FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, December 27th, 2021
PETER KING DISCUSSES THE BILLS’ PIVOTAL WIN & SPEAKS WITH BENGALS QB JOE BURROW IN THIS WEEK’S “FMIA” COLUMN
“New England had its two decades and six Super Bowls, and now, post-Brady, this was the Bills’ turn…This is why I thought this was the most important victory of Allen’s NFL life.” – King on Josh Allen and the Bills defeating the Patriots
“That’s what I expect to go out and do every week. I expect to play that way every single week. It wasn’t surprising to me, that’s for sure.” – Bengals QB Joe Burrow to King on his 525-yard passing performance vs. the Ravens
“When he came back to us, he was a model citizen. There was a new history…So I’ve got a totally different relationship than when it was when you and I talked last year.” – Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians to King on WR Antonio Brown rejoining the team
STAMFORD, Conn. – Dec. 27, 2021 – Peter King discusses Buffalo’s pivotal AFC East victory over the Patriots and speaks with Bengals QB Joe Burrow after he passed for 525 yards in a win over Baltimore in this week’s edition of Football Morning in America, available now exclusively on NBCSports.com. King also reports on the Colts overcoming Covid issues, speaks with Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians on the return of WR Antonio Brown, hands out his Week 16 awards, and more.
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The following are highlights from this week’s edition of Football Morning in America:
JOSH ALLEN & THE BILLS
King on Bills QB Josh Allen: “This was Josh Allen’s 63rd NFL game. Of course, the biggest one was the AFC Championship Game last year, when he and the Bills laid an egg in a 14-point loss at Kansas City. But they weren’t expected to win that game…The Bills weren’t necessarily expected to win Sunday in the de facto AFC East Championship Game either. But this was winnable”
King on the importance of Buffalo’s win over New England in Week 16: “It was crucial to a few things. One: the psyche of this team, beat down three weeks ago in the freaky Monday night weathery loss to New England in Orchard Park. Two: the psyche of western New York, which loves this team the way parents love their first-born. Three: the mental state of the franchise. New England had its two decades and six Super Bowls, and now, post-Brady, this was the Bills’ turn…This is why I thought this was the most important victory of Allen’s NFL life.”
King on Allen: “When Allen met his teammates Sunday morning, he told them he woke up with violence on his mind…He made zero dumb plays all day. In the past, he’d beat himself up for, as he said, ‘trying to play hero ball.’ Not on this day. He took what the Patriots gave him, had a perfect touch on so many of his 47 throws, didn’t get greedy, and was a kingmaker on fourth downs.”
Bills WR Isaiah McKenzie to King on Allen: “His point in saying he woke up with violence on his mind was we gotta come out and play every play like it’s the most important play. And we felt that from the first play of the game.”
King on Allen and McKenzie: “(Allen) had to beat the great Bill Belichick in Belichick’s house, and he had to win without two receivers he’d targeted a total of 34 times in the last two weeks. Cole Beasley and Gabriel Davis both tested positive for Covid during the week…That meant the elevation of the 5-8, 173-pound McKenzie, who’d never had a big game in his life.”
McKenzie to King on his 11 catches for 125 yards and a TD: “That’s the great part of this day – Josh trusted me all day…To be honest, when I’m making those catches, I really have no idea what down it is, what the situation is. I’m in the zone, in the moment. All I knew is I had to take advantage of my chance.”
King on the Buccaneers and the return of WR Antonio Brown: “Of all the amazing stats in Week 16, Brown, after sitting since Oct. 14, catching 10 balls and being targeted 15 times by Tom Brady, would be right up there…Instead of making an example of Brown, they let him stay, and Sunday in Charlotte was Brown’s first chance to pay the franchise back for its loyalty.”
Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians to King on if they planned to target Brown 15 times yesterday: “Yeah, pretty much. That’s who we had today, and if they were going to play single-high coverage, there was never a doubt in my mind.”
