Sunday, December 25th, 2022


“I think Tom leaves. I think he continues with his career, but I think he leaves Tampa Bay.” – Rodney Harrison on Tom Brady

“You look at the Steelers Nation now and black and gold towels (in) every city, every away game. To me, it started with Franco Harris.” – Tony Dungy on his former teammate Franco Harris

“The Cowboys did what winning teams do at crunch-time: they took the ball away and then they cashed in on those drives.” – Jason Garrett on Cowboys’ win over Eagles

“They’re getting underneath the center and running downhill, they’re running play-action pass, and I think it’s going to suit them in the playoffs.” – Chris Simms on Chiefs’ “ground and pound” offense

STAMFORD, Conn. – Dec. 25, 2022 – NBC Sports’ presentation of Week 16 of the 2022 NFL season continued tonight from State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., with Football Night in America leading into coverage of Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers visiting DeAndre Hopkins and the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday Night Football on NBC, Peacock and Universo.

Maria Taylor hosted FNIA from NBC Sports’ Studio 1 in Stamford, Conn. She was joined by Hall of Fame head coach Tony Dungy, former NFL head coach Jason Garrett, former NFL quarterback Chris Simms, and fantasy sports industry pioneer Matthew Berry. 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.

From the stadium pregame, Harrison interviewed Buccaneers QB Tom Brady, who he won two Super Bowls with as teammates on the New England Patriots.

Peter King unpacked the long-standing tradition of NFL quarterbacks thanking their offensive linemen with Christmas gifts, speaking with Peyton Manning, Dan Fouts, Andrew Whitworth and more. Click here to watch.

Mike Tirico (play-by-play), Cris Collinsworth (analyst), Melissa Stark (sideline reporter) and Terry McAulay (rules analyst) are calling tonight’s game. Tirico also reported from the field during FNIA.


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


Dungy on the Buccaneers: “I’m one of the few that thinks the Bucs could do some damage in the playoffs, but they’ve got to get back to their style of play. I want to see some passion. I want to see some precision tonight from that unit.”

Garrett: “This is the ultimate ‘it’s about us game’ for Tampa Bay…They have to worry about their energy, their juice, and their execution. The time is now.”

Simms on QB Tom Brady and the Buccaneers offense: “He’s not a mobile quarterback, he’s not going to make a ton of plays outside the pocket…They were at their best last week in the first half of the football game. Running attempts are important because it keeps the play-action pass alive.”

Garrett on C Ryan Jensen: “The loss of Ryan Jensen, their center, he brought some edge and physicality to the middle of that offensive line. He’s going to be missed.”

Harrison on the CB Carlton Davis III and the defense: “They’ve lost their intimidation factor. When you look at the front seven, they don’t have the pass rush to get after the quarterback, so they struggle. But you look in the secondary, there’s one guy that I absolutely love and that’s Carlton Davis III. He doesn’t care who you are…he’s going to get in your face, he’s going to play physical, jam you…He is the ultimate competitor. He doesn’t make a lot of interceptions, but he makes a lot of plays.”

Brady to Harrison on how the Buccaneers’ offense can reach its full potential: “We’ve got to take advantage of the plays in the passing game when they’re there. When we have our shots, we’ve got to take them and we’ve got to hit them…When we get the ball in our hands, we’ve got to do something with it. Throw it to the open guy. No turnovers. Score in the red area. All the fundamentals in football that really matter. I know our defense is gonna go out and play well tonight…My first time playing on Christmas so it’s a new experience and I’m going to go out there and give it everything I’ve got.”

Harrison on Brady’s future: “I think Tom leaves. I think he continues with his career, but I think he leaves Tampa Bay. I think he goes and he finds another team that has a roster — an offensive line that can block and protect for him. That’s a big, big issue for him…I still think Tom has the fire. At times you see his age, but he still has that pop in his arm.”


Harrison on Cardinals WR DeAndre Hopkins: “I’m really looking forward to seeing him match up with Carlton Davis, Tampa Bay’s best corner…I got a chance to talk to his wide receivers coach – and a former teammate of mine – Shawn Jefferson. (Jefferson) said he’s the best at making contested catches in the National Football League.”


Taylor on the passing of Franco Harris: “The legendary running back, an icon, and the one who kind of started Steelers Nation…Someone that everyone could look up to and an icon being able to relate to others in the way that he did.”

