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Suzann Pettersen to captain European team at 2023 Solheim Cup



FINCA CORTESIN, Spain — Suzann Pettersen, who won the Solheim Cup for Europe in 2019 with the last shot of her career, will captain the team four years later for its second straight title defense.

The Norwegian’s 7-foot putt for birdie at the final hole at Gleneagles saw Europe reclaim the biggest prize in women’s team golf and she retired immediately afterward.

Pettersen was vice captain when the Europeans retained the title at the Inverness Club in Ohio in September, also under Catriona Matthew, and now she has taken over as captain.

“This is the biggest honor of my career,” Pettersen said.

The next edition of the Solheim Cup will be played at Finca Cortesín in Andalucía from Sept. 18-24, 2023.

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Green Bay Packers expected to have healthy Randall Cobb; statuses of Marquez Valdes-Scantling, David Bakhtiari less promising



GREEN BAY, Wis. — The last two times the Green Bay Packers were in the playoffs, Randall Cobb had to watch from his couch.

The Packers had moved on from the receiver following the 2018 season, and he spent the next two years with non-playoff teams Dallas in 2019 and Houston in 2020.

When he tore multiple muscles in his abdomen as he caught a touchdown pass 12 weeks into his return to Green Bay this season, he was determined not to be a spectator again. Sure enough, Cobb is expected to return for Saturday’s NFC divisional playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers at Lambeau Field.

However, even with Cobb’s return, the Packers’ receiving corps may not be at full strength.

Marquez Valdes-Scantling was listed as doubtful because of the back injury he suffered in the regular-season finale against the Detroit Lions. He practiced on Tuesday but then was a nonparticipant the rest of the week.

Cobb said he could have played two weeks ago at Detroit, about five weeks after he underwent surgery.

“The past four years I’ve been watching the playoffs from the couch,” Cobb said, counting the 2017 and ’18 seasons that the Packers missed the postseason. “I haven’t seen the playoffs since 2016, so I’m really excited for the opportunity to be out there and help contribute.”

Cobb, who returned to Green Bay last summer via trade from the Texans at the request of Rodgers, said the low point in his career was the 2019 NFC Championship Game, when the Packers played the 49ers. He said he watched the game alone and didn’t even want his wife, Aiyda, with him during it.

“When I got drafted here it was right after the Super Bowl,” Cobb said of the Packers’ Super Bowl XLV win. “We went 15-1, I thought we were going that year. Thought we were going in ’14. Obviously ’16, the loss in Atlanta and I haven’t been there since then and I’ve been watching from the couch.

“It was hard. I was definitely in a dark place when they played the 49ers in San Francisco because in my mind, I’m like, ‘Man, they won the year before I got there and they won the year after I left,’ or, ‘They’re getting ready to go the year after I left, so I must’ve been the problem. It must’ve been me.’ So I was definitely in a dark place that year, but I’m just happy to be a part of it, happy to have the opportunity to contribute and to do my part.”

The Packers activated Cobb off injured reserve on Friday. They had a spot open after they released defensive tackle Kingsley Kekea day earlier. The Packers would also need spots for outside linebackers Za’Darius Smith (back) and Whitney Mercilus (biceps), who are attempting to come back from IR. Coach Matt LaFleur left that possibility as questionable.

Cornerback Jaire Alexander, who is on the roster but hasn’t played since his Week 4 shoulder injury, was listed as questionable.

There are other question marks as well.

When left tackle David Bakhtiari played the first 27 snaps of the Week 18 game against the Lions, it was believed to be a precursor to him playing full time when the playoffs started. That may not be a sure thing. Bakhtiari practiced only one day this week — the middle of three practices — and was listed as questionable.

LaFleur was vague about why or what may have happened in the days since Bakhtiari made his return in the regular-season finale after more than a year away because of ACL surgery.

“He’s working his tail off,” LaFleur said. ‘And we’ll see where he’s at.”

The Packers will have at least one of their two preferred starting tackles. LaFleur said right tackle Billy Turner, who missed the last month of the regular season with a knee injury, has been cleared to play.

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Cincinnati Bengals DE Trey Hendrickson clears concussion protocol, OK to play Saturday



Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Trey Hendrickson has cleared the concussion protocol and will play in Saturday’s divisional-round playoff game against the Tennessee Titans, coach Zac Taylor announced Thursday.

Hendrickson, who led the Bengals with 14 sacks this season, suffered the concussion in the Bengals’ 26-19 wild-card game victory over the Las Vegas Raiders last Saturday.

Hendrickson had a strip sack of Raiders quarterback Derek Carr before leaving that game.

His 14 sacks in the regular season were a career high. He had 13.5 sacks in 2020 for the New Orleans Saints, helping him to earn a four-year, $60 million contract in free agency with the Bengals last March.

