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NOTES & QUOTES FROM SATURDAY WILD CARD EDITION OF FOOTBALL NIGHT IN AMERICA ON NBC AND PEACOCK

“Joe Burrow has all the physical traits, the mental traits, but most importantly, he’s got a swagger and a confidence he’s instilled in this offense.” – Drew Brees

“Other than Mike Tomlin…(Rich Bisaccia) was the greatest communicator I was ever around as a player in my eight years.” – Chris Simms

“Coach (Bill) Belichick loves this type of weather because he knows it slows down the Bills passing game.” – Rodney Harrison on tonight’s Patriots-Bills game

“Right now, we only have one African-American head coach in the NFL, which is ridiculous. But we can’t overreact to that and then say, ‘Well, we have to have this many minority hirings.’ No, we’ve got to hire the right people.” – Tony Dungy on NFL head coaching situation

STAMFORD, Conn. – Jan. 15, 2022 – NBC Sports began its coverage of Super Wild Card Weekend today with a special edition of Football Night in America leading into the Raiders-Bengals playoff game from Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio. The game is the first of two NBC Sports is presenting during Super Wild Card Weekend. Coverage of Steelers-Chiefs begins tomorrow night at 7:30 pm ET on NBC and Peacock.

Maria Taylor hosted the special Saturday edition of FNIA from NBC Sports Group’s Studio 1 in Stamford, Conn., and was joined by Pro Football Hall of Fame head coach Tony Dungy 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. Michael Holley and Michael Smith of Peacock’s Brother From Another offered pre-game commentary on the playoffs.

Mike Tirico (play-by-play), Drew Brees (analyst), Kathryn Tappen (sideline reporter) and Terry McAulay (rules analyst) are calling this afternoon’s Wild Card playoff game.

Tirico and Brees did a pre-game report from the booth. Tappen interviewed Bengals head coach Zac Taylor and Raiders RB Josh Jacobs. Florio provided numerous updates on head coaching vacancies.

As part of NBC Sports’ Super Wild Card Weekend coverage, the Football Night in America crew spoke with stars from each team, including Joe Burrow with Chris Simms; Ja’Marr Chase with Maria Taylor; Maxx Crosby with Rodney Harrison; Hunter Renfrow with Jac Collinsworth; and Patrick Mahomes with Maria Taylor. See below for highlights from each conversation.

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.

***

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

ON THE PLAYOFFS

Dungy: “This Playoff bracket is as wide open as I can remember. The No. 1 seeds kind of went down to the wire, you had teams getting into the Playoffs on the last day with upsets…I would not be surprised if three or four road teams win in this Wild Card round. It’s just that wide open.”

Simms: “I don’t know if there is a great team in the NFL this year…I look at matchups (this year)…Let’s take last weekend. The Rams, may be better than the 49ers in totality, but do they want to see them in the playoffs? Absolutely not.”

ON RAIDERS

Harrison on Maxx Crosby: “I love his mentality. He’s never satisfied...He took over the game in the fourth quarter (last week). He was absolutely outstanding. He gets after the quarterback, relentless pursuit. He never gives up and he celebrates with his team.”

Dungy on impact of Raiders interim head coach Rich Bisaccia: “People think that head coaching is Xs and Os. It’s not – it’s bringing people together, motivating people and creating culture. Rich Bisaccia does that. Derrick Brooks played for me in Tampa, a Hall of Fame player, and he said he used to go in the special teams meetings when Coach Bisaccia was there because the guys just came out of it so fired up. He said, ‘I’m not on special teams, but I want to hear what’s going on.’ That’s what Rich brings to the table…we interviewed Darren Waller when we had them on last time, and he said the reason that they’re here is Rich Bisaccia.”

Simms: “I used to try and go help out during special teams periods because I wanted to go help Rich Bisaccia. Other than Mike Tomlin, who was down there with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers coaching staff, (Rich Bisaccia) was the greatest communicator I was ever around as a player in my eight years. He was one of those guys – a short list of guys – that when Rich Bisaccia moved on from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, you just went, ‘He’s going to be a head coach one day.’ He’s got that way with the players…the circumstances under which he’s overcome obstacles this year are unbelievable. They’ve got a good thing going there right now. They’ve got good coordinators and they’re a few players away from being a really solid football team. I hope they stay with him.”

