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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — The Vikings trudged out of Lambeau Field, their season slipping away after a nasty skid of four losses in five weeks dropped Minnesota to 6-6 and essentially turned every game from there on into a must win. Fans were clamoring for Christian Ponder’s benching. The coaching staff was catching heat for a perceived inability to make in-game adjustments. There was growing concern that Adrian Peterson’s brilliant comeback season was being wasted by a team heading nowhere. Through it all, Leslie Frazier never wavered.
HOUSTON — Texas Tech quarterback Seth Doege has seen this before. The Red Raiders head into Friday’s Meineke Car Care Bowl against Minnesota after some serious upheaval with coach Tommy Tuberville abruptly leaving the team for the job in Cincinnati. Doege, a senior, remembers how the team came together for a win in the Alamo Bowl under an interim coach just days after coach Mike Leach was fired in the 2009 season. The Red Raiders have hired Kliff Kingsbury to replace Tuberville, but interim coach Chris Thomsen will lead Texas Tech against the Golden Gophers.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. consumers peering over the "fiscal cliff" don't like what they see. Fears of sharp tax increases and government spending cuts set to take effect next week sent consumer confidence tumbling in December to its lowest level since August. The Conference Board said Thursday that its consumer confidence index fell for the second straight month in December to 65.1, down from 71.5 in November.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A last-gasp effort Thursday to avoid automatic tax increases and spending cuts got off on the same convulsive, partisan tone that marked congressional attempts to resolve the impasse before lawmakers left Washington to go home for Christmas.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The average number of people seeking unemployment benefits over the past month fell to the lowest level since March 2008, a sign that the job market is healing. The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly applications dropped 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 350,000 in the week ended Dec. 22. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, fell to a nearly five-year low of 356,750.
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- A powerful winter storm brought snow to inland parts of the Northeast and driving rain and wind to areas along the coast Thursday, a day after it swept through the nation's middle, dumping a record snowfall in Arkansas and ruining holiday travel plans for thousands. The storm, which was blamed for nine deaths, pushed through the Upper Ohio Valley and made its way into the Northeast Wednesday night. By Thursday morning, there was anywhere from a few inches of snow to a foot in some locations.
ARLINGTON, Texas — A.J. Pierzynski can joke with Texas manager Ron Washington about last season’s All-Star snub now that he’s the starting catcher for the Rangers. They shared a laugh over lunch a few days before Wednesday’s announcement that Pierzynski’s one-year free agent contract with Texas was complete. Both considered the All-Star issue dead after it happened in July, even though Pierzynski had a cryptic retort when Washington explained the difficulty of the decision.
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Tim Tebow has been criticized for years about his quarterback skills, his arm and how he throws. He refuses to accept anyone calling him a quitter or phony. The New York Jets backup quarterback insisted Wednesday that he didn’t ask out of running the team’s wildcat plays last week, but acknowledged what he said in a meeting with coach Rex Ryan might have been misinterpreted as such.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The joke running through Jacksonville these days carries the same punch line as the one in Kansas City: “Our team is so bad it can’t even stink in the right year.” The Chiefs and Jaguars will vie for the top pick in the NFL draft in separate games Sunday. But the value of “winning” the race to the NFL’s worst record is debatable in a year without a clear, franchise-changing prospect. There’s no Andrew Luck in this unlucky draft. No Robert Griffin III, either.
MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Vikings had four players voted into the Pro Bowl on Wednesday. Adrian Peterson was selected for the fifth time. It comes as no surprise thanks to an incredible comeback season. Peterson is 102 yards away from becoming the sixth running back in NFL history to rush for 2,000 yards in a season. Kicker Blair Walsh, defensive end Jared Allen and fullback Jerome Felton also were named to the NFC team. Walsh set an NFL record this season with nine field goals of at least 50 yards.