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PETER KING SPEAKS WITH JIMMY GAROPPOLO & RECAPS WILD CARD WEEKEND IN THIS WEEK’S “FMIA” COLUMN

“That was one of the better atmospheres I’ve played in in my life, and it lasted the whole game. We had some cool moments in the huddle, moments with the kind of drama you live for. It’s why you play football.” – 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo to King on San Francisco’s Wild Card win at Dallas

“(Allen) played with the zen of Rodgers, with the precision of Brady, with the open-field moves of Jackson… This game completed his progression as a big-time NFL quarterback.” – King on Bills QB Josh Allen

“It’s one thing to win a franchise’s first playoff game in 31 years, as Burrow did Saturday before delirious Queen Citians. It’s another thing to be in Joe Montana’s league.” – King on Bengals QB Joe Burrow

“This season, when I watched Rodgers, I thought he was an absolute virtuoso…Brady was tremendous too…I just thought Rodgers played the position at the highest level I’ve seen.” – King on why he voted for Aaron Rodgers over Tom Brady on his MVP ballot

STAMFORD, Conn. – Jan. 17, 2022 – Peter King speaks with 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo following San Francisco’s victory over Dallas and recaps all the results and news from Wild Card weekend in this week’s edition of Football Morning in America, available now exclusively on NBCSports.com. King also reveals his MVP and All-Pro ballots, speaks with Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill, hands out his Wild Card awards, and more.

On Sunday, Jan. 23, NBC Sports will present a Divisional Playoff game at 3 p.m. ET on NBC, Peacock, and Universo as the defending-Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers host the winner of tonight’s Arizona Cardinals-Los Angeles Rams Wild Card matchup. Coverage begins with a special edition of Football Night in America Sunday at 2 p.m. ET on NBC and Peacock. On Sunday, Peacock will exclusively premiere the first episode of EARNIN’ IT: The NFL’s Forward Progress, a five-part docuseries from NFL Films highlighting the careers of some of the most powerful women working in the NFL.

For more NFL coverage, Peacock offers daily programming on the NBC Sports channel for free, including Pro Football Talk live at 7 a.m. ET every weekday, Safety Blitz, Chris Simms Unbuttoned, The Peter King Podcast, The Rich Eisen Show, Brother from Another, and The Dan Patrick Show. To learn more about the NBC Sports on Peacock channel and how to sign up, click here.

The following are highlights from this week’s edition of Football Morning in America:

JIMMY GAROPPOLO & THE 49ERS

King: “Saturday will be the 50th start of Jimmy Garoppolo’s San Francisco career. He will be at Lambeau Field, trying to beat the once and probably future MVP in the second weekend of the NFL playoffs…Whatever happens, it’ll be hard to beat this 49er’s 49th start for drama, for lows, for highs, for triumph.”

Garoppolo to King on beating the Cowboys at AT&T Stadium yesterday: “Just really cool, the whole game. That was one of the better atmospheres I’ve played in in my life, and it lasted the whole game. We had some cool moments in the huddle, moments with the kind of drama you live for. It’s why you play football.”

King on the Cowboys’ final play of the game: “(Cowboys head coach Mike) McCarthy said the Cowboys practiced this very play, down to the timing, in end-of-game or end-of-half practice situations. He blamed the collision of the ump and (Dak) Prescott for the loss of enough time to prevent Dallas from having another play. Maybe, but you can’t leave the end of the game, and your season, down to one or two seconds.”

King on Prescott’s run: “With no timeouts left, a coach cannot count on the clock stopping with one second to go. There should be a clear line of communication with the quarterback when to get down. Prescott got a little greedy, and McCarthy and offensive coordinator Kellen Moore should have told him it was paramount to be down with 10 seconds left and then to hand the ball to an official, to be sure they’d have time for another play.”

King on the 49ers’ quarterback situation: “The Niners are trying to ride Garoppolo to a strong finish, obviously, but it’s hard. First, they drafted his replacement, Trey Lance, last April, and Lance is waiting in the wings until – next spring, presumably – Garoppolo is traded to smooth the way for the kid. Second: Garoppolo has a torn ligament in his thumb, and he’s trying to play through it.”

Garoppolo on his late fourth-quarter interception and the thumb injury: “I didn’t grip it the right way. Not trying to make excuses, but things happen like that. Really not too much more to it than that…It hurts. It ain’t changing any time soon. But we’re all dealing with stuff now, so no different than anyone else.”

Garoppolo on how he handles speculation about his future: “I think a big part of it is just knowing who you are – as a player and a person, really. That will take you a long way. It’s kind of a big part of just my mental game. I know what type of quarterback I am. I know what type of player I am in this league and where I stand. All the noise out there and everything, keep it coming. It fuels me and it keeps me going. It’s a good thing when people are talking about you.”

WILD CARD WEEKEND

King on Bills QB Josh Allen: “Not long before one of the great playoff games an NFL quarterback has ever played, a text message pinged into Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen’s phone.

So proud to know that you’ve risen to the level of being a Pro Bowl alternate!

The sarcastic barb came from Allen’s trusted offseason workout coach, Jordan Palmer. Allen, of course, was somewhat famously omitted from the AFC Pro Bowl roster this year when Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert and Lamar Jackson were chosen ahead of him.”

King on Allen’s play vs. the Patriots on Saturday: “This was the quarterback who had drilled into him by Palmer all offseason, ‘Finish, finish,’ to the point of not taking gimmes on the short putts on the golf course. This was the quarterback who wanted to be sure in August that his days of playing ‘Heroball,’ as Allen called it, trying to win games by himself, were over.”