Collinsworth: “Hunter Renfrow, he still has that humility of a Clemson walk on, but he has five-star talent.”

Harrison: “I had a chance to talk to Mike Mayock (during pregame warmups) and he was just really excited about their locker room. He said, ‘This is the best locker room that we’ve had in years and Maxx Crosby is the one that leads it.’”

Simms: “Darren Waller, he’s the key to their success. The Bengals had no answer for him the first time.”

ON BENGALS

Simms: “This is a Raiders defense we know that does not give up a lot of big plays. Can they be patient today?”

Dungy: “Can Cincinnati get pressure on Derek Carr? That is going to be the key to the game.”

Brees: “Joe Burrow has all the physical traits, the mental traits, but most importantly, he’s got a swagger and a confidence he’s instilled in this offense.”

Dungy on QB Joe Burrow: “He’s leading the league in yards per attempt and leading in completion percentage and it reminds me of Peyton Manning. I had Peyton Manning when he was close to doing that but some of those years, he was getting sacked eight or 10 times…Burrow is doing it under duress with not a great offensive line.”

Dungy on Bengals WR depth: “That’s what I love about this offense. Joe Burrow doesn’t care who it is. If he sees a favorable matchup, he’s going to go to him and keep going to him.”

ON PATRIOTS

Harrison: “Coach (Bill) Belichick loves this type of weather because he knows it slows down the Bills passing game. Defensively, I expect him to be a lot more aggressive than he was in the previous game. Bring pressure on Josh Allen and get the ball out of his hands because the longer he holds the ball, the better player he is.”

ON BILLS

Taylor: “Since Bill Belichick says Josh Allen is a problem, we’re going to come up with solutions and talk about the problem.”

Simms: “He’s a problem because he’s awesome…He’s the greatest one-man show in the sport right now.”

Dungy: “Tonight, I think this could be a key, those designed plays for him to – not scramble around – but run the football. I think he could be a big part of the attack tonight.”

ON 49ERS

Simms on head coach Kyle Shanahan: “He’s one of the best run-game coaches in football, and their run game has taken off down the stretch of the regular season.”

Simms on 49ers strong running game: “Can the Cowboys defensive line – this defense is good in Dallas not great, but they’ve got a lot of playmakers – mess (the 49ers run game) up? ... If they can, they have a chance to win this game for sure.”

ON COWBOYS

Dungy on Cowboys: “The Dallas Cowboys remind me of some of the teams I had in Indianapolis – dynamic and quick-striking on offense, fast on defense, but we had some problems and people ran right at us. I think that’s got to be the San Francisco strategy. Dallas has given up 125 yards rushing or more six times this year and they’re 2-4 in those games. If I know that stat, (head coach) Kyle Shanahan has to know it.”

ON STEELERS

Harrison: “I don’t have a lot of faith in the Steelers offense so they’re going to have to win on the defensive side of the ball, and they’re going to have to look at their stars T.J. Watt and Cameron Heyward (to)create a couple of turnovers and give Big Ben field position.”

Simms on the Steelers’ defensive approach: “I understand Mike Tomlin playing soft coverages and trying to see if Patrick Mahomes can really do it for a second time. But I would say that they better have a Plan B in case (Mahomes) does show this patience once again. They’ve got to do something to pressure him, make him feel a little bit uncomfortable and take some calculated risks if they want to pull off the upset in Kansas City.”

ON CHIEFS

Harrison on how to defend Ben Roethlisberger: “I’m coming out and playing a lot of man to man, taking away those quick easy throws that Ben loves so much. Trying to make him throw in those tight windows for four quarters at Arrowhead Stadium.”

