“I never thought that was ever gonna happen, not in a hundred years.” – Rams QB Matthew Stafford to King on advancing to the Super Bowl
“The Bengals might have drafted Max Scherzer with the first pick of the 2020 draft in Burrow, but they also might have picked Mariano Rivera with the 149th pick in 2021 in McPherson.” – King on the Bengals drafting QB Joe Burrow and K Evan McPherson
“It’s not the best job in the NFL, and the roster definitely has holes. But for McDaniels, I think it’s a great chance, and probably the best he’d ever have outside the New England cocoon.” – King on Josh McDaniels taking the Raiders’ head coaching job
NBC Sports Presents Super Bowl LVI on NBC, Peacock and Telemundo, on Sunday, Feb. 13
STAMFORD, Conn. – Jan. 31, 2022 – Peter King speaks to Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford following their NFC Championship Game win and discusses the Rams-Bengals Super Bowl LVI matchup in this week’s edition of Football Morning in America, available now exclusively on NBCSports.com. King also speaks with Cincinnati kicker Evan McPherson following his game-winning field goal in overtime in the AFC Championship Game, interviews former Saints head coach Sean Payton, hands out his Championship Games awards, and more.
NBC Sports will present Super Bowl LVI (Los Angeles Rams vs. Cincinnati Bengals) on NBC, Peacock and Telemundo on Sunday, Feb. 13.
For more NFL coverage, Peacock offers daily programming on the NBC Sports channel for free, including Pro Football Talk live at 7 a.m. ET every weekday, Safety Blitz, Chris Simms Unbuttoned, The Peter King Podcast, The Rich Eisen Show, Brother from Another, and The Dan Patrick Show. To learn more about the NBC Sports on Peacock channel and how to sign up, click here.
The following are highlights from this week’s edition of Football Morning in America:
MATTHEW STAFFORD & THE RAMS
King on the Rams trading for QB Matthew Stafford: “The trade between the Lions and Rams, spawned when Stafford and Rams coach Sean McVay met (by chance, they both insist) at a resort while vacationing, happened quite literally a year ago (Sunday) night – the same night Stafford was digesting that he was finally going to play in the game he’d always dreamed of playing.”
Stafford to King on going to the Rams and advancing to the Super Bowl for the first time in his career: “It’s crazy. I mean, crazy. It’s a story that, to this day, I feel like a lot of people still can’t believe. Sometimes, still, I can’t believe it. And now this…I never thought that was ever gonna happen, not in a hundred years.”
King: “That’s the kind of Championship Sunday it was. Not in a hundred years. How about 100 days? Who could have envisioned a Bengals-Rams Super Bowl as the season neared the halfway point in late October? … It might take a few days for Midwesterners to digest this one: Matthew Stafford is going to the Super Bowl. His quarterbacking foe will be Cincinnati savior Joe Burrow, the quarterback who lost the Ohio State starting quarterback job to Dwayne Haskins less than four years ago.”
King on the Stafford trade: “There was so much on the line for the Rams here, and it started one year ago last night, when a Rams delegation (GM Les Snead, COO Kevin Demoff and VP/Football Administration Tony Pastoors) got on a Zoom call with a Lions delegation to work out details of a (Jared) Goff-for-Stafford trade…McVay and Stafford and partners saw each other at a Mexican resort, and the men started talking football, and the next thing they knew, they wanted to be football-wed.”
Demoff to King on trading Goff for Stafford: “I mean, it’s two weeks after the season, and it’s totally unexpected. We’re trading the quarterback who led us to the Super Bowl, the face of our franchise, the first big decision we made after our move to L.A. That night, it started the all-in narrative for us.”
King on the Rams’ roster construction: “The outside world sees trading second- and third-round picks for a declining Von Miller, and trading two ones and a three plus Goff, plus money thrown in, for Stafford, who’d never won a playoff game or a division title in 12 Detroit years, and thinks it’s the most live-for-today team in recent football history. It might be, but hear them out.”
King on the Rams’ win over the 49ers: “McVay did a good job figuring out how to win this game. He knew he’d have to put it in Stafford’s hands, and he was comfortable doing that…Cooper Kupp and Odell Beckham Jr., played great games, and the Rams’ decision to go get Beckham in November paid off beautifully here.”
Stafford on playing in the Super Bowl: “Sure, I’ve dreamed about this. I’ve loved football for a long time. Now it’s coming true – and now we’ve got a chance to go out there and win the Super Bowl. It’s a pretty unbelievable thing.”
King on the Bengals’ turnaround to win the AFC Championship Game: “The Bengals last January finished a 4-11-1 season. Joe Burrow, the promising rookie quarterback, got hurt in late November, and the knee injury was so significant that it seemed unlikely he’d be ready to play by the 2021 season-opener. Zac Taylor, the head coach, was 6-25-1 in two seasons, depths not reached by a Bengal coach since David Shula.”
King on Bengals kicker Evan McPherson’s game-winning kick in overtime: “The 31-yard perfecto with 9:22 left in overtime lifted Cincinnati to the win. It also did not surprise McPherson in the least. The Bengals might have drafted Max Scherzer with the first pick of the 2020 draft in Burrow, but they also might have picked Mariano Rivera with the 149th pick in 2021 in McPherson. For the second straight weekend, he kicked the game-winner on the last play of the game.”
McPherson to King after kicking the game-winner: “Being a kicker is like being a sniper. You got one shot.”
King on the Bengals’ roster: “There were lots of heroes in this game for Cincinnati. What had to be fun for (Duke) Tobin and the scouts and coaches who put this group together is that so many of the players not named Burrow were critical in sending Cincinnati to the Super Bowl.”
