“Punt the ball, please.” – “Football Night’s” Tony Dungy on Bill Belichick’s decision to go for it on fourth down towards the end of the game
NEW YORK – October 24, 2010 – Following are highlights from NBC Sports’ “Football Night in America.” Bob Costas hosted the show live from Lambeau Field and was joined on site for commentary by Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth. Co-host Dan Patrick, analysts Tony Dungy and Rodney Harrison, and reporter Peter King covered the news of the NFL’s seventh week live from NBC’s 30 Rockefeller Plaza studios. Alex Flanagan reported from Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego on the Patriots-Chargers game.
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Dan Patrick, Tony Dungy, Rodney Harrison and Peter King on players adjusting their style of play due to new helmet-to-helmet hit discipline:
Dan Patrick, Tony Dungy and Rodney Harrison on the Bengals’ problems:
Feature on Vikings safety Madieu Williams, who is building a school in his native Sierra Leone: http://nbcsports.msnbc.com/id/22825103/vp/39825345#39825345
Costas’ interview with Aaron Rodgers:
Costas’ interview with Brad Childress:
ON HELMET-TO-HELMET HITS
Harrison on if he saw a change in the way players were playing: “I did. Guys talked about the entire week, ‘Well, we’re not going to change the way we play.’ If you saw Donte Whitner…a very aggressive, very physical guy, he clearly, clearly, held up on this particular play…the bottom line is…if you make an illegal hit, you’re going to be out. You are not going to be able to play.”
King: “I talked to league Vice President of Officiating Carl Johnson, who told me today that (there were) zero defenseless receiver penalties, zero helmet-to-helmet penalties in all the games today. And I asked him what did you see today when you were watching the games in the NFL command center? And he said, and I quote, ‘I’ve seen a change in players behavior in one week.’”
King on James Harrison, who he spoke with postgame: “I asked him that question directly, is there anything about your game that you’re going to change? He said to me, ‘Listen, I’ve been playing this game since I was 10 years old and I’m not going to change a darn thing.’ Perhaps with one little asterisk. There was one play today where you saw a kindler, gentler, James Harrison. You watch. He told me, on this play against Ronnie Brown, he said I could have stuck my face in there, but it would have been a helmet-to-helmet hit. I didn’t want that.”
Harrison: “I was very surprised. That’s not the James Harrison that we know, one of the hardest hitters in the league.”
Dungy on James Harrison letting up: “He can take that shot, but discretion is the better part of valor. And there is going to be a happy medium, these players are going to learn that.”
Harrison on Brandon Meriweather: “I talked to Brandon and he was very apologetic this week about his hit on Todd Heap. But the one thing I looked at when he played today, the guy listened, and most young players don’t listen. He had the maturity. I’m very proud of this kid. He’s still very physical. He came, he lowered his aim and he made a good aggressive play.”
Michaels: “Look, the players got the message. This is a big thing. It winds up as a front-page piece in the New York Times. The guys now get it. My question is, maybe they pulled back this week, but does this have legs? What about next week? What about a month from now when it begins to die down a little bit? Will they start to do it again is the question?
Collinsworth: “Defensive players are always going to complain because they are receiving the brunt of this…I think they (defensive players) want to intimidate …Intimidation is a part of that and that’s the reason, in my mind, that the biggest punishment has to be ejection within the game in question, as opposed to postgame fines and suspension.”
ON BRETT FAVRE SITUATION
King: “The attorney for Jen Sterger told me this afternoon, Joseph Conway, he said we have a team of former FBI agents who are looking into this case and they are focusing particularly on how the phone number may have gotten from somebody within the Jets organization, they believe, to Brett Favre in 2008…Joseph Conway also told me that (they) have identified a person of interest who worked for the Jets in 2008.”
Patrick: “Earlier today Jay Glazer from Fox reported that Favre admitted to leaving voice messages for the former Jets employee Jen Sterger, but did not admit to sending inappropriate photos to her. Our Peter King reported that according to the attorney for Sterger, their next step is having their ‘team of former FBI agents’ investigating who gave Sterger’s number to Favre in the first place because, she claims, she did not. Sterger’s attorney also says there have been no talks with Favre’s side regarding a settlement.”
