Sunday, October 29th, 2017


“This is the best team in the NFC.” – Rodney Harrison on the Eagles

“He played unbelievable. I am voting for him for Rookie of the Year.” – Tony Dungy on Deshaun Watson

“I don’t think we give Russell Wilson enough credit…The guy’s amazing to me.” – Harrison

“I love what the Buffalo Bills and Sean McDermott are doing up there. It’s fun to watch.” – Cris Collinsworth

“We always criticize or compliment all of the other quarterbacks. Why do we give him a free pass? What has he done so spectacular in this league? I just think he is overrated. He is so inconsistent.” – Harrison on Derek Carr

STAMFORD, Conn. – Oct. 29, 2017 – Following are highlights from Football Night in America, which aired prior to tonight’s Week 8 Sunday Night Football matchup between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Detroit Lions. Mike Tirico opened the show live from inside Ford Field in Detroit, Mich. He was joined on site by the Sunday Night Football team of Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth and Michele Tafoya.

Dan Patrick co-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 head coach and Pro Football Hall of Famer Tony Dungy; two-time Super Bowl winner Rodney Harrison; and NFL Insider Mike Florio of NBC Sports’ Pro Football Talk. Paul Burmeister reported from FedEx Field in Landover, Md., on the Cowboys-Redskins game.

Football Night featured Tirico’s interview with Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford, and Tafoya’s interview with Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger.

Following are highlights from Football Night in America on NBC:


Tirico: “How about the stories in every division of the NFC?”

Collinsworth: “It’s insane. The Rams lead one division (with a record of) 5-2. The Vikings now have won four games in a row. They lead in their division. The Saints have won five games in a row and they lead their division. And the Eagles have won six games in a row. You tell me somebody that made all those picks before the season. There is no way.”


Dungy on QB Carson Wentz: “He’s a great leader for them. They have a lot of weaponry to go around him, but I really think they get confidence from this young man. He really does a lot. The read option puts a lot of pressure on defenses, now you have to worry about your lanes. And he’s throwing well from the pocket. It’s not just scrambling. He’s playing with a lot of confidence.”

Harrison: “I love their defense.”

Dungy: “This is the most complete team in the NFC right now.”

Harrison: “This is the best team in the NFC.”


Patrick on QB Russell Wilson: “That’s as good a quarterbacking display as we’ve seen.”

Harrison: “I don’t think we give Russell Wilson enough credit…I know people say that he has a great defense, but he has no offensive line…The guy’s amazing to me.”


Dungy on Deshaun Watson: “We talk about Seattle, their defense, Legion of Boom, all the noise, everything — he played unbelievable. I am voting for him for Rookie of the Year.”

Harrison: “He was not intimidated. He embraced the challenge.”

Florio: “They were determined to play hard for each other despite any frustration they may have with their owner Bob McNair…Only 10 players stood. The rest either sat or took a knee during the national anthem, and that was a direct response to the things that McNair had said.”


Dungy: “(The Saints) defense is playing good football. They’re playing physical, fast, they’re getting after people. This isn’t just Drew Brees putting up points.”

Harrison on rookie CB Marshon Lattimore: “He’s been great this year…He’s helped solidify that secondary.”

Harrison on the defense: “They put pressure on you. They can blitz you. They can play you straight up. They can rush four. This is a much improved defense.”


Collinsworth: “How about the Buffalo Bills! They have a +14 turnover ratio which is what wins championships…I love what the Buffalo Bills and Sean McDermott are doing up there. It’s fun to watch.”


Burmeister’s post-game report: “A major story with the special teams with the Dallas Cowboys. Dan Bailey was injured last week so they called Mike Nugent last Sunday night. He won a tryout on Tuesday; he made four out of five field goals today. A couple of minutes ago I talked to him. I said, ‘What were you doing at this time last Sunday?’ He said, ‘I was at the Columbus Zoo with my wife and daughter.’ Now here he is today after making four out of five.”


Harrison on QB Derek Carr: “I don’t put it all on the quarterback, but he is a big problem because he has been so inconsistent. One week he looks like Aaron Rodgers, the next week he looks like an average quarterback…When I think about Carr, he is the one guy we always seem to give a free pass to. We always criticize or compliment all of the other quarterbacks. Why do we give him a free pass? What has he done so spectacular in this league? I just think he is overrated. He is so inconsistent. One week he looks unbelievable, the next week he throws two interceptions. In order for them to get to that next level, he has got to play more consistent.”

Note: Harrison chose the Raiders as his biggest disappointment through Week 8. Dungy chose the New York Giants.


Harrison: “If I’m the Colts, I’m shutting Andrew Luck down for the year. There’s no way I’m putting my $100 million quarterback behind that offensive line.”


Florio: “Some think that Hue Jackson, the coach of the team, could be in trouble. But here is the reality, if you fire him, who is the interim head coach? There’s no offensive coordinator, the defensive coordinator is Gregg Williams…Someone (in the front office) could be in jeopardy if the Browns decide they have to do something to at least show the fans that they care.”


Collinsworth: “Brian Mihalik is going to be a household name after tonight… He is the third left tackle for the Detroit Lions. If the Lions are going to pull this one off tonight, he is going to need a lot of help, and he is going to have to play awfully well because the Steelers will be coming after him.”

Michaels: “They have the highest-paid player in the league – Matthew Stafford at quarterback. But what they really need is a running game. But you know who’s in the building tonight? Barry Sanders. Sign him up!”

