NBC SNF FNIA Pregame Notes – Week 17

From NBC Sports –

If the ultimate goal is to win a Super Bowl, Mark Sanchez will not win you a Super Bowl.” – Rodney Harrison
“The way the game is going now, I love the athleticism; I would lean towards Robert Griffin.” – Tony Dungy on drafting Griffin over Andrew Luck
I love the Saints. I think they’re the most complete team.” – Harrison on his NFC Super Bowl pick
NEW YORK – January 1, 2012 – Following are highlights from a New Year’s-night edition of Football Night in America. Bob Costas hosted the show live from MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., and was joined on site for commentary by Sunday Night Football commentators Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth. Co-host Dan Patrick and commentators Tony Dungy, Rodney Harrison, Peter King and Mike Florio covered the news of the NFL’s final regular-season week live from Studio 8G at NBC’s 30 Rockefeller Plaza studios in New York.

EMBED NBC SPORTS VIDEO: Highlights from Football Night and other NBC Sports programming are available to be embedded at NBCSports.com. Click the following links for:
Bob Costas’ interview with Victor Cruz:
Bob Costas’ interview with Jason Witten:
Dungy: “They had a golden opportunity and they blew it…Their reward: the red hot New Orleans Saints and Drew Brees.”
Harrison: “Atlanta wants to play the Cowboys. They don’t want to see the Giants because the Giants can get to the quarterback.”
Harrison: “Defensively, they give up a lot of big plays. If you block John Abraham, they can’t apply pressure on you.”
King on what Matt Flynn told him after today’s game regarding his future: “I can’t even pay any attention to that yet. I have to put all my attention towards helping this team.”
Dungy on NFC Super Bowl team: “I like Green Bay unless they have a quarterback controversy (joking)…Even with the defense. Did you see what this offense is doing? Backup quarterback, 500 yards today.”
Patrick: “Who is going to the Super Bowl out of the NFC?”
Harrison: “Saints. I love the Saints. I think they’re the most complete team.”
Harrison: “As a young team you want to have confidence going into the playoffs especially your first playoff… (on the last three weeks) I just don’t know how much confidence you can have going into the playoffs playing like that.”
Patrick: “Bengals get a break here. They got Houston.”
Dungy: “They’re going to a team that hasn’t played great and has quarterback issues.”
Harrison: “You said it all.”
Dungy: “I think Cincinnati has a great chance to go down to Houston and win…I look for Cincinnati to go down there and play well.”
Dungy on hit on Tom Brady after interception: “That is not a penalty.”
Patrick: “There’s already one Brady Rule in the book.”
Harrison on Patriots defense spotting teams two or three touchdowns: “You cannot do that against good, quality teams like Pittsburgh and Baltimore. The one bright spot is Patrick Chung. He provides a physical presence back there. He’ll hit you in the mouth…and he’s great at communicating and getting those guys lined up.”
Harrison: “I think the best team in the AFC is the Patriots, even with that defense.”
Dungy on best AFC team: “Their (Patriots) defense scares me. I’m going with Baltimore.”
Patrick on post-game comments: “John Fox didn’t sound too excited.”
Harrison: “Does he know he’s got to play the Pittsburgh Steelers?”
Harrison: “They’ve gotten away from what gave them success and that’s running the ball. Rex can’t get mad at the ownership. They gave him everything he asked for…If the ultimate goal is to win a Super Bowl, Mark Sanchez will not win you a Super Bowl, and that’s the bottom line.”
Dungy: “I think he could if they run the ball and play defense, but not if they feature (Sanchez).”
Dungy on the Draft: “I believe they will take a quarterback, but I know Bill Polian. I wouldn’t pencil in Andrew Luck just yet. It may end up being him, but Bill will look at everybody, including Robert Griffin III. When they needed a running back a few years ago and Ricky Williams won the Heisman Trophy and had all the hype, they took a one-year player by the name of Edgerrin James. The more I’ve seen Robert Griffin, the more I like him.”
Patrick: “Would you take him over Andrew Luck?”
Dungy: “The way the game is going now, I love the athleticism; I would lean towards Robert Griffin.”
Collinsworth on seeing Tony Romo’s hand yesterday: “It was startling almost to look at that hand…Because we were constantly told that he’s okay, that he’s throwing the ball well, that he looks good and all that kind of stuff. And all of a sudden he comes in and you go to shake his hand and you just recoiled…It was disturbing almost.”
Collinsworth on Romo: “He is definitely fearful of the first time that he releases a pass of what’s going to happen when he has a little contact involved.”
Florio: “The hot spots to keep an eye on: Tampa, St. Louis, San Diego and Indianapolis.”
King on Jacksonville: “One very unexpected coaching candidate and that’s Dallas Special Teams Coordinator Joe DeCamillis. He formerly coached in Jacksonville and he’s got a big fan in GM Gene Smith of the Jaguars.”
King on Jeff Fisher: “He wants to go I believe to a team that has a quarterback, and right now that looks to be either St. Louis or San Diego.”
Florio on Brian Billick: “Widely believed to be a serious candidate for the Miami Dolphins job.
Florio on Mike Sherman: “He’s on a couple of lists – Jacksonville, St. Louis.”
Patrick: “Jim Caldwell, is that a Bunsen Burner underneath you? Certainly on the hot seat.”
Following are highlights from Costas’ interviews with Cruz and Witten:

COSTAS: You grew up in Paterson, New Jersey. You grew up in one of the roughest wards in a rough town. How did that upbringing shape you?
CRUZ: It shaped me a lot. It showed me the good and the really bad of my town. Growing up, as tempting as that bad side was, as much as I was a part of it, as much as I went to school with a lot of the people that got caught up in in doing a lot of those bad things, sports and my parents and having a good support system kept me on that right track. It was tough. It was definitely some tough moments throughout my life, but I kind of stayed focused and came through the other end of the tunnel.
CRUZ on growing up a Cowboys fan despite living in New Jersey: Basically (it’s because of ) my dad. He was a Cowboys fan. He grew up watching the Cowboys all his life. Growing up like that when you’re young, and all you see are the Cowboys games every Sunday, it was just one of those things where you follow what the people around you did and what my dad did.
COSTAS: Your dad liked the Roger Staubach, Drew Pearson, Tom Landry Cowboys.
CRUZ: Exactly, exactly. He came up from way back when he was young watching the Cowboys, so it’s either I follow suit or I’m not watching football in the house.


COSTAS: What has Tony Romo looked like in practice, especially later in the week? (Interview was conducted on Saturday, December 31, 2011)
WITTEN: I think it’s gotten a lot better. You could tell that he was more comfortable. The throws were very accurate. I couldn’t tell the difference from any other time this year. I don’t think that will play a part. I don’t see that getting in the way.
WITTEN on Cowboys lacking mental toughness because of blown leads: I think we’re a mentally tough team and we’re going to have to show that to win this game. We talk about having a will and a desire, an unbreakable will. That’s what it’s going to come down to.
COSTAS on famous play in 2007 when Witten’s helmet was knocked off but he kept running: What do you recall about that night against the Eagles?
WITTEN: I remember having a headache for a few days after that one. But that was a special play, obviously, (and) something I think will be my legacy for a long time. The reason why it was so great was because Al Michaels and John Madden (and) how big of a deal they made it, and made me seem a lot tougher than I really am. It’s a play that will always be special to me and to the fans.
COSTAS on NFC East rivals: Which of these teams really feels like your rival?
WITTEN: I think it’s Dallas and New York. Ultimately, every time we play it comes down to one score, one possession. It’s pretty feisty out there. I expect the energy to be high. I expect it to be an intense game as it always is and even more so now because of what’s on the line for this game.
COSTAS: For the rest of the league, the playoffs start next week. For the Giants and the Cowboys, they start Sunday night.
WITTEN: It’s a one-game season…Everything you want is right in front of you, (a) great opportunity against the Giants. You’ve got to commit yourself to be all in, to have that will that we talked about, to go out and to really commit to these next 30 days that can really change your life and your legacy.


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