Sunday, January 1st, 2017


When everybody’s healthy in this group, this is the best offense in football.” – Tony Dungy on the Falcons

The New York Giants are the NFC team with the best chance to go to the Super Bowl.” – Rodney Harrison

“If you’re the Denver Broncos, or one of those teams that is a quarterback away, you saw enough of the old Tony Romo to say ‘I’m going to think about him. Now what’s the price?’”– Cris Collinsworth

STAMFORD, Conn. – January 1, 2017 – Following are highlights from Football Night in America, which aired prior to tonight’s Sunday Night Football matchup between the Green Bay Packers and the Detroit Lions. Mike Tirico opened the show live from Ford Field in Detroit, Mich. 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’ ProFootballTalkPaul Burmeister reported from FedEx Field in Hyattsville, Md., on the Giants-Redskins game.

Football Night coverage also included Tirico’s interviews with Lions QB Matthew Stafford and Packers WR Jordy Nelson.

Following are highlights from Football Night in America on NBC:


Dungy: “The Falcons’ running backs make the difference. They’re so versatile. They make plays on the ground, and they’re good receivers. When everybody’s healthy in this group, this is the best offense in football.”

Harrison: “They are very dangerous. It’s not all about Julio Jones offensively. Their defense has improved, and these running backs make all the difference in the world as well.”


Harrison: “The New York Giants are the NFC team with the best chance to go to the Super Bowl. I’ve seen it first hand with Eli when he’s hot going into the playoffs.”

Dungy: “I agree. That defense is playing lights out even without JPP (Jason Pierre-Paul). Confidence is so important in the playoffs, and the Giants have confidence in Eli.”


Dungy on the Raiders AFC Wild Card matchup with the Texans: “Right now, without Derek Carr, Oakland is in the same situation as Houston. They’ve got a lot of weaponry, but very suspect quarterbacking. I think whichever defense can score is going to win this game.”

Harrison on Raiders: “They’re going to have to stop feeling sorry for themselves because they lost their quarterback. Lean on some of the leaders, guys like Bruce Irvin, Malcolm Smith, Michael Crabtree. Those are the guys that have played in the Super Bowl. They understand the experience and what you have to bring week in and week out.”


Collinsworth on Tony Romo: “I think he added value to the franchise today. When you think about it, Tony Romo is probably going to be on the trading block at the end of this year. So who will step up? What’s the one thing they will want to know? Is he healthy enough to look like Tony Romo again. We saw that today. It was only four passes, but it was enough. If you’re the Denver Broncos, or one of those teams that is a quarterback away, you saw enough of the old Tony Romo to say ‘I’m going to think about him. Now what’s the price?’ If you’re talking about a guy with that type of pedigree, the price is going to be relatively high.”

Dungy on Romo: “I think it was great for Dallas to get him in the game, and it was the right thing to do. Romo delivered. He drove them down the field and scored. That’s what they wanted to see. The timing was there and the confidence was there.”


Harrison: “I’m not very optimistic about the Jets. I know Todd Bowles is excited about winning today’s game, but their best defensive players don’t come to play every week. Once you look in that division, it’s no longer just the Patriots. The Miami Dolphins are a playoff team.”

Florio: “After the game today, the Jets announced that Todd Bowles will be back as the head coach. GM Mike Maccagnan will be back, but there could be some other changes with the Jets. It’s expected that owner Woody Johnson will become the U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom, and if and when that happens, Johnson will relinquish day-to-day control of the team to his brother Christopher Johnson.”


Dungy on Robert Mathis: “I want to give a shout out to Robert Mathis. He finished off a great career today. I remember in 2003, Bill Polian came to me with a highlight tape of a little defensive end in Alabama A&M. It was probably the second best highlight tape I’ve ever seen, other than Barry Sanders. We got him (Mathis) in the fifth round. That was the best draft pick we ever made. It was phenomenal. Robert has been highly productive with 123 sacks.  Congratulations on a great career.”

Florio: “Jim Irsay has said he’s not going to make any changes, but not everyone believes that. It’s believed that if anyone goes, it’s more likely to be GM Ryan Grigson, rather than head coach Chuck Pagano, because the quality of the roster is the biggest problem.”


Dungy: “The offense is in disarray right now. They’ve been poor the last month of the season, and now the starting quarterback is hurt. I think Bill O’Brien has to go to those defensive players and say, ‘You know what, you have got to carry us in the playoffs.’”

Harrison on Brock Osweiler and Tom Savage: “The quarterbacks have to be able to make the simple plays, and that is something the team is not getting. If you look at Brock Osweiler, he’s completely lost his confidence. If you’re going into the playoffs and have a quarterback that’s not playing with confidence, then how are you supposed to win?”


Dungy on Tyreek Hill: “This guy is electric. Don’t let him catch the ball, don’t let him touch the ball. He can score any way, from anywhere on the field.”


Harrison on Steve Smith, Sr. retiring: “Nothing but respect for the guy. I played against him several times. One of the toughest wide receivers that I’ve ever faced. I think he’s a Hall of Famer. When you look at his receiving yards, he actually has more than Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison.”

Dungy on Smith, Sr.: “He’s been a great player. I played against him a couple of times and he reminds me of an offensive Rodney Harrison. You hate to have him play against you, but you’d love to have him on your team.”


