Two horrendous spots doomed the Texans in their loss to the Raiders

What games were the refs watching?

Did two terrible spots in the fourth quarter directly result in the Houston Texans losing to the Oakland Raiders 27-20 in Mexico City Monday night?

No.

But it’s hard to say that the missed spots didn’t play a big role in that loss. A really big role.

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Houston has plenty of room to gripe after referees spotted two consecutive running plays short of the first-down markers with 7:07 and 6:31 to play, leading to a turnover on downs and an Oakland go-ahead touchdown.

But the Texans appeared picked up the first down yardage on both third and fourth downs. Why the referees couldn’t see that is a whole other question.

“We got all those cameras and can’t get that right?” Texans coach Bill O’Brien said after the game.

On the first controversial spot — the third-and-2 — Lamar Miller ran to the left and appeared to have moved the ball past the first-down marker on the left sideline, but referee Patrick Turner spotted Miller to have only gained the line, despite the fact that his knee was closer to the marker than the ball.

O’Brien didn’t challenge the spot — he should have, he would have won — and the Texans faced a fourth-and-inches.

On that play, Akeem Hunt ran into a pile of humanity and appeared to have gotten just enough to earn the first down.

This spot was challenged, but the referees didn’t overturn it.

This wasn’t the only spotting failure in the game. In the first quarter, referees failed to give Braxton Miller a first down when he rolled over a defender while being tackled on a third-and-2 run. He was marked a yard short, despite the fact that he first was taken to the ground well past the sticks. The spot wasn’t challenged and the Texans punted.

And when it comes to refereeing failures in the game, none beat the negligent whistle that wiped a DeAndre Hopkins touchdown off the board by ruling him out of bounds when, well… he never went out of bounds.

.@bosweiler ➡️ @nukdabomb.

24-yard gain! #HOUvsOAK?? https://t.co/zVRG0TSGds

— NFL (@NFL) November 22, 2016

This is where Hopkins was determined to be out-of-bounds. It was close, but he was still in play.

All in all, a banner day for Tony Corrente’s crew.

There’s no solution to the inadvertent whistle — bad calls happen and that was irreversible — but the NFL can make sure that another game is determined by poor officiating when it comes to spotting the ball.

The solution to the NFL’s ball-spotting issues is simple — make the first-down markers invisible barriers, like electric fences, and when the ball crosses the plane of the sticks (or the end zone) have a signal that’s both seen and heard. Sync those alerts up with the video, so that you can determine when the ball crossed the plane against when a knee or elbow was down.

Beep, knee — touchdown.

There’s the elbow… there’s the light. Fourth down at the [INSERT GPS COORDINATES HERE].

This is hardly rocket science, but the NFL should be able to afford a few rocket scientists to make sure errors like Monday’s this cannot happen again.

Jones, early goals help Sharks beat Devils 4-0

Martin Jones made 26 saves, Chris Tierney and Patrick Marleau each scored early and the San Jose Sharks sent the New Jersey Devils to their third straight loss Monday night with a 4-0 victory.

Martin Jones made 26 saves, Chris Tierney and Patrick Marleau each scored early and the San Jose Sharks sent the New Jersey Devils to their third straight loss Monday night with a 4-0 victory.

Logan Couture and Brent Burns also scored for the Sharks, who had just one point in their last three games.

Keith Kinkaid saved 37 of 41 shots for the Devils, who ended their California trip winless in three games.

Tierney scored a short-handed goal two minutes into the contest after he stole a pass and raced unguarded to beat Kinkaid. Tierney later left the game after getting hit in the face by the puck.

Marleau scored less than five minutes later, getting his 20th career point against the Devils and the 486th goal of his career. Joe Pavelski, who has points in three straight games, set up Marleau.

The Sharks received a couple of lucky bounces on their final two goals. Joe Thornton’s shot midway through the second period kicked off the back of Andy Greene’s skate and straight to Couture, who had an open shot into the net.

Burns jabbed at the puck a couple of times in front of the net before it floated away from Kinkaid. Kyle Quincey poked at it in an attempt to clear it but accidently knocked it into the net instead.

NOTES: Thornton moved into a tie for 25th on the career points list with Brendan Shanahan, after assisting on Couture’s goal. He has 1,354 points. It was also his 900th point in a Sharks’ uniform. … The Devils are 0 for 28 on the power play in their last nine games. … Greene appeared in his 329th consecutive game for the Devils, third-longest such stretch in team history. … The Sharks ended a two-game losing streak against the Devils.

