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Daily Archive : Sunday December 29, 2013

News

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    A police officer guards a main entrance to the Volgograd railway station hit by an explosion Sunday in Volgograd, Russia. More than a dozen people were killed and scores were wounded Sunday by a female suicide bomber at a railway station in southern Russia, officials said, heightening concern about terrorism ahead of February's Olympics in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

    Two separate bombings rock Russia

    A bomb blast tore through a trolleybus in the city of Volgograd on Monday morning, killing at least 10 people a day after a suicide bombing that killed at least 17 at the city's main railway station. The explosions put the city on edge and highlighted the terrorist threat that Russia is facing as it prepares to host the Winter Olympics in February. Volgograd is about 400 miles northeast of Sochi,...

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    Des Plaines woman missing in Indiana floodwaters

    A search is underway for a Des Plaines woman missing in flood waters on Highway 257 in Indiana. Kathryn McGill, 31, was a passenger in a vehicle being driven by her husband Adam McGill, 35, when their vehicle was swept off the roadway in flood waters Sunday morning on Highway 257 near the Pike County and Daviess County line.

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    Grace Ours, 7, of Naperville plays her cards during the Pokemon Trading Card Game City Championships at the Sciences and Arts Academy in Des Plaines on Sunday. The tournament attracted 89 participants from all over the Midwest, including St. Louis and Madison, Wis. Players from three age divisions competed to earn points toward a potential invitation to the 2014 Pokemon World Championships in Washington, D.C., next summer.

    Pokemon enthusiasts from cross the Midwest flock to Des Plaines tourney

    Some of the Midwest’s top Pokemon players met up to do battle Sunday during the Pokemon Trading Card Game City Championships at the Sciences and Arts Academy in Des Plaines. At stake was a chance to earn points needed to qualify for the 2014 Pokemon World Championships next summer in Washington, D.C., where more than $100,000 in scholarship money will be on the line.

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    Chicago Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery reacts to missing a pass by Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler while covered by Green Bay Packers cornerback Sam Shields on Sunday at Soldier Field in Chicago.

    Images: Bears vs. Packers
    The Chicago Bears faced the Green Bay Packers Sunday at Soldier Field in Chicago to decide the North Division of the NFC. The Packers defeated the Bears 33-28 ending the Bears season.

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    Republican Rep. Mike Rogers of Michigan, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said Edward Snowden’s release of classified documents jeopardized the safety of troops in Afghanistan and gave nations such as China and Russia valuable insight into how America’s intelligence services operate.

    Lawmakers dispute Snowden’s declaration of victory

    Members of Congress said Sunday they weren’t impressed with Edward Snowden’s recent publicity blitz calling for an end to mass surveillance and declaring that he’s already accomplished his mission.

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    Bethany Donaldson, of Elgin, races down the hill with her dog Mandie, a golden doodle, while sledding at Wing Park in Elgin Thursday.

    Images: The Week in Pictures
    This edtion of The Week in Pictures features sledding people and animals, Santa delivering more than toys, and holiday meals for seniors and soldiers.

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    Seafood sustainability and you

    Learn what’s being done for seafood sustainability, as Reid Bogert, coordinator of Great Lakes and Sustainability at the Shedd Aquarium, comes to the Lake County Audubon Society meeting on Jan. 6 in Libertyville. Dive with Bogert into the history of fisheries and seafood sustainability and understand the human impact on the world’s aquatic ecosystems.

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    Elgin police investigate shots fired outside house party

    Detectives from the Elgin Police Department’s Gang Crimes Unit are investigating reports of gunshots fired early Sunday morning outside a house party in the 1000 block of Congdon Avenue.

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    Aurora woman remains hospitalized after crash that killed brother

    A 24-year-old Aurora woman remained hospitalized in critical condition Sunday with injuries suffered two days earlier in a crash that claimed the life of her brother. Janella Harrell was injured and Jarred X. Harrell, 21, also of Aurora, killed in the head-on collision that occurred about 6:34 p.m. on Route 30 near Fifth Street in Oswego. The siblings were driving home from nearby Plano, where...

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    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, joined by fellow Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, left, leaves the chamber to speak to reporters after the Democratic majority voted to weaken filibusters in Novemeber.

    GOP can count ways to Senate majority

    Republicans count enough competitive races to challenge Democrats for control of the Senate in the 2014 elections, if only they can figure out what to do with the Tea Party. Crowded primaries in states such as Georgia, Iowa and North Carolina, where tea partyers and social conservatives are fighting for the nomination and pushing candidates farther right, worry many Republicans, especially after...

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    Tickets on sale for King dinner

    Tickets are on sale for the 13th annual Dr. King Remembrance and Celebration Dinner, to be held Friday, Jan. 17, at the Northwest Chicago Marriott Hotel in Hoffman Estates. The event will honor the 85th birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. and his contributions.

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    Like the chain’s more than 70 other stores across the region, the Elk Grove Village Dominick’s sat mostly empty Saturday night after it closed for the final time. While some Dominick’s are being taken over by other supermarket chains, the future of the Elk Grove store at 980 elk Grove Town Center remains unclear.

    Little remains at Elk Grove’s Dominick’s store, but mayor hopeful for future

    Bare shelves and mostly empty grocery carts were about all that was left inside Elk Grove Village’s Dominick’s store Saturday night as the store joined 71 others across the Chicago areas to close its doors for the last time. But unlike some of its fellow Dominick’s which are being taken over by supermarket chains like Mariano’s and Jewel, the future for Elk Grove’s store remains uncertain.

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    Workers process marijuana in the trimming room at the Medicine Man dispensary and grow operation in northeast Denver. Colorado will be the first state to allow recreational pot sales, beginning Wednesday.

    Legal pot sales begin amid uncertainty in Colorado

    As Colorado prepares to be the first in the nation to allow recreational pot sales, opening Jan. 1, hopeful retailers are investing their fortunes into the legal recreational pot world — all for a chance to build even bigger ones in a fledgling industry that faces an uncertain future.

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    OCC has Jewish Studies class

    For more than 3,000 years, Judaic civilization has shaped history and the world. Gain a distinctive overview of Jews and Judaism, beginning with the Biblical period and ending with modern times, by enrolling in Introduction to Jewish Studies at Oakton Community College. The 16-week course meets 9:30 a.m.–12:20 p.m. Fridays starting Jan. 24, at the Skokie campus, 7701 N. Lincoln Ave.

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    And Grayslake’s winning tree is ...

    The decorated trees have been viewed, the votes have been counted and the winning Grayslake organization will be announced at 2 p.m. Monday, Dec. 30 at Grayslake Heritage Center & Museum, 164 Hawley St. Local nonprofit organizations decorated the Grayslake Giving Trees to share their unique messages.

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    A German magazine has lifted the lid on the operations of the National Security Agency’s hacker unit, revealing how American spies intercepted computer deliveries, exploited hardware vulnerabilities, and even hijacked Microsoft’s bug report system to spy on their targets.

    Report: NSA intercepts computer deliveries
    A German magazine has lifted the lid on the operations of the National Security Agency’s hacker unit, revealing how American spies intercepted computer deliveries, exploited hardware vulnerabilities, and even hijacked Microsoft’s bug report system to spy on their targets.

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    A young displaced girl starts crying after the relative she was with disappears into a row of latrines, at a United Nations compound which has become home to thousands of people displaced by the recent fighting, in the capital Juba, South Sudan, Sunday.

    Fear pulses through crowded S. Sudan refugee camp

    The women and girls leave the main United Nations refugee camp here during the day. The men do not. To exit is to risk death, they say. Whether true or not, such claims show the level of fear that pulses through the main U.N. camp for internally displaced people here two weeks after violence broke out in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, and a spiraling series of ethnically-based attacks coursed...

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    King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, right, applauds French President Francois Hollande, left, after presenting him with the Order of Merit in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, Nov. 4.

    Feeling U.S. snub, Saudis strengthen ties elsewhere

    Increasingly vocal in its frustration over U.S. policies in the Mideast, Saudi Arabia is strengthening ties elsewhere, seeking out an alignment that will bolster its position after it was pushed to the sidelines this year. It may find a solution in France, whose president is ending the year with 24 hours of high-level meetings with the Saudi leadership in a visit intended to showcase commercial...

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    United Nations peacekeepers search a house suspected to have been used by members of al-Qaidaís North African branch in Timbuktu, Mali, july 23. The al-Qaida cell occupied Timbuktu for 10 months until January 2013. When they fled, they left behind thousands of pages of documents.

    Al-Qaida records every expense

    Evidence suggests that far from being a fly-by-night, fragmented terror organization, al-Qaida is attempting to behave like a multinational corporation, with what amounts to a company-wide financial policy across its different chapters.

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    Heather Decker, site steward for Wilmot Woods Forest Preserve near Libertyville, uses a chain saw to cut invasive buckthorn Sunday during a restoration work day. She said winter is the best time to remove the invasive species because other vegetation is dormant.

    Hardy volunteers take on buckthorn at Lake County preserve

    A few hardy volunteers braved the elements Sunday to do their part for the environment by planting seeds and removing buckthorn during a restoration work day at the Wilmot Woods Forest Preserve near Libertyville.

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    ASSOCIATED PRESS A semi-trailer truck passes the Brownells, Inc. distribution and retail facility that is nearing completion along Interstate 80, in Grinnell, Iowa. The central Iowa city of 9,100 is home to Grinnell College, the selective liberal arts institution known for its commitment to social justice. Billed as the world’s largest supplier of firearms accessories, Brownells is a family-owned company that has long been based 20 miles south of Grinnell in Montezuma, Iowa.

    Gun magazine supplier expands in Iowa college town

    An Iowa college known for liberal activism is welcoming an unlikely neighbor: one of the nation’s largest suppliers of high-capacity ammunition magazines and accessories for assault rifles and other guns. With demand for gun products booming, Brownells Inc. is building a large distribution and retail center along Interstate 80 in Grinnell. The central Iowa city of 9,100 is home to Grinnell...

