“The Duck Caller is out there wingin’ it!”: How the Steelers are hunting for a playoff spot

1 Comment

Great night for Houston. Bill O’Brien beat his mentor for the first time (Houston 28, New England 22) after losing to Bill Belichick five times. Deshaun Watson beat the guy he idolized as a developing quarterback.

Great late afternoon for Kansas City. The Chiefs played their best all-around game (KC 40, Oakland 9) and all but clinched the AFC West, up two with the tiebreaker with four to play. They’re rested and healthy going into Foxboro on Sunday.

Great day for Baltimore. No one will be shocked if Ravens 20, Niners 17 ends up being a Super Bowl preview. The Ravens are the best team in the league. In six weeks, they’ve traveled West to beat Seattle by 14 and the Rams by 39; at home, they’ve beaten New England by 17, Houston by 34 and San Francisco by a Justin Tucker 49-yarder in the rain at :00.

The Steelers aren’t as good as Baltimore, and they might not make the playoffs even. But that was one hell of a day for the team and the city and the coach (and the Duck), the 20-13 win over Cleveland.

Factoid of the Browns-Steelers Rivalry: Since Week 6, Matt Ryan has won two games, Philip Rivers has won two, and Carson Wentz has won two. Devlin Hodges has won three.

But my hero of the day is not Hodges—though he deserves credit, and he’ll get it here. The hero of the day is the Steelers coach who kept the focus on football, Mike Tomlin. In the maelstrom of inflammatory T-shirts, fans angry about the long suspension of Myles Garrett, and pre-game chatter that this was the day the Browns would take over the rivalry (per Dianna Russini of ESPN), Tomlin made this day about one thing and one thing only: football.

“I love Coach T,” Joe Haden told me from Pittsburgh on Sunday night. It was Haden’s late pick of Baker Mayfield that iced the victory. “He always keeps it very black and white. All week, his message was: Stop the run, contain Odell and Landry [receivers Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry] and just play ball—they don’t like us, we don’t like them, who cares, just play.”

Quietly, the Steelers were a tribe before and after this game. If the Browns started something, Tomlin gave orders not to finish it. The game will be won by playing football, not by skirmishing. Did you notice Tomlin in the 17 days before the game? He never took the bait and never made inflammatory statements about the brawl that banned Garrett for the rest of the year and Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey for two games. Nothing he could say would make the situation better or be good for his team, so he just zipped it. The loss of Pouncey, their unquestioned leader, hurt. Tomlin understood why he came to the defense of his quarterback when attacked by Garrett and actually appreciated it, even though he didn’t say that publicly. The team knew. Pouncey knew.

After the game, the Steelers had Pouncey FaceTimed into their post-game locker-room huddle. “He broke us down,” Haden said. (Translated, that’s something a coach or leaders does at the end of a practice or game, like “Steelers on three, 1-2-3!” or something collegial like that.)

Haden said: “Then Coach T took the ball and said, ‘I’m bringing this to Maurkice.’ That was big for our team.”

The Steelers are 7-5 in a very different way this year. In the past four weeks, they’ve scored 17, 7, 16 and 20 points, and they’re 3-1. “We manufacture wins,” Haden said. “We’ve got ballers on defense. When we go out there as a defense, we feel the energy of the crowd. We feel the love. They love defense in Pittsburgh. You know that’s the history. Right now, we’re playing as a legitimate team.”

With an undrafted rookie quarterback from Samford University. Last year, Devlin “Duck” Hodges, the 2018 Alabama state duck calling champion (honestly), was playing Shorter and Kennesaw State on his small campus in Birmingham. Now he’s enmeshed in the Steelers-Browns border war, and he’ll be charged with getting this underdog team to the playoffs, somehow. It’s such a great story. Imagine a January game with Duck Hodges at Tom Brady, or Duck Hodges at Patrick Mahomes. Really, Duck Hodges at Anybody.

“The Duck Caller is out there wingin’ it!” Haden said, laughing. “He’s winning—he’s throwing people open! We love it!”

Read more from Peter King’s Football Morning in America column here

Super Bowl 2023: What to know about national anthem, pregame performers ahead of Super Bowl LVII


Super Bowl LVII is inching closer, and while we may not yet know which two teams will take the field, we do know which performers will take the stage.

The NFL revealed on Jan. 24 that Chris Stapleton, Babyface, Tony Kotsur, Sheryl Lee Ralph and others will take part in the Super Bowl pregame festivities, completing the list of entertainers that will perform in the southwest.

Super Bowl LVII will take place on Feb. 12 at 6:30 p.m. EST. See below for the full list of performers that will be present at the big game.

RELATED: Click here for more information about Super Bowl LVII

Who is singing the Super Bowl national anthem?

Chris Stapleton will be performing the national anthem at State Farm Stadium on Super Bowl Sunday. The country music star is an 8x Grammy, 15x Country Music and 10x Academy of Country Music Award winner.

Born and raised in Kentucky, Stapleton spent years in Nashville as a songwriter before debuting his solo album, Traveller, in 2015. The album, best known for its No. 1 hit “Tennessee Whiskey”, propelled Stapleton to stardom, sweeping the Country Music Awards and eventually going platinum. Since then, Stapleton has released three other albums, the latest entitled Starting Over, which debuted in 2020.

RELATED: Ranking the most memorable Super Bowl national anthems of all time

Who else is performing during the Super Bowl pregame?

Babyface, Sheryl Lee Ralph and Tony Kotsur, among other performers, will take the field during the pregame ceremonies of Super Bowl LVII.

The 12-time Grammy-Award winner Babyface will perform “America the Beautiful” prior to kickoff. The 64-year-old recording artist, songwriter and producer has had 125 Top 10 hits, 44 No. 1 R&B hits and 16 No. 1 pop hits.

