“It’s pretty surreal…It’s been an interesting life for me, you know? I still get to do something I love to do and certainly don’t take anything for granted.” – Tom Brady to King on advancing to Super Bowl LV with the Buccaneers
“I know I’d get super-criticized if we get stopped and they get a field goal, but that’s one of those decisions you’re paid to make. I liked our chances.” – Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians to King on his aggressive play calls at the end of the first half
“With Tampa and Kansas City both showing offensive explosiveness and defensive pressure on mobile quarterbacks, there’s no doubt this could be a special Super Bowl.” – King on Buccaneers-Chiefs Super Bowl LV matchup
STAMFORD, Conn. – Jan. 25, 2021 – Peter King speaks with Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady following the Buccaneers’ NFC Championship Game victory in this week’s edition of Football Morning in America, available now exclusively on NBCSports.com. King also recaps both Conference Championship Games, discusses the Super Bowl LV matchup, speaks with Tampa Bay head coach Bruce Arians and Kansas City safety Tyrann Mathieu, and hands out his weekly awards.
Across NBC Sports, Peacock’s weekday block of NFL programming from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. ET includes PFT Live featuring Mike Florio and Chris Simms live at 7 a.m. ET, followed by The Dan Patrick Show at 9 a.m. ET, The Rich Eisen Show at Noon ET, Brother From Another, with Michael Holley and Michael Smith, at 3 p.m. ET, and PFT PM at 5 p.m. ET. On Monday, Safety Blitz, featuring Rodney Harrison and Jac Collinsworth, streams at 6 p.m. ET, and Chris Simms Unbuttoned streams at 6 p.m. ET Tuesday-Friday. ProFootballTalk.com continues to provide the latest offseason news, and the Rotoworld Football Podcast and Chris Simms Unbuttoned podcast discuss Championship weekend.
The following are highlights from this week’s edition of Football Morning in America:
TOM BRADY & THE BUCCANEERS
King on Brady and the Buccaneers: “Tom Brady can’t quite grasp it, and if he can’t, how can we? Ten Super Bowl appearances in 19 years as an NFL starting quarterback…The Bucs on Feb. 7 will be the first NFL team in the 55-year history of the Super Bowl to play the big game on its home field.”
Brady to King from the postgame bus: “I’m still trying to process everything. It’s pretty surreal…It’s been an interesting life for me, you know? I still get to do something I love to do and certainly don’t take anything for granted. Just grateful to everyone who supports me…It makes it all so special for me and worth everything because I still get to live my dream. It’s an amazing feeling.”
King on Tampa Bay’s victory over the Packers: “Isn’t (Aaron) Rodgers too good, and weren’t the 2020 Packers too formidable, to lose to any team in the NFC this year?…But the Buc pass-rush sacked Rodgers five times and pressured him consistently, and the rush got to him. And in the big moments Sunday, (Bruce) Arians and Brady came up bigger than (Matt) LaFleur and (Aaron) Rodgers.”
Bruce Arians to King on his aggressive play calls at end of the first half: “I thought about this scenario: I knew who we were playing. I knew we needed points. The decision had to come fast, but I was like, ‘No we gotta – we have to get points out of this drive.’ So I called to put the offense back out there…I know I’d get super-criticized if we get stopped and they get a field goal, but that’s one of those decisions you’re paid to make. I liked our chances.”
Brady on Arians and going for the touchdown before halftime: “Huge decision [Arians] made. That’s how he is – he has so much confidence in his players, a great belief in what we can accomplish.”
King on Packers coach Matt LaFleur’s decision to kick a field goal late in the fourth quarter: “He gambled on his defense to stop the GOAT so Rodgers would have one last chance with, say, 90 seconds to go and needs a touchdown to win. Green Bay never touched the ball again.”
King on Rodgers: “LaFleur made an eminently second-guessable decision to go for a field goal down eight with 2:05 left. And Aaron Rodgers, one of the best quarterbacks ever, is stuck on one championship after coming up empty again in his 13th starting season. As good as Rodgers is, it’s got to sting him that Brady walked into Lambeau with his Florida team on a frigid day and beat the Packers.”
Brady on his time with the Buccaneers: “First game of the year, we’re at the Saints. Like, I didn’t even know where I was sitting on the bench…It’s a lot happening in a short period of time. At 7-5, at our bye week, our last loss was against the Chiefs. Then we found some things that we really liked. Guys really came through and it’s just been an incredible two months of football.”
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
King on what makes the Chiefs great: “There’s something the Chiefs have that so many teams trying to be consistently great do not have…Eight minutes into the game, Mecole Hardman, one of Kansas City’s burners, muffed a punt deep in his territory, and Buffalo recovered at the 3-yard line…On the next series, (Patrick) Mahomes walked the walk. On the second play of the series, Mahomes threw a first-down conversion pass to Hardman. On the last play of the series, Mahomes threw a three-yard touchdown pass to Hardman. Kansas City was back in the game. Importantly, Hardman was back in the game.”
Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu to King on Mahomes: “That’s what great leaders do. Patrick is a natural-born leader. He knows what guys need, and when they need it. Patrick has a good feel especially when the games get really big like this one. Mistakes get magnified in a conference championship game. But as long as Mecole’s in the game, Patrick’s gonna keep him in the game.”
King on Kansas City’s win over Buffalo: “In the 38-24 victory, Kansas City showed signs of gaining the dominance the team did not have in the last couple of months, winning seven straight games by six points or less. We know the quarterbacks in Super Bowl LV will be special. But with Tampa and Kansas City both showing offensive explosiveness and defensive pressure on mobile quarterbacks, there’s no doubt this could be a special Super Bowl.”
King on Kansas City’s future: “You see the stability of Kansas City, with a great 25-year-old quarterback, with a sustaining personnel department, with an imaginative coaching staff that continually develops ‘next’ in key coaching spots…The Chiefs will be very good in Super Bowl LV, and should be good for at least five years to come.”
SUPER BOWL LV STORYLINES
King on the quarterback matchup: “The Super Bowl duel between Brady, 43, and Mahomes, 25, will break a 2-2 tie between the greatest of all time and the greatest perhaps of future times.”
King on Mahomes: “If Mahomes is hurt, he’s disguising it well. A masterful performance by Mahomes in the shredding of Buffalo, shrugging off the effects of a turf toe and exiting the concussion protocol with one of the best playoff performances of his young career. The hype can’t be big enough for Mahomes-Brady in 13 days.”
King on the Buccaneers playing Super Bowl LV at home: “This will be the first home game for a Super Bowl team. The Bucs are exulting over it, of course, but they’ve also won three straight playoff games on the road.”
Arians to King: “We’re playing so good on the road I almost wish the next one was on the road too.”
UPDATES ON 11
King on the Colts: “For a moment, think of the Indianapolis starting quarterbacks over the last 17 months: Andrew Luck, Jacoby Brissett, Philip Rivers. Now there will be a fourth, and all logic points to Matthew Stafford. Think of it. The Lions will need a trade partner with a need plus cap room to handle Stafford’s cap hits…This is the kind of just-add-QB playoff-ready team that Stafford seeks.”
King on the Texans interviewing Josh McCown: “Seems crazy, the Texans considering appointing McCown head coach. He’s never coached at any level beyond high school. But I believe the Texans are intrigued by the possibility. I also believe it’s not certain, and it’s not even close.”
King on the NFL inviting 7,500 vaccinated healthcare workers to the Super Bowl: “Great idea by the NFL, awarding free Super Bowl tickets to 7,500 vaccinated health-care workers for this year’s game. Most winners will come from Florida, but each franchise in the league will invite four health professionals who have been fully vaccinated to the game as well.”
King on Sarah Thomas: “The NFL named the officiating crew for Super Bowl LV, and Sarah Thomas, the sixth-year down judge from Mobile, Ala., made the crew, becoming the first woman ever named to officiate a Super Bowl. The thing I’ve noticed about Thomas, 47, in the last couple of years when I see her doing a game is that I don’t notice her – which is the best trait for an official to have.”
