“Defensively, they are playing outstanding. Offensively, I don’t think they have an identity right now.” – Drew Brees on the Saints
“We also saw why the Rams wanted Matthew Stafford. When they weren’t able to run the ball, he won the game for them today.” – Tony Dungy
“He’s the most gifted thrower I’ve ever seen.” – Chris Simms on Packers QB Aaron Rodgers
“He’s the best player on their team. He is just all over the field, he tackles well, and he’s a tremendous leader.” – Rodney Harrison on 49ers LB Fred Warner
NBC Sports’ Post-Game Show Peacock Sunday Night Football Final Continues Tonight Following Sunday Night Football Exclusively on Peacock
FNIA Travels to Gillette Stadium for Tom Brady’s Return to New England Next Sunday
STAMFORD, Conn. – Sept. 26, 2021 – NBC Sports’ presentation of Week 3 of the 2021 NFL season began tonight from Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., with Football Night in America leading into coverage of Packers-49ers 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. Co-host Maria Taylor was joined in Studio 1 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.
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’ post-game show Peacock Sunday Night Football Final streams tonight exclusively on Peacock following Sunday Night Football.
Next Sunday, Oct. 3, FNIA will travel to Gillette Stadium to be on site when Tom Brady returns to New England for the first time as the Patriots host the Buccaneers on Sunday Night Football.
Following are highlights from tonight’s edition of Football Night in America on NBC and Peacock:
Brees on 49ers’ recent dominance over Packers: “I see this as being a real litmus test tonight for Green Bay and who they really are…Green Bay is in a position with their playmakers all together and really needing to make a statement where I think they can take advantage of this 49ers secondary.”
Harrison on RB Aaron Jones: “I don’t think they use him enough in the passing game. He’s a very talented young man. He can play anywhere on the field. You can line him up as a wide receiver. Trust me, linebackers and safeties don’t want to chase this young man around.”
Brees on QB Aaron Rodgers: “He’s a bio-mechanical freak. He does things that no one else can do. Guys like you (Simms) and me, if we want to throw the ball accurately and with velocity, everything has to be going toward the target…not Aaron Rodgers. He can step over here, step over there and throw it in (the opposite) direction…I’ve never seen anybody do it the way he does it.”
Simms: “It’s unreal. He’s the most gifted thrower I’ve ever seen…and he’s going to have to make some really gifted throws tonight to beat the 49ers.”
Brees: “I would expect a shootout tonight and I think Jimmy G (QB Jimmy Garoppolo) is going to do more in this matchup than he did two years ago (when he only threw eight passes).”
Harrison on LB Fred Warner: “I just know that he’s the best player on their team. He is just all over the field, he tackles well, and he’s a tremendous leader.”
Harrison on TE George Kittle: “It’s his mindset. He’s a defensive player playing offense.”
Tirico to Brees: “Have you seen enough championship qualities out of them through three weeks?”
Brees: “I haven’t…Defensively, they’re down two of their top five defensive backs. When they made their drastic change last year, it was away from this man coverage, single coverage where they were getting beat on a lot of deep plays, and it was to more of a zone coverage, keep it in front of you, front four get pressure. They weren’t able to do that today and you see all these explosive plays down the field. That’s what time will give you and also these one-on-one matchups that the Rams were able to exploit.”
Tirico: “Matt Stafford is the new Hollywood attraction.”
Dungy: “We also saw why the Rams wanted Matthew Stafford. When they weren’t able to run the ball, he won the game for them today.”
Brees: “Defensively, they are playing outstanding. Offensively, I don’t think they have an identity right now. We know who Alvin Kamara is, and we know that the Saints want to establish the run game with Alvin Kamara, but who are they throwing the ball to? What does the passing game look like? Now there’s a lot of new faces, there’s a lot of young players. Michael Thomas is out, Tre’Quan Smith is out, Jared Cook is no longer there, Emmanuel Sanders is no longer there. So, you’ve got all these young players who don’t have a lot of experience, playing with a new quarterback who doesn’t have a lot of experience with them or in the system. It’s just taking a little bit of time. Now they’re finding ways to win, but today wasn’t pretty just like last week wasn’t pretty.”
Dungy: “This is what we have to understand — this is who the Saints are right now. They’re a great defensive team. They can pressure the passer, they’re very active and physical, and they can run the football…I won a lot of games in Tampa like that…I’d be excited if I were the Saints right now. We’re 2-1 and we haven’t hit our stride on offense yet.”
Brees: “I was impressed with the way Mac Jones played today. He stood in the pocket, he was poised, he looked in command and under control. You saw his eyes were in the right place, throwing it to the right guy. Those guys just weren’t making plays for him. And give credit to the Saints defense. They got after him with four-man rush, with pressure, and guys just couldn’t get open down the field for him.”