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    Musician Jim Gill entertained families during a “Sing in the New Year” concert Sunday at Fremont Public Library in Mundelein. An audience of about 100 clapped, danced and sang to the music of Gill as he played his banjo.

    Silly songs entertain kids and parents alike at Mundelein library

    Equipped with his banjo and a repertoire of silly songs about bathing in washing machines and things that make you sneeze, musician Jim Gill entertained an enthusiastic crowd of kids and their parents Sunday at the Fremont Public Library in Mundelein.

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    Illinois State Police say they’ve eliminated their lengthy backlog of applications for gun owner identification cards.

    Official: Backlog of gun ID applications cleared

    Illinois State Police say they’ve eliminated their lengthy backlog of applications for gun owner identification cards. Currently, just 3,000 applications need to be approved and all those were submitted within the last 30 days.

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    Lake Zurich’s Tyler Raineri was one of three finalists in a nationwide contest that attracted 3.8 million submissions for new Lay’s potato chip flavors.

    Exploring the Lake County newsmakers for 2013

    A college student who made the final of a national potatio chip flavor contest, a retiring village manager and two police chiefs who took other jobs were among Lake County's 2013 newsmakers.

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    Jacquelyn Greco

    Persistence on suburban cold cases paid off in 2013

    A pair of suburban cold cases, including the unsolved 1979 murder of an Inverness commodities broker, heated up this year, leading in both instances to the arrest of the victims’ former spouses. And in both instances, it was the persistence of police officers that led to the breaks needed to make those arrests.

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    Texting remains illegal in 2014, but so will dialing a phone while driving, even if you’re hands-free during the call. “That is when you are taking your eyes off the roadway, and it is dangerous,” says Arlington Heights police Cmdr. Andrew Whowell.

    Hands off: Illinois drivers must change phone habits in New Year

    A new law taking effect Jan. 1 dictates hands-free use of cellphones. Even dialing a number can fall into the new category of distracted driving offenses, which carry fines starting at $75. But local police say they hope to educate the driving public about the new law, rather than write tickets. “We’re not going to be out hammering people Jan. 1 with tickets. We know we have that as an...

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    Wind chill, freezing rain advisories issued for Chicago area

    The National Weather Service issued wind chill and freezing rain advisories this morning for the entire Chicago region, warning of potentially icy travel conditions and dangerous cold. The frigid weather will remain until at least Thursday night, forecasters say.

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    Work Advice: One person’s nit is another’s nightmare

    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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    Jim Stoecker says he's eaten a pizza almost every day for the past seven years.

    Long Grove businessman eats pizza daily — about 2,400 days and counting

    When a retired Long Grove business executive discovered his favorite "date night" pizza place was in danger of closing, he and his wife swooped in and found new careers as restauranteurs. Now, Jim Stoeker figures he's eaten pizza almost every one of the past 2,400 days.

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    Charles Amrich

    Island Lake's legal bills are shrinking

    When Charles Amrich was elected Island Lake's mayor earlier this year, he promised to reduce the small village's staggeringly high legal bills. A Daily Herald analysis shows he's accomplished that task.

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    Barrington Countryside Fire Protection District Fire Chief Jeff Swanson, far left, was joined earlier this month by the appointment of, from left to right, battalion chiefs Ron Eilken, Scott Motisi and Jeff Tress.

    True test of Barrington-area fire split begins Jan. 1

    Ready or not, as six months of intensive preparations come to and end the real test of the Barrington Countryside Fire Protection District's independence will come Jan. 1. That's the day the Countryside formally separates from the Barrington Fire Department.

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    Timothy R. McNamee “Mackers” Memorial Park in Carpentersville features a boat launch. A new study is expected to determine if more are needed as well as other recreational amenities.

    Algonquin, Carpentersville score grant for Fox River improvements

    Algonquin and Carpentersville have secured a grant aimed at enhancing recreational opportunities along the Fox River, which runs through both villages. “It was great to have a willing partner who has similar goals and we can work together to try to make the river more of a regional draw,” said Ben Mason, Algonquin’s senior planner. “The stretch from Algonquin to...

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    Boy Scouts from the Chief Seattle Council carry U.S. flags as they prepare to march in the Gay Pride Parade in downtown Seattle. The Boy Scouts of America, in the most contentious change of membership policy in a 103-year history, will accept openly gay youths in Scout units starting on New Year’s Day 2014.

    Boy Scouts open ranks to gay youth on Jan. 1

    The Boy Scouts of America will accept openly gay youths starting on New Year’s Day, a historic change that has prompted the BSA to ponder a host of potential complications — ranging from policies on tentmates and showers to whether Scouts can march in gay pride parades. Yet despite their be-prepared approach, BSA leaders are rooting for the change to be a non-event, comparable to another New...

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    In this photo taken on Nov. 4, 2007, the feet of King Tutankhamen are seen at the moving of the linen-wrapped mummy of King Tut from his stone sarcophagus in his underground tomb in the famed Valley of the Kings in Luxor, Egypt. Egypt’s famed King Tutankhamen suffered from a cleft palate and club foot, likely forcing him to walk with a cane, and died from complications from a broken leg exacerbated by malaria, according to the most extensive study ever of his mummy.

    New study sheds light on meat, mummies in ancient tombs

    So you’ve gone through all the trouble of mummifying a loved one. You’ve hired embalmers to remove her organs, treat her body with a precise mixture of oils and balms, and carefully wrap her in bandages. You’ve spared no expense on a lavish tomb, beautifully decorated and stuffed with riches. You’ve even mummified her pets, all to make sure she will fully enjoy her afterlife. There’s just one...

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    The new year brings the big test of President Barack Obama’s beleaguered health care law: Does it work? The heart of the law springs to life Jan. 1, 2014, after nearly four years of political turmoil and three months of enrollment chaos.

    Circle these dates: Health law’s key tests in 2014

    The new year brings the big test of President Barack Obama’s beleaguered health care law: Will it work? Patients will begin showing up at hospitals and pharmacies with insurance coverage bought through the nation’s new health care marketplaces. The course of 2014 will show whether Obama can get affordable care to millions of people in need, without doing intolerable damage to the 85 percent of...

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    On Nov. 14, President Barack Obama pauses while speaking about his signature health care law, in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington.

    President Obama’s fifth year: Fits and starts

    His second inaugural address over, President Barack Obama paused as he strode from the podium last January, turning back for one last glance across the expanse of the National Mall, where a supportive throng stood in the winter chill. “I want to take a look, one more time,” Obama said quietly. “I’m not going to see this again.” There was so much Obama could not — or did not — see then, as he...

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    Dong Linhua, 59, works at his workshop in Shanghai, China. Dong, who worked in a state-owned clothing company while later being laid off, started a workshop that produces the molds of the paper box for the factories. He does not have a job now.

    Too many retirees, too little money: Retirement crisis looms worldwide

    A global retirement crisis is bearing down on workers of all ages. Spawned years before the Great Recession and the financial meltdown in 2008, the crisis was significantly worsened by those twin traumas. It will play out for decades, and its consequences will be far-reaching. Many people will be forced to work well past the traditional retirement age of 65 — to 70 or even longer.

Sports

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    The Packers' Randall Cobb scores the game winning touchdown over Zackary Bowman on a fourth-down pass from Aaron Rodgers on Sunday at Soldier Field.

    Chilling finish to Bears' season

    It wasn't the collective brain cramp late in the first half that lost Sunday's game for the Bears. Even though 11 defenders stood around watching as Packers wide receiver Jarrett Boykin scooped up a loose ball and pranced 15 yards for a touchdown, they were able to overcome that. What they weren't able to overcome is a defense that couldn't make a play when it had ample opportunities with the game on the line.

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    Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jarrett Boykin (11) looks back after running into the end zone with a touchdown after Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) fumbled the ball during the first half of an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013, in Chicago.

    Fumble return was where season really ended

    The football wasn’t dead. It skipped and spun on Soldier Field’s beaten grass like a live fish pulled from icy Lake Michigan. Packers wide receiver Jarrett Boykin jabbed at it, before finally successfully scooping it on his second try and jogging in solitude 15 yards into the end zone. Sure, the fumble return for touchdown gave the visiting Packers only a 10-7 lead with Sunday’s NFC North showdown not even half over. No matter, the Bears’ season was as good as dead.

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    Jay Cutler walks off the field after the Bears’ 33-28 loss to the Green Bay Packers in an NFL football game Sunday in Chicago.

    Marshall says Cutler will be back with Bears

    Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, who is scheduled to become a free agent, isn't ready yet to address the situation, but wide receiver Brandon Marshall said his quarterback would be back. “Jay will be back,” Marshall said. “All those stories for the off-season, put that at the bottom. Just say ‘Brandon said Jay will be back.’"

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    Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) talks to Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) after their NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013, in Chicago. The Packers won 33-28 to capture the NFC North title.

    Grading the Bears: Final week

    Grading the Bears: Final week

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    Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery missed catching this pass by Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler while covered by Green Bay Packers cornerback Sam Shields on Sunday at Soldier Field in Chicago.

    Turns out, Bears just who we thought they were

    A heart-breaking loss to Green Bay not only summed up the Bears’ season, but it was a fitting end to a perfectly mediocre season that figured to be much better on offense and much worse on defense.

