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#pounditWednesday, December 1, 2021

Football

Mike Tirico in for Al Michaels on ‘Sunday Night Football’ call

Mike Tirico holds a microphone

Mike Tirico was on the call for the “Sunday Night Football” game in Baltimore during Week 12 between the Ravens and Cleveland Browns, replacing Al Michaels.

Michaels typically announces “Sunday Night Football,” but he has picked and chosen which games he wants to call in recent years. Sometimes he chooses not to make certain road trips to the East Coast. He also has opted to have some holidays off. That was the case this weekend.

Tirico, Cris Collinsworth and Kathryn Tappen formed the announcing team for the Week 12 Sunday night game. Tirico noted in his open that Michaels and Michele Tafoya were enjoying the rest of their holiday weekend.

NBC actually had double duty in Week 12. They televised the Thursday night Thanksgiving game between the Buffalo Bills and New Orleans Saints as well. Tirico, Collinsworth and Tafoya were on the call for that game.

Tirico is in line to replace Michaels on “Sunday Night Football” when the veteran broadcaster’s contract with NBC ends after this season. Michaels, 77, is expected to become the announcer for Amazon’s Thursday night games. He also could have a role with NBC calling playoff games.

Photo: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Latest report about Aaron Rodgers’ toe injury worries Packers fans

Aaron Rodgers after a play

Aaron Rodgers has been playing through a toe injury that sounds quite painful, but it does not appear to have significantly impacted his performance. The assumption is that the Green Bay Packers star will continue to fight through it, but the latest report about the injury left open the possibility that he will not be able to.

Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero of NFL Media reported on Monday that Rodgers does not plan to undergo surgery on his fractured toe “at this time.” Rapoport noted that the phrase “at this time” is key.

What exactly does that mean? It could be that Rodgers will eventually need surgery. If that is the case, the Packers obviously hope it can wait until the offseason.

The Packers improved to 9-3 with a convincing win over the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday. They are a clear Super Bowl contender and one of the best teams in the NFC. Rodgers will be able to rest his toe during the Week 13 bye, but he has already admitted the injury is not going to go away anytime soon.

Rodgers completed 28 of 45 passes for 307 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions against the Rams. He also made light of the foot issue with a funny change to his social media profile last week. Unless the pain becomes unbearable, he will almost certainly continue to play through it.

Photo: Oct 28, 2021; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) reacts against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Video: Vita Vea had tooth knocked out in middle of play

Vita Vea loses a tooth

Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Vita Vea is one of the most imposing players in the NFL, and not even having a tooth knocked out can slow him down.

Vea had one of his front teeth knocked out in the middle of a play during the first half of Sunday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts. The 347-pound tackle took a helmet to the mouth after his own helmet and chin strap were pushed up. Vea didn’t seem bothered and had a big bloody smile on as he showed his teammates what happened.

Here’s the video:

That had to have been painful, but you wouldn’t have known it by the way Vea reacted.

Believe it or not, this isn’t the first time we have seen an athlete calmly lose a tooth in the middle of a game.

Russell Wilson has message for Seahawks fans

Russell Wilson

The Seattle Seahawks are in danger of missing the playoffs for just the second time since they drafted Russell Wilson in 2012, but the star quarterback does not seem to be hitting the panic button.

A day after Seattle’s 17-15 loss to Washington, Wilson took to Twitter with what appeared to be a message for Seahawks fans. Part of the message was, “The breakthrough is coming!”

Seahawks fans probably want to know one thing — when?

Seattle is now 3-8 on the year. They have lost six of their last seven, with the lone win coming against the Jacksonville Jaguars. They’ll host the division rival San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, which is another tough game. The Seahawks would likely have to win out in order to have any shot at reaching the postseason, and that almost certainly is not going to happen.

Wilson’s optimistic message could be viewed as a positive sign after one NFL insider made a bold claim about his future. That said, 2021 is starting to look like a lost season in Seattle.

Photo: Oct 4, 2020; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) looks on after defeating the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Zimmer complains about 49ers, referees after loss

Mike Zimmer

Absolutely nobody was spared during Mike Zimmer’s postgame press conference this week.

The Minnesota Vikings head coach Zimmer had several complaints after losing to the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. Zimmer took aim at both the 49ers players for constantly holding as well as the referees for not calling it.

“These guys [the 49ers] hold every play,” he said, per Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune. “They don’t want to call it every play. Until they start calling it every play, they’re not going to stop doing it.”

The 49ers were penalized five times for 57 yards on Sunday. That was about on par with the Vikings, who found themselves penalized five times for 38 yards. But there were indeed a couple of controversial officiating decisions that the 49ers seemed to benefit from. One came on Deebo Samuel’s 20-yard touchdown run in the first quarter where both Kyle Juszczyk and George Kittle appeared to get away with extra contact.

Meanwhile, a questionable defensive holding call went against the Vikings in the second quarter on a 3rd-and-8 play for the 49ers. The penalty on Patrick Peterson extended San Francisco’s drive, and they would eventually score a touchdown to close out the half.

Granted, it is easy to nitpick specific plays that went against your team while conveniently ignoring others than might have gone in your favor down the stretch. The Vikings, who lost 34-26, had plenty of chances to tie the game in the fourth quarter but turned the ball over on downs on their final two drives. They also committed an embarrassing gaffe in a crucial moment. Thus, it is tough to argue that Sunday’s game was lost for the Vikings by what the officials did or did not call.