Tirico on Ravens K Justin Tucker’s NFL record 66-yard game-winning field goal: “Only the Lions find a way to lose a game like that.”
Brees on Tucker: “He went to my high school, so I’ve been watching this guy kick clutch kicks for a very long time. I don’t know if there’s a guy in the league that we have more confidence in when he steps on the field that he’s going to make that type of kick. But 66 yards!”
Brees on Tucker taking a hop prior to the kick: “I’ve never seen this before. He takes this crow hop to come up and kick this ball…That’s the equivalent of a center fielder taking a crow hop to throw a guy out at home. It creates ground-force production and gives you more power and energy in your leg to kick that ball, and that was the difference on that kick.”
Florio: “And that crow hop ended up being very important because Justin Tucker told me that before the game he was short from 65 yards going each way in that stadium, and I asked him are you thinking about that on that final kick? And he said, ‘I’m thinking about a lot of things potentially, I could be feeling excited for the opportunity, I could be feeling grateful, I could be feeling confident, I could be feeling nervous or outright scared.’ I said, so what was it today? And he said, ‘All of the above.’ And he nailed it.”
Tirico on delay of game penalty that was not called against the Ravens on the final drive: “I talked to the league office. It’s a judgment call. The back judge is supposed to look at the game clock and then look at the ball…There’s no way that should not have been delay of game. That’s an egregious error by the back judge in that situation.”
Brees: “I think there’s a formula to hold down the Chiefs offense. We’ve seen it the last two weeks now…Four-man and three-man rushes, keeping their defensive backs over the top, not allowing guys like Tyreek Hill to make these big plays. Instead, keep everything in front of you and force (bad) throws and decisions like this from Patrick Mahomes, which are very uncharacteristic.”
Dungy: “We didn’t see this from the Chiefs last year or the year before. Careless with the football in three straight games. They’re going to have to get out of this mode or they’re not going to win…They’re talented, they’ve got great weapons, but you can’t be loose with the football.”
Simms: “This is Drew Brees’ new favorite quarterback – Justin Herbert. He has been amazing. He just continues to deliver on big downs and big situations every week.”
Dungy: “I worked for Denny Green and when we played great pass rushers, he’d tell Brian Billick, our offensive coordinator, I never want to see Bruce Smith single blocked or you’re getting fired. I saw way too much of Myles Garrett just running free against one man today.”
Brees on Garrett: “You can’t let the best player on that defense beat you and that’s what they allowed to happen today.”
Florio, who spoke to Garrett: “He told me that the Browns’ defense was surprised by the way that Justin Fields was used, or more accurately, the way he wasn’t used. They didn’t move him around, they didn’t get him out of the pocket, they didn’t roll him out, they didn’t take advantage of his mobility. It made it easier for the defensive lineman to get home, to get him onto the ground, and we saw Garrett do it 4.5 times, a team record.”
Brees: “They need to start building that offense to the rookie’s (QB Justin Fields) strength and put him in a position to succeed. That’s the run game, that’s play action, that’s RPOs (run-pass-option) that’s getting him on the perimeter and allowing him to see throws. That’s where he is at his best. That’s where he’ll make good decisions, and also be able to make plays with his legs…They’re going to have games like this where he’s going to have to drop back at times, but let’s help him out by chipping, nudging these guys, giving him an opportunity to process and find completions.”
Simms on QB Derek Carr: “The way he’s playing is amazing, as good as anybody in football right now.”
Tirico on Raiders playing two OT games at home this year: “That’s why there’s no clocks in Las Vegas, it’s timeless.”
Dungy: “The Bills are who we thought they were.”
Simms: “This is a different Arizona Cardinals team…I feel like that was kind of a letdown game, but they battled through a rough spot and this Arizona Cardinals team, offensively and defensively, have a lot of guys that can make a lot of game-breaking plays.”
Simms: “They have found their stride and they’re going to be a force in the AFC.”
Brees on QB Teddy Bridgewater: “First off, I’m a big fan of Teddy Bridgewater. I think he’s brought some leadership and some moxie to that offense, and a great skill set too. He fits the style and the profile of what they are trying to accomplish with that team.”
Dungy: “Believe it or not, Teddy has helped that defense out.”
Simms: “The Jets can’t protect the quarterback — that’s the first issue — and they can’t run the football all that well either. So, it’s a double whammy. You’ve got a rookie quarterback against this much pressure; it’s not going to be an easy day.”
Harrison on QB Ben Roethlisberger: “He just looked old. I’m worried about Big Ben. The offensive line isn’t very good, and Ben looked extremely old.”
–FOOTBALL NIGHT IN AMERICA–