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“Case Keenum is one of the great stories in the league this year. Nobody expected this kind of run out of him.” – Cris Collinsworth

“This is a legit football team. They can win the Super Bowl.” – Chris Simms on the Vikings

“What we need to do is go back to if you catch the ball and you get both feet on the ground, it’s a catch.” – Tony Dungy on the NFL’s catch rule

“Trust the common sense of the officials who see it and who know what a catch is.” – Mike Florio on the catch rule

STAMFORD, Conn. – Dec. 23, 2017 – Following are highlights from Football Night in America, which aired prior to tonight’s Week 16 special edition of Sunday Night Football matchup between the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers on NBC. Liam McHugh opened the show live from inside Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. He was joined on site by alongside PFT Live co-host Chris Simms, and Sunday Night Football’s 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 M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md., on the Colts-Ravens game. Football Night in America also included King’s interview with Houston Texans QB Deshaun Watson, and features on former Cincinnati Bengals head coach Sam Wyche and Vikings QB Case Keenum.

In addition, Bob Costas narrated a tribute to the legendary Dick Enberg. Click here to watch.

Following are highlights from Football Night in America on NBC:


Collinsworth: “Case Keenum is one of the great stories in the league this year. Nobody expected this kind of run out of him. I’ll tell you the thing that I think most people don’t realize about Case Keenum is that he’s been Houdini this year. He has made some of the great escapes that I’ve seen this season.”

Simms: “This is a legit football team. They can win the Super Bowl. I know it’s not Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady at quarterback, and the public has an issue sometimes thinking this guy (Case Keenum) is a franchise quarterback, he can take the team to the Super Bowl. But, they’re a top-10 offense, their defense is one of the best in football and Keenum has been making plays.”

Dungy: “(This Vikings) are very good, and I agree – they can win the Super Bowl. They’re a great team…and they’re getting not just good quarterback play, but great quarterback play.”

Simms: “I think when you look at the Minnesota defense, this is a Super Bowl-caliber defense. They can carry the team to the Super Bowl, win the Super Bowl. When I look at it, they’re one of the top three defenses at all three levels… Xavier Rhodes in the best corner in football.”

Harrison on Adam Thielen’s Pro Bowl nomination: “He’s officially a superstar.”


Dungy: “It was always, at every level of football, if you caught the ball and you got two feet down on the ground or you got your knee in the NFL, it was a catch. And whatever happened after that, happened. Now, we had one question on the Competition Committee – what do you do when a guy is diving and lays out and there’s no two feet? How long does he have to have the ball? All of that spawned all of this surviving the ground and all of this nonsense that we have now, where Golden Tate is a touchdown and Jesse James isn’t. We don’t know. What we need to do is go back to if you catch the ball and you get both feet on the ground, it’s a catch. And let’s play football from there.”

Dungy on the importance of the catch rule: “This is not just about the goal line either. These plays can change the course of a season, they can change a playoff game.”

Collinsworth: “I think that the biggest issue is when you get around the boundary, or you get around the goal line. To me, that’s the one that should be discussed at this point. What they don’t want to do is have cheap turnovers.”

Simms: “Call me crazy, I like the way the rule is. I understand we were in the backyard and those were catches. But to me, if we’re trying to take away the human element, the one thing I look at sometimes is at least this rule takes away the gray area. So, it is confusing, it’s annoying, but there’s no gray area with the way the rule is right now.”

Dungy: “Yes, Chris Simms is crazy, there is no grey area, it’s just bad right now. Flag football, elementary school, they’re catches and now, we don’t think they’re catches, that’s just wrong, we gotta fix it.”

Florio: “Two of the last three years, the Competition Committee has taken a look at this rule in an effort to try to fix it. There have been some tweaks, and a lot of it deals more with the language than the substance. And as to that key element, whatever phrase you use, did you have the ball long enough to be a runner, did you survive the ground, were you going to the ground? Maybe that’s an area where replay review should just be off the table. Trust the common sense of the officials who see it and who know what a catch is, and strip away that slow motion, frame-by-frame dissection of the play, because ultimately at the heart it’s a judgement call, and judgement calls aren’t subject to review.”


