulane in New Orleans Bowl

    Corey Trim returned an interception 82 yards for a touchdown, Hunter Stover hit a go-ahead 27-yard field goal in the fourth quarter, and Louisiana-Lafayette held off Tulane 24-21 on Saturday night for its third straight New Orleans Bowl victory.

Business

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    Career Coach Q&A: Holiday gifts in the office and other questions

    Career Coach Joyce E.A. Russell answers questions from readers.

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    MNsure contact center representatives specialist Carlos Villanueva, left, and guide Emily Joyce work in one many cubicles at the center in St. Paul, Minn. Experts in health insurance are becoming concerned that many first-time buyers will be in for a shock when they get medical care next year and discover they’re on the hook for most of the initial cost.

    Health plan sticker shock ahead for some buyers

    As a key enrollment deadline hits Monday, many people without health insurance have been sizing up policies on the new government health care marketplace and making what seems like a logical choice: They’re picking the cheapest one. Increasingly, experts in health insurance are becoming concerned that many of these first-time buyers will be in for a shock when they get medical care next year and discover they’re on the hook for most of the initial cost.

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    A customer signs his credit card receipt at a Target store in Tallahassee, Fla. Target and other U.S. retailers are ripe for credit card fraud because U.S. card companies use technology easily compromised.

    Weak U.S. card security made Target a juicy target

    The U.S. is the juiciest target for hackers hunting credit card information. And experts say incidents like the recent data theft at Target’s stores will get worse before they get better.

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    At 61 she lives in basement while her 87-year-old dad travels the world

    Eighty-seven-year-old Lew Manchester has just returned from a three-week trip touring Laos and Vietnam. His 61-year-old daughter Lee lives year-round in the basement of her friend’s Cape Cod, Mass., cottage, venturing into the winter cold to get to the bathroom. Both worked all their lives, both saved what they could. Yet Lew, a son of the Great Depression and former company man, and Lee, a baby boomer who has pursued careers as an entrepreneur and a midlevel manager, are winding up in two very different economic strata.

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    Cutting U.S. trade settlement time to two days under study

    U.S. stock and bond investors would have their trades settled in two days instead of three under a proposal that Wall Street firms are reviewing. Depository Trust & Clearing Corp. (DTCC), which processes all U.S. equity and fixed-income transactions, has asked for the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association’s (SIFMA) endorsement of a shorter settlement cycle.

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    Misleading CEO pay-for-performance numbers targeted by SEC rule

    The inconsistent measures that companies use to disclose CEO pay is the newest battleground in executive compensation. As the Securities and Exchange Commission works on a rule to require pay-for-performance reports, it also plans to end the wide latitude enjoyed by firms when they compute the numbers.

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    Investors are giving some stock pickers a chance

    Stock pickers are getting respect again. Well, some of them. Respect in investing often is measured in dollars, and investors this year have been putting money into some actively managed mutual funds.

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    Seven ways to keep moving costs low

    Whether it’s starting fresh at a new job across the country or trading up into a nicer home in the suburbs, moving can be a challenge for even the most organized households. And the costs that go into preparing and safely transporting one’s belongings can add up fast. Here are some tips on how to save money on your next move.

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    Apple to IBM push buyback to record trading as volume slows

    Apple Inc. to Walt Disney Co. and International Business Machines Corp. took advantage of record-low interest rates to raise an unprecedented amount of debt financing and repurchased stock, helping boost per-share U.S. earnings for four years. With cash at a record, buying by companies is poised to continue in a bull market that is about to enter its sixth year.

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    People fill up a job fair in South Burlington, Vt. Small businesses hired at a slow pace during 2013.

