Sports Briefs 2-2-14

BARRY WILNER AP Pro Football Writer Published:

NEW YORK -- Peyton Manning's record-setting season earned him his fifth Associated Press NFL MVP award Saturday night in a landslide.

No other player has won more than three.

He also took the AP's Offensive Player of the Year award for the second time. He leads the Broncos into Sunday's Super Bowl against Seattle.

Manning received 33 votes for that honor. He also was runner-up last year to Peterson for Offensive Player.

This time, running back LeSean McCoy of Philadelphia was second with 10 votes, followed by Kansas City running back Jamaal Charles with four.

Carolina grabbed two major awards, with Ron Rivera winning AP NFL Coach of the Year and linebacker Luke Kuechly voted top defensive player.

Green Bay running back Eddie Lacy and Jets defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson were the top rookies for 2013.

San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers took the Comeback Player of the Year award at the NFL Honors show.

A second-round pick (61st overall) from Alabama, Lacy was a key performer in the Packers' offense, particularly when star quarterback Aaron Rodgers was sidelined for seven games. He rushed for 1,178 yards on 284 carries (4.1 average), with 11 touchdowns. He also had 35 receptions.

Richardson, the 13th overall pick in April's draft on a selection acquired when New York traded star cornerback Darrelle Revis to Tampa Bay, won a close race over Buffalo linebacker Kiko Alonso. Richardson received 23 votes; Alonso, a second-round choice (46th overall), got 19.

Rivers led the Chargers to a wild-card playoff spot with four straight victories to close out the schedule, giving them a 9-7 record. He led the league with a 69.5 completion rate and threw for 32 TDs against 11 interceptions.

• Football

Rams returning to L.A.?:A company tied to St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke has purchased a prime piece of land in Los Angeles amid speculation the NFL franchise is considering a return to the city it left for the Midwest nearly two decades ago.

Team officials on Friday provided a written statement confirming the recent purchase of a 60-acre site near the Forum indoor arena in Inglewood, Calif. The statement from Kroenke's corporate side said no decision has been made and "we will look at all our options" with the land. The Los Angeles Times first reported the purchase.

Goodell confident: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says he is confident that the concussion settlement between the league and former players will be approved.

A federal judge has slowed down the proposed $765 million settlement, questioning if there's enough money to cover 20,000 retired players.

Playoff expansion a strong posibility: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the possibility of adding two teams to the playoffs will "continue to get serious consideration."

The league's competition committee is expected to look into the issue this offseason. Each conference would add one playoff team, bringing the total from 12 to 14.

Other topics likely to get consideration include monitoring instant replay from league headquarters and creating a set of guidelines to prevent locker-room bullying.

• Basketball

Harris, Qualls suspended: Arkansas coach Mike Anderson says junior Alandise Harris and sophomore Michael Qualls have been suspended indefinitely for conduct detrimental to the team.

Robinson has surgery: Nuggets guard Nate Robinson had surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee and will miss the rest of the season.

• Baseball

Fister, Nationals agree to terms: Right-handed starter Doug Fister and the Washington Nationals have agreed to terms on a contract, avoiding arbitration.

The Nationals announced the deal via their Twitter account Saturday.

Fister was acquired from the Detroit Tigers in a trade this offseason after he went 14-9 with a 3.67 ERA over 208 2-3 innings in 2013.

Dodgers, Ellis avoid arbitration: The Dodgers and catcher A.J. Ellis have avoided arbitration, agreeing to a one-year contract.

The team announced the deal Saturday.

Los Angeles has yet to settle with arbitration-eligible closer Kenley Jansen. He is seeking $5.5 million and was offered $3.5 million after earning $512,000 last year. Earlier this month, the Dodgers and star pitcher Clayton Kershaw agreed on a $215 million, seven-year deal.

• Golf

Watson gets help from desert critter: A desert critter saved leader Bubba Watson at least a stroke Saturday in the Phoenix Open. Some pigskin play cost Phil Mickelson to the chagrin of the rowdiest fans in the largest crowd in golf history.

Watson's drive on the par-5 13th went into a desert bush and settled next to a burrowing animal hole that would have interfered with his swing. He got a free drop, ended up saving par on the way to a 3-under 68 and a two-stroke lead at 15 under.

Mickelson made a double bogey on the par-3 16th hole, the 20,000-seat stadium hole where he "lost focus" thinking about throwing footballs into the crowd. He had a 72 to drop to 3 under.

Gallacher surges past McIlroy: Defending champion Stephen Gallacher had seven birdies and an eagle on the back nine Saturday to surge past Rory McIlroy and take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Dubai Desert Classic.

Gallacher equaled the European Tour record for the lowest nine-hole score with an inward 28 for a 9-under 63. That gave him a 16-under total of 200, with McIlroy in second after 69. Tiger Woods is 11 shots back after a 70.

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