Dungy on his former teammate Harris: “I came there in year five of Franco’s career, and I’ll tell you, you look at the Steelers Nation now and black and gold towels (in) every city, every away game. To me, it started with Franco Harris. Yes, four Super Bowl trophies in the ‘70s, but I watched him in training camp and practice, practice like a champion and then walk up that hill and sign everybody’s autograph and just be a friend to everyone. He lived about eight blocks from the stadium and the kids used to (say), ‘Hey, we’re going to Franco’s house for Halloween because he’s going to give away great candy, but he might invite us in.’ He was just that type of person. Great, great man. Great teammate.”

Garrett on the Steelers’ defense in their win over the Raiders: “Old school defense on Franco Harris night. They intercepted the Raiders three times…a tremendous tribute to Franco and the Italian Army.”

Simms: “That was a Steelers type of win right there, like ‘70s Steelers, Franco Harris, cold, physical. The defense was awesome to pull it out. You can’t help but to think of his memory.”


Simms on the Chiefs’ offense: “We’re seeing a little bit of a different approach from the Kansas City Chiefs offense — ‘ground and pound’ a little bit. They’re getting underneath the center and running downhill, they’re running play-action pass, and I think it’s going to suit them in the playoffs. It’s going to give them more versatility for defenses and a few different avenues to attack defenses.”


Harrison on the Bengals: “Joe Burrow’s been playing like he’s an MVP. He’s playing some of the best football of his career. Also, you look at that veteran defense – the Bengals are going to be a problem in the playoffs.”

Garrett on Bengals QB Joe Burrow: “Cincinnati’s been really impressive recently. Their quarterback is off the charts. We talk about it all the time: you can’t play him in man because he’ll throw the ball down the field and make all these big plays. Well, if you play him in zone, he just goes through the coverage and passes to the right guy, and they march up and down the field. This guy is awfully good and they’re playing really well in all three phases of their football team.”

Dungy on the Bengals’ pass protection: “Their pass protection was a little shaky early, but it’s been great the last few weeks.”


Garrett on the Cowboys’ win over the Eagles: “Cowboys-Eagles was the game of the weekend. The Cowboys did what winning teams do at crunch-time: they took the ball away and then they cashed in on those drives. They made some defensive stops. They needed the game and they got it.”

Garrett on Cowboys QB Dak Prescott’s performance against the Eagles: “I thought they were fantastic yesterday in that game against Philly. Tough loss last week against Jacksonville. Dak Prescott – nobody is better at overcoming adversity…Dak was big time. He handled the adversity and kept making the plays at critical moments.”

Simms on the Cowboys’ defense: “I worry about the overall size of Dallas’ defense and the fact that they have to load the box sometimes and play man-to-man off of that, that leads to big plays. As of late, some teams wear that defense down a little late in games. That might be my one concern about them.”


Simms on the 49ers: “Is this the hottest team in football right now? I think it might be when you talk about offense, defense, and special teams…It’s the best defense in football, the running game’s going, Brock Purdy looks like he’s been playing in the NFL for five years.”

Garrett: “Among the elite teams in the NFC, San Francisco’s defense continues to hold up and seems to be getting better and better and better come playoff time.”


Garrett on the Packers’ offense in their win over the Dolphins: “You saw some glimpses. They made some chunk plays throughout this ball game to different receivers…Aaron Rodgers, not quite the Aaron Rodgers that we know, but it looks like they’re getting a little flow and he’s getting his swagger back.”


Florio on QB Lamar Jackson: “The team still believes he’ll play at some point this year and I’m told it’s right round 50-50 for next week. The real question is with an unsettled contract situation for 2023, will he take any chances with his health if he’s anywhere less than 100%? That’s the thing to watch as the week unfolds.”


Florio on Washington’s QB situation: “On Monday, the coaching staff will look at the 49ers game, look at what both Taylor Heinicke and Carson Wentz did in that game, assess which one gives them the best chance to win the rest of the way, and make a decision on Tuesday afternoon, Wednesday morning at the latest. If you’re looking for a lean, I’m told that Ron Rivera really liked what he saw from Carson Wentz in what was his first game action since October 13.”


Taylor on the Vikings’ narrow win over the Giants: “We’re getting used to this. ‘Heart attack Vikings’ getting it done in the end.”


Simms on QB Baker Mayfield’s performance vs. the Broncos: “He was great…Baker Mayfield looks like he’s been there for a full year.”


Simms on Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa’s performance in loss to the Packers: “Not only some bad decisions but some bad throws to go along with it. We haven’t seen that from Tua (Tagovailoa) this year.”


Florio on QB Mac Jones’ block on Bengals CB Eli Apple: “This is an illegal low block on a change of possession. It should’ve been flagged. I’m told the league will look at this for potential discipline on Monday, Tuesday at the latest. A suspension is considered unlikely, but it is one of the potential forms of discipline and he has been accused of these things in the past, but he’s never been fined for it.”

Football Night in America