Sunday, January 15th, 2017


Don’t fall in love with the passing game. Continue to give it to Le’Veon Bell.” – Tony Dungy on the Steelers play calling tonight

“If they want to win tonight and they want to beat the Patriots next week and go to the Super Bowl, he’s going to have to throw the ball down the field.” – Rodney Harrison on Alex Smith

STAMFORD, Conn. – January 15, 2017 – Following are highlights from Football Night in America, which aired prior to tonight’s AFC Divisional Playoff game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Kansas City Chiefs. Bob Costas opened the show live from inside Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. He was joined on site by Sunday Night Football analyst Cris Collinsworth, and sideline reporters Michele Tafoya and Heather Cox.

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.

Football Night coverage also included Costas’ interview with Chiefs QB Alex Smith and NFL Insider Peter King’s interview with Le’Veon Bell.

Following are highlights from Football Night in America on NBC:


Costas: “These playing conditions are much better than anything we could’ve expected.”

Collinsworth on the field: “So far tonight it’s been absolutely perfect…there are no issues whatsoever.”


Dungy on the Steelers’ offense: “We’ll see plenty of Le’Veon Bell, no question about it, but Pittsburgh has dynamic receivers. (I expect) a lot of man coverage by the Chiefs – I think we’ll see Ben Roethlisberger throw down the field.”

Harrison on how he defended Ben Roethlisberger when with the Patriots: “Our game plan against Big Ben was to force him out of the pocket, force him to his left and make him throw across his body – not tackling his legs, because he’s such a big, strong guy, but tackling his arms.”

Dungy: “Don’t fall in love with the passing game. Continue to give it to Le’Veon Bell.”

Harrison on the Steelers’ offensive line: “Very good, one of the best. I think they’re highly underrated.”


Dungy on the Chiefs’ offense: “It’s on Andy Reid to create some space for his playmakers – Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill. In the first game, they didn’t do that – a lot of short passes, and Pittsburgh was all over it.”

Harrison: “So much attention will be paid to Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill; I think that opens up opportunities for Jeremy Maclin.”

Dungy on Chiefs WR Jeremy Maclin: “A lot of focus on their fast playmakers and Travis Kelce, but Jeremy Maclin could be a key guy tonight. He is the one receiver who can get up the field and make plays down the field, and if Alex Smith wants to take the ball deep, look for Jeremy Maclin tonight.”

Harrison on Alex Smith: “If they want to win tonight and they want to beat the Patriots next week and go to the Super Bowl, he’s going to have to throw the ball down the field.”


Dungy on Packers-Falcons: “Next week is going to be great football — two quarterbacks playing at a high level, a lot of offensive weaponry. I think the key is going to be the pass rushers.”


Dungy: “Dallas did something I didn’t think they could do – come back from a deficit.”


Mike Florio on the potential of Peyton Manning joining the Colts’ front office: “Colts owner Jim Irsay apparently conflicted about keeping his coach and his GM. It is indeed true that he made a run at Jon Gruden, the former Raiders and Buccaneers coach – Gruden not interested, would have been part of a package deal with Peyton Manning. Manning is still in the mix. It’s unknown what it would take to get Manning because Gruden and Manning are very close and they were tied together. Some think that at the end of the day, it may actually take partial ownership of the Colts to get Manning to take the job.”

Dungy on the potential of Manning joining the Colts’ front office: “I think it does suit him for two reasons. Number one, his relationship with Jim Irsay. (They are) very, very close. He has a lot of respect for Jim. And number two, he was in Denver – he saw John Elway do it, go from quarterback to general manager of a Super Bowl-winning team. I think he’d relish that opportunity.”

Dan Patrick to Dungy: “And once again, he didn’t get Jon Gruden – you’re not interested in coaching again, right?”

Dungy: “With Peyton and Jim? No (laughter).”


Florio: “I’m told their No. 1 priority is finding a head coach and a general manager who will work well together…The top coaching candidates are believed to be Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan.”


On his beard: “I’m pretty happy with it, pretty content with it. My wife is not so happy about it. Shaved it during the bye week right after the Steelers, and then haven’t touched it since…it’s kind of the thing around sports – if something’s working, don’t fix it.”

On the Week 4 loss to Pittsburgh: “That game was a wake-up call, I think – definitely. It was a big stage for us, and we didn’t handle it. I thought we responded well after, coming back – with the beards, it’s just kind of the whole area here of Kansas City – a little gritty, and embracing that.”

On Andy Reid and his impact on the Chiefs: “Coach is as good as there is, flat out. He’s had success with so many different guys that have different tools, different traits, and different strengths. This isn’t a cookie cutter offense, this isn’t something where he’s got his playbook and he’s trying to make us fit that. Very much the opposite. This is something that’s constantly changing. I think he does such a great job. And he talks a lot about personality, letting your personality show, and I think this team’s embraced that. Being your own individual, being comfortable in your own skin, loving the game and loving your teammates.”

On tonight’s game: “I don’t care how many big games you’ve been in or big stages that you’ve played (on). This is the biggest game of my life, because it’s the next one. This is it.”


On similarities of chess (his passion) and football: “Sometimes when you’re playing chess, it’s the second or third move that really is the better move. I compare that to football, because I take the second or third hole that opens up, rather than the first one that opens up and taking a two-yard gain, instead (you wait, and get) an eight- or nine-yard gain.”

On how he approaches each run: “I already see my linemen have the d-linemen. So now I’m instantly looking at the linebackers. I see them kind of fight over a block, and I know it’s about to part, that’s when I take it.”

On kids now emulating his running style: “My mom had called me and she was talking about how coaches are teaching little kids to run the ball now. It’s the total opposite of how I was brought up running the ball – everyone wanted hit the hole, hit the hole. Now they want to wait for it to open up, take your time, use your linemen. It’s crazy when I think about it because now little kids are starting to try to run the ball like me.”

On tonight’s game: “It’s going to be fun, I tell you that. We’ve got to go out there and play our hearts out because obviously they want to knock us off, they want revenge, they want to beat us after what we did earlier (this year). They’re playing way better, and we’re playing way better, so it’s going to be an amazing game.”