“They will win the division.” – Rodney Harrison on the 2-4 Eagles
“If there’s a football version of batting practice, it looked like it was batting practice for Aaron Rodgers today.” – Dan Patrick
NEW YORK – October 16, 2011 – Following are highlights from Football Night in America. Bob Costas hosted the show live from the Soldier Field in Chicago 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 sixth week live from Studio 8G at NBC’s 30 Rockefeller Plaza studios in New York. Alex Flanagan reported from Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass., on the Cowboys-Patriots game.
Football Night paid tribute to IndyCar Series driver Dan Wheldon, who was tragically killed today during the Las Vegas Indy 300. Wheldon was a member of the NBC Sports Group family, serving as an analyst for IndyCar Series telecasts on VERSUS.
Patrick: “Tragic news out of the racing world today where IndyCar driver Dan Wheldon was killed in a crash at the Las Vegas Indy 300, the final race of the season. The wreck involved 15 cars. Wheldon won his second Indy 500 earlier this year. He was a member of the NBC Sports family, working with us as an analyst. He was a native of England, resided in Florida, married with two young sons. It was the first fatality in the IndyCar circuit since 2006. Dan Wheldon was 33.”
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 Bears LB Brian Urlacher:
Bob Costas interviews Vikings QB Donovan McNabb and RB Adrian Peterson:
Costas, Collinsworth & Michaels on the Jim Schwartz-Jim Harbaugh handshake:
Patrick, Dungy & Harrison on the Jim Schwartz-Jim Harbaugh handshake:
King and Florio wrap-up:
King: “This, when the NFL investigates, is going to turn into a he said-he said situation.”
Florio: “The NFL will start investigating starting tomorrow and lead spokesman Greg Aiello told me the key issue will be whether, or to what extent, there was physical contact. So, any shoving by either coach, any type of contact, could get that coach in trouble.”
Dungy: “I didn’t think it was that big of a deal. Jim Schwartz should have just let that go…I’ve had some handshakes with some coaches that I didn’t appreciate. When you lose, you just have to go to the locker room.”
Harrison: “Jim Schwartz has to understand that Jim Harbaugh is coming from a college atmosphere; the guy gets excited. He didn’t purposely try to do that…I played with the guy (Harbaugh). He’s a good guy. He’s not that type of person.”
Dungy: “They are renewed. They have a different energy and it starts with their head coach Jim Harbaugh. He may need to work on his postgame handshake, but he has these guys playing.”
Dungy on Harbaugh: “(He’s) the difference between last year’s 49ers and this year’s 49ers. They’re doing the same thing, they are running the ball, they’re playing good defense trying to protect Alex Smith. But they believe in this guy, this coach, Jim Harbaugh. He has changed the culture there.”
Dungy: “My big winner is those San Francisco 49ers and Jim Harbaugh. They have gone eight years and only won three games in the East Coast time zone. They have won three in a row (this year) and they are in first place in the West, and they are making the playoffs.”
Dungy comparing Nate Burleson’s touchdown today with Calvin Johnson’s from last year: “He’s out of bounds before he loses the ball. Calvin Johnson last year: same situation. He goes up high, makes a great catch, gets both feet down, loses the ball at the end. What is the difference? When you look at them simultaneously, what is the difference?”
Harrison: “Looks like a catch to me.”
Dungy: “They’re both touchdowns. The guys catch the ball, they’ve got two feet down in the end zone, they should both be touchdowns.”
Harrison: “Four straight losses, divisional win, on the road, huge. I believe…they will win the division.”
Dungy on safety Kurt Coleman’s one career INT prior to today: “He probably hasn’t played against Rex Grossman enough.”
Patrick: “Do you still believe they are going to win the division?”
King: “We could be looking at a quarterback shake-up in Washington. The Redskins benched Rex Grossman. He was All-World for a while. He threw four interceptions, was subbed for in the third quarter by John Beck. Mike Shanahan, the coach of the team, was non-committal after the game, but I can tell you this: Mike Shanahan and his son Kyle, the offensive coordinator, they love them some John Beck. I think they’re going with Beck.”
