FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sunday, December 17th, 2023
NOTES & QUOTES FROM WEEK 15 EDITION OF FOOTBALL NIGHT IN AMERICA ON NBC AND PEACOCK
“The Ravens have a Super Bowl team. Offensively, they can play you any way they want to.” – Rodney Harrison on the Ravens
“They’re the best team in ball right now.” – Jason Garrett on the 49ers
“Mistakes and magic, that’s what’s happening in Kansas City right now.” – Chris Simms on the Chiefs’ offense
Peacock Sunday Night Football Final Streams EXCLUSIVELY on Peacock Following Eagles-Cowboys and Every Sunday Night Football Game During 2023 Season
STAMFORD, Conn. – Dec. 17, 2023 – NBC Sports’ presentation of Week 15 of the 2023 NFL season began tonight from EverBank Stadium in Jacksonville, Fla., with Football Night in America leading into coverage of Ravens-Jaguars on Sunday Night Football on NBC and Peacock.
Maria Taylor hosted FNIA from NBC Sports’ Studio 1 in Stamford, Conn. She was joined by former Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett, three-time Super Bowl champion Devin McCourty, former NFL quarterback Chris Simms, NFL Insider Mike Florio, and fantasy sports industry pioneer Matthew Berry. Steve Kornacki was also in the studio to break down playoff scenarios. Hall of Fame head coach Tony Dungy and two-time Super Bowl winner Rodney Harrison joined co-host Jac Collinsworth and at the site of the game.
Mike Tirico (play-by-play), Cris Collinsworth (analyst), Melissa Stark (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 and Peacock:
Harrison: “The Ravens have a Super Bowl team. Offensively, they can play you any way they want to. You want to run the football? They can run it 40 times. They can pass it 40, 50 times like they did last week.”
Simms on QB Lamar Jackson: “We are all impressed by him this season. Taking from what he did last year to this year, there’s been a great growth. I wish they weren’t in the shotgun so much, I wish they would run the ball a little bit more. But they are in good hands with this guy because his right arm is big-time and he’s carrying this Ravens offense right now.”
McCourty on the Ravens’ defense: “They do everything. They can rush the passer, they can stop the run.”
Simms on concerns about the Ravens’ defense: “The Ravens defense is awesome, there’s no doubt about it…They can rush the passer, but they can only rush when they blitz. That’s a little concerning. When they just have their front four, the quarterback has all day to throw the ball. Other thing I think that bothers all of us, is they don’t play man-to-man all that well.”
Harrison on WR Odell Beckham Jr.: “He’s getting healthier, he’s getting more comfortable in the system. He can’t run like he used to run when he first came into the league, but he’s an excellent route-runner…Odell has worked so hard the last couple of years, overcoming these injuries. I have a lot of respect for him and I’m happy that he’s able to go back out there and play.”
Dungy on Beckham: “Having this time with Lamar (Jackson), getting these reps, they are on the same page now…I was watching the receivers warmup (tonight) and I commented to them how they’ve got such a tightknit group. They credited Odell Beckham with bringing that to the table, bringing that professionalism.”
Dungy: “A month ago, it looked like they could be a No. 1 seed, but injuries have really hurt their communication, especially in the offensive line. That’s what they’re going to have to tighten up tonight – their offensive line play.”
Simms on the Jaguars’ offense: “They live in this five- to 10-yard intermediate passing zone. Defenses can play for that a lot, but when they take some shots down the field to Calvin Ridley, Evan Engram, it opens up their offense.”
McCourty on the Jaguars’ offensive system: “I enjoy watching this now from Doug Pederson, but it gave me nightmares back in (the) 2017 (season) playing that Eagles team in the Super Bowl when they were throwing to Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor, Zach Ertz. They’re doing that here in Jacksonville.”
Kornacki on the biggest winners in the Playoff race from today’s action: “The two biggest winners today were looking like anything but winners at 3:30 (p.m. ET) this afternoon. Starting with the Cleveland Browns, they were down 10 against Chicago. They were facing the possibility of falling into what’s a messy 8-6 tie. Instead, they come back, they survive that Hail Mary. The browns are 9-5, and they are in great playoff position now. They are a full game ahead of anybody else in Wild Card contention, and they are not out of picture yet [to win] the AFC North.
And then there’s the Houston Texans. They came into today knowing with a loss, their chances would be just 23 percent. They fell behind 13-0 in this game, they had just 7% chance of winning it at that point. They rally, they win on the last second field goal, and the Texans are now a part of that 8-6 tie with more than a puncher’s chance of making the Playoffs.”
Click here for Kornacki on the NFC Wild Card race.
Garrett: “They’re dominant because they’re so complete. Offense, defense, kicking game. They hand it to different guys, they throw it to different guys. They can rush, they can cover. They’re the best team in ball right now.”
Simms on the Bills’ victory over the Cowboys and RB James Cook: “James Cook and the running game dominating the Dallas Cowboys? I never thought I would be saying that today…James Cook has been the new weapon ever since Joe Brady took over on the offensive side of the ball. Pass game, run game, it’s been impressive.”