UP NEXT:

Devils: Return home to host the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday night.

Sharks: Continue a five-game homestand with a game against the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday night.

Former USA Gymnastics doctor charged with sex abuse in Michigan

A former USA Gymnastics team doctor was charged Monday with first-degree criminal sexual conduct in Michigan involving a child under 13.

A former USA Gymnastics team doctor was charged Monday with first-degree criminal sexual conduct in Michigan involving a child under 13.

Three charges were filed against Dr. Larry Nassar of Holt, Michigan, according to online court records in Ingham County. The alleged incidents occurred in 1998. The records don’t indicate whether the charges involve one victim or more.

Nassar was arrested and lodged in the county jail. It’s unclear when he’ll appear in court. A message seeking comment was left for his attorney.

Nassar, 53, has been under scrutiny this year after two gymnasts, including a member of the 2000 U.S. women’s Olympic team, accused him of sexual abuse. A lawsuit by one is pending in California.

Nassar has denied wrongdoing. He was on the faculty at Michigan State University but was fired in September for not complying with “employment requirements” put in place after a 2014 investigation of alleged misconduct. MSU didn’t elaborate.

USA Gymnastics, based in Indianapolis, cut its ties to Nassar in 2015.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette plans to talk to reporters Tuesday. In October, Schuette said MSU asked his office to review allegations against Nassar, who taught at the school and worked in its sports medicine clinic.

Nassar recently finished last in a three-candidate race for two seats on the Holt school board.

Derek Carr heats up in the fourth, rallies Raiders past Texans in Mexico

Carr throws two touchdowns in the fourth.

MEXICO CITY — Derek Carr woke up a struggling Oakland offense by throwing two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter as the Raiders capped a successful trip to Mexico with a 27-20 victory over the Houston Texans on Monday night.

Oakland had been held to 120 yards through three quarters with the running game going nowhere and Carr finding few open receivers downfield. But that suddenly changed in the fourth quarter to give the Raiders (8-2) their fourth straight win for the first time since 2002 .

With star receiver Amari Cooper lined up in the backfield, Carr found fullback Jamize Olawale open for a 75-yard catch and run that tied Houston (6-4) at 20.

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Then Oakland took advantage on two questionable spots by the officials to take over on downs at the 15 and drove 85 yards in five plays to take the lead on a 35-yard pass to Cooper .

That set off loud celebrations from the pro-Raiders crowd of 76,743 in the second regular season game ever played in Mexico. What was originally scheduled as an Oakland home game featured Raiders music during stoppages, Tommie Smith lighting the Al Davis torch in a memorable return to Mexico City nearly a half-century after his Black Power salute at the 1968 Olympics and frequent “RAI-DERS!” chants.

While the atmosphere was electric, the field was a bit slippery leading to some falls and the high elevation 7,380 feet above sea level played a factor. The Raiders needed to use a timeout on defense at one point in the fourth to catch their breath and receiver Michael Crabtree was seen gasping for breath at one point.

CLOSE SPOTS: The Texans were upset on two spots on the fourth-quarter drive before Oakland went ahead. On third-and-2, Lamar Miller was stopped just short of the first down even though Houston believed he got it. Coach Bill O’Brien went for it on fourth down but Akeem Hunt was stopped about an inch short on fourth down and the play stood after a replay challenge.

LASER SHOW: Houston QB Brock Osweiler had to deal with an unusual distraction during the game as a fan with a green laser frequently shined it on the Houston quarterback as he dropped back to pass in an act more familiar in soccer games played here than in NFL games. That wasn’t the only soccer tradition imported for this game. Fans also used a homophobic chant on kickoffs. Mexico’s soccer federation has been punished by FIFA in the past for the chant during World Cup qualifiers. Fans threw paper airplanes on the field in the third quarter with Oakland’s Sean Smith taking a turn throwing one that reached the field during a break.

STREAK BROKEN: Carr had thrown 170 straight passes without an interception before getting picked by A.J. Bouye on a deep ball on the first play from scrimmage in the second half. It was Carr’s fourth interception of the season and the first since Kansas City’s Marcus Peters got one Oct. 16.

