“You’ve got to respect the Cincinnati Bengals. Ja’Marr Chase looks like he’s the best wide receiver in the NFL.” – Rodney Harrison
“I don’t know who the best team in the AFC is, but I can tell you who it’s not – the Kansas City Chiefs.” – Tony Dungy
“I still think that Buffalo is the most complete team.” – Drew Brees on the best team in the AFC
“It’s National Tight Ends Day and there’s no Gronk. It’s like not having Santa on Christmas.” – Mike Tirico
STAMFORD, Conn. – October 24, 2021 – NBC Sports’ presentation of Week 7 of the 2021 NFL season began tonight from Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., with Football Night in America leading into coverage of Colts-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.
FNIA also paid tribute to longtime NBC Sports commentator Bob Neumeier, who passed away last night peacefully with his wife Michele Ucci by his side. “Neumy” covered horse racing, football, and the Olympics, among other sports, for more than two decades at NBC Sports. Click here for NBC Sports’ statement.
Al Michaels (play-by-play), Cris Collinsworth (analyst), Michele Tafoya (sideline reporter) and Terry McAulay (rules analyst) are calling tonight’s game.
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.
NBC Sports’ new post-game show Peacock Sunday Night Football Final streams tonight exclusively on Peacock following Sunday Night Football.
Following are highlights from tonight’s edition of Football Night in America on NBC and Peacock:
ON COLTS-49ERS AND WEATHER CONDITIONS TONIGHT
Dungy: “You hate to talk ‘must-win game’ this early in the season, but if I were coaching either one of these teams I would say, ‘Yes, this is a game we have to win if we’re going to win our division.’ I really think the bad weather is going to help the 49ers get back to their roots. They may feel like they have to run the ball and that’s what they do best. I’d love to see that tonight.”
Harrison on playing in poor weather conditions: “The key is that you’ve got to make sure your feet are properly set. You need to go from a 1/2 inch to 3/4 of an inch in terms of the length of your cleats. If you have turf, you don’t have to worry about it, but (Levi’s Stadium) has natural grass, so you’ve got to make sure that you play under control and you’ve got a little longer cleat.”
Brees on 49ers WR Deebo Samuel: “You call (players like Samuel) ‘The Joker.’ Whenever you need a big play, you pull out The Joker. This is a guy that can do everything. He’s listed as a receiver but he’s catching everything across the middle, he’s making plays when guys are hitting him, he’s a big part of the third down package. You know he’s going to break tackles…you can line him up at running back and pitch it to him. He can do a little bit of everything and expect him to be lined up in a lot of different places tonight.”
Dungy on defending Samuel: “I promise you that Darius Leonard will know where he is lined up and they may even have some special checks for him when he’s in the slot or in the backfield.”
Brees on the Colts: “It feels like they’ve found a little rhythm. They’re running the ball really well with Jonathan Taylor. I feel like Carson Wentz has gained some confidence as well making some plays in the passing game – we’ll see about that today with the weather. But they’ve just got confidence and momentum. The defense is playing better, and they know how important of a game this is for them because they’ve got Tennessee next week.”
Harrison on Colts LB Darius Leonard: “He’s always everywhere. Wherever the ball’s at, he’s at. He told me, ‘Every snap is an opportunity for a takeaway.’”
Harrison on Colts DT DeForest Buckner: “This is a guy that everyone has a lot of respect for. They rant and rave about his leadership – how unselfish of a player he is, never complaining that he gets double-teamed, never complaining that he gets chipped on third down – but if you put him one-on-one, he’s going to absolutely destroy you. I expect Kyle Shanahan to try to take him away with a bunch of double-teams.”
Dungy: “I don’t know who the best team in the AFC is, but I can tell you who it’s not – the Kansas City Chiefs. They are just playing bad football right now, undisciplined, lack of fundamentals, penalties, mistakes, poor pass protection, turnovers. This is what we’ve seen four or five weeks in a row. It’s not good football…Kansas City went to two straight Super Bowls with not great defense. To me, the offense is where I see the problems.”
Brees: “They found a formula for winning. Obviously being able to feed Derrick Henry the ball and what that does to open up opportunities in the passing game. They’re taking advantage of those.”
Brees: “They really impressed today. They went on the road and won at Pittsburgh, went on the road and won at Baltimore, both tough places in the division that you never would have thought they’d be going into and winning the way they have.”
Harrison: “You’ve got to respect the Cincinnati Bengals. Ja’Marr Chase looks like he’s the best wide receiver in the NFL. I know they have an underrated defense. I like Cincinnati.”
