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    With her 1,000th victory in the books, Barbara Stevens gave a predictable answer when asked what's next.'The next one. Southern Connecticut (Saturday). That's where our focus is and that's where our preparation will be tomorrow,' Stevens said after Division II Bentley beat Adelphi 78-66 Wednesday night for her 1,000th win.Stevens (1,000-275) joined North Carolina's Sylvia Hatchell and Connecticut's Geno Auriemma as coaches reaching the milestone this season — both Hatchell and Auriemma getting there on the same night earlier in the year. Tara VanDerveer got there last February.Pat Summitt is the other women's coach to get there, while two coaches on the men's side — Mike Krzyzewski and Herb Magee — have also won 1,000.'When people mention those peoples' names, those coaches' names, along with my name, it doesn't register with me, honestly,' Stevens, 63, said. 'I don't know, maybe when I have a minute, somewhere down the road, to reflect, maybe I'll think about it and I'll say, 'That was kinda cool.''Right now, we're kind of a one game at a time — we have the (Bill) Belichick thing going on here. But honestly . I so enjoy coaching them. It's kind of just on to the next one.'With 17.5 seconds left in the game, the packed student section began a 'Bar-bara Ste-vens chant.'When the final buzzer sounded, one of the Bentley players dumped a Gatorade bucket — filled with paper — on the coach, and Stevens received a hug from Adelphi coach Missy Travesi.Monica Viapiano, one of five Falcons in double figures in the win, was in charge of the bucket, saying she knew it had to contain paper because the men's game followed the special event. The once-crowded gym was mostly empty for the men's game, also against Adelphi.Stevens said she wasn't worried about liquid in the bucket 'because they know better.'Stevens was presented with a bouquet of flowers and posed with her team for pictures at center court. All fans in attendance received a 'Stevens 1000' t-shirt. Later, she posed for a huge group picture, which included her mother, Betty.In typical Stevens fashion, she said, 'I have tried to avoid this whole situation like the plague — if I heard anybody talking about it I just walked the other way. I knew that this milestone was approaching and you can't avoid it, but at the same time I didn't want anything to distract me. I wanted to prepare my team to the best of its ability.'I didn't want the spotlight or the focus to be on anything else but them.'The Falcons (17-1) had to defeat a nemesis to get Stevens to her milestone on the first try, as Adelphi (9-10) coming in with four straight wins over Bentley.Stevens called timeout with her team down 22-13 and the Falcons responded by outscoring the Panthers 27-9, closing the first half on a 14-0 run to establish control.Up by nine at the half, the Falcons saw a 12-point lead shaved to five but then finished the third quarter on a 9-1 run to lead by 13 after three.The lead was 14 before Adelphi ran off seven straight points to cut its deficit in half with 3:39 remaining. The Panthers would get no closer as the Falcons went on a 10-0 run to put the game away.Stevens also coached at Clark and Massachusetts, totaling eight years between the two before taking over at Bentley for the 1986-87 season. Her first team went 24-5 and the winning has not stopped.The only coach to be named WBCA Division II National Coach of the Year five times, notched her first win Dec. 1, 1977. No. 100 came in the MAIAW Championships in 1982; No. 200 was recorded Feb. 6, 1988; No. 300 came March 1, 1991; 400 was Jan. 21, 1995; 500 came Nov. 20, 1998; 600 was Jan. 26, 2003; 700 came Jan. 5, 2006, 800 was earned Dec. 9, 2010; and 900 Jan. 25, 2014.She has had 12 30-win seasons, Bentley won the Division II national title in 2014 (with a 35-0 record) and was inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006.