Patrick: “Can you pinpoint what’s wrong with the Saints?”
Dungy: “No, because I don’t have enough pins.”
Dungy on Saints problems: “Run offense, run defense, they’re turning the ball over, not getting takeaways on defense and their special teams are screwing up.”
Patrick: “Jay Cutler and DeAngelo Hall. It was almost as if they were on the same team.”
Dungy on Cutler: “Jay is making some bad decisions right now. A lot of it is his offensive line is getting rushed but part of it is not using his fundamentals, not making good decisions.”
Dungy fourth-down play at end of the game: “Punt the ball, please.”
Dungy on if Titans have QB controversy: “I don’t believe they do because I think Kerry Collins played great the last two weeks but Vince Young won his last start, played well, he’s healthy, and he’s their future. They have to go back to Vince Young.”
Patrick: “They almost have lost their identity. Remember it was the running game and defense last year? Now you have the wide receivers and you’re not quite sure who they are? They’re not quite sure who they are.”
Harrison: “If I’m T.O., I’m embarrassed…too if I’m the Cincinnati Bengals because they had two weeks to prepare for the Atlanta Falcons, Atlanta coming off a disappointing loss…the entire year we talked about the offensive woes, the problems, not getting Chad Ochocinco involved. But really, I look at the defense and the regression of the defense, not creating those big plays, allowing big plays and not putting pressure on the quarterback.”
Harrison to Dungy: “Will they make the playoffs?”
Patrick: “The Raiders rushed for 328 yards. That’s the most since the Bo Jackson game against Seattle in 1987. I think he’s still running through that tunnel.”
Harrison: “They’re not as bad as you thought they were. When they don’t turn the ball over, they have a pretty good defense and they can run the ball.”
Dungy: “They’re a good offense but, today, the Denver defense made them look like the Oregon Ducks.”
Dungy: “My big winner today is DeAngelo Hall. He got some help from his friend Jay Cutler but four interceptions, a touchdown, puts them back in the hunt in the NFC East.”
Harrison on today’s big winner: “Mine is the Tennessee Titans. I don’t want to play this team in the playoffs. They’re undefeated on the road and undefeated in the division.”
Costas: “The story has changed over the last couple of years, time has passed, and other circumstances have been added to the mix but still, Brett Favre’s return to Lambeau matters to a lot of people.”
Michaels: “As the years go by, remember Johnny Unitas didn’t finish his career with the Colts. Joe Namath didn’t finish his career with the Jets. Willie Mays…You have a bunch of examples in all of sports…I think they’ll embrace him three or four years from now, especially when he goes into the Hall of Fame.”
Collinsworth: “And didn’t you think talking to him last night that that’s important to him? You could just get the feeling that Brett has now started thinking about what his life is going to be like when he’s finished playing football. And I think it is very, very important to him what the people in Green Bay think about him…For Brett Favre, I think that he wants a relationship with the Green Bay Packers.”
Costas on the Broadway play Lombardi: “In New York this week, Lombardi, the play, opened on Broadway. Produced in association with the NFL, it stars Dan Lauria as the legendary coach and Judith Light as his wife Marie. I was there on opening night and spotted Jim Taylor, Jerry Kramer and Willie Davis in the audience and they, like virtually everyone there, seemed to enjoy the warm-hearted and often humorous portrait of their coach.”
Following are highlights of Bob Costas’ interview with Aaron Rodgers:
Costas: Are you able to block out everything? Can you really say this is just another important division game?
Rodgers: For me, I really can say that. It really is. Now this year definitely has a different feel than the previous year when he came back. I think the emphasis is more on the teams, and since we’re both struggling, the issues that we’re having.
Costas: A back while with the offense struggling, you made a remark, something to the affect of, we need to find our offensive identity. That was interpreted as a criticism of coach Mike McCarthy. Anything to clear up here?
Rodgers: No. I think Mike would say the same thing. My comments obviously were made out of the frustration of not being able to execute as well as we wanted to. But also from a standpoint of we need to get back to doing things that we do best. When you lose three games by three points, there’s a frustration. Going back to those drives where you went three and out or you couldn’t convert that third down to get yourself a better chance to score that touchdown or give your defense more time to get off the field. That’s the root of that frustration.
