“Welcome to a one-of-a-kind scene at Arrowhead.” – Mike Tirico
“We have to remember, this kid is 23 years old. He’s playing like a 15-year veteran in his first year.” – Tony Dungy on Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes
“I love Baker Mayfield and I love Saquon Barkley, but he should be the Offensive Rookie of the Year.” – Rodney Harrison on Colts G Quenton Nelson
“I was fired in Tampa for not winning enough playoff games. Andy’s not going to get fired, but he knows this is a big, big game for him.” – Dungy on Chiefs head coach Andy Reid
“This is the toughest Colts team I’ve seen in the last 25 years.” – Harrison
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Jan. 12, 2019 – Mike Tirico hosted a special 90-minute ‘snow globe’ edition of Football Night in America today from Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., for the AFC Divisional playoff game between the sixth-seeded Indianapolis Colts and top-seeded Kansas City Chiefs.
Tirico was joined live on-site from Kansas City by co-host Liam McHugh, analysts Tony Dungy, Rodney Harrison, and Chris Simms, NFL Insider Mike Florio, and the Sunday Night Football team of Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth and Michele Tafoya. The team began the show at a set outside the stadium, capturing the famous Kansas City pre-game excitement and tailgating, before moving inside.
There was heavy snowfall throughout the entire 90-minute program. “Welcome to a one-of-a-kind scene at Arrowhead,” said Tirico while welcoming viewers to the show. “This great tailgating scene is enhanced by the biggest snowstorm Kansas City has seen in five years.”
The show also included a taped piece with Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes and NBC Sports’ Peter King, an interview between Dungy and Colts head coach Frank Reich, and reports from each team’s locker room.
In a taped piece, Terry Crews – the acclaimed Brooklyn Nine-Nine actor, new America’s Got Talent: The Champions host, and former NFL player – utilized his trademark pec-pumping passion to whip America into a frenzy leading up to the highly-anticipated matchup.
Paul Burmeister reported from Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on the Cowboys-Rams game.
NBC Sports also paid tribute to J.D. Gibbs, the son of Pro Football Hall of Fame head coach and NASCAR team owner Joe Gibbs, who passed away yesterday. J.D. was the co-founder of Joe Gibbs Racing, which has won four NASCAR championships.
Following are Notes & Quotes from the AFC Divisional edition of Football Night in America:
ON WEATHER CONDITIONS
Dungy: “I grew up under Bud Grant in Minnesota, the best cold-weather, bad-weather coach ever. He said cold weather football is all mental. This favors the team that’s mentally the toughest.”
Harrison: “I look at the Chiefs and this may not be a bad thing. (It will) force Andy Reid to run the football, something that he doesn’t want to do, and take the pressure off of young Patrick Mahomes. For the Colts, they want to win the game in the trenches with their great offensive line and run the football.”
Dungy on quarterback play: “We’ve got two great quarterbacks going today. And everybody’s going to say, ‘Oh, the snow, you can’t throw.’ Totally not true. I think the quarterbacks will have an advantage. The pass-rushers don’t have the traction to rush. I think you’re going to see big numbers by both of these quarterbacks.”
Simms: “I think size is better than speed…The pass rushers are going to have issues. Advantage: Colts O-Line.”
Dungy on offenses in bad weather: “I was an assistant coach here on a bad weather day in December. We thought we had it all set up. Warren Moon came in here and threw for 505 yards on us. Offenses have the advantage in bad weather.”
Dungy on Colts G Quenton Nelson: “You don’t see NFL defenders getting knocked down and on their back. And that’s what this guy has been doing – that bully mentality.”
Harrison on Nelson: “I love Baker Mayfield and I love Saquon Barkley, but he should be the Offensive Rookie of the Year.”
Harrison on the toughness of the Colts: “This is the toughest Colts team I’ve seen in the last 25 years. They can play any style.”
Harrison on going for it on fourth-and-four in OT in Week 4 loss to Texans: “I felt like Frank Reich was trying to establish a culture and send a message to his team that he’s going to be aggressive.”
Harrison on the Colts’ approach today: “Don’t get into a shoot-out with these guys. Run the football, make it a dirty game, make it a slow game, and keep their offense on the sideline.”
Dungy on Andy Reid feeling pressure in the playoffs: “He absolutely does feel it. He is thinking about it. He’s told the team, ‘Don’t worry about it. It’s not us.’ But I promise you, it’s on your mind. You can’t get away from it. I was fired in Tampa for not winning enough playoff games. Andy’s not going to get fired, but he knows this is a big, big game for him.”
