“They should be concerned because that secondary is probably the worst secondary I’ve seen in the last decade.” – Rodney Harrison on Patriots
“If he isn’t the Coach Of The Year, tell me who is?” – Al Michaels on Texans Head Coach Gary Kubiak
“This was not about Tim Tebow winning the game, this was about the Bears losing the game.” – Tony Dungy on Bears-Broncos
NEW YORK – December 11, 2011 – Following are highlights from Football Night in America. Bob Costas hosted the show live from Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, 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 Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver, Colo., on the Bears-Broncos game.
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Bob Costas’ interview with Antrel Rolle and Justin Tuck
Michele Tafoya’s interview with DeMarcus Ware
Mike Florio and Peter King discuss possible fine or suspension for James Harrison on his helmet-to-helmet hit on Colt McCoy Thursday night
Michaels: “Who would have ever thought that on the 11th night of December we would be saying the road to the Super Bowl on the AFC side may go through Houston. Right now they are the No. 1 seed. Look at their schedule: Carolina at home next week, at Indianapolis, and Tennessee at home to end the season. They make the playoffs for the first time ever. Gary Kubiak was on the hot seat when the season began; he hires Wade Phillips to run the defense; he has a third-string quarterback; if he isn’t the coach-of-the-year, tell me who is?”
Collinsworth: “How about T.J. Yates? He’s going to become the most famous third-string quarterback since Kurt Warner. When you’re down to your third-string quarterback basically your season is over at that point. Yet here was this kid with 80 yards to go, in many ways their season on the line, takes them down for the game winning touchdown.”
Dungy reacting to Kubiak saying they played poorly in their win: “I loved it because we played against these guys many years in the same division when I was at Indy. They always had talent, but I don’t think they had this type of attitude. Now they aren’t just happy to win games. Kubiak is saying we’ve got to play better.”
Harrison: “He’s got them believing. Even when it’s not a blowout, even in these tight, close games they believe that you don’t have to play your best football to win them.”
Dungy: “Somebody’s stepping up every week to make plays for this team.”
Dungy on Packers remaining schedule: “I see definitely three winnable games. I think Green Bay will win them and go 16-0, but if I’m Mike McCarthy I start worrying now, with San Francisco losing today. I start worrying about how important is it to go 16-0, if I may lose players.”
Harrison: “Well you have to get healthy, and you can’t risk putting your players out on the field. You have to figure out what is important to you. Is it going 16-0? Is it keeping your guys healthy? If you are up 31 points, you have to put your substitutes in and give them some experience and some time.”
Dungy: “In the weeks to come, we will see what happens. I know going undefeated is important to them.”
Patrick: “Do you think it is important for them to go undefeated?”
Dungy: “I don’t think so. I never thought that. I think the important thing is to win the Super Bowl.”
Harrison: “But you said they will go undefeated?”
Dungy: “I think they will. But the important thing, as you know, is to win the Super Bowl.”
Dungy: “I love Tim Tebow, nobody loves Tim Tebow more than me. I believe that this was not about Tim Tebow winning the game, this was about the Bears losing the game.”
Patrick: “When you look at what Tebow did, I don’t know why he doesn’t do it in the first or second or third quarter. But he certainly comes through in the fourth quarter. Can you explain that?”
Dungy: “He is playing with that belief, but the Bears helped them out in the fourth quarter. They made some mistakes that you just can’t explain.”
Harrison on Tom Brady’s frustration (yelling on sideline with offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien): “I’ve seen Tom Brady play a lot on the other side of the field. I saw some things today that I really haven’t seen too much; and that is balls hitting the ground, open receivers and Tom Brady missing them. That is why there was a little bit of frustration today. You just are not used to seeing this.”
Harrison: “I played six years with him and I have never seen him this frustrated, yelling back and forth with an offensive coordinator. But that is why he is frustrated, because offensively, they weren’t clicking, and defensively he feels like he has to shoulder a lot of the pressure because that defense is so bad.”
Harrison: “They won a football game but they should be concerned because that secondary is probably the worst secondary I’ve seen in the last decade. It’s been proven the last two years in the playoffs, if Brady’s off just a little bit they’re vulnerable to lose.”
Dungy: “I think he is feeling that type of pressure. Even at 34-27 we have to keep scoring points because we are not certain about our defense.”
Patrick to Harrison: “They have two offensive players playing in the secondary. Did it just sneak up on Bill (Belichick) that he may need another defensive back this year?”
Harrison: “You have to ask Bill that. I’m done trying to figure it out, Dan. I can’t figure it out!”
Dungy: “We’ve seen this movie before. They are getting their offensive weaponry back, but it might be too late.”
Harrison: “You just can’t wait until Week 14 to start playing football.”
Patrick: “Well Atlanta is alive there, Tony!”
Dungy: “They are. I think what Coach Smith learned about his team is if they’re going to be contenders, it’s going to have to be the offense. They have some issues on defense. They’re going to have to score points. Today they got back in it with big plays in the passing game. They’re going to need Matt Ryan to do this. He made plays all day, but Julio Jones is the guy that they got to deliver the big plays for them. He came up big today, but there were others like Jacquizz Rodgers. It’s going to be up to Ryan to continue to make these type of plays and score points because they’re giving up a ton of points.”
Patrick: “Well that’s why they used all their draft picks to get Julio Jones. They wanted to try and take the Green Bay blueprint. It’s just their defense isn’t as opportunistic as Green Bay.”
Florio: “Horrible day for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This was their seventh straight loss after losing only six games all of last season, and they gave up 41 points to a bad Jaguars team. Coach Raheem Morris is signed through the 2012 season, but I have a feeling he may not make it to the start of the 2012 season.”
