NBC Football Night in America Notes & Quotes – Week 12
“If they play like this, they won’t win another game.” – Tony Dungy on the Steelers“This team should be taken seriously.” – Rodney Harrison on the Bengals
“The Colts are going to the playoffs.” – Dungy
“Your season is on the line. Somebody needs to make a tackle.” – Harrison on fourth-and-29 play at the end of Ravens-Chargers
Following are highlights for Football Night in America.
Bob Costas opened the show live from inside MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., where the Giants are hosting the Green Bay Packers.
Costas was joined on-site by Sunday Night Football commentators Al Michaels (play-by-play) and Cris Collinsworth (analyst), and Hines Ward, the former Steelers wide receiver and Super Bowl MVP.
Dan Patrick co-hosted the program from Studio 8G at NBC's 30 Rockefeller Plaza studios and was joined by Football Night in America analysts Tony Dungy and Rodney Harrison, and NFL insiders Peter King of Sports Illustrated and Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com.
Alex Flanagan reported from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, La., on the 49ers-Saints game.
Michaels on Ben Roethlisberger: “I don’t think there’s anybody as important to his team as Ben is to his right now in the National Football League.”
Collinsworth on Steelers-Browns: “It was bizarre watching that game. I think every running back on the roster had a fumble in the game. Just very un-Steelers-like football right now. A little bit of panic, who knows? It just doesn’t look good.”
Harrison: “I’m not saying it’s all on Charlie Batch, but he has to take the majority of the blame. I know he’s the third-string quarterback, but he’s a 15-year veteran. When he comes in and gets that opportunity, he has to come in and perform.”
Dungy: “I kind of disagree with that, because, to me, the Steelers formula is: run the ball, play defense. You know your backup quarterback is not going to be as good as Roethlisberger, but if every back you have fumbles the ball, every lineman you have holds, and your receivers drop every pass…”
Harrison: “They were packing the pocket with eight or nine guys because they have no threat or no fear that he’s going to make them pay.”
Dungy: “They have to run the ball and play defense even when Ben Roethlisberger gets back. If they play like this, they won’t win another game.”
Dungy: “The Pittsburgh Steelers are in trouble. Not only are they down to their third quarterback, they’re playing bad football—interceptions, fumbles, and penalties in bunches.”
Patrick on Colin Kaepernick’s performance: “Let the controversy begin.”
Harrison: “It’s over.”
Kaepernick to Alex Flanagan on if he expects to be the team’s starter: “That will be coach’s decision. We’ll see what happens.”
Dungy on Kaepernick’s ability to run: “This is what he brings that Alex Smith doesn’t. He throws the ball well from the pocket, but this dimension of the quarterback running is really going to make San Francisco tough.”
Patrick to Dungy: “I’m going to make you Jim Harbaugh. You have a quarterback controversy?”
Dungy: “I don’t. I’m playing Colin Kaepernick.”
Harrison: “San Francisco has found their starting quarterback, and they’re the most physical team in the league.”
Dungy: “They blew a big opportunity today.”
Dungy on Peyton Manning: “For some reason, he doesn’t have his ‘A’ game against (Chiefs head coach) Romeo Crennel…One thing the Broncos are learning, even when he’s off, even when he’s confused a little bit early, you don’t give up on Peyton. You don’t take the ball out of his hands. He’s going to make the plays you need to win it. When they needed the big throws, he made them.”
Dungy on Andrew Luck: “Just like Peyton (Manning), when he’s a little bit off, and a little bit confused early, it doesn’t bother him. That’s what I love about this young man. When they need the big throws, he still wants the ball in his hands; he wants to make the play… He is the reason they are in playoff contention.”
Dungy: “The Colts are going to the playoffs. I said it last week. They’re definitely going. Andrew Luck is going to be the Rookie of the Year.”
Collinsworth: “When Julio Jones plays, that’s a different football team. He’s the closest thing to Calvin Johnson right now in the league -- big, strong, fast, physical. Even on a bad ankle he was too much for them today.”
Harrison: “The Bengals are really good. Now they’re playing like a complete team because they’re running the football…This team should be taken seriously.”
Patrick: “Cutler coming back, a whole different aura about that offense.”
Harrison: “Cutler gives this offense a different dimension because he can do so many different things.”
Patrick: “They’re very good at home, very bad on the road.”
Dungy on controversial roughing-the-passer call: “This is running into the quarterback, not roughing the quarterback…He (Seahawks S Earl Thomas) was trying to avoid it. He didn’t even hit him (Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill) hard, barely touched him.”
NOTE: An interception thrown by Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill was negated by a roughing the passer call against Seahawks S Earl Thomas. The Dolphins scored a touchdown on the next play.
Patrick on today’s loss: “For San Diego, at 4-7, we say goodbye.”
Dungy: “And maybe thankfully goodbye. That was awful.”
Harrison on Ravens RB Ray Rice converting on fourth-and-29 play: “Your season is on the line. Somebody needs to make a tackle.”