INTERNATIONAL SCORER: With his extra point in the second quarter, Oakland’s Sebastian Janikowski scored a point in his third country, having previously done it in the United States and United Kingdom. Joe Nedney is the only other player to score in Mexico, the U.S. and the U.K. Five other players have scored in Canada, the U.K. and the U.S.: running back Steven Jackson and kickers Robbie Gould, Matt Bryant, Dan Carpenter and Jay Feely.

Dennis Rodman charged in wrong way hit-and-run accident on California freeway

Former NBA star Dennis Rodman has been charged with hit-and-run for a wrong-way-related crash on a Southern California freeway.

Former NBA star Dennis Rodman has been charged with hit-and-run for a wrong-way-related crash on a Southern California freeway.

Orange County prosecutors filed misdemeanor charges against Rodman on Monday for a July 20 accident on Interstate 5 in Santa Ana.

Prosecutors say Rodman’s SUV was traveling north in a southbound carpool lane around 12:30 a.m., forcing a sedan to swerve into a dividing wall to avoid a collision.

Rodman’s attorney, Paul Meyer, says the incident occurred on a poorly signed exit ramp. He says Rodman corrected the driving error without the cars touching, stopped and spoke to people in the other car.

Rodman’s also charged with driving across a dividing section and without a valid license, and giving police false information.

He could face two years in county jail if convicted.

Michigan-Ohio State tradition has playoff implications again

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) Never mind that No. 2 Ohio State’s clash with No. 3 Michigan this week is the most meaningful contest between the bitter rivals in a decade. In Columbus, the game against ”The Team Up North” doesn’t need any additional hype.

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) Never mind that No. 2 Ohio State’s clash with No. 3 Michigan this week is the most meaningful contest between the bitter rivals in a decade. In Columbus, the game against ”The Team Up North” doesn’t need any additional hype.

Legendary Ohio State coach Woody Hayes hung the ”TTUN” moniker on Michigan so he wouldn’t have to say the name of the hated state and school. The tradition continues to this day here. So does the contempt.

”We don’t like them, and they don’t like us,” quarterback J.T. Barrett said.

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”We don’t say that M word,” guard Billy Price said.

Both teams are 10-1, and the winner of the rivalry game’s 113th version likely will end up in the final four of the College Football Playoff.

”We approach it as it’s `The-Team-Up-North’ week, so that already has its own standard and level of expectation,” Barrett said. ”So as far as us being ranked in the top five, both teams, I don’t think that’s changed it.”

Ohio State will see the nation’s top-ranked defense after windy conditions forced the Buckeyes to take to the ground to beat Michigan State 17-16 last Saturday. The win came also thanks to a failed 2-point attempt after the Spartans scored with 4:41 left in the game. Chris Worley intercepted a Tyler O’Connor pass in the end zone that would have put Michigan State ahead. Gareon Conley picked off another pass late in the fourth quarter to seal it.

Michigan struggled with Indiana and the weather last week, beating the Hoosiers 20-10 in the blowing snow. There’s a good chance the Wolverines will again have their backup quarterback John O’Corn playing in place of injured Wilton Speight. O’Corn also will face a stout Ohio State defense that’s given up just 12 touchdowns this season and allowed only four rushing TDs.

”When we play it’s always going to be a battle,” linebacker Chris Worley said. ”You can take the records and throw them out, you can take the seasons and throw them out, honestly. It’s all about one thing – just beat `The Team Up North.”’

Ohio State coach Urban Meyer has emphasized rivalry games at every coaching stop, and he thinks that was developed while growing up in Ohio and being around the culture of Ohio State-Michigan.

”I think that came from Coach Hayes and (former Michigan coach) Bo Schembechler,” Meyer said. ”I just think that was the classiest – both programs had a tremendous respect for each other, both coaches did, and they played so damn hard.”

Elflein, who grew up and went to school in the Columbus suburb of Pickerington, said the magnitude of the annual game was drilled home for him years ago.

”It was like another holiday, I remember that,” Elfelin said. ”You’d have your Thanksgiving Day celebration and there was a quick turnaround for a big party, a big celebration.”

More AP college football at www.collegefootball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25 .

Follow Mitch Stacy at http://twitter.com/mitchstacy

Subban, Rinne lead Predators over Lightning 3-1

Pekka Rinne is having a remarkable month for the Nashville Predators.

Pekka Rinne is having a remarkable month for the Nashville Predators.

P.K. Subban scored twice in the second period and Rinne made 24 saves, helping Nashville to a 3-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday night.

Viktor Arvidsson also scored and Ryan Ellis added three assists for the Predators, winners of two of three.