ON EAGLES

Simms: “Back in Week 6 (when the Eagles played the Bucs), the Eagles were not this team, where they are all about running the football…it’s probably the best running team in football, if not top two with the 49ers. I think (the run game) is going to be their best defense for this game as well. There’s this guy named Tom Brady on the other side, and the Eagles are a little overrated on the defensive side on the ball…when you see Justin Herbert, Dak Prescott, Derek Carr, Brady, teams with QBs and a good offensive system, they absolutely tore apart this Eagles defense. It was like 7-on-7 – I worry about that tomorrow and that’s why I think the run game is going to come in handy.”

ON RAMS

Harrison: “In order to beat the Rams, you’ve got to play physical. You’ve got to hit Matthew Stafford; he’ll throw an interception. Double-team Cooper Kupp. The teams that have had success…they’ve been very physical.”

ON HEAD COACHING SITUATION

Dungy: “Right now, we only have one African-American head coach in the NFL, which is ridiculous. But we can’t overreact to that and then say, ‘Well, we have to have this many minority hirings.’ No, we’ve got to hire the right people. We had a situation in Houston where a coach is fired after one year for philosophical differences. Well, weren’t you supposed to be interviewing and wasn’t that part of the process, to know what his philosophy is? Owners – take your time in this process. There are a lot of great coaches out there, a lot of great minority coaches – hire the right people in the right spot, let’s get this right.”

Simms: “I look at the Vikings, the Dolphins, the Bears, the Broncos – they’re not far off. The Broncos, Vikings and Dolphins just missed the playoffs and the Bears have Justin Fields, so there are some places where you get the right coach in there and they’re right back in the playoff conversation next year.”

Dungy: “I just have a problem with this whole process. It’s so tight and so fast, I’ve talked to a couple of assistant coaches who are coaching in these games this weekend and (these teams) want them to interview this Sunday and Monday. They’re doing a disservice to their teams and themselves, but they don’t want to say, ‘I’ve got to turn this down because I’ve got to prepare.’ This is a hard process. Owners – take your time.”

***

Following are highlights from Super Wild Card Weekend interviews:

Bengals QB Joe Burrow with Chris Simms:

Burrow on if the Bengals players talks about the franchise’s 31-year draught without a Playoff win: “No, we honestly haven’t even talked about it all week. We’re a really young team. We’re just here having fun playing football with a bunch of friends in the locker room. We’re not worried about not winning the playoff game. We’re going to go out there and execute, and whatever happens happens, but we’re proud of what we’ve done and who we are.”

Burrow on his cigar celebrations: “Just on special occasions. First cigar I ever smoked was after the National Championship Game, and so I figured when I win a championship -- whether it’s our division championship or Super Bowl or National Championship -- I think we should probably smoke some cigars now. I think we just made it a thing.”

Burrow on why he wears No. 9: “Drew (Brees) was my favorite quarterback growing up. I was actually a Saints fan in Ohio because of him. I wear No. 9 because I was No. 10 at Ohio State and in high school, and then they didn’t have 10 at LSU so I figured why not just go one number less…I’ve been able to get to know Drew a little bit…he’s been great. Look, I’m not starstruck usually, but the first time I met Drew I was a little starstruck and wanted to make sure he knew I knew football, so I was talking about our game-plan and all that.”

Bengals WR Ja’Marr Chase with Maria Taylor:

Chase on being drafted by the Bengals and reuniting with former college teammate Joe Burrow: “The first thing he told me was to pack my bags and make sure I was ready to go…I was excited to be back with him, get back with our chemistry. I had so much energy to waste (after the NFL Draft), and I was ready to get back out on the field.”

Chase on how he would describe Burrow: “Quiet…When we’re not on the football field, he’s just quiet. I gotta joke with him to make him laugh a little bit, but he’s always been a quiet person.”

Chase on how clinching a Playoff berth felt compared to winning a National Championship in college: “That was my first championship, so I’m going to say that’s not going to beat it yet. Let’s see how these playoffs go this round, and then you have to ask me this question later because I want to definitely compare the two.”

