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FOOTBALL NIGHT IN AMERICA: 12/17/17 HIGHLIGHTS

STAMFORD, Conn. – Dec. 17, 2017 – Following are highlights from Football Night in America, which aired prior to tonight’s Week 15 Sunday Night Football matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and Oakland Raiders on NBC. Mike Tirico opened the show live from inside Oakland-Alameda County Stadium in Oakland, Calif. He was joined on site by the Sunday Night Football team of Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, and Michele Tafoya.

Dan Patrick co-hosted Football Night, the most-watched studio show in sports, from NBC Sports Group’s Studio 1 in Stamford, Conn. He was joined by Super Bowl-winning head coach and Pro Football Hall of Famer Tony Dungy; two-time Super Bowl winner Rodney Harrison; and NFL Insider Mike Florio of NBC Sports’ Pro Football Talk. Paul Burmeister reported from Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pa., on the Patriots-Steelers game. Football Night also included Tafoya’s interview with Raiders QB Derek Carr.

Following are highlights from Football Night in America on NBC:

ON PATRIOTS-STEELERS

Patrick: “Biggest game of the day, biggest game of the year.”

Dungy on Jesse James’ TD catch being overturned: “It’s absolutely the right call under the rules of the game…In flag football, high school football, college football, any place you play football other than the NFL, that’s a touchdown. But because of Calvin Johnson in 2010 and trying to justify that, we have all these plays now that everybody knows are touchdowns, but now they’re incomplete passes…You have to tell your receivers, you can’t do that, you can’t reach out. You’ve got to just secure the ball.”

Patrick: “He got penalized for making an athletic move.”

Dungy on game’s fake-spike final play: “I don’t know who called it, whether Ben (Roethlisberger) called it or the coaches called it, but it is not a smart call against the Patriots or any team that is on top of it…This is good against people who aren’t on the details, but New England is on it and they’ve got it double covered.”

Harrison: “This is something that they go over all the time. When I played for New England, we would win two or three games each year based off of other people becoming too cute and trying to do trick plays.”

Dungy: “If you want to run a play, get up and run a play, but the fake spike is not going to work (against the Patriots).”

Harrison: “Or if you had Antonio Brown. You don’t run it to Eli Rogers.”

Dungy on Steelers’ inability to stop Rob Gronkowski: “This was the difference last week. Miami rushed, played man coverage, but there was no (Gronkowski) and so it looked like a good plan. It was a very good plan except Pittsburgh didn’t have a guy to cover Rob.”

Harrison: “I think the Pittsburgh Steelers are still very confident. You’ve got to remember, they played the Patriots without their best players – Antonio Brown and Ryan Shazier. I still believe they can go into New England and win.”

Dungy: “No, no, no. This is devastating for Pittsburgh. I’ll tell you why. They had a chance to be at home, to be the No. 1 seed, and get that AFC Championship Game back in Pittsburgh. Now they’re going to have to go to New England, which is tough. But even before that, if the chalk holds, they’ll have to play Jacksonville. This was devastating.”

Harrison: “Pittsburgh is not afraid of New England.”

http://www.nbcsports.com/video/steelers-jesse-james-dropped-pass-its-bad-rule

ON PANTHERS

Florio on owner Jerry Richardson [breaking during the show]: “He has announced tonight that after the 2017 season ends, he will commence the process of selling the team. The four-paragraph statement that he issued makes no reference to the investigation of workplace misconduct allegations that the NFL has launched.”

Florio [earlier in the show]: “Here’s what happened. Sports Illustrated was looking into a series of settlements that had been paid to former Panthers employees. They were getting ready to issue a report. The Panthers became aware of it last week so they announced affirmatively on Friday that they’re investigating the situation — the Panthers investigating it. The League on Sunday said, ‘No, we’ll do the investigation. It’ll happen under the Personal Conduct Policy, an outside law firm will be involved.’ And so we go forward and we find out, is there any truth to this? Were settlements paid? What was it for? And it may be another one of these topics where we’re talking about it for weeks, if not months, into the future.”

