We conclude the Sunday NFL pregame quotage with NBC’s Football Night in America. Lots of stuff packed into the show tonight.
“This is the Matt Ryan that we didn’t see last year, coming back from these types of mistakes.” – Rodney Harrison on Ryan’s success today despite initial adversity
“He is going to be a special quarterback. He’s going to lead these guys to a championship. He was sensational today.” – Tony Dungy on Andrew Luck
NEW YORK – October 7, 2012 – Following are highlights for Football Night in America. Bob Costas opened the show live from inside Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans where the Saints are hosting the San Diego Chargers. Costas was joined on-site by Sunday Night Football commentators Al Michaels (play-by-play) and Cris Collinsworth (analyst), and Hines Ward, the former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver, Super Bowl MVP and newest addition to NBC Sports’ NFL team.
Dan Patrick co-hosted the program from Studio 8G at NBC’s 30 Rockefeller Plaza studios and was joined by Football Night analysts Tony Dungy and Rodney Harrison, and NFL insiders Peter King of Sports Illustrated and Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com. Carolyn Manno reported from Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., on the Broncos-Patriots game.
Following are highlights from Football Night:
Collinsworth: “Andrew Luck, let’s face it, what he is doing already is pretty impressive. We think back to Peyton Manning and what he did, and he didn’t have a great rookie year. John Elway didn’t have a great rookie year. This guy is finding a way to win games in the fourth quarter, which is the ultimate test.”
Dungy: “Andrew Luck. He is going to be a special quarterback. He’s going to lead these guys to a championship. He was sensational today.”
King: “Just 90 minutes ago, Jim Irsay left Lucas Oil Stadium, drove two miles and delivered that game ball to Chuck Pagano.”
Harrison: “You have two Pro Bowlers back there, Tramon Williams and Charles Woodson. They’re not making the plays that we’re used to seeing them make.”
Dungy: “When they can’t get pressure, I think it really shows up.”
Harrison on Ryan recovering after early fumble and interception: “This is the Matt Ryan that we didn’t see last year, coming back from these types of mistakes.”
Dungy: “I have a bone to pick with Mike Smith. I love Matt Ryan, too, but don’t forget about your running game. This was a team that was built on defense and running the ball. Get Michael Turner back involved.”
King on injury to Robert Griffin III: “He couldn’t go back in, according to Mike Shanahan, who told me after the game, he (RGIII) didn’t know what quarter it was and he wasn’t even sure what the score was.”
Dungy on Tom Brady: “He is really enjoying the fact that he’s got (Steven) Ridley and these running backs, who are taking a lot of pressure off him. If they continue to run like this, they’re going to be very, very difficult to stop.”
Harrison: “Not only run the ball, but get Wes Welker back involved. Make him the number one priority. That’s when you have the most success.”
Dungy: “When I was coaching, I always knew when we had a good team. There were teams that we played that we should beat. We didn’t let them hang around; we went out there and took care of business. That’s exactly what San Francisco did today.”
Harrison: “This defense plays well together. They have great communication. Dashon Goldson, the young free safety is tremendous. He knows how to play defense.”
Harrison on Ravens defense: “Hines Ward talked about this a couple of weeks ago; he said offenses are not afraid of running directly at Ray Lewis. Ray is not really used to having these offensive linemen come up. He’s used to moving sideline to sideline. The best way to utilize Ray Lewis is to blitz him. As you get older you get a little slower, and you have to keep him moving forward.”
Dungy: “Today, he didn’t get it done. They’re going to have to get this fixed. They’re 4-1, but it’s not a pretty 4-1.”
Michaels: “No one is playing more dramatic games than the Philadelphia Eagles.”
Patrick: “What are we seeing here with Cam Newton?”
Dungy: “You’re seeing adjustments people are making. He made a lot of plays outside the pocket last year. People are keeping him in the pocket a little more.”
Harrison, a former teammate of Brees, on Brees being at this moment: “I’m very surprised. He was always a smart kid. He worked extremely hard. But I’d be lying to you if I told you I thought he would be at this point (at) this time.”
Michaels on Brees breaking Johnny Unitas’ record: “This is a record I never thought I would see broken.”
Michaels added that he was at the 48th game in 1960 at the L.A. Coliseum when the Rams stopped Johnny Unitas record for consecutive games with a touchdown pass.
That will do it.