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NFL Playoffs – Top moments from the San Francisco 49ers-Green Bay Packers rivalry



The San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers are set to meet again in the NFC divisional round.

It’s the latest game in a postseason rivalry that rose to center stage in the 1990s, with both teams led by legendary quarterbacks in Steve Young and Brett Favre. The rivalry has been renewed multiple times in the 21st century.

Saturday will be the ninth playoff meeting between these teams, tied with the Dallas Cowboys and Los Angeles Rams as the most common playoff matchup in NFL history. The squads have split the previous eight meetings, with the 49ers riding a three-game postseason win streak that dates back to 2012.

Here are some defining moments between the familiar foes, selected by NFL Nation reporters Rob Demovsky and Nick Wagoner.

1995 NFC divisional round

The team’s first postseason meeting was also the first time Green Bay head coach Mike Holmgren coached against San Francisco, where he was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach from 1986 to 1991 and won two Super Bowls.

This game was all Green Bay.

The Packers’ defense tallied four turnovers. The party began when LB Wayne Simmons forced a fumble on San Francisco’s first offensive snap that CB Craig Newsome returned for a touchdown. The Packers used their hot start to build a 21-0 lead in the first half. San Francisco QB Steve Young attempted a playoff-record 65 passes, but it still wasn’t enough to come out on top as the defending Super Bowl champions lost 27-17.

1996 NFC divisional round

Nicknamed the Mud Bowl because of sloppy conditions at Lambeau Field, this was the Packers’ first postseason win on the way to winning Super Bowl XXXI. Similar to their last divisional-round meeting, Favre & Co. jumped out to a three-touchdown lead in the first half. But this time around, two Green Bay turnovers aided San Francisco’s efforts at a comeback and the lead shrunk to 21-14.

Once again, the Packers’ defense helped the scoring efforts by recording five takeaways against a Niners offense that was without Steve Young for most of the game because of cracked ribs.

Green Bay scored the final 14 points and won 35-14.

1997 NFC Championship Game

Green Bay was the reigning Super Bowl champion but had to travel to Candlestick Park in the postseason.

The visiting team held a 13-3 lead at the half, but a scoreless third quarter kept the game within reach for San Francisco.

The Packers added 10 points in the fourth quarter before their opponent found the end zone for the first time via RB Chuck Levy’s 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

It was too little, too late, as Green Bay cruised to its third consecutive playoff win over San Francisco 23-10.

Packers safety LeRoy Butler, creator of the Lambeau Leap, grew fond of meeting a familiar face in the postseason.

“I probably liked playing San Francisco more than anybody else,” Butler told Forbes in 2020. Beating them was so satisfying, because I knew all those guys would be in the Hall of Fame. The quarterback, the receivers, the linebackers, the coach, the owner.”

1998 NFC wild-card round

Unlike their previous postseason matchups, the fourth meeting was a back-and-forth battle. It all came down to the final drive.

Jerry Rice’s first and only reception of the game came with less than 40 seconds remaining. Despite clearly losing possession of the ball, the officials missed the call and instant replay was not in use at the time, so the drive continued.

Young found Terrell Owens for a 25-yard game-winning toss that was nicknamed “The Catch II” as an ode to Joe Montana and Dallas Clark’s connection known as “The Catch” in the 1981 NFC Championship Game against the Dallas Cowboys.

San Francisco ended its three-year postseason skid against Green Bay with a 30-27 victory, and it was a moment that helped make Owens a superstar.

2012 NFC divisional round

This game was the playoff debut of Colin Kaepernick.

In just his eighth NFL start, Kaepernick rushed for a quarterback-record 181 yards and two touchdowns and threw two more TDs to pair with his 263 yards through the air.

San Francisco came out on top 45-31.

2013 NFC wild-card round

The 49ers and Packers faced a frigid kickoff temperature of 5 degrees at Lambeau Field. It turned into a duel between Aaron Rodgers and Kaepernick as well as the teams’ kickers.

Rodgers led the offense downfield for a tying field goal by Mason Crosby in the final quarter, but it left over five minutes on the clock for Kaepernick’s squad. San Francisco’s ensuing drive included four consecutive carries by Frank Gore that forced Green Bay to exhaust all three timeouts.

Phil Dawson’s 33-yard, go-ahead field goal was the difference-maker that lifted the Niners over the Packers 23-20.

2019 NFC Championship Game

This matchup was decided early as the 49ers led 27-0 at halftime.

Raheem Mostert ran all over Green Bay, gaining 220 rushing yards with four scores. As a result of the dominant run game, Jimmy Garoppolo threw only eight passes, tied for the second-fewest passes thrown in a playoff game. He even went 24 minutes of game time between his sixth and seventh passes.

San Francisco’s 37-20 win sent the 49ers to the Super Bowl, where they eventually lost to the Kansas City Chiefs.

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