Sunday, September 8th, 2013


I’m concerned that defensive coaches are going to say, ‘We’re going to have to go low.’” – Tony Dungy on helmet hits

Today proved that they’re not just a read-option offense.” – Rodney Harrison on 49ers

“Not only is he the best center in the league, he very well may be the best player on the offense of the Pittsburgh Steelers.” – Scott Pioli on Maurkice Pouncey

“They had their swagger back, and a lot of it was due to Sean Payton” – Dungy on Saints

NEW YORK – Sept. 8, 2013 – Following are highlights for Football Night in America, the most-watched pre-game show in sports. Bob Costas opened the show live from inside AT&T Stadium in Dallas where the Cowboys are hosting the New York Giants. Costas was joined on-site by Sunday Night Football commentators Al Michaels (play-by-play) and Cris Collinsworth (analyst), as well as NBC NFL analyst Hines Ward, the former Super Bowl MVP.

Dan Patrick co-hosts Football Night from famous Studio 8H at NBC’s 30 Rockefeller Plaza studios in New York City. He is joined by Super Bowl-winning head coach Tony Dungy; two-time Super Bowl winner Rodney Harrison; Peter King of Sports Illustrated; Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk on and NBC Sports Network; and Scott Pioli, the former NFL Executive of the Year who is the newest addition to the NBC NFL team. Alex Flanagan reported from Candlestick Park in San Francisco on the Packers-49ers game.

Costas interviewed New York Giants QB Eli Manning and Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo for tonight’s episode.

Following are highlights from Football Night:


Patrick: “You guys were singling out some of those hits by (Buccaneers S) Dashon Goldson…What is unnecessary roughness and what should have been flagged?”

Dungy on first questionable hit: “(Watching replay) This probably could have been flagged, but Dashon Goldson is trying to do everything he can. He turned his shoulder. He did it right. I don’t know what else you can do.”

Harrison: “I felt like the second one was a clean hit, but the first one he ducked his helmet – you have to see what you hit. That’s what I tell the six-to-nine year-olds that I coach; you have to see what you hit. As soon as you duck your head, it’s for protection, not just for the person that you’re hitting, but for your own safety.”

Dungy: “Peter King talked to Goldson. He’s upset. He said, ‘I’m trying to do everything right. I can’t do it this way anymore. I’m going to have to start going low.’ I’m sure that’s what defensive coaches are going to start coaching, and that could have some bad ramifications.”

Harrison: “I talked to some defensive backs in the offseason and they said, ‘I’m not getting fined. I like to make my money and I like to keep my money. I’m going for the knees, and if it means tearing a guy’s ACL, it is what it is.’”

Patrick: “But if you talk to players, they’ll say, ‘Hit me up top. Don’t hit me in the knees because if you hit me here (head), I’m out for a week with a concussion.’”

Harrison: “Your knees are your moneymakers.”

Dungy: “The safety is so important. I see guys now trying to do it right, trying to turn and lead with the shoulder and getting penalized.”

Patrick: “Would you have flagged those?”

Dungy: “I wouldn’t have. I wouldn’t have, personally.”

Patrick to Harrison: “You couldn’t play now.”

Harrison: “I could play, but the only problem is that I’d be sleeping in your basement because I’d be broke.”

Dungy: “We said the officials were going to really focus on safety and the headshots. We saw some high hits, some hits that looked good that got called. I’m concerned that defensive coaches are going to say, ‘We’re going to have to go low.’”

Harrison: “They are going to have to go low. If the players want to keep money in their pockets, if they don’t want to get suspended, they’re going to have to hit at the knees. Look for that trend to continue.”


Florio on second-quarter officiating error: “The league will acknowledge, possibly publicly at some point, that there was an error made by the officiating crew. It should have been fourth down. Offsetting penalties, after the play, dead ball foul, you don’t replay the down. The league realizes that was a mistake.”

Harrison: “Today proved that they’re not just a read-option offense. Colin Kaepernick, he is the real deal. He can play. He can drop back and be a passer, pass the ball 30 or 40 times a game.”

49ers TE Vernon Davis to Alex Flanagan on WR Anquan Boldin: “He’s that guy that you want on your team. He comes to work each and every day. He [doesn’t] complain. He just comes to work.”


Dungy on how a coach handles the officiating error: “You’re very frustrated. You’re trying to get their attention, saying ‘this should be fourth down.’ When they don’t give it to you, you’ve got to play. You’ve got to stop them.”


Dungy: “Bad day for the AFC North, especially in Pittsburgh. They were only able to run for 32 yards. It didn’t look like Steeler football to me.”

Pioli on how the team replaces C Maurkice Pouncey: “After looking at that ‘street’ list of centers, it doesn’t look very good right now…Not only is he the best center in the league, he very well may be the best player on the offense of the Pittsburgh Steelers.”

Harrison on the Steelers: “If I’m Mike Tomlin, I am concerned. I lose Maurkice Pouncey, who is the best center in the league. That offensive line, they can’t block. The run game has been completely shut down. I believe that they missed Mike Wallace, and his ability to go down the field and open up. Big Ben, he wants plays down the field. They no longer have the luxury of depending on their defense to create three or four turnovers and score touchdowns.”


