“You cannot expect to compete with the big boys of the NFL and pass for 39 yards.” – Rodney Harrison on the Vikings
“We knew he could be a dynamic quarterback. He was accurate and dynamic, too.” – Dan Patrick on Cam Newton
NEW YORK – September 11, 2011 – Following are highlights from Football Night in America. Bob Costas hosted the show live from MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ, and was joined on site for commentary by Sunday Night Football commentators Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth. Co-host Dan Patrick and commentators Tony Dungy, Rodney Harrison, Peter King and Mike Florio covered the news of the NFL’s first week live from Studio 8G at NBC’s 30 Rockefeller Plaza studios in New York. Alex Flanagan reported from FedExField on the Giants-Redskins game.
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Bob Costas interviews Jets head coach Rex Ryan
Bob Costas interviews Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett
Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan
Dungy: “New linemen. New line coach and Michael (Vick) having to deal with the blitz. That’s what people did last year and it’s going to keep coming if they don’t handle it better. The lights are going to go out on them.” [NOTE: Vick said in his postgame press conference that he played ‘lights out.’]
Michaels: “This has become the best rivalry in the National Football League at this moment in time, and more certainly now than before because Peyton Manning is not with Indianapolis and doesn’t figure to be for a while. So I’m going to say that this has supplanted Indianapolis-New England…A big, big, big leg up for the Baltimore Ravens today; a tremendous win for them and this is a team right now that really has to be considered a very serious Super Bowl contender.”
Collinsworth: “The thing that is most interesting about today as far as I was concerned, four division winners from a season ago…Pittsburgh, Indy, Kansas City and Atlanta…none of them scored more than 12 points on the afternoon. All of them got blown out. It’s one thing to lose on opening day; it’s another to get embarrassed in many ways. For Pittsburgh, maybe they said one too many things about Joe Flacco this offseason. The Ravens came out to play.”
King on Troy Polamalu’s new contract: “This contract will push the Steelers to more than $20 million over the 2012 salary cap. That is a worry after the old defense that I saw today.”
Collinsworth: “This Houston team is very much for real. If you had to pick one team out of preseason and you said, ‘Okay, who impressed you the most?’ It would have been the Houston Texans. So now maybe they’re taking a deep breath down there that Peyton Manning is no longer around and saying this is finally our year.”
King on what coach Steve Spagnuolo told him about the injuries to Sam Bradford, Steven Jackson & Danny Amendola: “You’re talking about our three most productive offensive players. I’m going to be praying all night.”
Dungy on Lions QB Matthew Stafford: “He has great chemistry with Calvin Johnson. He can make all the throws. But more than anything, they believe when he’s in there that they can win every game.”
Patrick: “Here they are making mistakes and coming back from those mistakes to win. That’s something the Lions didn’t used to do.”
Dungy: “Winning on the road; that’s huge for them. This is the first meaningful game they’ve won on the road in a long, long time.”
Dungy: “You have to start with the other players, not Kerry Collins…The Colts have other Pro-Bowlers beside Peyton Manning.”
Harrison: “All three phases are important. It’s not just Kerry Collins. It’s that entire team doing a better job.”
Dungy: “And that’s where Jim Caldwell’s got to be disappointed. It was offense, defense, and special teams that got outplayed, not just the quarterback position.”
Harrison: “[Caldwell] also got out-coached.”
Harrison: “My biggest concern: anytime you have a young team, just as well as a coach, you worry about complacency kicking in. These guys went to the playoffs last year. It almost seems like they feel like they can just show up and all of a sudden they’re going to get a victory.”
Dungy: “They did nothing in the preseason and nothing today at all.”
Harrison on Chargers’ special teams: “I was a starting strong safety and me, along with five other starters, played on special teams. Kickoff is an attitude and they’re going to have to start putting some of their best players on that kickoff team because it will come back to haunt them.”
Harrison: “Very disappointing for Minnesota. You have a veteran offensive line, you have Adrian Peterson, you want to come out and establish the run. But you cannot expect to compete with the big boys of the NFL and pass for 39 yards. You can’t expect that.”
QB Rex Grossman on public criticism to Alex Flanagan: “You always want to play well because I got a lot of haters and it keeps me on my toes. I’ve got to play good every week. I’ve got a lot of people talking about me.”
Dungy on Cam Newton: “This is what they said he couldn’t do, throw from the pocket. He was right on target all game…This is something special. Rookie quarterbacks don’t come in and do this. They don’t do it on the road their first game with no off season program. Cam Newton was tremendous.”
Patrick on Newton: “We questioned if he could be an accurate passer. We knew he could be a dynamic quarterback. He was accurate and dynamic, too.”
