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SPORTS BRIEFS: SEC honor for Georgia linebacker Carter

STATE

 

SEC honor for UGA

linebacker Carter

ATHENS — Georgia senior Lorenzo Carter has been named the Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Week following his performance in the win at No. 24 Notre Dame.

Carter, a native of Norcross, jump-started the Bulldogs defense in the team’s come-from-behind 20-19 victory against the Irish. Carter tied for the team’s second-most tackles with seven, including a sack, forced fumble and recovered fumble on a single play with under two minutes left in the third quarter and Georgia up 17-16.

Carter, who also had a second forced fumble in the game, then pounced on another loose ball with under two minutes left in the game and the Bulldogs leading 20-19 to help clinch the victory. Carter was an anchor to a Georgia defensive unit that limited the Irish to 55 yards on the ground, which was Notre Dame’s lowest output since 2011.

The Bulldogs return to Sanford Stadium to host Samford (2-0) on Saturday. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. and the matchup will be televised by the SEC Network Alternate channel.

Roof ready for Falcons’

game against Packers

ATLANTA — The Atlanta Falcons’ new retractable-roof stadium is ready to open.

The roof, that is.

After dealing with construction and mechanical issues that delayed the opening of Mercedes-Benz Stadium and forced the first five games to be played with the roof closed, officials said it was scheduled to be open for Sunday night’s game in which the defending NFC champion Falcons will host the Green Bay Packers .

It will depend on the weather, of course, but the long-range forecast looked extremely promising: a high of 85 during the day, with mostly sunny conditions, and a low of 64 in the evening.

The Falcons haven’t played an open-air home game since their finale at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium on Dec. 15, 1991. The team moved into the Georgia Dome the following year for a 25-season run.

Mercedes-Benz Stadium opened last month with a pair of Falcons’ exhibition games. The $1.5 billion facility has since hosted two college football games, as well as Sunday’s Major League Soccer match between Atlanta United and FC Dallas. But the unique roof, which resembles a camera lens, remained shut while workers ensured it could open and close within about 12 minutes.

Those problems have apparently been resolved, though the roof will be closed when United hosts New England in an MLS game Wednesday night.

NATIONAL

QB Mayfield apologizes

for flag incident at Ohio St.

NORMAN, Okla. — Quarterback Baker Mayfield has apologized for planting Oklahoma’s flag at midfield of Ohio State’s stadium following the Sooners’ victory over the Buckeyes.

After Saturday night’s 31-16 win, Mayfield ran around the field at Ohio Stadium with a crimson OU flag, took it to the “O” at midfield and stuck it in the ground as his teammates celebrated around him.

“It was an emotional game, and so after the game, I did not mean for it to be disrespectful toward any Ohio State people at all, especially not the team or the players,” Mayfield said Monday. “They’re a great team, a great program, so I didn’t mean for it to be disrespectful at all.”

Mayfield said the Sooners do the same thing with the flag when they play Texas, but that game is played at a neutral site in Dallas each year. Mayfield said he should have saved his celebration for the locker room.

“Obviously, if they did that here (in Norman), I’d be pissed, too,” he said. “Not surprised looking back on it. I understand why they’re very upset about it, but I didn’t mean it to be disrespectful in any way.”

Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley said he believes Mayfield’s apology was genuine.

“I know him well enough to know what he meant by it. Not anything disrespectful towards Ohio State. It was an emotional game, and it was him celebrating with his teammates. I know that’s why it happened.”

Riley said the incident shouldn’t overshadow the game. Mayfield, a Heisman finalist last season, threw for 386 yards and three touchdowns as No. 5 Oklahoma rallied to knock off the second-ranked Buckeyes . The Sooners have since moved up to No. 2 in The Associated Press college football poll.

“It was a great atmosphere in Columbus,” Riley said. “They did a great job, and it was a fun game. I think you see by how many people watched it that the rest of the country agreed as well. So that, to me, should be the focus of what happened.”

Record-setting Witten,

Cowboys top Giants 19-3

ARLINGTON, Texas — Jason Witten scored the only touchdown while breaking the franchise record for yards receiving and the Dallas defense shackled a New York offense missing Odell Beckham Jr. in the Cowboys’ 19-3 season-opening victory over the Giants on Sunday night.

Ezekiel Elliott had a rugged 104 yards rushing and another 36 receiving two days after a judge halted his six-game suspension over a domestic violence case, although last year’s NFL rushing leader had already been cleared to play the opener.

Dak Prescott was turnover-free while throwing for 268 yards as the Cowboys dominated the NFC East rival that swept them during a 13-3 season that topped the NFC and was fueled by the sensational rookie years for the quarterback-running back duo. Dan Bailey kicked four field goals.

Eli Manning didn’t have Beckham in his 200th straight start after his dynamic top target sprained his ankle in a preseason game. The Giants were outgained in the first half 265-49 while falling behind 16-0.

Manning was 28 of 37 for 211 yards with an interception and connected with new receiver Brandon Marshall just once, late on a desperation drive with the outcome already settled.

Witten scored the Cowboys’ first touchdown on a 12-yard catch and finished with seven catches for 59, breaking Hall of Fame receiver Michael Irvin’s club record of 11,904 yards. Witten, already the franchise leader in catches, now has 1,096 receptions for 11,947 yards.

A 35-year-old in his 15th season, Witten is the only tight end other than Tony Gonzalez with at least 1,000 catches and 10,000 yards.

The Giants had a nearly 10-minute drive to start the second half but settled for Aldrick Rosas’ 25-yard field goal after a second-down sack of Manning, Dallas’ third of the game and the first of Charles Tapper’s career.

Anthony Brown all but sealed the win for the Cowboys when he was the first to get his hands on a throw from Manning and won a tug-of-war with Roger Lewis Jr. for the interception midway through the fourth quarter.

Elliott had to work for his yards after the crowd cheered loudly when he was introduced and kept up the “Zeke” calls while he made his trademark feed-me gesture after first downs. His biggest play was a 30-yard catch-and-run, easily the most open field he saw against one of the league’s best run defenses a year ago.

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