The New England Patriots' shot at history Saturday night will be available for every household in the country with a television after months of wrangling.
The game against the New York Giants, in which the Patriots could become the first NFL team to go 16-0 in the regular season, was originally scheduled to be shown only on the NFL Network, which is available in fewer than 40 percent of the nation's homes with TVs.
But the league announced Wednesday that the NFL Network feed will be simulcast on NBC and CBS. It's a major concession by league officials, who repeatedly said they would not show the game anywhere but the NFL Network. The NFL had faced mounting pressure from politicians in recent weeks to make the game available to more viewers.
This will be the first three-network simulcast in NFL history and the first simulcast of any kind of an NFL game since the first Super Bowl in 1967, when CBS and NBC both televised the first meeting of the champions of the newly merged National Football League and American Football League.
"We have taken this extraordinary step because it is in the best interest of our fans," commissioner Roger Goodell said. "What we have seen for the past year is a very strong consumer demand for NFL Network. We appreciate CBS and NBC delivering the NFL Network telecast on Saturday night to the broad audience that deserves to see this potentially historic game. Our commitment to the NFL Network is stronger than ever."
COUNT ROMO IN ON SUNDAY: If it was up to Tony Romo, he would play the entire season finale Sunday in Washington, even though it means nothing to the Dallas Cowboys.
His reasoning is far more simple: There's a game to be won.
"That's who I am," Romo said Wednesday. "I'm competitive."
QUINN STILL WAITING FOR DEBUT: As the wins began piling up during this magical season, the Browns' most popular rookie found himself standing helplessly on the sideline wishing he was on the field.
How often was that, Brady Quinn?
"Every time," he said Wednesday. "I'm a quarterback."
A high-profile, high-paid, high-ceilinged backup quarterback to be precise. And Quinn is still waiting.
Because of the unusual circumstances surrounding Cleveland's home finale on Sunday against San Francisco, it is possible Quinn could make his NFL debut.
SHANAHAN: THIS SEASON WORSE THAN '99: Mike Shanahan's offensive genius and defensive shuffling didn't pay their usual dividends in Denver this season.
The Broncos (6-9), who retooled last spring with designs on contending for a Super Bowl, are wrapping up their first losing season since 1999, when John Elway retired after consecutive championships and Terrell Davis suffered a devastating knee injury.
"Oh, it's the hardest season I've had since I've been coaching, there's no question about that," Shanahan said Wednesday as the Broncos began preparing for their season finale against Minnesota.
What makes this harder than eight years ago, when the two-time defending Super Bowl champs went 6-10 in Shanahan's only other losing season during his 13-year tenure?
"Because we're a better football team this year than we were in '99," Shanahan said.
NINERS QB HILL MISSES PRACTICE: Quarterback Shaun Hill missed the San Francisco 49ers' practice Wednesday with back spasms, and coach Mike Nolan isn't sure Hill will play in Sunday's season finale at Cleveland.
Hill, the sixth-year pro who hadn't thrown an NFL pass until this month, has led the 49ers (5-10) to victories over Cincinnati and Tampa Bay in their last two games. He got his first significant NFL action midway through a loss to Minnesota on Dec. 9 when Trent Dilfer, subbing for injured first-stringer Alex Smith, sustained concussion.
SAPP SAYS THERE WAS NO CONTACT: Raiders' defensive tackle Warren Sapp said on Wednesday he does not expect to be suspended by the NFL after being ejected from last week's 49-11 loss to Jacksonville.
Speaking about the incident for the first time, Sapp defended his actions and blamed the officiating crew for the situation which resulted in Oakland getting hit with four unsportsmanlike conduct penalties late in the first half, three on Sapp.
After the game, referee Jerome Boger said Sapp bumped umpire Garth DeFelice during the argument, which was why he was ejected, a claim the seven-time Pro Bowl defensive lineman vehemently denies.
RIVERS DOWNPLAYS YAPPING AT CUTLER: It's on YouTube now, so it must have happened, right?
Well, San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers tried to downplay his animated exchange with Denver Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler on Monday night, which was caught by ESPN's cameras.
Rivers can be seen jawing from the sideline toward Cutler, who had just thrown an incomplete pass on fourth down midway through the fourth quarter of the Chargers' 23-3 victory. Chargers linebacker Matt Wilhelm can be seen mockingly waving toward Cutler.
Asked what he was saying to Cutler, Rivers said, "Nothing. There was really nothing said to him, to be honest with you."