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January 16th, 2014
Los Angeles, CA
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By Surya Fernandez @SuryaHeatNBA on Jan 12 2014 1:54a
The Miami Heat needed a break and they are taking advantage while they're in Miami with an early celebration of Dwyane Wade's 32nd birthday.
Friends, family and his bosses Pat Riley and team owner Micky Arison were on hand for the yacht party, which could only be held in the city of Miami at this time of the year.
While his birthday is on January 17, the Heat have a busy schedule once their road trip resumes in Washington D.C., where they visit the White House on Tuesday to celebrate their 2013 NBA Championship a day before facing the Wizards. Wade's birthday coincides with the Heat's road clash against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Just days after celebrating the birthday of teammate Michael Beasley in New York City, the Heat team gathered on a fully customized Li-Ning "Way of Wade" yacht for the event.
As for the party itself we'll let the pictures tell the story.
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ESPN NFL SEATTLE -- When he got around the edge, there was no one for Marshawn Lynch to hit. Directly ahead was open field, the end zone and the Seattle Seahawks' place in the NFC Championship Game.
Once again, Lynch overpowered the New Orleans Saints in the postseason.
More Saints-Seahawks Coverage After watching the Seahawks win Saturday, it seemed more than fair to question the capacity of their offense to complete a widely anticipated coronation as Super Bowl champs, writes Kevin Seifet. Blog
It was classic Seahawks football against the Saints, the way they've won in most games this season. Not always pretty, but good enough, Terry Blount writes. Blog
They didn't have what it took to win in Seattle. That, in one succinct sentence, is the story of the New Orleans Saints in 2013, Mike Triplett writes. Story
• Sando: Harvin key for Seattle
• Stats & Info: How Seahawks won
"That was maybe 'Beast Mode II.' I don't know but it was a very cool way to end that game and give us the score that we needed," Seattle coach Pete Carroll said.
Lynch carried 28 times for 140 yards and two touchdowns and Seattle's defense flustered Drew Brees and New Orleans in a 23-15 victory Saturday in the NFC divisional playoff game.
"You just don't know how many more opportunities you're going to have," Brees said. "That's what makes it so tough standing up here and talking about it."
Steven Hauschka added three field goals in blustery conditions and the top-seeded Seahawks advanced to the NFC title game for the second time. They will host San Francisco or Carolina next Sunday after last reaching the conference title game in the 2005 playoffs.
Seattle shut out the Saints in the first half, got Lynch's first 100-yard game since Week 10 of the regular season and received a spark from the brief return of Percy Harvin before he left with a concussion. Lynch scored on a 15-yard run in the first half and capped the victory with a 31-yard scoring run with 2:40 left that Carroll celebrated by jumping into offensive line coach Tom Cable's arms.
"I don't run to get tackled," Lynch said.
While the clinching score lacked the stunning explosiveness of Lynch's "Beast Quake" touchdown run against the Saints in the 2010 playoffs, this one was more important. It ensured Seattle would not be the latest No. 1 seed to get upset by a No. 6 seed in the divisional round.
Lynch's clinching TD was a similar to that 2010 play. Lynch read the blocking perfectly and cut to the outside using two blocks from tight end Zach Miller and Jermaine Kearse. Lynch's only contact was a stiff-arm of Keenan Lewis that allowed him free passage to the end zone and left CenturyLink Field swaying.
"It's all want with him," Seattle wide receiver Golden Tate said. "He's blessed with tremendous athleticism and body control and power. But right there he wanted that. He just wanted it and he went and got it."
Lynch set a franchise playoff record for yards rushing. His running made up for another shaky day passing by Russell Wilson. Seattle's offense was a concern heading into the postseason and, outside of Lynch, did little to quell those worries.
Wilson missed on five of his first six pass attempts to start the second half but came through with a 31-yard completion to Doug Baldwin with 2:57 remaining. The Saints blitzed and Wilson and Baldwin connected. Lynch scored on the next play.
"At the end of the game I knew they were going to bring everybody," Wilson said.
Wilson finished 9 of 18 for a career-low 103 yards. His leading receiver was Harvin, making his second appearance of the season after nearly getting put on injured reserve less than two weeks ago. Harvin had three receptions for 21 yards in the first half and one rush for 9 yards, but left the game late in the first half with a concussion.
