“It’s not just a hashtag, it’s a movement.” – Liam McHugh on Bills Mafia
“Two of the best players in the sport — ability to make plays off schedule, backyard-type football that’s fun to watch.” – Chris Simms on Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson
“They have that chemistry and that’s the difference this year.” – Tony Dungy on Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs
STAMFORD, Conn. – Jan. 16, 2021 – NBC Sports’ presentation of the AFC Divisional Playoff game between the Baltimore Ravens and Buffalo Bills from Bills Stadium in Orchard Park, N.Y., began tonight with a special edition of Football Night in America on NBC.
Mike Tirico hosted FNIA from NBC Sports Group’s Studio 1 in Stamford, Conn., and was joined by Pro Football Hall of Fame head coach Tony Dungy and former NFL quarterback Chris Simms. NFL Insider Mike Florio joined Football Night remotely from his home studio. Liam McHugh and two-time Super Bowl-winner Rodney Harrison reported on-site from Bills Stadium.
Al Michaels (play-by-play), Cris Collinsworth (analyst), Michele Tafoya (sideline reporter) and Terry McAulay (rules analyst) are calling tonight’s game.
This is NBC Sports’ final NFL broadcast of the 2020 season.
Following are highlights from tonight’s edition of Football Night in America on NBC:
ON TONIGHT’S GAME
Simms on tonight’s quarterback showdown between Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen: “Two of the best players in the sport — ability to make plays off schedule, backyard-type football that’s fun to watch. Oddly enough for Lamar Jackson, yes, it’s always about his legs. The Bills are going to sell out to stop the run. It’s going to be his right arm making four or five big-time throws like we saw last week for them to win this game. On the other side of the ball, I think it’s the same story for Josh Allen. He has a big arm, we know that. They don’t have a running game, so his ability to run, scrambling or quarterback-designed runs, I think could really make a difference about who has success tonight.”
Dungy on importance of both teams’ cornerbacks tonight: “Buffalo defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier told me they have to stop Lamar Jackson from running. That’s going to mean a lot of man-to-man coverage for their cornerbacks. On the other side of the coin, Baltimore blitzes like crazy. Man-to-man coverage there. Which set of secondary people is going to have the best game tonight?”
Ravens QB Lamar Jackson to Jac Collinsworth on how he feels before big games: “I get anxious. I just want to get out there and get a feel (for the game) at first. I don’t get nervous.”
Tirico on QB Lamar Jackson’s leadership ability: “You walk into that Baltimore room, they tell you he’s a leader. That’s a place where they had leaders like Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs. Lamar Jackson is the leader of this generation of Ravens.”
Harrison on CB Marlon Humphrey: “He’s their best cornerback. He’s the most versatile guy in their secondary.”
Simms on Ravens’ offensive philosophy tonight: “This is going to be one of the keys to the game…Lamar Jackson making the defense defend the whole field. The (Bills) defense will be all about stopping the run. There’s going to be some opportunities for (Marquise) “Hollywood” Brown and Lamar to connect.”
McHugh: “Bills Mafia, you know all about it. But it’s not just a hashtag, it’s a movement.”
Harrison on Bills Stadium atmosphere: “Nothing but love and respect for Bills Mafia. 6,500 fans may not seem like a lot, but they are bringing a lot of energy.”
QB Josh Allen to Simms on answering critics: “My whole thing about playing football is not proving everybody wrong, it’s proving myself right. There’s nothing anybody can say that will hurt my feelings. Odds are I’ve already said it to myself. That’s what gets me going. It’s me kicking myself in the butt and trying to shake things off that way.”
Simms on Allen’s improvement: “Last year was inaccurate. This year is always on the money.”
Dungy: “They have that chemistry and that’s the difference this year, Stefon Diggs, that home run hitter. If Baltimore comes with that steady diet of blitzes, I think they’re (the Bills) going to burn the blitz tonight.”
Tirico: “No one blitzes more than Baltimore, and Allen’s been the best against the blitz.”
Florio on QB Deshaun Watson and the organization: “The tension is very real. It was known that Deshaun Watson had recommended that the Texans interview Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy. That request was initially ignored. I’m told that Watson also recommended that the Texans interview former 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, who has since been hired by the Jets. That was also ignored. They’re the only team that had a vacancy that didn’t interview Robert Saleh. Watson views that as a sign of disrespect. He has not yet asked for a trade, but it’s moving in that direction. He hasn’t done it because he knows once he says those words, he’s past the point of no return.”
Tirico: “In that (AFC South) division now – Urban Meyer, Mike Vrabel, Frank Reich. Houston is going to have to find a big-name head coach to go with their quarterback.”
–FOOTBALL NIGHT IN AMERICA–