Harrison on Andy Reid: “When I look at Andy Reid, I had a chance to play against him in the Super Bowl, and the one thing I know about Andy Reid is, when things get tight, he wants to revert back to what makes him comfortable, and that’s passing the ball. He passed the ball 51 times in the Super Bowl, but hopefully this weather changes his mentality and forces him to run the football.”
Dungy on Mahomes’ maturity: “We have to remember, this kid is 23 years old. He’s playing like a 15-year veteran in his first year. He knows the game of football. He’s processing all of this offense that Andy Reid has given him, and he’s playing great situational football. I just love his poise and maturity.”
Harrison on Mahomes: “He’s unfazed when he makes a mistake. It doesn’t matter. A lot of veteran quarterbacks, you see them lose their confidence when they make a mistake. Not this kid. He is special.”
Harrison on Chiefs DL Chris Jones: “He’s their best (defensive) player…This game is going to come down to how effective that pass rush is against Andrew Luck.”
Harrison: “I love these linebackers of the Dallas Cowboys. They play well in space from sideline to sideline, and they have a secondary that can match up with all these weapons.”
Dungy: “Which one of those running backs is going to get going – Todd Gurley or Ezekiel Elliott? I think that’s going to determine the game.”
Dungy: “That dome gets rocking. Sean Payton is going to come out offensively with quick rhythm, quick tempo, try to bury them early. But Philadelphia has to withstand that opening salvo. And I really believe, if they’re in the game after 10 minutes, watch out for the Eagles and Nick Foles.”
Note: Dungy chose the Eagles to play the Rams in next week’s NFC Championship Game. Harrison chose the Cowboys and Saints.
Dungy on the Chargers’ defense: “Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa, they’re usually on opposite sides, but they can put them together so you can’t double-team them.”
Harrison: “I think that’s going to be the game plan. They’re going to put them inside to use that speed and quickness to beat those offensive guards. But I tell you this: I’ve been around (Bill) Belichick a long time. If (Anthony Lynn) does that, he’s going to run the ball 30 times right down their throat.”
ON COACHING CHANGES
Florio on new Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury: “Throughout the league, there’s been a buzz this week of why Kliff Kingsbury? (He was) 35-40 at Texas Tech, fired by Texas Tech…he took a job at USC as offensive coordinator, and then all of a sudden the Jets want him, the Cardinals want him, the Cardinals get him. It’s the connection to Sean McVay, the great Rams head coach, but also coaching Patrick Mahomes at Texas Tech. That connection has helped speed Kingsbury not to just an offensive coordinator job in the NFL, but all the way to a head coaching job.”
Florio on Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy not getting a job: “That’s a little bit of a surprise. Travis Kelce, the Chiefs tight end, earlier this year told me they love this offense under Eric Bieniemy. They attack more, they get down the field more, but it’s because Bieniemy isn’t a quarterback guy. Pederson and Nagy, they are quarterback guys. That’s what slowed Bieniemy down. But the thinking around the league is eventually he’s going to be a successful head coach.”
FRANK REICH WITH TONY DUNGY
On the situation he inherited with the uncertain future of Andrew Luck: “When I was here working under you, and Peyton (Manning) went through that injury, and I saw Peyton go from throwing a football for the first time after neck surgery, and I’m thinking, hmm, I’m not sure this guy is ever going to play again, let alone go and do what he did after he recovered from that surgery. That really helped give me perspective, coming in to this.
You know that obviously what Andrew went through was really significant in his shoulder injury, but I never really had a doubt that he was going to be great. And then we get into the season and he’s playing good football. But I just think that confidence grew in our system, in the players around him.”
On starting the season 1-5: “It really just takes conviction. Do you believe or do you not believe? It’s a gut check, but I really give our guys a lot of credit. I give our coaches a lot of credit. No one wavered. As you know, you get on a run like this and these runs are hard. You know it’s hard to win week after week. It’s just human nature just to let up, just a little bit. This is where what I think we went through and the whole 1-0 mindset of resetting it every week.”
On championship teams: “All the championship teams I’ve seen and watched, it’s all about the process. And so, for us, that process starts with that 1-0 mindset.”
On Mahomes: “I don’t throw around the term lightly, a generational arm talent, but he really has that. He has unique abilities.”
On if the Colts will control the ball against the Chiefs: “Our mindset is to score every time we touch the ball. With the quarterback that we have and the skill guys we have, we’re going to be aggressive and let it rip. I’m confident our defense is going to play well. We’re going to go out there and try to score.”
—FOOTBALL NIGHT IN AMERICA—