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    Eagles beat Cowboys to take NFC East title

    ARLINGTON, Texas — Nick Foles and Philadelphia’s high-scoring offense needed a little help from the defense to make sure it was the same old sad ending for the Dallas Cowboys.Foles threw two touchdown passes, one to NFL rushing champion LeSean McCoy, and Brandon Boykin had a game-sealing interception to help the Eagles beat the Cowboys 24-22 in a win-or-go-home game for the NFC East title Sunday night.The Cowboys lost to a division rival with a playoff berth on the line for the third straight year, and nobody can blame Tony Romo for this crushing loss.Kyle Orton, filling in two days after Romo underwent back surgery, had Dallas about 40 yards from field goal range with 1:49 remaining. But he threw behind Miles Austin on the first play, and into the arms of Boykin.“We kept fighting. We believed in each other,” said Foles, who was 17 of 26 for 263 yards after throwing for only 80 in a 17-3 loss to Dallas at home. “When the offense was struggling, the defense picked us up.”The Eagles (10-6) will host New Orleans in a wild-card game Saturday night, while the Cowboys (8-8) have now dropped a finale to each division rival the past three seasons and have missed the playoffs four straight years. Dallas is 136-136 since the start of the 1997 season.“It’s unthinkable, really, to me to be sitting here three years in a row and this game ends up putting us at .500 and this game eliminates us from going to the playoffs,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. McCoy, who had a 3-yard scoring catch, rushed for 131 yards to finish with 1,607 yards and become the first Philadelphia running back to win the rushing title since Hall of Famer Steve Van Buren in 1949.“With the stats and the records, none of that stuff means anything, if you don’t win in the end,” McCoy said. “That’s the most important thing.”The Eagles won the division for the first time since 2010 a year after going 4-12, which led to Andy Reid’s departure and the hiring of Chip Kelly and his fast-paced offense from Oregon.Dallas trailed 24-16 when Orton threw a 32-yard touchdown pass to Dez Bryant. Orton went back to Bryant for the 2-point conversion, but Cary Williams dove to punch the ball away.But the Eagles, with the second-ranked offense in the NFL, couldn’t run out the clock against the league’s worst defense. Foles even tried to throw on third down, but had to slide short of the first down when nobody was open.Boykin took care of things from there.“It definitely wasn’t our best, but some guys came up with some huge plays when we needed them to,” said Connor Barwin, who knocked down a fourth-down pass earlier in the fourth quarter.Romo was the quarterback for losses the past two seasons to the New York Giants and Washington — and against the Eagles in the same scenario in 2008.The Cowboys were down 10-0 early in the second quarter and never led, but still found a way to make it interesting without Romo and defensive leader Sean Lee, who was out with a sprained neck.Regardless, Dallas is only the third team in NFL history to finish with three straight 8-8 records, according to STATS. And those are in Jason Garrett’s three full seasons as coach.“You feel a tremendous sense of pride about how the team played, how they fought, how they scratched, how they clawed, how they battled,” Garrett said. “But having said that, we didn’t get the job done.”Orton, who was 30 of 46 for 358 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions in his first start in two years, was the first Dallas starter not named Romo in an elimination game since a playoff loss to Carolina with Quincy Carter under center during the 2003 season.The Cowboys weren’t shy about throwing without Romo.Trailing by one, Dallas tried to pass on fourth-and-1 from the Philadelphia 40 early in the fourth quarter, and Barwin knocked down Orton’s throw to DeMarco Murray, who was open in the flat.

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    Brandon Marshall runs the ball after a catch against Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Mike Neal on Sunday at Soldier Field in Chicago.

    Just when are Bears going to solve Packers riddle?

    If not on this day, when? If not at Soldier Field, where? If not ... oh, forget it. After this latest loss, the Bears don't figure to beat the Packers with Aaron Rodgers. At least not during our lifetime, or at least not during his career.

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    Matt Forte finished the season with 1,933 yards from scrimmage, the second-most ever by a Bears player.

    Big season, but Forte wanted much more

    Bears running back Matt Forte once again put up impressive numbers in the season-ending loss to the Packers, and he wound up with personal bests in rushing yards, receiving yards, receptions and yards from scrimmage. But he was disappointed that the offense didn't hold on to the ball longer before giving it back to Green Bay for their game-winning drive.

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    Wolves win fifth in last six games

    The Chicago Wolves completed a grueling stretch of three games in three days by earning 5 of a possible 6 points thanks to a 4-3 win over the Charlotte Checkers at Allstate Arena on Sunday. Christian Hanson, Pat Cannone, Michael Davies and Sebastian Wannstrom netted goals for the Wolves (17-12-1-2), who captured their fifth win in the last six games. Goaltender Jake Allen finished with 33 saves.

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    Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy runs into the end zone for a touchdown during Sunday’s second half at Soldier Field.

    Bears’ season ends with loss to Packers

    Aaron Rodgers and Randall Cobb came back just in time to lift the Green Bay Packers to the NFC North championship — and to keep the Bears out of the playoffs altogether. Rodgers fired a 48-yard touchdown pass to Cobb in the final minute, and the Packers beat the Bears 33-28 on Sunday at Soldier Field.Back after missing seven games with a broken left collarbone, Rodgers found a wide-open Cobb on fourth-and-8 to wipe out a one-point deficit with 38 seconds left.Green Bay will host San Francisco next weekend in the wild-card round.The Bears had one final drive, but Jay Cutler’s deep pass to Alshon Jeffery was intercepted by Sam Shields on the final play.That gave the Packers (8-7-1) their third straight division title and fifth postseason appearance in a row. It also kept the Bears (8-8) out of the playoffs for the sixth time in seven years.Things weren’t looking great for the Packers after Chicago’s Brandon Marshall spun away from Tramon Williams in the end zone on the first play of the fourth quarter to make it 28-20. But the Packers answered with a touchdown drive.Eddie Lacy ran in from the 6 after a 22-yard pass from Rodgers to Andrew Quarless went through safety Chris Conte’s hands, making it a one-point game.Then, on the winning drive, Green Bay converted twice on fourth-and-1 before Rodgers eluded pressure unleashed that winning pass to Cobb.It was a strong finish after a shaky start for the superstar quarterback, and it gave him some payback against the team that nearly ended his season.Rodgers was intercepted on the Packers’ first two possessions, with Conte picking him off in the end zone on the first one. He also threw for 318 yards and two touchdowns in his first appearance since Nov. 4. He got knocked out of that game on an early sack by Shea McClellin at Lambeau Field, sending the Packers into a 2-5-1 slide.Jordy Nelson had 161 yards receiving, and Cobb, in his first appearance since Oct. 13, won it with his catch. James Starks ran for 88 yards. Eddie Lacy, hobbled by a knee injury, finished with just 66.For the Bears, their first season under Marc Trestman ended the same way five of the previous six did under Lovie Smith on the outside looking in at the playoffs. They had a chance to wrap up the division last week, only to get pounded 54-11 at Philadelphia. And with another opportunity, they came up short against their longtime rivals.This one is sure to spark memories of Green Bay’s victory in the 2010 NFC title game at Soldier Field on the way to the Super Bowl championship and fuel more questions about Cutler’s ability to win big games.With a playoff spot on the line and his contract set to expire, Cutler threw for 226 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. He is now 1-9 against Green Bay, including that conference final and a loss with Denver in 2007.Matt Forte ran for 110 yards and two scores. He also had 47 yards receiving with a touchdown catch.Alshon Jeffery had 80 yards receiving, and Brandon Marshall had 74.Two unusual plays late in the first half turned a 7-3 deficit into a 13-7 advantage for the Packers.Green Bay had a first down at the Chicago 17 when a sack and strip against Rodgers by Julius Peppers turned into one unusual touchdown. Jarrett Boykin ran across the field, picked up the loose ball as play stopped. One thing, though: The whistle never blew.With Rodgers standing nearby, Boykin turned and headed 15 yards to the end zone. Rodgers then threw his hands up to signal a touchdown, and after a replay review, it stood.That stunned the crowd and gave the Packers a 10-7 lead.Green Bay caught another big break on the Bears’ next possession when Jeffery fumbled a pass at the Chicago 41. Morgan Burnett picked up the ball and lateraled to Sam Shields, who returned it to the Chicago 28. That led to a 27-yard field goal by Mason Crosby to make it a six-point game at the half

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    Dawson’s FG gives 49ers 23-20 win over Arizona

    GLENDALE, Ariz. — Phil Dawson kicked a 40-yard field goal as the game ended to lift San Francisco to a 23-20 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, giving the 49ers the NFC’s No. 5 playoff seed.Dawson had matched his career best with a 56-yarder to put San Francisco (12-4) up 20-17 with 1:45 to go. Jay Feely’s 43-yard field goal then tied it for Arizona with 34 seconds left.LaMichael James’ 45-yard kickoff return and two quick completions by Collin Kaepernick set up Dawson’s game winner.Arizona (10-6) rallied from a 17-0 first-quarter deficit to tie it on Carson Palmer’s 34-yard touchdown pass to Andre Roberts with 3:20 remaining.Anquan Boldin caught nine passes for 149 yards and a TD in his first game back since Arizona traded him to Baltimore after the 2009 season.

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    Chargers claim final AFC playoff spot

    SAN DIEGO — Nick Novak kicked a 36-yard field goal with 5:30 left in overtime and the San Diego Chargers, who trailed by 10 points in the fourth quarter, beat the Kansas Chiefs 27-24 to claim the AFC’s final playoff spot.The Chargers (9-7) ended a three-year postseason drought. The winning drive was kept alive by a 2-yard gain by Pro Bowl safety Eric Weddle on a fake punt on fourth-and-2 from the Chargers 28. The game ended when Kansas City couldn’t convert on fourth-and-15 from the San Diego 41 with 3:16 left.With the Chargers on the verge of an embarrassing collapse against a team resting 20 of 22 starters, Philip Rivers threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Eddie Royal early in the fourth quarter and Novak kicked a 22-yard field goal to tie it.Kansas City kicker Ryan Succop was wide right on a potential game-winning, 41-yard field goal try with 4 seconds left in regulation.

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    Saints make playoffs with win over Bucs

    NEW ORLEANS — Drew Brees passed for four touchdowns and ran for another score, and New Orleans clinched a wild card spot with a 42-17 victory over Tampa Bay on Sunday.Three of Brees’ scoring strikes were longer than 40 yards — 76 to Kenny Stills, 44 to Lance Moore and 41 to Robert Meachem. Brees passed for 381 yards, eclipsing 5,000 yards in a season for an unprecedented fourth time. He finished the season with 5,162 yards to go with 39 touchdowns. Brees’ other TD was a 10-yard pass to tight end Jimmy Graham, and the Saints (11-5) finished 8-0 in the Superdome.Mike Glennon passed for 219 yards and two TDs for Tampa Bay (4-12). With doubts swirling about the future of second-year Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano, the Bucs closed the season with losses in their last three games, and four of their last five.

