“In 25 hours on the greatest playoff weekend in the 102-year history of professional football, the headlines, one by one, kept overtaking the last one.” – King on the Divisional Playoffs weekend
“Changing from pass to run, and Samuel responding with the biggest play of his NFL life, shows Shanahan will live or die with his calls, and he’s comfortable with that.” – King on 49ers’ run play after calling a time out to set up game-winning field goal vs. Packers
“I think the best player of the playoff weekend, and this is no slight to Patrick Mahomes, was Josh Allen. Amazing football player.” – King on Bills QB Josh Allen
“This was the day it was all about, Stafford going into Tampa Bay and dethroning Tom Brady and the champs.” – King on the Rams acquiring Matthew Stafford
STAMFORD, Conn. – Jan. 24, 2022 – Peter King recaps ‘the greatest playoff weekend in the 102-year history of professional football’ in this week’s edition of Football Morning in America, available now exclusively on NBCSports.com. King also speaks with Kansas City wide receiver Tyreek Hill, San Francisco head coach Kyle Shanahan, discusses the NFL head coaching cycle, hands out his Divisional Playoffs awards, and more.
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The following are highlights from this week’s edition of Football Morning in America:
King on the Divisional Playoffs weekend: “In 25 hours on the greatest playoff weekend in the 102-year history of professional football, the headlines, one by one, kept overtaking the last one… I’m sitting here, just after 11 Sunday night, trying to process the last day-plus. Or, as Jack Buck once said: ‘I don’t believe WHAT I JUST SAW!!!’ We came within 13 shocking seconds of the road team winning all four divisional games for the first time in history.”
King on 49ers WR Deebo Samuel’s run for a first down from the 38-yard line with 1:03 remaining in the fourth quarter to set up game-winning field goal: “A football game is a series of hundreds of decisions, many of them made by coaches in split-seconds in high pressure. Rarely does one of those decisions impact so many lives and teams as monumentally as something Kyle Shanahan decided while Brandon Aiyuk was in motion from left to right across the Niners’ offensive formation…But as Jimmy Garoppolo got his team to the line…Shanahan’s second thoughts bubbled to the surface.”
Shanahan to King on the call: “In those conditions, the gotta-have-it yard line was the 35. That was where we had to get to for the longest possible field goal. So I was thinking, man, to have a good chance at this we gotta get a four- or five-yard gain. I was worried we couldn’t do that with the run so I went to a pass. But I also knew they had no timeouts. If we did a pass and it didn’t work, Aaron (Rodgers) was gonna get it back with 40 or 45 seconds.”
Shanahan on changing the play call: “So we called the pass, the pass I liked. I let them go to the line and then I just thought, It’s not worth it. I’ve seen it with Aaron. We had a motion on, but once we got to the line, I thought I was gonna call a timeout. So I let us start the motion and then I called time. Then I was like, ‘Guys, we gotta run it. At least if we don’t get five yards, at least I know we’re going to overtime. We’ll let it run down to 15 seconds or whatever and punt.’”
King: “One heck of a timeout. One heck of a change-of-mind on the fly. One heck of a run. One heck of a game…Changing from pass to run, and Samuel responding with the biggest play of his NFL life, shows Shanahan will live or die with his calls, and he’s comfortable with that.”
King on the 49ers’ victory: “Rodgers had home-snow-globe advantage Saturday night, and he owns Lambeau Field in weather like this. But on a night most Niners will never forget as long as they breathe…the 49ers held one of the greatest quarterbacks ever, in the last 54 minutes of this NFC divisional playoff game, to three points in nine possessions in a shocking 13-10 victory.”
49ers LB Fred Warner to King: “I made sure throughout the game to look up at the sky and take it all in, because you don’t get to play in games like this very often. It’s one of those games I’ll remember forever. And how we played against Aaron, who is such a great player…it’s legendary. Truly…It’s hard to wrap my brain around what we just did.”
King on the greatness of the Chiefs-Bills game: “How amazing is it that we might be on the cusp of Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady walking away from football, and the talk on all your Zoom meetings this morning is: ‘Holy bejeezus! That game last night!’ … Thirty-one points scored after the two-minute warning of the fourth quarter.”
King: “One thing I loved most about the last game, and that’s the indomitable spirit of the Buffalo and Kansas City players…It’s what Tyreek Hill told me after the game…That’s the kind of competitor you want in a game for the ages. Maybe The game for the ages.”
Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill to King: “I told the guys in the receiver room that Buffalo’s great. You saw that. To win, we had to have guys who wanted it more. That’s the truth. Thirteen seconds left, fourth quarter, Buffalo scores and now we’re down, and [offensive coordinator] Eric Bieniemy comes up to me and says, ‘We’re coming to you, T.’ Patrick says, ‘Coming to you, T.’ And that’s the way I want it. I love it. I love to feel like it’s on me.”
King on the Chiefs and QB Patrick Mahomes: “Kansas City has drafted so many players with the Mahomes mindset (talent, plus drive, plus intense competitiveness) who showed up in this ultimate test to their greatness…Mahomes is amazing, obviously. Nothing bugs him. He’s got a chance, long-term, to be one of the all-time great with his magical style and accompanying grit.”
King on Bills QB Josh Allen: “He rose to the moment. And here’s something no one’s thinking about in the wake of the game. Allen, as brilliant as he was throwing the ball, was superb and forceful running it…When you don’t throw picks, and when you’re putting up 83 points in two playoff games, you’re a great quarterback. That’s Allen.”
King on Allen: “I think the best player of the playoff weekend, and this is no slight to Patrick Mahomes, was Josh Allen. Amazing football player. Tremendous thrower, obviously, and a runner who chooses when to be physical and when to run out of bounds.”