Bengals DT B.J. Hill to King on his second-half interception and advancing to the Super Bowl: “We’re taught to put our hands up on a play like that. I wasn’t shocked I came down with [it]… Nobody gave us a chance. When we win, there’s always some reason why. We’re a good team, that’s why. And we’re going to the Super Bowl.”
King on the Chiefs failing to score before halftime: “(Andy) Reid could have kicked the field goal and gotten three points. But if you’re Reid, and you know the chances are better than 50-50 that Mahomes can get a yard at the Bengals’ 1-yard line, it’s totally understandable he went for it. Failure makes it seem obvious the coach should have made the other call. That’s not the way football works. Sometimes you make the right call and it fails. That’s coaching.”
King: “Sean Payton, 58, left the Saints last week after being their coach and north star since 2006. Remember early 2006? That’s when the Saints were endangered species in New Orleans…It’s normal when a coach or player leaves the field for TV that we wonder how frank he’ll be on TV. So I asked Payton on Saturday if he’d address some of the hot-button issues of the day in the NFL.”
Payton on NFL overtime format: “We’ve hit the threshold. There has to be some change. At least for the postseason, each team should get a possession, and if it’s tied after those two possessions, the game continues, and it’s sudden death starting with the third possession.”
Payton on which young QB he’d choose to start a franchise with: “We just saw them duel. Josh Allen or Patrick Mahomes. A tie. When everything isn’t perfect, and there are many times in a game when things aren’t perfect, they’re the best two in the game at the off-schedule throws…I like Joe Burrow. I love Joe Burrow. I just trust the other guys to run it better. But that’s like, I like vanilla and pistachio, you like butter pecan. All good choices.”
NEWS & NOTES
King on Tom Brady: “The denials Saturday were too soft, too tentative, too non-denial. If Jeff Darlington and Adam Schefter were over-reaching with their report Saturday that Tom Brady was retiring after 22 years atop the football mountain, we’d have heard more insistent pushback. It’s very likely a matter of time before Brady officially retires.’”
King on Brady’s potential decision: “I believe it’s about a few things. At 44, Brady has already accomplished more than any player in the 102-year history of the NFL, and with cap and roster issues going forward, and with the Tampa futures of Chris Godwin and Rob Gronkowski both in doubt, 2022 could be a frustrating year for a Tampa Bay quarterback.”
King on Josh McDaniels taking the Raiders head coaching job: “I doubt there’d ever be a better job for McDaniels. He has his own hand-picked personnel guy, Dave Ziegler. He has a quarterback who can win in the NFL, Derek Carr. So he’s got a flighty owner. The one thing you don’t hear about Mark Davis is he’s a meddler…It’s not the best job in the NFL, and the roster definitely has holes. But for McDaniels, I think it’s a great chance, and probably the best he’d ever have outside the New England cocoon.”
King on the NFL head coaching cycle: “Four coaches hired this month, all Caucasian. Five jobs left. There is one Black coach in the league, Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin, and three of color, total. The league, and its owners, will deserve a mountain of criticism if the trend continues in the final five jobs.”
King on the Giants and new GM Joe Schoen: “Schoen is smart – a bad team like the Giants needs to rip the cap band-aid off quickly so 2023 can be bright. I also think Schoen would be smart to look to deal one of their two high first-round picks (fifth or seventh overall) for future draft capital, so they could be in a pick-rich position to pick a quarterback if they’d be in the market for one in 2023.”
KING’S CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES AWARDS
Offensive Players of the Week: Tee Higgins, Cincinnati, & Cooper Kupp, L.A. Rams.
King on Higgins: “All season, the Cincinnati passing game has revolved around rookie deep threat Ja’Marr Chase, and who could blame the Bengals? Chase is a phenom. But on a day when Kansas City physically handled Chase, it was Higgins who showed up in some of the biggest moments.”
Defensive Player of the Week: B.J. Hill, Cincinnati.
King: “This could have been decisive interceptor Vonn Bell or linemen Sam Hubbard or Trey Hendrickson. All were impact players in the huge upset of Kansas City. But Hill has caught my eye on this defense all season, and his athletic interception of Patrick Mahomes with 17 minutes left in the game and the Bengals trailing 21-13 was the biggest tide-turner all afternoon.”
Special Teams Player of the Week: Evan McPherson, Cincinnati.
King: “Three weeks, three playoff games, three games of four field goals in each…with zero misses. McPherson won his second straight game with a field goal on the last play, a 31-yarder in Kansas City, as the Bengals earned their first trip to the Super Bowl in 33 years, 27-24, at Arrowhead Stadium. Amazing performance by a rookie.”
Coach of the Week: Lou Anarumo, Cincinnati.
King: “On Saturday, Giants GM Joe Schoen told me how impressed he was with Anarumo when the Giants interviewed him for their head-coaching job. I bet Andy Reid was impressed with Anarumo on Sunday…Heck of a game against a team that had scored 42 in each of its first two playoff games this month.”
Read the full FMIA column here and catch the weekly Peter King Podcast here.
The following are additional highlights of NBC Sports’ NFL coverage:
- PFT Live with NBC Sports’ Mike Florio and Mike Golic (Mondays) and Florio and Chris Simms (Tuesday-Thursday) streams live on Peacock from 7 a.m. – 9 a.m. ET on weekdays & is available on-demand. The Dan Patrick Show streams at 9 a.m. ET, The Rich Eisen Show at Noon ET, Brother From Another at 3 p.m. ET, PFT PM at 5 p.m. ET. At 6 p.m. ET, Chris Simms Unbuttoned streams Tuesday-Friday.
- ProFootballTalk.com continues to provide the latest news and updates.
- NBC Sports EDGE’s A Good Football Show continues the NFL discussion and Bet The Edge Podcast provides daily betting insights.
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.