“That’s the wrong call.” – Tony Dungy on Victor Cruz play in Giants-Cardinals game
“I can’t remember a player from week to week that we change our opinion on more.” – Dan Patrick on Cowboys QB Tony Romo
“Andy Reid must blame himself because he specifically handpicked all these guys.” – Harrison on the Eagles
NEW YORK – October 2, 2011 – Following are highlights from Football Night in America. Bob Costas hosted the show live from the M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore 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 fourth week live from Studio 8G at NBC’s 30 Rockefeller Plaza studios in New York. Alex Flanagan reported from O.co Coliseum in Oakland on the Patriots-Raiders game.
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 interviews Ravens RB Ray Rice
Bob Costas interviews Jets LB Bart Scott
Feature on Ravens QB Joe Flacco
Costas, Michaels and Collinsworth recapping the afternoon games
Florio and King recapping the afternoon games
ON VICTOR CRUZ CALL IN GIANTS-CARDINALS:
Patrick: “Peter King got a hold of Carl Johnson, the head of NFL Officials, and he said that Cruz gave himself up. Is that the correct interpretation of the rulebook?”
Dungy: “That’s what they interpret it, but I don’t believe that. I think it was a fabrication by the league office because you give yourself up. We coach this situation, but you do it sliding feet first or you do it by staying on the ground…Feet first or you definitely say you’re not trying to gain yardage. You can’t go down and just leave the ball and get up – we’ve seen people get up and score. As a defender, you’re taught to finish the play…I think that’s the wrong call.”
Dungy: “It’s controversial to me already because as a coach I do not believe that is right. You teach your players, your defenders, that if he goes feet first, you let him go. If he stays on the ground, you let him go. If he gets up, you keep playing.”
ON EAGLES AND STEELERS
Dungy: “The two teams from Pennsylvania, the Eagles and the Steelers, are both in trouble and it’s for the same reason. They have a lot of star players, a lot of skill position guys, but their offensive lines can’t protect the passer, and their defensive lines can’t stop the run.”
Collinsworth: “It was interesting to watch the Steelers today. What has been the cornerstone of that franchise forever is their ability to overwhelm people at times on both their offensive and defensive lines. And yet there were times in this game where they got overwhelmed on both and lost the game.”
Harrison: “If they don’t control the line of scrimmage, they can’t dial up their blitzes and their linebackers struggle to cover. They can’t play the type of game they are used to playing when they don’t control that line of scrimmage.”
Dungy: “Mike Tomlin is talking about getting this fixed tomorrow, but, unfortunately, the way the rules are now with the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, you can’t practice in pads as much as you used to be able to. He is not going to be able to work on those fundamentals he was talking about.”
Harrison: “It definitely affects physical teams, especially when you are trying to stop the run. When you are in practice and you are trying to get your fix, you need to go up in there and you need to have pads on in order to get those fixes.”
Dungy: “They went to the Super Bowl last year. They do not look like playoff team this year. Their quarterback is getting hit more than anyone in the league and they can’t stop the run.”
Collinsworth: “Absolutely amazing…They still have been unable to solve the issues of trying to stop the run. Frank Gore just completely took them apart in the second half.”
Dungy: “They spent a lot of money on skill position players. They got a ton of talent outside, but in the trenches they are getting manhandled. They’re not running the football well, especially in short yardage. They’re not defending the run, they’re not protecting Michael Vick.”
Harrison: “Andy Reid must blame himself because he specifically handpicked all these guys. He handpicked Michael Vick. He sent Kevin Kolb to Arizona…You can’t build a team from the outside in. You have to build a team from the inside out starting with your offensive and defensive lines.”
Patrick on Tony Romo: “I can’t remember a player from week to week that we change our opinion on more. Last week we were praising him, now we bury him. You have three picks and they were pretty inexcusable.”
Dungy: “(In the first half) he was brilliant, but in the second half he was trying to make plays that were not there.”
