Sunday, December 20th, 2015


 “Regardless of what the players are doing on the field, it’s up to the officials to maintain that level of control…They did a poor job of that.” – Rodney Harrison on the confrontations between Giants WR Odell Beckham and Panthers CB Josh Norman

“If Peyton Manning is able to play and is healthy, they’ve got to get him back in there.” – Tony Dungy on Broncos QB situation

He sealed the MVP by going out there and putting them in position to kick the game-winning field goal.” – Hines Ward on Panthers QB Cam Newton

“What defines an MVP more than a quarterback who puts a team on his back?…Russell Wilson has to be in this conversation.” – Cris Collinsworth

STAMFORD, Conn. – December 20, 2015 – Following are highlights from Football Night in America, which aired prior to NBC’s Sunday Night Football matchup between the Arizona Cardinals and Philadelphia Eagles. Bob Costas opened the show live from inside Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pa., 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, and Peter King.

Costas interviewed Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians.

Following are highlights from Football Night in America:


Patrick: “That Odell Beckham-Josh Norman situation was ugly today…They might be hearing from the League Office.”

Dungy while showing a highlight of one of the first confrontations of the game: “The referees did not stop this. They let it get out of hand.”

Harrison while showing a highlight: “When (Beckham) threw that punch, he should have been kicked out of the game right there.”

Harrison on Beckham, who hit Norman helmet-to-helmet, while showing a highlight: “This is why you want to avoid the foolishness. You can get one of your best players hurt, and you don’t need him missing two or three weeks.”

Dungy: “The officials should have stopped it.”

Harrison on Beckham’s game-tying TD catch while showing a highlight of the play: “I could see why Josh Norman was upset, Odell clearly pushed off. But this is the problem I have, stepping over guys [Beckham stepped over Norman after the TD], just flat out disrespect. You’ve got to show some sportsmanship.”

Dungy on if Tom Coughlin should have removed Beckham from the game: “You’ve got to bring him out for one play and say, ‘Look, you can’t do this anymore. You can get hurt, you can hurt your hands, and you’re hurting the team. You’ve got to stop and concentrate on football.’”

Harrison: “Regardless of what the players are doing on the field, it’s up to the officials to maintain that level of control…They did a poor job of that.”

Florio on if Beckham should have been ejected: “The League Office believes he should have been gone for a variety of blows to the head and ultimately a helmet-to-helmet shot…No ejection for Beckham, but most likely fines for multiple players rising out of today.”

King: “The chippiness of this game could affect [Panthers head coach] Ron Rivera’s decision on what to do in the next two weeks, whether to go for a 16-0 season. Talking to Rivera after the game he said, ‘I’m concerned about Cam Newton’s health,’ and he told me, and I quote, ‘I’ve got to be realistic about the big picture. I’ve got to be realistic about my players’ health,’ and he said, ‘I’m still undecided on what to do,’ but he seemed to be leaning toward not going as aggressively for 16-0.”


Ward on Cam Newton: “The scary thing about it is he’s getting better and better as the season’s gone along…He sealed the MVP by going out there and putting them in position to kick the game-winning field goal…Cam has done more with less talent around him [than other MVP candidates].”

Harrison: “I was one of the guys that said go for 16-0, it’s something you’ll always remember. But looking at it now, with Cam Newton getting nicked up and Jonathan Stewart hurt, rest these guys because the ultimate goal is to go into the playoffs healthy and to win the Super Bowl. Trust me, I know you don’t want to be 18-1 without a Super Bowl ring.”

Dungy on importance of 16-0: “To me, it wouldn’t be important at all. We saw Cam Newton get a big hit today and get injured, have to come out for a little bit. Four guys went down last week. Clinch this thing, get your players rested and healthy.”

Harrison: “I’ve been there before. 16-0 feels good, but it’s better to win a Super Bowl. The most important thing is to stay healthy and win a Super Bowl.”


Dungy on Panthers’ game-winning drive: “This is what’s happened to the Giants all year long.”