    Looking back on 2013’s small business challenges

    NEW YORK — Small business owners are probably glad to put 2013 into the books. For many, it was a frustrating year of waiting. Waiting to learn about the new health care law. Waiting for lawmakers to solve budget disagreements. And waiting for the economy to improve. Many put off big decisions like purchasing equipment and hiring as they sought clarity. But in the end, owners fought inertia and appear to be looking forward to 2014. Hiring seems to be showing an uptick and lending to small businesses is improving.Here’s a look back at some of the big issues small business owners faced this year: Health CareSmall businesses began 2013 with questions and by the year’s end, there were few answers.Companies struggled to sign up for insurance for employees on federally run websites. After a series of computer glitches and delays, the government said businesses would have to buy through brokers, agents and insurance companies until November 2014.Coverage that goes into effect Jan. 1 or later must conform to the law. Many businesses sidestepped the requirements by renewing policies in 2013.Owners had mixed reviews about coverage on government websites. Some with mostly younger workers found they’ll be paying more than expected. The law is designed to lower premiums for older and sicker workers by including younger, healthier ones in the pool of insured people. Many owners were disappointed by the limited choice of plans.However, there were some positive reviews. Some owners said they were pleased with the premiums they found on the websites because they were comparable to the rates they were already paying.Experts said it will take at least a year for businesses to know how the law will affect them.Budget Problems The $85 billion in budget cuts that took effect March 1 hurt small businesses with federal contracts. Some lost revenue and had to lay off workers. Companies like retailers whose customers include federal workers also lost revenue. Businesses in states with a large concentration of government facilities, including Virginia and California, bore the brunt.The government shutdown and deadlock in Congress over the budget in October was more harmful to small businesses than larger companies. Some federal contractors couldn’t get paid. Companies that wanted Small Business Administration-backed loans had to wait longer for approvals. HiringIn January, small businesses added 106,000 jobs, according to payroll provider ADP. But optimism about a small business hiring boom dissipated as the number of new jobs fell in February and then averaged nearly 70,000 through October. Owners said they weren’t planning to add workers because they didn’t have the sales to justify the expense, or they didn’t need to hire to grow, according to an American Express survey back in the spring. Uncertainty about health care also made them wary. Through most of the year owners stuck to those plans, but near then end of the 2013 there was a glimmer of hope. ADP reported that small businesses created 102,000 new jobs in November. More insight that could bode well for small business hiring next year, came from a Bank of America survey. Thirty-one percent of owners questioned in the fall said they planned to hire, and 56 percent of those owners said they needed employees to boost business in 2014. That could be good news for the broader economy because more than 99 percent of U.S. companies are small businesses, and they employ about half of U.S. workers. Lending

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    Corn plummeting spurs talk of 1980s U.S. farmland bust
    American farmers have prospered during a three-year boom in corn and cropland prices. As values have soared since 2011, farmers bought more acres and upgraded their harvesters to produce a record corn crop of almost 14 billion bushels in 2013. Now, as corn prices start to decline, bankers and agricultural economists are predicting a slowdown in farmland prices that could turn into a bust.

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    In October, Amazon announced it will open a 1-million-square-foot distribution center in Kenosha, which is just south of Milwaukee and 60 miles north of Chicago. Amazon announced this week it will be opening a second, 500,000-square-foot center in Kenosha.

    Amazon warehouses are the new factories

    Amazon’s remorseless quest for global domination is bringing a different kind of blue-collar work to Milwaukee. In October, Amazon announced it will open a 1-million-square-foot distribution center in Kenosha, which is just south of Milwaukee and 60 miles north of Chicago.

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    Claims over racial profiling at department stores in New York have helped expose the practice in more than 40 states of retailers holding shoplifting suspects and assessing fines, even if a person hasn’t yet technically stolen anything. At Macy’s flagship store, suspects are held in cells, asked to sign an admission of guilt and pay hundreds in fines.

    Stores have free rein to recoup shoplifting losses

    As shoppers jam stores ahead of the December holidays, claims of racial profiling at department stores in New York have helped expose the wide latitude that laws in at least 27 states give retailers to hold and fine shoplifting suspects, even if a person hasn’t yet technically stolen anything, is wrongly accused or criminal charges are dropped.

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    Work Advice: Boss’ plan for flu vaccine comes with a sting

    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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    Researchers see ways to activate Apple webcams while disabling warning light

    Most laptops with built-in cameras have an important privacy feature — a light that is supposed to turn on any time the camera is in use. While controlling a laptop camera remotely has long been a source of concern to privacy advocates, conventional wisdom said there was no way to deactivate the warning light. But evidence is mounting that this creepiest of intrusions is real.

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    Wealthy avoid taxes by moving assets to no-tax states

    Wealthy Americans looking to avoid state income taxes are moving billions of dollars in assets to trusts in no-tax states such as Delaware, Nevada and Alaska. “I can’t sit with a client who has a substantial portfolio or is contemplating selling his business without putting the strategy on the table,” said William Lipkind, a New Jersey lawyer who said he’s been involved in 20 to 25 such transactions in the past year.