  • Not being in the limelight has never bothered Kyle Van Noy.He didn't start a NFL game until his third season when he was with the Detroit Lions, and even then was thought of as a role player.So now being considered one of the leaders on a Patriots defense that is on the cusp of making a return trip to the Super Bowl seems somewhat out of place for the fourth-year linebacker as he heads into Sunday's AFC championship game against Jacksonville.'I've been in so many situations since I've been here,' Van Noy said of the increased role he's had in New England.'I mean going deep in the playoffs last year and then playing all of the games this year. ... Each and every game there's different situations, different scenarios that come up. So I would say that my awareness has gone up a lot since I've been here.'The same could be said about his value.When linebacker Dont'a Hightower went down with a season-ending torn pectoral muscle in the Patriots' win over the Falcons in Week 7, it left a void in the side of a defense that entered 2017 young and inexperienced up front.New England had already given up 30 or more points three times to that point and was ranked 23rd in the NFL in scoring defense, allowing 23.7 points per game.Van Noy began the season starting at outside linebacker alongside Elandon Roberts in the middle and Hightower at the other outside spot.But when Hightower went down, the coaching staff asked Van Noy to handle multiple roles, playing both on the edge and middle of the field at times.Safety and defensive captain Devin McCourty said that the 26-year-old showed glimpses of that versatility even last season.It's why it wasn't strange for him to see Van Noy tackle the responsibility of receiving the defensive play call from the sideline, another role that he's inherited with Hightower out.He flourished in them all, and over the final nine weeks of the season New England got stingier on defense.By the end of the season it was allowing just 18.5 points per game — the fifth-best mark in the league.Van Noy missed three of the final four games with a calf injury, but still finished the regular season third on the team with 73 tackles and second with 5½ sacks. Van Noy's sack total was just a half-sack short of Hightower's career-high of six in 2014.'It helps our defense out a lot, and he's one of a lot of guys on our defense that have been able to play different positions that allow us to do different things defensively,' McCourty said. 'He's been a leader, he's run the huddle kind of since he's been in there.'Coach Bill Belichick said continuity and execution has improved all over the defense, with lots of contributions from Van Noy and others such as Trey Flowers, Marquis Flowers, Adam Butler, Deatrich Wise Jr. and Ricky Jean Francois.'Some of the guys that are playing now weren't playing. If we had had this conversation in the middle of the season, you wouldn't be asking about them,' Belichick said.'They've stepped into different roles and they've worked together more, gotten a better feel for each other, execution's better, so it's good.'Van Noy said any success he's had is simply a product of his environment.'There are a lot of superstar defensive players that aren't even talked about,' he said. 'When I was with the Detroit Lions there was a guy named DeAndre Levy who never made a Pro Bowl, but who everybody knew, if you played football, who he was. There are situations like that all the time. And there's teams that have really good defenses that aren't talked about. We're one of them.'NOTES: The Patriots placed defensive back and special teamer Jonathan Jones on injured reserve. They also announced the signing of receiver Bernard Reedy. Reedy was a member of the Patriots' practice squad.___For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_NFL___Follow Kyle Hightower at http://www.twitter.com/khightower
  • Trevor Ariza said nothing happened. The NBA strongly disagreed. Ariza and Gerald Green will both be suspended for Houston's next two games, with the NBA coming down hard on both players Wednesday for what the league said was their 'hostile, verbal altercation' in the Los Angeles Clippers' locker room earlier this week. No other players were disciplined, including Rockets guards James Harden and Chris Paul — both of whom left the Houston locker room with hopes of defusing the situation, the league said. 'You guys had a lot of different stories about what happened, none of them which were true,' Ariza said Wednesday in Houston, before the league announced the suspensions. 'Everybody's entitled to their own opinion. The people that were there know exactly what happened and know exactly what did not happen.' So what happened? 'Nothing happened,' Ariza said. 