Sunday, December 18th, 2016


“You do not take your starting quarterback out in a game that you need in December unless you’re ready to make a move.” – Tony Dungy on the Texans

“They have that ability to adjust their game depending upon the weather and the situation.” – Rodney Harrison on the Steelers offense

“He did it again. He did it to Chicago. You can’t kill the Packers.” – Cris Collinsworth on Aaron Rodgers

“This defense has been on fire the last month.” – Dungy on the Giants

STAMFORD, Conn. – Dec., 18, 2016 – Following are highlights from Football Night in America, which aired prior to tonight’s Sunday Night Football matchup between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Dallas Cowboys. Bob Costas opened the show live from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. 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. Kathryn Tappen reported from Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver, Colo., on the Patriots-Broncos game.

Football Night coverage also included Dungy’s interview with Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston.

Following are highlights from Football Night in America on NBC:


Dungy on Patriots defense: “They chased Trevor Siemian all day and made it uncomfortable for him. They were the best defensive line on the field today.”

Dungy on Patriots neutralizing Von Miller: “The Patriots are the best at that. They are not going to let your best player dominate the game.”


Dungy on if the Broncos are done: “I really think they are.”


Harrison on the offense’s versatility: “It’s not always about slinging the ball around and coming up with these big plays…they controlled the clock in the second half. They have that ability to adjust their game depending upon the weather and the situation.”

Harrison on upcoming Steelers-Ravens game: “It comes down to the quarterbacks and I trust Ben Roethlisberger.” (Dungy agrees)

Harrison on the favorite to win AFC North: “I would say the Pittsburgh Steelers. They have two home games, they have Le’Veon Bell, and Ben Roethlisberger is the best quarterback in that division.”


Harrison: “I think they can hold on to the No. 2 seed. As far as going into New England and beating the Patriots, I don’t think they can.”

Dungy: “I think they’re going to win the division…This was a big, big step for them — winning on the road in a game that meant something.”

Dungy on the favorite to win the AFC West: “It has to be the Oakland Raiders now. Kansas City opened the door. Oakland did a great job winning today. They play Indy and then at Denver, and I think they’re going to win those games and win the division.”

Florio on moving to Las Vegas: “There’s a sense now that in league circles that this is becoming a definite that the Raiders will move to Las Vegas. There’s been a hiccup in recent weeks though, owner Mark Davis and Sheldon Adelson, the Sands Casino owner, haven’t been able to work out a deal to finalize things. But I’m told that Davis is committed to go with or without Adelson. He’ll find somebody to stand in his shoes to get this done.”


Dungy: “Huge loss for Kansas City. Uncharacteristic mistakes…that defense usually finishes when they’ve got the weather and the crowd and the noise. But they couldn’t finish today.”


Harrison: “I think they are a very dangerous team, and Julio Jones is not even playing.”

Dungy: “When they are running like this, it makes Matt Ryan so much more effective in that passing game.”


Harrison on the favorite to win NFC North: “I would say the Green Bay Packers. Aaron Rodgers is going to step up and play great. But also they made Ty Montgomery — a wide receiver — into a running back and now they have a run game.”

Collinsworth on Aaron Rodgers: “He did it again. He did it to Chicago. You can’t kill the Packers. Just two or three weeks ago, Detroit was a lock to win that division, and now no more. They meet on the final week of the season.”


Harrison: “I’m really concerned about Detroit because you talk about Matthew Stafford hurting his hand, being affected by the weather, but also, if you can keep him from scrambling and making plays with his legs, then you can neutralize him.”

Dungy on Week 17 matchup against the Packers: “It’s going to come down to the last drive. Which quarterback is going to have the ball and who is going to make the big play to win the division?”

Dungy on the favorite to win NFC North: “I’m still going to say the Lions. They have that last game at home. Dan (Patrick) said they haven’t won outdoors all year, but that last game for the division title will be indoors.”


Harrison: “All the offensive players get the publicity and things like that, but this team has come down to defense…this secondary has played great.”

Dungy: “This defense has been on fire the last month.”


Harrison on the benching of Brock Osweiler: “Smart move.”

Dungy on Bill O’Brien’s decision to bench Brock Osweiler: “It’s not a controversy anymore. Bill O’Brien can talk about his decision for today and what was best for today. You do not take your starting quarterback out in a game that you need in December unless you’re ready to make a move. I think he has to make this move permanent going forward.”

Harrison: “I agree with you. Tom Savage came in and gave them a lift, but Brock wasn’t playing with a lot of confidence. Just imagine trying to throw him back in there after benching him; then he wouldn’t have any confidence.”