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    Great expectations for an investment rotation

    NEW YORK — After years of sticking with plain-vanilla bond funds, investors are starting to turn their backs on them and opt for stocks instead. The move isn’t big enough to be the “great rotation” from bonds to stocks that many experts predicted — it’s more of a good rotation — but fund managers say more is on the way. Investors plugged $198 billion into stock mutual funds through the first 11 months of the year. That’s the most since the dot-com stock bubble in 2000, according to Morningstar. Bond mutual funds are also taking in money, but the dollars are increasingly going only to niche corners of the market. Investors pulled $73 billion out of the largest category of bond mutual funds, intermediate-term bond funds, over that time. It marks a stark shift in behavior. Since the 2008 financial crisis, investors have largely sought the safety of bonds and shunned stocks. Heading into this year, many strategists expected investors to dump their bonds and move into stocks en masse. Bonds had served investors well for three decades, but interest rates had fallen sharply. Stocks, meanwhile, have the potential to offer bigger returns. Early this year, there was no rotation, as investors were comfortable adding money to both stock and bond mutual funds. “Then a switch went off in May,” says Michael Rawson, a fund analyst at Morningstar. That’s when worries about rising interest rates began to spike, which hurt bond prices. Investors have since increasingly shown their preference for stocks over traditional types of bond funds. Consider: Ÿ In June alone, investors pulled $16 billion out of municipal bond mutual funds, according to Morningstar. Through November, investors have yanked a net total of $49 billion this year. Ÿ Net investment in stock mutual funds and exchange-traded funds this year will likely top that of the four prior years combined, according to Strategic Insight, which tracks the mutual fund industry. Ÿ In a sign of how the tide has turned, Vanguard earlier this week closed one of its stock mutual funds to most new accounts and reopened two of its bond funds. Funds typically close to new investors when they’re attracting lots of money and want to keep from getting too big and unwieldy. They reopen when they want to attract more dollars. A major driver for the shift is fear that rising interest rates will hurt bond funds. When interest rates rise, prices for existing bonds fall because their yields suddenly look less attractive. During the summer, such worries flared as the yield on the 10-year Treasury note nearly doubled from 1.6 percent at the start of May to roughly 3 percent in September. Stocks, meanwhile, have climbed around the world amid rising corporate earnings, stimulus from the Federal Reserve and hope that economies from Europe to Japan are improving. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index set a record high earlier this week. To be sure, most investors will always have some interest in bonds. They tend to be less volatile than stocks, and the need for income investments will rise as more Baby Boomers retire. Pension funds and other institutional investors also need the steadiness that bonds provide. “You need to have that anchor to lower volatility,” says Avi Nachmany, director of research at Strategic Insight. Investors used to flip between investments quickly and opportunistically, Nachmany says. But now, they increasingly stick to a plan and keep a certain percentage of their portfolios in stocks and a certain percentage in bonds. Target-date retirement mutual funds have grown in popularity, for example, and they always keep a portion of their investments in bonds.

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    Many local auto dealerships are overflowing with sedans, trucks and SUVs, so there are deals to be had. Most dealers have abundant supplies of 2013 models, and 2014s are arriving as automakers keep their factories humming. Since dealers pay interest on money borrowed to buy the cars, they’re probably anxious to sell them by the end of the year.

    End of year shapes up to be prime car-buying time

    If the spirit of giving — or of treating yourself — has inspired you to buy a car this holiday season, you’re in luck. Many local auto dealerships are overflowing with sedans, trucks and SUVs, so there are deals to be had. Most dealers have abundant supplies of 2013 models, and 2014s are arriving as automakers keep factories humming. Since dealers pay interest on money borrowed to buy the cars, they’re probably anxious to sell them soon.

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    Four fitness trackers are shown in this photograph: From left, Fitbit Force, Jawbone Up, Fitbug Orb, and the Nike FuelBand SE. For aspiring health nuts and to inspire couch potatoes to get active, the latest crop of fitness gadgets will record much more than how many steps you took on any given day. From sleep patterns to calorie intake, mood and progress toward exercise goals, few aspects of life are left un-tracked for those in search for a more quantified self.

    Guide to the lastest fitness gadgets

    The latest fitness gadgets record much more than how many steps you take on any given day. From sleep patterns to mood, calorie intake and progress toward exercise goals, few aspects of life are left un-tracked for those searching for a more quantified self. But before you get one as a gift, consider this: Wristbands can be a commitment, style-wise and beyond

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    In recent Bloomberg Industries study measuring the online availability of a basket of 100 toys, Target Corp., Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Toys “R” Us Inc. and Kmart all lost out to Amazon.

