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NOTES & QUOTES FROM WEEK 7 EDITION OF FOOTBALL NIGHT IN AMERICA ON NBC AND PEACOCK

“My takeaway from being with Tua is that he really does understand the severity of the injury that he sustained.” – Maria Taylor following her interview with Tua Tagovailoa

“The energy of the leader pervades the whole group. The energy of Aaron Rodgers is not real good right now.” – Jason Garrett on the Packers

“What is wrong with the Bucs? I’ll tell you what it is. Their passing game is out of sync.” – Tony Dungy

“I know this sounds crazy, but I’m telling you, they’re a better offense without Tyreek Hill.” – Chris Simms on the Chiefs

“This is the best defense that you haven’t heard of – the Tennessee Titans.” – Rodney Harrison

Peacock Sunday Night Football Final Streams EXCLUSIVELY on Peacock Following Every Sunday Night Football Game During 2022 Season

STAMFORD, Conn. – Oct. 23, 2022 – NBC Sports’ presentation of Week 7 of the 2022 NFL season began tonight from Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla., with Football Night in America leading into coverage of Kenny Pickett and the Pittsburgh Steelers facing Tua Tagovailoa and the Miami Dolphins on Sunday Night Football on NBC, Peacock and Universo.

Maria Taylor hosted FNIA from NBC Sports’ Studio 1 in Stamford, Conn. She was joined by Hall of Fame head coach Tony Dungy, former NFL head coach Jason Garrett, former NFL quarterback Chris Simms, and fantasy sports industry pioneer Matthew Berry. 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.

In advance of tonight’s game, Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa spoke to Maria Taylor about player safety, teammates Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, the way Mike McDaniel coaches and more. See below for a link to the entire interview and transcribed highlights.

Pittsburgh RB Najee Harris spoke to NBC Sports’ Michael Smith and discussed leadership and his relationship with head coach Mike Tomlin. Click here to watch.

In addition, Telemundo Deportes legendary soccer commentator Andres Cantor joined Collinsworth in Miami to speak about the upcoming FIFA World Cup 2022, which will air in Spanish on Telemundo and Universo, and stream on Peacock. NBC Sports NASCAR commentator Dale Earnhardt Jr. also joined the show at the stadium after calling NASCAR’s Cup Series race at nearby Homestead Miami Speedway this afternoon.

Mike Tirico (play-by-play), Cris Collinsworth (analyst), Melissa Stark (sideline reporter) and Terry McAulay (rules analyst) are calling tonight’s game. Tirico also reported from the field during FNIA about the 50th anniversary of the undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins.

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Following are highlights from tonight’s edition of Football Night in America on NBC and Peacock:

ON PLAYER SAFETY

Taylor on her conversation with Miami QB Tua Tagovailoa (see below for video link and transcribed highlights of the interview): “My takeaway from being with Tua is that he really does understand the severity of the injury that he sustained. He says that he’s learned a lot more about concussions from seeking out some of those second opinions and that it really is going to impact the way that he plays this game moving forward.”

Dungy: “I’m curious to see how he does play. He obviously is very thoughtful. He’s concerned about his health. He knows he’s got to be out there for his team, but he said it, ‘I’m wired to be a superhero. I’m wired to make those plays. I know what I do best, extending plays.’ Is he able to reign that in? We’ll have to see.”

Garrett on focusing on the quarterback’s health: “It’s a collaborative effort. As a coach, you have to think about this. In Miami, they have these speed guys that can make these plays down the field. Make sure when you’re throwing the ball down the field that you have enough protectors. If you’re using five-man protection and getting everybody out, the ball’s got to come out quickly. You’ve got to think about protection first with your quarterback, and certainly in Tua’s case as they go forward.”

Taylor: “Tua said it, too, in that piece. He doesn’t want it to be the ‘Tua Rule’ or he doesn’t want to be remembered for this, but the reality is this is a bookmark in the story that is player safety and changing the game for the better.”

Garrett: “The game is as safe as it’s ever been. The rules that have gone in place in recent years with protection, how you practice, how they call the game, all those things have been great for player safety. The concussion issue has been at the forefront for a long time. I think the biggest thing is that everyone has to follow the protocols. Get rid of your competitive juices, think about player safety first. I do think the new protocols are going to help eliminate some of that subjectivity going forward.”

Dungy on concussion protocols: “It’s been 13 years since I’ve been in the game, but when I was coaching, we had this come in and we had different protocols come. We just have to follow them, that’s the key.”

Florio on the current NFL protocols for players to return to play from a concussion: “We’ve heard so much this season about the gameday concussion protocol…There’s a separate protocol that applies once a player has been diagnosed with a concussion. That’s the return to participation protocol. That, like the gameday protocol, was developed by the league and the NFL Players Association. Five steps involving increased exercise, increased activity. Clearance every step of the way by team doctors, and then in step five, it’s clearance from a team doctor and clearance from an independent neurological consultant. That’s when the player can return. The league says there’s no timeframe for passing through those five steps. Every situation is unique. The median amount of time is nine days. For Kenny Pickett, the Steelers quarterback, he’s cleared to return seven days after suffering his concussion last week.”