Costas: When you hear guys like James Harrison and Ray Lewis say this week that the NFL’s new guidelines…are taking the game in the direction of flag football…Are they right or is the league right?
Rodgers: It’s an interesting situation. You have to evaluate each play kind of separately. Some of the hits are unavoidable. There’s collisions. It’s a collision sport. It’s a violent sport. I applaud the NFL in looking for ways to eliminate those unnecessary, malicious hits. I don’t think they really have a place in the game.
Costas: There are times during games where you’re aware that it isn’t just a good hard hit. The intent is, if not to injure, then certainly to hurt, certainly to intimidate.
Rodgers: Intimidate, yes. There’s definitely guys who are looking to get a real good shot on you and take you out but that’s part of the game. But I think that 99 percent of the guys in the league are not looking for that dirty, cheap shot to end a guy’s career.
Costas on the Packers importance to Green Bay: When you lose, is it worse?
Rodgers: It is worse. Just going down to the local store to get my groceries, people are a lot more eager to talk to me after a win the previous week than if you lose. You might not get any eye contact. The checkout might not be as kind to you. The pizza guy delivering the pizza might not be as friendly. It’s definitely a different feeling if you lose a game around here.
Following are highlights of Bob Costas’ interview with Brad Childress:
Costas: What is the primary reason for the difference, so far, between this year and last year?
Childress: We’ve been kind of hit or miss. We have a different center in there. We obviously added Randy but there’s not a lot of continuity right now. I can’t tell you we’re doing anything tremendously well. It will come. We’re here in the second quarter and the passing game is typically the last thing to catch up.
Costas on Brett Favre’s performance: Could it be just a case of age and battering takes its toll?
Childress: He has those 40, 41-year old aches and pains when his foot gets on the ground in the morning but I haven’t seen anything come off the ball that he throws. He’s still keen. He still understand the game and he’s still sharp with the game. He’s defying the odds right now.
Costas: Vikings-Packers. Does it have some meaning regardless of the standings?
Childress: It has huge meaning. There’s just a river that connects us. There’s a lot of people who are closet Green Bay fans. I coached eight years in Wisconsin so I understand the cheesehead mentality. They come by it honestly.
Costas: I saw a guy today at Lambeau with a #4 jersey, half Vikings, half Packers. Still can’t make up his mind.
Childress: No. They’re tormented, there’s no question. Part of them wants to scream and yell and part of them wants to celebrate.
Costas: You have a son, Andrew. He enlisted in the Marines when he was 19. He’s in Afghanistan now. Even as you gameplan each week, that has to be a concern.
Childress: It is a concern. But I think you can let that eat you up on a day-to-day basis. For me to be able to see him this summer and see where that war takes place with my eyes, has helped me. The pictures have helped. Just to know what that terrain looks like and where he’s at.
Costas: It’s quite a story for those who don’t know it. You go on a USO tour with Marvin Lewis, John Fox and Andy Reid. You’re in Afghanistan but you have no idea that your son is so close to you.
Childress: I had no idea. I knew that he was in the south of Afghanistan. I said to my wife, I called one night, I said we have no chance to see Andrew. He’s somewhere else down near Kandahar. Low and behold through the USO and the Marines making it happen, they sent him with a partner because they always go in twos. He was there on the tarmac. I didn’t recognize him. I started doing my, ‘Hey, how are you doing? I’m Brad Childress of the Minnesota Vikings.’ And at that point in time, he said, ‘No. How are you doing?’ I was looking right in his eyes. He had a cheesy little mustache. He was dry shaved and he smelt like a goat. It was shocking and probably one of the highlights of my life.
Costas: Incredibly emotional. Had to be.
Childress: It was incredibly emotional just to see him standing there in the flesh. Shocking. It’s like going somewhere and not expecting to see somebody there. Words can’t describe it.
Dungy on Childress: “Every time I talk to Brad, he talks about Andrew. He’s always on his mind. It’s amazing how coaches have that ability to focus.”
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