Thursday Sports in Brief
CLEVELAND (AP) — Myles Garrett’s indefinite suspension for smashing Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph over the head with a helmet was upheld by an appeals officer who decided the severe penalty on the Cleveland Browns star defensive end is fair.
One of the league’s most dominant edge rushers, Garrett is banned for the final six regular-season games and playoffs — if Cleveland qualifies — for pulling off Rudolph’s helmet and cracking him with it in the closing seconds of the Browns’ 21-7 win over their AFC North rival last week.
On Wednesday, Garrett attended his appeals hearing in New York and made his case to former player James Thrash for a reduction of his penalty, which will damage Cleveland’s season and stain the 24-year-old’s budding career. Thrash didn’t find enough compelling evidence to lessen Garrett’s punishment, which will keep him off the field until 2020 — at the earliest.
PITTSBURGH (AP) — The on-field fight between Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph and Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett has turned into a war of words off it, with Rudolph denying an anonymous report alleging he used a racial slur shortly before their now infamous confrontation last week.
ESPN, citing anonymous sources, reported Garrett told the NFL during the appeal of his indefinite suspension Rudolph used a racial slur just before a confrontation between the two players that included Garrett ripping off Rudolph’s helmet and then hitting the quarterback in the head with it.
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the league investigated Garrett’s claim and “found no such evidence” of the slur. The NFL upheld Garrett’s indefinite suspension, though the accusation added another complex layer to an already emotionally charged rivalry, with members of both clubs rising to the defense of their teammates.
HOUSTON (AP) — Deshaun Watson threw two touchdown passes to DeAndre Hopkins and finished with 298 yards to help the Houston Texans beat the Indianapolis Colts 20-17 to take the AFC South lead.
The Texans (7-4), who were embarrassed by Baltimore 41-7 on Sunday, trailed by four early in the fourth quarter when Hopkins got in front of Pierre Desir and stretched out to haul in a 30-yard reception to give the Texans a 20-17 lead. The Texans got things going on that drive with a 33-yard run by Carlos Hyde.
Houston’s defense stepped up after that, forcing a punt on the next drive before stopping the Colts (6-5) on fourth-and-7 with 3 minutes left. Jacoby Brissett threw for 129 yards, and came up a yard shy of a first down on Indy’s fourth-down attempt late in the fourth quarter.
Will Fuller, who returned after sitting out three games with a hamstring injury, had seven catches for 140 yards for the Texans.
T.Y. Hilton had topped 100 receiving yards in four of his last six games against the Texans and entered averaging 133.3 receiving yards in seven career games at NRG Stadium. He wasn’t a factor, finishing with just 18 yards receiving in his return after missing three games with a calf injury.
MILWAUKEE (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo had his second triple-double of the season and the Milwaukee Bucks beat Carmelo Anthony and the short-handed Portland Trail Blazers 137-129.
Antetokounmpo had 24 points, 19 rebounds and a career-high 15 assists to lead the Bucks to their sixth straight victory. Antetokounmpo, who also had a triple-double in the season opener, has 16 career triple-doubles. Milwaukee is 14-2 in those games.
Eric Bledsoe added 30 points and six assists in the Bucks’ highest-scoring game of the season.
CJ McCollum scored a game-high 37 points and Skal Labissiere added 22 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks off the bench for Portland. The Trail Blazers lost their third straight game and seventh of the last nine against the Bucks, including sixth straight in Milwaukee.
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Major League Baseball has widened its investigation of alleged sign stealing by the Houston Astros and will probe activity by the team over the past three seasons.
After the conclusion of owners meetings, baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said MLB will “investigate the Astros situation as thoroughly as humanly possible.” The probe includes the team’s firing of an assistant general manager during the World Series for clubhouse comments directed at female reporters, behavior the club at first accused Sports Illustrated of fabricating.
Manfred has said for now the Astros are the only team being investigated for cheating allegations.
NEW YORK (AP) — Brock Nelson scored his second goal of the game at 4:16 of overtime, lifting the New York Islanders to a 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins to extend their point streak to a franchise-record 16 games.
Anthony Beauvillier had a goal and an assist, Scott Mayfield also scored, and Barzal had two assists to help the Islanders improve to 15-0-1 during their streak while winning their fifth straight since an overtime loss to the Penguins here on Nov. 7. New York had earned points in 15 straight games three times previously, the last during a 15-game win streak in the 1981-82 season.
Thomas Greiss stopped 23 shots for his eighth straight win — all coming during the Islanders’ streak — and ninth of the season.