Harrison: “They should keep Rex Ryan on for another year.”

Dungy: “I’m going to steal one of your lines, why are we even talking about this? They are 7-7 and mathematically have a chance to make the playoffs.”


Florio on head coach search: “It could broaden. Jay Glazer had an interesting item today about coaches currently under contract with other teams being interested in going to the Rams. I’m told the Rams are willing to do whatever they have to to improve the team. Now to get a coach currently under contract with another team, you have to have compensation and the Rams have already given up their first-round pick and third-round pick next year to the Titans in the Jared Goff trade. So it could be hard for the Rams to pull off.”

Patrick: “And you got to get a coach who’s sold on Jared Goff as his franchise quarterback.”


Collinsworth: “The past five games, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have the best defense in football.”

Dungy: “If they keep those safeties deep to help on Dez Bryant, that means a heavy dose of Ezekiel Elliott tonight.”

Dungy on Winston: “He loves football, he loves to win, this is huge for him. I asked him, ‘How many games have you lost?’ I’m thinking he’s going to tell me about Florida State, and he said ‘I’ve lost 17 games in my life.’ He went down each one of them in order. Football is big to him and he wants to win.”


Harrison on Dak Prescott: “Don’t worry about feeding the ball to Dez Bryant because he only had one catch last week.”

Collinsworth on Cowboys going 2 for 24 on third downs in the past two games: “Dak Prescott has been put in some tougher positions and he really has not responded. He needs a big game out here tonight.”

Collinsworth: “It’s important for the fans to understand, Ezekiel Elliott is tremendous, Dak Prescott is tremendous, but the reason they won 11 games in a row is because that offensive line kept pushing people down the field. And they would end up on some third and shorts and be able to convert. What’s happened to them the last couple of weeks is that they’ve been more in that third-and-seven or -eight and had some penalties… the test is can that great offensive line take over one more time?”


Dungy: “You told me, growing up in Bessemer (Alabama), your grandmother raised you. Was she the one who helped you get that vision of what you can do?”

Winston: “Absolutely, she really just instilled that family vision to me. I was raised in a house with more than 20 people living there in that one house. My grandmother just taught me that it’s the basis of a family, you need everyone. So at the end of the day, if we were going to get what we needed, everyone had to do their job. That’s how football is; it’s the ultimate team game. Everyone is playing their role all together to hopefully end up with success for their team.”

Tony Dungy: “Now, you and I were at a charity event, you were 2-3, and now you have gone on this streak. What has been the difference?”

Jameis Winston: “That event. Probably seeing you [Laughs].

Dungy: “You know what though, we did have a conversation. We talked about Peyton Manning, and the difference between being aggressive and protecting the ball, and being reckless.”

Winston: “Absolutely, you told me how you had to tell Peyton at first ‘check it down there first, check it down and then take the shots.’”

Dungy: “Thursday night against Atlanta, probably one of your worst games as a team, but since then it is night and day difference. What changed after that game?”

Winston: “After that game, I asked the guys, ‘really go home and just reflect on how you were when you were young playing this game, not how you are as a professional, because being a professional didn’t get you to where you are at right now.’ A lot of guys just woke up. Then we just kept building, we kept going. We started getting closer together as a family. We started building this connection that we had as a team where we were connecting on all cylinders. We took a stand because we wanted to be great.”

Dungy: “Everyone on this team talks about you being a leader, even though you are one of the young guys. How was that transition for you, from last year stepping in as a rookie to now being the leader of the group?”

Winston: “I think a lot more people are more welcoming to me having a voice in this locker room. We weren’t looking for a leader, but I just stepped right in. I think this year I am comfortable in my skin, I’m comfortable communicating to everyone and everyone is just listening to me.”

Dungy: “Tell me about the letter you wrote to the team?”

Winston: “The letter was just explaining how grateful I was to this team. Letting them see that this is an opportunity of a lifetime and the only people we have in this opportunity are each other. We have to use each other to help all of us to get to where we want to be. Ultimately that goal is to win a Super Bowl one day. As long as we have the same mindset, as long as we are thinking the same thing, dreaming the same thing, envisioning the same thing, we can achieve it.”

Dungy: “People are saying this might be the biggest game the Bucs have had in the last 10 years. Does it feel that way to you?”

Winston: “It doesn’t. It feels just like another one. Our goal is just go 1-0. We are playing against one of the best young quarterbacks, he is having an amazing year, and one of the best young running backs, he is having an amazing year, and one of the best teams. We are excited. It is an opportunity that we have. It is a wonderful opportunity that we can take advantage of and make the most out of it.”