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The Washington Football Team will announce its new name on Feb. 2. We personally still like “Washington Football Team.” Just saying.

Big Ben’s Final Home Win

Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Ben Roethlisberger won what was likely his final home game in Pittsburgh — and most likely won’t see another postseason.

The Steelers (8-7-1) beat the Browns 26-14 on Monday night, but in addition to a win in Baltimore, they’ll need a Jaguars victory against the Colts to get in.

Roethlisberger had little to prove as not only a Hall of Famer, but one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history.

But even in one of the worst seasons of his 18-year career, he still leads the league in two clutch stats — and climbed further up the all-time rankings.

  • He’s fifth all-time in passing yards (63,844) and completions (5,410), and eighth in TD passes (417).
  • Roethlisberger’s 40 fourth-quarter comebacks are third-most in league history, and he leads the NFL with five this season
  • His 52 game-winning drives are fourth all-time, and his six this year lead the league.
  • Big Ben has made $267.3 million in career earnings, second only to Tom Brady ($291.1M).

The six-time Pro Bowler has led the Steelers to two Super Bowl wins and eight division titles, but now the Steelers will have a new starting QB for the first time in nearly two decades.

As displayed last night, a pair of established stars on both sides of the ball could make the successor less important: RB Najee Harris has rushed for a franchise rookie record 1,172 yards, and LB T.J. Watt’s 21.5 sacks are one behind Michael Strahan’s single-season NFL record.

Atlanta’s Defensive Deficiencies

Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

Trae Young is making history with the Hawks — but not always the good kind.

Young lit up the Trail Blazers on Monday for a career-high 56 points with 14 assists — the most assists in a 55+ point game in NBA history. But it didn’t matter: The Hawks lost 136-131 — only the second time that a player recorded 50+ points and 14+ assists and still lost the game.

At 12th in the Eastern Conference, Atlanta (16-20) is wasting Young’s offensive brilliance with its inability to play defense, though the star himself carries some of the blame.

  • The Hawks rank 27th in team defensive rating (113.0) this year.
  • After last season’s All-Star break — which led to a 5-seed and Eastern Finals appearance — they ranked 12th (111.7).
  • Young’s 114.7 defensive rating is the worst on the team and sixth-worst in the league among players averaging 30+ minutes — but it’s still second-best of his career (113.0).

The Hawks signed Young to a five-year rookie max extension in August worth up to $207 million with incentives.

His ongoing defensive concerns won’t matter too much to Atlanta when he’s arguably having the best offensive season of his career: He’s second in scoring (28.4 PPG) and third in offensive rating among players with 30+ minutes (117.1).

But if the Hawks are serious about contending in back-to-back years, the team-wide defensive woes need to improve.

The Quest for 21 Continues

Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports

We won’t have to wait for the red clay to see if Novak Djokovic can win his record 21st major.

On Tuesday, the world No. 1 was granted a medical exemption from receiving the COVID-19 vaccination and is heading to the Australian Open, which begins Jan. 17.

A victory there would not only be historic, but would effectively end the debate over the greatest men’s tennis player of all time.

  • His 20 major titles are tied with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for most ever.
  • The 34-year-old Djokovic has already won a record nine Australian Open titles, including the past three.
  • He’s the only player in the Open Era to win a career Grand Slam twice in addition to a non-calendar year Grand Slam.
  • He holds the record for the most weeks ranked No. 1 (354), 44 better than Federer.

The lone caveat: his 86 career single’s titles, which rank fifth — behind both Federer (103, 2nd) and Nadal (88, 4th).

Djokovic, however, tops the career ATP money list with $154.8 million and ranked 46th on Forbes’ 2021 list of highest-paid athletes ($34.5M).

The Serbian, who hasn’t revealed his vaccination status, last appeared in a tour event at the Davis Cup Finals in early December and is the odds-on favorite (+120*) in Melbourne.

As for the debate over the greatest tennis player of all-time — men’s or women’s — he’d still trail Serena Williams (23) by two majors even with a win.

Making Headlines

Brett Rojo & Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

NCAAF: Oklahoma QB Caleb Williams announced he was entering the transfer portal — but still considering a return to the Sooners, saying the only way he could “see who may offer the best preparation and development for my future career is by entering the portal”; hours later, UCF QB Dillon Gabriel announced he would transfer to Oklahoma instead of UCLA.

NFL: Browns QB Baker Mayfield will not play Sunday against the Bengals; he will undergo surgery to repair a torn left labrum in the offseason.

MLB: Outfielder Cameron Maybin — a World Series champion with the Astros in 2017 — announced his retirement after 15 seasons.

Today's Action

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