Dungy on QB Joe Burrow: “I’m always saying to play the young quarterbacks. Last year, Joe Burrow struggled against Baltimore and looked confused. Today he was in total control. He had seen this stuff before, and nothing fazed him. He looked tremendous.”
Simms on the offense: “They’ve got something going. We knew the defense was good, but this is the second week in a row we’ve seen the run game be successful and we’ve seen Mac Jones and company make some big games in the passing game. That continued today against the New York Jets – clearly their best offensive game of the year.”
Brees on the Falcons: “I felt like they were really lacking a lot when we saw them in the preseason. I’ve been impressed with the way they’ve incorporated Cordarrelle Patterson into the offense and Kyle Pitts. You figured it was just a matter of time before (Pitts) hit his stride, but he’s got 16 catches and 300 yards in the past two weeks…he’s catching fades on corners, he’s getting a bunch of great matchups all over the field and he’s obviously developing a great rapport with Matt Ryan.”
Simms on WR Cooper Kupp: “It’s unreal the way they find ways to get him the ball week after week.”
Simms on the Rams: “They’re kind of the forgotten team. They’re 6-1 and they played two bad quarters against the Arizona Cardinals. I think they’re one of the best teams in football – no doubt about it.”
Tirico on the Rams: “This is why they traded for Matthew Stafford. He completed three throws of 20+ yards. Jared Goff doesn’t complete any and only threw one beyond 20 yards. In the big spots, Stafford made the plays and Goff didn’t.”
Tirico on the top teams in the NFC: “Arizona, Los Angeles, Green Bay, Tampa Bay and Dallas – all teams with one loss or no losses in the NFC. The five teams inside of the velvet rope right now – VIP teams.”
Taylor on onside kick and fake punts: “They’re winless so they brought out the entire kitchen sink with them on special teams.”
Simms on the successful trick plays: “Dan Campbell was going to give his team a chance to compete in this one and that’s what he did.”
Brees on the Lions: “They’re battling and they’re battling against some really good teams. Dan Campbell has them ready to play. Coming into this game, you knew they were going to pull out all of the stops and they steal three possessions – two fake punts and an onside kick. They had the lead going into the fourth quarter, but they just didn’t have enough at the end.”
Dungy: “I really thought they were going to be a playoff contender and obviously they’re not. Everyone’s saying, ‘What’s wrong with Tua?’ That defense is what worries me. They should be carrying the team and they’re really struggling.”
Tirico on QB Sam Darnold facing Giants at MetLife Stadium: “Sam Darnold goes back to the stadium he used to play in for the Jets and he played as he did quite often for the Jets.”
Brees on Darnold: “It’s been bad decisions and very costly turnovers that have put his defense in a tough spot…this isn’t just today; this has been a theme for the past couple of weeks.”
Dungy: “I just don’t know what the plan is for moving the ball without Christian McCaffrey. When he was in, Darnold played very well but now it’s been a struggle.”
Brees: “I still think that Buffalo is the most complete team. I still think that they’re playing the best. Tennessee has certainly made a strong case over the past two weeks, but my bet is still on Buffalo at this point.”
Dungy on the best teams in the AFC: “Every team, just as we’re about ready to ‘crown’ them as Denny Green would say, something happens with them. Tennessee is playing great, but they lost to the Jets. How does that happen?”
Tirico: “Tom Brady’s 44. He’s been in the league 22 years. Justin Fields has been with us 22 years.”
Tirico on Buccaneers TE Rob Gronkowski not playing: “It’s National Tight Ends Day and there’s no Gronk. It’s like not having Santa on Christmas.”
ON DESHAUN WATSON SITUATION
Florio: “(The trade deadline) is nine days away and it’s coming down to two teams. Miami is considered to be the likely destination for Deshaun Watson with the Carolina Panthers as a possibility. And because he has a no-trade clause in his contract, it’s expected to be his call as to where he goes.
“He has legal issues that loom over any trade – 22 civil complaints alleging sexual misconduct during massage therapy sessions and also 10 criminal complaints. Remember this, the criminal process has to run its course at this point, but the (civil) cases can be settled at any time, and they were close earlier this year. There was a question as to whether or not the outcome would be confidential. Deshaun Watson did not want it to be confidential. He wanted it to be open. Usually, the person settling wants secrecy.
“As to the league’s position in all of this, they haven’t made any decisions about whether or not Deshaun Watson would be put on paid leave because they haven’t had to. The Texans have had him on paid leave. If he’s traded, that’s when the league would have to decide whether these legal issues require placement of him on the Commissioner’s Exempt List.”
–FOOTBALL NIGHT IN AMERICA–