Simms: “I like (Brett Hundley’s) physical ability. He’s a little raw, yes, but he’s gotten better every single week he’s been in there. He’s got a strong arm, a very quick release, and we’ve seen his athleticism on display as well. He is capable of being an NFL starter.”


Collinsworth: “You know what I remember most about that game? It was nine below zero, the wind blowing 35 miles per hour, so the wind chill was 59 below zero. It was unbelievable. I’m in my rookie year out of the University of Florida. I’ve never played below 35 degrees. I’m in the locker room and they’re calling us to go out there and warm up, and I’m like, ‘You want me to go out there and warm up?’”


Collinsworth: “This young man named Marshon Lattimore is a difference maker. New Orleans forever had not been able to match anybody on the defensive side of the ball, and now with Lattimore going against one of the best wide receivers in all of football (Julio Jones) and putting up a heck of a battle.”


Simms: “Get ready for the Ezekiel Elliott show. They’re going to let him carry the load on the offensive side of the ball…I think the Cowboys win it (against Seattle).”


Simms: “Russell Wilson is the greatest one-man show in the NFL right now. I think he can keep them very close in this game (against the Cowboys).”


Harrison: “Their leading receiver (Benjamin Watson) is a 37-year-old guy I used to play with. I just don’t think (Joe Flacco) is good enough. I don’t think they have enough good wide receivers that are healthy to win.”

Dungy: “And I’m going to disagree with you. In the AFC, it’s not a strong field at the bottom. Joe Flacco - don’t turn the ball over. He’s got playoff experience, (and) the way that defense plays, they can do some damage.”


Florio: “There’s one position that is viewed as a certainty to come open, the Indianapolis Colts head coaching job. Almost certain. Virtually certain. Ninety-five percent. Whatever disclaimer you want to put in there in the event, Jim Irsay has a change of heart, but Chuck Pagano is viewed to be almost certainly done in Indy. And then the Marvin Lewis situation in (Cincinnati) after 15 years, contract expiring, reports that he wants out. We don’t know what the Bengals want, but that one feels like it’s coming to an end as well.”

Florio: “You have two games left, and you could have teams go either way, and you could have coaches either save their jobs or lose their jobs. Jack Del Rio in Oakland, I’m told right now it’s a 50-50 proposition whether he comes back. Whatever happens the rest of the way, offensive coordinator Todd Downing expected to be gone from Oakland, Vance Joseph, the first-year Broncos head coach, they had that eight-game losing streak, they lost six of the games by double digits. John Elway, his boss, comes out and says, ‘We just aren’t competitive.’ That’s not good. But, two straight wins, two more wins to end the season, maybe Joseph comes back. And then there’s the Titans. High expectations. They looked to be a sure thing for the playoffs earlier this year. They’ve fallen on hard times recently, lost to the Cardinals, lost to the 49ers. That’s a job to watch in Tennessee.”


Dungy: “I met Deshaun at the Clemson chapel service before the national championship game last year. He’s sitting in the front row in chapel, and every person told me, ‘This guy is special. Keep an eye out for him.’”

Harrison: “It’s great to get to a position where you can help people. That’s something that lies very special in his heart, but also the maturity to recognize how many people have helped him along the way to get to that position. That’s why I say this is a special kid.”

On how he looks to those who have helped him to get to this point in his life: “Like family. They have some part of me and my career and my story within them, and I couldn’t do it by myself.”

On hearing news of his mother’s cancer diagnosis: “It was just a weird vibe when I walked into the house. I was just like, ‘Mom, what’s wrong?’ And she just told me that she was diagnosed with tongue cancer.’ It was tough. It made me grow up fast. Somebody has to help pay the bills.”

King: “Did you actually go get a job?”

Watson: “I did.”

King: “What did you do?”

