“It reminds me of myself 30 years ago…Malcolm Glazer and Rich McKay believed in me and gave me a chance. That’s what Eric Bieniemy needs – someone to give him a chance.” – Tony Dungy on Eric Bieniemy’s head coaching opportunities
“It’s kind of been the kryptonite of this Chiefs offense when things have faltered — Mahomes being a little greedy.” – Chris Simms on if Patrick Mahomes will be patient and take short throws
“I love Tyrann Mathieu – great leader and very versatile player.” – Rodney Harrison
“The one thing I worry about the Chiefs defense is against the run. They gave up almost 200 yards rushing last week against the Broncos and those are the teams that give them the most problems. The Steelers can be that team tonight.” – Drew Brees
STAMFORD, Conn. – Jan. 16, 2022 – NBC Sports began its Sunday coverage of Super Wild Card Weekend with Football Night in America leading into the Steelers-Chiefs playoff game from Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo.
Maria Taylor hosted the special edition of 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. Two-time Super Bowl winner Rodney Harrison and Super Bowl XLIV MVP Drew Brees joined co-host Jac Collinsworth at the site of the game. NFL Insider Mike Florio provided reports from his home studio.
Taylor interviewed Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes and Dungy interviewed Steelers LB T.J. Watt.
Al Michaels (play-by-play), Cris Collinsworth (analyst), Michele Tafoya (sideline reporter) and Terry McAulay (rules analyst) are calling tonight’s Wild Card playoff game.
For the first time ever, Football Night in America and Sunday Night Football are streaming on Peacock Premium every week this season. Viewers can sign up here. Peacock Premium is included at no additional cost for Comcast’s eligible Xfinity X1 and Flex customers and Cox Contour customers.
Following are highlights from tonight’s edition of Football Night in America on NBC and Peacock:
Dungy: “Ben (Roethlisberger) and that offense are going to need to make big plays and the Chiefs defense gives you that opportunity. A lot of bump-and-run coverage on the outside with those corners — the Steelers are going to have to take some shots down the field.”
Simms: “They have two studs on the outside in Chase Claypool and Diontae Johnson. When the Chiefs play bump, man-to-man coverage on them, they have to throw the ball down the field and open up the offense.”
Brees on Roethlisberger: “There was a time when he was like (Patrick) Mahomes, running around out there, breaking tackles, making miraculous plays. Those days maybe passed him by, but what he still can do is pick you apart underneath, push the ball down the field off the play action. But they’re going to have to run the ball effectively to set up the play action.”
Harrison: “I love the experience of the Chiefs defense. They have gone through some ups and downs, but they’ve never panicked and continued to believe in one another. I love their young corners – they’re competitive and not afraid to tackle you. I love Tyrann Mathieu – great leader and very versatile player.”
Brees: “He (Mathieu) is a pit bull; he can do everything. The one thing I worry about the Chiefs defense is against the run. They gave up almost 200 yards rushing last week against the Broncos and those are the teams that give them the most problems. The Steelers can be that team tonight.”
Dungy: “Can Patrick Mahomes be patient and take those short throws?”
Simms: “It’s one of the big things we’ve seen all year. It’s kind of been the kryptonite of this Chiefs offense when things have faltered — Mahomes being a little greedy.”
ON ERIC BIENIEMY’S HEAD COACHING CANDIDACY
Taylor: “Lets walk through the stats for Eric Bieniemy – over the last four seasons since he’s taken over the reins in 2018 (as offensive coordinator), Kansas City has led the NFL in scoring and total offense. Over the course of that time, there have been 20 head coaches hired, 20 opportunities. I don’t think anyone can look Eric Bieniemy in the eye and say you haven’t earned one opportunity.”
Dungy: “It reminds me of myself 30 years ago. I was a young defensive coordinator coordinating the number one defense in football with the Vikings and people were saying the same thing — he doesn’t interview well, I was too soft spoken, not a tough enough guy. Well, who knew if I was going to be a good head coach or not? But Malcolm Glazer and Rich McKay believed in me and gave me a chance. That’s what Eric Bieniemy needs – someone to give him a chance.”
Simms: “It makes no sense. They gave you a chance and it worked out last time I checked. The number one offense in football, (reached) the AFC Championship Game (in 2018), number six offense in football, won the Super Bowl (in 2019), number one offense, back to the Super Bowl (in 2020), and this year the number three offense in football. Helped groom Patrick Mahomes. It makes no sense from that standpoint. He’s from a really good coaching tree, where we’ve seen people come from (under) Andy Reid and be very successful. What bothers me is there’s been other coaches with lesser credentials who have gotten jobs. He deserves it. The time is now.”
Taylor: “Takes me back to talking with a young African-American coach who said the goalpost is always moving. Eric Bieniemy is also universally liked, and we just hope that at some point, he can actually get an opportunity.”
Following are highlights from Super Wild Card Weekend interviews:
Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes with Maria Taylor:
Mahomes on Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger: “He’s made a huge impact on me. The way that he’s been able to scramble around and make those throws and just battle to the very end of every single play. I mean, that’s the reason that he has two Super Bowl rings and he’s made some big-time throws that will be remembered forever. He’s someone I watched growing up my entire life…I’m excited to get to go up against an all-time great in the Playoffs.”
Mahomes on the Chiefs’ 3-4 start and early season struggles: “It was definitely a trying time. I mean, dealt with a lot of adversity, dealt with a lot of having to figure things out on the fly, but I think the previous few years have built us for this moment — to be able to battle through that, to win the games that we needed to win, and to put ourselves in a position now to be in the Playoffs as the two-seed.”
Mahomes on what he learned from early season struggles: “I think what I learned is I have to be patient. I wanted to be high-flying, throwing all of these long touchdowns like I’ve done in the early part of my career, but defenses weren’t letting me do that. I learned to be patient and just take what’s there and try to find ways to have success another way.”
Mahomes on the difficulties of advancing to back-to-back Super Bowls: “I think Tom (Brady) has kind of spoiled everybody to think that you just get to the Super Bowl every single year (laughs). No, that’s definitely something you have to earn every single day, every single year. I think I found out a lot after this last Super Bowl of how tough it is just to get to the Super Bowl and to win it…I just don’t want to waste these opportunities of being in the Playoffs with these guys and having the chance to have this team get to another Super Bowl.”
Steelers LB T.J. Watt with Tony Dungy:
Watt on how this game will be different from the regular-season matchup vs. the Chiefs: “There’s definitely some things we know we can build on from the last performance. Coach (Mike) Tomlin always says the best defense is spending a lot of time on the bench and that starts with getting off the field early – third downs, third and longs.”
Watt on how Coach Tomlin kept things together: “I’d run through a wall for Coach Tomlin. He’s a supreme motivator, very transparent, going to tell you like it is, not going to sugarcoat anything, but you wouldn’t want him any other way.”
Watt on pressuring Mahomes without blitzing: “I like to think that’s why I’m here. I’m very fortunate to be put in this position. You have to have supreme confidence in a game like this. It’s a tough offense, don’t get me wrong, it’s a tough challenge. But if you don’t want the challenge then this isn’t the business for you.”
–FOOTBALL NIGHT IN AMERICA–