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    Seahawks clinch top seed with win over Rams

    SEATTLE — Malcolm Smith returned an interception 37 yards for a touchdown, Marshawn Lynch added a 2-yard scoring run and the Seattle Seahawks clinched the NFC West title and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with a 27-9 win over the St. Louis Rams on Sunday. Seattle (13-3) matched the franchise record for wins in a season and finally wrapped up the No. 1 seed after failing in two previous attempts, including last week’s loss to Arizona that snapped a 14-game home winning streak. Smith’s interception was the start of a dominant performance by the Seahawks defense that held St. Louis under 100 yards of total offense into the fourth quarter. The defensive effort and a lack of discipline from the Rams (7-9) helped Seattle’s offense do just enough. Russell Wilson threw a 47-yard TD pass to Golden Tate, and Lynch finished with 97 yards rushing.

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    Broncos beat Raiders 34-14 for top seed

    OAKLAND, Calif. — Peyton Manning set the NFL single-season yards record and threw four touchdown passes to clinch the top seed in the AFC playoffs for the Denver Broncos with a 34-14 victory Sunday over the Oakland Raiders.Manning needed one half to add the yards record to the touchdown mark he set last week and assure the Broncos (13-3) would have home-field advantage in the playoffs.He threw touchdown passes to Eric Decker and Knowshon Moreno in the first quarter and two to Demaryius Thomas in the second. He broke Drew Brees’ record of 5,476 yards set in 2011 with a 5-yard pass to Thomas with 13 seconds left in the half to make it 31-0.Manning finished the season with 5,477 yards and 55 touchdown passes.

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    Blount leads Pats to bye with win over Bills

    FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — LeGarrette Blount ran for a career-high 189 yards and two touchdowns and had two long kickoff returns as the New England Patriots clinched a first-round AFC bye with a 34-20 win over the Buffalo Bills on a rainy Sunday.Tom Brady was content to hand the ball off during a steady downpour against a team first in the NFL in sacks and second in interceptions. And Blount responded, leading the charge into the playoffs.Stephen Gostkowski helped make sure the Patriots (12-4) wouldn’t have a game next weekend with four field goals.While the Patriots earned their eighth bye in Bill Belichick’s 14 seasons as coach, the Bills (6-10) missed the playoffs for the 14th straight year, the league’s longest current streak.

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    Patrick Kane is 0-for-9 this season on shootout attempts.

    Hawks’ Kane being stymied in shootouts

    Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane might be in the midst of a MVP-type season with 53 points at the halfway pole, but there is one problem area. Kane is 0-for-9 in shootouts after missing again in Saturday’s 6-5 loss at St. Louis.

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    Patrick Sharp, here scoring a goal against St. Louis on Saturday, has made a strong case for himself to be included on Team Canada for the upcoming Olympic Games.

    Saad’s Olympic dreams fade, but Sharp’s soar

    When the U.S. Olympic team is named on Wednesday following the Winter Classic game between Detroit and Toronto in Ann Arbor, there’s a good chance Blackhawks winger Brandon Saad won’t hear his name called. There’s simply too much proven talent at wing on the USA side, which means Saad might have to wait his turn. Meanwhile, when Canada reveals its Olympic roster on Jan. 7, Patrick Sharp likely can expect to hear his name called.

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    Bulls guard Jimmy Butler drives against Mavericks forward Shawn Marion on Saturday. Butler aggravated a turf toe injury in the loss but says he’ll be ready to play Monday in Memphis.

    Bulls, Butler still long way from full strength

    Bulls forward Jimmy Butler limped badly in the locker room following Saturday's loss against Dallas. He played nearly 46 minutes, despite aggravating the turf toe injury on his right foot. Coach Tom Thibodeau said the Bulls need practice time, but that's not easy when players are nursing injuries.

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    Steelers stomp lifeless Browns 20-7

    PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh played like it didn’t want its season to end. Cleveland looked like it couldn’t wait to pack things up and go home.The Browns got their wish. The Steelers might, too.Le’Veon Bell ran for 90 yards and a touchdown and Pittsburgh maintained its unlikely pursuit of a playoff berth, drubbing the lifeless Browns 20-7 on Sunday. If San Diego loses to Kansas City after both Baltimore and Miami lost Sunday, the Steelers sneak in.Ben Roethlisberger passed for 179 yards and a touchdown against two interceptions as Pittsburgh (8-8) won its third straight to avoid the franchise’s first losing season since 2003. The victory also continued a furious second-half rally by the Steelers, who went 6-2 over the season’s final eight weeks to fuel an improbable run at the AFC’s final postseason spot.Jason Campbell completed 23 of 40 passes for 240 yards with a touchdown, but the Browns (4-12) lost their seventh straight, fueling speculation first-year coach Rob Chudzinski’s job could be in jeopardy.The Browns didn’t do Chudzinski any favors, barely putting up much fight while losing to their rivals for the 26th time in the last 31 meetings since the franchise was revived in 1999. Cleveland was largely noncompetitive over the season’s final three months, losing 10 of 11, with seven losses by a touchdown or more, including two to the Steelers by a combined 47-18.Cleveland’s front office declined to address Chudzinski’s job status, releasing a statement saying the team’s focus was on the game and that the club “will not discuss any evaluation of the season until this upcoming week.”There is no widespread panic in Pittsburgh. A season that appeared teetering on embarrassment after a 55-31 loss to New England on Nov. 3 ended up with a decidedly rosier finish. The Steelers scored on the opening drive, a 9-yard strike from Roethlisberger to Jerricho Cotchery, and it was more than enough. Whenever the Browns threatened, they found a way to botch it. Twice they failed on fourth-down attempts in Pittsburgh territory and didn’t reach the end zone until Campbell found Fozzy Whitaker on a 35-yard pass with 2:46 remaining.By then most of the attention had turned to the scoreboard, where the biggest roars were saved for scores by the Bengals and Jets, who then won to boost Pittsburgh’s playoff chances.The rapid development of Bell helped Pittsburgh’s remarkable turnaround. He broke Hall of Famer Franco Harris’ team record for total yards from scrimmage by a rookie by combining for 96 yards in the muck at Heinz Field.Bell’s 5-yard touchdown burst in the second quarter, which included a nifty spin move in the backfield, gave the Steelers a 14-0 lead at the break. It capped an 87-yard drive in which Bell touched the ball 10 times in 14 plays.That was more than enough for a defense that appeared rejuvenated, sacking Campbell three times.Cleveland wide receiver Josh Gordon caught seven passes for 82 yards to almost certainly become the first Browns player to lead the NFL in yards receiving. But it was of little solace on a day Cleveland looked very much like the same old Browns.

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    Vikings leave Metrodome with victory over Lions

    MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Vikings fittingly left the Metrodome with one more victory over the Detroit Lions. Rookie Cordarrelle Patterson scored two more touchdowns, including the go-ahead catch in the end zone in the fourth quarter, and the Vikings beat the Lions 14-13 on Sunday afternoon in the final game at the Teflon-topped stadium after 32 seasons.With both the Vikings (5-10-1) and the Lions (7-9) out of the playoffs, both coaches also faced the possibility of their last full day with their teams. Jim Schwartz fell to 29-52 in five years with the Lions. Leslie Frazier raised his record with the Vikings in three-plus years to 21-33-1. Each of them has reached the playoffs once.The building will be torn down next month to make room for a new domed venue on the same site. The Vikings will play outside the next two seasons at the University of Minnesota’s facility.Calvin Johnson was held out because of a nagging knee injury by the Lions, who finished with six losses in their last seven games. Matthew Stafford completed 22 of 33 passes for 217 yards and a third-quarter touchdown pass on third-and-4 from the 19 to Reggie Bush, who slipped a tackle attempt by Jared Allen and sprinted into the end zone.Allen had two sacks, though, to pass the double-digit mark for the seventh straight season. With Adrian Peterson watching on the sideline, due to a sprained foot, third-stringer Matt Asiata rushed 14 times for 115 yards for the Vikings.Cassel, despite an earlier interception he threw in the end zone, had the winning scoring pass. He was the quarterback at the end of all five Vikings victories this year, two of them in injury relief of Christian Ponder. The Vikings also narrowly avoided setting a franchise record for most points allowed, leaving the 1984 team the holder of that dubious mark. This still might not have been enough to save Frazier’s job, however.The Lions beat Chicago twice and were really roaring after a 40-10 dismantling of Green Bay on Thanksgiving Day, but Schwartz’s status grew more tenuous by the day in December as this talented team fell apart again. With one more win prior to this game, the Lions would’ve been able to become division champions for the first time in 20 years by beating the Vikings. Instead, the Bears and Packers played later for the NFC North. Schwartz’s winning percentage is the worst by an NFL coach in his first full five years, according to STATS research, since John McKay with expansion Tampa Bay from 1976-80.The fans, taking advantage of this controlled climate one last time with the temperature outside below zero, cheered the highlights and booed the bad plays like the Vikings were still contending. Most of the afternoon, though, had the feel of an exhibition game.Allen lined up at tight end on a first-and-goal play in the second quarter, and Matt Cassel found him open in the back of the end zone but overthrew the five-time Pro Bowl defensive end.Patterson wasn’t even ready for the opening kickoff, slapping the goalpost and trying to fire up fans behind him when the ball sailed in the end zone and was caught by Chase Ford for a touchback. Patterson quickly refocused, though, to add some more fuel for his Offensive Rookie of the Year Award case.Late in the first quarter, he took a pitch in the backfield, immediately reversed course and ran right toward the sideline. He slipped between Ndamukong Suh and Devin Taylor, then snaked his way through the rest of the defense for a 50-yard gain, the longest rushing play in Vikings history by a wide receiver.Then early in the fourth quarter, Patterson caught an 8-yard pass in the corner of the end zone on a perfect fade throw by Cassel to put the Vikings up 14-13. That was set up by a 50-yard punt return by Marcus Sherels.