Emmy, Critics Choice and Independent Spirit award winning actress Ralph will perform “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” Ralph is best known for her role in the hit comedy series “Abbott Elementary”, a part which earned her the distinction of being both a 2023 Golden Globe nominee and Critics’ Choice Award winner. The 66-year old Connecticut native also won an Emmy for “Abbott Elementary” this past September.

RELATED: Who performed at the Super Bowl 2022?

Kotsur is also make an appearance in the Super Bowl pregame, performing the national anthem in American Sign Language on behalf of the National Association of the Deaf. The Arizona native has broken boundaries in the entertainment world, becoming the first deaf man to win an Academy Award for acting this past year. His part as the character of Frank Rossi in the movie “CODA” is what earned Kostur the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.

Joining Kostur at the Super Bowl is two other deaf performers, as Colin Denny will perform “America the Beautiful” in ASL and Justina Miles will sign “Lift Every Voice and Sing” as well as the halftime show in ASL.

Who is performing at halftime of Super Bowl 2023?

On February 12, 2023, Apple Music announced that singer and entrepreneur Rihanna will headline the inaugural Apple Music Super Bowl Halftime Show. The telecast will be produced by DPS with Roc Nation and Jesse Collins serving as executive producers, and Hamish Hamilton serving as director.

First entering the pop music scene in 2007 with her first album Music of the Sun, Rihanna has since dominated the industry, garnering 14 number-one Billboard songs from her eight albums. The Barbados native has sold over 200 million records and won eight Grammy awards. She has also proven to be a successful entrepreneur, launching her cosmetics brand Fenty Beauty in 2017 and clothing line Savage X Fenty in 2018.

How to watch the Super Bowl 2023

Check out ProFootballTalk for more on the 2023 NFL Playoffs as well as game previews, picks, recaps, news, rumors and more. 

How to watch San Francisco 49ers vs Philadelphia Eagles: Live stream info, start time for Sunday’s NFC Championship Game


It’s the San Francisco 49ers vs Philadelphia Eagles this Sunday, January 29 as the two teams go head-to-head in the NFC Championship game. Kickoff time is at 3:00 p.m. ET. See below for additional information on how to watch Sunday’s game.

RELATED: 2023 NFL Playoffs Schedule – Bracket, game dates, times and TV networks for Conference Championships and more

San Francisco 49ers:

The San Francisco 49ers look to win their first Lombardi Trophy since the 1994 season and they could likely do it with third string QB Brock Purdy, who will become the fifth rookie quarterback in NFL history to start a conference championship game this Sunday. Purdy, who was the very last pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, moved up the depth chart after Trey Lance sustained a season-ending ankle injury in Week 2 and Jimmy Garoppolo broke his foot in Week 13.

RELATED: 49ers Super Bowl history – When is the last time San Francisco made it to, won the Super Bowl?

The 49ers pulled off a 19-12 victory over the Dallas Cowboys in last weekend’s divisional round marking the team’s 12th straight win. Additionally, this will be the third time in 4 years that San Francisco has reached the NFC Championship game. Purdy finished 19-of-29 for 214 yards in the win. RB Christian McCaffrey had 16 touches for 57 yards while TE George Kittle had five catches for 95 yards.

RELATED: Brock Purdy, Jalen Hurts met in a 2019 college football classic

When was the last time 49ers made it to the Super Bowl?

The 49ers most recent Super Bowl appearance was in 2019 when they lost to the Kansas City Chiefs 31-20.

RELATED: 2023 NFL Playoffs – What to know about SF QB Brock Purdy Ahead of NFC Championship game

Philadelphia Eagles:

The Philadelphia Eagles delivered a crushing 38-7 blow to the New York Giants last Saturday, clinching their first NFC Championship berth since 2017. QB Jalen Hurts, who has been nursing a right shoulder injury sustained in Week 15, finished 16-of-24 for 154 passing yards and two touchdowns in the win. After the game Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni compared Hurts’ impact to NBA legend Michael Jordan.

RELATED: Eagles Super Bowl history – When is the last time Philadelphia made it to, won the Super Bowl?

“To have him out there is like — I know this is high praise, but to have him out there is like having — I shouldn’t even go there — it’s like having Michael Jordan out there. He’s your leader. He’s your guy. Hopefully that’s the biggest respect I can pay to him comparing his ability to being on the field to a Michael Jordan type. This guy leads. He brings this calmness to the entire team. He plays great football. He’s as tough as they come. Yeah, I mean, to me, nobody has played any better football than him this year.”

The Eagles’ defense took care of business on Saturday with five sacks on Giants QB Daniel Jones improving to a total of 75 sacks in all regular and postseason games this season which is the third-most in NFL history.

RELATED: 2023 NFL Playoffs AFC, NFC Championship Round Schedule – Dates, start times, how to watch/live stream info for Sunday’s games

When was the last time the Eagles made it to the Super Bowl?

The Eagles last Super Bowl appearance was in 2017 when they defeated the New England Patriots 41-33.

How to watch San Francisco 49ers vs Philadelphia Eagles:

  • Where: Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • When: Sunday, January 29
  • Start Time: 3:00 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: Fox

What time is kickoff for the San Francisco 49ers vs Philadelphia Eagles game?

Kickoff is at 3:00 p.m. ET.

Conference Championship Round Schedule:

Sunday, January 29

NFC Championship Game:

San Francisco 49ers vs Philadelphia Eagles – 3:00 p.m. ET on Fox

  • Where: Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

AFC Championship Game:

Cincinnati Bengals vs Kansas City Chiefs – 6:30 p.m. ET on CBS

  • Where: Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri

RELATED: What to know about Super Bowl 2023: Date, location, halftime performance info, and much more