King on Buccaneers QB Tom Brady and rumors surrounding his retirement: “I don’t know if Tom Brady will retire. I do know that there are some close to Brady who wonder if he will, including one person Sunday night who told me when I asked about Brady walking away at 44, ‘Friday I would have said no. Today, I don’t know.’”
King on Brady: “At some point he’s going to want a different focus in his life. And at a time when the Bucs were all-in on 2021 and it didn’t result in a second Tampa Super Bowl, Brady knows 2022 is going to be worse because of the cap and because some of the vets are not going to be able to be the impact players they were in the Super Bowl season. So maybe this is time to go. But I stress: I don’t know if he will. Brady might come back and throw for 5K again next fall.”
King on the Rams: “This was a franchise-impacting victory. It means they’ll play the NFC title game in owner Stan Kroenke’s jillion-dollar palace, SoFi Stadium, and if they win that game, they’ll play the Super Bowl in their home yard too… On Sunday, they went on the road, beat the defending Super Bowl champions, knocked the greatest quarterback ever from the tournament, and proved that their way of building a team can work.”
King: “When (Sean) McVay went out on a limb to deal for (Matthew) Stafford, he denuded future drafts in making the deal with Detroit…This was the day it was all about, Stafford going into Tampa Bay and dethroning Tom Brady and the champs.”
King on Bengals K Evan McPherson: “So it has become urban legend in the last 36 hours that Evan McPherson is the Joe Burrow of kickers – a young player (22) with an insane amount of confidence for his age…That’s pretty good value, making all 11 kicks in clutch playoff situations, for the 154th pick in the draft.”
King on the Bengals drafting McPherson in the 2021 NFL Draft: “Special team coordinator Darren Simmons gave his seal of approval, which was big in the eyes of draft czar and director of player personnel Duke Tobin. They liked McPherson’s physical gifts and his moxie. But the team wanted to draft at least two offensive linemen and two defensive linemen (and maybe a third) in the draft, and they knew they were going to pick Ja’Marr Chase…The Patriots agreed to send pick 46, plus two fourth-round picks (122 and 139) to Cincinnati for the 38th pick.”
Tobin to King on trading back in the draft to be able to pick McPherson in the fifth round: “We definitely needed to fill in on both lines of scrimmage, but we also liked the kicker, because taking him would hopefully take us out of the grind cycle of manufacturing a kicker…You have guys on your board that you’re saying, okay, if we make this deal we could get three guys we liked instead of picking only one. It felt good to get three swings at picks in the fourth round.”
NEWS & NOTES
King on the NFL head coach hiring cycle: “You think the head-coaching hires have proceeded glacially this year? Well, good. It’s always mystified me how teams sprint to hire the most important person (non-quarterback) in the organization. It’s frustrating the candidates, the agents, and even some teams…We’ll see how it shakes out, but the fact that teams are slow-playing the coaching carousel, I think, is a very good thing.”
King on Dan Quinn and Brian Flores: “There’s no superstar coaching candidate out there. Even the coveted ones, former coaches Dan Quinn and Brian Flores, have zits. Quinn was 7-9, 7-9 and 0-5 in his last three Falcons seasons…In three seasons, Flores had an alarming revolving door on the offensive coaching staff, with four offensive line coaches, four offensive coordinators and four QB coaches. You shuffle coaches that often, particularly with a young quarterback, and there’s going to be some mayhem.”
King on the Raiders: “I think the combo platter of two Patriots – offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and director of player personnel Dave Ziegler – is in contention to be the next coach/GM team running the Las Vegas Raiders. I didn’t say ‘will be’ the next coach and GM, but it’s in play.”
KING’S DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS AWARDS
Offensive Players of the Week: Josh Allen, Buffalo, Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City, & Cooper Kupp, L.A. Rams.
King on Allen: “No idea how Allen would be feeling this morning, but I bet he wakes up feeling like crap. He shouldn’t. His team was valiant, and he has been incredible in the 2021 postseason.”
Defensive Players of the Week: Jeffery Simmons, Tennessee, & D.J. Reader, Cincinnati.
King on Simmons: “The loss to Cincinnati was not Simmons’ fault, I’ll tell you that Saturday evening was the coming-out party for the Titans’ first-round pick in 2019…In the Titans’ loss to Cincinnati, Simmons couldn’t have inflicted much more damage on Bengals QB Joe Burrow.”
Special Teams Players of the Week: Evan McPherson, Cincinnati, & Jordan Willis, San Francisco.
King on McPherson: “Of all NFL kickers, McPherson now has the most field goals from 50 yards or longer this season, 11, folding in regular-season and postseason kicks, in 13 attempts. Something else good: In two narrow playoff wins over Las Vegas and Tennessee, McPherson has made all eight field-goal tries.”
Coach of the Week: DeMeco Ryans, San Francisco.
King: “Ryans, based on this pressure-packed defensive game plan, should have earned multiple additional looks from teams with head-coaching openings. (Listening, Houston?) Ryan’s D held the Packers to 193 total yards and zero touchdowns in the game’s final 54 minutes while tormenting Aaron Rodgers all the while.”
Read the full FMIA column here and catch the weekly Peter King Podcast here.
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A new “Football Morning in America” posts every Monday morning exclusively on NBCSports.com through the NFL season. It was announced in May 2019 that King signed an exclusive agreement with NBC Sports Group that included writing a weekly Monday morning NFL column for NBCSports.com; making regular appearances on PFT Live with Mike Florio; and continuing to contribute to Football Night in America, the most-watched studio show in sports.