Listen to NBC Sports’ Thursday Night Football theme music

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STAMFORD, Conn. – NBC, the only network with two primetime NFL packages, recently put the finishing touches on new Thursday Night Football theme music, which will be used throughout its TNF game telecasts.

The music will be featured throughout the nine NBC-produced TNF games, beginning tomorrow  Thursday, November 3, when the Atlanta Falcons visit the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on NFL Network.

Composed and produced by Grammy Award-nominated producer and songwriter Jimmy Greco, the new music – entitled “Can’t Hold Us Down” – is a high energy, melodic piece combining a modern pop musical arrangement, mixed with a traditional anthemic feeling found in classic sports themes.

The theme music was performed by the string section from the orchestra of Tony Award-winning Broadway blockbuster Hamilton under the direction of violinist and Hamilton concertmaster Jonathan Dinklage. Dinklage’s brother, Peter, the award-winning actor of Game of Thrones fame, narrated NBC Olympics’ primetime show open for its presentation of the Opening Ceremony for the 2014 Sochi Games. The TNF theme music was recorded at New York’s legendary Avatar Studios.

“It’s a thrill to have such a talented group of musicians write, conduct, and perform our theme music as we kick off a new night of the NFL on NBC,” said Fred Gaudelli, Executive Producer of NBC’s Thursday Night Football and Sunday Night Football. “We’re excited to introduce viewers to our new Thursday Night Football music.”

“It’s an honor to work with NBC Sports on such a high-profile TV show,” said Greco, the CEO of Airgo Entertainment, who has worked with Carlos Santana, Beyoncé, Miley Cyrus, Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez, and Train. “My career has primarily been producing in the pop music business, but now I am embracing all the exciting film and TV opportunities that may arise from it. I’m thrilled to be a part of Thursday Night Football!”

NBC’s Thursday Night Football schedule kicks off on Thursday, November 17 as the NFC Champion Carolina Panthers host the division rival New Orleans Saints. NBC’s TNF then has a four-week run of games beginning on Thursday, Dec. 1 with a blockbuster matchup as the first-place Dallas Cowboys visit the first-place Minnesota Vikings at the new U.S. Bank Stadium.

NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app will stream all of NBC’s Thursday Night Football games to desktops, tablets, and connected TVs via “TV Everywhere,” giving consumers additional value to their subscription service, and making high-quality content available to MVPD customers both in and out of the home and on multiple platforms. The full HD-quality video stream will come directly from NBC’s TNF broadcasts. Powered by Playmaker Media, the NBC Sports app is available on Apple iOS, Android and select Samsung devices, as well as on Amazon Fire, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, Win10, and Xbox. (NOTE: NBC Sports does not have NFL live streaming rights to mobile devices.)

The piece will serve as theme music for the following Thursday Night Football games:

Date Game Network
Thurs. Nov. 3 Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers NFLN
Thurs. Nov. 10 Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens NFLN
Thurs. Nov. 17 New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers NBC, NFLN **
Thurs. Dec. 1 Dallas Cowboys at Minnesota Vikings NBC, NFLN **
Thurs. Dec. 8 Oakland Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs NBC, NFLN **
Thurs. Dec. 15 Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks NBC, NFLN **
Sat., Dec. 17 Miami Dolphins at New York Jets NFLN
Thurs. Dec. 22 New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles NBC, NFLN **
Sun., Dec. 25 Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers NFLN

** Live streamed on Twitter, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app

The NFL’s final 4 all overcame injuries to star players

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The list of players sitting out this weekend’s conference championships is almost as impressive as the starting lineups: Julian Edelman. Carson Wentz. Dalvin Cook. Dont'a Hightower. Allen Robinson. Sam Bradford.

Following the NFL’s season of carnage that claimed the likes of, among others, Aaron Rodgers, Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, J.J. Watt, Deshaun Watson, Odell Beckham Jr. and Joe Thomas, this year’s final four all overcame not only the odds – “Minneapolis Miracle , anyone?” – but devastating injuries to key starters.

“We have a tough and resilient team,” Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Chris Long said of the NFC’s top seed , which is missing its second-year QB in Wentz, an MVP hopeful when he blew out a knee in December.

Even before Wentz’s injury thrust backup Nick Foles into the starting job for the playoffs, the Eagles lost nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters, playmaking middle linebacker Jordan Hicks, versatile return specialist Darren Sproles, and special teams captain Chris Maragos.

Yet, here they are, 60 minutes from Minneapolis and Super Bowl 52.

“I think that starts at the top with Doug, because he sets the tone for being resilient and even keeled,” Long said of his coach, Doug Pederson. “At the end of the day, we have a tough group of guys.”

