Sunday, January 9th, 2022


“This was the most physical team that we’ve watched all year.” – Rodney Harrison on the Titans

“The Cincinnati Bengals are must-watch TV. I love their big play mindset. Let’s see if that carries over to the Playoffs.” – Drew Brees

“Big Ben was efficient and that’s really why he’s one of the clutchest quarterbacks we’ve ever seen in NFL history.” – Chris Simms on Ben Roethlisberger

“I’m going to give the Jags some free advice … Hire Jim Caldwell. He’ll do a great job for you.” – Tony Dungy

STAMFORD, Conn. – Jan. 9, 2022 – NBC Sports’ presentation of Week 18 of the 2021 NFL season began tonight from Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nev., with Football Night in America leading into the NFL’s regular-season finale (#Game272) between the Chargers and Raiders — with the winner clinching a spot in the NFL Playoffs — on Sunday Night Football on NBC and Peacock.

Mike Tirico hosted FNIA from NBC Sports Group’s Studio 1 in Stamford, Conn., and was joined by co-host Maria Taylor, Pro Football Hall of Fame head coach Tony Dungy, Super Bowl XLIV MVP Drew Brees, and former NFL quarterback Chris Simms. Two-time Super Bowl winner Rodney Harrison joined co-host Jac Collinsworth at the site of the game. NFL Insider Mike Florio provided reports from his home studio. NBC News’ Steve Kornacki joined Football Night to break down the NFL playoff scenarios.

Al Michaels (play-by-play), Cris Collinsworth (analyst), Michele Tafoya (sideline reporter) and Terry McAulay (rules analyst) are calling tonight’s game, the final contest of the 2021 NFL regular season.

For the first time ever, Football Night in America and Sunday Night Football are streaming on Peacock Premium every week this season. Viewers can sign up here. Peacock Premium is included at no additional cost for Comcast’s eligible Xfinity X1 and Flex customers and Cox Contour customers.

NBC Sports’ new post-game show Peacock Sunday Night Football Final streams tonight exclusively on Peacock following Sunday Night Football.


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


Dungy on factoring for a tie to advance to the NFL Playoffs as a head coach: “As Steve (Kornacki) said (there’s a) 0.3% chance (of a tie occurring), so I’m not even thinking about it unless we get to overtime…until then you’re playing to win the game.”

Brees: “As a player, you’re playing to win the game. It’s all you’re focused on, doing whatever it takes. Especially with the Playoffs next week, you want to be at your very best.”


Harrison: “They’ve always had talent. The problem with them, they’ve always been soft mentally. They went out and got Brandon Staley to change that. That’s a big part of the aggressiveness –going for it on fourth down. He’s trying to instill confidence in his team.”

Tirico: “When all their pieces are going, they can be very dynamic.”

Simms on QB Justin Herbert: “His ability to read coverage and put the ball in tight windows is what is so impressive to me.”


Dungy on QB Derek Carr: “His teammates love him, his coaches love him and tonight he gets a chance to get the Raiders fans to love him. Just one piece of advice…don’t forget to hand the ball off to (Josh Jacobs) tonight.”


Dungy: “This is about as wide a field as I have seen…Tennessee, great job of persevering. Derrick Henry — if he can come back like the Derrick Henry we know, maybe they become the favorite.”

Brees: “It has been a lack of consistency amongst the AFC teams. If you give a nod to somebody, I would look to Kansas City because they’ve been there. But the Cincinnati Bengals are must-watch TV. I love their big play mindset. Let’s see if that carries over to the Playoffs.”


Harrison: “When we saw them in Los Angeles (on SNF in Week 9), this was the most physical team that we’ve watched all year. They get A.J. Brown and Derrick Henry back and healthy, c’mon, who is going to beat them?”

Dungy: “Mike Vrabel has done an awesome job getting his team to that number-one seed without his ace, but they need Derrick Henry. They’re winning a lot of close games. They’re going to play better teams in the Playoffs. They’ve got to get that real running identity back.”

Brees: “I’m pretty amazed that when they lost him – all of us looked at Tennessee saying they’re in trouble. And yet here they are as the one seed. And why? I think in large part it’s because they may have the best offensive line and defensive line combination in football, and that’s what you need to win.”

Tirico: “It might be enough to vote Mike Vrabel Coach of the Year.”


Dungy: “The Colts offensive line was dominated by the Jaguars defensive line.”

Dungy: “Carson Wentz is going to get a lot of criticism for today, but the Colts have been (a team that relies on its) offensive line, running the football. They couldn’t get anything going today. Defensively, a team that gets takeaways – they got zero today. That was the difference in the game for me – offensive and defensive lines got dominated.”

Brees: “The last two weeks, they just imploded. They had almost stamped their ticket to the Playoffs, but unfortunately they go down to Jacksonville today and get whooped pretty good.”


Tirico: “Jacksonville fans were talking about being clowns, making fun of their team. Their team had the last laugh.”

Dungy: “(Colts) offense couldn’t get anything going. You have to credit the Jags. They came to play.”

Dungy on head coaching vacancy: “I’m going to give the Jags some free advice – Jim Caldwell. You’ve got a great young quarterback that needs to be developed. Think this – Peyton Manning, Joe Flacco, Matthew Stafford. Jim Caldwell helped develop all of those when they were young quarterbacks. Also, first class, high class guy who can work with anybody and who’s been to the mountain top. Hire Jim Caldwell. He’ll do a great job for you.”

Tirico: “They need an adult in the room, and he would certainly fit that.”


Tirico: “It hasn’t hit midnight just yet.”

Simms on QB Ben Roethlisberger: “It wasn’t pretty. It’s not always sexy, but Big Ben was efficient and that’s really why he’s one of the clutchest quarterbacks we’ve ever seen in NFL history.”


Dungy: “I’m a little concerned about New England. Some mistakes we’re not used to seeing…usually in January, games that you have to win, at home against Buffalo last week to take first place in the division – they didn’t show up. And today, same thing.”


Simms: “The offense is big-play, too Josh Allen-centric still, but they have got a running game going lately with Devin Singletary. For me, that will be a big key in the Playoffs.”


Simms: “We know the offense is awesome…I am a little concerned with their defense. Teams move and run the ball up and down the field on them…they’ve been leaky a bit on that side of the ball.”


Simms: “The 49ers defense took over this game in the second half.”

Brees: “Who wants to play the 49ers right now? With the way they are running the football and how their defense shut down that explosive Rams offense in the second half (today), the Cowboys will have their work cut out for them.”


Tirico: “There’s malaise and concern with the Giants franchise and fanbase.”

Dungy on the decision to quarterback sneak on third-and-nine from their own four-yard line: “What is that? A quarterback sneak from victory formation to just punt the ball? … I know your quarterback got hurt, that makes a big difference, but these last six games haven’t been competitive. And then what I saw today, running a quarterback sneak on third-and-nine to just punt the ball, that’s not competitive.”


Brees on QB Kirk Cousins, RB Dalvin Cook and WR Justin Jefferson: “You look at the talent they have on both sides of the ball…how do you miss the Playoffs?”