Thursday, December 1st, 2016


“The energy is greater than any of the Thursday Nights I’ve been to so far. This crowd is going to be ready tonight.” – Tony Dungy

“Every time the pressure goes up, he impresses everyone more.” – Mike Tirico on Dak Prescott

“I know Minnesota’s gone through a lot of adversity…but you cannot underestimate this team.” – Rodney Harrison on the Vikings

STAMFORD, Conn. – Dec. 1, 2016 – Following are highlights from Football Night in Minnesota, which aired prior to Thursday Night Football tonight on NBC and featured the Dallas Cowboys and Minnesota Vikings. Mike Tirico opened the show live from U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn. He was joined on site by Super Bowl-winning and Pro Football Hall of Fame head coach Tony Dungy and two-time Super Bowl winner Rodney Harrison.

In addition, NFL Network host Rich Eisen and NFL Network analysts Michael Irvin, Marshall Faulk, and Steve Mariucci provided coverage from a set outside of the stadium.

Football Night coverage also included a feature on Cowboys rookie QB Dak Prescott, who discussed his rookie season.

Following are highlights from Football Night in Minnesota on NBC:


Tirico on Cowboys’ offense: “A couple of weeks ago it was Baltimore good defense, they handled that. Washington good defense, they handled that. They’ve been able to answer the challenge throughout.”

Dungy on Dak Prescott: “The thing I love about him, he just reacts to what the defense does. If they come after him, he’ll follow his reads and he’ll go through his progressions, and do a great job.”

Tirico on Prescott: “Every time the pressure goes up, he impresses everyone more.”

Dungy on TE Jason Witten: “He’s not only a great player, but he’s their spiritual leader. He told Rodney and me before the game that he has been energized by these rookies (Dak) Prescott and (Ezekiel) Elliott.”

Harrison: “If you’re Dallas, I know Minnesota’s gone through a lot of adversity, a lot of injuries, but you cannot underestimate this team.”

Dungy: “In the backfield for Dallas, we know all about Ezekiel Elliott — a top candidate for rookie of the year — but this guy is not just a runner; he’s a complete football player. He does everything for Dallas. He’ll sit there on third down and pick up the blitz, pass protect well, and he can also catch the ball out of the backfield. So it’s not just his running skills, they’re great, but Elliott is a complete player. He sets the tone for this offense.”

Harrison on pre-game warmups: “They’ve been out here just laughing, joking, really confident; like they don’t have a worry in the world.”

Harrison: “I don’t care what the stats say about Dallas’ defense, this is an average defense.”


Sideline reporter Heather Cox provided an update on the situation with Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer and his emergency eye surgery.

Dungy: “I’ll tell you what I notice – the buzz in this building. The energy is greater than any of the Thursday Nights I’ve been to so far. This crowd is going to be ready tonight.”

Dungy on personal experience using an interim coach: “You plan for it. Jim Caldwell was our assistant head coach, we knew he was going to take over, but it’s something you can’t practice. I had several talks with Jim before the game started, but I can tell you I was so nervous. I was so frustrated because I knew once the game started I couldn’t do anything about it. I’m watching on TV yelling at the screen, ‘Jim, you got to go for it, you can’t punt the ball. Go for it, get in the two-minute offense. You’re trying to coach, but you can’t do it. That’s how Mike Zimmer is going to be tonight.”

Dungy: “I was up here early in the season right after Teddy Bridgewater’s injury interviewing Coach Zimmer. He told me it was like a dagger. Well, they have had 10 daggers since then. It’s amazing how well they’re playing with all that going on.”

Harrison on Sam Bradford: “They need to stop treating him like a rookie quarterback. They need to allow him to throw the ball down the field, no checkdowns. I talked to a couple of defensive backs, and they told me, playing against Sam Bradford, they have no fear of him because they know he’s not going to throw the ball down the field.”

Harrison: “He (Prescott) is still a rookie quarterback. If I’m Minnesota, I’m coming after the guy. No way in the world am I going to allow him to sit back and allow him to get comfortable in the pocket. When he comes to the line of scrimmage, he still has to deal with the crowd noise.”

Dungy: “I think this is a great matchup for the Vikings. I think they have a chance to get some offense going tonight, to get some deep passing going.”

Dungy: “My old coach Chuck Noll use to always say, ‘The best way to prepare for the unexpected, know your fundamentals, follow your fundamentals.’”

NBC’s NFL coverage continues this Sunday, Dec. 4, with a Sunday Night Football matchup between the Carolina Panthers and Seattle Seahawks.


Dungy on playoff chances: “They are still alive, and I promise you they think they are still alive. Ron Rivera their head coach is saying, ‘Let’s win these last five. We can put a streak together to get to 9-7, and we’ll see what happens. But we’re not dead yet.’”


Dungy: “Last week their offensive line was terrible. The last time they played Carolina in the playoffs, it was the same story.”

Harrison: “As poor as that offensive line has played, I still think it’s important to at least still make them honor a run. You still have to try.”


On growing up a Cowboys fan: “My dad was a diehard Cowboys fan. I was raised as a Cowboy fan, and I was forced to be a Cowboy fan. In the yard, I was always Emmitt Smith, imagining wearing that 22 on my chest.”

On being drafted in the fourth round: “I thought that I wasn’t going to go in the first round, but I felt I was going second [round]. Then, I watched those two rounds pass by, and it woke me up on Saturday a little anxious and a little pissed.”

On his father’s reaction to him being drafted by the Cowboys: “Dad was too excited, too pumped. He comes out and pulls out all of his jerseys of older Cowboys that he has. Now, it’s him wearing my jersey every Sunday.”

On his first season as starting QB: “I’m so much more comfortable from Game 1 to now. It’s just the experience of being able to see a bunch of defenses. Normally people are throwing at me, [but now] they’re going to be scheming up there watching film trying to catch my tendencies.”

“I’ve always has high expectations of myself. I’ve never felt that there was anything I couldn’t do in this world. I’ve always wanted to play quarterback and I lucked out to be able to play for my favorite team – America’s Team. I’m just living the moment. I feel like all of this was supposed to happen. When you work hard, things work your way.”

On Tony Romo’s press conference regarding his future with Dallas Cowboys: “I watched his press conference, but I think that was more for the public than anything. Tony and I have been great since day one of showing up, since the day that he got hurt and he sent me a text saying how much he supported me and had my back, to the day that they named me the starter when he returned. He’s been nothing but a great help, always giving me positive feedback, and wanting to see me do best.”

Click here for a link to view the piece.


Coverage of tonight’s game will also be simulcast on NFL Network and live streamed on (desktops), the NBC Sports app (tablets and connected TVs), Twitter, NFL Mobile from Verizon, Watch NFL Network, and NFL Game Pass (International).