Sunday, December 11th, 2016


“I knew he was good, but he’s so good he helps their defense out.” – Tony Dungy on Le’Veon Bell

“He’s tough as nails. He shows it each and every week.” – Rodney Harrison on Matthew Stafford

“In my opinion, he’s the Coach of the Year.” – Dungy on Jason Garrett

“That’s a classic case of getting a $100 million contract and losing your mind.” – Harrison joking about Cam Newton’s post-game outfit

STAMFORD, Conn. – Dec., 11, 2016 – Following are highlights from Football Night in America, which aired prior to tonight’s Sunday Night Football matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants. Bob Costas opened the show live from inside MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. 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 Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisc., on the Seahawks-Packers game.


Football Night coverage also included Costas’ interview with Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett.

Following are highlights from Football Night in America on NBC:


Dungy on if he still likes the Ravens to win the AFC Central: “No, this man (Le’Veon Bell) has changed my mind. I knew he was good, but he’s so good he helps their defense out. He makes the whole team better…He is so smooth. He looked like he was at a different speed on this field today.”

Harrison: “Big Ben (Roethlisberger), he didn’t have a big day. He threw three interceptions. But they’re not solely relying on Big Ben. This guy (Bell), he’s special.”


Florio on rumor about Bills firing Rex Ryan: “Why would the Bills do it, they’re 6-7, they’re not horrible, they’re not falling apart? But keep in mind that Anthony Lynn, the offensive coordinator, regarded as a very hot head coaching candidate going into the 2017 hiring cycle, so this is an opportunity, if it happens for the Bills, to see what Lynn can do before they decide whether or not he would be the potential head coach for 2017.”


Harrison on Broncos going for a TD, not a FG, early in the game: “In tight games like this, when you’re on the road in a hostile environment, take the points.”

Dungy: “You should take the points, but I really believe Gary Kubiak, their coach, doesn’t have that confidence in the offense. He didn’t think they would get down there two more times to score.”

Harrison on Titans WR Harry Douglas going low on Broncos CB Chris Harris: “It was a dirty play.”

Harrison: “I still believe in Denver. This is a veteran group. The only thing that scares me is their offense.”

Dungy: “That’s why I think they’re in trouble. They’re not able to run the ball because of injuries, and their schedule: they’ve got New England, Kansas City, and Oakland left.”


Dungy on why Seattle struggles on the road: “What happens is they play so much zone coverage, but at home they get that great noise and that great pass rush. On the road, they don’t get it and the zones open up.”

Dungy predicting that the Seahawks will finish as the NFC’s No. 2 seed: “As poor as they’ve played — they’ve gotten blown out twice on the road — but we know how they play at home and what about that schedule.”

Harrison: “It is easy. You talk about the three teams in their division. They have to play the Rams, Arizona, and San Francisco. They are definitely going to sweep those three.”


Harrison on Matthew Stafford, who injured his finger and will wear a glove the rest of the season: “He’s tough as nails. He shows it each and every week. This offensive line is an average offensive line. He really does a great job of scrambling, moving around, buying time to offset some of the problems that they have.”

Dungy on Stafford: “With two minutes to go, someway, somehow he finds a way to win it. And that’s what they’re going to need from him…they need him out there because he’s the guy who gives them confidence.”


Florio on QB Ryan Tannehill’s injury: “I’m told the Dolphins believe that Ryan Tannehill tore the ACL in his left knee and will be done for the year.”

Harrison: “The way they changed their offense during the six-game winning streak – it wasn’t about focusing on Tannehill; it was focusing on the run game.”

Dungy: “Those defenders…what they have to do is say, ‘We’ve got Matt Moore, we know what he can do, but we have to pick it up, we’ve got to play better.’”

Harrison: “Matt Moore is a veteran quarterback and when you get to this stage in the season you cannot hide him. You can kind of protect him, but you can’t hide him. He’s going to have to step up and make plays.”


Harrison: “All of a sudden, now they look like a top five defense…What happened?”

Dungy: “What happened, number one, was that Gerald McCoy is starting to play like the Pro Bowler. And that is the key in that defense, that pressure up inside.”


Harrison on fourth-and-one screen pass that ended the game: “I hated it. I thought it was a terrible call.”

