Sunday NFL Countdown host Chris Berman and analysts Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson and Keyshawn Johnson, will preview the NFL games on Sunday, Dec. 22, at 10 a.m. The program will include ESPN senior fantasy sports analyst Matthew Berry providing fantasy football updates and insight, and NFL insiders Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter reporting the day’s news from across the league.
Sunday NFL Countdown will also feature updates from reporters at six games, including:
· Sal Paolantonio (Saints at Panthers)
· Ed Werder (Cowboys at Redskins)
· Shelley Smith (Colts at Chiefs)
· Michele Steele (Patriots at Ravens)
· Bob Holtzman (Steelers at Packers)
· Josina Anderson (Bears at Eagles)
· Jermichael Finley Interview: After a week 3 concussion in Cincinnati from a knee to the head, Green Bay Packers’ tight end Jermichael Finley received a message from his son telling his dad he never wanted him to play football again. Four weeks later, a brutal collision vs. Cleveland sent Finley to intensive care with a severe neck injury. In an interview with Josina Anderson, Finley talks about his injuries, his attempt to return to the field and what he plans to tell his son when he does return to play football.
· Andrew Luck is Loud: Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew luck is arguably one of the loudest quarterbacks in professional football. Heading into Arrowhead Stadium, one of the loudest in the sport, ESPN.com’s Greg Garber turns to an opera singer, a carnival barker and an auctioneer to explain the art of piercing through the noise.
· Michael Thomas – Seizing the Moment: On December 9, Michael Thomas was on the 49ers practice squad. Six days later, he was the gameday hero for the Miami Dolphins’ hero – intercepting Tom Brady’s last-second touchdown pass. Jalaine Edwards tells the story of Thomas’ week as a Dolphin.
· Angry Ditka Claus: Countdown attempts to capture the disappointment and exhilaration of some youngsters with Hall of Famer Mike Ditka, starring as Santa Claus.
· Dez Bryant Soundtracks: Emotional Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant, wired for in-game audio during the tough home loss vs. the Packers last Sunday, is the subject of this week’s “Soundtracks.”
ESPN’s Monday Night Football: Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers Host Matt Ryan and the Falcons in the Final Regular-Season Game at Candlestick Park
Colin Kaepernick and the San Francisco 49ers host Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons on ESPN’s Monday Night Football on December 23 at 8:25 p.m. ET in the final regular-season game at Candlestick Park. Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden will provide game commentary from San Francisco and Lisa Salters will report from the sideline.
Monday’s matchup will be the 36th time Candlestick Park has hosted a MNF game, more than any other NFL stadium (Sun Life Stadium in South Florida is next with 32).
Home to the 49ers since 1971 and Major League Baseball’s Giants from 1960-1999, Candlestick Park was the site of the earthquake just before Game 3 of the 1989 World Series and the setting for “The Catch” from Joe Montana to Dwight Clark in the 1981 NFC Championship Game.
Special guests will be part of the MNF telecast and the Monday Night Countdown pre-game show in honor of the 53 years of sports memories at Candlestick Park.
In addition to the ESPN telecast, the game will be available on ESPN Deportes and via WatchESPN for fans with video subscriptions from an affiliated provider.
A witness to many unforgettable sports moments at Candlestick Park, Chris Berman returns to the stadium one last time to host Monday Night Countdown (6:30 p.m., ESPN) with analysts Keyshawn Johnson, Ray Lewis and Steve Young and the MNF team of Tirico, Gruden and Salters. Berman and the San Francisco-based crew will be joined by studio host Stuart Scott, analysts Cris Carter, Mike Ditka and Tom Jackson and insiders Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter, all of whom join the show from ESPN’s headquarters in Bristol, Conn. Berman discussed some of his Candlestick Park memories on an ESPN Front & Center podcast .
Monday Night Countdown highlights:
· Greatest Moments at Candlestick Park: Berman relives some of the greatest moments in Candlestick Park history including “The Catch” – Joe Montana-to-Dwight Clark touchdown pass in the 1981 NFC Championship game – and former 49ers quarterback Steve Young recreates his game-winning touchdown pass to wide receiver Terrell Owens in the 1998 NFC playoffs.
· Rick Reilly Feature: From the beginning, Candlestick Park was unlike any other stadium. In its 53 years, it hosted games for the Giants and 49ers, developing a legacy to match any pro sports venue. Reilly looks at the history of Candlestick Park and some of the best athletes in American sports who called it home – Willie Mays, Joe Montana, Jerry Rice and others.
