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On The Fly: Panthers' Rivera, Family OK After Fire

On The Fly: Ron Rivera's family escapes house fire

Things have been going well on the field for the Carolina Panthers, who play the Seattle Seahawks on Saturday in an NFC division playoff game. But off the field, not so much. Quarterback Cam Newton got hurt in a car accident on Dec. 9, injuring his back and missing a game. On Monday morning, Panthers coach Ron Rivera and his family were awakened by smoke alarms and managed to escape what was termed a "significant" fire that damaged their home. No one was injured.

The NFL's head of officiating, Dean Blandino, said Monday that the disputed call in the Lions-Cowboys game was not even the right call by the official. Blandino told NBC's "Pro Football Talk Live" that Cowboys linebacker Anthony Hitchens should have been called for defensive holding, not pass interference, on Lions tight end Brandon Pettigrew, which would have given Detroit a first down. Hitchens was initially called for pass interference but then another official overruled the call and there was no penalty.

Just when you thought New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie couldn't make himself any more unlikable, you were wrong. He has managed to tick off more people with his fervent embrace of the Cowboys, a team despised by the Garden State's Giants' and Eagles' fans (as well as many others). Not that the Giants or Eagles have done anything to root for lately, but isn't it smart for a politician to root for one of his local teams? (In his defense, Christie does root for the Rangers, Knicks and Mets). I mean, imagine former Sen. Chris Dodd dressed in bright orange, singing "Rocky Top." You just can't, can you? Christie, who says he has been a Dallas fan since the Roger Staubach days, was hanging out with pal Jerry Jones again Sunday during the Cowboys' victory against the Lions and caught on video dancing and awkwardly hugging Jones. There was predictably plenty of Twitter snark afterward, including Trey Wingo's tweet: "I wonder if Chris Christie realizes those 16 electoral votes in Michigan are 16 he'll never see."

Two U.S. ski team prospects, Ronnie Berlack of Franconia, N.H., and Bryce Astle of Utah, died in an avalanche while training Monday in the Austrian Alps. Berlack, 20, was a graduate of the Burke Mountain Academy in Vermont. Six skiers from the team were caught in the avalanche, but only four made it out.

According to reports, Hartford native Eric Mangini was interviewed Monday by Oakland for its head coach job. Mangini, a tight ends coach for the 49ers, has a 33-47 record as coach with the Browns and the Jets. The Raiders, who went 3-13, have had eight head coaches since 2003.

In its first year in the Big 10, the Rutgers football team didn't fare as badly as many had expected. The Scarlet Knights went 8-5, beat North Carolina 40-21 to win the Quick Lane Bowl and on Monday won the Lambert Trophy for the first time as the top team in the East, beating out West Virginia, Penn State, Maryland, Boston College and Pitt for the honor.

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