    Amazon beats Toys ‘R’ Us to Kmart with most toys online

    Gift givers searching online for a kid’s must-have toy this holiday season are more likely to find it at Amazon.com Inc. than a brick-and-mortar retailer. In recent Bloomberg Industries study measuring the online availability of a basket of 100 toys, Target Corp., Wal- Mart Stores Inc., Toys “R” Us Inc. and Kmart all lost out to their e-commerce rival.

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    If you’re looking for top-brand TVs or TVs with extra features, the best time to buy is February or March, experts say.

    Smart Spending: Buy these items after Christmas

    It’s December, the malls are bustling and “Sale” signs are everywhere. Good time to grab the deals? Not so fast. Savvy shoppers should realize that some items are actually a better deal after the holiday season. As long as it’s not something that has to be under the tree on Dec. 25, here’s a look at purchases best made in the new year.

Life & Entertainment

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    Beyonce performs onstage on her Mrs. Carter World Tour on Friday at the TD Garden in Boston, Mass.

    Beyonce talks surprise album, success at NYC event

    Despite all the hard work she put in on the songs and videos from her new album, Beyonce had her doubts minutes before its surprise release. “I was terrified. I was so scared. I already envisioned like the worst things that could happen,” Beyonce said Saturday at a screening for her new music videos. The singer’s fifth album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard charts this week after it was released without the public knowing.

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    This photo provided by Paramount Pictures shows Will Ferrell, left, as Ron Burgundy and Christina Applegate as Veronica Corningstone, in a scene from the film, “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.” The sequel has brought in $40 million since it opened on Tuesday night.

    ‘The Hobbit’ holds off ‘Anchorman 2’ with $31.5M

    On a busy pre-Christmas weekend at the box office, “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” held off a very different sequel, “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.” Peter Jackson’s “Hobbit” sequel took in $31.5 million in its second weekend of release while Will Ferrell’s “Anchorman” sequel opened strongly in second place with $26.8 million.

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    Broccoli pesto spread on Christmas tree croutons make roasted red pepper soup extra festive.

    Soupalooza: Roasted red pepper soup a festive addition to winter menus

    Roasted red pepper soup with Christmas tree-shaped pesto croutons is about as festive as you can get in the soup world. While soup may not be on your list of holiday menu items, this velvety red potage from the Food Network is perfect for a cozy meal after a hard day of shopping at the mall or even better after an afternoon of shoveling snow.

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    A new bundt pan takes the anxiety out of making Lemon Poppy seed Bundt Cake for holiday guests.

    Holiday Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake
    Lemon Poppyseed Bundt Cake: Don Mauer

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    A new bundt pan takes the anxiety out of making Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake for holiday guests.

    Lean and lovin’ it: Early holiday gift yields sweet Christmas cake

    Christmas came early for Don Mauer. He bought himself a new bundt pan and has been happily baking slimmed down cakes for friends this holiday season. Today he shares a recipe for his Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake.

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    Apples, cheese and potatoes come together for a Christmas morning casserole.

    French Toast Hash Crumble Casserole
    French Toast Hash Crumble Casserole

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    Double Pork Roast with Mushroom Marsala Sauce can be prepped a day in advance allowing time for celebrating, not cooking, when guests arrive.

    Lean holiday roast doesn’t skimp on flavor

    Given the choice for an elegant holiday meal Sara Moulton says it’s hard to beat a roast, and more often than not her pick is a lean and moist pork tenderloin. Yet as much as she want to eat healthy, she says there is such a thing as roast that is too lean.

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    With pitcher-style cranberry mint margaritas you won’t be stuck playing bartender during your holiday gathering.

    Pitcher-style margarita perfect for holiday merriment

    As festive as it is to offer a delicious cocktail at your party, picking the right mixed drink involves more than just deciding what tastes great and works with your menu. You also want something that can be prepped ahead of time, then set out for guests to serve themselves so you can enjoy your guests.

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    Double Pork Roast with Mushroom Marsala Sauce can be prepped a day in advance allowing time for celebrating, not cooking, when guests arrive.

    Lean holiday roast doesn’t skimp on flavor

    Given the choice for an elegant holiday meal Sara Moulton says it’s hard to beat a roast, and more often than not her pick is a lean and moist pork tenderloin. Yet as much as she want to eat healthy, she says there is such a thing as roast that is too lean.

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    The kitchen of Laverne Hall’s Elk Grove Village home overflows with cookies this time of year. She creates lavish cookie trays to give to family and friends.

