Sunday, January 3rd, 2021


“Probably the most dangerous team in the playoffs not named the Kansas City Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes. Watch out for Buffalo.” – Chris Simms

“A doink and in to win the division!” – Mike Tirico on the Titans’ Game-Winning FG

“This is the team no one wants to play.” – Rodney Harrison on the Ravens

“I think it’s a huge rebuild and I think they have to start over with their quarterback.” – Tony Dungy on the Patriots

STAMFORD, Conn. – Jan. 3, 2021 – NBC Sports’ presentation of the final week of the 2020 NFL regular season began tonight from Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pa., with Football Night in America leading into coverage of the Washington Football Team at the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday Night Football on NBC.

Mike Tirico hosted FNIA from NBC Sports Group’s Studio 1 in Stamford, Conn., and was joined by Pro Football Hall of Fame head coach Tony Dungy, 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. Steve Kornacki, NBC News’ celebrated political correspondent, returned to FNIA to analyze the NFL Playoff picture. For more information about Kornacki, click here.

Al Michaels (play-by-play), Cris Collinsworth (analyst), Michele Tafoya (sideline reporter) and Terry McAulay (rules analyst) are calling tonight’s game.


Following are highlights from tonight’s edition of Football Night in America on NBC:


Tirico: “You know the best thing I saw today? It’s what we’ve seen every Sunday starting back with the kickoff of the season in Kansas City: NFL football. With a lot of sacrifice, some great leadership from the league office, sacrifice of teams, medical personnel, coaches, players, and families of players and coaches as well, 255 games played. One more to go here on NBC.”


Simms on what QB Alex Smith brings to the team: “Leadership. He’s played in some big football games throughout his career. He understands what his team is, which is a defensive, running football team, and then he understands how the game is actually going and when to push the envelope, when to dial it back a little bit. Ultimately, he understands what he is and what his team is.”

Dungy on Washington’s defensive line: “They are the strength of this football team…They allow them not to have to blitz. They can rush the passer with just those four guys.”


Tirico on rain in Philadelphia: “New year, the season ends with game 256 on the schedule on a rainy night in South Philly. The weather will be a factor in the finale. Because the NFC East title is on the line, it’s kind of fitting that the night is kind of ugly.”

Simms on QB Jalen Hurts: “Hurts brings a different element to this offense in Philadelphia…That (Washington) defensive line is real, but if you want to slow down their attack, a running quarterback can do that.”

Tirico on the Eagles’ QB situation: “Crank up WIP sports talk radio. The conversation, which has already begun, will go on for months.”

Florio on QB Carson Wentz: “Well the future, at least in the short term, is the Eagles are going to take some time. They’re going to press pause. They’re going to get some distance from the season and then commence the process of deciding what to do about the quarterback position. Reinstall Carson Wentz as the starter? That’s one possibility. An open competition between Wentz and Jalen Hurts, or stick with Jalen Hurts? That’s going to be the first move. They still do have faith in Carson Wentz. Guys like Ben Roethlisberger and Peyton Manning had a down year early in their careers and they turned it around. And keep this in mind, the Eagles have had 14 different offensive line combinations this year. They’re not fazed by reports that Wentz wants out, they have the cash and the cap space to keep both guys, and they know as well as anyone the importance of having two capable quarterbacks. They regard backup quarterback as a top 15 position on the entire roster, so it’s important for them to have both Wentz and Hurts around.”

Simms on what he would do if he were Wentz: “I would probably force my way out of Philadelphia. I think the time has come. Between Nick Foles and what happened there, everybody blames him for everything that goes wrong with the Philadelphia offense. Jalen Hurts has quite a following coming from Alabama, Oklahoma. It just seems like the city has turned on him and if I’m him, I’m probably trying to find a way to get myself on another football team.”


Simms on INT that went off TE Evan Engram’s hands: “This happens too often throughout Evan Engram’s career — balls that should be caught, and they’re not caught.”

Simms: “This Giants defense was clutch all day.”

Tirico on RB Wayne Gallman’s late-game fumble: “He stripped himself.”

Simms on Cowboys running game: “The run game was non-existent because of the size and domination of the Giants defensive line.”

Harrison on Giants offense: “They have some good players, but they don’t have anyone special. They don’t have anyone great. So no one scares me on that offense. If I’m Tampa, I’m looking to play the Giants (instead of Washington).”


Dungy on the Saints playing without any running backs: “(Ty Montgomery) was in the wide receiver room for the most part, that’s why he could play running back and he did a great job for them…Another running back, Taysom Hill, right?”


Simms on QB Russell Wilson leading a fourth-quarter comeback: “It was Russell time in the fourth quarter. It was just all him creating plays.”

Harrison: “It’s a change of events for me. Earlier in the year, I had a lot of confidence in their offense. Now, I have not a lot of confidence in their offense. I have more confidence in their defense.”

Simms: “I’m with you. It’s kind of a 180 and it’s become too Russell-centric on the offensive side of the ball. That’s a little bit concerning.”


Simms: “I sit here and think maybe it’s the best downfield passing offense in the game right now.”