ON STEELERS

Dungy on Steelers assistant coach Brian Flores returning to Miami: “Last week, Brian Flores against Tom Brady – who he had coached with for years (in New England) – came up with a beautiful gameplan to shut the Bucs down. Can he do the same thing with Tua? Knowing what he’s comfortable doing, maybe getting pressure off the left, maybe disguising a little bit. We’ll see what Brian comes up with for that Pittsburgh gameplan.”

ON DOLPHINS

Dungy on why the Dolphins were hot earlier in the year: “One of the reasons why is coach (Mike) McDaniel’s use of the RPO – the run-pass option – something Tua does very well, and it makes it difficult on defenses because, first of all, you can’t play a lot of zone defense against it…As a defensive coordinator, you’re afraid to call zone coverages.”

Garrett on defending against the Dolphins’ wide receivers: “You can’t just sit there and play zone against these guys. I know they have the issue with the speed outside – you can’t play man, you can’t play zone. You just have to mix it against them if you want to slow them down.”

ON BUCCANEERS

Dungy: “What is wrong with the Bucs? I’ll tell you what it is. Their passing game is out of sync. The timing is just off. They cannot beat people despite all these stars. They’re going to have to run it, and they’re only running it for about three yards. That’s going to have to change.”

Dungy: “What we’ve had in the past with Tampa has been a great precision passing attack and great run defense, and we’re not seeing either one. I was there Thursday, and they thought they had a lot of things squared away…it’s not.”

Simms: “They’re just off. (Tom) Brady’s off in the passing game. They’re not as fast and explosive as they used to be in the pass and there’s issues across the board…This defense was the most dominant thing we saw in football the past two years, and they used to be able to protect the quarterback and strike downfield with big pass plays and we’re seeing none of that right now.”

Garrett: “It’s energy. The energy there is not good. It doesn’t look good; they have bad expressions on their faces. Sometimes execution and energy fit together, but sometimes it’s energy first. Get your mind right, get your spirit right and it shows up in your play.”

ON PACKERS

Garrett: “They’ve only lost 11 games in three years. This is their fourth loss this year and they just don’t look the same. They’re not able to run the football. They’ve become a little bit too one dimensional. And maybe more than anything else for me, it just doesn’t feel right. The energy of the leader pervades the whole group. The energy of Aaron Rodgers is not real good right now. I’m not betting against him. I’ve seen him do this before, but they’re not in a good place right now.”

Taylor: “It doesn’t feel right to say that both Brady and Rodgers are 3-4 right now sitting under .500 this season, but that’s the truth.”

Simms: “Brady, Rodgers, who needs them? We’ve got P.J. Walker and Taylor Heinicke.” (laughter)

ON CHIEFS

Simms: “I know this sounds crazy, but I’m telling you, they’re a better offense without Tyreek Hill.”

Taylor: “It doesn’t sound crazy. You’re just crazy.”

Dungy: “(Patrick) Mahomes was great, but I thought Eric Bieniemy, the offensive coordinator, and Andy Reid had a great plan for slowing that San Francisco line down. You know they wanted to come after Mahomes and pressure, they got outside quite a bit with these jet sweeps…They used their speed to get outside quite a bit.”

Garrett: “I spent a day with the Chiefs during OTAs, and it was like a clinic at their practice. All the stuff you see on the game field they were working in practice. It was like a track meet. There’s this whole idea that we can’t run the players so much and do all this, you should see that football team practice. They practice fast, they practice their timing, and it all shows up when they kick it off on Sunday. They were fantastic today against an outstanding defense.”

ON COWBOYS

Garrett on QB Dak Prescott’s return: “The biggest question for me on Dak was, was he going to be able to settle into the ballgame and not try to do too much? I think the formula was the same – they wanted to try to run the ball and then go play-action. As the game went on, you can see him get more and more comfortable…and then at the critical moments, he made a lot of big plays in the passing game for them at the end of the game to secure it.”

Simms: “Defense, run the ball, get some teams to play man-to-man and trust me, Dak will hurt you with Michael Gallup, CeeDee Lamb, and (Noah) Brown and company.”

Simms on Prescott returning to start over QB Cooper Rush: “I think they saw that, ‘We’re going to stay the course. What we did with Cooper Rush, this is the football team we are.’ And now you’re getting a little added incentive with Dak Prescott back. He’s better than Cooper Rush.”

Garrett: “The best teams spread the burden around. They’re playing off their defense, run and pass working together, special teams showing up. If one guy doesn’t have to shoulder the burden, you don’t have to play out of whack. And that’s what they’re doing…it was a good mix and good balance today.”