Feed The Beast Marshawn Lynch eclipsed 130 rushing yards for the third time in his postseason career. Only Terrell Davis and Thurman Thomas have more 130-plus games since the current playoff format started in 1990.
Most Playoff Games With 130 Rush Yds
Since 1990 (Start of Current Format) Player Games Terrell Davis, DEN 5 Thurman Thomas, BUF 4 Marshawn Lynch, SEA* 3 Arian Foster, HOU 3 Natrone Means, SD/JAC 3 *- 140 Rush yds Saturday
--ESPN Stats & Information Carroll said they won't know Harvin's status for the NFC championship game until later in the week as he goes through the league's concussion protocol.
"He was electric. He made some awesome plays today," Wilson said about Harvin. "... They were trying to find ways to stop him and they were struggling with that."
Hauschka hit field goals of 38 and 49 yards with the windy, rainy conditions at his back and hit a 26-yarder into the wind late in the third quarter.
Brees finished 24 of 43 for 309 yards and scared Seattle in the closing seconds. Brees took the Saints 80 yards in nine plays, capped with a 9-yard TD pass to Marques Colston with 26 seconds left that made it 23-15.
Colston then recovered the onside kick when it caromed off Tate's and directly to the Saints' receiver.
Brees took over at his 41 with 24 seconds left and Jimmy Graham caught his first pass of the game on an 8-yard completion. Brees spiked the ball to stop the clock, then found Colston near the sideline. Instead of stepping out of bounds, Colston tried to throw across the field to Darren Sproles. It was an illegal forward pass and the penalty ran off the final 10 seconds of the clock giving Seattle the victory.
Seattle's defense also made Graham invisible for the second time this season. He had just three receptions in the first meeting in December and was even less of an option on Saturday.
"We're not scared of him," Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman said. "We have to deal with him but he has to deal with us."
Graham's lack of production was just part of the Saints struggles, especially in the first half. New Orleans was shut out in the first half for the third time in Sean Payton's tenure as head coach and first since 2011. Brees was held to 34 yards passing in the half.
There was also Mark Ingram's costly fumble on the first play of the second quarter that was forced and recovered by Michael Bennett. Two plays later, Lynch danced in for his first touchdown and the Seahawks had a 13-0 lead.
"It's my responsibility to take care of the football," Ingram said. "I lost it in a critical moment and they scored a touchdown off of it. That was huge."
Colston finished with 11 receptions for 144 yards for the Saints. ... Wilson's previous low for yards passing was 108 against Arizona in Week 16. ... Saints K Shayne Graham missed field goal attempts of 45 and 48 yards both wide left into the wind. ... This will be Seattle's third championship game appearance overall, also playing in one AFC title game.
ESPN NFL FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- LeGarrette Blount wasn't satisfied with three short touchdown runs, not against a team coming off the second greatest comeback in playoff history.
So the 250-pound back who makes long runs routine took off on a 73-yarder and carried the New England Patriots to their third straight AFC Championship Game with a 43-22 victory over the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday night.
Suddenly, the ground game has replaced Tom Brady as the heart of the Patriots' offense.
More Patriots-Colts Coverage The Pats advanced to the AFC title game with a win in which Tom Brady did not throw a single touchdown pass. LeGarrette Blount gave them a new blueprint, Jackie MacMullan writes. Story
Patriots players and coaches have seen the skill and potential in Jamie Collins. He showed it to everyone else by anchoring the New England defense Saturday, Mike Reiss writes. Story
Andrew Luck will learn lessons and eventually take the crown from elite QBs like Tom Brady. His time hasn't arrived, but it's right around the corner, Mike Wells writes. Story
• Stats & Info: Blount's historic day
"Once I get into the open field, they're going to have to chase me," Blount said. "And if they catch me, they do. And if they don't, they don't. They usually don't."
They didn't two weeks earlier when he scored on runs of 36 and 35 yards in the regular-season finale against Buffalo. He also returned kickoffs 83 and 62 yards in that 34-20 victory that gave New England a first-round bye. And they didn't on his long touchdown that gave the Patriots (13-4) a 36-22 lead early in the fourth quarter against the Colts (12-6).
The Patriots will face the winner of the game Sunday between the Broncos and Chargers. It will be in Denver if the Broncos win, and New England will host it if the Chargers win.
"It's just a great achievement," Brady said. "People have counted us out at times this year, but I think we've got a locker room full of believers."
Blount tied Curtis Martin's team playoff record of 166 yards rushing, on 24 carries, two weeks after rushing for a career-high 189.
"He's got that combination of size, power, and quickness and speed," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. "He can run hard. He can make guys miss and he can go the distance."
Blount scored on three 2-yard runs in the first half, then burst through the right side for his 73-yarder. Once he reached the end zone, he placed the ball gently on the ground made soggy by a game-long rain.
On the next series, Luck threw his third interception, and the Patriots capitalized with Stevan Ridley's second touchdown run, a 1-yarder that finished the scoring with 11:12 left.
"I'm just disappointed in myself," Luck said. "I can't commit that many turnovers and have a chance to win against a great team like this."
Blount joined Ricky Watters, who had five touchdowns for San Francisco on Jan. 15, 1994, as the only players with four or more in a playoff game. The Patriots' six rushing touchdowns tied the 49ers' total in that game for second-most in playoff history.
A Season In A Day In his first career playoff game, Pats running back LeGarrette Blount had more yards and twice as many TDs as he had with the Bucs in 13 games last season.
Saturday 2012 season Games 1 13 Carries 24 41 Yards 166 151 TDs 4 2 -- ESPN Stats & Information While the game was billed as a matchup between quarterbacks -- longtime great Brady and second-year star Luck -- the Patriots' leader was content to hand off while Luck threw an interception on his second pass and never found consistency. He threw two touchdown passes to LaVon Brazill but also threw four interceptions.
Luck had three interceptions a week earlier but led the Colts from a 38-10 deficit early in the third quarter to a 45-44 win over the Kansas City Chiefs in a wild-card game.
"We had our chances, man, to make plays and get our offense back on the field," Colts safety Antoine Bethea said. "Last game, we were able to do that, but it was a great quarterback, a great offense and a great team we were facing (Saturday)."
The Colts trailed 21-12 at halftime, then cut the deficit to 29-22 on a 35-yard pass to Brazill with 5:01 left in the third. The Patriots dominated the rest of the way.
"We just had to keep our foot on the gas pedal," Blount said, "and make sure that they didn't do to us what they did to Kansas City."
Blount's first touchdown came on New England's first offensive play after Alfonzo Dennard's interception. He scored again on the Patriots' second series.
Luck responded with a 38-yard touchdown pass to Brazill. Former Patriot Adam Vinatieri set an NFL record with his 59th postseason extra point, making it 14-7.
Blount's third touchdown came 4:06 into in the second quarter before Vinatieri's 36-yard field goal made it 21-10.
The Colts got a break late in the first half when Danny Aiken's snap sailed over punter Ryan Allen's head, ending up in a safety. The Patriots also got a break that the Colts didn't get a touchdown out of it after Allen failed to concede the safety.
Allen fumbled into the air, and Indianapolis' Jeris Pendleton slapped the ball out of the end zone.
"Ryan probably wasn't sure how close they were to him," Belichick said.
Allen hurt his shoulder on the play, and place-kicker Stephen Gostkowski punted the rest of the game. Brady took over Allen's holding duties.
Indianapolis got the ball on the free kick, but the drive ended with Luck's second interception.
Vinatieri's 21-yard field goal early in the third quarter made it 21-15.
Then the Patriots took a 29-15 lead on Ridley's 3-yard run and his carry for a 2-point conversion.
But Luck came right back with his second touchdown pass to Brazill.
"We didn't accomplish the ultimate goal," Colts running back Donald Brown said, "but there are definitely some positives to look back on."
Brady completed 13 of 25 passes for 198 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. Luck was 20-for-41 for 331 yards.
Former NBA star Charles Barkley was in the Patriots' locker room after the game. "I'm a big fan of his," Belichick said. ... A moment of silence was held for 17-year-old Sam Berns of Foxborough, whose battle with a rare and fatal genetic condition that accelerates the aging process inspired Patriots players and was the subject of an HBO documentary "Life According to Sam." He died Friday. He had been invited by Patriots owner Robert Kraft to be the team's honorary captain Saturday. Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press