Harrison on QB Tom Brady: “I see a totally different Tom in terms of his confidence. Earlier in the season, he didn’t seem very confident. He seemed kind of confused. Now I see a guy, I see his demeanor, he’s very confident, but I also see a guy throwing the ball with a lot of authority…That’s what made him great – Tom in January.”

Simms on WR Antonio Brown: “This is why you get Antonio Brown. You’ve got a team you think can win the Super Bowl, receiver (Mike Evans) gets hurt. Ok, we have Antonio to replace him.”

Dungy on Tampa Bay’s chances if they face No. 1 seed Green Bay in NFC Playoffs: “That’s the one team I like in the NFC going to Green Bay. They can rush the passer and they’ve got a quarterback who kind of knows how to win in January.”


Tirico: “It felt like the Jim Kelly Bills of the ‘90s where they put up 56 points comfortably today.”

Simms: “Josh Allen and this Bills offense is as exciting as any…The weapons on this Buffalo team – special teams, defense, everything hitting on all cylinders for them.”

Harrison on why Buffalo has the best chance of beating Kansas City in the AFC Playoffs: “Offensively, we know they can score points, but defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, he’s done a great job with this defense…This secondary is one of the best…Those two safeties (Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer) are probably the best duo in the NFL.”

Simms: “Probably the most dangerous team in the playoffs not named the Kansas City Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes. Watch out for Buffalo.”


Harrison: “This is the team no one wants to play…five straight wins. I guess it’s safe to say that they’re ready for the playoffs.”

Harrison on QB Lamar Jackson: “He’s playing loose, he’s having fun, he’s not overthinking. He just took it right back to the playground.”

Harrison on RB J.K. Dobbins: “I love his vision, I love his tough, physical run style…The energy that he brings and the underrated speed and quickness.”


Simms on QB Baker Mayfield: “Today, his legs were the big difference…The play caller can’t call the right play every play after play after play. The defense is going to win (sometimes). You’ve got to make some plays off-schedule and we’re seeing that a lot from Baker Mayfield right now.”

Dungy on Mayfield: “When they (wide receivers) weren’t open, Baker made things happen today…Pittsburgh has some athletic rushers, but they could not handle his movement…that was the difference in the game. His athleticism.”


Simms on RB Derrick Henry: “It’s every week I feel like we’re just saying the same thing, ‘Here goes Derrick Henry, off to the races. Look at this big guy that no one can catch.’”

Tirico on K Sam Sloman’s game-winning field goal: “A doink and in to win the division!”


Dungy on WR Chase Claypool’s TD catch: “Goes up and gets the 50-50 balls as well as anyone in the league.”


Tirico: “Minnesota’s defense wasn’t good this year. Detroit’s defense wasn’t good this year. And in 2021, the song remains the same.”

Dungy: “I was a defensive coordinator for the Vikings in this division. I never saw points go up like this. I was cringing all day. Where’s the defense?”


Tirico: “How big of a rebuild is this?”

Dungy: “I think it’s a huge rebuild and I think they have to start over with their quarterback. We’ve seen 20 years of great quarterback play in New England. We didn’t see great quarterback play this year and we didn’t see good play from the whole team.”

Simms: “I would think we’ve seen the end of Cam Newton with the New England Patriots.”


Simms on QB Deshaun Watson: “Had a phenomenal year. I don’t care what their record is.”


Florio on offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy: “He’s a guy who’s been a candidate but not a guy who’s gotten an offer for the past couple of years. The thinking is this is the year that it finally comes through for him, whether it’s with the Chargers or the Texans or someone else, the belief is that he’s going to be the next member of that Andy Reid coaching tree.”


Florio on offseason moves: “The wild card in all of this, however, is owner Woody Johnson. He’s been serving as the U.S. Ambassador to the U.K. He will be back on January 21. How involved will he be in the decision-making process, in the search, in interviewing, etc. That still remains to be seen.”


Florio on head coach Anthony Lynn’s future: “The Chargers have been taking the position all season long that they will wait until the season ends to evaluate coach Anthony Lynn, and that’s my understanding. Now that the season is over, they will make that decision. They are keeping the cards very close to the vest and they’ve always tried to act out of respect towards Anthony Lynn, a guy that they’ve had a ton of appreciation for regardless of what they decide to do. If they do make a change, Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy is a name to watch.”

Dungy on QB Justin Herbert: “He has staked his claim to Offensive Rookie of the Year. Just playing tremendous football.”


Florio: “The guy to really watch though is team president Rich McKay. He had been the GM before, now he’s back in football operations. How much power, how much influence does he have as that liaison between the coach and the GM and owner Arthur Blank, and will that potentially scare away some candidates?”


Florio on if head coach Doug Marrone is fired: “This momentum is building that Urban Meyer, the former Ohio State and Florida head coach, has the job if he wants it. My understanding is that he’s still deciding whether or not he wants to get into the NFL. He’s been calling around to potential candidates to join his coaching staff. Also, he’ll be hiring the general manager if he gets the job. One name to watch is former Chiefs GM Scott Pioli.”


Florio on head coach Zac Taylor: “Every year there’s a surprise and this one wouldn’t really be a surprise. Zac Taylor, the Bengals head coach, there are reports that he’s safe. My understanding is he’s not entirely safe, so that’s one to keep an eye on moving forward.”