King: “On Saturday, the Pro Bowl alternate played with the zen of (Aaron) Rodgers, with the precision of (Tom) Brady, with the open-field moves of (Lamar) Jackson…He was peerless. His team was peerless. This was the best game of Allen’s four NFL seasons, and nothing comes close for second place…I have never seen a (Bill) Belichick team so outclassed. Allen was the reason. This game completed his progression as a big-time NFL quarterback.”

King on the Bills’ road to the Super Bowl: “After the first weekend of the AFC playoffs, the Bills look like they have the best chance of anyone in the AFC to get there.”

King on Bengals QB Joe Burrow: “Young quarterbacks are maturing much faster than they did in the Elway days. Imagine any quarterback lifting a bad team the way Joe Burrow has in his first full season as an NFL starter.”

King on the Chiefs: “What’s interesting to me about Andy Reid’s team of 2021, as opposed to the previous three editions, is that this year he really needs his depth. In the past, depth has sometimes been a luxury item in his toolbox…Sunday night showed KC’s a threat to play into February every year, as long as they have Reid calling the plays and (Patrick) Mahomes executing them.”

King on the Buccaneers: “When that D comes to play, the Bucs could win with the ghosts of Bucs quarterback past…The Bucs are getting healthier on defense at the right time, welcoming back (Shaq) Barrett and (Lavonte) David on Sunday. Now if they can only accelerate that bad hamstring of mainstay running back Leonard Fournette…The sooner he plays, the less pressure there will be on Brady.”

NEWS & NOTES

King on his MVP ballot: “I chose Aaron Rodgers over Tom Brady, Joe Burrow and Cooper Kupp. That ended up being my 1-2-3-4.”

King on Rodgers vs. Brady in the MVP race: “This season, when I watched Rodgers, I thought he was an absolute virtuoso. The position couldn’t be played better. Brady was tremendous too…I just thought Rodgers played the position at the highest level I’ve seen.”

King on voting for Titans head coach Mike Vrabel for Coach of the Year: “Mike Vrabel over Matt LaFleur was not an easy call, but Vrabel survived with an NFL-high 91 players in uniform, and Derrick Henry missing nine games, and earned home-field in the AFC. That’s quite an accomplishment.”

Titans QB Ryan Tannehill to King on earning the AFC No. 1 seed: “I’m not surprised, really, because of the quality of our guys and how no matter what’s happened to us this year with injuries and Covid and some lulls in our play, we just keep coming back. This team is group of fighters.”

Tannehill on Vrabel: “Mike’s got a great feel for our team – the way he coaches, the way he relates to the players. He mentioned to us we punched our tickets to the Elite Eight by getting the top seed. That’s great, but it’s nothing more than that. The good thing for us is, we get to play at home. But Mike’s built up so much belief within this team. We’re a confident group right now”.

King on the Giants: “The last three hires – Ben McAdoo, Pat Shurmur, (Joe) Judge – show that John Mara needs to step aside and let a new voice, a new GM, do this one, because the Giants are in the gutter…Gettleman actually did more harm to the franchise than Judge. He left them as one of five teams in negative cap shape for the 2022 season.”

King on the Raiders: “Smart money says Mark Davis, unless he can get a mega-billboard for the Vegas strip like Jim Harbaugh, is likely to take the interim tag off Rich Bisaccia and give him the full-time gig. Davis probably should.”

KING’S WILD CARD WEEKEND AWARDS

Offensive Players of the Week: Josh Allen, Buffalo, Joe Burrow, Cincinnati, & Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City.

King on Burrow: “It’s one thing to win a franchise’s first playoff game in 31 years, as Burrow did Saturday before delirious Queen Citians. It’s another thing to be in Joe Montana’s league.”

Defensive Player of the Week: Micah Hyde, Buffalo.

King: “He made one of the most athletic and graceful interceptions a safety can make, and it changed the course of the Bills’ wild-card rout over the Patriots.”

Special Teams Players of the Week: Robbie Gould, San Francisco, & Scotty Miller, Tampa Bay.

King on Gould’s three field goals vs. the Cowboys: “Good thing he made all three, or the Cowboys could have been angling for a field goal to force overtime instead of having to push for a touchdown in the final seconds of the loss to the Niners.”

Coaches of the Week: Leslie Frazier, Buffalo, & Todd Bowles, Tampa Bay.

King on Frazier and Bowles: “On the weekend when the NFL was down to exactly one employed Black head coach (Mike Tomlin), two Black coordinators had noteworthy performances in the wild-card round. Frazier’s Bills embarrassed the Patriots offense, while Bowles’ unit in Tampa Bay kept the Eagles flustered all day. Will Frazier or Bowles get a chance in the current hiring cycle? That’s to be determined. But the NFL badly needs to figure this out.”

Read the full FMIA column here and catch the weekly Peter King Podcast here.

The following are additional highlights of NBC Sports’ NFL coverage:




    • PFT Live with NBC Sports’ Mike Florio and Mike Golic (Mondays) and Florio and Chris Simms (Tuesday-Thursday) streams live on Peacock from 7 a.m. – 9 a.m. ET on weekdays & is available on-demand. The Dan Patrick Show streams at 9 a.m. ET, The Rich Eisen Show at Noon ET, Brother From Another at 3 p.m. ET, PFT PM at 5 p.m. ET. At 6 p.m. ET, Chris Simms Unbuttoned streams Tuesday-Friday.
    • ProFootballTalk.com continues to provide the latest news and updates.
    • NBC Sports EDGE’s A Good Football Show continues the NFL discussion and Bet The Edge Podcast provides daily betting insights.

A new “Football Morning in America” posts every Monday morning exclusively on NBCSports.com through the NFL season. It was announced in May 2019 that King signed an exclusive agreement with NBC Sports Group that included writing a weekly Monday morning NFL column for NBCSports.com; making regular appearances on PFT Live with Mike Florio; and continuing to contribute to Football Night in America, the most-watched studio show in sports.

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