Patrick: “As Rodney (Harrison) said, even Barry Sanders can’t run behind that offensive line.”

Dungy: “I’m going to suggest though that Jim Caldwell go up into the stands, sign Barry Sanders up and get him in there because that’s how the Lions are going to have to win tonight. This Pittsburgh defense, they rush the passer. I know you’ve got Matthew Stafford and all those receivers. They’re going to have run Ameer Abdullah and run the ball to win tonight.”

Harrison: “They’re not going to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers by running the football. It’s going to come down to Matthew Stafford. He’s going to have to win the game…They’re not good enough. They’re not tough enough up front to line up and knock that defense back, and have success running the ball.”

Patrick to Dungy: “You have to be proud looking at these two head coaches. You hired these guys. Was it the first job for (Mike) Tomlin and (Jim) Caldwell?”

Dungy: “They came out of college, Mike was at University of Cincinnati, Jim was the head coach at Wake Forest. They came to us in Tampa in 2001, and in 10 minutes you could tell these guys were excellent. They had command of their room. They were great coaches from day one.”


Patrick: “What is holding this up?”

Florio: “Jerry Jones. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has been determined for weeks now to slow this process down. Here’s the biggest problem that he has. Back in May, the owners decided unanimously, with Jones approving as well, to ask the Compensation Committee to do the deal. So the extension has been approved, it’s just a question of working out the details. They can’t get the details worked out because Jerry Jones keeps pushing back against it. He would need 24 owners now to derail it. Back in May, it would’ve only taken nine. Now he needs 24, and that’s going to be a tough, uphill climb for Jerry Jones.”

Patrick: “But do they want him back as Commissioner?”

Florio: “Jerry Jones seems to not want him back. The question is how many others can he get in that same mindset?”


Florio: “A guy from the Texans, Duane Brown, one of the leaders of this movement, he just showed up after a lengthy holdout on Monday. I think one of the reasons he came is because he wanted to say, ‘Look, I’m still here. I can still play football,’ and he did play today. So he is one guy to keep an eye on.

“I’m told the Lions, one source believes, are almost certain to trade Eric Ebron, a top 10 pick at tight end from a couple of years ago, who hasn’t panned out for them.

“The Colts, they’re 2-6 now and falling apart. Receiver T.Y. Hilton, a guy whose name keeps coming up, and also veteran running back Frank Gore (could be traded).

“And then finally the Patriots. What would be the trade deadline without the Patriots? They’re always trying to do something to get better, and with a glut of running backs they could be willing to maybe deal one of them to improve defensively in the front seven where they have had so many injuries, including most recently to linebacker Dont’a Hightower.”


Stafford on how his twin daughters have changed his life: “In so many ways, it’s been awesome. They’re six-and-half, seven months at this time now, so they’re kind of turning the corner, and their personalities are coming out. It’s a whole lot of fun to be in our house.”

Stafford on his diaper changing skills: “I’m pretty good. I’m as good as I need to be. I do my best (laughs). But, Kelly does so much.”

Stafford on his wife Kelly’s social media: “She loves being on Instagram, putting all of that kind of stuff out there. I’d rather not, but you’ve got to have balance. I keep her in check, she keeps me in check.”

Tirico: “She sticks up for you every once in a while.”

Stafford: “Yeah, no question. I have to ask her to tone that down too sometimes (laughs). It’s all coming from a good place. She just supports me, and is willing to probably fight anybody to keep my name in the right place.”

Stafford on qualities that give the Lions a comeback almost every game: “We’re a very even-keeled team, and that starts with our head coach. Coach Caldwell is a very even-keeled guy, everybody likes to give him grief about not showing emotion, but the guy keeps a level head, and it helps us. It’s a total team effort, and I think that everybody appreciates everybody else’s effort in the fourth quarter and how we play. There have been a couple this year that I wish we would have gotten it, but we got close.”


Roethlisberger on how he’s been so good at extending the play: “I don’t know, I think maybe just growing up, we used to run around and whoever had the ball was just trying not to get tackled. You just scramble and run around, and I’ve always had a good arm so I guess just running around and finding a way to sling it.”

Tafoya: “Finish these sentences for me: the Steelers are at their best when?”

Roethlisberger: “The defense is playing like they do, and the offense scores points.”

Tafoya: “Ben Roethlisberger is at his best when?”

Roethlisberger: “He doesn’t turn the ball over, and spreads the ball around.”

Tafoya: “When you do hand it off to Le’Veon (Bell), and you step and you watch, what do you see?”

Roethlisberger: “Poetry in motion. He’s going to find a way to just make running the ball beautiful.”

Roethlisberger on what comes to mind being back in Detroit for the second time since he won his first Super Bowl at Ford Field: “Probably handing Jerome Bettis the game ball, promising him that I would get him a game ball from every playoff win. I remember holding that ball as tight as I could, people coming up to try to take it, and finding him and giving him the last one.”

Roethlisberger on how his role has changed since his first Super Bowl win: “I think now I’m the Jerome Bettis, if you will. I’m the veteran guy, the leader. You hear young guys say, ‘Let’s go play it for Ben.’ It means a lot.”

Roethlisberger on if he ever thinks, ‘What am I doing?’ by continuing to play despite the physical demands: “I’d be lying if I said no. But, those same moments when you’re sitting there saying ‘Man, I’m sore,’ or limping into the facility, going to get treatment or whatever it may be, you see your teammates, and you see the smile talking about the game or whatever it is. It kind of reels you back in and says, ‘Man, that was a lot of fun.”