Peter King on M&M: Robert Kraft didn’t want to flex Broncos game
|12.09.11 at 2:00 pm ET|
Sports Illustrated’s Peter King joined Mut & Merloni on Friday at noon for his weekly appearance. King discussed the Patriots’ matchup with the Broncos in two weeks not being flexed to Sunday night, Ben Roethlisberger injuring his ankle against the Browns Thursday night and James Harrison possibly being suspended for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Colt McCoy.
Many thought that the Patriots-Broncos game on Dec. 18 would be flexed from Sunday afternoon to the Sunday night game because of the enticing matchup. But the NFL announced on Wednesday that the game would remain in the 4:15 p.m. time slot. King said that Patriots owner Robert Kraft may have requested the game not be flexed because of travel reasons.
“I heard from two different people that although Kraft made it very clear to the NFL that he wanted the game to stay in the afternoon because it would give the Patriots basically a five-hour advantage in preparing in a short week, getting home from Denver and all that stuff,” King said. “It’d be easier on them as people, obviously. It’d be easier on their bodies. So I think clearly he made it known that he wanted to stay. But I’m told that he did not stamp his feet, he didn’t try to strong arm anybody.”
One other reason that the game was not flexed may have been the fact that the game that is scheduled to be played on Sunday night — the Ravens at the Chargers — is a compelling matchup as well.
“I think the real reason why Baltimore was kept as the Sunday night game is that San Diego is almost certainly still going to be in the pennant race with three weeks to go,” King said. “So the NFL can look at them and say, ‘Hey listen, we got Philip Rivers, we got Joe Flacco, we got two good quarterbacks. This is not a dog game.’ And remember, flexing was designed to avoid the dog game. I think if San Diego had lost in Jacksonville you would be seeing the Patriots and Denver on Sunday night football.”
Following are more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
On if the Steelers try to rest Roethlisberger in the upcoming weeks after he injured his ankle on Thursday: “The big question, obviously now, if you look at it is, what are the Steelers going to do about this game they have, that could be a very big game in 10 days at San Francisco? Because if you look down the road, you look at the Steelers and the Ravens is going to get a home game in the playoffs and win a division. If you’re the Steelers, do you try to play it’s the seventh game of the World Series, just so you have your best shot possible to get a week off and to let your guys, especially Roethlisberger, heal in a potential bye week. Or do you just say, ‘Hey, listen, we have to get our quarterback right, we’re going to make the playoffs anyway, we’re 10-3 right now. Forget all this other stuff, we need to give him a couple weeks off.’ And I have to tell you, my sense, last night walking out of there, is that they’re going to do everything humanly possible to get Roethlisberger ready to play Monday night against San Francisco.”
On how the NFL will punish James Harrison for his open-field hit on Colt McCoy on Thursday: “I didn’t think he was launching, I just thought he ran into him. But I will look at it again, but I didn’t see the launching. But the rule is very clear: If you’re a ball carrier in the open field, you can be tackled, hit in the helmet with the other guy’s helmet. That’s what the NFL is going to have to determine. I would be surprised if he were suspended. But I could see him getting a fine. Here’s the problem I have with Harrison’s hit: He could have aimed lower. He didn’t have to aim that high. That to me is the problem the league has with James Harrison. He made a choice and he could have gone for his gut there, but he went higher, he went shoulder pads and higher. That’s what the league is trying to get away from. That’s why I believe that they’ll fine him, and again, who knows what they’ll do? Because Harrison has a long history, but I believe it’s probably more of a fine than a suspension.”