    Cook of the Week: Baker rolls through the holidays with thousands of cookies
    Holiday baking is becomes a full-time job for Laverne Hall. The Elk Grove Village woman makes 25 varieties of cookies with some 200 in each batch. “My mother would always bake cookies at Christmas. We grew up to be dough-eaters; we would eat the dough as fast as it came out of the cookie spritzer!” she laughs.

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    Apples, cheese and potatoes come together for a Christmas morning casserole.

    Make-ahead Christmas breakfast casserole has it all

    A do-ahead breakfast casserole that can be prepped the night before and popped into the oven to bake unattended while gift insanity commences is our gift to you. It's equal parts casserole, hash browns, fruit crumble and French toast.

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    Apples, cheese and potatoes come together for a Christmas morning casserole.

    French toast Hash Crumble Casserole
    French Toast Hash Crumble Casserole

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    Broccoli pesto Christmas tree croutons make roasted red pepper soup extra festive.

    Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Broccoli Pesto Christmas Tree Croutons
    Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Christmas Tree Croutons

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    Hall’s Fudge
    Hall's Fudge: Laverne Hall of Elk Grove Village

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    Cranberry-mint margaritas are sweetened with agave nectar.

    Cranberry-Mint Infused Pitcher Margarita
    CRANBERRY-MINT INFUSED PITCHER MARGARITA

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    Double Pork Roast with Mushroom Marsala Sauce

    Double Pork Roast with Mushroom Marsala Sauce
    DOUBLE PORK ROAST WITH MUSHROOM MARSALA SAUCE

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    When a true friend shares a concern, listen

    Q. My best friend, who is also my roommate, sometimes makes comments to me such as, “You act so different around X group of friends,” even though there have been hardly a handful of times when we have all been in one room.

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    Ruth Page Civic Ballet performs Tchaikovsky's classic Christmas ballet at College of Lake County's Lumber Center for the Performing Arts.

    Sunday picks: Catch Ruth Page's 'Nutcracker' at CLC

    Ruth Page Civic Ballet performs Tchaikovsky's classic at CLC's Lumber Center for the Performing Arts. The 18th annual Christkindlmarket presents German fare and unique items that will make perfect gifts for loved ones. Also, comic and character actor Dean Edwards continues his standup run at The Improv Comedy Showcase in Schaumburg.

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    After more than five years of near constant touring, Kentucky-bred rockers Cage the Elephant, including Matt Shultz, decided it was finally time to spend a little time apart. Their first two studio albums landed them at the top of the alternative radio charts; they are fan favorites on the festival scene and have opened for bands like the Black Keys and Foo Fighters.

    Cage The Elephant isolate themselves for new album

    The members of Cage the Elephant were as close as brothers, but even brothers need a little time apart. So after several years of nonstop touring and recording, the quintet — which includes two siblings — took a break after touring in support of their last album. “I think it was more just to refresh ourselves,” said guitarist Brad Shultz. The band spent about a year writing individually before reuniting in the studio last year to record their latest album, “Melophobia.”

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    Matthew Rushing, a veteran star of the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, rehearses at the company’s headquarters in New York. When Rushing was a young boy growing up in Inglewood, Calif., his mother was concerned he might fall prey to the gang violence that plagued the city. So she signed him up for an after school arts program. It kept the 12-year-old boy off the streets, but it also did something his mother couldn’t have predicted: It propelled him into a love affair with dance, a passion that’s led him to the very pinnacle of the art form.

    Ailey’s Rushing, front and center after 2 decades

    When Matthew Rushing was a young boy growing up in Inglewood, Calif., his mother was concerned he might fall prey to the gang violence that plagued the area. So she signed him up for an afterschool arts program. It propelled him into a love affair with dance, a passion that’s led him to the very pinnacle of the art form. If you’re a fan of modern dance, chances are you’ve seen the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Rushing.

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    Actors in “It’s A Wonderful Life” movie costumes walk in a parade through the village of Seneca Falls, N.Y. The village of Seneca Falls is transformed into Bedford Falls every year for the annual weekend festival honoring the classic movie. The village is thought to be the inspiration for the movie, but this cannot be proven. But it has not stopped locals from celebrating the beloved Frank Capra movie every December.