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    Colts keep momentum, blow out Jaguars 30-10

    INDIANAPOLIS — The Colts got it all right Sunday — and still might come up short.Andrew Luck threw for 282 yards and one touchdown, Robert Mathis reclaimed the NFL sacks lead and Adam Vinatieri became the seventh player in league history to join the 2,000-point club as the Colts rolled to a 30-10 victory over Jacksonville.The AFC South champs won their third straight, matching their longest winning streak of the season. Jacksonville (4-12) lost its third in a row.Indy’s latest victory certainly gives them momentum heading into the playoffs but probably not the coveted first-round bye and perhaps not even the No. 3 seed.The Colts (11-5) needed Cincinnati and New England to lose Sunday to move from No. 4 to No. 2 and one of those two teams to lose to move to No. 3. Still, it was a milestone day for Indy.Luck was 26 of 37 before leaving early in the fourth quarter, and he broke Cam Newton’s record for yards passing in the first two seasons of a career. Luck now has 8,196 yards — the first player to top 8,000 yards in two seasons. T.Y. Hilton had the biggest day of his career, catching 11 passes for 155 yards. And Vinatieri joined the 2,000-point club with a 26-yard field goal as time expired in the first half, then passed George Blanda (2,002) for sixth and Matt Stover (2,004) for fifth on the career scoring list in the second half. The 41-year-old kicker finished the day with 2,006 points.Mathis took the sacks lead with 19½ after taking Chad Henne to the ground once in each half, then had to wait to see if St. Louis’ Robert Quinn — or anyone else — could move past him. Quinn also was playing a late afternoon game against Seattle.But Indy’s defense has surrendered just two touchdowns in the last 12 quarters, and Indy has outscored its last three opponents by a combined 78-20.The Colts made this one look easy.Donald Brown opened the game with a leaping 1-yard TD run to make it 7-0, and Trent Richardson followed that with a 2-yard run on Indy’s second series. Vinatieri then booted a 23-yard field goal to give Indy a 17-0 lead with 1:22 left in the first quarter.After Jacksonville got a 37-yard field goal from Josh Scobee, the Jags moved into scoring position late in the first half. But Henne was picked off by Antoine Bethea and his 46-yard return set up Vinatieri’s milestone field goal.Luck opened the second half with a 7-yard TD pass to former college teammate Griff Whalen, but the Jags didn’t score again until Henne threw a 14-yard TD pass to Kerry Taylor with 16 seconds left in the game.Henne finished 30 of 51 for 331 yards with one TD and one interception. Jones-Drew, the former rushing champ who could become a free agent, ran 13 times for 39 yards and caught five passes for 51 yards.

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    Dolphins miss playoffs with 20-7 loss to Jets

    MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — The Miami Dolphins blew an early lead to complete a late-season collapse that will keep them out of the playoffs for a fifth year in a row.Miami was eliminated from the scramble for the AFC’s final wild-card berth Sunday by the New York Jets, who thrived in the role of spoilers against their archrivals and won 20-7.Geno Smith led three long scoring drives, ran for a touchdown and threw for 190 yards, while two interceptions by rookie Dee Milliner and one by 35-year-old Ed Reed prevented a Miami comeback. The Dolphins (8-8) squandered a shot at their first playoff berth since 2008 by losing their final two games, including a shutout defeat at last-place Buffalo. It was a dismal end to a roller-coaster season that included a four-game losing streak, a bullying scandal that drew national scrutiny, and a December surge that briefly left the Dolphins in control of their playoff destiny.The Jets (8-8) celebrated as though they’re playoff-bound but will sit out the postseason themselves for the third year in a row under coach Rex Ryan, whose future was in doubt — but owner Woody Johnson announced shortly after the game that he would return next season. He’s 42-38 in five seasons with the Jets, and has one year remaining on his contract. The only points of the season’s final two weeks for the Dolphins put them ahead 7-0 in the second quarter, but the Jets rallied by mounting touchdown drives of 71 and 80 yards on their final possessions of the first half. When Smith scored on a 7-yard, third-down keeper up the middle with 3 seconds left for a 14-7 lead at halftime, an excited Ryan ran on the field to celebrate with his players.Fans were booing in the first half and streaming for the exits in the final minutes. Smith drove the Jets 63 yards to set up a field goal that gave them a 17-7 cushion with 4:18 left, and on the next play Reed grabbed a deflected pass for his 64th career interception to all but seal the victory.Milliner stopped a Miami threat in the third quarter with a diving interception of Ryan Tannehill one play after Mike Wallace dropped a potential touchdown pass that would have tied the game.The Jets played like a team with nothing to lose, which they were, and eager to spoil Miami’s season. They kept the Dolphins off balance with swarming defense and imaginative play-calling, including 294-pound defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson’s 1-yard plunge for his second rushing touchdown this season. Running back Bilal Powell threw a 30-yard completion to set up the Jets’ field goal.Miami ended an 81-minute scoring drought in the second quarter. Tannehill beat a blitz by lobbing a 5-yard touchdown pass on third down to Wallace, capping an 89-yard drive.But the Dolphins’ running game sputtered, as usual, and Tannehill had a woeful passer rating of 42.1.

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    Titans beat Texans 16-10, Houston nabs No. 1 pick

    NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Mike Munchak can start arguing he deserves to coach the Tennessee Titans in 2014.Texans owner Bob McNair can hire a new coach before Houston decides who will be the No. 1 draft selection in May. Chris Johnson ran for 127 yards and a touchdown in what might be his last game with the Titans, who beat the Houston Texans 16-10 Sunday for a win that might help Munchak’s argument to stay on the job.With their 14th straight loss, the Texans (2-14) at least made sure whoever their next coach is will have the top draft pick.The Titans (7-9) scored 16 straight points in snapping a five-game home skid that was their longest since leaving Houston for Tennessee in 1997. They also won a second straight game for the first time since September, when they started 3-1.Rob Bironas kicked three field goals, including a season-long 55-yarder. Linebacker Akeem Ayers intercepted a pass and forced a fumble as the Titans got four turnovers they turned into 10 points.The Texans had one last chance with the ball and 66 seconds left, but Michael Griffin intercepted an overthrown pass by Matt Schaub. That was the third turnover by the Texans quarterback.Johnson became the sixth man in NFL history to run for at least 1,000 yards in each of his first six seasons with a 23-yard run in the second quarter, joining Barry Sanders, Curtis Martin, LaDanian Tomlinson, Eric Dickerson and Corey Dillon. But Johnson, who ran for 2,006 yards in 2009, is due $8 million in 2014, with $29 million left on his contract. That might be too much to pay for someone who posted only his second 100-yard rushing game of the season Sunday.The Texans now can focus on 2014 after a miserable season that saw Jonathan Grimes, signed Dec. 18, become the fifth running back to start this season. McNair already has been interviewing possible replacements for Gary Kubiak, fired Dec. 6, with interim coach Wade Phillips hoping his performance as defensive coordinator earns him the job. Tennessee outgained Houston 311-288 in total offense, with 165 coming on the ground thanks to Johnson. The Texans were up 7-6 at halftime thanks to an opening drive where they looked like the two-time AFC South champs they came into the season as. The banged-up team even got good production from Grimes, who capped the drive with his first NFL TD on a 3-yard carry and ripped through the Titans early. Houston didn’t score again until Randy Bullock kicked a 19-yard field goal with 2:53 left when Phillips decided not to go for a touchdown on fourth-and-goal at the Titans 1. Tennessee finally got took its first lead late in the third quarter. Ayers intercepted a ball that clanked off the face mask of Titans safety Bernard Pollard on Schaub’s pass a little behind Texans tight end Ryan Griffin. Johnson’s 11-yard TD put them ahead to stay 13-7.

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    Panthers clinch NFC South, edge Falcons

    ATLANTA — Carolina leaned on its defense and Cam Newton to clinch its first division title in five years.Newton threw two touchdown passes, Greg Hardy had a team-record four sacks and the Panthers clinched the NFC South title by beating the Atlanta Falcons 21-20 on Sunday.Making their first trip to the playoffs since 2008, the Panthers (12-4) secured a first-round bye and home-field advantage for at least one game as the No. 2 seed in the NFC. Carolina could move up to the No. 1 seed with losses by Seattle and Arizona in late games.Carolina set a team record by sacking Matt Ryan nine times. The defense also produced a touchdown on Melvin White’s 7-yard interception return in the second quarter.Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez had four catches for 56 yards and was honored at halftime in his final regular-season game. He has announced plans for retirement. Newton recovered from a sluggish start to complete 15 of 27 passes for 149 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Newton threw scoring passes to Ted Ginn Jr. and Greg Olsen.Newton led the Panthers with 72 yards rushing.Led by Hardy, Carolina’s pass rush devastated Atlanta’s patchwork offensive line which included second-year player Lamar Holmes and undrafted rookie Ryan Schraeder as the starting tackles.The Falcons (4-12) completed their crushing fall from a 13-3 finish and division title in 2012.Ryan threw touchdown passes to Jason Snelling and Roddy White. Matt Bryant kicked field goals of 42 and 37 yards.Newton was ineffective early, completing only 1 of his first 7 passes with an interception as the Falcons took a 10-0 lead.On Carolina’s first possession of the second quarter, Newton’s high pass glanced off Domenik Hixon’s hands. William Moore made a diving interception to set up Bryant’s first field goal.After trailing 10-0, the Panthers dominated the remainder of the half and had the better end of an exchange of turnovers.DeAngelo Williams cut through the line for a 56-yard run but fumbled when hit by Robert Alford. Desmond Trufant recovered at the Atlanta 4. The turnover only set up a giveaway by the Falcons. Melvin White stepped in front of Harry Douglas for an interception and touchdown return.Carolina took a 14-10 lead with a long drive at the end of the half. A 21-yard pass interference penalty against Alford and a 17-yard run by fullback Mike Tolbert helped set up Newton’s 3-yard scoring pass to Ginn, who was left open when linebacker Stephen Nicholas was frozen by Newton’s fake inside handoff to Tolbert.The Falcons took a 17-14 lead early in the third quarter on Ryan’s 39-yard touchdown pass to Roddy White.The Panthers were without Steve Smith, the team’s second-leading receiver, and running back Jonathan Stewart. Smith sprained his left knee during Carolina’s 17-13 win over New Orleans last week and was on the field for pregame warmups.Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Friday he expects Smith to be ready for the playoffs. Linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (knee) and running back Jacquizz Rodgers (concussion) were inactive for Atlanta.

