Down judge Sarah Thomas, 45, first fe­male to work play­off game

Las Vegas Review-Journal - - NFL FROM THE COVER -

Sarah Thomas be­came the first woman to work an NFL play­off game as an on-field of­fi­cial.

Thomas was the down judge in Sun­day’s AFC di­vi­sional round game be­tween the New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots and Los An­ge­les Charg­ers in Foxbor­ough, Mas­sachusetts.

Thomas, a 45-year-old mar­ried mother of three, was hired in 2015 and was al­ready the league’s first fe­male full-time of­fi­cial.

Terri Valenti was the re­play of­fi­cial in Satur­day’s play­off game be­tween the In­di­anapo­lis Colts and Kansas City Chiefs in Kansas City, Mis­souri, also a first.

Player’s daugh­ter re­mem­bered: The daugh­ter of Charg­ers de­fen­sive line­man Bran­don Mebane was re­mem­bered be­fore Los An­ge­les’ play­off game against New Eng­land.

The Pa­tri­ots asked fans to stand and ob­serve a mo­ment of si­lence for Makenna Mebane, who died Jan. 3 at the age of 7 weeks. She was born with a rare ge­netic con­di­tion known as Tri­somy 13 that causes de­lays in devel­op­ment and af­fects sev­eral or­gans.

Bran­don Mebane had missed five of the past seven games, in­clud­ing last week’s wild-card win at Bal­ti­more, to be with his fam­ily. He played in Sun­day’s game, reg­is­ter­ing six tack­les, five of them solo.

Good Samar­i­tan re­warded: Chiefs of­fen­sive line­man Jeff Allen thanked the man who helped pull his ve­hi­cle out of the snow with tick­ets to next week’s AFC Cham­pi­onship game.

Allen said he got stuck on the way to

Ar­row­head Sta­dium on Satur­day be­cause of the snow, but he made it in time for the Chiefs’ vic­tory over the Colts be­cause of the Good Samar­i­tan.

The man who helped Allen didn’t know he was a Chiefs player at the time.

Allen turned to Twit­ter to track down the man who helped him be­cause he lost his phone num­ber, but within a few hours they con­nected on Sun­day morn­ing.

No in­ter­lop­ers: For the first time since 2015 — Den­ver, New Eng­land, Carolina and Ari­zona — the top two seeds in both con­fer­ences ad­vanced to the AFC/NFC ti­tle games.

In­jury re­port: Of the four teams ad­vanc­ing to the two con­fer­ence ti­tle games, the New Or­leans Saints re­ported the most sig­nif­i­cant in­jury, with de­fen­sive tackle Shel­don Rank­ing go­ing down mid­way in the first half of an

NFC di­vi­sional round vic­tory Sun­day against Philadel­phia, un­able to put any weight on his left foot. Rank­ins, a 2016 first-round draft choice, en­tered the game sec­ond on the Saints with eight sacks.

Mean­while, Pa­tri­ots guard Shaq Ma­son left Sun­day’s AFC win over the Charg­ers in the fourth quar­ter with an undis­closed in­jury.

Nei­ther the Chiefs nor the Rams, win­ners in Satur­day’s AFC and NFC games, re­spec­tively, re­ported no­table in­juries.

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