Harrison: “When you’re a Cincinnati Bengals team and you’re young, you can’t afford to make these mistakes against good teams.”
Dungy: “I like Detroit but they just have to play smarter.”
Patrick: “Buffalo’s last win wasn’t even in this country. It was in Toronto, Week 8 against the Redskins.”
ON POSSIBLE FINE OR SUSPENSION OF STEELERS LINEBACKER JAMES HARRISON FOR HIS HELMET TO HELMET HIT ON BROWNS QUARTERBACK COLT MCCOY ON THURSDAY NIGHT:
Florio: “The league will consider on Monday whether to fine or suspend Steelers linebacker James Harrison for that wicked helmet to facemask hit on Browns quarterback Colt McCoy from Thursday night. If Harrison is suspended, the appeal will be expedited and a final decision would be issued before next Monday when the Steelers go to San Francisco to play the 49ers.”
King: “A league source tells me there will be one major mitigating factor in deciding whether to suspend or fine Harrison and that is this: Colt McCoy took five full strides with the ball as a runner, leading Harrison to believe that he could hit him as if he were a running back. I believe he should be only fined and not suspended.”
Florio: “A couple factors working against Harrison; his history. He had four incidents last year for which he was fined, and even though it is not an express factor he had some very disparaging comments of Commissioner Roger Goodell in an interview over the summer. I have a feeling the Commissioner remembers those remarks.”
King: “What about the guy (Harrison) hit, Colt McCoy? Everybody is saying, ‘Why was Colt McCoy in that game?’ I talked to Scott Fujita, his teammate and a member of the NFLPA Executive Board today and he told me he will push the NFLPA this week to begin the process of getting independent neurologists on the sidelines at every NFL game the rest of this year and into the future because you simply can’t trust players or coaches to do what is best for a player, in a case like this.”
Collinsworth on Jason Garrett’s timeout at the end of the Cardinals game in Week 13: “I really didn’t have much of an issue with taking the timeout at the end because they were unsettled trying to get lined up for the field goal. I think most coaches, especially with your special teams coach over there saying, ‘We’re unsettled, let’s call timeout,’ they’re going to call a timeout there. The major mistake, and it was Jason Garrett’s, was not calling the timeout after the completion. It would’ve been about 26 seconds (left). Get your team settled, you would’ve had time to run the ball, throw it, do whatever you wanted to because it was still a 49-yard field goal. It’s not like it was some chip shot out there.”
Costas: “Still an unthinkable loss, right?”
Collinsworth: “Well it was, but they had about three other unthinkable losses this season. The scary part is they brought the Giants back in here (in the division race). You think, alright they’re a favorite at home and all that kind of stuff. They get beat out here tonight it is game on.”
Following are excerpts from Costas’ interview with Rolle and Tuck and Tafoya’s interview with Ware.
ANTREL ROLLE & JUSTIN TUCK WITH BOB COSTAS
COSTAS: Under Tom Coughlin, the Giants are always strong in the first part of the season, and often tail off at the end. Any explanation for that?
TUCK: I’ve lost a lot of sleep over that. We definitely preach ‘finish’ more that anything. I know it’s not a lack of us studying, or us going out and wanting to win the game. It’s just one of those things where you have to find a way to get out of this funk, and what a better time than now.
COSTAS to Rolle: The way your schedule worked this season, outside of your division, you faced Brady, you faced Brees, you faced Rodgers. Which one of them was the best?
ROLLE: All of them are dangerous, and I’ve grown a higher level of respect for each of those guys. Tom Brady, he’s magnificent. The way he scans the field is like I’ve never seen before. Drew Brees, he’s a very athletic quarterback and the way he releases the ball is like zip-zip. And Aaron Rodgers, he’s just an overall cocky guy, but you know what? I love it.
COSTAS to Tuck on DeMarcus Ware suggesting he has Cowboy-envy and wants to be a Cowboy:
TUCK: As far as me wanting to be a Cowboy (he pauses), I don’t see where that’s accurate or true. I think its just DeMarcus trying to get up under my skin. I thank God everyday for being drafted a Giant, and I want to retire a Giant.
COSTAS to Rolle: You have any sense at all that you are playing for Tom Coughlin’s job?
ROLLE: I’ve never been on a team where every year, at a certain point, your coach’s job is being threatened. It’s about us at the end of the day. We represent him. He’s the boss. So because we’re not out there taking care of our job and handling business they way we’re doing, they want to find us a new boss. Gotta go out there and fight for him. We have to.
TAFOYA’S INTERVIEW WITH DEMARCUS WARE
TAFOYA on Jason Garrett calling timeout before potential game-winning kick last week against the Cardinals: Does a call like that cause a team to lose any confidence in their head coach?
WARE: When you think about a coach that comes in that meeting and says, ‘Hey, I made a mistake on that play,’ well, guess what, we need to forget about that.
TAFOYA: Eli Manning said before the season, and not in a boastful way, that he was an elite quarterback. You’ve played against every great quarterback in the league today, is Eli Manning an elite quarterback?
WARE: Eli Manning is a sleeper. You look at the stats, and he’s right up there with those quarterbacks. When it’s crunch time in the fourth quarter, he’s making those plays. He’s up there with those elite quarterbacks, but they’re just not giving him his credit.
TAFOYA: Which of the teams in the NFC East do you consider your biggest rival?
WARE: More recently, for the last three years, it’s been the Giants. Every time we’re playing the Giants, you’re playing for (first or second place), so it’s like you’re winning two games if you can beat them once.
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