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    Bengals eliminate Ravens with 34-17 win

    CINCINNATI — Andy Dalton set some records and kept the Bengals perfect at home heading into the postseason.Dalton threw for two touchdowns, ran for another and set a pair of Bengals passing records on Sunday, leading Cincinnati to a 34-17 victory that eliminated the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens.It was an erratic performance by the third-year quarterback, who also threw four interceptions in a game Cincinnati (11-5) wanted to win for playoff seeding. The Bengals (11-5) to head into the postseason as AFC North champions.The Ravens (8-8) lost their last two games, denying them a chance to make the playoffs for a sixth straight season. They couldn’t avoid the Super Bowl slump that’s so common.The Ravens became the 15th Super Bowl champ that failed to reach the playoffs the following season, and the sixth in the last 12 years. Their running game fell apart, the offense had to settle for field goals, and the defense missed Ray Lewis’ inspiration in the big moments.In Cincinnati, there’s only one thing in mind: finally win a playoff game. The Bengals haven’t done that since the 1990 season, tied for the seventh-longest streak of futility in NFL history. They lost opening-round games in Houston each of the last two seasons as wild cards.This time, they get a playoff game at home, where they’re 8-0. They’ve scored 49, 41, 42, 42 and 34 points in their last five games at Paul Brown Stadium. Most of the focus will be on Dalton, who had two horrid games in the playoffs. He put together one of the best seasons by a Bengals quarterback, breaking Carson Palmer’s club records for touchdown passes and yards passing on Sunday.Dalton threw interceptions on Cincinnati’s first two possessions, then regrouped. He threw a 53-yard pass to A.J. Green, who got behind a defense that went for a fake handoff. Marvin Jones made a one-hand, diving catch in the end zone for a 16-yard score just before halftime.Dalton’s 33rd TD pass surpassed Palmer’s club record from 2005. He finished 21 of 36 for 281 yards, breaking Palmer’s club record for yards passing in a season with 4,296.After the Ravens tied it 17-all in the third quarter, Dalton led a 90-yard drive that ended with his 1-yard touchdown run.All too often this season, the Ravens settled for field goals when they got close to the goal line. They did it again on Sunday, managing only three field goals off Dalton’s first three three interceptions. Justin Tucker was good from 38, 22 and 34 yards, giving him a club record of 38 field goals.The Ravens took advantage of Shawn Powell’s 10-yard shanked punt and evened it 17-all in the third quarter. Flacco threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Marlon Brown, and Ray Rice ran for the 2-point conversion.Dalton responded by leading the 90-yard touchdown drive culminating in his run after a faked handoff. Dre Kirkpatrick had two interceptions in the fourth quarter that sealed it, including a 21-yard return for a touchdown.Flacco, playing his second game on a sprained left knee, was 30 of 50 for 192 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions.

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    Giants add to Washington’s woes

    EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — If this was Mike Shanahan’s final game with Washington,, it was just like the season. Very disappointing.Jerrel Jerigan caught a 24-yard touchdown pass and ran 49 yards for another to lead the New York Giants to a 20-6 victory over Washington on Sunday.Shanahan has not only seen the Redskins (3-13) finish the season with an eight-game losing streak just a year after winning the NFC East, but his future coaching the team is uncertain because of his shaky relationship with oft-injured franchise quarterback Robert Griffin III.The Giants (7-9) also aren’t going to the playoffs, but they closed the season with a 7-3 record after losing their first six games. It’s a finish that probably will have two-time Super Bowl winning coach Tom Coughlin back next season, unless the 67-year-old decides he has had enough.The game was the final one at MetLife Stadium until the Super Bowl on Feb. 2. This one was about as ugly as it gets, and the constant rain and injuries didn’t help.The Giants lost quarterback Eli Manning (ankle), receivers Rueben Randle (knee), Hakeem Nicks (ankle) and offensive tackle Will Beatty (broken leg) in the regular-season finale, while Washington saw cornerback Josh Wilson (calf) and defensive end Jarvis Jenkins (head) leave the game.Before leaving at the end of the first half, Manning combined with Jernigan on a 30-yard catch and run that set up the touchdown pass two plays later for a 7-3 lead.Jernigan got his other touchdown on the final play of the third quarter on an end around after taking a handoff from Curtis Painter, who played the second half with Manning out.Manning finished 10 of 24 for 152 yards with the touchdown and his career-high 27th interception of the season.Josh Brown had field goals of 34 yards in the second quarter and 38 in the fourth.The way the Giants’ defense was playing, that’s all New York needed. Washington got field goals of 31 and 49 yards from Kai Forbath, both after Giants turnovers.Washington finished with 251 total yards after converting on 5 of 20 third-down attempts. Kirk Cousins, who started third straight game since RGIII was shut down, was 19 of 49 for 169 yards with two interceptions.The game might have been the last for Washington linebacker London Fletcher, who said he is 99 percent sure his 16-year career will end this season. He played in all 256 games in his career, starting the last 215, an NFL record for linebackers.

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    Like it or not, Bears quarterback Jay Cutler will be around for a while because coach Marc Trestman decided early on that Cutler is a player with whom he can win.

    Noise reaches all-time loud for Cutler, Bears

    While so many of the original Jay Cutler cheerleaders have abandoned the anointed and chosen instead a career backup who was out of the league two years ago, Marc Trestman knows QBs better than just about anyone in the game, and he understands this is about winning, not emotion.

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    Kansas State quarterback Daniel Sams (4) scrambles as Michigan linebacker Jake Ryan (47) defends during the first half of the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl NCAA college football game on Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

    Wildcats roll over Wolverines 31-14 in BWW Bowl

    Jake Waters threw for 271 yards and connected with Tyler Lockett on three touchdowns, leading Kansas State to its first bowl victory in 11 years, 31-14 over Michigan in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl on Saturday night.

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    CORRECTS TO LEG INJURY FROM FOOT INJURY - Anderson Silva, right, of Brazil, screams after kicking Chris Weidman of Baldwin, N.Y., and injuring his leg during the UFC 168 mixed martial arts middleweight championship bout on Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013, in Las Vegas. Weidman won during the second round by a technical knock out after the kick by Silva. (AP Photo/David Becker)

    Weidman defends UFC belt when Silva breaks leg

    Chris Weidman accepted his UFC middleweight title belt with a grimace and a furtive look over his shoulder. Anderson Silva writhed and screamed on the canvas behind him, his left leg grotesquely broken by a kick to Weidman’s knee. The champ couldn’t celebrate after the UFC’s year-end show ended with a stark reminder of the brutality at the core of this flashy, fast-growing sport.

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    Inspired East Aurora handles Aurora Central

    Seeing an Aurora Central Catholic player get just the slightest breach in East Aurora’s defense, a shout came from the Chargers’ bench. “Send it!” That meant shoot the 3-pointer.

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    Glenbard West defeats Hoffman Estates

    It’s not often teams get the chance to win a championship on their home court. It’s an opportunity Glenbard West’s boys basketball team wasn’t going to let slip away. The Hilltoppers claimed the title of their 12th Annual Holiday Classic with Saturday’s 68-60 victory over Hoffman Estates in Glen Ellyn.

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    St. Edward heads to IC/Westmont title game

    St. Edward 61, Morgan Park Academy 38: DaVontae Elam scored 12 points and 13 different St. Edward players scored as the Green Wave (13-1) advanced to Monday’s championship game of the IC/Westmont tournament. The Wave will play Evergreen Park Monday for the title at IC.Guilford 61, Elgin 42: Desmond Douglas and Desmond Sanders each had 9 points for the Maroons in an “add-on” game at the Elgin tournament made necessary when St. Francis de Sales forfeited.Chicago Hope 74, Streamwood 57: Cole Seger had 19 points and Max Draper added 18 for Streamwood (1-11) at the Wheeling tournament.Dundee-Crown 58, Walther Christian 51: Kiwaun Stewart scored 19 points to lead the Chargers to a win at the Elgin tournament. Cordero Parson added 12 points for Dundee-Crown (4-8) and Juwan Stewart had 10.Bartlett 74, Tilden 72: Ryan DiCanio had 24 points as the Hawks held on for a win at the Hinkle Holiday Classic at Jacobs. Justin Busch added 13 points and Robbie Jimenez had 12 for Bartlett (9-6).Harvest Christian 68, New Jerusalem Baptist 33: Noah Fox had 19 points and John Vislisel added 15 for the Lions at the Alden-Hebron tournament. Brett Cramer added 12 points for Harvest.CL South 72, Lakes 59: Austin Rogers led the Gators with 25 points at the Hinkle Holiday Classic at Jacobs. Chris Mahoney added 17 points for Crystal Lake South (11-2) and Caleb Johnson had 13.Round Lake 66, Westminster Christian 45: Brian McDonough had 15 points and Sam Carani 11 for Westminster (6-8) at the Marengo tournament.

Business

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    2013 lessons for investors

    In 2013, investors who blocked out the scary headlines about a possible government default, budget cuts, and concerns about when the Federal Reserve would begin to scale back its stimulus, did great. The economy wasn’t robust, but it wasn’t weak either. Earnings grew, even if companies achieved them by cutting costs rather than increasing sales. And the Fed gave the market a year-end bonus by keeping short-term borrowing costs near zero, even after dialing back its program to hold down longer-term rates.

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    From ovens to garage doors to insulin pumps to vehicles, many of our devices are going to be connected to the Internet in the same sense that our phones are now. And that could make us vulnerable.