ON COACHING CHANGES
Florio: “As we get closer to the end of the regular season, I spoke to a general manager this week who said, look for unprecedented amount of change with coaches, and also general managers and starting quarterbacks, once the 2012 season ends.”
King: “Add these three to your list in the coming months: look for very impatient ownership both in Buffalo and Carolina to have short leashes on Chan Gailey with the Bills, Ron Rivera with the Carolina Panthers; and Ken Whisenhunt in Arizona may not be safe. He has not gotten that quarterback position straightened out.”
INTERVIEWS: Below are excerpts from Costas’ interviews with Giants head coach Tom Coughlin and Packers WR Randall Cobb.
TOM COUGHLIN WITH BOB COSTAS
On if he has a theory about his teams start well and then slump and then experience a late surge: “I really never have sat down and said, ‘Look, this is a major, major issue for us.’ Because when people ask me the question about last year, I simply say, ‘It didn’t finish too badly.’ But, that doesn’t disregard the fact that this does take place. Why does it take place? That is a very good question. I can throw some things at you after 10 games. Were we a little bit stale? Where we injured? Were we fatigued? No, I think they are all excuses and we don’t make excuses around here. So, we just didn’t play as well as we are capable of playing.”
On still having confidence this season despite recent losses, and whether they will come out on top: “We will. There is not any question about that Bob. We’ve been through this before. It’s unfortunate, but it does go a bit like that on occasion, so we have a lot of things that, we are trying to work and improve upon. But we know we’ve been here and we know we have been able to pull ourselves out of these kind of things before.”
On what was going through his mind during David Tyree’s famous ‘Helmet Catch’ during Super Bowl XLII: “The Tyree thing, first I’m looking out there and Eli is trapped, I mean, they’ve got him. Then he throws it down the middle of the field, and I’m like ‘Oh my God it’s down the middle of the field.’ Because a lot of times you overthrow the ball in the middle of the field and good things don’t happen. He’s got the ball pinned to his helmet, and he can’t hang, there’s no way he can hang on to the ball falling on the ground like that, especially with a guy that was hanging over him (Rodney Harrison). He did.”
On Tom Brady’s Hail Mary during Super Bowl XLVI, putting the ball right in the end zone: “The last play of the game. You know we left a little bit of time on for this guy and we know, we didn’t want Tom Brady to have any time. He hits a fourth-and- seventeen for crying out loud, are you serious? He doesn’t loft the ball, he throws a rocket, and its coming right at its coming down like this and you teach your guys to knock the ball down, and they can’t knock it down because he’s throwing where those 6’ 7” guys are. I can still see Kenny Phillips up as high as he could go and there’s a bunch of hands up there, and I’m worried if the ball is going to tip off their hands to the back line, because they’re are starting to be in position there. In reality, Antrel Rolle and (Rob) Gronkowski are going for the ball low like its right here. All the sudden it’s on the ground and I’m thinking ‘Wow we’re World Champions.’”
RANDALL COBB WITH BOB COSTAS
On his first game in the NFL in 2011 against the New Orleans Saints where he ran an amazing 108 yards for a touchdown: “I felt something inside of me, telling me it was time to bring it out. I trusted my instincts and I made that move and the rest is history.”
Costas: “It’s like a version of the basketball thing where the coach thinks the guys is taking a bad shot, ‘No, no, no, yes!’”
Cobb: “Yes, Yes!”
On earning the trust of QB Aaron Rodgers, who recently commented on Cobb saying, ‘He does so many things on the field. He’s so smart. He knows progressions and timing and when he has to get open’: “It does and that is something that I really wanted to work on this off-season. Understanding when I’m the No. 1 read and when I’m the No. 3 read and understanding how to use my leverage as a receiver. It was a good off-season for me being able to build that chemistry with him.”
On being a tough receiver despite his height: “You have to as a receiver. They’ve made the game a lot safer for the receivers. I really don’t agree with some of this stuff, because I like the physicality, I like the toughness in football. That’s one of the reasons that I like the game. I always was a fearless kid. I wanted to play with my older brother so much. My older brother was seven years older than me, my cousins, they all played football out in the street. Tackle football out in the street. On the concrete and they wouldn’t let me play. The older I got, the more I wanted to play. I think that drove me, that passion of just being tough and physical.”
Costas: ‘They played tackle football on concrete? Without helmets I’m guessing? No pads, street clothes I’m guessing? This is insane, you know that?’: “No helmets. No pads. Just street clothes. Yes it is (insane).”
On whether the Packers loss to the Giants during the playoffs last year at Lambeau Field still stings: “Oh yeah, it definitely does. When you go 15-1 and are projected to win the Super Bowl. When you let a team come into your house and knock you off the throne, that’s something that’s going to stay with you. I think that’s something I use as motivation. When you think about that, it’s in the back of your mind. You don’t forget those kinds of games and I think that’s something that all of us have been thinking this week in practice. I think that we’ll take out that vengeance on the field.”