“We don’t shy away from what a big game this is. We look at it as a great opportunity to play against the defending NFC champs at our place, in L.A., where you’re the only game on.” – Sean McVay on the game against Atlanta
“We have enough in our building, in our locker room, on our team to go anywhere, anytime and get the job done.” – Matt Ryan on road playoff games
STAMFORD, Conn. – January 6, 2018 – Tonight’s NFL Wild Card edition of NBC’s Football Night in America, the most-watched weekly studio show in sports, will include Tony Dungy’s interview with Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay, and Rodney Harrison’s interview with Atlanta Falcons QB Matt Ryan. Football Night will also include highlights and analysis ahead of Falcons-Rams tonight on NBC’s NFL Wild Card game. Coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBC.
Liam McHugh will host Saturday’s program live from Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, and will be joined on-site by the Sunday Night Football team of Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth and Michele Tafoya.
Dan Patrick hosts Football Night from NBC Sports Group’s Studio 1, joined by Dungy, Harrison, and NFL Insider Mike Florio of NBC Sports’ Pro Football Talk.
INTERVIEWS: Below are excerpts from Dungy’s interview with McVay and Harrison’s interview with Ryan. If used, please note the mandatory credit: “In an exclusive interview airing tonight on Saturday’s special edition of Football Night in America.”
TONY DUNGY WITH SEAN MCVAY
McVay on what characteristics he took away from his previous head coaches: “I think there were things that you take from each of them. I think when you talk about Coach (Jon) Gruden, the tireless and relentless work ethic, and then to be able to get up in front of the team and have a presence and charisma where you can get guys motivated in an authentic and genuine way. You look at Mike Shanahan, what do you want to accomplish on a daily, weekly and kind of an hourly basis? And then with Jay (Gruden), one of the things that I thought was so impressive was he had a rare ability that was a reflection of the security he has in himself to empower his coaches. Let his coaches coach.”
McVay on hiring Wade Phillips as his defensive coordinator despite his age: “People always kind of jokingly say, ‘how did that interview go?’ I say, ‘It wasn’t an interview. It was more pleading, will you come please work with us here?’ It’s worked out and what a great coach he is.”
McVay on his chemistry with Phillips: “Yeah, we always joke that old school or not, Wade’s got more swag than anyone else in this building. He’s making jokes on Twitter. No question, he’s got a lot more swag than I do.”
McVay on staying calm while communicating with QB Jared Goff over the headset: “Oh yeah, sometimes I’ve got to tell myself to calm down. He’s got a nice, even-keel demeanor. He rubs off on me. I’m a little excitable and sometimes I hear myself when you hear him mic’ed up. I say, ‘Man, I’m annoying in there.’ It’s been fun. And I think he’s done such a great job of continuing to improve throughout the year. I’ll have to be mindful to tell myself to calm down on the headset.”
McVay on reminding himself not to get too aggressive against the Falcons: “I think sometimes you write little notes to remind yourself to make sure you stay balanced, don’t forget the run.”
Dungy: “Is that hard for you?”
McVay: “I think naturally sometimes it is. But then when you look over and you see No. 30 (Todd Gurley), you don’t forget too quickly how special this guy is. You always want to be especially mindful of getting guys in the flow of a game. Letting linemen get going, letting Todd get his touches, get Jared into a rhythm.”
McVay on his first playoff game as a head coach with only six players with playoff experience: “We talk about seizing the moment all the time. We don’t shy away from what a big game this is. We look at it as a great opportunity to play against the defending NFC champs at our place, in L.A., where you’re the only game on. I think what it all goes back to is being consistent in our approach and that’s what we’ve done this week. And I think the guys are excited and they feel confident.”
RODNEY HARRISON WITH MATT RYAN
Ryan on thinking about the Super Bowl LI loss and wanting to get back on the field: “It’s just in the back of my mind all the time. It’s one of those things that I would love to get another chance, love to get back in that situation. But I also know that if you let it consume you, or if that’s the only thing you think about, you’re not focused on the opponent or the week or what you need to do in the present. So, it will certainly serve as motivation for the rest of my career.”
Ryan on having conversations with teammates to fix mistakes on the field: “Absolutely, it’s been a very open discussion. I think the first thing was listening, hearing how other guys were feeling, and just saying, ‘it’s OK, we can talk about it.’ I was pissed at the time, frustrated, angry. I’ve found as I’ve gotten older, whether it’s with football or with your life in general, it’s better to get those things out. That was the challenge for me personally, but also as a leader of the team to try and help guys to use it as a good motivation and be the kind of football team, from a toughness standpoint, that we can really be.”
Ryan on what the team has improved on since last season: “We put up a lot of points last year and we’re a very good offense. We’re different this year. I think if there is one thing, we’re tough, mentally tough. I think that serves us well because the playoffs are hard. There is going to be some ups and downs. We might have a turnover here or there but it comes back to keeping that mindset right. I feel like this group can do that.”
Ryan on the mindset the Falcons need to go on the road and win games: “We have to have that us-against-the-world mindset. There is going to be 63 guys in that locker room on the team and our coaching staff so those are the guys that we need. We have enough in our building, in our locker room, on our team to go anywhere, anytime and get the job done.”
–FOOTBALL NIGHT IN AMERICA–