“Just the way we played good defense and made good decisions with the puck led to good offense and ultimately staying out of our end keeping their chances down,” Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. “They are a very dangerous team, very fast, very skilled, and you really have to pay attention to what you are doing on the ice and I thought our guys were really detailed tonight.”

Rinne improved to 6-1-2 in November. He made 15 saves through two periods and stopped 9 of 10 in the third to earn victory.

“I was able to make a couple of big saves in the first and that obviously gives you good confidence,” Rinne said. “I’ve been feeling really good as of late, just trying to keep it rolling, and try not to focus too much on how many shots I’m going to get.”

Tyler Johnson scored and Ben Bishop made 27 saves for Tampa Bay, which got its only defeat in the final game of a five-game trip.

“We didn’t have the puck enough, we didn’t create enough offensive zone time, and when you are defending a lot, chances are you are going to get a lot of penalties called against you,” Lightning forward Brian Boyle said. “It’s not a good recipe for success.”

Arvidsson scored the game’s first goal at 4:25 of the first.

Ryan Johansen won a faceoff against Ondrej Palat in the circle to the left of Bishop. The puck came back to Ellis, who passed to Roman Josi on the right boards. Josi threw the puck toward the net and Arvidsson was able to deflect it past Bishop on the far side.

Subban doubled the Nashville lead at 9:55 of the second.

With Nashville on a power play, Ellis had the puck atop the right circle and sent a pass to Subban above the high slot. Subban’s one-timer beat Bishop between the pads.

The three-point night matched a career high for Ellis.

Subban scored his second of the night 2 1/2 minutes later. From the left boards, Filip Forsberg found Subban, again in the high slot. Subban’s slap shot through traffic beat Bishop low to the stick side.

“The one thing about this team that has been different for me is there’s always guys in front of the net battling, creating traffic,” Subban said. “As a guy who likes to shoot the puck and get it to the net, it’s good to know because when you get the puck, you don’t even have to look. You know there’s guys around the net or in front and we have success when we continue to do that.”

The Lightning scored with 49.7 seconds left in the third on Johnson’s power-play goal with Bishop pulled for an extra attacker.

“It’s tough to score when you’re not generating too much,” Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said. “We just looked like a tired group. We’ve got to regroup because that was a winnable hockey game for us and we let it slip.”

NOTES: Forsberg played his 200th NHL game. … Subban has at least one point in his last five games played against Tampa Bay. … The Lightning are 0-3-0 against Western Conference teams this season. … Tampa Bay is 1-3-2 in its last six games against Nashville.

UP NEXT

Lightning: Return home Wednesday night to face Philadelphia.

Predators: Face Dallas at home Wednesday night.

Draisaitl, Talbot help Oilers thump Blackhawks 5-0

Leon Draisaitl scored twice and Cam Talbot made 31 saves for his third shutout of the season, helping the Edmonton Oilers beat the Western Conference-leading Chicago Blackhawks 5-0 on Monday night.

Leon Draisaitl scored twice and Cam Talbot made 31 saves for his third shutout of the season, helping the Edmonton Oilers beat the Western Conference-leading Chicago Blackhawks 5-0 on Monday night.

Oscar Klefbom, Andrej Sekera and Anton Slepyshev also scored for the Oilers.

Corey Crawford made 22 saves in the loss as the Blackhawks had a two-game winning streak snapped.

Teenage captain Connor McDavid had two assists for Edmonton. The 19-year-old set up a goal 2:39 in by skating the length of the ice before centering the puck for Klefbom, who blasted a shot past Crawford.

McDavid also assisted late in the first when Draisaitl tipped in Klefbom’s shot from the point on a power play for a 2-0 lead.

Talbot kept Chicago from getting on the board four minutes into the second when he stopped Duncan Keith on a point-blank power-play shot.

Sekera scored on a long wrist shot with just 7.6 seconds left in the second shortly after a power play expired to make it 3-0.

Edmonton took a 4-0 lead seven minutes into the third period when Slepyshev’s deceptive shot from a bad angle handcuffed Crawford.

Draisaitl scored his second of the game late in the third on the power play to put the game away.