So do the Minnesota Vikings, who are trying to reach their first Super Bowl in more than four decades and fulfill mantra to “Bring it Home” and become the first NFL team to play the title game in its own stadium.

And they’re doing so behind Case Keenum, who crashed Tom Brady‘s playoff party along with fellow perennial backup Foles and Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blake Bortles.

Together, the four quarterbacks left standing have a combined five Super Bowl rings, two NFL MVP awards and four Super Bowl MVP trophies. Brady, of course, owns all of that hardware himself.

Such is the panorama of these playoffs following a season of pain in which so many superstars were rendered sideline spectators with broken bones, snapped ligaments, torn muscles.

Keenum replaced an injured Bradford, who had replaced an injured Teddy Bridgewater. Bradford, now back in uniform as Keenum’s backup, blew out a knee in the first month of the season, as did rookie running back in Cook, who needed reconstructive surgery to repair a torn ACL.

Behind resilient coach Mike Zimmer , who resisted the urge to quit just before he got the Vikings’ head coaching gig in 2014, Minnesota rolled right along. Keenum deftly took over for Bradford, and Jerick McKinnon and Latavius Murray became a productive backfield tandem.

“We’ve got a bunch of fighters on this team,” Zimmer said. “They’ve been a resilient bunch all year long. I expect it to continue to be that way.”

The Patriots are also a bunch of fighters; they reached their seventh straight AFC title game despite losing Edelman, Brady’s top target, to a torn ACL in the preseason, and Hightower to a torn chest muscle in November.

Play caller Josh McDaniels and Brady, who led New England to a fifth Super Bowl title last year despite the absence of Rob Gronkowski, adjusted accordingly to Edelman’s absence with another terrific year.

Linebacker Kyle Van Noy stepped in for Hightower and ranked third on the team with 73 tackles and second with 5+ sacks despite missing three of the final five games with a calf injury.

Van Noy’s sack total was just a half-sack shy of Hightower’s career high set in 2014.

“The thing about K.V. is he’s very versatile,” said Patriots safety and defensive captain Devin McCourty. “So we’ve used him a bunch of different ways. … He’s been a big asset to our team.”

The Jaguars are the healthiest of the remaining playoff teams. They have only one opening-day starter on injured reserve: former Pro Bowl receiver Robinson, who tore his left ACL on Jacksonville’s opener.

Four months removed from reconstructive surgery, Robinson is now traveling with the team, so he’ll be on the sideline Sunday at New England, serving as a mentor to a raw receiving corps.

“Every person in this locker room put in a lot of work to get to this point, with me being one of them,” said Robinson, who was poised for another big year after dominating the league’s best secondary in training camp.

His injury on Jacksonville’s third offensive snap created a huge void for the offense. Marqise Lee and Allen Hurns tried to pick up the slack, but they ended up on the sideline at one point with injuries, too, leaving rookies Keelan Cole and Dede Westbrook to assume bigger roles.

Cole, an undrafted rookie from tiny Kentucky Wesleyan, had 42 catches for 748 yards and three scores in the regular season. He added a clutch 45-yard catch that set up a late TD in Jacksonville’s 45-42 stunner at Pittsburgh last week.

“I wish I could just wake up tomorrow and feel like I did Sept. 9,” Robinson said, “but I understand it’s going to be a process. I know I’ll be back to that point and better.”

Like so many other stars, Robinson will be in street clothes Sunday, cheering on his teammates in hopes of getting a sideline pass to the Super Bowl.

For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

With contributions from AP Pro Football Writers Rob Maaddi and Dave Campbell and AP Sports Writers Mark Long and Kyle Hightower.

Follow Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton

Steratore will lead 7-person officiating crew for Super Bowl

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NEW YORK (AP) Referee Gene Steratore will lead the seven-person crew of on-field game officials working the Super Bowl at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

The other members of the officiating crew for the Feb. 4 game are Roy Ellison (umpire), Jerry Bergman (down judge), Byron Boston (line judge), Tom Hill (field judge), Scott Edwards (side judge) and Perry Paganelli (back judge).

The crew has 127 years of NFL officiating experience and 101 combined playoff game assignments.

Steratore entered the league in 2003 as a field judge and was promoted to referee in 2006. He has officiated 11 playoff games, including two conference championships. He was the alternate referee for the 2010 Super Bowl.

Under the NFL officiating program’s evaluation system, officials must be rated in the top tier at their position to be eligible for the Super Bowl. They must have at least five years of NFL experience and previous playoff assignments.

Paul Weidner is the replay official.

For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL