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This Week In Sports


And it's time now for sports.


MARTIN: I am not going to belabor the point this morning. There was some pretty amazing football last night. The stakes are high, and we're going to talk about all of it with Mike Pesca of "The Gist."

Good morning, Mike.

MIKE PESCA, BYLINE: Hello. The stakes are high, and the stakes are rare in what happened in that Green Bay and Arizona game.

MARTIN: Oh, my gosh, I'm not going to - OK.

PESCA: Yeah.

MARTIN: I have to cop to the fact that I did not stay up and watch football last night, but I watched the highlights this morning...

PESCA: Yeah.

MARTIN: ...On ESPN. Does that count? And...

PESCA: Well, they probably didn't even have enough time to get to all the highlights.

MARTIN: That was amazing - Larry Fitzgerald.

PESCA: Yeah.

MARTIN: That guy's awesome.

PESCA: Yeah. You want to talk about that one, or...

MARTIN: (Laughter).

PESCA: Let me hit on New England-Kansas City first, all right?

MARTIN: Really?

PESCA: Yeah, I'll just say this. Rob Gronkowski seems healthy. This spells, if not doom, then consternation for the rest of the AFC. He scored - the Patriots tight end scored two touchdowns. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick extend their records for most wins by a quarterback and a coach in the playoffs. And they same time is the enemy of all men, but that's especially true for Kansas City coach Andy Reid. His game and time management was just frittered away at the end of the game, didn't give his team a chance to win. You want to get to the big one now?

MARTIN: Yes, please.

PESCA: OK. So I can't even get into all the crazy things that happened - the first down that Arizona achieved late in the first quarter that wasn't measured by chain links but by micrometers. But let's just go to the last play of the game. Hail Mary - it was from the 41 yard line, but Aaron Rodgers, the Packers quarterback threw it from the 50. It's the second time the Packers connect on a Hail Mary at the end of the game.

MARTIN: Oh, man.

PESCA: It's crazy.

MARTIN: I know.

PESCA: So then the game goes into overtime. But before that happens, the coin doesn't flip for overtime.

MARTIN: I saw that. That was crazy.

PESCA: It pancakes. I blame the angular momentum vector, but that's just a guess. We have to investigate this coin flip.

MARTIN: (Laughter) I love - everyone cares so much, though, that the coin didn't flip. Whatever, that's beside the point.

PESCA: (Laughter) Well, for all the things that have ever happened in sports - and this game had a bunch of them - I don't think anyone's ever seen a non-flipping coin, interesting.

MARTIN: (Laughter).

PESCA: So then the first play after Arizona gets the ball, they flip it to their future hall of famer. He rambles 75 years. Two plays later, they flip it to him again. The ball flips, unlike the coin. Larry Fitzgerald, touchdown. Cardinals win.

MARTIN: No words. OK.

PESCA: Good stuff.

MARTIN: But we have to come up with words because there are big games today we must discuss. Seattle takes on Carolina. I am torn. Two great quarterbacks - Russell Wilson, Cam Newton - who do you like?

PESCA: I think I like Russell Wilson, even though the Panthers have not lost at home and Cam Newton is a great weapon. They're similar quarterbacks because they could both hurt you with their arm, but they're very good at running. I think Russell Wilson scrambles when things break down, but Cam Newton has these designed runs. And you know, if Russell Wilson wins, this is his 10th playoff game. And if he wins, he will be 8-2 in the playoffs. And even though he's this young quarterback, the only player - the only quarterback who's played that many games and has a better winning percentage in NFL history is Bart Starr. Maybe you heard of the MVP of the first Super Bowl ever played.

MARTIN: Oh, Bart, good old Bart.

PESCA: (Laughter).

MARTIN: So briefly, we have to talk about Peyton Manning.

He's playing. I didn't know...

PESCA: And Ben Roethlisberger.

MARTIN: OK, him, but Peyton Manning - I thought he was out with an injury, but he's back.

PESCA: Yeah, and we - OK. So for weeks we thought Peyton's season and perhaps career was done, but he resurrects himself in the last game of the regular season...


PESCA: ...Thus clinching home-field advantage for his Broncos. They host as battered a team as you could get in the Steelers. Antonio Brown, the best wide receiver, is out. They're down to third and fourth-string on the running back chart. So I think just in terms of injuries, the Broncos have an edge over the Steelers because Roethlisberger's hurt, too.

MARTIN: Oh, so much drama. So much drama, so much good football.

Mike Pesca, host of Slate's podcast "The Gist." Thanks, Mike.

PESCA: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.