    Linking products online increases your security risk

    Ten years ago, the word “smartphone” didn’t exist. By necessity, neither did the word “dumbphone.” From ovens to garage doors to insulin pumps to vehicles, many of our devices are going to be connected to the Internet in the same sense that our phones are now. That could be great, but it also vastly expands the universe of things that could go wrong, particularly when it comes to privacy.

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    While he was growing OpenAir, a cloud computing company that would make him rich, Morris Panner was also caring for a son who was born with respiratory problems. That gave Panner a firsthand look at a persistent challenge in the health care space: trying to get medical images of a person’s body from one hospital or doctor to another.

    For health care, lessons from a start-up success

    One of the miracles of modern technology and X-rays is that you can now see inside a person and find if anything is wrong. Then maybe you can fix it. That works if you are staying in one hospital system. But if you try to send the images to a specialist in another city, or even another hospital or physician’s office, there are many barriers to completing the transfer -- even if your life depends on it.

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    Underwater homeowners could face extra tax burden in 2014

    Struggling homeowners could be hit with an unexpected tax bill in the new year. A law that spared people who owe more than their homes are worth from being saddled with extra taxes when their banks provide mortgage relief is expiring next week. Congress hasn’t extended it.

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    FILE - The June 25, 2011 file photo shows a Boeing flag fluttering as an Airbus A380 flies past during a demonstration flight at the 49th Paris Air Show at Le Bourget airport, east of Paris. The European Union seeks some US$ 12 billion in sanctions against the United States as part of a long-running dispute before the World Trade Organization involving subsidies to plane makers Airbus and Boeing. The Geneva-based trade body said Thursday, Sept. 27, 2012 that the EU plans request on Oct. 23 the right to impose the sanctions. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

    Economists: States should rethink big tax breaks to companies

    The growing concern that any big employer could pack up and leave town has led states to approve lucrative incentive packages to attract or retain companies. Indiana recently cut corporate taxes and has aggressively courted companies from neighboring Illinois, following the example of Texas. New economic research suggests that’s often not a good idea, and it implies that states could be bidding too much to attract the Boeing plant.

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    According to Barron’s, more than 6,200 juice bars are now churning out swamp-colored elixirs across the country. Starbucks recently spent $30 million to acquire Evolution Fresh, a cold-crafted juice operation, hoping to capitalize on what one spokesman called “a major lifestyle trend” of seeking “healthier alternatives.”

    Juicing: A silly and dangerous fad?

    Remember when juice was just juice? It has become so much more. A verb, for one thing ... Juice (the unpasteurized designer stuff, not your standard OJ) has become a $5 billion industry, projected to grow by 4 to 8 percent a year thanks to celebrities and juicing parties.

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    MetLife Stadium is reflected on a puddle on the stadium’s parking lot in East Rutherford, N.J. Northern New Jersey towns hoping to get Super Bowl visitors to spend time and money in the Garden State, and not just across the river in Manhattan, realize they need to come up with a creative game plan to separate itself from New York.

    $400,000 seats can ensure a warm Super Bowl

    The NFL is selling access to MetLife Stadium’s luxury suites during the U.S.’s most-popular sporting event with prices starting at $400,000, according to Brian Lafemina, NFL vice president of club business development. It’s the first time in years that suites have been available for the NFL championship, thanks to about 220 skyboxes built into the $1.6 billion East Rutherford, N.J., stadium.

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    Close to a hundred oyster farms have sprung up during the past decade or so, in bays, creeks and tidal ponds strung along the Atlantic seaboard from Virginia to Canada’s Prince Edward Island. The 1972 Clean Water Act offered oysters a mulligan, and in the past decade, a locavore oyster revolution has taken off. “People love tasting variety, and oysters have it even more than wine,” says author Rowan Jacobsen.

    Oyster beds spread as raw bars drive demand

    Close to a hundred oyster farms have sprung up during the past decade or so, in bays, creeks and tidal ponds strung along the Atlantic seaboard from Virginia to Canada’s Prince Edward Island. The 1972 Clean Water Act offered oysters a mulligan, and in the past decade, a locavore oyster revolution has taken off. “People love tasting variety, and oysters have it even more than wine,” says author Rowan Jacobsen.

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    Volkswagen has become more cost conscious in recent months, saying that “further belt-tightening” was needed. The same month the company outlined plans to boost profitability for brands including the VW nameplate and the loss-making Seat unit.

    Volkswagen to spend $114 billion to be car king

    Volkswagen, Europe’s largest automaker, will maintain a high level of spending on developing new vehicles and upgrading factories over the coming five years to underpin its bid to become the world’s largest automaker. “We will continue to invest strongly in our innovation and technology leadership,” Chief Executive Officer Martin Winterkorn said.

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    In 2010 the former president of Pfizer’s innovation center founded Second Genome, a company dedicated to identifying the varieties of bacteria in stool samples and manipulating them to improve human health. Goodman’s start-up has raised millions of dollars from venture capitalists.

    Is the human bowel a growth opportunity?

    Corey Goodman sees financial opportunity in strange places, specifically the human bowel. In 2010 the former president of Pfizer’s innovation center founded Second Genome, a company dedicated to identifying the varieties of bacteria in stool samples and manipulating them to improve human health. Goodman’s start-up has raised millions of dollars from venture capitalists.

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    At the Tokyo Motor Show opening this week, Honda will unveil the two-seat S660 convertible, its first mini sports car since 1996. Daihatsu has a rival model with panels that can be changed like an iPhone cover. More than a third of the show’s debuts will be mini vehicles, up from about 14 percent in 2011, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

    In Japan, automakers bet that small will be profitable

    Japan’s automakers are betting that small will be the next big thing. At the Tokyo Motor Show opening this week, Honda will unveil the two-seat S660 convertible, its first mini sports car since 1996. Daihatsu has a rival model with panels that can be changed like an iPhone cover. More than a third of the show’s debuts will be mini vehicles, up from about 14 percent in 2011, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Life & Entertainment

  •  
    Schramsberg Brut Rosé, North Coast, Calif., 2009

    Good wine: Bubblies and toasts for for NYE drinking, clinking

    When Champagne was new in the late 1700s, it was expensive, rare and even a little dangerous — with a probability of insubstantial bottles exploding at the cost of life and limb — a combined appeal that catapulted it into the position of the world’s most celebrated wine. Today, Champagne isn’t new or hard to find and the greatest danger is over consumption and a deadly morning-after.

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    Chef Charlie Trotter poses with a glass of champagne after accepting his medal for Humanitarian of the Year during the James Beard Foundation Awards in New Yorkin May 2012. The award-winning chef died in November, a year after closing his eponymous Chicago restaurant that is credited with elevating the city’s cuisine and providing a training ground for some of the nation’s other best chefs.

    2013 in review: Bidding adieu to Charlie Trotter and trans fats

    It wasn’t Paula Deen’s career implosion. Nor the death of Charlie Trotter or the rise and fall of the Cronut. It wasn’t even the Sriracha apocalypse. This year’s most significant food moment was more seismic, an event 125 years in the making. For 2013 was the first time in a long time that the food world had something new to say about Thanksgiving. Turkey Day converged with Hanukkah, creating a holiday mashup that hasn’t happened since 1888, and won’t again for 79,000 years.

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    This image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Martin Freeman, left, and John Callen in a scene from “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.”The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” continued to top the box office, landing at No. 1 over the Christmas holiday for the third weekend in a row.

    ‘Hobbit,’ ‘Frozen’ lead last box office of 2013

    Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” continued to lead the box office, landing in the No. 1 slot for the third weekend. Disney’s animated adventure, “Frozen,” took the No. 2 position, earning $28.9 million over the weekend and $248.4 million after six weeks in theaters. “With `Hobbit’ and `Frozen,’ we are talking $450 million at the box office between those two films alone. They are absolutely killing it here at the end of the year," said box-office analyst Paul Dergarabedian.

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    This photo taken April 19, 2012 shows Canadian singer, Carly Rae Jepsen, posing for photographs following an APTN interview at the Landmark Hotel, London. Jepsen has been called by Broadway. Producers of “Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella” said Sunday that the Canadian singer-songwriter will take over the role of Cinderella starting Feb. 4 for 12 weeks. Sheíll take over from Tony Award nominee Laura Osnes. Jepsen, a Grammy Award nominee, began performing in musical theater in high school, starring in “Annie,” “The Wiz” and “Grease” before attending the Canadian College of Performing Arts. She’ll be joining the cast alongside Fran Drescher paying Cinderella’s stepmother.

    Carly Rae Jepsen heads to Broadway next year

    Producers of “Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella” said Sunday that the“Call Me Maybe” singer Carly Rae Jepsen will take over the role of Cinderella starting Feb. 4 for 12 weeks. She’ll take over from Tony Award nominee Laura Osnes.

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    This Feb. 24, 2013 file photo shows broadcaster Robin Roberts arriving at the 85th Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. Roberts thanked her longtime girlfriend, Amber Laign, in a year-end post published on the ABC News anchorís Facebook page on Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013. The message comes after Roberts’ battle with a life-threatening illness. This is the first time the “Good Morning America” anchor has publicly acknowledged her 10-year, same-sex relationship with Laign, a massage therapist from the San Francisco Bay Area, who focuses on patients recovering from injuries.

    Roberts thanks girlfriend following rare illness

    Robin Roberts thanked her longtime girlfriend, Amber Laign, in a year-end post published on the ABC News anchor’s Facebook page on Sunday, confirmed Heather Riley of ABC. The message comes after Roberts’ battle with a life-threatening illness.

  •  
    Huerta chose IKEA’s Jara black barrel shade chandelier as a focal point for her entry area, which also serves as a dining room.

    How to make a rental feel like home

    Calling a rental apartment home doesn’t have to mean living with ugly light fixtures, hideous appliances and blah white walls. Three years ago, newlywed Seattle designer Kerra Michele Huerta threw herself into space planning, flea market shopping, furniture repurposing, organizing and DIY projects, creating a personal, warm place.

