“At this midpoint, he should be Defensive Player of the Year.” – Rodney Harrison on Bills S George Wilson
“They are not going to let Peyton Manning dictate anything about their first pick in the draft.” – Peter King after speaking this week with Bill Polian
“I’m definitely not coaching in 2012.” – Tony Dungy
NEW YORK – October 30, 2011 – Following are highlights from Football Night in America. Bob Costas hosted the show live from Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia 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 eighth week live from Studio 8G at NBC’s 30 Rockefeller Plaza studios in New York. Alex Flanagan reported from Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pa., on the Patriots-Steelers game.
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Al Michaels’ interview with Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan:
Will Bill Cowher be coaching in 2012?
Tony Dungy on the Saints being out-hustled
Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray:
Dungy: “What happened to the Saints? We had them last Sunday night and they looked like a juggernaut. They are playing their second straight winless team with a chance to control the division. They got totally out-hustled and got hit by the winless Rams.”
Harrison: “No way is that supposed to happen if you’re the New Orleans Saints. No way.”
Patrick: “How do the Saints go from being so good to so bad in a week’s time?”
Dungy: “Part of it is, instead of being at home, being on the road. They have not played well being on the road all year. But I have to credit the St. Louis Rams, they did not play like a winless team. I have never seen Drew Brees rattled like this and it started with that (Rams) defensive line.”
Michaels: “The Rams were clearly inspired by the Cardinals.”
Harrison: “If you look at the Giants, yes, we know they can get to the quarterback, but they miss a lot of tackles, no gap responsibility, and lack of effort by some players.”
Harrison (while showing video highlights): “You look at Chris Canty, he’s a veteran player, look at the lack of hustle right here. This is not a division winning effort. Then you come up the middle with Reggie Bush, there are three guys right here, linebackers over pursuing, Kenny Phillips missing tackles, just a terrible effort. Then you have another one of your veteran defensive tackles (#95, Rocky Bernard) not hustling and completing the play.”
Harrison: “They’ve got the Patriots next week, they better come ready.”
Dungy: “They better play a lot better than this.”
Dungy: “I’m on the Buffalo bandwagon now. My question with them was about their defense, but the way they played today, shutting down that running game, pressure, their defense played great today.”
Harrison: “When you talk about their defense, you talk about one guy in particular and that guy is George Wilson…He’s been getting it done all year round. At this midpoint, he should be Defensive Player of the Year.”
Dungy: “He’s had big plays, and he did it again today.”
Harrison: “Two teams that won today that still have some issues are the Ravens and the Giants. The Ravens have to find a way offensively to manufacture some touchdowns in the passing game.”
Harrison on Joe Flacco: “The last month of the season he’s thrown one touchdown and four interceptions. He has to play better.”
Dungy: “They shut Tom Brady down for the first time in a long time.”
Harrison: “Last year Pittsburgh tried to play a zone coverage and Tom Brady ate them alive. This year, they came out in basic man-to-man coverage.”
Harrison: “Pittsburgh’s defense, basically dominating the game and holding Tom Brady to under 200 yards passing.”
King: “Ryan Clark, the safety for the Steelers, told me a few minutes ago that this is the most press coverage that he’s played in the six years that he’s been a Pittsburgh Steeler. That to me was the huge difference in the game in frazzling both Wes Welker and Tom Brady.”
Harrison: “I think they are the best team in the AFC. Earlier in the year, everybody called them old and washed up.”
Patrick: “Yeah, that was like three weeks ago.” (laughter)
ON NEXT WEEK’S SNF RAVENS @ STEELERS
Collinsworth: “No matter what happens, when you get Baltimore and you get Pittsburgh together, and we’ve talked about it before, it’s probably the most electric game that we do every year.”
Patrick: “No encore for Tim Tebow.”
Harrison: “Everyone is talking about Tim Tebow. Yes he played bad, but he’s not the only problem. You look at the offensive line, they gave up a bunch of sacks. He doesn’t have anybody to throw to down the field. The defense gave up 48 points. You can’t blame Tim Tebow for everything.”
Patrick: “I think the media overreacts when he does something great, and now they are going to overreact. He’s a rookie quarterback, basically, in his fifth start.”
Harrison: “Stay with Tim Tebow, ride it out.”
Dungy: “I’ve been on Cam Newton’s bandwagon, but Andy Dalton, the Cincinnati quarterback, and A.J. Green, they are for real and they’ve got a very, very good defense.”
Harrison on if he still thinks the Eagles are the best team in the East: “I do. I think they have the best quarterback. I think Washington is terrible, and the Giants are inconsistent.”
Dungy: “I believe Rodney. He has been saying it for three weeks now, so I am going with him – Eagles.”
King on Andrew Luck: “I talked to Bill Polian, the Colts’ Vice Chairman and draft czar this week. He said, ‘We’ve made no decision whatsoever. We can’t. We don’t know where we are drafting, nothing like that.’ However, after I talked to him I thought two things: number one, they are not going to let Peyton Manning dictate anything about their first pick in the draft, and number two, if I had to guess right now, based on my conversation and based on knowing Bill Polian’s history, they will take Andrew Luck with the first pick of the draft, if they have it.”
Florio on rumors the team will hire a big name coach for next season: “Stay tuned in Miami. It’s not a done deal that they are going to go big.”