NOTES: It was the first of three games between the two teams this season. Chicago swept the season series last year, with McDavid missing all three contests for the Oilers due to injury. … Despite their 13-5-2 record, the Blackhawks were last in the NHL on the penalty kill at just 69.5 percent coming into the game. … Veterans Benoit Pouliot, Mark Letestu and Eric Gryba remained healthy scratches for the Oilers. … The lone injury listed for Chicago is Trevor van Riemsdyk (upper body), while Edmonton is still without Iiro Pakarinen (knee), Brandon Davidson (upper body) and Mark Fayne (lower body).

UP NEXT

Blackhawks: Play the fifth in a season-high seven-game road trip in San Jose on Wednesday night..

Oilers: Start a two-game trip at Colorado on Wednesday night.

Benn wrists in goal in OT, Stars beat Wild 3-2

Jamie Benn flicked in a goal 1:23 into overtime, lifting the Dallas Stars over the Minnesota Wild 3-2 on Monday night.

Jamie Benn flicked in a goal 1:23 into overtime, lifting the Dallas Stars over the Minnesota Wild 3-2 on Monday night.

Benn took a cross-ice pass from Tyler Seguin in the left faceoff circle and shot over goalie Darcy Kuemper’s right shoulder.

The Stars had lost five straight overtime games and nine in a row going back to last season. Their last overtime win at home was on Nov. 14, 2015 — also 3-2 against the Wild.

Dallas twice took one-goal leads, but the Wild answered each time.

The Stars’ Jamie Oleksiak scored his first in more than two years on a rebound at 7:19 of the second period. Nino Niederreiter tied the game on the power play at 17:22 of the second.

Brett Ritchie gave Dallas a 2-1 lead at 1:01 of the third, but 3 minutes later, Erik Haula scored for Minnesota.

Kuemper made 29 saves. Antti Niemi had 27 for the Stars.

After a scoreless first period, Dallas applied pressure early in the second, including when Kuemper stopped Radek Faksa on a breakaway at 5:37.

The Stars then had a 3-on-1 break, with Patrick Sharp, Patrick Eaves and Jason Spezza ahead of the defense. Trailing the play, defenseman Oleksiak put his stick on the rebound of Spezza’s shot and backhanded the puck into the net at 7:19.

Oleksiak’s goal was his second in 84 career games. He had not scored in 55 games since his first on Oct. 28, 2014.

Minnesota finally scored at 17:22 of the second, on the Wild’s third power play. Mikael Granlund passed across to Niederreiter low on the right side, and he beat Niemi for his fifth goal.

Haula’s goal followed a flurry of activity in front of the net. Minnesota sent two shots off goalposts before Haula knocked in a rebound from short range.

NOTES: Dallas D Johnny Oduya (lower-body injury) went on injured reserve. D Julius Honka was recalled from Texas of the AHL to make his NHL debut. He assisted on Ritchie’s goal. D Esa Lindell also was recalled; Ds John Klingberg and Stephen Johns were healthy scratches. … Wild LW Zach Parise returned after missing Saturday’s game because of strep throat. … Oleksiak and Minnesota RW Chris Stewart received major penalties for fighting at 6:34 of the first period. … Ritchie has four points (two goals, two assists) in four career games against the Wild. In 12 games in November, Eaves has 12 points (eight goals, four assists). … Mikko Koivu’s assist on Niederreiter’s goal was the 400th of his career. He has a team-high 28 points against the Stars in 36 games. … Haula has five points (two goals, three assists) in his last five games vs. Dallas.

UP NEXT

Wild: Return home to play Winnipeg on Wednesday night.

Stars: Travel to Nashville to play on Wednesday night.

USC’s Adoree’ Jackson named Thorpe Award finalist for nation’s best DB

The Trojans standout is the first to be nominated since Taylor Mays in 2008.

Trojans defensive back and all-around stud Adoree’ Jackson has been named one of three finalists for the Thorpe Award, an honor given to the best college DB in the country.

Jackson, a junior, has four interceptions this season and recently led the Trojans defense in a big upset win over Washington before taking down crosstown rivals UCLA this past weekend. In addition to the interceptions, Jackson has returned two kicks for touchdowns: one punt and one kickoff.

Congratulations to @AdoreeKnows on being named a finalist for the Thorpe Award! He is USC’s first finalist since Taylor Mays in 2008. pic.twitter.com/9nS7R7unRZ

— USC Trojans (@USC_Athletics) November 21, 2016

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Opposing the USC standout are two seniors, LSU’s Tre’Davious White and Michigan’s Jourdan Lewis.

The winner of the Thorpe Award will be named on December 8th and honored at a college football awards banquet on February 7, 2017.