Harrison on Tom Brady and Danny Amendola: “I saw some frustration in Tom Brady. The key for Tom Brady is that he needs to stay patient. He’s dealing with some young wide receivers, and they had some miscommunication issues, some of the wide receivers ran the wrong routes. I just enjoyed watching Danny Amendola and his toughness. He got hurt in first half, went out, came back in and converted on some key third downs.”

Dungy on Brady’s game-winning drive: “The key was Tom Brady going 7-for-7 on that last drive when they needed it. It didn’t matter who was playing wide receiver.”

Harrison on Patriots missing Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski: “That’s part of the frustration. You look at on third down and in the red zone. One thing that really bothered me is Steven Ridley – he needs to get it together. He keeps fumbling the football, and that’s why Bill Belichick benched him.”


Dungy on Andrew Luck: “Chuck Pagano feels just like I felt in Indianapolis when I coached Peyton Manning. You feel like whenever you’ve got the ball, you’ve got a chance to win…I think what we underestimate about Luck is his desire and his will to win…His teammates believe in him.”

Harrison on Luck: “He surprises a lot of people with how athletic he is and his toughness. But it’s no coincidence why he’s winning these late games.”


Dungy on Reggie Bush: “He’s just what the Lions needed.”

Harrison impact of Reggie Bush on Detroit Lions: “They’ve been looking for a great running back for so long. He’s really the missing piece. He’s so explosive and versatile; he can catch the ball out of the backfield.”

Harrison on Bush as an every-down back: “No question about it. That’s the one thing people don’t give him credit for. If you look at the tape last year with the Miami Dolphins, he’s not afraid to run through the middle and between the tackles.”


Dungy on Sean Payton’s return: “I hate to disagree with Drew (Brees), but it wasn’t business as usual (today). They had their swagger back, and a lot of it was due to Sean Payton. They played aggressively. They used some different sets. They spread the ball around to all of their weaponry, and I thought they were very aggressive with their play-calling.”


Harrison: “In the preseason, the Jets looked like a dysfunctional team. But you have to give a lot of credit to the rookie quarterback Geno Smith, recording his first win with a game-winning drive.”

Dungy: “It was Geno Smith, the rookie quarterback for the Jets, who had that winning ingredient.”


King: “Josh Freeman is on trial for his job and he had a very poor opening argument in that trial today…I think there’s a very good chance that we’re seeing the last year of Josh Freeman in Tampa.”


Patrick: “The Bengals had this game. They made mistakes. They were their own worst enemy.”

Dungy: “Marvin Lewis has to be upset. Two big penalties that cost them points; dropped balls, turnovers. Cincinnati played very undisciplined football today.”


Michaels: “You can love ’em. You can hate ’em. But you can’t ignore ’em.”

Patrick to Dungy: “Wouldn’t you rather have Romo during the regular season and Eli during the postseason?”

Dungy: “I’d love to have Tony Romo 99% of the time it’s just those big situations where he makes those mistakes trying to do too much.”

Ward: “Usually for a wide receiver, it takes you until year three or year four for the light bulb to turn on…Now that Dez is more mature, he’s able to do less thinking and go out there and do more reacting, which is making him a more explosive player.”


Collinsworth on Jason Pierre-Paul: “He is one of those guys who can wreck a game for the Cowboys.”

Florio: “There’s also a very good chance…that we’re seeing the last year of Hakeem Nicks in New York…I’m told that there are no talks.”

INTERVIEWS: Below are excerpts from Costas’ interviews with Manning and Romo.


On Peyton’s 7-TD performance and the Giants facing the Broncos next week: “I’m kind of upset with him. Sometimes he just makes it look easy…Obviously he’s playing at a high level, and hopefully next week we’ll be able to slow them down a little bit…Hopefully, after two games, he’ll be averaging 3.5 touchdowns per game.”

On his “football on your phone” performance and Peyton’s claim that Eli had a dream to be in a boy band: “Peyton can be a liar. I guess Peyton wanted to be in a rock band. He was a big Twisted Sister fan, Wham. That’s what he was listening to back in the ‘80s when he was driving me to school. That’s why he went with the more punk haircut.”

On his big-game and late-game performances being related to his older brothers roughing him up as a child: “I have been roughed up a little bit. Having two older brothers — five years younger than one, seven years younger than the other — you had to get tough quickly, and that’s kind of what I learned. Peyton used to hold me down with his knees on my arms and knock on my chest, and make me name all the NFL teams…Having two older brothers, it does kind of teach you to be tough and hang on, and always feel like you’re going to get out of it.”

Click here to watch the interview:


On if his new contract has affected his level of confidence: “I don’t think money ever dictates your confidence or what your mental makeup is. More than anything, I’m in a constant grind to improve, get better and achieve goals for this football team. And that’s never going to change.”

On his post-season performance: “More than anything, your legacy and everything you want to talk about how great you are as a quarterback, we’re all defined by your post-season play. I understand that. That’s what’s great about the game…We have a football team that, hopefully, has improved, gotten better. I feel excited about the team we have.”

On if he feels in the locker room that this is a make-or-break season for Jason Garrett: “No. Jason is our head coach. He’s as established as I’ve been around…every year in the National Football League; everyone’s job is on the line. I think Jason allows us to have some stability and structure in a position that’s consistently changing sometimes in this profession. He provides that clarity for our football team. It’s a great emotional even keel that he keeps, and it trickles down to everybody.”

Click here to watch the interview: