Mike Tirico hosted the Week 16 edition of Football Night in America tonight from NBC Sports’ International Broadcast Center in Stamford, Conn., in advance of the Sunday Night Football matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and Seattle Seahawks.
Tirico was joined on the set by analysts Tony Dungy, Rodney Harrison, and Chris Simms, as well as NFL Insider Mike Florio. Liam McHugh co-hosted Football Night on site from CenturyLink Field in Seattle, Wash. McHugh was joined by the SNF team of Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth and Michele Tafoya, and conducted an exclusive pre-game interview with Seahawks QB Russell Wilson.
Coverage on Football Night also included a feature with renowned magicians Penn & Teller, as they pondered whether Patrick Mahomes and Russell Wilson are masters of misdirection, or simply two of the league’s most entertaining quarterbacks. Click here to watch the piece.
During the first quarter of Chiefs-Seahawks, Michaels announced that the Week 17 Sunday Night Football matchup on NBC will feature Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts (9-6) facing the Tennessee Titans (9-6) in a “win or go home” matchup at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn. The winner of NFL #Game256 will earn the final AFC playoff berth, while the loser will miss the playoffs.
Following are Notes & Quotes from the Week 16 edition of Football Night in America:
Michaels: “They got rid of Michael Bennett in the offseason. Cliff Avril retired. Pete Carroll changed nine coaches on his coaching staff, including the offensive and defensive coordinators. They started 0-2. He has them back in the playoff hunt. John Schneider has done great job as GM. They don’t want to say rebuild, but they have retooled, refurbished, whatever you want to call it – and with a win tonight, they’re in the playoffs. This could be Pete Carroll’s best coaching job.”
Harrison: “They’re going back to the formula that allowed them to win a Super Bowl.”
Collinsworth on Wilson: “The forgotten fact in all of this is that Russell Wilson is putting up as many big plays as he ever has in his career. He’s not running as much, he’s not scrambling as much, but because they run the ball so effectively, they’ve been hitting big plays all season.
Harrison on Wilson: “Russell Wilson is a top-5 quarterback and we don’t give him enough credit because he plays so far on the other side of the country. When I look at the NFC playoff picture, there’s no quarterback that’s playing in the NFC that I trust more than Russell Wilson.”
Tirico: “Games in Seattle are great – the weather, the sushi, the sound – it’s all perfect out there.”
Collinsworth on Chiefs defense: “They have to stop the run. They’ve been terrible, the worst in the league, all season long. If they can stop the run, they should have a good chance in this game.”
Simms on Chiefs employing screen passes: “This can replace the run game and make the defense not be able to drop back and always defend against the bombs and deep throws that we’ve seen Mahomes deliver this year.”
Dungy: “Two weeks ago, they’re struggling a little bit, their starting QB gets hurt, Nick Foles has to come in – where have we heard this story before? Two games and two wins, rolling again. Look out for those Eagles.”
Dungy on Eagles QB Nick Foles: “There’s no question this is Carson Wentz’s team. Those guys believe in Wentz, but I was there for a week leading up to the Super Bowl last year and they love playing with Nick Foles. When he’s in the ball game, everybody seems to play – the defensive line seems to rush better. That should have no impact on them.”
Dungy on the NFC playoff picture: “If I’m the rest of the NFC, I’m hoping Philadelphia doesn’t get the help they need (to make the playoffs) because they strike me as getting back to that old formula. Nick Foles has them believing. If they get in, they’re going to be a dangerous team.”
Florio: “We talk about this all the time. The Steelers are supremely talented but they always find a way to blow it in the end.”
Simms: “It’s been something that has happened throughout the year. They’ve dominated football games, and we come away from the game and say, ‘They dominated but they lost.’ How did they lose? From self-inflicted wounds like we saw today.”
Dungy: “Two fumbles. Two fourth-down pass interference penalties. You can’t afford to give away points against the Saints. That did them in.”
