“We have a ‘Why not us?’ against ‘Super Bowl or Bust.’” – Liam McHugh on Tampa Bay-Washington
“This is why they got Tom Brady – to be in these moments that they’re in tonight.” – Chris Simms
“If you’re the Washington Football Team, you’ve got to make this the most physical game you’ve played all year.” – Rodney Harrison
“The Colts outplayed Buffalo, but I think Josh Allen just made some plays that overcame his team not playing their best.” – Simms
“Say what you want about Philip Rivers, but I love the way he competed. He gave them the opportunity to win today.” — Harrison
STAMFORD, Conn. – Jan. 9, 2021 – NBC Sports’ presentation of Super Wild Card weekend began tonight with a special edition of Football Night in America leading into coverage of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Washington Football Team from FedEx Field in Landover, Md., on NBC.
Liam McHugh hosted FNIA from NBC Sports Group’s Studio 1 in Stamford, Conn., and was joined by two-time Super Bowl-winner Rodney Harrison and former NFL quarterback Chris Simms. NFL Insider Mike Florio joined Football Night remotely from his home studio. Jac Collinsworth reported on site from FedEx Field.
Mike Tirico (play-by-play), Tony Dungy (analyst), Kathryn Tappen (sideline reporter) and Terry McAulay (rules analyst) are calling tonight’s game. Tirico is calling the game from his home studio due to Covid-19 protocols.
For tonight’s show, Dungy interviewed Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians and McHugh interviewed Washington rookie DE Chase Young. Jac Collinsworth also spoke with Washington head coach Ron Rivera during pre-game.
Tomorrow night, NBC Sports will present the Cleveland Browns at the Pittsburgh Steelers in the final game of Super Wild Card weekend from Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pa. Coverage begins with a special edition of Football Night in America at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBC and Peacock.
Al Michaels (play-by-play), Cris Collinsworth (analyst), Michele Tafoya (sideline reporter) and Terry McAulay (rules analyst) will call Sunday’s game.
Following are highlights from tonight’s edition of Football Night in America on NBC:
McHugh: “We have a ‘Why not us?’ against ‘Super Bowl or Bust.’”
Simms on Bucs QB Tom Brady: “This is why they got Tom Brady – to be in these moments that they’re in tonight. This is a guy that gives your whole locker room confidence, gives everybody in your organization confidence, and they should (be confident right now). They’re peaking at the right time. The offense since the bye week has been phenomenal, and Brady – his arm, the way he’s playing – it’s as good as he’s ever played in his career.”
Head Coach Bruce Arians to Dungy on acclimating Tom Brady to his offensive system: “It’s another challenge. Getting Tom comfortable, I think that was really hard for Tom to totally leave a system after 20 years and, ‘Two Flip Wide,’ is now, ‘Dice Right.’ All of those things that you have to learn, and we just kept evolving this year to make him more and more comfortable.”
Dungy (Note: Dungy and Arians were assistant coaches together with Kansas City years ago): “What can you tell America that you taught me during our four months as roommates in Kansas City?”
Arians: “Don’t stay up watching basketball until 2 a.m. and then wake up and have to go to work (laughs).”
Dungy on tonight’s game: “I think it’s going to be like one of the old-school basketball games we used to watch – Georgetown and Villanova. Bruce (Arians) is Georgetown. He’s got this Tampa Bay Bucs team wanting to attack, full-court press, wanting to stay on the initiative all game long. Ron Rivera and Washington are Villanova. They want to slow it down, be patient, bleed the shot clock and take it into the fourth quarter close. I think we’re going to see a difference of wills and who can carry that out and get their tempo and put it on the other team.”
McHugh: “And potentially we’ll get to see if Ron Rivera celebrates like Rollie Massimino.”
Simms on WR Antonio Brown: “That’s why they got him. In case (Mike Evans) is not healthy, you’ve got a guy like Antonio Brown that can fill in and the offense won’t miss a beat. But Antonio Brown is still phenomenal, and Brady does have a great connection with him. They are on the same page.”
Simms on QB Tom Brady: “He’s totally in sync (with his weapons). That is the word ever since the bye week. And they’re protecting him unbelievably, too, and he’s got weapons galore.”
Harrison: “I’ve known Tom Brady a long time and if you hit him, you can rattle him. He hates pressure directly in his face.”
Harrison: “If you’re the Washington Football Team, you’ve got to make this the most physical game you’ve played all year. You’ve got to hit Brady. You’ve got to hit Gronk. You’ve got to make sure that Tom doesn’t have a nice clean pocket because if he does, he’s going to pick you apart and it’s going to be a blowout.”
McHugh on QB Alex Smith: “He can’t go tonight. Just one more thing for Ron Rivera to deal with.”
Simms on Washington QB Taylor Heinicke: “He’s got to be real conservative to start the game, play through the defense. Don’t take a chance until the game says, ‘Okay, it’s time to take chances.’”
Rivera to Jac Collinsworth on Heinicke: “Taylor’s got a strong arm. He can make pretty much all the throws, a good decision maker. He’s been in the system before, so he knows it, he knows it very intricately, so we’re really not concerned. We saw something that gave us a lot of confidence and that was when he played pretty much the fourth quarter against Carolina.”
Rivera to Jac Collinsworth on Tom Brady: “We’ve got to get him off his mark and get him very uncomfortable.”
Harrison on DE Chase Young: “We know he’s a physical freak, but the most impressive thing about him is his leadership. For him to be named a captain as a rookie really speaks to the respect from his teammates and his work ethic.”
Harrison on QB Josh Allen: “He is so good it’s just ridiculous.”
Simms: “The Colts outplayed Buffalo, but I think Josh Allen just made some plays that overcame his team not playing their best.”
Simms on Bills QB Josh Allen: “Other than Mahomes and Rodgers, he’s right there with the best usage of (hard counts).”
Simms on Allen: “He’s almost unstoppable from the five-yard line and in. The way he can extend plays, run, throw – he can do it all.”
Harrison on Allen: “The thing that really stands out to me is his patience. Before, even if it wasn’t open down the field, he would force it. Now, he has no problem checking it down, he’s very patient and I think that’s part of his growth process.”
Harrison: “Say what you want about Philip Rivers, but I love the way he competed. He gave them the opportunity to win today.”
ON COACHING VACANCIES
Florio: “There’s some buzz that for one of these other jobs that are currently available, the team looking for a coach may call a team that currently has a head coach and see if it can work out essentially a trade for that coach.”
ON DESHAUN WATSON
Florio on Texans potentially trading QB Deshaun Watson: “It’s pretty serious. There’s smoke and there’s definitely fire. I’m told the Texans are deliberately trying to downplay the situation as it relates to how severe it currently is – and it is severe. So, if it does get to the point where Watson wants out and the Texans are willing to accommodate it, what would he bring via trade value? I talked to some general managers today and the loose consensus is three first-round picks, and one told me that if this year’s first-round pick is in the top 10, that makes it even more attractive and it becomes almost an offer that the Texans couldn’t refuse – if Watson wants out.”
–FOOTBALL NIGHT IN AMERICA–