FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, January 18th, 2021

PETER KING RECAPS DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF GAMES & SPEAKS WITH CHIEFS QB CHAD HENNE IN THIS WEEK’S “FMIA” COLUMN

“Imagine the implications of Henne throwing a ground ball there, or air-mailing the ball over Hill…Reid trusted Henne to do what Mahomes would do right there, and he did.” – King on Kansas City’s game-winning fourth-down pass

“We just thought it was the smart play, the best play.” – Chiefs QB Chad Henne to King on his pass to Tyreek Hill

 “The calming influence of the veteran who’s been there so many times and acts like it, and the effervescent joy of players who were teenagers 20 minutes ago.” – King on Tom Brady’s influence on Buccaneers teammates

STAMFORD, Conn. – Jan. 18, 2021 – Peter King recaps the Divisional Playoff games and speaks with Kansas City quarterback Chad Henne in this week’s edition of Football Morning in America, available now exclusively on NBCSports.com. King also speaks with Tampa Bay linebacker Devin White and Green Bay wide receiver Allen Lazard, discusses the head coaching hiring cycle, 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 Divisional weekend.

The following are highlights from this week’s edition of Football Morning in America:

CHAD HENNE & THE CHIEFS

King on Patrick Mahomes: “Everything about the end of this game was a novella, including Cleveland getting off the mat and nearly coming all the way back from a 19-3 deficit. But let’s not bury the lede: With 7:11 left in the third quarter and (Patrick) Mahomes fighting to convert on a third-and-one run, he was tackled – clean but hard…Immediately woozy, Mahomes struggled to get up and was helped to the sideline. He ran into the locker room a few minutes later but was ruled out for the game and put into the league’s concussion protocol.”

King on Chad Henne: “Henne’s played in some big games, mostly in college at Michigan as a four-year starter. But not many lately. He hadn’t been an NFL starter since 2013…But he was needed when Mahomes went down with 22 minutes left and the team’s Super Bowl defense season beginning to teeter on the end of a Missouri cliff.”

Henne to King on his run on third-and-14: “Coming out of the two-minute warning, there were two plays we all liked. The one we chose, I went back to throw, and they did a great job doubling Travis Kelce, and then I looked for Tyreek (Hill) and he was covered. I felt the pocket collapse and just took off.”

King on the Chiefs’ fourth down pass: “Henne told me in the Saturday night meeting, part of the time was spent on fourth-and-one, fourth-and-five and fourth-and-10 or more plays they liked. (Andy) Reid, Mahomes, Henne, offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, all decided what they liked. In particular, there was one play all liked on fourth-and-short: Tyreek Hill lining up as the first of three receivers split right, closest to the right tackle, taking one jab step upfield, and then a cat-quick veer right.”

Henne: “I just loved the play. Very confident it’d work…We just thought it was the smart play, the best play.”

King on Andy Reid: “Imagine the implications of Henne throwing a ground ball there, or air-mailing the ball over Hill. Would Cleveland have another miracle victory this morning? Nope. Reid trusted Henne to do what Mahomes would do right there, and he did. Now, if Henne has to play Sunday against Buffalo, that 13-yard scramble and the fourth-down conversion pass tell Henne and his mates, Hey, we can win with this guy.”

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

King on Tom Brady’s influence on the Buccaneers: “The impact showed up Sunday on the last game of a historic weekend of football…Brady is 43. The play (Bruce) Arians said won the game was made by a couple of 22-year-old sudden franchise cornerstones on Tampa’s defense, Devin White and Antoine Winfield Jr. … The calming influence of the veteran who’s been there so many times and acts like it, and the effervescent joy of players who were teenagers 20 minutes ago. They need each other to win two more games in this crazy season.”

Buccaneers LB Devin White to King on Brady: “Thing I love about Tom is he’s always teaching. Teaching me how to be a great leader. Every single day, every single practice, he puts the team before himself. First few days he’s in the locker room, we’re all like, We’re in the locker room with the greatest quarterback of all time! Like, I wanna talk to him, I wanna get a picture with him. But then, he’s your teammate. You’re here for a reason.”

King on Tampa Bay’s win: “Arians loved how this game was played. It could be the kind of game Tampa will need to play to beat Green Bay in the title game. Passes: 33. Runs: 35. Though the Bucs rushed for just 3.6 yards per carry, it was more about the mentality and the approach to Arians. They’d lost to the Saints twice this year by a total of 46 points. They’d been pushed around. Not this day.”

King on Drew Brees’ career in New Orleans: “For 15 years, while he climbed over every great quarterback in history and become the all-time leader in passing yards, Brees became an active citizen, maybe the single most important ambassador to making New Orleans whole after Katrina. No one doesn’t love Brees, including his coach, Sean Payton.”

BUFFALO BILLS

Bills fan Rick Peterson to King on attending Saturday’s game at Bills Stadium: “We were only 6,700, but I know we sounded like 67,000…We waited for this night for so long, and we couldn’t go all season, so I think that’s one reason why everyone there tonight was so fired up. I mean, it’s indescribable.”

King on Bills-Ravens: “This game turned with 16 minutes left, Buffalo up 10-3 and Baltimore having a big third-and-goal from the 9-yard line. Would Lamar Jackson find a sliver of daylight to run through, or a way to wedge a throw into a tight space against Buffalo’s defense, which all night had played like it had 14 men on the field, not 11?”