King on the 2021 Hall of Fame Class: “Don’t ask me when we’ll find out who gets in, because we don’t know. Peyton Manning will get in, of course, and after that, my guess is Charles Woodson and Calvin Johnson have the best shot…I think (John) Lynch has been close, so we’ll see if the tight race after Manning benefits or hurts him this year. I like his case.”
NEWS & NOTES
King on Matthew Stafford: “Fact is, he’s been a highly productive quarterback who’s never won a damn thing. Whose fault is that? The Lions’ mostly. With a revolving door of coaches, GMs and cultures, Detroit has not surrounded a very good quarterback with equitable talent.”
King on likely landing spots for Stafford: “1. Colts. Easy pick. Frank Reich needs a quarterback and with the likelihood that Carson Wentz will stay in Philly, Stafford is the best option for a cap-rich team…2. Broncos. Doubt new GM George Paton, who has watched Stafford closely for 12 years while in Minnesota, would be sold on Drew Lock.”
Colts head coach Frank Reich on Philip Rivers: “‘Competitor’ is a word that gets thrown around in sports all the time. To succeed in sports, you’ve got to have that competitive gene. With the retirement of Philip Rivers, the game has lost one of the great competitors ever.”
King on Pittsburgh: “Veteran center and team leader Maurkice Pouncey has told teammates he is likely retiring after 11 seasons in the center of the Pittsburgh offensive line. Feels more and more like it’s time for a retooling in Pittsburgh, with this question lingering: Whither Ben Roethlisberger?”
King on Green Bay: “I think the Packers should end this stupid speculation about the 2021 whereabouts of the 2020 Most Valuable Player and state this week: ‘Aaron Rodgers is a superior player, and he will be our quarterback well into the future. We will entertain no trade discussions for him.’”
KING’S CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME AWARDS
Offensive Players of the Week: Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City, & Tyreek Hill, Kansas City.
King on Hill: “When Hill is healthy, he’s the toughest receiver in the game to neutralize.”
Defensive Players of the Week: Shaq Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul¸ Tampa Bay.
King on Barrett and Pierre-Paul: “Interesting that Barrett and Pierre-Paul were the only two Tampa Bay defenders with Super Bowl championship rings – JPP with the Giants nine years ago, Barrett with the Broncos five years ago. Now in the biggest game for each since those Super Bowls, they played humongous roles in getting the Bucs to the Super Bowl.”
Special Teams Players of the Week: Bradley Pinion, Tampa Bay, & Tyler Bass, Buffalo.
King on Bass: “Capped a strong rookie year with a strong title game. He opened the scoring at Kansas City with a 51-yard field goal. He closed the scoring with a 51-yard field goal. And he executed a successful onside kick late in the game, the first in an NFL playoff game since 2014.”
Coach of the Week: Bruce Arians, head coach, Tampa Bay.
King: “Took a risk before halftime and it led to a 14-0 Bucs avalanche of points in less than two minutes pre- and post-half. That’s Arians’ ethos—taking chances. It’s one of the reasons the Bucs are playing in Super Bowl LV.”
Goats of the Week: Kevin King, Green Bay, Aaron Jones, Green Bay, & Matt LaFleur, Green Bay.
King on King: “The jersey grab to lose the game…capped a horrible day for the Packers corner. King was clearly the weak link in the secondary the Bucs aimed.”
The following are additional highlights of NBC Sports’ NFL coverage:
- PFT Live with NBC Sports’ Mike Florio and Chris Simms streams live on Peacock from 7 a.m. – 9 a.m. ET on weekdays, followed by The Dan Patrick Show 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, Safety Blitz streams on Monday and Chris Simms Unbuttoned stream Tuesday-Friday.
- ProFootballTalk.com continues to provide the latest news and updates.
- The Chris Simms Unbuttoned podcast and Rotoworld Football Podcast discuss the Conference Championship games and look ahead to Super Bowl LV.
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.