“I don’t like the call and I don’t like the reasoning.” – Dungy on Falcons’ OT fourth-down call
“They took a commanding lead in the Andrew Luck derby.” – Peter King on the Colts falling to 0-10
NEW YORK – November 13, 2011 – Following are highlights from Football Night in America. Bob Costas hosted the show live from MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., 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 10th week live from Studio 8G at NBC’s 30 Rockefeller Plaza studios in New York. Alex Flanagan reported from Candlestick Park in San Francisco, Calif., on the Giants-49ers game.
Football Night also launched NBCUniversal’s annual “Green is Universal” initiative, a week of programming across NBCU networks dedicated to raising awareness to environmental issues and showcasing how even small steps can make an impact. More more information, click here: http://www.nbc.com/green/
EMBED NBC SPORTS VIDEO: Highlights from Football Night and other NBC Sports programming are available to be embedded at NBCSports.com. Click the following links for:
Bob Costas’ interview with Rex Ryan:
Rodney Harrison’s interview with Deion Branch and Wes Welker:
Darrell Revis mini-feature
Patrick, Dungy and Harrison on the Eagles
Collinsworth: “It’s been bad for Philadelphia so far (this season). It’s awful right now.”
Florio: “DeSean Jackson was deactivated because he missed a team meeting, and the news gets worse for Jackson. There’s a sense in the locker room that he’s been moping and pouting and putting his desire for a new contract above his desire to help the team win football games. So when Jackson rejoins the team, it could be an awkward week. Actually, it could be an awkward rest of the season for Jackson.”
Harrison: “I’m jumping off the bandwagon. It all starts at the top with Andy Reid. He must do a better job of making sure his team is prepared. Every week he comes on TV and talks about the lack of preparation, but it takes accountability throughout that organization. Defensively, they’re blowing coverages, they’re giving up big plays, and there are penalties by veteran players. It’s just not good right now.”
Dungy: “It’s not, and I can’t blame it all on the coach. I don’t see the mental toughness from these players. You talked about fourth-quarter leads, and we saw today, a false start penalty, Nnamdi Asomugha lining up off-sides, and dropped balls.”
Harrison: “You talked about mental toughness, some of that has to come from the head coach.”
Dungy: “I hate to tell this to the Philly fans, but if you get rid of Andy Reid, you will not find another coach as good as Andy. They better keep him.”
Harrison: “Well, they’re 3-6, so they might as well start looking.”
King: “Mark my words; John Skelton takes the field against the 49ers next Sunday.”
Dungy on Mike Smith’s fourth-down decision: “That decision is one that basically hands over control to the New Orleans Saints in the NFC South.”
Dungy: “I don’t like the call and I don’t like the reasoning. If you’re going for it to win the game, then that’s one thing. But if you’re going for it because you’re afraid, that’s another thing.”
Harrison: “I love the call…you’re playing against Drew Brees…once the ball goes back to him, coach Mike Smith knows that the game is over.”
Dungy: “You have to trust your defense.”
Dungy on takeaways: “They hadn’t been getting them. The last couple of weeks they have. This is Lovie Smith-type defense.”
Harrison: “I think the biggest move they made is the changing of safeties. Once they put those safeties in, there were no big plays over their heads and (better) tackling in an open field.”
Dungy: “The Bears defense. They are back. Lovie Smith loves takeaways. They got six of them today.”
King: “I asked coach John Fox after the game, ‘Is Tebow your starter for the rest of the year?’ He said, ‘at this rate, yes.’”
Harrison on if the Broncos can win with Tebow: “Two passes. Are you kidding me? There’s no way. Maybe in the AFC West.”
Dungy: “They can win the West. They beat Oakland. They beat Kansas City. I don’t know that they can beat anybody else without a better passing game.”
Dungy: “San Francisco’s for real.”
Harrison: “They might be the best team in the National Football League. I believe Alex Smith can lead this team to a Super Bowl. Trent Dilfer did it, Kerry Collins, Jake Delhomme. You don’t have to be a marquee name in order to lead your team to the Super Bowl.”
King: “The Indianapolis Colts lost to go to 0-10 today, but they did something good in the process. They took a commanding lead in the Andrew Luck derby. They’ve got a two-game lead now over both St. Louis and Miami. If you watched the Colts play this year, you can’t imagine they’re going to win at all the rest of the year, never mind twice. The Colts are going to have the chance to take Andrew Luck next April.”