Harrison: “Regardless of how they finish the season off, don’t even talk about firing Mike Tomlin. Mike Tomlin is a good head coach…they’ll be fine moving forward.”
Harrison: “They got a gift today with the No. 2 seed. I don’t really like the Patriots. I’ve never seen Rob Gronkowski look like this. I’ve never seen Tom Brady look like this. I’m really worried about the New England Patriots…I wouldn’t be afraid to go into New England.”
Dungy: “I love their resiliency and you have to credit Frank Reich for giving them that belief. Now what we’re seeing is Andrew Luck, who was that first pick in the draft, playing like he can play.”
Dungy on strip-sack by DE Randy Gregory and fumble recovery for TD by LB Jaylon Smith:“Rod Marinelli, their defensive coordinator, worked with me for six years in Tampa. I promise you, they drill these kinds of plays. They work on this in practice…don’t just go for the sack, tomahawk that ball out. Believe me, they practice this every day also – picking up fumbles is something that is drilled.”
Simms: “The Cleveland Browns have so much to look forward to. Baker Mayfield makes a few plays every week where I say to myself, ‘Wow, that’s unbelievable.’…since Gregg Williams took over, the defense has been much improved. The Ravens will have their hands full (in Week 17).”
Simms on QB Sam Darnold: “The way he is ending this year – last week against the Texans, this week against the Packers – you’ve got to be excited if you’re a Jets fan. You have found your quarterback of the future.”
Tirico on overtime loss to Packers: “Jets fans are happy. Darnold played great and they didn’t hurt their draft status.”
Tirico on TE Kyle Rudolph who had 122 receving yards and two TDs in win vs. Detroit: “How could you not find Rudolph two days before Christmas?”
Harrison on big tackle by P Matt Bosher: “I know the Falcons have had problems on defense. Now they’ve found their next strong safety.”
Dungy on loss to Jaguars: “You beat the Patriots and you give yourself a chance to be in position (for the playoffs) and then you play like this at home? Very disappointing.”
FLORIO ON COACHING CAROUSEL
Florio on Falcons head coach Dan Quinn and Panthers head coach Ron Rivera: “Seven straight losses now, and a new owner in David Tepper. And the thinking is, for now, that Rivera is safe. But ultimately it comes down to what Tepper wants to do. One thing to keep in mind, if multiple teams fire coaches, where are the next coaches going to come from? Are you truly going to get an upgrade? That thinking may be influencing Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank. He has said on multiple occasions that Dan Quinn is coming back as the coach, Thomas Dimitroff coming back as the general manager. I’m told we can take Blank at his word.”
Florio on Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis: “Last year at this time, it was a foregone conclusion that Marvin Lewis was going to be leaving Cincinnati. Season ends and he signs a new two-year contract. He’s got one year left, so unless he chooses to walk away, the thinking is the Bengals will keep him because they don’t like to pay people who don’t work, and they owe him a full season of salary.”
Florio on Jets head coach Todd Bowles and GM Mike Maccagnan: “It’s becoming a foregone conclusion that Todd Bowles will be out as head coach, but the real question is, what will the team do with GM Mike Maccagnan? Will he be gone too and make it a clean sweep or will he get a chance to hire a new head coach?
PENN & TELLER ON PATRICK MAHOMES AND RUSSELL WILSON
“Trust us – it’s not magic. We’re experts on this kind of thing. We know how magic is done. We understand how it’s done. We appreciate how it’s done.”
“And so like you, we watch these two quarterbacks every week, and we watch it again on the highlights on this very show. And then we assure ourselves they’re not doing magic. It can’t be, even when they pull a veritable rabbit out of a hat. Even when they show masterful control of misdirection, of the sleight of hand, even when you can swear reality looks like an illusion.”
“Patrick Mahomes and Russell Wilson are not magicians. They’re quarterbacks. At least we think they are. We assume they are. We hope they are, because if they were practicing magic, we don’t need the competition. So, sorry Patrick, Russell, there’s already a two-man act accounted for here. Stick to football.”