Sunday, October 2nd, 2016


“He’s not playing like the MVP.” – Tony Dungy on Cam Newton

“They’re one of those teams that make you think, ‘What could be? What could they grow into?’” – Cris Collinsworth on the 3-1 Oakland Raiders

“He’s regressed as a quarterback.” – Rodney Harrison on Andrew Luck

“Finally, Deflategate is over.” – Mike Florio on NFLPA saying it will not file any additional appeals

STAMFORD, Conn. – Oct. 2, 2016 – Following are highlights from Football Night in America, which aired prior to tonight’s Sunday Night Football matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and Pittsburgh Steelers. Bob Costas opened the show live from inside Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pa. He was joined on site by Sunday Night Football analyst Cris Collinsworth and SNF sideline reporter Michele Tafoya.

Dan Patrick hosted Football Night, the most-watched studio show in sports, from NBC Sports Group’s Studio 1 in Stamford, Conn. He was joined by Super Bowl-winning and Pro Football Hall of Fame head coach Tony Dungy; two-time Super Bowl winner Rodney Harrison; and NFL Insider Mike Florio of NBC Sports’ ProFootballTalk. Paul Burmeister reported from Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., on today’s Cowboys-49ers game.


Football Night coverage also included Costas’ interview with Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin.

Following are highlights from Football Night in America on NBC:


Harrison on Falcons WR Julio Jones, who had 12 catches for 300 yards receiving, including a TD, against the Panthers: “For the life of me, why aren’t you double teaming this guy?”

Dungy on Cam Newton’s goal-line hit: “Better not relax. When you get that close to the goal line, if you sprint in there, you won’t take these kinds of hits.”

Harrison: “We say it all day, finish the play.”

Dungy: “Last year, Cam was the MVP and the formula they had was a great defense, they were running the ball well, they were ahead a lot. Now this year, they are behind, they are not running well, they are throwing more. Cam is getting hit so much that even when he is in the pocket he has been off target. He is not the same player this year…he’s not playing like the MVP.”

Harrison: “The loss of Josh Norman, they won’t admit it, but he is the one guy who can match up with Julio Jones. He can take away one side of the field and they can roll coverage. When you lose three veterans in that secondary, you lose leadership. You also lose communication and I think that is what they are struggling with right now. ”


Dungy: “The Falcons are playing great offensive football right now. I don’t know about their defense. This team lost to Tampa Bay.”

Harrison: “The defense is average. The offense is carrying the defense.”


Dungy on Dak Prescott: “I thought he was very impressive today. This is what I wanted to see – on the road, behind, now let’s see how he responds, and he kept his poise. He made the throws they had to have to win. This is what you want to see from a young quarterback.”


Collinsworth: “To get three straight (wins) on the road to open the season with a young football team is pretty impressive…they’re one of those teams that make you think, ‘What could be? What could they grow into?’ And if they’re winning on the east coast in all three of those games, it makes a pretty big statement about that team.”


Harrison on Andrew Luck: “I think he’s regressed as a quarterback. This offensive line – I can’t even say they’re struggling – they are terrible. He’s running for his life. It looks like he’s guiding the ball. He’s really hesitant on those fourth-and-ones and third-and-shorts to run the ball and get the first down.”

Dungy: “I can’t put it all on Luck. There were a ton of drops today, untimely penalties, and we saw that bad tackling. A lot of things to work on in Indianapolis.”


Dungy: “Rex Ryan did a great job against Jacoby Brissett. The plan was to make him be a passer, not a runner. They rushed five guys a lot today, pressure on the outside, and clogged those running lanes.”


Harrison: “Bill Belichick is excited about Tom Brady coming back, but he is very disappointed in his defense because all week they practiced keeping Tyrod Taylor in the pocket, not allowing him to extend plays and make plays where he is throwing across his body, and improvising. Also, they practiced on the read option, but a lot of missed plays, and undisciplined plays. This is not typical of the Patriots we know.”

Dungy: “We saw a penalty on the first play of the game that wiped out a big gain. We are just not used to seeing that from the Patriots.”