Patrick: “Colts, genuinely bad.”
Harrison: “Detroit has to find a way to try and run the ball. No way can Matthew Stafford drop back and throw the ball 60 times.”
Harrison: “They played hard in this first half of the season. They got beat obviously today but it’s over for the Bills. They had a nice run. Two teams from the AFC East will make it to the playoffs, but it won’t be the Buffalo Bills.”
Costas: “When you talk about rivalry, this has become one. Not just because Ryan’s Jets are contenders and they meet at least twice a year, but you’ve got Spy Gate going back a few years and then you have a New York-Boston thing. It’s always there, Red Sox-Yankees. It’s sometimes Celtics-Knicks and Bruins-Rangers. Here you’ve got the Giants and the Patriots because of what the Giants did to spoil that almost perfect season by beating them and last week, and you’ve got the Jets and Patriots ongoing.”
Michaels: “All those things, and I think how Rex has ratcheted it up. Think about the Patriots through their history: Miami used to be their big rival, then it was Buffalo, and then the Jets became the rival. It goes back to Parcells. Parcells leaves New England and comes here. Belichick is going to be the head coach of the New York Jets…And now, of course, you have the two teams fighting for first place. This is as big of a regular-season game that the Jets have played in a long time.”
Collinsworth: “It’s interesting. I went to both of the teams’ practices this week, and you would think that the Patriots would be much more up because of the fact that they’ve lost a couple of games in a row, and the Jets may be more confident coming in. But every team has that team that they have to beat, and that’s all that anybody from the Jets can talk about. ‘This is our moment. This is our chance for a home playoff game. This is our chance to win this division,’ because they haven’t been able to do it. They haven’t been able to beat the Patriots when it mattered.”
Collinsworth on potential Revis-Welker matchup: “You’re going to have the best against the best.”
Patrick on Rex Ryan acting as a Patriots fan in upcoming Adam Sandler film: “I asked Adam Sandler about Rex Ryan’s acting. He said, ‘He was pretty good, very convincing acting like he was a Patriots fan.’”
Following are highlights from Costas’ interview with Rex Ryan and Harrison’s interview with Deion Branch and Wes Welker:
REX RYAN WITH BOB COSTAS
RYAN: “We’ll probably attack New England a little differently from the Giants. Again, we’ll steal from anybody. There is no doubt about it. Certainly we appreciate the way they played and they did a great job. Pittsburgh was interesting…the most impressive thing to me because they kept Brady on the sideline that’s the best defense right there. If Brady’s on the sideline, we’ll sign up for that one.”
COSTAS: It’s been a relatively quiet week by Jets standards. Is that by design, a let-sleeping-dogs-lie thing with the Patriots down a little bit?
RYAN: No. We don’t care if they’re down, up. Who cares? We know that this game is huge. We know we have to find a way to win this game. That’s kind of where our focus has been.
COSTAS: Would you rather be in the position up by three and Brady’s got the ball and it’s up to your defense, or down by three and your offense is on the field?
RYAN: That’s a great question. I’ve got confidence in both sides of the ball. The strength of our defense is just the whole package. Statistics are what they are. I know we’re not ranked very high offensively, but we are in the red zone. So, I’m confident either way.
COSTAS: You’re in this movie with Adam Sandler. Not only are you in the movie, but you play a character, who is kind of a sleazy lawyer and a crazy Patriots fan with a Bill Belichick bobble head on his desk.
RYAN: That’s the facts. I tried like crazy, studied my lines like crazy, just so they’re not having to retake something just because of me.
COSTAS: How would you describe your acting?
RYAN: Not very good. I’m not Robert DeNiro, that’s for sure.
COSTAS: Do you think Belichick will like the scene?
RYAN: Oh yeah, no doubt. I think the funny thing about Belichick is, he’s a great guy and he’s funny. He’s somebody you’d like to drink a beer with and all that. He’s more normal outside of football than he is (inside it). His football persona is what it is and it should be. He’s looked at this way. But outside of the game, he’s just like you and I.
COSTAS on the Jets losing streak earlier this year: Do you ever look in the mirror and say, Rex, you screwed up?
