Monday’s Sports in Brief

January 18, 2022 GMT

NFL PLAYOFFS

INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) — Matthew Stafford passed for 202 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another score in his first playoff victory, and the Los Angeles Rams roared out of the wild-card round with a 34-11 win over the Arizona Cardinals on Monday night.

Odell Beckham Jr. and Cooper Kupp made touchdown catches for the NFC West champion Rams (13-5), who will visit the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday for a spot in the NFC championship game. Los Angeles advanced in the postseason for the third time in the last four years under coach Sean McVay.

David Long also scored on a 3-yard interception return while the Rams’ defense harassed Kyler Murray into a calamitous playoff debut. Los Angeles jumped to a 28-0 lead and cruised in the first playoff game at SoFi Stadium, which will host Super Bowl 56 next month.

After an inconsistent finish to the regular season, the Rams’ constellation of big stars came together brilliantly on the postseason stage.

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PRO HOCKEY

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — Timo Meier set a San Jose franchise record with five goals on Monday, and the Sharks used a huge first period to beat the Los Angeles Kings 6-2.

Meier, a sixth-year winger who made his first All-Star team this season, had a hat trick before the first period even ended. He scored his fourth goal less than two minutes into the second period and broke the Sharks’ record with his fifth just 27 seconds before the second intermission.

Meier had a chance for his sixth goal midway through the third period when he took the puck down the left side with open ice ahead of him, but Kings defenseman Mikey Anderson knocked the puck away as Meier approached the net.

It was the first five-goal game in the NHL since the New York Rangers’ Mika Zibanejad on March 5, 2020, against Washington.

TRACK AND FIELD

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Richard “Rink” Babka, a former world record holder who was part of a U.S. medals sweep in the discus at the 1960 Rome Olympics, has died. He was 85.

Babka died Saturday of congestive heart failure in a hospital, according to the University of Southern California, which was informed by his partner, Sharon.

Al Oerter and Babka were gold-medal favorites at the Rome Games. Babka defeated Oerter at the U.S. trials and tied the world record of 196.55 feet (59.91 meters) a month before the Olympics.

At the Games, Oerter broke his own Olympic record in the second set of qualifying round throws at 191.69 feet (58.43 meters). Babka exceeded the old mark three times and American teammate Dick Cochran did so once in the final. But only Oerter was able to lower his mark again with a throw of 194.16 feet (59.18 meters) to earn the gold.

Babka took silver and Cochran earned bronze to complete a U.S. podium sweep.

SOCCER

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Robert Lewandowski was voted the best men’s player in the world on Monday, retaining the FIFA award he won last year despite being left off the ballot paper filed by runner-up Lionel Messi.

The Bayern Munich forward overturned the result last month of the Ballon d’Or prize where he placed second behind Messi, who finally led Argentina to a senior title at the 2021 Copa América. Mohamed Salah of Liverpool placed third.

Lewandowski was the overwhelming choice of national team captains and coaches plus selected media in more than 200 countries, yet was almost caught by Messi, who got more than double the number of votes from fans worldwide than the Poland captain.

All three candidates voted as captains of their national teams, and Lewandowski ranked Messi second of his three choices. Salah had Lewandowski and Messi in his top three.