    Seneca Falls, N.Y., claims link to ‘Wonderful Life’

    Is Seneca Falls where George Bailey lived his wonderful life? Folks in this quaint upstate New York town think so. Or more precisely, they say Bailey’s make-believe hometown of Bedford Falls in “It’s a Wonderful Life” — including the main street and the steel truss bridge — was heavily inspired by Seneca Falls. This cannot be proven, and director Frank Capra never confirmed such a connection. But that hasn’t stopped locals from celebrating the beloved movie every December, complete with actors dressed as Clarence the Angel and mean old Mr. Potter parading down a main street gussied up to look like Bedford Falls.

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    December 2013 marks Harry Shearer’s 30th year as producer, host, writer, aggregator, music director and one-man repertory company of “Le Show.”

    Harry Shearer’s ‘Le Show’ marks 30 years on radio

    You know Harry Shearer from “The Simpsons” and the 1984 musical spoof “This Is Spinal Tap.” But through his decades of memorable projects, Shearer week in and week out has kept one open-ended side gig: his artisanal radio program, “Le Show.” Shearer this month marks his 30th anniversary as producer, host, writer, aggregator, music director and one-man repertory company of “Le Show,” which (available on some 100 U.S. radio stations and other global outlets, as well as on podcast at iTunes and on his website) likely represents a marathon run unmatched in the annals of broadcasting — with no end in sight.

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    Blackstrap molasses has less sugar and a higher nutrient content than basic molasses.

    Two sweeteners that have health benefits

    For those of you with a sweet tooth, remember: Not all sweeteners are alike. There are two star sweeteners that impart flavor and nutritional benefits: blackstrap molasses and grade B pure maple syrup. In small amounts, these sweeteners actually offer some goodness.

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    Stairs lead to the Chiesa di San Giorgio in the city of Modica in Sicily.

    Southern Sicily is both baroque and authentically antique

    Southern Sicily is full of ancient ruins and beautiful baroque buildings for tourists to seek out and explore. In the past I hadn’t given much thought to visiting the Mediterranean Sea’s largest island, frequently taught to kids on European maps as the ball being kicked by the boot of the Italian mainland. But when several British friends asked me to help split the costs of staying in a Sicilian villa for a week, I jumped at the chance. After all, isn’t renting an Italian villa on most travelers’ bucket list?

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    The Tree for Life (Not Just for Christmas) by British wallpaper designer Deborah Bowness can be hung like a scroll, mounted on a board, or framed.

    Who says Christmas trees have to be three-dimensional — or trees?

    O Christmas … decal? Don’t rule it out. In recent years, websites such as Apartment Therapy, which specializes in small-space living and related urban conundrums, have featured wildly imaginative galleries of alternatives to traditional Christmas trees.

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    As the snow piles up, branches can be damaged under its weight.

    Snow presents challenges for gardeners

    Monitor your garden for animal damage during the winter and install protection as needed. Look for gnawed bark at the base of trees and shrubs.

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    Black & Decker’s snake light won’t be ready for holidays

    Q. Recently, you recommended a new Black and Decker Snake Light. Which model was it exactly? Seems like these lights would make a nice addition to our sons' tool collections and something very useful.

Discuss

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    Demonstrators protested outside of the U.S. Capitol in Washington during a rally in October to demand that Congress investigate the National Security Agency's mass surveillance programs. (AP Photo)

    Editorial: Those lists of the year’s top stories
    A Daily Herald editorial reflects on the newspaper's thinking in casting its votes for AP's top stories of the year.

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    The exhausted political class

    Columnist Michael Gerson: The bipartisan budget deal was a welcome exception to congressional gridlock. It was not, unfortunately, an indication that gridlock has been broken in any lasting or fundamental way.

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    Show your children the love they need
    A Des Plaines letter to the editor: Life is too short and your devotion to your children will long be remembered. Also, they will do many things in their lifetime to follow in your footsteps, so be an example whatever you do or say.

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    Propose better program if you don’t like ACA
    A Prospect Heights letter to the editor: I don’t understand the joy some of your readers are expressing because the Affordable Care Act got off to a rocky start. I would bet dollars to doughnuts that practically all those people have health care plans they can rely on. Why they begrudge it to the 47 million who don’t have it puzzles me.

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    Reckless buying linked to higher gas tax?
    A Schaumburg letter to the editor: On Dec. 16, after dropping my wife off at the Roselle train station, for the intent of fuel savings I proceeded to drive a mile deeper into Dupage County ending up on busy Lake Street to fill my fuel tank. At $3.29 per gallon I filled up, then drove less than three miles north to Schaumburg road where gas was $3.45 per gallon.

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