'That's what happened. Nothing.' Later, though, he conceded 'obviously, that's not all that happened.' Whatever it was that actually happened, however, remains a mystery of sorts. The final minutes of the game — which was Paul's first time facing the Clippers in Los Angeles as an opponent since the trade that sent him to Houston over the summer — were marred by some on-court feistiness, including the Clippers' Blake Griffin appearing to exchange words with Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni. Griffin and Ariza were also ejected with 1:03 remaining from a game that had five technical fouls, and then the postgame incident. 'It's over,' Paul said. 'It's in the past. We're moving on.' Ariza and Green will miss games against two of the best teams in the Western Conference — Minnesota on Thursday and Golden State on Saturday. Ariza has started all 40 of his appearances with Houston this season, and Green has played in 10 games with the team as a reserve. The Clippers were playing Denver on Wednesday night, and at the team's gameday shootaround practice players said they were thinking only about the Nuggets. Clippers coach Doc Rivers was expected to address the end of the NBA probe in his pregame media availablity. 'I ain't worried about it,' Clippers guard Tyrone Wallace said. 'That's not for me to worry about. I just focus on the game. We've got Denver, so that's what I'm focused on. Everything else will take care of itself.' The league said the investigation included more than 20 interviews with executives, staff, coaches and players from both teams, as well as arena personnel. ___ Associated Press writers Joshua Koch in Houston and Jill Painter Lopez in Los Angeles contributed to this report. ___ More AP basketball: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball
  • Maria Sharapova ticked off more items on her 'to do' list at the Australian Open, returning to center court and accounting for the only person who has beaten her at a Grand Slam since her comeback from a doping ban.Sharapova advanced to the third round with a 6-1, 7-6 (4) win over No. 14-seeded Anastasija Sevastova as the temperature began to rise at Melbourne Park.With a forecast high of 39 Celsius (102 Fahrenheit), Sharapova appeared to be in a hurry to get off the Rod Laver Arena court ASAP and won the first set in 23 minutes.The five-time major winner was broken while serving or the match, but recovered quickly in the subsequent tiebreaker to advance in the tournament.Ninth-seeded Johanna Konta was more exposed to the heat on an outside court, and lost to U.S. lucky loser Bernarda Pera 6-4, 7-5.No. 123-ranked Pera is making her Grand Slam debut and, after losing in the last round of qualifying, didn't even know she had a spot in the main draw until Monday when Russia's Margarita Gasparyan withdrew with an injury.Konta saved three match points in the ninth game of the second set, then broke Pera to level at 5-all.But Pera clinched it on her fifth match point when Konta, a semifinalist here in 2016, shanked an overhead at the net.Sharapova is playing at Melbourne Park for the first time since serving a 15-month doping ban for testing positive for meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open. She lost to Sevastova in the fourth round at the U.S. Open last September in her return to Grand Slam tennis.The 30-year-old Russian is one of just two Australian Open winners in the women's draw. They could meet in the third round if Angelique Kerber, the 2016 champion, beats Donna Vekic on Thursday.
  • The path for Stefon Diggs to last-play touchdown fame and sudden Minnesota savior didn't start with such brilliance.Diggs has only arrived at this stage of his life and his career, a Vikings standout on the verge of a Super Bowl, with an unrelenting diligence and a dose of humility.For all the natural talent of a consensus five-star recruit coming out of high school, he's sure had to work hard to get here.'He's my guy. I love him to death. I appreciate all he does for this team, and I appreciate all he's done for me,' fellow wide receiver Adam Thielen said. 'He's pushed me harder than anybody has pushed me in my life.'Remember those first three regular-season games in the NFL? Not really. He was a healthy scratch on the sideline.That's a long way from the 61-yard catch-turn-run sequence that Diggs produced as time expired on Sunday that sent the Vikings to the NFC championship game with a 29-24 victory over New Orleans .'He continually has gotten better over the past three years,' tight end Kyle Rudolph said.'It's awesome to see guys like that who work so hard have an opportunity in such a big moment and for them to make the most of it.'Treating each practice as if it's a game is a common response from teammates asked about Diggs and his work ethic. Thielen and Diggs are widely considered to be two of the sharpest and savviest route runners in the league.'He wants to win. Whether he's getting the ball or he's not getting ball, blocking or not, whatever