ON BENGALS

Garrett on Joe Burrow throwing to Ja’Marr Chase: “When they play on top of him, he’s going back shoulder. The key is you can’t leave No. 1 by himself.”

Dungy on Chase: “You can’t play one-on-one against him. Not smart.”

Garrett: “It looks like the team we saw down the stretch with Cincinnati last year. The thing that jumped out to me is the protection. It’s been an issue but (today Burrow’s) throwing the ball down the field.”

Garrett on QB Joe Burrow: “They call him Joe Cool. He is so clean in the pocket. He’s got a nice stroke, it’s accurate, it’s catchable balls, he throws with touch, he can drive it. They were fantastic.”

ON RAIDERS

Dungy on RB Josh Jacobs: “A lot of talk about Davante Adams and what he was going to bring to the passing game, but Josh Jacobs has exploded these last couple of weeks. Very hard to handle in the run game.”

ON RAVENS

Dungy: “They got the win today, but if I’m a Ravens fan or a coach, I’m still concerned because the same things that cost us before happened again – fumbles in the last minute, breakdowns, deep passes. They got a couple of big plays to seal it, but this is not winning football. They’ve got to get this squared away.”

ON TITANS

Harrison: “Mike Vrabel has done a great job as a coach…He had these guys ready to play…This is the best defense that you haven’t heard of – the Tennessee Titans.”

ON SEAHAWKS

Garrett: “One of the best stories in the National Football League this year, the re-emergence of Geno Smith and the Seattle Seahawks.”

ON COLTS

Simms on QB Matt Ryan: “They ask him to throw the ball too much. They’ve got to find some more balance there in Indianapolis.”

ON PANTHERS

Taylor on RB Chuba Hubbard: “No Christian McCaffrey, no problem.”

Florio on his conversation with interim head coach Steve Wilks: “On that play that Mike Evans drops the ball, and the air goes out of the balloon for the Buccaneers, the flip side for the Panthers, Wilks told me he said, ‘Maybe the football gods are on our side today.’ And they needed it after trading Christian McCaffrey.”

ON JAGUARS

Simms on QB Trevor Lawrence: “There’s been a lot of good this year, but this has been a reoccurring theme – missing some opportunities to take advantage, score more points, bigger yards. A little bit inconsistent throwing the football at times throughout the year, and I think that’s part of the reason Jacksonville is struggling right now.”

***

TUA TAGOVAILOA SPEAKS TO MARIA TAYLOR

Click here to watch the full interview, portions of which aired in tonight’s FNIA. Following are highlights of the full interview:

On being at the center of player safety

“I do understand that with what had happened in Cincinnati and then prior to that was Buffalo, the incidents that occurred and they were within a four-day time span, guys really were trying to find a way to help. I’m all for player safety, but when I hear guys saying ‘Oh, this is the Tua rule’ or ‘This is a rule because of Tua,’ I don’t want to be known as that. I just want to go out and do good things for my team, help my team win.”

On his parents’ concern for his health

“That was their biggest concern prior to the injury and then things in the hospital and then after that and then going through the interview process, going to see second opinion doctors. But for me, I love football. I just love it. I love the feeling that it brings. I love that football can help change peoples’ lives. I just missed it. I just missed it, missed playing.”

On if health concerns will affect the way he plays

“Thinking of the longevity of me playing, get the ball out. If I’m getting sacked, just fall down, don’t try to be a superhero. That’s something that has been wired in me, to always try to make something happen, but sometimes the smartest play or the best play is to throw the ball away and just punt the ball.”

On handling criticism

“Being a perfectionist, I had to find a way where I was trying to strive for excellence and not perfection. I was never going to be perfect, and I was going to be chasing something that wasn’t going to be there for me. I know I’m going to make mistakes, but it’s always about knowing better and then doing better from whatever that mistake was. Whatever I can use as fuel for myself, I will. I take receipts. I take receipts.”

On head coach Mike McDaniel

“There isn’t any guy on our team that has no trust or no faith in this guy. We’re all behind him…I’m used to somebody really getting down on me because that’s the way my dad coached me, it was what he called ‘tough love.’ I had that with Coach (Nick) Saban. We had that with Flo (Brian Flores) last year, so my perception on what a head coach should be was always hard, tough, you gotta really work hard to find success. It’s pretty cool that there’s other ways you can find success. It’s not always getting down on somebody.”

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Peacock Sunday Night Football Final, an NFL post-game show produced by NBC Sports, streams exclusively on Peacock following every Sunday Night Football game during the 2022 season. The show is hosted by NBC Sports commentators Kathryn Tappen and Chris Simms, who provide instant reactions to each Sunday game along with highlights and interviews. Football Night in America co-host Jac Collinsworth and analyst Rodney Harrison also provide recaps and insights into the day’s biggest moments from the site of each week’s SNF game. NFL Insider Mike Florio provides injury and news updates. Matthew Berry provides fantasy football analysis and an early look at the fantasy waiver wire.

-- Football Night in America --