In a special Saturday night edition of ESPN’s Monday Night Football, Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons – tied for the best record in the NFL (12-2) – will face Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions on December 22 at 8:30 p.m. ET in the prime-time series’ season finale.
The Falcons hope to secure home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs, while Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson continues his quest to set the record for most receiving yards in a single season. To break the 17-year old record set by ESPN analyst Jerry Rice, Johnson needs 182 receiving yards in his next two games.
Mike Tirico will call the game with analyst Jon Gruden and sideline reporter Lisa Salters. Airing on ESPN and ESPN Deportes, MNF will also be available on computers at WatchESPN.com and on tablets via the WatchESPN app for fans who receive their video subscriptions from an affiliated provider.
The 90-minute Saturday edition of Monday Night Countdown begins at 7 p.m. with hostChris Berman and analysts Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson and Keyshawn Johnson and NFL Insiders Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter. The pre-game show will also include reports from Steve Young and Salters at Ford Field. Highlights:
- Soundtracks – Falcons Season: With a win Saturday night in Detroit, the Falcons will lock up home field advantage for the NFC playoffs. In this week’s Soundtracks, Countdown presents some of the season’s best Falcons in-game and sideline audio.
- Jerry Rice on Calvin Johnson’s Pursuit of Receiving Record: With 1,667 receiving yards in 14 games, Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson is 181 yards removed from breaking Jerry Rice’s single-season receiving mark. As Johnson approaches his record, Rice reflects on the record and what makes Johnson such a dominant receiver.
- Best of “C’Mon Man!”: A review of the season’s best C’Mon Man! plays, ranging from the replacement referees faux pas to wardrobe malfunctions.
ESPN NFL studio programming continues throughout the holiday weekend into Christmas Day.
|Sat, Dec. 22||12 a.m.||NFL Live Presented by Radio Shack (re-air)|
|5 a.m.||NFL Live Presented by Radio Shack (re-air)|
|7 p.m.||Monday Night Countdown Served by Applebee’s|
|8:30 p.m.||Monday Night Football: Atlanta Falcons at Detroit Lions|
|Sun, Dec. 23||3 a.m.||Snickers NFL Matchup|
|6:30 a.m.||Snickers NFL Matchup (re-air)|
|8:30 a.m.||Snickers NFL Matchup (re-air)|
|10 a.m.||Sunday NFL Countdown Presented by IBM|
|11 a.m.||Fantasy Football Now Presented by Papa John’s|
|7:30 p.m.||SportsCenter *Highlights of Sunday’s NFL games|
|Mon, Dec. 24||3 p.m.||NFL Primetime Presented by Bud Light|
|4 p.m.||NFL Live Presented by Xbox|
|7 p.m.||NFL Live Presented by Xbox (re-air)|
|Tue, Dec. 25||12:30 a.m.||NFL Primetime Presented by Bud Light (re-air)|
|1:30 a.m.||NFL Films Presents|
|3 p.m.||NFL Primetime Presented by Bud Light (re-air)|
|3:30 p.m.||2012 Pop Warner Championship|
|4 p.m.||NFL Live Presented by Taco Bell|
|4:30 p.m.||Super Bowl XLIII: Steelers at Cardinals (re-air)|
|6 p.m.||NFL Live Presented by Taco Bell (re-air)|
Sunday NFL Countdown: The Immaculate Reception, Slingin’ in Seattle, Ebenezer Ditka and More
ESPN Sunday NFL Countdown Presented by IBM with Chris Berman, Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson, Keyshawn Johnson, Suzy Kolber, Merril Hoge and Ron Jaworski will preview week 16 on Sunday, Dec. 23, at 10 a.m. NFL Insider Adam Schefter and senior analyst Chris Mortensen will report the day’s news.
Correspondents Ed Werder (New Orleans at Dallas), Sal Paolantonio (Washington at Philadelphia), Bob Holtzman (Minnesota at Houston), Josina Anderson (Cincinnati at Pittsburgh), Rachel Nichols (New York Giants at Baltimore), and Colleen Dominguez (San Francisco at Seattle) will report from game sites. Highlights:
- The Immaculate Reception: Sunday is the 40th anniversary of one of the most memorable receptions in the NFL – Pittsburgh Steelers full-back Franco Harris’ “Immaculate Reception” in the 1972 AFC Divisional playoffs against the Oakland Raiders. Jeremy Schaap retraces the play through the players involved, including Harris and the lucky fan who took the ball home.
