National sports briefs
CHARLOTTE — Despite a record-setting rookie season, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was not selected to the Pro Bowl.
He certainly isn’t pouting over it.
“Who am I to be mad at the fact that I’m the first alternate?” Newton said with a smile Wednesday.
Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Eli Manning were selected over Newton, even though Manning has seven fewer total touchdowns.
Newton says he was “honored” to be selected as a first alternate and knows there’s a good chance he might wind up replacing one of the guys ahead of him if he pulls out of the game or if the Packers, Saints or Giants wind up in the Super Bowl, which is now played one week after the Pro Bowl.
“Those three guys are at the peak of their game,” Newton said.
Still, Panthers coach Ron Rivera believes Newton deserved to go, citing the rookie’s ability to make plays with his feet. Newton has thrown for 20 touchdowns and run for 14, the most ever by a quarterback.
By comparison, Manning has 27 total touchdowns — 26 passing and one rushing.
Manning, however, has more yards passing (4,587) than Newton (3,893) and has a slightly higher quarterback rating.
Both have 16 interceptions.
“I’m disappointed,” Rivera said. “He’s first alternate, but still. People talk about the numbers weren’t as good as some of the other guys. But I disagree because of the combined numbers — not just throwing the ball, but running the ball.”
Panthers center Ryan Kalil and receiver Steve Smith were selected.
The usual names — Tom Brady, Ray Lewis, Troy Polamalu, Tony Gonzalez — are headed for Hawaii.
Joining them at the Pro Bowl will be the not quite so familiar, from Rob Gronkowski to Jimmy Graham, from Marshal Yanda to Earl Thomas.
• CHARLOTTE — Police are investigating the reported theft of four guns worth $1,700 from a pickup truck owned by Carolina Panthers backup linebacker Kion Wilson.
• SAN FRANCISCO — Struggling wide receiver Braylon Edwards was released by the San Francisco 49ers following surgery on his right knee earlier this season that limited him.
• LAKE FOREST, Ill. — The Chicago Bears (7-8) placed quarterback Jay Cutler and running back Matt Forte on injured reserve, meaning they will miss the season finale at Minnesota.
WASHINGTON — Back and forth they went. A kickoff return for 87 yards. A pitch around the left end for 60. Touchdown passes for 49 and 37 yards. Two touchdowns scored on fourth downs. A pair of botched onside kicks.
And that was just the first half.
Toledo and Air Force ran up the score early and often Wednesday at the Military Bowl and played to a wild finish, decided only when Air Force’s 2-point conversion attempt went awry with 52 seconds to play to give Toledo a 42-41 victory.
• AKRON, Ohio — Terry Bowden, the 54-year-old former Auburn coach was introduced Wednesday as the 27th coach at Akron. Bowden’s job is to restore a program with a rich tradition, state-of-the-art stadium, but a woeful record in recent years.
TULSA, Okla. — NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart said Tuesday that he will race in the Chili Bowl Nationals next month at the QuikTrip Center’s Tulsa Expo Raceway.
Stewart, the 2002 and 2007 Golden Driller winner, last competed in the Midget event in 2008. In 12 previous starts, he has made it to the championship feature 10 times.
The indoor competition is Jan. 10-14 on the quarter-mile clay oval.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Louisville’s Rick Pitino said he won’t coach past the 2016-17 season when his current contract ends.
BOSTON — The Oakland Athletics traded All-Star closer Andrew Bailey and outfielder Ryan Sweeney to the Red Sox on Wednesday for outfielder Josh Reddick and infield prospect Miles Head and minor league pitcher Raul Alcantara.
In the deal, first reported by ESPN, Bailey gives the Red Sox a reliable ninth-inning guy to replace the departed Jonathan Papelbon, who signed a $50 million, four-year contract as a free agent with the Philadelphia Phillies.
• NEW YORK — The New York Yankees say star third baseman Alex Rodriguez is totally fine after having special treatment on his right knee and left shoulder in Germany earlier this month.
The 36-year-old Rodriguez had plasma-rich platelet injections following a recommendation from Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant.
WASHINGTON — Alexander Semin scored twice, Troy Brouwer tallied the tiebreaking goal midway through the second period, and the Washington Capitals halted the New York Rangers’ five-game winning streak with a 4-1 victory on Wednesday night.
With the game tied 1-1, Brouwer got tangled with Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh in front of the New York. Brouwer not only screened goalie Martin Biron but redirected John Carlson’s drive from the left point for his 10th goal of the season at 10:24.
BRUINS 2, COYOTES 1, OT
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Defenseman Dennis Seidenberg scored 58 seconds into overtime to give lift Boston over Phoenix.
DEVILS 3, SABRES 1
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Petr Sykora scored two goals to lead New Jersey over Buffalo.
Zach Parise also scored for the Devils, who built a 3-0 lead in the second period. Martin Brodeur made 22 saves and assisted on Sykora’s first goal. Patrik Elias helped set up both of Sykora’s tallies.
PREDATORS 2, WILD 1, SO
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Colin Wilson scored the only goal in the shootout, and Nashville sent Minnesota to its eighth straight loss.
KINGS 2, BLACKHAWKS 0
CHICAGO — Jonathan Quick made 38 saves to earn his NHL-leading fifth shutout.