Watson: “I started working with the Atlanta Falcons as a ball boy. And then my junior year, I was a tax assessor.”

On meeting Warrick Dunn, whose foundation donated Watson and his family a home during his childhood: “It was an exciting moment. This is a guy I played with in a video game.”

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney on Watson’s commitment to the community as a Tiger: “Right before Deshaun got here, we began working with Habitat (for Humanity) as a team. He’s been a great ambassador for that program. Rolling his sleeves up with his teammates and helping build five or six houses while he was here at Clemson.”

Houston Texans general manager Rick Smith on Watson volunteering for Habitat for Humanity while at Clemson: “That’s what we look for. What has a guy done in the past? He is special. He’s a different kind of guy with respect to the caring individual that he is.”

On why he discusses his past frequently: “Those are the memories and moments that helped me get to where I’m at now, and created the person that I am today.”

Warrick Dunn, whose foundation donated a home to Watson’s family at a young age, on his relationship with Watson: “I think we’re going to always be connected. We’re going to have a bond I would say that will last a lifetime.”

On his heart transplant: “When they put that new heart in there and it starts pumping, you know right away that your life’s changed.”

On being told he had a finite amount of time to live and when he received his heart transplant: “When the doctor came in and said, ‘You know, we don’t think you’re going to make it,’ they were very honest with me. ‘This is real, you’re not going to survive without a new heart. We can’t fix the one you got.’ There was a peace that came over me. I can’t explain it because I’ve never explained that feeling before. I’ve had a great life. I was going out on top, peacefully and happy.

The heart arrived on time. It was a perfect fit. It was just a second chance at life that somebody gave me. I don’t know how you define a miracle expect in your own personal experiences. And to me, it was a miracle.”

On organ donations: “One death can save seven or eight lives. It can enhance the lives of another 75 or more people. I’m just thinking about what you can do, and how important you are, even in your past. What a great gift you can leave mankind.”

On the heart he received: “This heart inside of me, I don’t know who the person is, his family, what part of the world. When I meet the family, I hope I do but it’s their call. They’re still grieving possibly and just not ready to meet me. The first thing I’d say is, ‘Thank you.’ I can’t be more grateful. I’ve been given a second chance to see my kids grow up, my grandkids grow up, and I will promise you, I’m going to keep this heart strong and safe. It means that much to me.”

Hugh Sandifer, Keenum’s high school head coach, on the challenges he’s faced: “He’s been told, ‘No,’ by a lot of people. No to college scholarships, no to getting drafted. I just think his attitude – he doesn’t talk about it, not cocky, not arrogant, but (his) actions speak very loud.”

On proving those close to him right: “Great friends, family, coaches that I’ve had, I’ve always tried to prove those people right. The people that have believed in me, that have cared about me, that have poured their lives into me more than the naysayers, proving them wrong.”

On going undrafted and bouncing around the NFL early on: “I didn’t use it as something like, ‘Oh, woe is me,’ I didn’t feel sorry for myself. This is an opportunity for me to show how tough I am. Hey, this is an opportunity to show how I can bounce back. This is an opportunity (to show) how I can get back up after I’ve been knocked down. All I needed was one team to give me that opportunity. I knew I was going to make the most of it.”

Kyle Rudolph on Keenum when he first entered the huddle: “He comes into the huddle and he just has this confidence and this bravado about him that, like, ‘Guys, don’t worry, everything is going to be Okay. I got this.’ You could really see that just grow each and every week.”

Mike Zimmer on Keenum first entering the huddle: “He stayed under control, he played within himself. You know, quite honestly, I’m hoping he’s kind of like Kurt Warner for the Rams. A great success story. They had their quarterback get hurt and he comes in and plays great and they win the Super Bowl, so, that’s kind of my dream.”

On being mentally tough: “Part of this league is being mentally tough, to come in every day with the same attacking mindset, and that’s how my mindset has changed. I go home pretty tired, but I sleep pretty well at night knowing I’ve done everything I can.”