RYAN: I do that anyway. I have a ton of confidence, there’s no question about it, but sure, I go back and, ‘Oh, God. I wish I had this play to do over. I shouldn’t have done this.’ But I’m growing as a head coach in this league. It’s only my third year and obviously I’ll be better next year than I am this year and I’ll be better five years from now. I’m trying to work on an extension (joking).
COSTAS: (laughing) You listening Mr. Johnson?
COSTAS: So if somebody says to you, you’re going to have another five or six years as an NFL head coach, you’re going to win a couple of Super Bowls and then it’s going to end for whatever reason, or, you can have a 20-year run and the highest winning percentage in the game, constantly make the playoffs, but never win a Super Bowl. Which of those two do you take?
RYAN: I’ll take number one. I want to win championships. One time I want to sit back and say, ‘You know what? We were the very best. We’re world champions.’ If I win it this year and for whatever reason say, ‘You know what. That’s it.’ I’ll be satisfied.
DEION BRANCH & WES WELKER WITH RODNEY HARRISON
HARRISON: Is there a blueprint to stop this offense? Tight man-to-man coverage, jamming you guys, not threatening down the field…forcing Tom Brady outside the pocket, putting pressure up the middle. Is that the blueprint?
BRANCH: No, that’s not a blueprint. It’s a lack of execution. That’s the blueprint for us. If we execute, we’re okay. We only have to throw the ball down the field, five or six times a game. Hey, if we’re still scoring, still getting passing yards, whatever. It’s not a big deal.
HARRISON: Do you expect the Jets to follow that so-called blueprint?
WELKER: For sure. That’s what they’ve always done in the past. They haven’t changed. They’ve always been a get-up-in-your-face type team like we’ve seen over the past. I just have to come back harder the next time and play better, and everything will fall into place.
HARRISON on ex-Patriots, including him, criticizing this year’s Patriots: Does that bother you?
BRANCH: We hear the rumors. The thing for us is to stay focused on what is at task, and that’s our next game, which is the Jets. We’ve got to stay in house…go out, work hard, practice hard, and try and put the same thing on the football field on Sunday.
WELKER: (joking) We understand that you all just want to start controversy and everything else, and get more Twitter followers and everything else.
HARRISON: (joking) Well, if you played better, Wes, I wouldn’t have anything to criticize.
HARRISON on people writing off the Patriots: Does that motivate you?
WELKER: You try not to listen to a lot of stuff out there but you can’t help a little bit of it, and, yeah, you want to prove them wrong…whatever motivates you, it doesn’t matter as long as you are going out there, playing and doing what you need to do to win games.
–NBC Sports Group–
BOB COSTAS’ HALFTIME ESSAY ON DEVIN HESTER
In Chicago today, as the Bears routed the Lions, Devin Hester did what he does better than anyone ever has — he returned a punt 82 yards for a touchdown. This was Hester’s 17th career kick return for a score, punt and kickoff runbacks combined. Make it 18 if you throw in a 108-yard reversal-of-fortunes return of a missed field goal; 19 if we’re counting postseason, as Hester sliced through the Colts on the opening kickoff of Super Bowl XLI, after which, Tony Dungy, a very smart man, reminded himself of that fact and didn’t kick to him again.
Which brings up this question: Why does anyone ever kick to Hester? And why would anyone ever turn their back or leave their seat when someone does?
Here is one of the most electrifying performers in NFL history, who hasn’t just followed, but, in his specialty, has gone beyond the likes of Travis Williams; Billy “White Shoes” Johnson; the still active Josh Cribbs; Brian Mitchell, who held the record until Hester zoomed past him; and even Hester’s revered Bears predecessor, a player for the ages named Gale Sayers.
Now some of those players, most certainly including Sayers, did other things better than Hester, who doubles as a wide receiver. But when it comes to running back kicks, he’s the best the League has ever seen. And at 29 and in good health, he’s likely to put more distance between himself and everyone else on the list.
Which raises another question, can you make the Hall of Fame essentially as a special teams player?
Jan Stenurud is the only pure kicker in the Hall. There’s no pure punter there, Ray Guy’s many proponents notwithstanding. If there is to be a Hester candidacy, whatever he’s done as a receiver is incidental. He’d make it for stuff like this (video of kick returns), and when somebody’s the best the game has ever seen at what they do, really, how can you keep him out?