ON BILL COWHER & JON GRUDEN 2012 COACHING STATUS
King: “Everybody in America heard Bill Cowher say today, ‘I have no plans to return to coaching.’ He actually used the word ‘plan’ twice, saying he had no plans to coach. Coach, I’m sorry, I’m not buying it. The reason I’m not buying it is because if you have no plans to coach, what you say is, ‘I’m definitely not coaching next year.’ Bill Cowher will get some phone calls at the end of this year. The big thing that people will have to decide is, is five years out of the game too much?”
Florio: “This is all about throwing water on the talk during the season and deferring it to out of the season. Same thing with Jon Gruden; signs a five year exclusive deal with ESPN, but what does exclusive mean? Does it mean he can’t coach? Well, we’re not going to tell you that. So same idea, Gruden’s name stays out of the mix until January. I think Gruden and Cowher are both going to be in play.”
Patrick to Dungy: “Got any plans for 2012?”
Dungy: “No. Peter, it is easy to say. This is how you say it, ‘I’m definitely not coaching in 2012.’”
Following are highlights from Al Michaels’ interview with Cowboys defensive coordinator Roby Ryan, and Rodney Harrison’s interview with Eagles CB Nnamdi Asomugha:
ROB RYAN WITH AL MICHAELS
MICHAELS on Ryan’s father, Buddy, having been the head coach in Philadelphia and Arizona, both Cowboys rivals: What was his initial reaction when you got the job in Dallas?
RYAN: Disbelief. He was a little shocked by it. He’s like, ‘You’ve got all these other things going. Why here?’ I’m like, ‘Dad, it’s the best opportunity for me.’ It really has worked out great.
MICHAELS on Dallas’ defense playing better: What’s made the difference this year?
RYAN: Well, me. [joking; laughter]. Honestly, starting over with some Pro Bowl football players. All these guys have been in the Pro Bowl and deservedly so. We got all together and have been working hard ever since. We’re not all the way there yet, but we’re playing good ball and we’re going to keep doing it.
MICHAELS: You’ve been an assistant coach for 25 years, 10 different places, but no head coaching opportunity yet. Does that eat at you?
RYAN: I don’t think it’s going to eat much further. My chance will come. It only took my dad 25 years and, hell, he’s better than me and Rex put together. Those things happen. I’m not sure how it will go, but eventually I’ll get my chance to be a head coach.
RYAN on his war of words with Eagles WR Desean Jackson earlier this year: That was kind of annoying because we signed three great players the day before, so I’m bragging about those guys and all I’m hearing about is all these great players that Philadelphia had signed. It bothered me because I thought it was disrespecting the players that I coach and that I knew would be great for us.
RYAN on Jackson saying, ‘Maybe I can run on the sideline and tackle the coach’ and Ryan responding that he’ll fall on him: [Joking] There’s no question. Is he a good enough athlete to get it done? Absolutely. Am I a bad enough athlete to get tackled by a small guy? Sure, but I am going to fall on him. So I welcome the challenge. If he wants to come hit me, beautiful. A little guy like that not’s going to hit that hard anyway.
It would be fun to beat these guys. There’s no question. They have a ton of talent over there. They’re the fastest team I’ve ever seen on offense, but I always believe in hitting them in the mouth. We’ll see what happens.”
NNAMDI ASOMUGHA WITH RODNEY HARRISON
HARRISON: Three months in, is there anything you regret?
ASOMUGHA: No. Not at all…I don’t regret it because the journey isn’t over yet…Everyone’s hot and cold on us. And it’s all part of the journey. We know that at the end of this thing, we’re going to be better for what we’ve gone through right now. It’s coming together.
HARRISON: Will Philadelphia make the playoffs? Win the division?
ASOMUGHA: You can’t convince me that we’re not the team to beat. It may not look like it because we’ve lost those close games, and they’ve all been close games. We lost in the fourth quarter, really. You still can’t convince us that it’s not going to be our show to win.
–NBC Sports Group–
The Rams beat the Saints today in St. Louis, 31-21. The outcome was so stunning, the city threw a parade immediately after the game. All right, so the parade was for the Cardinals, and, in fact, the win by the Rams, a prohibitive underdog at home, was only the second-most miraculous thing that happened in St. Louis this week.
But still, how do you figure this?
A week ago, the Saints treated a winless Colt team like a Pop Warner squad facing the varsity. The final? 62-7. A few hours earlier, the Rams had dropped to a fully deserved 0-6 by losing 34-7 in Dallas. So, coming in to today, the Saints were averaging 37 points a game. The Rams had averaged nine. Until today, the Rams had often looked as if it would have taken them several plays to score even if the opposition had left the field. And to make matters worse, when it seemed they couldn’t possibly be, they were without last year’s Offensive Rookie of the Year, Sam Bradford. A.J. Feeley looking for all the world like a lamb being led to slaughter.
Instead, it was the Saints who got slaughtered. Down 24-0 at one point, and doing almost all their scoring after the issue had been decided. Feeley’s performance was efficiency personified: 175 yards, a touchdown and no picks. Meanwhile, Steven Jackson, a great player plagued for years by injuries and a weak supporting cast, had a mid-career flashback, reeling off 159 yards and two touchdowns.
Does any of this make sense? About as much sense as two comebacks from two runs down with two outs on the same night, twice down to your last strike in the World Series. In St. Louis this week, some things don’t have to be explained, just enjoyed.