Why Is Mike Tirico Calling the Buccaneers-Washington Wild-Card Game Instead of Al Michaels?

Several weekends during the 2020 NFL season — and other days in the year of COVID-19 — saw Mike Tirico fill in for Al Michaels on Sunday Night Football.

The 2020-21 NFL playoffs won’t be much different. NBC has two wild-card round games, including a Saturday night showdown between Tampa Bay and Washington.

Tirico, not Michaels, is the man tasked with calling however many touchdowns Tom Brady throws or how many sacks that Washington rookie Chase Young records on Saturday night.

The 2020-21 NFL playoffs begin this weekend

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The NFL accomplished the seemingly impossible and played all 256 of its regular-season games.

In an already bizarre year, the NFL is breaking new ground with 14 total playoff teams. The AFC and NFC each have seven teams, six of whom — and a combined 12 — will play on wild-card weekend.

Green Bay and Kansas City secured the No. 1 seeds in each conference. Because those are the only two teams with a bye, that means the No. 2 seed — Buffalo in the AFC and New Orleans in the NFC — will play on wild-card weekend.

Six total games across all four of the league’s major networks will occur this weekend. Nickelodeon will also air a unique simulcast of the Bears-Saints game on Sunday, January 10.

Mike Tirico is calling the Buccaneers-Washington game

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Football fans expecting to hear Al Michaels call the Buccaneers-Washington game on wild-card weekend will instead spend another night with Mike Tirico.

NBC assigned its Notre Dame crew — Tirico, legendary Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy, and sideline reporter Kathryn Tappen — to work the first of two playoff games it has this weekend.

Tirico called numerous games on Sunday Night Football this past season. The Notre Dame crew teamed up for the Bears-Packers game on November 29.

Tirico and Tappen each filled in for Michaels and Michelle Tafoya at times in 2020. Michaels, who is expected to retire after calling Super Bowl 56 in February 2022, had several bye weeks during the season.

Tirico is calling the game remotely because of COVID-19 protocols. Dungy and Tappen will both be on site.

The Buccaneers and Washington Football Team will play Saturday night.

Al Michaels is handling the Browns and Steelers

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Barring anything unexpected in the final hours before kickoff, Mike Tirico will not work double-duty on wild-card weekend.

NBC’s ‘A’ team of Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, and Michelle Tafoya will call the Browns-Steelers game on Sunday, January 10. Cleveland is playing its first playoff game since January 2003.

NBC isn’t the only network with two games on wild-card weekend. CBS assigned Ian Eagle, Charles Davis, and Evan Washburn — the network’s No. 2 team — to the Colts-Bills game on Saturday, January 9. 

Jim Nantz and Tony Romo, along with sideline reporter Tracy Wolfson, will work the Bears-Saints game a day later. Romo, who missed Week 17 for COVID-19 reasons, is calling the game remotely.

Former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason, a longtime analyst on The NFL Today, filled in for Romo during Week 17.

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