Harrison: “If you are leading, you need to come out and continue to try to establish the run and run the ball and take the pressure off of Tony Romo. Sometimes I look at the film and it just seems like he tries to do too much because they abandon the run all the time.”
ON LIONS AND PACKERS
Costas: “There are two 4-0 teams now in the NFL. They are the Lions and the Packers. Thanksgiving is all of the sudden meaningful again in terms of football.”
Patrick on Lions: “They are winning games that they are not playing extremely well in. They came back with the game against Dallas.”
Harrison on Lions: “I think they are a top-two team in the NFC, behind Green Bay. They have multiple weapons and they believe when they’re behind.”
King: “After the game, Leslie Frazier, the Vikings coach, basically said, ‘We’re not thinking about making a quarterback change right now.’”
Dungy: “If I were there and we’re 0-4, we’re not in the playoff hunt, you’ve got Christian Ponder who you drafted with the 12th pick, I think you have to look at him. I would be contemplating it if I were Leslie Frazier. I’d make the move and play Christian Ponder.”
Patrick: “I think Matt Hasselbeck likes it there in Tennessee.”
Michaels: “The Texans are back as one of the hot teams to watch right now.”
ON STANFORD QB ANDREW LUCK (Expected to be a high NFL Draft pick)
King on Luck’s athletic reception on Saturday: “I talked to a team today that is considering taking a quarterback high in the draft next year and said this just distances Andrew Luck even further from the pack. So, he’s no doubt the No. 1 pick.”
Florio: “I have no doubt that when we get to December there will be allegations from the media and fans that teams are intentionally losing to get in line to get Andrew Luck.”
ON PRELIMINARY PRO FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME LIST
King: “The preliminary class of 104 candidates was released this week. I’m one of the 44 voters on the list and the thing that interested me is that there are no slam dunks this year; no Deion Sanders, no Jerry Rice. I think it’s going to be a good year for the borderline guys: Curtis Martin, Dermontti Dawson, Andre Reed. They could get good news next February.”
Following are highlights from Bob Costas’ interviews with Ravens RB Ray Rice and Jets LB Bart Scott:
COSTAS: To summarize (your personal story): your dad was killed in a drive-by shooting when you were just a year old; a cousin, 10 years older than you, a father figure, was killed by a drunk driver; your mother raised you and three siblings largely on her own. How has this shaped you?
RICE: Growing up, it was rough. Growing up, mom can only be mom. My mom has been the best parent that you can ever ask for growing up as a child because what she did for me was she planted a seed and the seed was to go out and be a man.
My cousin…was an interesting story because he was the first one in the family to say, ‘You know what, I’m going to go out and be something. I’m going to go out and dream, and I’m going to chase my dream.’ He was signed to a record label. And you know dreams shattered (when he was killed). He’s the closest thing that I had to being around somebody that was famous.
COSTAS: His Hip Hop handle was SUPE, an acronym for Spiritually Uplifting People Everywhere. You’ve got a tattoo.
RICE: Yeah. I got the tattoo of the day he passed and a question mark. [shows tattoo]. 3-21-98. The question mark is for when I’m going to see him again. I don’t know when that date is. So that’s an untimed date that only God knows when I can see him again. But what I do know is that I’ve been blessed and I’m sure that he’s over there watching over me.
COSTAS: Were you able to help your mom out?
RICE: I was able to do a lot for my mom on my first contract. Obviously this is my contract year. Lord willing, I don’t know when or what the numbers will be but I do bet that if my performance continues to be what it is that I’ll be able to do what I always planned on doing and that’s tell my mom that she can retire. I’ll let that option be solely on her. And when I’m able to do that, one of my goals in life will be complete.
COSTAS: If someone says Ray Rice is a Momma’s Boy, you’re cool with that?
RICE: I’m very cool with it. I’ve got a tattoo on my other arm…it says only God understands. It has my mom’s name going down a cross. I firmly believe that me and mother understand that the next person closest to understanding my relationship with my mother is the man upstairs. That won’t change from now until it’s time to go because she’s the one who laid that foundation, that rock, down for the family.
COSTAS: Who talks more trash, you or Rex?
SCOTT: I think it’s a tie. I give the edge to him because he has a platform to talk more trash than me. He gets to talk trash every day when he does his press conference. I’ve kind of been laying low a little bit this year.
COSTAS: Your Web handle is Mad Backer. What are you mad about?
SCOTT: I’m mad about everything. I’m mad about not getting drafted, waiting for four years to get an opportunity to play, people never thinking that I’m quite good enough, people thinking that my success was because of the players I played with…That’s why I made the decision to go to New York, to prove that I could stand on my own.
SCOTT on if he came to New York to disprove perceptions that he was riding on the shoulders of his former teammates: Exactly. What greater stage than New York to prove that you can handle the light, the moment. If you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere. It’s the toughest place to play because they love you one day and they hate you the next.
COSTAS: You were lightly recruited out of high school. You wind up playing for the Salukis of SIU (Southern Illinois) Carbondale.
SCOTT: Sometimes I say I went to 13th Grade.
COSTAS: You’re undrafted. Is it true that your bonus was $500?
SCOTT: Yeah. That’s before taxes. The first check ever cashed from the NFL was a check-cashing joint right next to Security (Square) Mall here in Baltimore. It was $329 and it just covered my Sprint bill…remember like it was yesterday.
COSTAS: Does it help you that somewhere inside of you is the kid that was overlooked coming out of high school; went to a less than football powerhouse; undrafted; played special teams; had to wait;, overshadowed by other good players, maybe great players, on his own defense; is all that churning inside you?
SCOTT: Always. I never forget it. I never forget that the Ravens were the only team to come to my pro day, that the Chicago Bears were right there in Champaign, playing at that time, and they told the Ravens I wasn’t anything to look at. They didn’t even want to get them the tape. So every time I think about that, it burns inside. That’s what fuels me. That’s what makes the Mad Backer because every time I step on the football field I get the opportunity to prove I was right and they was wrong.
–NBC Sports Group–
BOB COSTAS’ HALFTIME ESSAY
The question of the week is this: is there any marquee player in the NFL who is alternatively as electrifying and exasperating as Tony Romo?
Here’s a guy who see-saws between hero’s laurels and goat horns, seemingly game to game. And today, it was half to half. Romo had three TD throws in the first 33 minutes against the undefeated Lions, but then, three picks – two of them returned for touchdowns.
This has been the pattern of Romo’s season, and, as it’s shaping up, his career. At any moment he is apt to rescue his team with feats of daring do, often showing the presence of mind to improvise his way out of one crisis after another. And then, the next week, or maybe the next moment, he’ll turn in a performance or make a decision that sends Cowboys fans to the ledge.
This season started in disaster against the Jets, with a late fumble and interception that cost Dallas a game they appeared to have won. But that was followed by gritty efforts with broken ribs against the 49ers and Redskins.
And then came today’s misadventures against Detroit, as a 27-3 lead somehow went up in smoke. Don Banks of Sports Illustrated has tabbed Romo the NFL’s MPP- Most Pivotal Player. A guy who seems just as likely to singlehandedly pull a game out or give it away. As Banks correctly notes, you could make a case that without Romo, the Cowboys might be 0-4 or maybe 4-0. What that averages out to is 2-2, which is where they are right now heading into their bye week, which is followed by a trip to New England and a date with the Patriots.
So, there will be plenty for the newspapers to dissect and debate over the next two weeks. It’s all very interesting and all very entertaining, provided you don’t have a rooting interest. But for those who do, this sort of topsy turvy ride that winds up in the neighborhood of .500 is not what Jerry Jones, Tony Romo or legions of Cowboys fans had in mind.