- Slingin’ in Seattle: With a flair for the dramatic, rookie Russell Wilson has the Seattle Seahawks back in playoff contention. Last Sunday, Wilson became the first quarterback since 1950 to lead his team to 50+ points in consecutive games. On the brink of clinching a playoff spot with a win Sunday over division rival San Francisco, Wilson discusses the ups and downs of his rookie season with ESPN.com’s Greg Garber.
- Switching Sides: Frustrated by the Cincinnati Bengals seasons in futility, Brett Kostoff, a die-hard fan of the team, placed his enthusiastic support of the Bengals up for bid on EBay. The highest bidder? A Pittsburgh Steelers fan. Kostoff is now a full-fledged member of Steeler Nation and is attending his first Steelers game Sunday against a hated divisional rival, the Bengals, reports Countdown.
- Ebenezer Ditka: Just before Christmas, Hall of Famer and Countdown’s Mike Ditka returns with his recurring role as Ebenezer Ditka, voicing his disgust at the slumping Chicago Bears, the heated race of underperforming teams in the NFC East and more.
The program will include live look-ins at quarterbacks Robert Griffin III, Drew Brees, Tony Romo, Ben Roethlisberger, wide receivers Andre Johnson, A.J. Green, and running back Adrian Peterson during their pre-game warm-ups before the 1 p.m. games. Additional segments include a discussion of which team has the edge in the NFC East logjam, will Adrian Peterson be successful in his pursuit of the rushing record, and Cris Carter’s “Where You At?”.
Snickers NFL Matchup – Roethlisberger’s Third-Down Passing; Eli Manning’s Interceptions; Seahawks Read-Option Play; and More
NFL Matchup host Sal Paolantonio and analysts Ron Jaworski and Merril Hoge will preview the weekend’s key matchups by taking viewers inside the film room with X’s and O’s analysis Sunday, Dec. 23, at 6:30 a.m. on ESPN (ESPN2 at 8:30 a.m.). Highlights:
- Inside the Matchup – Roethlisberger’s Third Down Passing: To show how efficient Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger is on third down, Hoge uses plays from week 7 when the Steelers were 10 for 16 on third down against the Cincinnati Bengals.
- Eye in the Sky – Eli Manning Interception: The New York Giants’ offense is based around quarterback Eli Manning, who has thrown seven interceptions in the last six games. Jaworski analyzes how Manning’s mechanics and timing are hindering the Giants’ offensive production.
- Hoge’s Drop In – Haloti Ngata Fighting Double Teams: With the Baltimore Ravens defense struggling, Hoge shows how Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata is struggling to defeat double teams.
- “Between the Lines” – Dez Bryant TD vs. Bengals: Jaworski uses the telestrator to show how the Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant beats double coverage in most of his eight touchdown receptions in the last six games.
- Hoge Breakdown – Ryan Kerrigan Sack/Fumble: Hoge shows how the Washington Redskins use pre-snap alignment to dictate favorable one-on-one matchups for outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan on running backs.
- “Coaches Clicker” – Seahawks Read-Option Run: Hoge uses the clicker to explain the mechanics of the read-option play that allowed Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch to bust a 54-yard run last Sunday versus Buffalo.
- “Jaws Playbook” – Seahawks Read-Option Pass: In a separate look at the Seahawks offense, Jaworski goes into his playbook to show how the read-option play expands the Seahawks pass offense, exemplified in quarterback Russell Wilson’s 67-yard pass to tight end Anthony McCoy at home versus the Arizona Cardinals.
- “Factor Back” – Adrian Peterson: Minnesota Vikings Adrian Peterson simply cannot be stopped this year, so Merril showcases his ability to break long runs even when the defense has him dead to rights in the backfield.
- Jaws’ Drop In – J.J. Watt: Jaworski breaks down Texans defensive end J.J. Watt’s unconventional use of the swim move that has made him a force stopping the run.
- Tell Me Something I Don’t Know – Peyton Manning Red Zone Touchdowns: Jaworski analyzes an anticipation throw by Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning in the red zone to show why he leads the AFC in touchdown passes.
Premiere: E:60 Profiles Gronkowski, Cruz, Foster
E:60 presents PROFILE:60, three new half-hour episodes with NFL stars Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots, Victor Cruz of the New York Giants, and Arian Foster of the Houston Texans. The shows will premiere Thursday, Dec. 20, at 8 p.m. with Gronkowski, 8:30 p.m. (Cruz), and 9 p.m. (Foster), all on ESPN2.