Harrison: “I was so disappointed in the Colts. Andrew Luck, your best player, you pay this guy a lot of money. Your best players have to show up. He turned the ball over three times, a big disappointment.”


Collinsworth: “At the end of the year, you see weird things happening, like the Philadelphia Eagles in that game being down to their third-string long snapper that basically cost them some opportunities to win the game. So you have to be able to adapt this time of year, and you’re going to see some strange things start to happen in the world of football in December.”


Harrison joking about Cam Newton’s post-game outfit: “That’s a classic case of getting a $100 million contract and losing your mind (laughs).”

Dungy: “The one thing I was impressed with…was the pride that they played with. They’re out of the playoff race, but they showed up today with great effort.”


Harrison: “When I look at San Diego, I still believe that they can be serious contenders in this division because they have a lot of young really good players. But the problem is they need to keep these guys healthy. They have 17 guys on injured reserve.”


Florio: “The move to watch is the general manager Trent Baalke. I’m told the expectation is that he will be fired after the season, and that creates an interesting question about what his successor will do. Does Chip Kelly, the head coach, emerge with more power or is there possibly a new boss that eventually may not want Chip Kelly around?”


Dungy: “I’m looking for the Dallas intensity. A lot of people say they have a cushion…but as a coach, you never want to play your division rival in the playoffs. They certainly wouldn’t want to play the Giants if the Giants have beaten them twice. So they’ll be ready tonight.”

Dungy on Jason Garrett: “In my opinion, he’s the Coach of the Year.”


Harrison: “For the Giants, the key for them to win this game tonight is they have to be able to get off the field on third down. And that means stopping Cole Beasley and that also means stopping Dak Prescott from scrambling and making those key third downs.”


Florio: “The league moved very quickly to move forward on this to say that the Giants made no formal complaint about anything the Steelers did. But I’m told what Jay Glazer (of Fox Sports) reported is accurate: the Giants raised the concern, two footballs involved, I’m told, one was measured at 11.4 PSI, one was measured at 11.8 PSI by the Giants. The minimum is 12.5 PSI. I don’t expect any anything to come of this, but the Giants definitely let the NFL know about it.”

Patrick: “And these two ownership groups they get along with one another.”

Florio: “Normally.”


Florio: “Here’s what’s going to happen in the offseason, I’m told the league office will compile clips of various player celebrations for presentation to the Competition Committee with the hope that there may be some relaxation of what is and isn’t allowed because of all the criticism we’ve heard this year from players, fans, and everyone about the league being too strict with what players can do.”

Costas: “I’m all for it if they can change the rules and guys get to celebrate some more and have some more fun — within reason. But as long as it is the rule, don’t cause your team a penalty. Lobby to change the rule, but as long as it is a rule, there’s no defense (of committing a penalty).”

Collinsworth: “And you have to enforce them equally.”


On if the Cowboys are as good as their 11-1 record indicates: “We really don’t think much about that, to be honest with you. There are certainly records and commentary – we call it ‘noise, clutter, and distraction.’ What we need to do is focus on getting better each and every day, and we’ve done a good job of that so far this year.”

On the Cowboys’ team mentality: “I think ‘fight’ is a really important word. When we go to training camp every year, everybody gets a ‘fight’ sweatshirt and a ‘fight’ t-shirt. It’s fighting to be your best. It’s fighting to live up to our standards. It’s fighting for each other – and I thought that was on display last week in Minnesota.”

On his initial impressions of rookie QB Dak Prescott: “It started before we drafted him. He came to Valley Ranch and we spent a couple hours with him and really grilled him in football, and got to know him a little bit. He was very impressive. It was on the field, it was in the meeting room, how he walked down the hall – all of that over time was very impressive to us. And then he got more and more opportunities because of the situation with Tony (Romo), and he kept taking advantage of them.”

On former Dallas head coach Jimmy Johnson’s statement that success in football, “Isn’t about how many good plays you make, but how few bad plays you make”: “I played for Coach Johnson for two years. I probably heard him say that 5,000 times over those two years, and it is true. It’s not about how many good plays you make; it’s about how few bad plays you make, particularly at that position. He’s done a really good job this year just handling the ball, handling the different situations that come up, understanding the importance of the ball and how it relates to winning.”