Florio: “It’s been a weird season for the Minnesota Vikings… but head coach Mike Zimmer will definitely be back with the team next season. I’m told there’s no question about his status at this point.”


Florio: “In Chicago there is widespread belief that John Fox will be back for a third year. It seems a little bit uncertain though, based on the way he described his status after the game, but all signs have been pointing to Fox coming back.”


Florio on interim head coach Anthony Lynn being hired as head coach: “The thinking is that it is going to happen… and it could happen quickly. Other teams are interested in Anthony Lynn, so the Bills may have to make a fast decision. All signs have been pointing in this direction.”


Harrison on Kirk Cousins: “Everyone is going to overreact and say that Kirk Cousins is not the right man for the job. I believe that he should be the starting quarterback for the Washington Redskins going forward, because you can’t find someone better than him at this point.”


Florio: “The Rams will begin the interview process for a new head coach on Monday. John Fassel, the interim head coach, is going to get the first interview session for that job. How it goes after that is going to depend on who is available this week. Anthony Lynn is another name to watch in LA.”


Florio on the Jaguars leading head coach candidate: “It’s still too early in the process. They interviewed Tom Coughlin last week. Harold Goodwin, the offensive coordinator of the Cardinals will interview this week, but the Jaguars still have a long way to go.”


Collinsworth on Aaron Rodgers: “What I saw last week against the Minnesota Vikings – when he gets it going, when he’s healthy and he gets that kind of ‘the game is slowing down’ thing working. When it slows down for him, it’s pretty remarkable. If he gets anywhere close to that out here tonight, it’s going to be awfully tough on the Lions.”

Harrison on Aaron Rodgers: “You have to keep Rodgers inside the pocket. Inside the pocket, Rodgers is a good quarterback. Once he gets outside the pocket, he becomes a great quarterback and turns a lot of broken plays into big plays.”


Collinsworth: “This team very easily could have won every game in this building (Ford Field). They probably could have lost every one too. The one thing you have to take into consideration is the Bogeyman is in town. The Green Bay Packers and Aaron Rodgers.”

Dungy on Matthew Stafford: “Cris was talking about ‘the Bogeyman’ – I want to see how Matthew Stafford responds to ‘the Bogeyman.’ He has got a lot of pressure on him tonight because he has to out-play Aaron Rodgers for the Lions to win. He’s got to be aggressive, but not reckless.”


Tirico: “For the 4,393 time – the finger. I’m not going to ask how it is. I want to know what you’ve learned the past two weeks with it bandaged up?”

Stafford: “I’ve learned how to just make it work. It’s obviously not 100%. I feel okay out there and good enough to go and compete.”

Tirico: “Does it keep you from anything you want to throw on the field?”

Stafford: “I don’t think so. I feel like I can make all of the throws.”

Tirico: “Talk about how you have changed from the kid who came from Georgia… to some place you didn’t really know much about? Now you’re wearing the (Detroit) Tigers hat and are one of the faces of this city in sports.”

Stafford: “It’s been an interesting eight years, no question. I’ve had ups and downs both on and off the field. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

Tirico: “How did you connect with this city?”

Stafford: “By just kind of jumping in. One thing about Detroit, and this city, and the state of Michigan – they’re a bunch of hard working people. That’s something that’s easy to take to. People that work extremely hard for a living and pull for each other, so it’s been nice.”

Tirico: “This is where I’m supposed to ask you about going up against Aaron Rodgers and you’re going to tell me, ‘We’re not on the field at the same time, so it doesn’t matter.’ But, do you go into the games against a guy like Rodgers, given the history, knowing that you need to put up points, because he’s going to find a way to get touchdowns that maybe other quarterbacks won’t?”

Stafford: “No question. You go to play a team that has a really good offense, they’re going to go put up some points and we’re going to have do the same. It’s a big challenge for our defense. We have to slow down or stop Aaron Rodgers and company, but we take it as a challenge on offense to go out there and put up a good performance.”

Tirico: “If I say 1993, do you know what that means?”

Stafford: “Yes, I do. That’s the last time this team won the division.”

Tirico: “What would it mean to you, to this team, to this city for you to be the quarterback to get them the first division title since then?”

Stafford: “It would mean a lot. I think our city has been looking for something to really rally behind and cheer for in the football standpoint for a long time. We’ve made playoff appearances and had good seasons around here, but it’s really nice when you can get the hat and the t-shirt and win the championship of your division. It’s something I’m looking forward to, and hopefully we can get it done on Sunday.”


Tirico: “The team is 4-6. Aaron (Rodgers) says run the table. Is there a little preview for the rest of the locker room where Aaron says, ‘Hey guys, I’m going to say this.’?”

Nelson: “I think I heard about it when he got done doing his press conference, and they all came over to my locker to do my press conference.”

Tirico: “So, when the rest of the media come over and say ‘Hey Jordy, the team is 4-6, but Aaron said he thinks you guys can run the table,’ you think?”

Nelson: “Absolutely. I agreed with him. It shows the confidence. We knew we just needed to get one win and build off that. We had a very high quality win in Philly, and we could go from there.”

Tirico: “You’ve got 14 touchdowns, which has the chance to lead the league this season in terms of receptions. What would that mean coming off last season and the injury?”

Nelson: “Another cool number to have, but if we don’t make the playoffs this season it won’t be worth it.”