Collinsworth: “This is the only team that we’re seeing right now that truly looks dominant. You can look around at the other teams that are not bad, but if you are looking for a dominant team, it is only the Packers at this point.”
Patrick: “If there’s a football version of batting practice, it looked like it was batting practice for Aaron Rodgers today.”
Dungy on Mike Tomlin: “He is not happy. They got Rashard Mendenhall going today, but that wasn’t his type of football. I think that test he is referring to could be the Cincinnati Bengals in a couple weeks. They’re playing good football.”
Dungy: “Today, the Giants defensive line stepped up when they needed it. They were after him (Ryan Fitzpatrick) all day and got to him several times.”
Flanagan: “Jerry Jones did tell me today that he has taken some calls regarding a trade for Tashard Choice, the running back. He will, in fact, consider that, if the right opportunity is available.”
Dungy on Ray Rice: “He was the best player on the field today…Ray Rice energizes them. He runs, he catches the ball, he breaks tackles, he gives them energy. This guy, he was the best player on the field.”
Harrison: “They played hard, but simply they were out manned. When you lose Andre Johnson, you lose explosive plays down the field. When you lose a guy like Mario Williams, although his impact wasn’t really felt today because they managed to put pressure on Joe Flacco, but those two main guys; if you want to compete with the big boys of the league, you need your big weapons.”
Patrick: “Is Atlanta going to make the playoffs?”
Harrison: “No… I don’t believe in them.”
Dungy on critical fourth-and-two play: “I really don’t like the call. We had it opening night in our [NFL Kickoff opener] game and I didn’t like it then…Tampa had seen this.”
Harrison: “Why did you go out and draft Mark Ingram? Why did you go pay Pierre Thomas, if you are not going to run these guys?”
Harrison: “Tampa’s defensive line, they played well against Indy; they played well against Atlanta; and maybe that is the reason because they were putting pressure and they forced Drew Brees into three interceptions today.”
Following are highlights from Bob Costas’ interview with Bears LB Brian Urlacher, and Vikings QB Donovan McNabb and RB Adrian Peterson:
COSTAS on Urlacher’s critical comments of the Bears defense made after last week’s game: Do you really think you stink or was that an attempt to motivate your guys?
URLACHER: I was mad after the game. I’m always mad after games. It felt like we played bad, but going back and watching the film, we didn’t play that bad. Big plays are killing us.
COSTAS: There was a scene on Monday night where it appeared that you and Lance Briggs were jawing at one another. You want to clear that one up?
URLACHER: My daughter asked me the same thing. She said, ‘Why are you and Uncle Lance fighting on the sideline?’ I said, ‘What are you talking about?’ She said, ‘You were yelling at Lance.’ I said, ‘I wasn’t yelling.’ … I think it was right after a touchdown, I’m sure, one of the long ones. We were just trying to figure out what happened on the play. Lance and I don’t bicker on the sidelines, we bicker during the game. (laughs) We fight during the game or after a play’s over. We don’t fight on the sideline. We usually talk and try to figure out what happened and then go on to the next play.
COSTAS on the abuse Jay Cutler has been taking: You’ve got to feel for the guy.
URLACHER: I feel bad for him. Jay’s tough. I think everyone’s seen how tough he is. He takes hits, he doesn’t say anything. He keeps coming back for more. He doesn’t complain. He just goes out there. He played great on Monday night. We got to play better on defense and give them some better opportunities to score.
COSTAS: You’re part of a line of great Chicago linebackers: Butkus, Singletary, yourself. What does it mean to you?
URLACHER: Bill George is the first one. Just to be mentioned in…is an honor for me. It’s a great city to play football in, especially defense and middle linebacker. It’s definitely an honor.
COSTAS on New Mexico being the only major school to recruit Urlacher: Are you carrying a chip on your shoulder?
URLACHER: For sure. I feel like I have something to prove every day. I think you have to have that at this level…just to try and get better every day. I know Lance does it. I think there were 12 guys drafted in front of him. That motivates him. I’m the same way.
DONOVAN MCNABB & ADRIAN PETERSON
COSTAS: First three games out of the shoot, you’ve got a halftime lead on San Diego; you’ve got the halftime lead on Tampa; you’ve got a 20-0 lead on Detroit. When you’ve got a running game, like Adrian Peterson represents, usually a team with a ground game doesn’t lose those kinds of leads, right?
MCNABB: Teams usually don’t lose a lead, if you don’t turn the ball over, so we have to be able to close games, and we’ve all discussed that over the weeks and understand exactly what we have to do.
COSTAS to Peterson: How much of a student of the game’s history are you? The only two great ones I can think of who combined power and speed the way you do: O.J. Simpson, Eric Dickerson. Maybe Jim Brown.
PETERSON: You don’t want to throw (Walter) Payton in there?
COSTAS: Walter was not as fast as you, with all due respect.
PETERSON: He was pretty fast…But I agree with those guys.
–NBC Sports Group–
BOB COSTAS’ HALFTIME ESSAY ON JIM HARBAUGH AND JIM SCHWARTZ
The buzz around the league tonight, and no doubt into the early part of the upcoming week, is about the confrontation and near-throw down between Niners coach Jim Harbaugh and his Detroit counterpart, Jim Schwartz.
The league will sort through the whys and wherefores though it appears the likely conclusion will be that whatever the initial provocation, Schwartz’s overreaction was the greater breach of professionalism.
But while that moment goes viral, the larger fact is that the similarities between Schwartz and Harbaugh outweigh their present differences. Schwartz took over a team that was 0-16 when he arrived two-and-a-half years ago. Despite today’s narrow loss, they sit at 5-1, winners of nine of their last 10 dating back to last season. And as for Harbaugh, consider this: a year ago, the Niners were 6-10 under Mike Singletary. Harbaugh, taking over with abbreviated preparation due to the lockout and with no significant changes in personnel from Singletary’s squad, has them at 5-1, with only an overtime loss to the Cowboys marring that record.
Be it a change in tactics, atmosphere or inspiration, it’s clear that the difference here is Harbaugh himself. And he’s done it before. The Stanford Cardinal were 1-11 the year before Harbaugh arrived. Four seasons later, they were 12-1, and Harbaugh was a Bay area icon and the obvious choice to attempt to return the Niners to what had begun to seem like long-lost glory.
Harbaugh has always had an edge to him. He famously, or infamously, if you prefer, went for two late in a 55-21 win over USC. The postgame handshake after that one led to this question from an angry Pete Carroll, “What’s your deal?”
The answer to that question is apparently, to quote the noted sage, Charlie Sheen, “Duh, winning!” And not caring much how many friends outside his own locker room he makes along the way.
From what I’m told, Schwartz is pretty much the same sort of guy. Maybe one day the two will sit down over a beer and recognize they’re actually kindred spirits, though somehow I doubt it.
Dan Patrick, Tony Dungy and Rodney Harrison at halftime on Harbaugh-Schwartz
Patrick: “What is protocol there?”
Dungy: “Protocol is not for you to retaliate, if you are Jim Schwartz, by chasing the other coach down into the tunnel and going after him. I don’t know what Jim Harbaugh said, but whatever he said, it didn’t merit that.”
Harrison: “Both coaches were wrong. Jim Harbaugh, first of all, smacked him on the back. Putting your hands on a grown man, you can’t do that. If you’re Jim Schwartz, what do you tell your kids?”
Patrick: “Your players, too.”
Dungy: “Be a bigger man.”
Harrison: “Exactly, walk away from the situation. You can’t control what Jim Harbaugh does, but you can control what you do.”
Patrick: “But their temperament, they were in the moment, too. You have to factor that in.”
Dungy: “And that happens, but you have to say, if you are Jim Schwartz, you know what, let me go in the locker room and tell our guys, ‘I hope we see these guys again.’”
Harrison: “But Jim Schwartz is that same type of guy. We see him every week slamming his hands and celebrating.”
–NBC Sports Group–