· Soundtracks: From Joe Montana through Steve Young to Colin Kaepernick, Countdown relives Candlestick Park’s history with in-game audio of past and present 49ers quarterbacks in this week’s Soundtracks.
· Gruden’s Extra: Jon Gruden sits down with Eddie DeBartolo Jr., who owned the 49ers from 1977-2000, during which time the franchise won five Super Bowl titles.
NFL Matchup: Cowboys Run Defense; Julian Edelman on Third Downs; Eagles Tight End Screens; and More
NFL Matchup host Paolantonio and analysts Ron Jaworski and Merril Hoge will preview the weekend’s key matchups by taking viewers inside the film room with X’s and O’s analysis on Saturday, Dec. 21, at 8:30 a.m. on ESPN2 (re-air on ESPN, Sunday at 6:30 a.m.). Highlights:
· Factor Back – Andre Ellington Excels as a Receiver: The absence of Seattle Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright makes running back Andre Ellington a key factor in Arizona Cardinals’ passing offense. Hoge explains Ellington’s ability to make explosive plays, whether it’s coming out of the backfield or lining up in the slot.
· X and O Files – Tramon Williams’ Interception: Jaworski breaks down cornerback Tramon Williams’s game-saving interception and Green Bay’s cover-2 trap coverage that was well-executed against the Cowboys.
· The Film Room – Cowboys Run Defense: The Cowboys defense has struggled stopping the run. It is ranked 28th in the last two games giving up 299 rushing yards in that span. Leading up to their game at the Redskins, Jaworski goes to the film room and explains what the Cowboys must fix to stop the run this week.
· Inside the Matchup – Panthers Blitz vs. Drew Brees: The Carolina Panthers look to avenge a week 14 loss to the New Orleans Saints Hoge goes inside the matchup to show the Panthers success with the blitz and how to build on it at home versus the Saints.
· Hoge Breakdown – Jamaal Charles 39-yard Screen Touchdown: Hoge shows how the Chiefs’ offensive unit executes screen passes with running back Jamaal Charles and how the team’s downfield blocking makes it successful.
· Jaws Playbook – Eagles Unbalanced Offensive Line: What the Philadelphia Eagles have done so well this season is not only run the ball very well but their screen plays have been spectacular, contends Jaworski. He opens the playbook to show how the Eagles use unbalanced formations in their screen game.
· The Money Down – Julian Edelman Bunch on Third Down: Against the Ravens, quarterback Tom Brady will rely on wide receiver Julian Edelman, his favorite target on third downs. Hoge shows how the Patriots design their offense to put Edelman in favorable matchups for success on third downs.
· Between the Lines – Joe Flacco to Jacoby Jones: Jaworski goes between the lines and explains the Ravens downfield passing game, showing how they get receivers, such as Jacoby Jones, open with a combination of routes.
ESPN Radio: Indianapolis Colts at Kansas City Chiefs
ESPN Radio’s Sunday afternoon NFL games continue with quarterback Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts at the Kansas City Chiefs, led by all-purpose running back Jamaal Charles, on December 22 at 1 p.m. Ryan Ruocco will provide play-by-play with Bill Polian as analyst and Ian Fitzsimmons reporting from the sidelines.
Football Sunday on ESPN Radio continues December 22 with host Jonathan Coachman. Football Sunday on ESPN Radio can be heard on terrestrial ESPN Radio outlets, Sirius XM Channel ESPN 84, ESPNRadio.com, ESPN Radio app, Tune-in and Slacker as well as simulcast on ESPN2 from 1-1:30 p.m., ESPN3.com from1:30- 3 p.m., ESPN from 3-7 p.m. and ESPN2 from 7-7:30 p.m. For more information on Football Sunday on ESPN Radio, click here.
ESPN.com “Hot Read” on the Redemption of 25 Year-old Eagles Wide Receiver Riley Cooper
ESPN.com senior writer Elizabeth Merrill retraces the path to redemption for Philadelphia Eagles receiver Riley Cooper after he became a persona non grata across the league when a video showing him utter a racial slur at a concert during the off-season became public.
“In the NFL, 4½ months is a lifetime. Coaches are canonized and terminated over the course of 4½ months; players are exalted and forgotten. There is no entity more fluid and fickle, and that was evident in the Eagles locker room Sunday after Philadelphia’s loss to the Minnesota Vikings.” – writes Merrill.