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NOTES & QUOTES FROM WEEK 16 EDITION OF FOOTBALL NIGHT IN AMERICA ON NBC

“Another Christmas present.” – Mike Tirico on the snow at Lambeau Field

“David Montgomery has been directly responsible for this turnaround.” – Rodney Harrison on the Bears

“Maybe the best relief pitcher in football.” – Tony Dungy on Ryan Fitzpatrick

“The Giants and Washington are really struggling on the offensive side of the ball right now. That’s why I’d favor Dallas going into Week 17.” – Chris Simms on the Dallas Cowboys’ chances of winning the NFC East

STAMFORD, Conn. – Dec. 27, 2020 – NBC Sports’ presentation of Week 16 of the 2020 NFL season began tonight from Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisc., with Football Night in America leading into coverage of Titans-Packers on Sunday Night Football on NBC.

Mike Tirico hosted FNIA from NBC Sports Group’s Studio 1 in Stamford, Conn., and was joined by Pro Football Hall of Fame head coach Tony Dungy, two-time Super Bowl-winner Rodney Harrison and former NFL quarterback Chris Simms. NFL Insider Mike Florio joined Football Night remotely from his home studio. Kathryn Tappen co-hosted the show on-site from Lambeau Field and was joined by Sunday Night Football analyst Cris Collinsworth.

Steve Kornacki, NBC News’ celebrated political correspondent, returned to FNIA to analyze NFL Playoff probabilities. He will also appear at halftime of tonight’s game. For more information about Kornacki, click here.

In addition, Tappen interviewed Packers T David Bakhtiari during pre-game and earlier this week Liam McHugh interviewed Titans RB Derrick Henry.

Michael Holley and Michael Smith from Brother From Another, which streams weekdays on Peacock, had a discussion on whether Derrick Henry can be this year’s NFL MVP. See their comments below.

Al Michaels (play-by-play), Collinsworth (analyst), Michele Tafoya (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:

ON TITANS

Collinsworth on Titans offense: “Derrick Henry is one of those guys that the first thing you notice is 250 pounds of man coming down the field. But he is also someone that runs a 4.5 (40-yard dash) … they’ve got some great receiving weapons on the outside in A.J. Brown, who has been phenomenal…and Corey Davis, finally living up to the reputation and what they thought he could be when they drafted him fifth overall. They have so many offensive weapons.”

Holley on Derrick Henry’s MVP chances: “Derrick Henry is the next MVP of the NFL because the Tennessee Titans are able to play in an unpredictable way because of Derrick Henry’s excellence…Ryan Tannehill plays differently, A.J. Brown, Corey Davis all play differently because of Derrick Henry.”

Smith: “We’re just coming off of a presidential election, and you would have been a candidate that would have performed very well on the debate stage, but you wouldn’t have gotten any votes. You wouldn’t have even gotten out of the primary because ‘deserve’ has got nothing to do with it. The truth of the matter is that it’s a quarterback award. If this was about deserving, a defensive guy would win it, namely Aaron Donald. No matter how dominant Derrick Henry may be…in this league, Derrick Henry would have to block for himself, hand it to himself and turn around and play both ways…it’s a quarterback award, let’s just face it.”

Harrison on WR Corey Davis: “A.J. Brown gets all the attention, but this is the guy who’s been their most consistent receiver.”

Simms on Titans offense: “Super explosive. I’ve never seen an offense this explosive that is built this way, where it’s ground-and-pound, but they can rip off a 70-yard-run or a 70-yard-pass to Corey Davis or A.J. Brown.”

ON PACKERS

Tirico on snow at Lambeau: “Another Christmas present.”

Collinsworth on QB Aaron Rodgers: “I think he’s really bought into this offense at this point now. A year ago, it was Aaron Rodgers scrambling around, trying to make plays. But now you see more of those five-step drops, get the ball out of his hands, and that’s why he is now the frontrunner in the MVP race.”

Collinsworth: “Ten touchdown catches out of (TE) Robert Tonyan this season. Who would have ever figured that Robert Tonyan is going to be the X factor for the Green Bay Packers this season?”

Simms on offense: “What makes them so dangerous is that they never waste plays. They are always in the right play, the right situation. The defense is in this formation? We’ll get you in the right play to combat that defense and make a big play. That’s where they put so much pressure on you – they waste no plays and they’re very efficient.”

Tirico on QB Aaron Rodgers: “I’ve talked to Aaron a couple of times (this year) – from doing squats and getting his legs right to balance, accuracy, the mental part – I’ve never seen him in a place like this and it’s really coming together.”

ON CHIEFS

Simms on Chiefs coming back late in the game vs. Falcons: “The game matters now, so Kansas City’s interested and the pedal’s back on the metal. Now it looks like they’ve been executing all game. That’s what’s amazing about them and frustrating.”

Dungy on concerns about the Chiefs: “I see some of the same things I saw in Pittsburgh when they were 8-0, 9-0, 10-0, scraping by in close games…Patrick Mahomes is getting far too much pressure in the pocket.”

