“You want to play at home? Win your division.” – “Football Night’s” Dungy on Saints-Seahawks
“This playoff is wide open.” – SNF’s Collinsworth
“You couldn’t ask for a much better matchup than this.” – SNF’s Collinsworth on Jets-Colts
“Guys tend to behave, perform, act differently because of pressure and the bright lights.” – “Football Night’s” Harrison on the playoffs
“If you play a clean game again, and New Orleans continues to put the ball on the ground, you’ve got a fighter’s chance.” – NBC Sports’ Mayock on Seahawks chances
NEW YORK – Jan. 4, 2011 – NBC Sports kicks off the NFL’s postseason with a Wild Card Saturday doubleheader this Saturday when the Indianapolis Colts host the New York Jets in a rematch of last year’s AFC Championship game at 8 pm ET and the Seattle Seahawks host the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints at 4:30 pm ET this Saturday.
Coverage begins with “Football Night in America,” Saturday at 4 p.m. ET with Bob Costas, who won the outstanding studio host Emmy last year, hosting live from inside Lucas Oil Stadium. Dan Patrick will co-host “Football Night” from NBC’s 30 Rockefeller Plaza studios joined by Super Bowl-winning head coach and Emmy-nominated Dungy, two-time Super Bowl winner Harrison, Sports Illustrated’s Peter King and ProFootballTalk.com’s Mike Florio.
The “Sunday Night Football” broadcast team of Al Michaels (play-by-play), Cris Collinsworth (analyst) and Andrea Kremer (sideline reporter) will call the action from Lucas Oil Stadium for the Jets-Colts game and the NBC Sports Notre Dame football broadcast team of Tom Hammond (play-by-play), Mike Mayock (analyst) and Alex Flanagan (sideline reporter) will call the action from Qwest Field for the Saints-Seahawks game.
NBC Sports conducted a media conference call today with Collinsworth, Dungy, Harrison and Mayock. For a complete replay, dial 719-457-0820 and enter passcode 7340450. Following are highlights:
COLLINSWORTH ON THE PLAYOFF PICTURE: “This playoff is wide open. As good as the New England Patriots are and as tough as they’ve been at home, we were up there and almost saw them get beat by a back up quarterback. Believe me this is a playoff series that I don’t think anything can happen out of this playoff that would totally surprise me.”
COLLINSWORTH ON JETS AT COLTS: “Here we come back again with a great matchup of a tremendous defense and one of the great offensive players of all time. You couldn’t ask for a much better matchup then this.”
DUNGY ON THE COLTS PREPARING FOR THE JETS: “They’re going to examine that game and what they had success doing last year. But also, look at what some other teams have done lately – specifically New England and Chicago – that have had success against the Jets defense because the Colts team is the not the same team that went into the championship game last year. They don’t have Austin Collie or Dallas Clark, that’s a lot of weaponry in the middle of the field. Their offensive attack will be a little bit different and defensively they are playing better, a little bit better stopping the run. They’ll try to focus on different ways to move the ball on offense and see if they can take that Jets running game out of the picture and put the ball in Mark Sanchez’s hands.”
COLLINSWORTH ON A DOME VERSUS OUTSIDE: “For me personally I’d always rather see a game played outside as opposed to in a dome, but the championship game that was played between these two teams a year ago was pretty memorable. Playoff football is still playoff football.”
HARRISON ON PLAYING AGAINST PEYTON MANNING: “Playing against Peyton over the last decade, you know you can’t blitz him. He sees the blitz, kind of like Tom Brady, and it makes the game easier for him because he knows it’s man-to-man coverage. If you try to sit back and you play a soft zone coverage, he’s going to pick you apart.”
DUNGY ON PEYTON MANNING GETTING PAST HIS INTERCEPTION STREAK: “He went back to playing the style of football that he has played for much of the last seven or eight years. He got to the point where they were missing some people, they were struggling a little bit and he felt like, ‘I’ve got to do a little bit more.’ He and Jim Caldwell got together and said, ‘We have to run the offense, make the reads, throw to the open man and let the system take care of itself.’ That’s what they did down the stretch and drastically cut those turnovers down.”
COLLINSWORTH ON MARK SANCHEZ: “Sanchez has made a huge leap over last season…He looks like a completely different quarterback than what he did a season ago.”
MAYOCK ON SAINTS AT SEAHAWKS: “Let’s be honest about it, Seattle is 7-9 and anytime you look at a matchup where you expect one team to dominate, historically, the great equalizer has been turnovers. Where this New Orleans Saints team is different is in that department. A year ago they were plus 11, right now they are minus-six. They’re putting the ball on the ground. Drew Brees has thrown more interceptions than he ever has and, defensively, they aren’t taking the ball away like they did a year ago. A year ago they had 26 interceptions. They returned nine of them, including one in the Super Bowl, for touchdowns. I look at Seattle and say you’re at home in one of the loudest buildings, if not the loudest building in the league, you played a clean game with a young quarterback last week. If you play a clean game again, and New Orleans continues to put the ball on the ground, you’ve got a fighter’s chance.”
