“I guess apparently this is what the Saints have been missing over the last few years.” – Drew Brees on QB Jameis Winston’s deep-ball TD pass
“We talked about contenders in the AFC on Thursday night and nobody wanted to talk about Pittsburgh. They’re getting back to their formula – defense, toughness, and attitude.” – Tony Dungy on Steelers’ victory over Bills
“It’s Sam Darnold to Robby Anderson. Touchdown New York Jets!” – Mike Tirico on Panthers TD pass between former Jets teammates
NBC Sports’ New Post-Game Show Peacock Sunday Night Football Final Premieres Tonight Following Sunday Night Football Exclusively on Peacock
STAMFORD, Conn. – Sept. 12, 2021 – NBC Sports’ presentation of Week 1 of the 2021 NFL season began tonight from SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif., with Football Night in America leading into coverage of Bears-Rams on Sunday Night Football on NBC and Peacock.
Mike Tirico hosted FNIA from NBC Sports Group’s Studio 1 in Stamford, Conn. He was joined at the desk by Pro Football Hall of Fame head coach Tony Dungy and Super Bowl XLV MVP Drew Brees, who made his FNIA debut. Also making her FNIA debut was co-host Maria Taylor, who was joined by former NFL quarterback Chris Simms. Two-time Super Bowl winner Rodney Harrison joined co-host Jac Collinsworth at the site of the game. NFL Insider Mike Florio provided reports from his home studio.
Harrison interviewed Rams DT Aaron Donald.
For the first time ever, Football Night in America and Sunday Night Football are streaming on Peacock Premium every week this season. Viewers can sign up here. Peacock Premium is included at no additional cost for Comcast’s eligible Xfinity X1 and Flex customers and Cox Contour customers.
Al Michaels (play-by-play), Cris Collinsworth (analyst), Michele Tafoya (sideline reporter) and Terry McAulay (rules analyst) are calling tonight’s game.
NBC Sports’ new post-game show Peacock Sunday Night Football Final will debut tonight exclusively on Peacock following Sunday Night Football.
Following are highlights from tonight’s edition of Football Night in America on NBC and Peacock:
Tirico on new QB Matthew Stafford: “Matthew Stafford can do it. He’ll actually be playing with leads, something he didn’t have in Detroit.”
Harrison on Rams defense: “They still have the best player on the planet in Aaron Donald. If I’m the Chicago Bears, every single play I’m double-teaming this guy and sometimes triple-teaming this guy because he can absolutely wreck a game.”
Brees on Rams DT Aaron Donald: “I had nightmares about this guy. He is absolutely un-blockable. Whether it’s his low center of gravity, his strength, his will, that fierce competitive nature – you really can’t block him with one guy. And if for some reason you get in a one-on-one situation, you have a very quick clock in your head and you have to get the ball out, or this guy will ruin your day. I’ve actually heard him say to offensive linemen, ‘You have no chance.’”
Dungy on the Bears’ QB situation: “I love Andy Dalton and I know what Matt Nagy is trying to do – but Justin Fields is talented. Put him in the lineup. Peyton Manning played as a rookie and threw a ton of interceptions, he went 3-13, but he benefitted from it. Put him in the game.”
Brees: “I agree with the decision to have Andy Dalton start this game. I don’t know how short the leash is on him, but I know OC Bill Lazor and Matt Nagy both have confidence in him. Now, that doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be a package for Justin Fields. He should get playing time, then see how the game goes, and maybe he plays a little bit more than expected.”
Tirico: “But they are going against the Rams defense. Maybe not the team you want to make your pro debut against.”
Brees: “I thought they were outstanding. At the end of the day, it starts up front. I felt like the offensive line dominated this game both in the run and in the pass.”
Brees on a long touchdown pass by Jameis Winston: “I guess apparently this is what the Saints have been missing over the last few years.” (laughter)
Dungy: “The deep ball is back!”
Dungy on QB Aaron Rodgers: “I am not used to seeing this from Aaron Rodgers. Desperation-type plays where the pass rush got to him, the protection wasn’t great – he had some throws that we normally don’t see…they just looked out of sync.”
Dungy on Russell Wilson: “The best deep-ball thrower in football and it was on full display today.”
Brees: “If they were not on your radar in the NFC before today, they should be. They went down and had a dominant performance against an AFC contender in Tennessee, both sides of the ball, dominating both lines of scrimmage.”
Harrison on LB Chandler Jones: “He was absolutely outstanding today (in win vs. Tennessee). He had five sacks, just a great performance…you should pay him like you pay (Steelers LB) T.J. Watt. It wasn’t like he was going against some scrub – he was going against a Pro Bowl left tackle in Taylor Lewan and he completely dominated him. Arizona has some young, good talent, but pay Chandler Jones – he sets the tone for this defense.”
Tirico: “We couldn’t get our eyes off the Cardinals today. They were terrific, both sides of the ball.”
Dungy: “I love how dominant they were…Tennessee is good and they took them completely out of their game today.”
Brees on QB Kyler Murray: “This was like watching a magic show…I am on the Arizona train right now. It’s like organized chaos.”
Dungy: “We talked about contenders in the AFC on Thursday night and nobody wanted to talk about Pittsburgh. They’re getting back to their formula – defense, toughness, and attitude. Mike Tomlin had these guys ready to roll.”
Tirico: “Big win for Pittsburgh as they go on the road and win with defense, special teams, and safe and secure offense.”
Brees on QB Mac Jones: “I thought he played solid. He made some throws down the field that helped them have a chance to win this game.”
Taylor: “Never really a deer in headlights look from him.”
Simms: “Never. Just smooth…He put his team in position to win the game.”
Brees on QB Justin Herbert: “He looked like a seasoned veteran out there. I have never seen a ball come out of a guy’s hand like Justin Herbert. The ball speeds up the further it goes. What impressed me about what he did today was his accuracy. He made throws where defenders were right on the receiver or tight ends and he was locating the ball where only his guy could catch it.”
Simms on QB Daniel Jones: “Unfortunately, this is the third year that we’ve had this problem. Daniel Jones’ Achilles heel right here – fumbling the football.”
Simms on the Broncos’ offense: “The Broncos’ offense has a lot of weapons all over the place. If they can run block like this, they are going to be tough to defend all year long.”
Dungy on rookie QB Zach Wilson: “Zach Wilson was exceptional in the preseason, but the regular season is different. Different coverages, higher speed of play, more people involved, and he got off to a tough start…but he played much better in the second half as time went on.”
Tirico: “It’s Sam Darnold to Robby Anderson. Touchdown New York Jets.” (laughter)
Dungy: “Jags fans and Jets fans, you have your quarterback of the future. They didn’t play great today, but these guys showed me enough. Keep playing them. They’re going to get better. I’m excited about these two quarterbacks.”
Dungy on coaches resting starters during the preseason: “Coaches may want to rethink this idea of not playing their starters in the preseason. I saw 12 penalties from the Minnesota offense, dropped balls all over the League today, penalties at the wrong time, fumbles going in (toward the end zone) to win the game. I don’t think that happens if your guys are used to playing.”
ON SOPHOMORE QBs
Dungy following good performances by Bengals’ Joe Burrow, Chargers’ Justin Herbert, Eagles’ Jalen Hurts: “These guys are sending a message to coaches. Hey, you’ve got a young quarterback, well you might want to play them because they were spectacular today.”
–FOOTBALL NIGHT IN AMERICA–