Dungy: “They say there are no moral victories. This was a big (moral) win for Carolina. They’ve got a quarterback who can do it for them…There were a lot of questions about Cam Newton. Could he do it? Was he worthy of that No. 1 pick? He threw for 400 yards today. I coached against John Elway in his first game on the road. He completed one pass. Cam Newton was a big winner today.”
Following are highlights from Bob Costas’ interviews with New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan and Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett:
Costas: Did you watch the Super Bowl?
Ryan: “Nope. I couldn’t bear it because I wanted to be there so bad…I want my team to be in there. That’s kind of what drives us. We feel it. We feel our fans — 42 years or whatever it’s been that the Jets haven’t won a Super Bowl. We feel it. We want to win this thing so bad.”
Costas on if Ryan cannot fulfill his Super Bowl predictions: Will the media and fans say you’re crying wolf?
Ryan: “Maybe so. But I’ll be consistent. I’m gunning for it every year. (If) I’m a head coach in this league 15 years, I’m going to think we’re going to win it 15 years. I know we’re 0-2 right now. Why would you do it (otherwise)? I don’t want to be average. I don’t want to be content on, ‘Hey, we made the playoffs. Isn’t that great?’ No. I want to win. Until we do, there’s no way I’ll be satisfied. And when we do, I’ll want to win it the next year.”
Costas: Can you win with Mark Sanchez being a good, but not elite quarterback?
Ryan: “He’s played like an elite quarterback in the playoffs. I don’t know if we’ve had – and not just Mark but overall as a team – I don’t know if we’ve been consistent enough to be an elite team in the regular season. I sense that we have improved and that’s why I think it’s our year. I come out and make that statement, but I believe it. And you’re absolutely right; nobody should come out and make that statement if you don’t truly believe it. Well, I truly believe it. Now we’ll see if I’m right or not.”
NOTE: Garrett was a backup quarterback with the New York Giants during the 2001 season.
Costas: The Giants played the Chiefs in their first game after 9/11 and you received an unusual reception.
Garrett: “We did. It was the most interesting game that I’ve ever been involved in in the NFL. Like you said, Arrowhead Stadium and the Kansas City fans are known for making it a tough environment for opposing teams. I was holding for the first time in that game. I can remember being out really early before the game getting some snaps and the fans were so warm to us. They were playing some Bob Dylan, ‘the times they are a changing.’ It was just a very different warm up, very different atmosphere there in Arrowhead. We ended up winning the game and I can remember those fans, who are typically so tough on opposing teams, just being really receptive to us. It was an emotional day. I remember a number of the players and coaches crying during the National Anthem.”
Costas: What do you tell your team about playing in New York on 9/11.
“I don’t think anybody who wasn’t there can fully understand the emotion of this situation. This is a day like none other in our nation’s history, 10 years ago, 9/11, 2001. The people in this area of the country were probably the most affected by it. It’s going to be very, very emotional. There’s going to be a flag on the field before the game. There’s going to be firemen around, a lot of political figures and music figures. It’s just going to be an emotional time leading up to this game. It’s important to recognize that, get caught up in those emotions, but at some point you have to understand that there’s going to be a ball kicked off and we’ve got to go play football.”
–NBC Sports Group–
Football Night in America’s Bob Costas on today’s action:
Thursday night in Green Bay, the NFL opener was wild and dramatic, but, in a sense, it all went according to form. Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees put points on the board – and well, that is what they do.
But for much of Sunday, the headline was ‘go figure.’ The Chiefs were 7-1 at Arrowhead last season, but this afternoon, the Bills – 4-12 a year ago — stampeded into Kansas City and blew out the home team, with Ryan Fitzpatrick throwing for four scores.
Meanwhile, we knew Indy wouldn’t be close to themselves without Peyton Manning but did anyone think it would be this bad?
With the Colts likely in for an off-year, the Ravens and Steelers have one less competitor for AFC supremacy. But in the arch-rivals’ matchup today, the Ravens superiority was unquestioned. This was the first time in four seasons that a regular-season game between Pittsburgh and Baltimore was decided by more than four points — in this case, four touchdowns.
And then there was the Bears 30-12 win over the Falcons in Chicago. Atlanta, a hot Super Bowl pick, seemed anything but. And Jay Cutler, who when last seen in a game that mattered, was being unfairly ripped for leaving the NFC Championship with what turned out to be a legitimate injury, today, threw for over 300 yards and two scores.
The Carolina Panthers — 2 and 14 a year ago — almost joined the list of surprises before losing at Arizona, 28-21, but the Panthers leave the Valley of the Sun in a sunny mood. Cam Newton looked great: 400 yards passing, including two touchdowns, plus another score on the ground.
A dynamic debut and a nod of approval on an opening Sunday that often had us shaking our heads.
–NBC Sports Group–