Patrick: “And you’ve got to hold the owners accountable just the way you do the players as well.”

Florio: “They always say that the non-players are held to a higher standard than the players, so, even more of a reason to do a full and fair investigation.”

http://www.nbcsports.com/video/nfl-investigate-panthers-owner-allegations-workplace-misconduct

Harrison on LB Thomas Davis’ hit on Packers WR Davante Adams: “He’s not a dirty player. He’s got to go lower.”

http://www.nbcsports.com/video/panthers-thomas-davis-suspension-watch-after-illegal-hit

Harrison: “I love the way they’re using Christian McCaffrey in the run game, in the pass game, spreading him around. He’s the matchup that most people don’t want to see.”

ON PACKERS

Collinsworth: “Isn’t it amazing? The guy who can make the game look so easy. Aaron Rodgers at times, you think he’s playing at a different speed, at a different knowledge level. And yet coming back off of the layoff, we saw Aaron Rodgers look almost human…This was one of those days for the Green Bay Packers where the hopes were so high, and even Superman couldn’t deliver on this day.”

Dungy: “I thought he wasn’t afraid, he played hard, but he just could not throw that deep ball the way we’re used to seeing Aaron Rodgers, and that really hurt them in the game.”

Dungy on playing Rodgers next week: “I would not play him if they’re not in the playoff hunt. He’s not 100 percent.”

Harrison: “If he’s a teammate of mine, I definitely wouldn’t want him playing.”

ON EAGLES

Collinsworth on the impact of QB Nick Foles’ performance today: “Now I think the Philadelphia Eagles can take a breath, and say, we still believe. We still believe that not only are we going to win this division, but we’re going to win it all.”

Dungy: “I told you last week, don’t worry about Nick Foles and that offense. They’ve got great players, running backs, tight ends, receivers. And Foles is a veteran. He’s been there. He played well today, four touchdowns.”

Dungy: “I didn’t like that defense today. It looked very, very fragile.”

ON VIKINGS

Dungy on NFC’s best team: “I’m going on the Minnesota Vikings’ bandwagon. They look like the most complete team to me.”

ON JAGUARS

Dungy: “In December, Blake Bortles has played very good football. He’s utilizing the play-action pass. He’s throwing accurately, throwing with touch. He has been very good.”

Harrison: “He’s also doing a great job of picking up first downs with his legs.”

Dungy: “The big thing you see is confidence.”

Florio on Jaydon Mickens: “When he got to Jacksonville, he actually slept in his car for two weeks. He wanted to save his money. He didn’t know how long he was going to be there. He didn’t want to spend it on a hotel. He hopes to open a childcare center with his mom. So, all that money that would have been spent on Motel 6 is getting pumped into a savings account.”

ON SEAHAWKS

Patrick: “Russell Wilson’s MVP candidacy — done.”

Harrison: “Going out to Jacksonville and getting physically dominated, taking that long trip, coming back … it just seems like they got exposed with the injuries and everything they’ve gone through. They could not physically compete with either the Jacksonville Jaguars or the Rams.”

ON RAMS

Dungy: “Their (Eagles) defense is depleted with injuries, but the Rams, I’m telling you, they’re a scary team. They’re very physical, Todd Gurley is playing great, they have a ton of team speed, and that front four was no accident today. They get after people.”

Dungy: “I love that team speed. Jared Goff is using all of his weaponry. But that front four, those guys get after it. Aaron Donald is the best defensive lineman in football right now.”

ON RAVENS

Dungy: “I think they’re dangerous in the AFC because you mentioned that defense – 33 takeaways – they can get the ball back, play physical. I think they can stop people, which to me makes them dangerous.”