Photo: Oct 24, 2019; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer prior to the game against the Washington Redskins at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Saints to make starting QB change against Cowboys

Trevor Siemian warming up

The New Orleans Saints have lost four games in a row with Trevor Siemian as their starting quarterback, and they have decided to make a change at the position.

The Saints are preparing in practice as if Tayson Hill will start on Thursday against the Dallas Cowboys, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Media. Hill has been dealing with a foot injury. If he makes it through the week healthy, the starting job is his.

Siemian has thrown nine touchdowns compared to just three interceptions in his five games this season. However, all three interceptions came in the past two games. The Saints managed just six points in their blowout loss to the Buffalo Bills last Thursday.

Hill recently signed a very unusual contract extension with the Saints. He’s been a favorite of head coach Sean Payton’s for years, and it seemed like only a matter of time before he was given another opportunity to start.

Photo: Sep 19, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Trevor Siemian (15) throws during the pregame action against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Christian McCaffrey suffers ankle injury in Week 12

Christian McCaffrey

Christian McCaffrey missed several games earlier this season with a hamstring injury, and the Carolina Panthers star was hurt once again in Sunday’s game against the Miami Dolphins.

McCaffrey was on the sideline for a crucial drive with the Panthers trailing late in the first half. While he had his helmet on and appeared ready to come in, there was speculation that he suffered an injury. The FOX broadcast said McCaffrey rolled his ankle earlier in the game.

While the Panthers did not announce an official injury for McCaffrey, it seemed obvious he was hurt. He’s typically the focal point of Carolina’s offense when healthy.

The Panthers may have been playing it safe with McCaffrey, but fans were frustrated to see the star running back watching from the sideline. McCaffrey had an unusual excuse for the hamstring injury that forced him to miss time earlier in the year. The ankle injury will now be the one to monitor.

Mac Jones files for Tom Brady-like trademark

Mac Jones

Mac Jones has quickly become one of the NFL’s more popular players in just his first professional season, and the New England Patriots quarterback is looking to profit from that in a way that is not very unique.

As Darren Rovell of Action Network discovered, Jones recently filed a trademark for “MJ10.” The rookie is seeking to use the word mark on apparel.

That immediately made everyone think of Tom Brady’s world famous “TB12” brand. Jones is the heir to the Brady throne in New England, so some feel he is playing a dangerous game by seeking such a similar trademark. Of course, Brady is hardly the first athlete to use hit initials and numbers as part of a trademark.

Jones is the favorite to win Rookie of the Year and has the Patriots looking like a Super Bowl contender. He has already joined notable company with some of his achievements this year. If he doesn’t make money off of “MJ10” merchandise, somebody else will.

Photo: Aug 12, 2021; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones 10) throws the ball during a game against the Washington Football Team at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Packers’ Darnell Savage takes Twitter shot at Rams player over reckless hit

Christian Rozeboom hitting Darnell Savage

Darnell Savage lived up to his last name on Sunday after taking an irresponsible hit from a Los Angeles Rams player.

The Green Bay Packers safety was lined up on special teams to help field an onside kick with 18 seconds left in the fourth quarter and the Packers up 36-28. Savage was essentially a bystander as the ball was recovered by Packers teammate Adrian Amos. But that did not stop Rams linebacker Christian Rozeboom from lowering his helmet and catching Savage head-on with a vicious hit.

Here is another angle of the reckless play by Rozeboom.

Savage remained down on the field for several moments but was eventually able to walk off on his own. He tweeted after the game that he was alright. Savage also got in a funny shot at Rozeboom by saying, “I guess hitting someone was more important than recovering the ball lmao.”

Shockingly enough, Rozeboom did not even draw a penalty flag from the officials. But nevertheless, he can probably expect a fine from the NFL for the dangerous and unnecessary play. This is also not the only instance in recent weeks of a Rams player delivering a controversial hit.

Kliff Kingsbury has interesting response to Oklahoma rumors

Kliff Kingsbury

Kliff Kingsbury was quickly linked to the Oklahoma head coaching job after Lincoln Riley left for USC on Sunday, and his response to the report was somewhat surprising.

Shortly after the Riley news broke, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Oklahoma is targeting Kingsbury as a potential replacement. The Arizona Cardinals coach was asked about that on Monday, and he stopped well short of denying that he has interest.

Does that mean Kingsbury would actually entertain the idea of leaving his NFL head coaching job to take over at Oklahoma? Probably not.

What’s more likely is that Kingsbury is using the Oklahoma talk as leverage against the Cardinals. His contract with the team is set to expire after 2022, and there’s no way he wants to go into next season as a lame duck. If the Cardinals believe he is interested in the Oklahoma job, they might be more likely to offer him more money and/or work out an extension sooner.

Schefter was ruthlessly mocked on Twitter for his Kingsbury-Oklahoma report. The main reason for that is people believe the NFL insider is helping out Kingsbury and his agent. Unless you think Kingsbury would actually leave the Cardinals for Oklahoma, his responses on Monday are further evidence that he is trying to put pressure on his current employer.