DUNGY ON THE SAINTS UNDERESTIMATING THE SEAHAWKS: “I promise you, the Saints aren’t looking at it that way. They’re looking at it as this is a team that won their division and they deserve a home game because they won their division. We had the same talk about Arizona a couple of years ago. As a coach and as a player, you don’t look at it that way. You look at the tape. You watch and see what these guys can do. They’re not going to go in and underestimate those guys. I don’t think the players look at it that way at all. As a coach you always say your first objective is to win your division because that guarantees you a playoff spot, it guarantees you a home game. I would never begrudge going anywhere to a division champion. You want to play at home? Win your division.”
DUNGY ON THE PROBLEMS WITH THE SAINTS REPEATING: “The Saints aren’t coming in with the best record in the league, they are coming in as a Wild Card team and now they’re going to have to win three road games as opposed to two home games. That’s a bigger challenge. They’re confident. They believe they can go anywhere and win, but it’s a difficult thing to win three on the road. The odds are stacked against them.”
DUNGY ON THE SAINTS STRATEGY WITH INJURED PLAYERS: “Good teams and teams that have been to Super Bowls, like New Orleans, they don’t worry about who’s hurt.”
HARRISON ON THE SAINTS STRATEGY WITH INJURED PLAYERS: “I have to disagree with you, Tony, because that’s been part of the problem with Drew Brees. Without the running game, he’s been forcing the ball. He’s been trying to do too much and feel like the responsibility is on his shoulders. If you look at the film, it clearly shows that he has opportunities to get outside the pocket, run and take four or five yards, but it’s not good enough for him to take that. He wants to throw the ball down the field. He wants to create that play because he’s not getting that production from the other running backs. That’s one of the issues why he’s been turning the ball over.”
DUNGY ON APPROACHING THE NEW OVERTIME RULE AS A COACH: “It will change the way the coaches view the overtime, especially in the outdoor stadiums if there is a wind factor. Coaches are going to be much more apt to defer and take the wind because you know if you can at least hold a team to a field goal you’re going to get the ball again. In the past it was hard to make that call, even if you had a great defense, to say, ‘Hey, I’m going to give the other team the ball’ because you might not get it back. It’s definitely going to change the strategy and this is the first week that the coaches have begun to think about that. I think they’re going to play through that in their minds, especially if you have a team like the Jets who is a defensive team. I don’t know that you’d give the ball to Peyton Manning first, but you’d sure have to think about it.”
MAYOCK ON THE OVERTIME RULE: “From my perspective, if you defer and give the other team an opportunity to score and they score a touchdown the game is still over and you haven’t touched the football. Even though the rule has changed, it doesn’t guarantee two possessions. I think every team that wins the toss, regardless of conditions, is going to take the football.”
COLLINSWORTH ON THE OVERTIME RULE AS A PLAYER: “Overtime is a little bit different especially for offensive players. Ordinarily, you’re not thinking about the possibility of losing a game on offense. Maybe that sounds funny but you’re always saying ‘we have to go down, we have to score, we’ve got to do this, we’ve got to do that.’ In overtime, you’re thinking a little bit more about, ‘We’ve got to be careful here.’ If you fumble, if you throw an interception, they might run the field goal kicker out on the next play and it’s game over. You do tend to see offenses being a little more tentative, especially when they’re backed up, more so than what you see during the regular season.”
HARRISON ON THE PRESSURE OF THE PLAYOFFS: “Everyone responds differently in playoff football. How will these guys handle playoff football, the pressure of playing playoff football? Guys tend to behave, perform, act differently because of pressure and the bright lights. I’m anxious to see how these guys handle the pressure, even the star players.”
The “Sunday Night Football” production team of Fred Gaudelli (producer) and Drew Esocoff (director) will produce Jets at Colts. “Sunday Night Football” has won the Emmy for Outstanding Live Sports Series for two consecutive years and also won the Emmy for Outstanding Live Sports Special: Super Bowl XLIII earlier this year. Dick Ebersol, Chairman, NBC Universal Sports and Olympics, is the executive producer of “Sunday Night Football.”
NBC Sports’ Notre Dame football producer Rob Hyland, who worked as the SNF replay producer for three years under ‘Sunday Night Football’ producer Fred Gaudelli, will produce Saints at Seahawks. Fox Sports’ Artie Kempner, who served as the lead NFL director for Fox’s NFL package from 2003-2008 and directed Super Bowl XLII, will direct the game. Tommy Roy, who served as executive producer for four NBC Sports Super Bowl broadcasts and is one of the most decorated sports producers in history, will serve as executive producer for the afternoon game.