Harrison: “I don’t think they’re very dangerous because if you talk about Joe Flacco, he had his best game against an 0-14 team. I don’t trust Joe Flacco. You talk about the playoff experience and all the veteran players and things like that … the great defense, creating turnovers, that means he has even more opportunities to make plays. Joe Flacco is just not very good right now.”

ON SAINTS

Harrison on RB Alvin Kamara: “This is a different team when he’s back. He brings so much energy.”

ON REDSKINS

Dungy: “The narrative for the Redskins’ future is, what do they do at quarterback? I love Kirk Cousins. I want him on my team. But to pay him Franchise Tag money — $34 million — I don’t think they can do that. I think they need to start over at quarterback.”

Harrison: “You can’t afford to start over at quarterback. He’s a good locker room guy. He’s a good quarterback. But also when you have Carson Wentz and Dak Prescott in that division, you can’t afford to start over. I say, pay the man. Give him a long-term contract, anywhere from $25-30 million (per year). That’s what it costs to have a good quarterback.”

Patrick: “But wouldn’t they have had a bargain had they given him a long-term contract a couple of years ago instead of this year-by-year thing?”

Dungy: “Yes, but hindsight is 20-20.”

ON COWBOYS

Harrison on Dez Bryant: “I’m anxious to see how he plays. He’s been inconsistent with some dropped passes, but give him a few more opportunities, some one-on-one opportunities. Dez loves the spotlight and we’ll see if he shows up tonight.”

ON RAIDERS

Collinsworth: “I think when they brought in Marshawn Lynch that they became a little bit of a split personality. Are they Derek Carr and the spread offense? Are they Marshawn Lynch and the power-running game that we saw in here when they played Denver last year? Or are they Marshawn Lynch and the zone-running game? And then, where is the play-action that comes out of that whole mix in there? So, there’s a lot of talent on this Raiders team. I don’t know that they’ve quite figured out how to put it all together yet.”

Tirico on Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum to Al: “You’ve done a couple hundred games in this place, including a World Series way back when, right?”

Michaels: “Absolutely. I was here the night Johnny Bench got tricked by Rollie Fingers. It looked like Fingers was going to throw a ball four for an intentional pass, [instead] threw him a hard slider on the back of the plate, struck him out. Great series, went seven. That was the beginning of the Oakland A’s great run — three consecutive world championships.

MICHELE TAFOYA WITH DEREK CARR

http://www.nbcsports.com/video/raiders-qb-derek-carr-knows-he-guilty-doing-too-much

On if he ever dreamed of playing for the Dallas Cowboys: “Absolutely. When I was little, I pretended I was a Cowboy and those things. My mom’s whole side of the family is from Texas. We would come home from church – my grandpa was the pastor – we’d come home, we’d all have our spots, (and) we’d watch Cowboys games. My dad’s side of the family is all Raiders fans. He’s from Santa Cruz. Yes, this is like the perfect game for my family.”

On placing all of the blame on himself following the team’s loss to Kansas City: “That’s how I was raised. Whenever I’m a part of something, I’m supposed to take full responsibility. And that’s how I’ll always be. We’ve dropped the ball. We have. We’ve let our coaches down, we’ve let our fans down at times. Other people kind of say, ‘Hey, man, it’s not your fault,’ and I just stop them right there and I say, ‘It’s all my fault,’ because somehow, someway, maybe I could have helped do something better.”

On if being a perfectionist gets in the way of cutting loose and being more free: “Yes, absolutely. This is definitely a game and an opportunity where I can promise you my No. 1 focus is to go out there and have fun.”

On wearing No. 4 in honor of Brett Favre and what he admired about him: “Kind of a perfect segue is that he always had fun. He was always enjoying his teammates, always doing those things, and that’s something I have to get back to. And I’m completely fine admitting that. I’m completely fine admitting that this season has been hard. I’m human. It doesn’t mean I don’t to stop working. It doesn’t mean I’m not going to compete my tail off to fix it, which we will, hopefully, sooner than later. But when I watched him play, he had fun and that’s something that I have to get back to Sunday night.”

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