Dungy on the Texans succeeding despite QB injuries: “It doesn’t matter who the quarterback is, they’ve got to win with defense and running the ball. Defense, defense, defense.”

Harrison on J.J. Watt’s hand injury: “When I look at J.J. Watt, he’s playing his heart out, but he’s not the same player.”

Dungy: “I think they’re going to win this division.”

Harrison on the Texans as a playoff threat: “They’re one and done.”


Collinsworth on Russell Wilson as an MVP candidate: “What defines an MVP more than a quarterback who puts a team on his back?…Russell Wilson has to be in this conversation.”

Harrison on the eventual NFC East champion: “Any team making the playoffs would be happy, but they will have to play against the Seattle Seahawks. You don’t want to play against Seattle right now, they’re a very scary team.”

Harrison on Russell Wilson: “He’s doing a great job of getting the ball around to different receivers. You’ve got to give a lot of credit to that offensive line, they’ve been great.”


Dungy: “The biggest difference in this team is that defense is starting to make plays. They got them going early today with those two interceptions.”


Dungy: “They’re growing and I like their defense when everybody’s healthy, and they’re starting to get those guys back.”

Harrison: “I look at Adrian Peterson the last month of the season and it looks like he’s wearing down a little bit. He doesn’t have the same explosiveness that I’m used to seeing.”


Dungy on playoff possibilities: “They’re sitting in great shape.”

Dungy on who wins the AFC West, Denver or Kansas City: “Denver has to win that game [vs. the Bengals]. If not, I think Kansas City is going to win the division.”

Harrison: “I think they both finish up 11-5 and Kansas City gets it.”


Dungy on A.J. McCarron: “They still have a lot of weaponry on offense, but he’ll get tested much more next week in Denver than he did this week.”


Patrick: “Antonio Brown is unbelievable. He’s un-guardable.”

Harrison: “I love that aggressive style on offense. I love it.”


Dungy on QB situation: “If Peyton Manning is able to play and is healthy, they’ve got to get him back in there.”

Harrison: “I feel the same way.”


Costas: “It’s an Audubon society matchup.”


Costas on Carson Palmer: “He’s an MVP candidate, in no small part because he’s got a trio of receivers [John Brown, Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd] that almost any quarterback would be envious of…it’s actually a quartet [J.J. Nelson].”

Dungy on head coach Bruce Arians: “He’s put a tremendous amount of confidence into Carson Palmer, but he’s done that everywhere. He’s coached Peyton Manning in Indianapolis, Ben Roethlisberger, Andrew Luck back in Indianapolis. What he does is say, ‘Guys what do you like? What do you feel good about?’ and because of that the quarterbacks love to play for him.”


Ward: “Darren Sproles is the best player on this team.”


On becoming a head coach after decades as an assistant coach: “…I’m not going to play the politics to do it [become a head coach]. If you can’t get a job on merit, why have it? It wasn’t supposed to be. I’m a big believer in fate, and the minute that I met Michael [Bidwill, President of the Cardinals] and Steve [Keim, General Manager of the Cardinals], I thought, ‘This is the one.’”

On watching his Super Bowl dreams fizzle last season following Carson Palmer’s ACL injury, and how it has motivated the team: “I think it’s been the driving force all year. How close we got – we had an NFC West Championship in our building last year. Even without Drew [Stanton] and Carson [Palmer], we still just didn’t play well enough. I think this team has grown to where they know what the goal is. They’re not going to let anything get in the way.”

On whether he can make an MVP case for Carson Palmer: “I don’t think there’s any doubt. Where this team was last year without him, [compared to] where it is now with him, and just the year he’s had. His numbers are there.”

On Carson Palmer never questioning him because he’s won Palmer’s trust, and whether they ever go nose-to-nose: “No, just on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays [laughs]. We’re all on the same page Sunday.”

On saying that he’s spent most of his life proving everyone wrong and if he’s satisfied that he finally has: “Not really, no. There are still a few things I want to get done…like be a head coach with a Super Bowl trophy in my hands.”