ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown Notes and Quotes – Week 15
ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown host Chris Berman and analysts Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson and Keyshawn Johnson previewed today’s NFL action. Some excerpts:
On the Saints Loss to the Cowboys:
Carter: “I have listen to Drew Brees and I hear the sadness in his voice as far as the let down of the city. They have to get this team refocused and realize that this is just one loss its’ not the end of the season. The big prize is the Super Bowl. They can still have home field advantage. They can play two games at home and be at the Super Bowl.”
Jackson: “When the defensive line dominates the way the Dallas defense did last night you’re going to have problems with this pass oriented game that they played last night.”
Ditka: “It happened to our football team back in 1985 (Chicago Bears). You know what it hurt, our feelings. That’s what it hurt. It helped us refocus, redirect, we went back to work and that’s what the Saints are going to do.”
On Colts and perfect record:
Ditka: “I think you have an obligation to try and win these football games and play your best players. To go out there and say I’m going to play my guys for a certain amount of time and take them out regardless, that’s unfair to the football team and to those players. They have a chance to make history.”
Johnson: “Payton Manning finally came out and said, ‘I like to start the game and finish the game.’ Just say you want to go 16-0.”
Jackson: “I thought they made a great case during the course of that game in going undefeated. They played with a sense of urgency and I think that keeps people from getting hurt. …This will be his stamp on the team. If they were to go 19-0 then that kind of history will always be tied to coach Caldwell.”
Carter: “Reggie Wayne was saying we are a pass happy team. We throw the ball all over the place. I don’t feel like if we take a month off, I want to take a chance that first playoff, after having that bye. I don’t think our team is good enough. When you position yourself to make history, makes you go ahead and do it.”
Johnson: “Thursday night they looked very vulnerable. Worst 14-0 team I’ve ever seen.”
Jackson: “I want that put in stone. The worst 14-0 team he’s ever seen.”
AFC Wild Card Contender to watch:
Carter: Miami Dolphins. Both their offensive and defensive line is very, very physical. Miami, when you’re done playing them, you’re still sore the next week.
Jackson: “Same can be said about the team I’m thinking the Baltimore Ravens. They run the ball; they’re built for this time of year. And defensively with Ray Lewis and Ed Reed they have enough on that side of the ball to be successful.
Ditka: I think it’s the Miami Dolphins. They’re resilient.
Johnson: I think it’s the Miami Dolphins. Young quarterbacks are growing up before our eyes and they play a pretty good defense.
Berman: Do you know that with the three games to go, Jets ranked No. 1 in rushing the football, No. 1 in total defense and No. 1 in pass defense and they’ve allowed the fewest points in football. I don’t know what it means, but in a year we don’t see great defenses that may get them in.”
On Dallas Cowboys and what was learned in win against the Saints:
Johnson: “They got it right in the month of December. …By mixing things up. By running and passing the football. Not staying one-dimensional like in the past…This is one thing that I want you to stop doing. Don’t throw the ball to Roy Williams anymore. Cut it out. Give a ball to Miles Austin. Leave Roy Williams alone.”
Jackson: “I already know that the Cowboys are talented and inconsistent. So, I need to see more than one win from them in December. But the Saints, when push came to shove, they went to almost totally passing the football. That balance, them being 50-50, run and pass, went out the window. Then you throw the entire game on Drew Brees and his right arm. A team that can get to him, you have a great chance of beating the Saints.”
Ditka: “You have to play the game with confidence. They found out they can play the best and come out on top. That has to make you feel pretty good. This is the best team we saw in the NFL and they got beat this week in their house.”
Berman: “I knew that the Saints were going to lose eventually so that Drew Brees would be human. What we didn’t know is that Dallas ran the ball with authority, close to 150 yards… They were great last night… I give them the nod.”
On Randy Moss issues: Lingering Effect on Patriots?…
Carter: “When Randy Moss goes onto the field today, you will know by the Moss swagger… When we played together I used to say Randy, you are too good to hide. When you’re not giving 100 percent you can tell.”
Jackson: I don’t know anything about shutting down. What I do know if you are not going 100 percent you are hurting your team. You are hurting your teammates. …I’m going off the eyeball test of what I see.”
Eagles poised for an NFC Championship run?
Jackson: “Yes because they cover both ends of the spectrum offensively. DeSean Jackson with the long ball and now they can pick up that short yardage.”
Johnson: After watching that worst 13-0 football team last night (Iaughing). I think the Philadelphia Eagles with Donovan McNabb at quarterback, if they can keep everyone healthy I think you can see a team making a run at the championship.
Ditka: Not so fast. If they play the way they did last week on defense they won’t get anywhere. Their offense is fantastic, but their defense needs to get better.”
What happened to the Steelers?:
Ditka: “I’ve been watching them for 50 years, I grew up in Pittsburgh. One thing about the Pittsburgh Steelers, whether they were good or bad, they were physical. They got after you and they were in your face and I don’t see that right now.”
On a Report of Ray Lewis and the linebacker wanting to bring some measure of hope to Baltimore. During the season, Lewis conducts weekly workout boot camps for different groups in the community including the Baltimore Police Department and residents of a local homeless shelter, reports Rachel Nichols. (12:40)
Lewis: “Poverty is at its all time high and those are my people. I love going to the roughest parts of Baltimore and talking to people and just giving them hope.”
Lewis on his work out sessions: “It’s personal. Some of those guys go through so much, seeing some much crime and different things, their morale isn’t even strong. You sense it.”
Lewis on pleading on a misdemeanor of obstruction of justice: “What I did go through I now use it… And now, the same man is back to save lives.”
On a report of Wes Welker: Little Big Man: For the third straight season, 5 ft., 9 in; 185-pound Wes Welker has 100 catches. Berman visited with the Patriots wide receiver to find out why he dominates the middle of the field in spite of his size and why he is so effective gaining yards after the catch.:
Welker: “I have a good idea on where everyone is and best thing you can do is brace for it. … Based on coverage and what they doing to me, anything can happen. It’s all based on leverage and how they’re playing me. Outside technique and inside technique, attacking and setting them up. Making them do all the guess work and in the end I’m going to be right.”
Welker on being compared to the movie Little Big Man: “I guess I see myself as a bigger person than what I am. I’m like 6’2” out there.”
Patriots Running Back Kevin Faulk on Welker: “He’s a very smart, distinctive player and he’s quick. And he doesn’t second-guess himself. If he makes a decision he’s going to go with it.”
A Ditka Christmas Carol with “Ebenezer Ditka”:
Will Brett Favre get to a Super Bowl?: “Bah, humbug! A 40-year-old quarterback in a Super Bowl? And what about the Saints? The best team you ever played with? What about the world champion Green Bay Packers? The ghost of Packers past will get you.”
On who will get the final AFC Wild Card: “They’re all a bunch of fools. It doesn’t appear that anyone wants in. Ravens, no consistency. The Dolphins, no wildcat. Jets trying to win with a rookie quarterback. That’s the ghost of yet to come.”
On Patriots Wide Receiver Randy Moss: Go to work. Sent home for being late? Too busy like Scrooge? And I’m hearing you’re taking plays off.”
What’s wrong in the Windy City: “What’s with all this controversy. We have the most giving quarterback in football, 22 interceptions. I’m thinking of giving him a gift, but I know he’ll throw it away.”