McCourty on Cook: “We thought Buffalo was dead and gone, but James Cook said, ‘Hold on, I’m giving us life.’ … His ability to be a pass-catcher makes it so you can’t have the big guys in there for Dallas. He’s able to find little gaps and make people miss in the open field, that leads to big plays.”
Kornacki on the Bills’ Playoff chances: “That heartbreaker in Philly a few weeks ago left them as decided long-shots. Then they pull the upset at Arrowhead. Today, they crush the Cowboys and all of a sudden, the Bills are a better-than-even shot to make the Playoffs.”
Garrett on the Cowboys’ loss to the Bills: “Dallas has been so good throughout the year playing the game on their terms. They get out ahead and they run the football. Their defense gets wild and goes rushing the quarterback. Today it was a different story. Buffalo ran at them, the physicality of the Bills was the difference.”
Simms: “The physicality when teams run the ball on them, it changes them. This is where I’m a little concerned: the last 10 Super Bowl winners, they have not had a double-digit loss in December. So, you don’t see a Super Bowl team lose the way the Dallas Cowboys did today. That’s a little concerning to me.”
Garrett on the Cowboys’ home-field advantage: “They are so dominant at home, they bludgeon opponents…When they’ve gone on the road, they are playing a different team in a tough environment…That’s why this home field advantage is so big for them in the playoffs. It looks like they are going to have to go on the road if they want to go all the way.”
Simms on the Chiefs’ offense: “It’s Andy Reid, it’s Patrick Mahomes, they’ve got Super Bowl grit, but there’s some issues still that you worry about. Mistakes and magic, that’s what’s happening in Kansas City right now. There are too many mistakes — turnovers, dropped passes…That’s where they’re frustrating. But then when they’re making magic, they’re the most fun thing to watch in all of football…When (Mahomes) buys time and he gets in a groove that way, we know how special he can be, but they have to fix a few things there in Kansas City.”
Garrett on Mahomes: “Kansas City hasn’t been quite as great as they have in recent years, but they still have that guy at quarterback. Nobody extends the play in the red zone like Patrick Mahomes does.”
Florio on Mahomes and the Chiefs’ pass-catchers: “I asked Patrick Mahomes, what specifically do you to try to help your teammates minimize the drop passes? He said it’s about going out before or after every practice. Extra throws from Patrick Mahomes, extra throws from the other quarterbacks, extra catches from the jugs machine. He said it’s all about confidence, ‘I think those guys can catch the ball. I’ve seen those guys make some of the best catches. Go out, be confident and it’ll all take care of itself.’”
Simms: “Baker Mayfield is on fire lately…They are rolling. They’re playing through the pass game and they’re winning games and putting up points right now because of Baker Mayfield and his right arm…Watch out for them right now.”
McCourty on Mayfield and the Buccaneers’ offense vs. the Packers: “Mayfield was throwing the ball down the field. They were throwing seam routes, they were taking advantage of the middle of the field. I’m watching the game and all I can hear in my head is Coach (Bill) Belichick, ‘Defend from inside-out, don’t give up the middle.’ But Tampa and Baker, they lived in the middle.”
Garrett: “How about DeMeco Ryans? Are you kidding me? 8-6. Case Keenum getting it done. Wow, what a story.”
McCourty on the Browns’ game-ending interception on the Bears’ Hail Mary attempt: “What do we all love? We love when a game ends on the most exciting play: a Hail Mary…Knock it down, knock it down! What an end to a game. Cleveland still alive and fighting…I talked to (defensive back) Duron Harmon. He said, ‘We have to just catch the ball. We can’t be knocking it down because we almost just ended the game for ourselves.’”
Simms: “We’ve got a man crush on Cleveland’s defense. They make a lot of plays.”
Florio on speaking with Browns DB D’Anthony Bell, who made the game-winning interception: “He told me, this week they were studying film of Hail Mary passes attempted by other teams and it stood out to him that when the ball is knocked down by the defensive players, offensive players are trying to get into position to catch it before it hits the ground. And that’s what he saw playing out. He broke towards (Bears WR) Darnell Mooney. Mooney kicked the ball to him – he’s supposed to knock it down himself, but he couldn’t resist, it came right to him and sealed the victory for the Browns.”
Garrett on QB Joe Flacco: “He’s giving the Browns new life. They play great defense, and he’s making all the plays in the big moments.”
Simms on WR Jaylen Waddle’s 60-yard touchdown catch: “Waddle one-on-one, he’s going to beat just about anybody in that situation.”
McCourty: “The Rams came out and dominated Washington…Cooper Kupp in motion, last week no one covered him. This week no one covered him…We don’t want to turn our back to Cooper Kupp – he’s pretty good, guys.”
Peacock Sunday Night Football Final, an NFL post-game show produced by NBC Sports, streams exclusively on Peacock following every Sunday Night Football game during the 2023 season. The show is hosted from the game site by Jac Collinsworth, Harrison, and Dungy, who will provide instant reactions to each Sunday game along with highlights and interviews, while Berry will host a weekly segment called “DraftKings Crowning Moments,” where the fantasy sports analyst will discuss his successful bets from that day; he will also provide fantasy advice and an early look at the waiver wire. Football Night in America’s studio team will also provide recaps and insights into the day’s biggest moments, while Florio will provide injury and news updates.
— Football Night in America —