FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sunday, December 13th, 2015

NOTES & QUOTES FROM FOOTBALL NIGHT IN AMERICA – WEEK 14

“I think the Steelers and Seahawks are the two best teams… in football.” – Cris Collinsworth

“They have no chance to advance in the playoffs without Andy Dalton, period.” – Rodney Harrison on Bengals

I don’t want to play with Johnny Manziel because I simply can’t trust him.– Harrison on Johnny Manziel

“There are Hall of Fame players… and then there are people who change the entire game.” – Bob Costas on J.J. Watt

STAMFORD, Conn. – December 13, 2015 – Following are highlights from Football Night in America, which aired prior to NBC’s Sunday Night Football matchup between the New England Patriots and Houston Texans. Bob Costas was on the field at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas, and was joined on site by Sunday Night Football analyst Cris Collinsworth, sideline reporter Michele Tafoya, and NBC NFL analyst Hines Ward.

Dan Patrick co-hosted Football Night, the most-watched weekly studio show in sports, from NBC Sports Group’s Studio 1 in Stamford, Conn. He was joined by Super Bowl-winning head coach Tony Dungy; two-time Super Bowl winner Rodney Harrison; and NFL Insiders Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk on NBCSports.com, and Peter King. Kathryn Tappen reported from Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis., on the Cowboys-Packers game.

Costas interviewed Texans DE J.J. Watt. In addition, NBC Sports’ Liam McHugh narrated a feature on the Patriots.

Following are highlights from Football Night in America:

ON PANTHERS

Tony Dungy on Carolina making it to the Super Bowl: “It’s not a foregone conclusion, but I’m betting on them. They play good football. They’re having fun. They’re playing with confidence. We think of them as a defensive team, but they’re putting up 35 and 42 points a game. Cam’s got that offense going. I love the Panthers.”

Peter King on Carolina’s injuries: “They did lose starting corner Bene Benwikere for the year. He will be put on IR with a broken leg, but a knee injury to Greg Olsen, a foot injury to Jonathan Stewart and a back injury to Cam Newton all are OK. The head coach of the Panthers, Ron Rivera, told me after the game that all of those guys will not miss time. They will be ready to play the Giants this Sunday.”

ON BENGALS

Cris Collinsworth: “The Bengals have a good team, but we all know winning with a backup quarterback, and a young backup quarterback at that, the odds of going to the Super Bowl just went down for the Bengals.”

Rodney Harrison on the Bengals and the loss of QB Andy Dalton: “The Cincinnati Bengals looked lost without Andy Dalton. Emotionally this is a different team. They need him back if they expect to make a run.”

Harrison: “They have no chance to advance in the playoffs without Andy Dalton, period.”

Dungy: “I think Cincinnati still wins the division, but they need every win that they can get fighting it out with Denver and the New England for that home field advantage.”

ON STEELERS

Collinsworth: “I think the Steelers and the Seahawks are the two best teams. I think today, if Las Vegas made the odds and we played everything on a neutral field, those would be the two best teams in football.”

ON EAGLES

Harrison on head coach Chip Kelly: “I have to give a lot of props to Chip Kelly. After Thanksgiving, we thought it was all over for them. Then all of these players said they hate Chip Kelly. He’s done a great job of keeping these guys focused, and now they are playing extremely hard.”

Dungy on Kelly: “You hear all of the rumors and all the things. DeMarco Murray going over his (Kelly’s) head to the owner and all of that. I know Chip very well and none of that bothers him. He just told these guys, ‘Let’s just play football. If we play together, we are a good team.’”

ON BROWNS

Harrison on Johnny Manziel: “I still think you have to find a starting quarterback. He’s good. He’s a really good athlete, so I’d keep him on the roster. But if I’m a guy in that locker room, I don’t want to play with Johnny Manziel because I simply can’t trust him.”

Dungy on Manziel: “And that’s your biggest problem as a head coach when you draft Manziel. You’re three years down the road and you don’t know what you have. You don’t know if you have a guy you can depend on. That’s why I would not have drafted him.”

ON COLTS

Dungy: “I believe they will get it back. They have to get Andrew Luck back. He’ll give them some spark, hope and life.”

Harrison: “They still have offensive line issues. The Colts defense and special teams have issues. As good as Andrew Luck is, he’s not good enough to cover up for all of those inefficiencies the Colts have.”

ON CHARGERS

Mike Florio on the Chargers potential move to Los Angeles: “The NFL has been gone from Los Angeles for 20 years, but that could change one month from today. There is growing momentum that when the owners meet on January 13 they will decide to return to L.A.. There are still a lot of moving parts, but of all the various possibilities, when the dust settles, look for the Chargers to quite possibly be one of the teams to return. Either alone or with another team. Which would make next Sunday’s game against the Dolphins, in San Diego, the last game the Chargers play there.”

ON GIANTS

Dungy on the NFC East: “Philadelphia has the momentum right now, but I still think you have to watch out for the Giants. They play tomorrow. I think that last game, Philadelphia at the Giants, is going to determine the division.”

ON PATRIOTS

Harrison on the Patriots: “After losing two-straight games, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady want to make a statement to the league. I expect them to come out and pass the ball 40 or 50 times tonight.”

ON TEXANS

Costas on Bill Belichick’s comparison of J.J. Watt to Giants Hall of Fame LB Lawrence Taylor: “There are Hall of Fame players who are better by degree than other good players, and then there are people who change the entire game. (Lawrence) Taylor did, and in his own way, Watt has done the same.”

J.J. WATT WITH BOB COSTAS

On the Texans’ resurgence following the team’s 2-5 start: “There was a time this season when everyone wrote us out. Basically, everybody was planning our funeral and saying ‘The Texans are done. Everybody needs to go.’ We were playing terrible football. But inside that locker room, we didn’t listen. We believed in ourselves and put ourselves into a position to be in contention.”

On his broken left hand: “I don’t think it’s going to affect me as much as it may come off. It’s going to be completely closed, so it will be in a full club. I know ways to not have to use the left hand as much, and I also know that I can use it. It’s just a pain tolerance thing. It’s at that point where I’m really not going to mess it up any more, it’s just how much pain you’re willing to play with. The only thing I won’t be able to do is grab.  I won’t be able to grab, and pull, and shed necessarily, but I’ll be able to make up for it. All week, since it happened, I’ve been thinking of things in my mind that I can do to make up for it.”

On Patriots head coach Bill Belichick’s comparison of Watt to former Giants LB Lawrence Taylor: “Coming from a guy like Bill Belichick, who is a Hall of Fame coach, possibly the best coach of all-time, he’s seen so many great players play. For him to give praise like that, like he doesn’t do very often, it means a lot.  After he gave that, somebody showed me the stats comparison between Lawrence and I. I had never seen it before, and that kind of blew me away. I had never seen it, and I didn’t expect it to look the way it did.”

On leaving an impact on the game of football: “That’s my goal. It’s one of those things that you’re passionate about. It’s a life dream and it’s a culmination. Everything you’ve ever wanted, everything you’ve ever worked for is to leave a legacy.”

FOOTBALL NIGHT IN AMERICA