he's doing, he wants to win,' Vikings cornerback Mackensie Alexander said, adding: 'The thing I love about Diggs is he doesn't let the game be bigger than him. He just kind of goes in the game, and it's just another game. That allows you to play well.'Setbacks became a recurring theme for Diggs, who chose to stay in his home state and play for Maryland so his family could watch him more often despite offers from powerhouse programs such as Auburn, Florida and USC.With the Terrapins, though, he caught passes from four different quarterbacks over three seasons, with more than one starter used each year.Injuries each season kept him from playing a full schedule, including a broken leg as a sophomore and a lacerated kidney as a junior.When he declared for the draft a year early, there were also questions from NFL teams about his attitude and compliance.After high stepping and somersaulting into the end zone in one game in 2013, coach Randy Edsall pulled him aside for a mild admonishment to remind him about the importance of reputation.With substandard 6-foot height also a factor, Diggs fell to the fifth round for the Vikings to find one of the true steals of that 2015 draft. He made an immediate impact in his debut at Denver, with six receptions for 87 yards. Four games in, he had 419 yards and two touchdowns.'When I was going into the combine and stuff like that, I had 100 percent confidence in myself,' Diggs said on Wednesday, as the Vikings reconvened for practice in preparation for their game Sunday at Philadelphia.'I had a lot of support along the way. I had some great coaches and some great teammates that pushed me in the right direction. I'll never take all the credit.'His production waned down the stretch of his rookie season, with quarterback Teddy Bridgewater still developing on the job.In Sam Bradford's first game for Minnesota in 2016, the lid-lifter at U.S. Bank Stadium against rival Green Bay, Diggs hauled in 13 catches for 182 yards and a score in front of a prime time Sunday night audience.But a groin injury cost him one game and some momentum. Then he hurt his knee and missed another game.His first two games at home in 2017 were showstoppers, with two touchdowns apiece, but that groin injury popped up again at Chicago and kept him out for the next two weeks. Thielen, meanwhile, surpassed him as Case Keenum's favorite target.There was Diggs in the huddle on Sunday, though, with 10 seconds left listening to Keenum tell the receivers he was going to give somebody a shot.'It meant so much to me to see my quarterback believe in me the last play of the game,' said Diggs, who began crying hard enough to cut short and turn away from one of his on-field TV interviews after the winning touchdown.His younger brother, Trevon Diggs, happened to be in the stadium that evening for his first live NFL game. He's a cornerback and punt returner for Alabama who just won a national championship. Their father, Aron Diggs, died 10 years ago of heart failure .'He started me in football. He played a huge part in what's going on now. That's the biggest thing. Kind of try and thank him prior to the game, him and God,' Diggs said, 'and try and keep that thing going.'___For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_NFL
  • Charlie Reiter is skipping classes at Palm Desert High to play in the CareerBuilder Challenge. He's still getting schooled, too, by the likes of Jon Rahm.The 18-year-old Reiter, the first amateur to receive a sponsor exemption in tournament history, recently hooked up with Rahm at nearby Big Horn.'It was definitely eye-opening,' Reiter said. 'We played like 12 holes together and I think he had, maybe, a one-putt almost every single hole. He made like six straight birdies. It just showed me how good you have to be in certain areas of your game to be on the tour and be a top-level golfer.'Rahm, at No. 3 in the world, is the top-ranked player in the event that starts Thursday. He chuckled recalling Reiter's power off the tee.'He hits it far and, when I say far, I mean really far, like he can easily get it past me,' Rahm said.Rahm was second two weeks ago at Kapalua in his first start since winning the European Tour's season-ending event in Dubai in November. The 23-year-old Spaniard is the defending champion next week at Torrey Pines, and also won last year in Ireland.'Really, really feeling good,' Rahm said. 'I feel like those five weeks off after Dubai not doing much was really good for my body. Trying to take things real easy, obviously, make sure I'm rested for the year.'Paired with Bubba Watson the first three days, Rahm will open at La Quinta Country Club, then move over to PGA West for rounds Friday on the Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course and Saturday on the Stadium Course. The final round will be played at the Pete Dye-designed Stadium layout.'All three are outstanding courses and in amazing shape,' Rahm said.The former Arizona State player tied for 34th last year in his first appearance in the event.'Everything was still kind of new to me. I did feel like a rookie, trying to learn as it went,' Rahm said. 'Right now, after a year and after what I've done I just feel a lot more comfortable. I feel like I have what I didn't have then, which is a developed routine of what to do each week.'Reiter also will open at La Quinta in his first start in a PGA Tour event. The University of Southern California recruit tied for 65th in the Australian Open in November in his first start in a pro tournament.'I'm very excited,' Reiter said. 'I've been coming here watching this tournament since I can remember, me and my dad, and now getting the chance to play out here is definitely a dream come true.'Dave Stockton Jr. is working as Reiter's caddie this week.'He's been my putting coach since I was 10,' said Reiter, paired with former Stanford player Maverick McNealy.Tournament ambassador Phil Mickelson is making his first start since late October. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer won the event in 2002 and 2004. He's winless since the 2013 British Open.Recent champions Patrick Reed, Jason Dufner and Bill Haas also are in the field along with Patton Kizzire, the lone two-time winner this season after taking the Sony Open in Hawaii on Sunday in a playoff.Reed won in 2014, shooting 63-63-63-71 to break the PGA Tour record for relation to par for the first 54 holes at 27 under and become the first player in tour history to open with three rounds of 63 or better. Haas won in 2010 and 2015, and Dufner took the 2016 title.Hudson Swafford won last year for his first PGA Tour victory.'It just kind of solidified to myself that I know I can win,' Swafford said.Adam Hadwin was second a year ago after shooting a third-round 59 at La Quinta. Two months later, the Canadian won the Valspar Championship in Florida for his first tour title.'It's always nice to start the year making a bunch of birdies and getting the confidence going, especially before heading for Torrey,' Hadwin said. 'I feel very comfortable here, very at home, lots of Canadians.'DIVOTS: Mark Brooks is making his 803rd career start, believed to be most in PGA Tour history. The 56-year-old Brooks won the 1996 event. ... John Daly and Mike Weir also received sponsor exemption. The two major champions are paired together.
  • Rockets guard James Harden returned to practice on Wednesday for the first time since he was injured Dec. 31 against the Los Angeles Lakers.Harden, who is coming back from a strained left hamstring, stepped onto the court, nailed a couple of corner 3-pointers and got quickly into the flow of warmups.'It just feels good to be back out here around your teammates and that good energy and just hooping again,' Harden said. 'Two and a half weeks felt like a very long time. I look back at it and just say it was something I needed mentally, physically and to just get my mind right. Obviously, my body is well. Hopefully I won't have to go through that again.'Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni walked up to Harden and put his arm around his shoulder and shared a laugh after a couple of shots.D'Antoni couldn't confirm if Harden would play on Thursday against the Minnesota Timberwolves but said it would be probable if everything goes well in practice and based also on how Harden feels when he wakes up on Thursday.'I think he'll be good. I think he'll be a little rusty and probably be on a minutes restriction around 24 or 25, I'm thinking,' D'Antoni said about when Harden does return. 'I haven't gotten the instructions yet. But that's a normal case. A lot of it depends on him and how he feels, his wind and all of that. He's James Harden, he's going to play well and he's going to be impactful.'Prior to Wednesday's practice, Harden said he is 'as good as it can get' when asked if he was 100 percent.'We'll see how today goes,' he said. 'First time practicing. We'll just take it for what it is, try to work, try to go through practice without any pain or any discomfort. We'll see how tomorrow goes.'The Rockets have gone 4-3 without Harden, who is averaging 32.3 points per game this season.'What's exciting now is that James is coming back,' Rockets guard Trevor Ariza said. 'He's been out for a long time. I know he's been itching to get back on the court and we're excited to have him back.'While Harden was out, the five-time All-Star, was able see the game from a different perspective.'Just to sit back and be a spectator of the game,' Harden said. 'I'm always in the game. I'm always playing and in the grind. These 2 1/2 weeks made me sit back and realize never take that for granted. Just kind of look back as a fan perspective watching the games on TV and just embracing the challenge.
  • Television viewership for the NFL's divisional round playoff games was down 16 percent compared to last year, offering ammunition to critics of the football league, but there are a couple of compelling explanations.The weekend's four games averaged 30.43 million viewers, off from 36.22 million the year before, the Nielsen company said. The NFL has received some blowback from President Donald Trump and his supporters for protests involving the National Anthem, with some suggesting that had something to do with the audience being smaller for games this season.Last year had a blockbuster game between two rivals with national followings, Green Bay and Dallas, which reached more than 48 million viewers. Nothing came close this year, with the most-watched game, involving the furious finish between Minnesota and New Orleans, reaching 35.64 million people.Two of last year's games were also in prime-time, which naturally boosts the audience. This year only one of the games — Tennessee at New England — was in prime-time, and that was non-competitive.CBS easily won the week in prime time, averaging 10.7 million viewers. Fox had 6.7 million, NBC had 4.6 million, ABC had 4.3 million, Univision had 1.5 million, ION Television had 1.2 million, Telemundo had 1.1 million and the CW had 1 million.ESPN was the week's most popular cable network, averaging 4.52 million viewers in prime-time. Fox News Channel had 2.15 million, MSNBC had 1.93 million, HGTV had 1.48 million and USA had 1.3 million.ABC's 'World News Tonight' topped the evening newscasts with an average of 9.9 million viewers. NBC's 'Nightly News' had 9.7 million and the 'CBS Evening News' had 7.3 million.For the week of Jan. 8-14, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: College Football Championship: Alabama vs. Georgia, ESPN, 27.7 million; NFL Playoff: Tennessee at New England, CBS, 26.69 million; 'NFL Playoff Post-Game,' Fox, 23.44 million; 'The Big Bang Theory,' CBS, 15.93 million; 'College Football Championship Pre-Game,' ESPN, 15.66 million; 'NCIS,' CBS, 14.24 million; 'Young Sheldon,' CBS, 14.17 million; 'College Football Championship Post-Game,' ESPN, 13.59 million; 'Bull,' CBS, 10.5 million; 'Blue Bloods,' CBS, 10.17 million.___ABC and ESPN are owned by The Walt Disney Co. CBS is owned by CBS Corp. CW is a joint venture of Warner Bros. Entertainment and CBS Corp. Fox is owned by 21st Century Fox. NBC and Telemundo are owned by Comcast Corp. ION Television is owned by ION Media Networks.___Online:http://www.nielsen.com
  • Nick Foles threw a deep pass into the wind on the first play from scrimmage against the Falcons, LeGarrette Blount scored the only touchdown on fourth down and wide receiver Nelson Agholor ran 21 yards on a new play.The Philadelphia Eagles (14-3) are aggressive no matter what.They'll need that approach when they face the Minnesota Vikings (14-3) and their top-ranked defense in the NFC championship game on Sunday.'You'd probably call me unorthodox with some of the decisions I've made on fourth downs and going for it, 2-point conversions, things like that,' Eagles coach Doug Pederson said Wednesday.'Sometimes you just don't do the norm, you just don't do what everybody expects you to do and sometimes that can help you. I'm calculated by it, but at the same time, I'm going to make sure that I'm putting our guys in a good position.'Foles underthrew the long pass to Torrey Smith to start the divisional playoff game, but a pass interference call gave the Eagles a 42-yard gain to the Falcons 25.Jay Ajayi fumbled on the next play or perhaps the game wouldn't have come down to a defensive stand at the end to preserve Philadelphia's 15-10 win.'Take a shot,' Pederson said explaining his decision to throw long into a stiff wind.On the touchdown drive early in the second quarter, Philadelphia faced third-and-3 from the Falcons 24. Foles faked a pitch to running back Corey Clement and handed off to Agholor on an inside counter with Pro Bowl right tackle Lane Johnson pulling out and leading the way. Agholor took it to the Falcons 3. It was the first time Pederson called the play this season.'Coach has just had a knack of seemingly calling those at the right time,' offensive coordinator Frank Reich said.'It comes up different every week. We really work well as a staff together in game planning. Sometimes we think we like something and we go out on the practice field and it doesn't quite look like it's ready. So, we have to keep it in the crock pot for another week or start over with a new recipe.'Three plays later, tight end Trey Burton lined up at fullback and Blount followed his block into the end zone for a 1-yard TD run. Pederson didn't think twice about going for it instead of kicking a game-tying field goal.'The ball was just inside the 1-yard line, and we had confidence to go for it in that situation,' Pederson said. 'We were real close and the guys did a great job.'During the regular season, only Green Bay (28) went for it on fourth down more than Philadelphia (26). The Eagles converted 17 times for 65.4 percent, third-best behind New Orleans (80 percent on 12 for 15) and Jacksonville (76.9 percent on 10 for 13). Minnesota is 1 for 7 on fourth down, fewest attempts in the league.'You always want to be aggressive,' Foles said. 'I love Coach's calls.'___AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL___Follow Rob Maaddi on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AP_RobMaaddi
  • Yannick Ngakoue has a knack for the strip-sack, an innate ability to knock balls out of the hands of quarterbacks.The Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end has 11 forced fumbles in two seasons, including a momentum-turning one in a victory at Pittsburgh last week. Ngakoue led the NFL with six forced fumbles during the regular season to go along with 12 sacks, and could pose significant problems for the New England Patriots (14-3) in the AFC championship game Sunday.If so, he might even get the recognition he feels he deserves.A third-round draft pick from Maryland in 2016, Ngakoue has been somewhat overshadowed with the Jaguars (12-6). Those perceived slights keep him motivated and define him like no one else in Jacksonville's locker room.'Those scouts who passed me up and didn't think I was good enough probably feel stupid right now,' Ngakoue said Wednesday.The Jaguars feel fortunate to have him.Although cornerback Jalen Ramsey , defensive end Calais Campbell and linebacker Telvin Smith have garnered more accolades than Ngakoue, it would be easy to argue that the pass-rushing specialist is as important to one of the league's top defenses as anyone.Ngakoue has been involved in five of the eight touchdowns scored by Jacksonville's defense this season. Four of his strip-sacks went for touchdowns, and he recovered a fumble in Week 17 at Tennessee that he returned 67 yards for a score.Overlooked? Not by his coaches and teammates.'I tell him all the time, 'When you start getting it like you're going to get very soon, just make sure you stay focused cause that is a motivating factor and it should be,'' Campbell said. 'Everybody wants to get your accolade and get your respect for how hard you work, but at the end of the day, his biggest motivation is providing for his family and his mother and really just trying to be the best.'He wants to hopefully have a gold jacket one day. He has the potential to do so, too.'Ngakoue has 20 career sacks, the most by anyone in franchise history during a two-year span.But his reputation around the league seems to be more as a hot-headed player than a can't-block edge rusher.That was evident in the wild-card game against Buffalo, when Bills guard Richie Incognito seemingly targeted Ngakoue with trash talk that the defensive end said went over the line and became 'weak racist slurs.'He is a very emotional player,' Jaguars coach Doug Marrone said. 'I think people can feed off of that. He has had a very good year. He is still the same type of guy that plays with a chip on his shoulder. I think we all know that when we see him. He plays extremely hard. He goes 100 mph every single play.'Ngakoue's approach wasn't ideal as rookie. He often missed tackles and ran past the ball in an attempt to get to quarterbacks. But he's been more sound in his second season, although his 30 tackles is what probably kept him getting more Pro Bowl attention. He was a third alternate, which left him feeling snubbed.'I want to be the best at my position, period,' Ngakoue said. 'When you talk about guys like Von Miller, you talk about guys like Khalil Mack, you've got to put my name in there.'I don't feel like (I get enough credit). When you talk about our defense, when you talk about edge rushers, I should be one of the guys being talked about. There's not too many guys who get the ball out and get strip-sacks. Why am I not being talked about with the other guys?'Another big game on the AFC's biggest stage could change that.'I want to wake guys up and for people to see,' he said.___For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_NFL