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    Cute Cucumber Cups
    Cute Cucumber Cups: Anola Stowick

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    Chocolate-Glazed Shortbread Cookies
    Chocolate-Glazed Shortbread: Anola Stowick

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    This film image released by HBO shows Michael Douglas as Liberace in a scene from “Behind the Candelabra.” his splashy and poignant portrait of “Mr. Showmanship,” Liberace, proved a dual career triumph for Michael Douglas, who portrayed him, and Matt Damon, who was no less impressive as the Vegas superstar’s tempestuous lover.

    2013 brought surprises, good and bad, to TV viewers

    Even after all these years, TV in 2013 continued to surprise us. What a fine surprise was “The Returned,” a French-language zombie series aired by Sundance Channel. It was a year that shocked “Glee” fans with the death of cast favorite Cory Monteith and it was a year that saw once hard-hitting “60 Minutes” go soft, and worse, get sloppy.

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    For a classic dinner without complicated prep, try spiced carrot soup, peppered filet roasted with parmesan roasted cauliflower and chocolate sorbet sandwiches.

    Classic New Year’s party with complex flavor, easy prep

    We created a simple, elegant meal that won’t tax your time or your kitchen cred. We offer up classic French flavor in easy recipes that deliver rich flavor just right for a winter meal.

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    End a special New Year’s Eve dinner with festive and easy-to-assemble chocolate sorbet sandwiches.

    Chocolate Sorbet Sandwiches
    CHOCOLATE SORBET SANDWICHES

  •  
    For a classic New Year’s Eve feast, try spiced carrot soup and peppered filet roasted with parmesan roasted cauliflower.

    Peppered Filet Roast with Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower
    PEPPERED FILET ROAST WITH PARMESAN ROASTED CAULIFLOWER

  •  
    For a classic dinner without complicated prep, try spiced carrot soup, peppered filet roasted with parmesan roasted cauliflower and chocolate sorbet sandwiches.

    Spiced Carrot Soup
    Spiced Carrot Soup

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    Roasted shrimp cocktail, pineapple chicken lettuce wraps and Elvis phyllo cups.

    Elvis Phyllo Cups
    "Elvis" Phyllo Cups

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    For New Year’s Eve noshing try roasted shrimp cocktail, pineapple chicken lettuce wraps, and Elvis phyllo cups.

    Pineapple Chicken Lettuce Wraps
    Pineapple Chicken Lettuce Wraps

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    Roasted shrimp cocktail, pineapple chicken lettuce wraps and Elvis phyllo cups.

    Roasted Shrimp Cocktail
    Roasted Shrimp Cocktail

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    Bring global flavors to your New Year’s Eve feast with coconut cashew salad with apricots, seared curry rubbed tuna with mango tahini rice, and tangerine twirls.

    Tangerine Twirls
    Tangerine Twirls

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    Coconut cashew salad with apricots and seared curry rubbed tuna with mango tahini rice draws on the flavors of the Caribbean, Southeast Asia and Europe for a global New Year’s Eve dinner.

    Seared Curry-Rubbed Tuna with Mango-Tahini Rice
    SEARED CURRY-RUBBED TUNA WITH MANGO-TAHINI RICE

  •  
    Coconut cashew salad with apricots and seared curry rubbed tuna with mango tahini rice draws on the flavors of the Caribbean, Southeast Asia and Europe for a global New Year’s Eve dinner.

    Coconut Cashew Salad with Apricots
    Coconut Cashew Salad with Apricots

  •  

    Ask the nutritionist: The link between alcohol and blood pressure

    Blood pressure control is usually not disrupted by alcohol consumption within moderation – no more than one standard drink a day for women and no more than two standard drinks a day for men. However, people vary in how they respond, so discuss this with your physician, especially if you already have high blood pressure, or if you have a family history or other risk factors.

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    Chocolate/Raspberry Torte
    Chocolate Raspberry Torte: Anola Stowick

  •  
    Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner, Christian Bale and Jennifer Lawrence star in “American Hustle.” In the film, Camden Mayor Carmine Polito, played by Renner, turns down a briefcase full of money. The character, based on real-life Mayor Angelo Errichetti, later agrees to accept the money because he believes doing so would lead to job production and help residents.

    NJ mayor in ‘American Hustle’ left complex legacy

    In “American Hustle,” a highly fictionalized telling of the bizarre Abscam FBI corruption sting of the 1970s, the public official on the take is the most selfless character. In the film, Camden Mayor Carmine Polito turns down a briefcase full of money when he is first offered a bribe. The character, based on real-life Mayor Angelo Errichetti and played by Jeremy Renner, later agrees to accept the money because he believes doing so would lead to job production and help residents. Those who knew him and have studied the long-troubled city agree Errichetti was deeply concerned for his constituents but has a complicated persona.

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    This artist rendering provided by NBC Universal shows the new Harry Potter-themed area of the Universal theme park in Orlando, Fla., planned for 2014, which was inspired partly by the fictional Diagon Alley from the Harry Potter books and movies. The area will be linked to the existing Wizarding World of Harry Potter attraction by a train called the Hogwarts Express.

    Where will 2014 take travelers?

    The Olympics, the World Cup and commemorations of World War I, D-Day and the fall of the Berlin Wall are some of the events that will spotlight destinations like Sochi, Brazil, Sarajevo, Normandy and Berlin in 2014. Elsewhere abroad, a potentially game-changing high-speed rail service has just launched linking Paris and Barcelona. Some travelers may now prefer the train over a plane, with the train ride cut in half to just over six hours between the two cities.

  •  
    The rock band Styx performs at the Genesee Theatre on Waukegan on Sunday, Dec. 29.

    Sunday picks: Styx rocks the Genesee Theatre

    Styx brings "Lady" and "Come Sail Away" to the Genesee Theatre. The Cosley Zoo hosts its annual Festival of Lights where patrons can see the animals and enjoy hot chocolate, amid 20,000 twinkling lights. "Old Jews Telling Jokes" is still cracking up audience at the Royal George Theatre.

  •  
    As far as books go in 2013, teens and grade-schoolers stuck with Rick Riordan, Jeff Kinney and Veronica Roth, whose “Divergent” series, which includes the most recently released “Allegiant,” is set to debut on the big screen in 2014.

    Lawsuits, mergers, and, yes, books, in 2013

    In 2013, everything and nothing happened in the publishing industry. No mega-sellers came out in 2013. Adult readers turned to dependable favorites such as Dan Brown and Khaled Hosseini, while teens and grade-schoolers stuck with Rick Riordan, Jeff Kinney and Veronica Roth, whose “Divergent” series is set to debut on the big screen in 2014. Several books managed to get people talking. Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In” became a catchphrase and it inspired thousands of discussion groups worldwide. And Robert Galbraith’s “The Cuckoo’s Calling” was just another debut thriller until Galbraith was unmasked as J.K. Rowling.

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    Gruner Veltliners offer value, rival top chardonnays

    Remember the Gruner Veltliner craze? More than a decade ago, hip U.S. sommeliers were pushing the peppery, lively Austrian white as the chic antidote to oaky Chardonnays and boring, faceless sauvignon blancs. Then they moved on to other wine fashions: Burgundy, the Jura, sherry and esoteric grapes nobody had ever heard of. Poor Gruner Veltliner was demoted to the “been there, tasted that” category.

  •  
    Chiwetel Ejiofor, center, stars in “12 Years A Slave.”

    The AP's top 10 movies of the year

    In surveying the year at the movies, the topography is rich. From the dusty, dying towns of “Nebraska” to the rooftop Roman parties in “The Great Beauty” to the sleek future Los Angeles of “Her,” 2013 has been a trip. Here are one critic's top picks of the year, all of them reasons why 2013 was a good year for the big screen.

  •  
    Photo by Richard A. Lipski/Washington Post Dan Durante, 70, does 39 pullups in 53 seconds (hey, everybody has an off day now and then, right?) as part of a fundraiser for Liberty High School.

    An old hand at pullups

    This wasn’t going to be a fair fight. Everyone knew that going in. On one side was Dan Durante, trim and fit, but seven decades on in life. On the other, about 20 members of the Liberty High School football team in Bealeton, Va., and 10 cheerleaders, all in fine shape and more than 50 years younger. This one had mismatch written all over it. Yes, Durante crushed them. Score one for the old guys.

  •  

    Home repair: Identifying, fixing heat-loss issues could save money

    Q. We have an older home that is supposedly well insulated. But there are voids, and we can’t tear off the siding and redo the whole house. So what can we do?

  •  

    Ask the plumber: Shower bench could be the best seat in the house

    Q. We’re looking to install a larger shower stall in place of our bathtub. Since we’re still in the planning stages, what information can you give us about adding a bench to a larger shower stall?

Discuss

  •  

    A Remap Referendum: It’s time to tell party bosses, ‘Enough’

    A Daily Herald editorial says examples from past elections demonstrate why Illinois needs a new system for creating legislative districts.

  •  

    GOP quietly builds an Obamacare alternative

    Columnist Byron York: “The only alternative that Obamacare’s critics have is, well, ‘let’s just go back to the status quo,’” said President Obama recently, “because they sure haven’t presented an alternative.”It’s an argument Democrats make all the time — often, these days, to divert attention from the ongoing problems of their troubled national health care scheme.

  •  

    No small task to fix our broken culture
    A Wheaton letter to the editor: We have all heard “the only thing that is constant in today’s world is change.” Certainly technology keeps changing by its own dynamic and in response to market incentives.

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    RTA cards for seniors inconvenient, wasteful
    An Arlington Heights letter to the editor: If a senior citizen would like to get an RTA senior discount, he must get a separate RTA card. That takes weeks to get. Why not just let the senior use his driver’s license and save millions for taxpayers? What were the state representatives thinking?

  •  

    U-46 grading needs more common sense
    A South Elgin letter to the editor: For too long, the Elgin Area School District U-46 has used the large size of the district to its advantage. It has not had to change policies due to parental or student concern.

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