King on Lamar Jackson’s interception: “It was a poor decision, in heavy traffic, one yard deep in the end zone. It was an easy interception, but the not-simple part for (Taron) Johnson was running 101 yards for the touchdown.”

King on Buffalo’s roster building: “Buffalo’s haul from the first two drafts of the new regime won this game…So give (Sean) McDermott and (Brandon) Beane a major assist on this victory, and on all 15 this year.”

GREEN BAY PACKERS

King on Aaron Rodgers: “All summer, Aaron Rodgers was cool. Happy and cool. Wouldn’t you have expected him to show some signs of anger after the franchise didn’t take a receiver from a plush crop in the 2020 draft – but did take his potential heir in the first round? Nope. Nary an eye-roll from the great Rodgers, or from his receiver.”

Packers WR Allen Lazard to King: “I didn’t even watch the draft. The draft did not affect me…I knew that regardless whether they took someone or not, they’re gonna bring other people in to compete for a job. And it doesn’t really matter who they bring in, whether it’s a high draft pick or not. I need to go out there and prove myself regardless.”

King on Lazard’s 58-yard touchdown catch after an earlier drop: “Doubtless (Rodgers) knew Lazard’s unflagging confidence in himself would make that drop fly out of his head by the time he got back to the huddle. So after the Rams got to within 25-18 on their next series, Lazard didn’t expect the play-calling to be any different – and it wasn’t.”

King on Packers head coach Matt LeFleur: “There’s a big reason why a team that was 15-19-1 and floundering in the last 35 games pre-LaFleur is 28-7 in in the second-year coach’s first 35. LaFleur and Rodgers zig when they’re supposed to zag…This is one reason why the Packers will be so tough to beat as the NFL enters its Final Four: Great quarterback, totally unpredictable offense.”

UPDATES ON 11

King on Brandon Staley: “I don’t think the Chargers rushed to hire Staley because they feared the Eagles might; I bet it was a factor, but a small one. More of a factor was this: They were convinced no matter how long the process went on that Staley would be their guy.”

King on Urban Meyer’s transition to the NFL: “There’s a lot for him to get used to, and a lot of work for him to do to get to know a league he never spent one day employed in before Friday. In his opening press conference, Meyer lavished praise on Hall of Fame coach Jimmy Johnson for being his sounding board in recent weeks as he strongly considered getting back into coaching.”

King on Arthur Smith: “After being led by a defensive head coach for the last 13 seasons, the progressive offense of Smith, in addition to his global view of the job, was inviting for Atlanta. My bet is that Smith would be in favor of keeping Matt Ryan and trying to build around a good skill group to topple the Saints and Bucs in the NFC South.”

King on Robert Saleh: “Just as the Jersey-neighbor Giants have a program-builder and an I-dare-you-to-knock-this-chip-off-my-shoulder franchise leader in Joe Judge, this is what the Jets think they have in Saleh, who is demanding and likeable and morphs his defense to fit the players he has.”

NEWS & NOTES

King on Deshaun Watson and the Texans:I think there’s one way to get the Texans out of this Deshaun Watson mess: hire Eric Bieniemy. If the Texans don’t make peace with Watson, they deserve to have a crowd of 0 at the home opener next year.”

King on the Texans: “I cannot say this emphatically enough: If the Texans trade a 25-year-old franchise quarterback/model leader/citizen, for virtually any price, it will haunt them for years.”

King on Green Bay QB Jordan Love: “The more I see Rodgers this year, the more I think it’s quite possible that Jordan Love becomes Green Bay’s Garoppolo – a guy who never gets the chance to be the starter for the team that drafted him to be one.”

King on Patriots assistant coach Jerod Mayo: “I’m hearing Jerod Mayo is a serious candidate in Philadelphia. Interesting, after only two years as a New England assistant. The Belichick imprimatur lives.”

KING’S DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF AWARDS

Offensive Players of the Week: Chad Henne, Kansas City, the Green Bay offensive line, & Tom Brady, Tampa Bay.

King on Henne: “Henne’s two biggest plays, with the game on the line after the two-minute warning, were a 13-and-a-half-yard scramble on third-and-14 and the Chiefs’ 35, and then the five-yard pass from shotgun on fourth-and-a-foot to clinch the game. That’s the biggest completion of his 13-year NFL career.”

Defensive Players of the Week: Devin White, Tampa Bay, L’Jarius Sneed¸ Kansas City, & Taron Johnson, Buffalo.

King on White: “Two vital takeaways by White in the last 20 minutes turned the game around…Huge day for the Bucs’ first pick in the 2019 draft, still just 22 years old.”

Coach of the Week: Leslie Frazier, defensive coordinator, Buffalo.

King: “Holding the Ravens – holding any team – to three points in a divisional playoff game was a terrific accomplishment for the NFL lifer, and could propel Frazier into the head-coach conversation in Houston or Philadelphia.”

Goats of the Week: Lamar Jackson, Baltimore, Rashard Higgins, Cleveland, & Patrick Mekari, Baltimore center.

King on Mekari: “hen a center cannot snap the ball to the quarterback efficiently in the biggest game of the year, the team needs to investigate center options.”

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 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 Divisional Playoffs and look ahead to the Conference Championship games.

 

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.

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