Note: When asked, both Dungy and Harrison said that the Patriots were the best team in the AFC.


Harrison on Paxton Lynch: “He showed that he’s an athlete. He can move inside and outside that pocket. They have weapons. He doesn’t have to be great, he just can’t make mistakes. And this defense is used to playing with a backup quarterback…they have the best secondary in the league.”


Dungy on Will Fuller: “That opposite receiver (of DeAndre Hopkins) is always going to get single coverage, and Fuller can make people pay.”


Harrison: “I said it last week; I didn’t think this team had the patience offensively to dink-and-dunk down the field. We see it each and every week, always going for the home run and not patient enough on offense.”


Patrick: “We continue the highlights with the Browns trying to avoid yet another creative way to lose a football game.”


Dungy on what the Chiefs learned from the Week 3 Steelers-Eagles game: “Doug Pederson, the Eagles head coach, was Andy Reid’s offensive coordinator last year. He has the exact same offense that Kansas City runs, so Andy is going to know how he is going to use Jamaal Charles and Travis Kelce against that Steelers’ zone.”

Collinsworth on the Chiefs defense: “The Steelers do not have the best defense coming into this game tonight, and that’s sort of a statement in and of itself.”


Collinsworth: “Where they are hurting is…how do they find that second receiver to take some pressure off Antonio Brown? Le’Veon Bell is the answer. Not only is he arguably the best running back in football right now, he is clearly the best receiving running back. So they are hoping that balances the field a bit.”


Florio: “Tom Brady’s suspension ends tomorrow officially. Back in July, he could have pursued through the legal process an attempt to block the suspension further. He decided not to do it. Still, one sliver of the legal process is available and the NFL Players Association in a statement issued to NBC Sports says, ‘After consultation with Tom Brady and our appellate council, we have decided to not pursue additional appeals in this matter.’ So, finally, Deflategate is over.”


Florio: “It happened with no officials on the field. They don’t come out until 50 minutes before kickoff…that may be one of the things the league looks into, having officials out there earlier, because any foul that occurs pre-game, if it’s a certain type of unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, that counts towards the two that result in ejection from the game. So look for that procedure to possibly change and look for some possible fines to be levied this week… (On using replay for pre-game incidents) That may be one of the changes that is made. Either way, you’ve got players out there on the field interacting with each other, maybe the officials need to be out there too.”


Tomlin on the Steelers’ 34-3 loss to the rival Philadelphia Eagles last week: “We got beat. They kicked our butts. We kicked our butts, and that’s usually the case when you have an outcome that’s similar to (last week). It was a perfect storm from that perspective.”

Costas: “Did it shake your team’s confidence?”

Tomlin: “I think any time you take significant step back like that, there are questions. But I also think that we’re excited about getting back in the stadium for ‘Redemption Sunday’ as we call it when you’re coming off a performance like that.”

Tomlin on Le’Veon Bell, who is coming off a three-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, and his maturity: “I’m concerned, like you are. All of the guys you work intimately – he’s a bright guy and he realizes that these type of things have to be in his rearview mirror. Only time will tell. Obviously the proof is in the pudding, but we feel confident that he’s gotten these things behind him.”

Tomlin on how he’s addressed his team regarding kneeling during the National Anthem: “We haven’t said anything formally. There have been a lot of informal discussions. We’re probably a bit different than most teams. We have an Army Ranger on our team in Al Villanueva. I think our guys, just in general, are probably more sensitive to his sacrifice and the sacrifice of those like him, so we’ve kind of stayed out of it probably from that perspective alone.”

Tomlin, who is 44 years old, on already having coached in the league for 10 years: “I really don’t even think about it to be honest with you. I’m having so much fun. I enjoy the day-to-day challenges that the job presents. It’s amazing how fast 10 years can go by.”

Costas: “But think of it this way – if you went another 20 years, that would be 30 years as a head coach, and you’d only be about as old as Bill Belichick is now.”

Tomlin: “I’ll do it one day at a time.” (laughter)