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10 things: Raptors attempt comeback but can't overcome free throw disparity vs. Pelicans – Yahoo Canada Sports

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The Canadian Press

Cowboys, Giants need a win and Washington loss for playoffs

Playing with a backup quarterback and a defence that’s finally found itself, the Dallas Cowboys are the hottest team in the NFC East entering the final weekend of the regular season.It might not be good enough to get them back to the playoffs.The Cowboys (6-9) will try to extend their winning streak to four games when they travel to the Meadowlands to face the New York Giants (5-10) on Sunday. The winner could make the post-season. Or not.Washington (6-9) has the inside track for the division title. It beat Dallas twice, so it has the head-to-head tiebreaker should the teams finish tied. A win in Philadelphia on Sunday gets Washington to the playoffs.A Washington loss opens the door for Dallas and New York, which is on a three-game skid. A Dallas win and Washington loss gives the Cowboys and new coach Mike McCarthy the division. A Giants victory and a Washington loss gives New York the division crown based on head-to-head play among the three teams. The Giants would be 3-1, Washington 2-2 and Dallas 1-3.Dallas, which lost quarterback Dak Prescott to a major ankle injury in the first game against New York on Oct. 11, is the surprise. Andy Dalton and the offence are coming off a 500-yard performance in a win over Philadelphia, while the defence has 10 takeaways in the winning streak after 11 in the first 12 games.“If you can play your best football in December you obviously have the best chance if you have the opportunity to be in the tournament,” said McCarthy, who saw his team start 2-7. “The last three weeks we have accomplished that. Our goal clearly is to go to New York and win this game, but hopefully we play our best football this week.”The Giants, who started the season 1-7, were in first place at the beginning of December with a 5-7 record. However, they lost to Arizona (8-7), Cleveland (10-5) and Baltimore (10-5).“I know the character of our locker room and how we’ve stuck together,” Giants defensive back Logan Ryan said. “We definitely earned the right, the ability to play in this game and it to mean something, and I think that’s just coming back around with everything we’ve endured this year.”POCKET PASSERGiants quarterback Daniel Jones has not been himself since pulling his right hamstring against Cincinnati on Nov. 29 and spraining his left ankle against the Cardinals on Dec. 13. He missed games against Seattle (Dec. 6) and Cleveland (Dec. 20).New York’s second leading rusher, Jones has run once for 3 yards in his last two starts and has been sacked 12 times. He says the injuries have limited his running. He was averaging 7.3 yards.ELLIOTT CHASING 1,000Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliott needs 63 yards rushing to avoid falling short of 1,000 in what amounted to a full season for the first time in his five-year career. The two-time rushing champion never had fewer than 1,357 yards in any of the four seasons when he played at least 15 games.The one time Elliott fell short was when he was suspended six games in 2017 over domestic violence allegations. He had 983 yards in 10 games and led the league by averaging 98.3 yards per game.Twice previously, Elliott sat out the regular-season finale because the Cowboys had all but secured their playoff seeding. This year he missed a game because of injury for the first time, sitting in Week 15 with a calf issue. Elliott came back last week with his second 100-yard game of the season (105) against Philadelphia.GARRETT AGAINFormer Dallas coach Jason Garrett has seen the Giants’ offence struggle in his first year as co-ordinator. New York is ranked 31st overall and its 257 points are the second fewest in the NFL. The Jets, their co-tenant at MetLife Stadium, has a league low 229.“We’ve done some good things that really helped our team win, and at other times, it hasn’t been good enough. But you keep learning from your experiences,” Garrett said.Garrett would not say whether he has had any feelers about being a head coach again.NO MORE BOISE BANTERDallas offensive co-ordinator Kellen Moore ended his pursuit of the head coach opening at his alma mater, Boise State, the night before the game. The Cowboys agreed to a multiyear extension with their play-caller.The Boise job came open when Bryan Harsin took the Auburn job. Moore left there in 2011 as the winningest quarterback in college football history at 50-3. Moore is in his second year calling plays after a season as Dallas QBs coach immediately following his retirement as a player.“I love Boise State. I will always root for them, and I hope one day to be a part of the program again,” Moore said. “We are building something special here in Dallas. I am excited for us to put it all together and finish the job.”BIG-TIME BACKUPSTwo of the most dynamic players in football have missed most of the season.The Giants have been without running back Saquon Barkley (ACL) since the second game of the season. Wayne Gallman has stepped in and leads the team with 617 yards rushing. He has also run for six TDs.Dalton, who was signed in May after being released by the Bengals, has posted a 4-4 record since Prescott was hurt. He has thrown for 1,926 yards, 14 touchdowns and seven interceptions.___AP Sports Writer Schuyler Dixon contributed to this report.___More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL_Tom Canavan, The Associated Press

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Nate Diaz reacts to Conor McGregor’s KO loss to Dustin Poirier at UFC 257 – MMA Fighting

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As expected, Nate Diaz didn’t stay silent for long in regards to how Saturday’s lightweight headliner went down in Abu Dhabi.

In the main event of UFC 257, Dustin Poirier avenged his UFC 178 knockout loss to Conor McGregor with a spectacular finish of his own to cap off the promotion’s third trip to Fight Island in 2021. “The Diamond” stopped McGregor in the second round to pick up the biggest win of his career and likely set himself up for a lightweight championship opportunity.

Diaz, who became the first to finish McGregor in the UFC at UFC 196, took to Twitter on Sunday to give his quick reaction to McGregor’s first KO loss in the promotion.

The Stockton native hasn’t competed since UFC 244, when he fought Jorge Masvidal for the “BMF” belt and lost via doctor’s stoppage in the main event. Diaz didn’t have much to say throughout the buildup to the fight, but he did chime in after the very respectful face-off between the main event participants on Friday.

Diaz has always been attached to McGregor as one half of one of the sport’s most important rivalries. In their first of two meetings, Diaz replaced an injured Rafael dos Anjos in the main event of UFC 196 and submitted the former dual champion in the second round to pick up his biggest career win. McGregor bounced back five months later at UFC 202 and earned a very close split decision in the rematch.

While a trilogy fight with McGregor seems like one of the more intriguing options after the second loss in three fights for “The Notorious,” Poirier also expressed interest in fighting Diaz at Saturday night’s post-fight press conference.

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Dana White reveals fate of internet pirate he targeted for threatening to illegally stream UFC 257 – MMA Fighting

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UFC President Dana White loves a good fight, and nothing seems to fire him up more lately than going after online pirates who stream UFC events illegally.

Ahead of UFC 257 on Saturday night, White had personally targeted a particular streamer who’d actually taunted him on social media after his declaration that he was shutting down illegal streams for the event featuring Conor McGregor vs. Dustin Poirier 2.

White said prior to the event that not only had the person threatening to broadcast the card been identified, but he said authorities were waiting to pounce on the illegal stream if the service went live on fight night.

Following Poirier’s second round knockout against McGregor to cap off the UFC’s first pay-per-view of 2021, White offered an update regarding his ongoing war.

“So let me tell you that story,” he said during the UFC 257 post-fight press conference. “The night, I guess it was I did an interview with BT [Sport] and then I think you asked me as the press conference and I basically said this is what’s going to happen. I told you guys that we found the guy and we were watching him.

“He put out a statement that night, said ‘I will not be streaming the McGregor vs. Poirier anymore, but I will show you how to buy it legally’ and put out this huge statement. Now his whole streaming service has been deleted and is gone. Disappeared. One down and sh*t load to go. I’m ready.”

In recent weeks, White has renewed his new mission to go after anybody pirating UFC events illegally. But this particular card piqued his interest because UFC 257 was expected to be one of the biggest cards of the year.

At the post-fight press conference, he said the event will likely go down as one of the two biggest pay-per-views in UFC history.

As far as deterring other online pirates stealing shows, the UFC president promises to take interest in one particular person with each and every event as he seeks to make an example out of anybody attempting to hijack his broadcast.

“Every event I’m going to go after one of these guys.” White said. “One of these or more, we’ll see.

“And who you are guy that did this, good move, we had you, pal. I don’t know if he knew or something but we had you. All you had to do was pop up that stream and you were in big trouble. He did the right thing.”

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Conor McGregor’s leg ‘completely dead’, ‘like an American football’ after Dustin Poirier’s kicks at UFC 257 – MMA Fighting

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Like many fighters whose calves get kicked, Conor McGregor didn’t realize the damage done until it was too late.

Speaking to reporters after his loss to Dustin Poirier in the headliner of UFC 257 on Saturday, McGregor struggled to process the reversal of fortune that turned a solid performance in the first round into a stoppage via second-round TKO.

“It’s heartbreaking,” McGregor said after stepping up to the podium at Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi, which hosted the pay-per-view event. “It’s hard to take. The highest highs and the lowest lows in this game.”

Part of McGregor’s reconciliation was accepting how much of a part Poirier’s low leg kicks played in setting up the flurry of punches that handed him the first TKO loss of his professional MMA career.

The former two-division champ and box-office star showed up to the press conference on crutches.

“My leg is completely dead, and even though I felt like I was checking them, it was just sinking into the muscle in the front of the leg, and it was badly compromised, he said. “It’s like an American football in my shoe at the minute. It is what it is. Dustin fought a hell of a fight.”

Poirier was the victim of McGregor’s punches the first time they met in 2014 in a featherweight bout. The loss was the catalyst for Poirier to move up to the lightweight division, where he went on a tear that led to the interim title.

As for the path McGregor will walk, he said he’ll make the necessary adjustments and soldier on. There’s no doubt that part of his work will be to minimize the potential affect of low kicks. Up until the second round, McGregor felt he was trending in the right direction despite giving up a takedown.

“I thought I done well,” he said. “I got up, turned him. I felt alright with him in the clinch, I felt like I was better than him in the clinch. But too little, too late. The leg was compromised, and I didn’t adjust. Fair play to Dustin.”

McGregor is not the first fighter to suffer debilitating effects as the result of calf kicks. The strike affects the peroneal nerve that provides movement and sensation to the leg. Damage to the nerve can cause foot drop, rendering a fighter unable to lift or plant the foot. While it didn’t appear that the ex-champ was hobbled in such a way, he said the situation only got worse as Poirier continued to land the strike.

“I was going to tough her out,” he said. “I toughed it out as much as I could. It was an unusual one. I felt like I lifted my leg up multiple times, but it just sunk into to the muscle at the front, and it was badly compromised. And then Dustin had good, solid defense, as well. So when I was pressing forward with the shots, he was defending well. He fought a hell of a fight, and I’m happy for him.”

McGregor made no excuses for being unable to perform. The setback was instead something to reflect on, and he was still in that process as reporters asked him about what happened. The best answer he could arrive at was that he had simply been outclassed, and he would return to make things right.

“It was a phenomenal performance from Dustin,” he said. “I don’t know what to say. I’m going to go back, chill out, watch the full fight and get a better grasp on it. But the leg was compromised, and I was rushing the shots a little bit. And I didn’t adjust. It’s a bitter pill to swallow. I don’t even know whether I’m that upset. I don’t know what to say.”

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