AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
And I'm Robert Siegel. This is an important Monday in the National Football League. It follows an important Sunday when teams, some in dramatic fashion, clinched playoff spots. For teams not going to the postseason, it can brutal and especially brutal for their coaches. Today, five head coaches lost their jobs. That brings the total this year to six. Houston fired its coach earlier this month.
And joining us to talk through it all is NPR's Mike Pesca. Hey, Mike.
MIKE PESCA, BYLINE: Hello.
SIEGEL: Of the five coaches fired today, any surprises?
PESCA: Not really. I mean, Rob Chudzinski of the Cleveland Browns, he only had one year so that was a little bit of a surprise, but there was tension with management. And, you know, these were losing coaches. There were eight teams in the NFL this year who had fewer than six wins and four of those coaches were fired today and one of those coaches was fired earlier this month, Gary Kubiak of the Texans. So that's pretty bottom line. One of the coaches at a press conference, it was Jim Schwartz of the Lions, said bottom line, we didn't win enough games this year. It doesn't take a whole lot of parsing to figure out what's going on here.
SIEGEL: Let the record show that within the Capitol beltway where people are not obsessed with politics really, but with the Redskins, in fact, Coach Mike Shanahan was canned this morning.
PESCA: Three and thirteen will do that to you.
SIEGEL: Let's talk about the teams that are still playing. The Green Bay Packers needed a score with less than a minute to play and their quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, delivered. With Rodgers back, are they a much more dangerous team?
PESCA: They are. Rodgers, out two months with a broken collarbone. Leading up to this game, the talk was, you know, he's not going to play. In fact, in the weeks leading up, everyone was just saying the Packers are out of it, just shut Rodgers down for the season. Well, the Packers didn't shut him down and the Bears couldn't shut him down.
And he didn't have a great game overall, but he had a very good game and in that last drive, which was, you know, they were down, they needed to score, they took it over on the 13 and it was a 14 play drive up until the last play, which isn't that unusual in the NFL, but usually, you know, you go 90 yards in 14 plays.
They were only at the 48 yard line. And there, Rodgers rolls, on fourth down, and this would've been his third fourth down conversion of the drive, he unleashes this long pass to Randall Cobb, caught two passes in the game, both were for touchdowns. The word that comes to mind is legendary. I don't know if the Packers are going to win in the upcoming weeks, but what he did in that game was legendary.
SIEGEL: Well, the Packers controlled their fate. The Pittsburgh Steelers could not. They came close to advancing to the playoffs. They won their own game and then they waited to see if the Kansas City Chiefs could beat the San Diego Chargers. Tell us about the Chargers overtime win, a crushing disappointment for (unintelligible).
PESCA: Yeah, and the dynamic in this game was Kansas City having nowhere to go but the fifth seed in the playoffs rested almost all their starters and they still came within a field goal in regulation of winning. And a review of that play showed that San Diego was lined up illegally. It should've given Ryan Succop, the Kansas City kicker, another chance from within 40 yards. He is a 90 percent career field goal kicker within 40 yards. This was, like you said, a devastating loss and all over Pittsburgh, I'm sure, they are weeping into their iron city and iron city lights.
SIEGEL: And the day after they don't invoke the instant replay and call everybody back to redo the...
PESCA: They did issue an apology, though, the NFL did.
SIEGEL: OK. Looking ahead to the Wild Card round, what should we watch for?
PESCA: Look for the wind chill in Philadelphia because New Orleans goes on the road and it's going to be very cold and New Orleans is the only team - they're good at home, but they have a losing record on the road. Andrew Luck's looking to get his first win in the playoffs. They did beat the same Chiefs convincingly eight days ago. 49-ers are on the road against Green Bay. The 49-ers are favored. The biggest favorite of the weekend is Cincinnati. They host San Diego.
SIEGEL: Thank you, Mike.
PESCA: You're welcome.
SIEGEL: That's NPR's Mike Pesca talking about the latest news from the NFL.
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