Arians to King on allowing Brown to rejoin the team: “When you and I talked last year, we were talking on old experiences with Antonio. When he came back to us, he was a model citizen. There was a new history. I really loved the way he tried to fit in, worked his way in and gave us everything he had to go to the Super Bowl. My whole attitude on him changed. I saw him trying to be a better human being. So I’ve got a totally different relationship than when it was when you and I talked last year.”
King on Bengals QB Joe Burrow: “Burrow threw for 525 yards Sunday in the 41-21 beatdown of the Ravens. It’s the fourth-highest total in NFL history, yet Burrow, as is his custom, talked about it like he was talking about a Seinfeld rerun. Cool, seen it before, enjoyed it, but what’s next?”
Burrow to King: “I’ve done it a bunch of times. That’s what I expect to go out and do every week. I expect to play that way every single week. It wasn’t surprising to me, that’s for sure.”
Burrow to King on preparing for the game vs. the Ravens: “We weren’t really sure what they were gonna do on either side of the ball. They had so many guys out on defense. They had a quarterback [Josh Johnson] who hadn’t played…We came into the game with the expectation to have to adapt to a bunch of different things and I think both sides of the ball did a good job of that.”
King on the Bengals: “The Bengals had an interesting philosophy building their team – and that philosophy might be leading them to a division title in Burrow’s second year. They were determined to get three franchise receivers around Burrow. Tyler Boyd was there pre-Burrow. Tee Higgins was drafted in Burrow’s year, 2020. And Ja’Marr Chase came in the first round this year instead of Oregon tackle Penei Sewell.…Each one, in his own right, looks the part of franchise player at times.”
King on the Colts’ Covid issues: “The Colts, in a dogfight for the playoffs, flew to Phoenix around 4 p.m. Friday…On Christmas morning, three players tested positive for Covid-19. One was the best defensive player on the team, linebacker Darius Leonard, and the other two were starters…Imagine the angst inside the Colts when told three starters were out before an important game with major playoff implications.”
King: “Depth won Saturday night for the Colts. Depth will determine a lot as this suddenly strange season lurches toward a conclusion. That’s a big reason why Coach (Frank) Reich gave a game ball Saturday night to GM Chris Ballard. ‘When you have a day like this, and you need everyone on the roster, you thank the man who put it together,’ Reich said.”
King on the MVP race: “MVP? Flip a three-sided coin: (Aaron) Rodgers, Cooper Kupp, Jonathan Taylor.”
King on Packers QB Aaron Rodgers: “I would love to see Aaron Rodgers, who was so happy and content and grateful Saturday after the 24-22 win over Cleveland, stay in Green Bay in 2022 and be a lifelong Packer. But more than that, Rodgers has kept his word, from what he told me and others during training camp. He promised to be where his feet are…He sounds like a man who loves where he is.”
KING’S WEEK 16 AWARDS
Offensive Players of the Week: Joe Burrow, Cincinnati, Josh Allen, Buffalo, Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay, & Rex Burkhead, Houston.
King on Allen: “With the AFC East title on the line in one of the most significant games of his young career, Allen painted a masterpiece at Foxboro… The numbers were in keeping with Allen’s rep, but watching the game, I thought his performance was as much about his presence and control.”
Defensive Players of the Week: Charvarius Ward, Kansas City, & Rasul Douglas, Green Bay.
King on Ward: “Suddenly, Kansas City has so many defensive playmakers; it would have been easy to pick several others in this space, but the defense has been such a concerted team effort. Watch out if you’re traveling to Arrowhead this postseason.”
Special Teams Players of the Week: Braxton Berrios, New York Jets, Jack Fox, Detroit, & Brandon Powell, Los Angeles Rams.
King on Berrios: “His fleet, lovely 102-yard kick return for touchdown early in the second quarter gave the Jets the lead over Jacksonville – and gave Berrios the right to declare he’s the best return man in football this year.”
Coach of the Week: Leslie Frazier, Buffalo.
King: “Notice something different about Mac Jones on Sunday? He was never comfortable. The Bills’ varied rush had Jones hopping around and out of the pocket consistently, and the Bills’ secondary had answers for Jones and his targets all day.”
Read the full FMIA column here and catch the weekly Peter King Podcast here.
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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.