“Gentlemen, this is a playoff game.” – Tony Dungy on what he would tell tonight’s teams
“It’s still amazing. This is the same guy as 15 years ago – still coming in first to the facility.” – Rodney Harrison on Saints QB Drew Brees
“They’ve put themselves in this position by not playing the type of football we’re used to seeing from Carolina.” – Dungy
“I’m going to say this as nice as possible – shut up and play football.” –Harrison on Packers QB Aaron Rodgers
STAMFORD, Conn. – Nov. 17, 2016 – Following are highlights from Football Night in Carolina, which aired prior to tonight’s debut of Thursday Night Football on NBC and featured the New Orleans Saints against the Carolina Panthers. 27-time Emmy Award winner Bob Costas opened the show live from inside Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C. He was joined on site by Super Bowl-winning and Pro Football Hall of Fame head coach Tony Dungy and two-time Super Bowl winner Rodney Harrison.
In addition, NFL Network host Rich Eisen and NFL Network analysts Michael Irvin, Marshall Faulk, and Steve Mariucci provided coverage from a set outside of the stadium.
Football Night coverage also included NFL Insider Peter King’s interview with Saints QB Drew Brees as the pair traveled to Saints practice in Brees’ car early Tuesday morning.
Following are highlights from Football Night in Carolina on NBC:
ON IMPORTANCE OF TONIGHT’S GAME
Dungy: “If I were coaching in either one of those locker rooms, I would say, ‘Gentlemen, this is a playoff game. We’ve got to approach it like that – we have to win tonight.’”
Dungy on both teams’ agonizing losses on Sunday: “They probably wish they could have played on Monday, both teams, because you want to play as fast as you can after losses like that.”
Harrison on Drew Brees: “I expect him to pass the ball at least 40 to 50 times tonight.”
Dungy: “That’s what you want as a coach after a tough loss. You want your leader to be there at 5:30 in the morning. Drew Brees will have his guys ready tonight.”
Harrison on Brees: “It’s still amazing. This is the same guy as 15 years ago – still coming in first to the facility.”
Dungy: “The Saints have to understand who they are. They have a dynamic offense, they throw the ball. They don’t have a great defense. They have to stay aggressive tonight, put the ball in Brees’ hands and let him work. He has to be aggressive without being reckless. He’s got to throw but be patient.”
Dungy: “They’ve put themselves in this position by not playing the type of football we’re used to seeing from Carolina. But they have the type of team and type of leaders that can come back from this.”
Harrison on protecting QB Cam Newton: “Cam is a very competitive guy, so you can’t depend on him to protect himself. It has to come from the offensive coordinator and the scheme. I think they have to run more six- and seven-man protections and keep a tight end in, if not an extra running back, for that protection.”
Dungy: “I really believe they’ve got to get Jonathan Stewart back involved. Run the ball more. Throw when you want to, not because you have to.”
Dungy on LB Luke Kuechly: “He is the best natural middle linebacker in football right now.”
Harrison on LB Thomas Davis: “He’s the best blitzing linebacker in the NFL.”
NBC’s NFL coverage continues this Sunday, Nov. 20, with a Sunday Night Football matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Washington Redskins on Sunday, Nov. 20.
Dungy on QB Aaron Rodgers’ critical comments: “When you’re losing, you can’t make those kinds of comments. I remember my first year in Indianapolis when we lost a playoff game to the Jets 41-0. Mike Vanderjagt, our kicker, comes out after the game and says, ‘Tony Dungy doesn’t fire people up. He’s just an easy-going guy. We don’t need that.’ Well, that might have been true, but when you lose, it’s not the time to say that.”
Harrison on Rodgers: “I’m going to say this as nice as possible – shut up and play football. Every time that you mention something in the media, it creates a sense of divide in that locker room. Everything that they think about – say it in-house, and don’t bring the media and everyone outside of that locker room into it.”
Dungy: “The biggest question to me is not Aaron Rodgers and the passing game, and that’s what everybody is focusing on. Their problem is they cannot run the football, and that has made them one-dimensional.”
Harrison: “I’m looking at the defensive side of the ball. They’ve had some injuries, they’re not creating those game-changing turnovers that they created when they were really good. I have to expect they’ll to get back to trying to create more pressure from defensive coordinator Dom Capers.”
Dungy: “With DeSean Jackson being hurt and Jordan Reed being out, it’s forced Kirk Cousins to go to some of these other guys. They have delivered, and now their offense is more potent than before. I love where Washington is right now. They’re playing great football.”
DREW BREES WITH PETER KING
Peter King: “What motivates you still to answer your alarm at 4:40 in the morning?”
Drew Brees: “I still love the game. I still get a great sense of purpose and pride in playing it and being able to play it. And you’re still chasing that championship.”
King: “You know how long between titles it was for Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.”
Brees: “Peyton won a championship in his ninth season and his 18th season. Tom was two, four, five, and 15…”
King: “You had to have studied that a little bit.”
Brees: “Yeah, I was curious. We won ours in my ninth season, and now I’m in my sixteenth season.”
Brees on the city of New Orleans: “There are a lot of pretty amazing things about this city. To think about how far it’s come over the last 11 years, and to be a part of that is really special.”
Brees on if he reflects on how his career would have been different had he signed with Miami in 2006: “No, because it wasn’t meant to be. New Orleans was meant to be.”
Brees on bouncing back from last Sunday’s 25-23 loss to Denver: “We always give it a 24-hour rule, but it’s probably even less than that when it comes to a short week. I woke up early on Monday morning and just watched the film so I could put that to bed. I always do that. Put that one to bed, and now it’s all about Carolina.”
Coverage of tonight’s game will also be simulcast on NFL Network and live streamed on NBCSports.com (desktops), the NBC Sports app (tablets and connected TVs), Twitter, NFL Mobile from Verizon, Watch NFL Network, and NFL Game Pass (International).
–FOOTBALL NIGHT IN CAROLINA–