Florio on conversation with TE Travis Kelce after he set NFL single-season record for TE receiving yards: “He pointed out that it’s good for the tight end position. He thinks that there aren’t enough offenses that embrace tight ends. There aren’t enough quarterbacks that trust tight ends. He’s basically becoming the ambassador on behalf of all tight ends to all quarterbacks and offensive coordinators out there.”

Tirico: “It wasn’t pretty, but Kansas City is the No. 1 seed in the AFC.”

ON STEELERS

Simms on throwing downfield in second half: “They’ve got to have more of this. If they want to make a run in the playoffs, they have got to be able to push the ball down the field with this passing game…we know they are going to throw the football, it just can’t be five yards over the middle all of the time. They’ve got to have a little diversity in their look.”

Dungy: “We watched that offense struggle in the first half with nothing down the field – just shallow crosses, short passes, quick outs. In the second half, they got aggressive and took some shots down the field and that is what changed the game.”

Simms: “They’re not going to become a running team in Week 16. So, they’ve got to find more ways to throw it and throw it down field and that is what they did today.”

ON SEAHAWKS

Harrison on S Jamal Adams: “He’s giving them energy. He’s healthy. They gave up a lot to get him. It’s paying off.”

Tirico on Adams: “It looks like he fits now. It feels like that old school Seattle defense.”

ON BEARS

Simms: “Chicago’s looking like they could be dangerous if they get into the playoffs.”

Dungy: “The defense stepped up, but it’s really David Montgomery and the run game that is energizing this team.”

Tirico: “And Mitch Trubisky looks like a different guy.”

Harrison: “David Montgomery has been directly responsible for this turnaround…play action bootlegs, and even when guys aren’t open, Mitch Trubisky is playing with so much confidence…and Jimmy Graham is playing like he’s 25 years old.”

Kornacki: “It’s whiplash on this playoff roller coaster for the Bears…nearly two entire calendar months of losing, and their playoff chances were on life support in early December…things have changed in a big way in the last 48 hours. Arizona losing to San Francisco alone put Chicago’s playoff chances over 50% ... (after a win against Jacksonville) now the Bears have a 70% chance of making the playoffs, with a win next week or an Arizona loss.”

Tirico: “Who’s the hottest offense in the NFC? The Bears?”

Simms: “It doesn’t sound right when it comes out of your mouth, but it’s true. They’re on fire.”

ON RAVENS

Dungy: “Watch out for those Baltimore Ravens. They have found their formula, they’ve got it back. Dominant running game, pressure defense and they pounded the ball for 249 rushing yards. Watch out – the Ravens are back.”

Tirico: “It felt like I was watching Lamar (Jackson) from last year…and Baltimore’s defense has also started to round a corner into playoff form.”

Simms on WR Dez Bryant: “They need him. They need another wide receiver to get involved in this offense. It can’t always be Lamar Jackson and running the ball.”

ON DOLPHINS

Kornacki on Dolphins’ playoff chances: “That ‘Fitzmagic’ last night, it vaults Miami from nearly being out of the playoffs to now being in the fifth seed and having an 88% chance of making it.”

Dungy on Ryan Fitzpatrick: “Maybe the best relief pitcher in football.”

Tirico: “Mariano (Rivera), eat your heart out.”

ON BROWNS

Simms on team’s depleted roster: “It was a struggle all day long. There were inconsistencies in the pass game, and they couldn’t run the ball. They had to rely on Baker Mayfield to throw to a lot of these ‘no-names’ to move the ball throughout the day.”

Tirico: “With a full complement (of players), can they beat Pittsburgh?”

Dungy: “They can. This is an explosive team. They’re exciting. I want to see them at their best with everyone.”

ON COWBOYS

Simms: “Who do you cover right now? With the way Andy Dalton is throwing the ball right now and these Cowboys receivers, it’s tough to matchup against them. CeeDee Lamb also with a great rookie year.”

Tirico on Cowboys and NFC East: “It isn’t pretty, but it’s getting interesting. Dallas with 30, 41 and 37 points the last three games. If you asked me right now who looks the best, it’s Dallas.”

Simms: “Agreed. You have to go with (the Cowboys) right now. The defense isn’t getting totally annihilated like we saw earlier in the year and the offense has it going…the Giants and Washington are really struggling on the offensive side of the ball right now. That’s why I’d favor Dallas going into Week 17.”

Dungy: “Cowboys passing game was on fire today.”

ON PANTHERS

Tirico: “Carolina has played hard throughout the year for Matt Rhule. They do it today.”

ON JAGUARS

Tirico on WR D.J. Chark: “I’m going to nominate this for Top 10 TD catch of the year.”

Dungy: “Reminded me of Lynn Swann in Super Bowl X. Get those feet back in bounds, hard to do.”

ON CHARGERS

Dungy on QB Justin Herbert: “I saw him as a senior at Oregon. He’s a tremendous young man and a great player. I never dreamed he would be this effective so early on in his career.”

–FOOTBALL NIGHT IN AMERICA–