Raiders WR Hunter Renfrow with Jac Collinsworth:

Renfrow on Raiders interim head coach Rich Bisaccia: “He cares about us. It’s tough to care about people on a personal level in the NFL because you have so many moving parts and so many people coming in and out, but he does a great job of connecting with us…He has the perfect thing to say at the right times. No matter how it is, he can connect with people and we need to get that narrative started to maybe win a game here and he can remove that ‘interim’ tag.”

Renfrow on how he and QB Derek Carr would celebrate if they won a Super Bowl together: “We’ve been dreaming about that since we came to Vegas. We’re going to jump in his car and the sunroof with the Lombardi when we do it, and we’re going to go right down Las Vegas Boulevard…(And) we’re going to shoot our shot with Tiger Woods, he’s a Raiders fan. Try to get a foursome with him.”

Renfrow on carpooling to games with Carr: “The wives have to have the parking passes, so we always carpool to the games. My rookie year we actually started doing it. In my very first game in Oakland, we go through the gate and we get ready to pull into the player parking area and this guy stops us, and he looks at me and Derek and he wanted to wish Derek a great season…and he looks at me and asks if I was his son. We got a kick out of that.”

Renfrow on his route running: “It’s a lot of backyard football, to be honest with you. I grew up playing a lot of backyard football and a lot of sports. Playing with angles, whether it’s soccer, basketball, trying to create that space. So, trying to take that and what I’ve done my whole life and just fit it in the parameters of an NFL football game and get the trust of Derek (Carr) and see it the same way as him so when the opportunity presents itself, we can go out and make a play.”

Raiders DE Maxx Crosby with Rodney Harrison:

Crosby on Raiders interim head coach Rich Bisaccia: “He’s been amazing. The main thing is he’s always going to keep it real. He’s an honest guy, he’s never going to sugarcoat anything. He’s going to tell you how it is, and I respect that more than anything. At the end of the day, you can’t not respect him…He’s just one of those guys that knows how to motivate people.”

Crosby on his success in the NFL and overcoming personal struggles: “At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter where you come from, it doesn’t matter where you start. It’s about how you finish, and I’m far from that. I know I’ve got a lot of room to grow…and I think that’s what separates good players from great players. Even when you have success, you can’t think you’ve got all the answers now…I know from listening to guys like Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan, those types of guys, you hear them talk, they were never satisfied, and they always wanted more.”

Crosby on facing Bengals QB Joe Burrow: “He’s just one of those guys, he’s super young but he carries himself like he’s older. You have to just keep him in the pocket. At the end of the day for us, that’s our main goal – just make his job as hard as it possibly can [be].”

Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes with Maria Taylor:

Mahomes on Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger: “He’s made a huge impact on me. The way that he’s been able to scramble around and make those throws and just battle to the very end of every single play. I mean, that’s the reason that he has two Super Bowl rings and he’s made some big-time throws that will be remembered forever. He’s someone I watched growing up my entire life…I’m excited to get to go up against an all-time great in the Playoffs.”

Mahomes on the Chiefs’ 3-4 start and early season struggles: “It was definitely a trying time. I mean, dealt with a lot of adversity, dealt with a lot of having to figure things out on the fly, but I think the previous few years have built us for this moment -- to be able to battle through that, to win the games that we needed to win, and to put ourselves in a position now to be in the Playoffs as the two-seed.”

Mahomes on what he learned from early season struggles: “I think what I learned is I have to be patient. I wanted to be high-flying, throwing all of these long touchdowns like I’ve done in the early part of my career, but defenses weren’t letting me do that. I learned to be patient and just take what’s there and try to find ways to have success another way.”

Mahomes on the difficulties of advancing to back-to-back Super Bowls: “I think Tom (Brady) has kind of spoiled everybody to think that you just get to the Super Bowl every single year (laughs). No, that’s definitely something you have to earn every single day, every single year. I think I found out a lot after this last Super Bowl of how tough it is just to get to the Super Bowl and to win it…I just don’t want to waste these opportunities of being in the Playoffs with these guys and having the chance to have this team get to another Super Bowl.”

–FOOTBALL NIGHT IN AMERICA–