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“As I’ve said, if that’s the whole reason that I’m in this position, the whole reason I’m a quarterback and the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys, I’m fine with that.” – Cowboys QB Dak Prescott to Maria Taylor on his ability to bring attention to mental health

“I walked away from that conversation feeling as though Dak Prescott gets through adversity, he gets through tragedy, and he does it all with a smile on his face and a positive demeanor.” – Maria Taylor

“Kirk Cousins is having a very sneaky good year.” – Drew Brees

“His composure today was unbelievable.” – Tony Dungy on Jets QB Mike White

“We don’t set the playoff bracket until after New Year’s, but Tennessee may have taken the South to an untouchable place from the rest of the division on Halloween.” – Mike Tirico

STAMFORD, Conn. – October 31, 2021 – NBC Sports’ presentation of Week 8 of the 2021 NFL season began tonight from U.S. Bank Stadium, in Minneapolis, Minn., with a Halloween edition of Football Night in America leading into coverage of Cowboys-Vikings on Sunday Night Football on NBC and Peacock.

Mike Tirico hosted FNIA from NBC Sports’ Studio 1 in Stamford, Conn. He was joined at the desk by Pro Football Hall of Fame head coach Tony Dungy and Super Bowl XLIV MVP Drew Brees. Co-host Maria Taylor was joined in Studio 1 by former NFL quarterback Chris Simms. 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.

Trick or treaters stopped at NBC Sports headquarters dressed as their favorite sportscasters.

Prior to NFL Kickoff in September, Taylor interviewed Cowboys QB Dak Prescott ahead of the team’s season-opening game against Tampa Bay. Part of the interview covered mental health, which ran in tonight’s show. See below for a transcription.

Al Michaels (play-by-play), Cris Collinsworth (analyst), Michele Tafoya (sideline reporter) and Terry McAulay (rules analyst) are calling tonight’s game.

For the first time ever, Football Night in America and Sunday Night Football are streaming on Peacock Premium every week this season. Viewers can sign up here. Peacock Premium is included at no additional cost for Comcast’s eligible Xfinity X1 and Flex customers and Cox Contour customers.

NBC Sports’ new post-game show Peacock Sunday Night Football Final streams tonight exclusively on Peacock following Sunday Night Football.


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


Prescott on his work around mental health awareness: “I look around and wonder why sometimes life isn’t the same or isn’t fair for others, but it’s not for me to find those answers out. It’s for me to take those cards that I was dealt and to play them the right way and it’s important for me to use my platform, to use my talent that God blessed me with to make sure that others know it’s ok to be vulnerable. It’s ok for others to know that you’re not ok. It’s ok to not be ok. We’re all here to help each other get through this life. As I’ve said, if that’s the whole reason that I’m in this position, the whole reason I’m a quarterback and the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys, I’m fine with that.”

Taylor on Prescott: “I walked away from that conversation feeling as though Dak Prescott gets through adversity, he gets through tragedy, and he does it all with a smile on his face and a positive demeanor, which is incredible and why he’s the heart and soul of the Dallas Cowboys.”

Simms: “It’s why he’s great on the football field. I feel like he’s one of the most mentally tough quarterbacks in all of football, and that’s why he came back from such a bad injury so quickly because he does have that mental toughness and fortitude to keep pushing through.”


Dungy on Cowboys CB Trevon Diggs: “What you see is a guy who is a great player who’s making big plays…He has wide receiver skills in the secondary. He has great hands, he’s got anticipation, he thinks like a wide receiver, and if you throw an off-target ball in his area, he’s going to catch it and make you pay.”

Harrison on Diggs: “He’s an old school cornerback. He kind of reminds me of Charles Woodson. He’s got those great instincts and ball hawking skills. But what I like about him most is that he’s not afraid. If he gets beat, it doesn’t bother him, it doesn’t faze him. He lines back up and he’s ready to play.”

Harrison on rookie LB Micah Parsons: “I’m just so impressed with his willingness and unselfishness to learn multiple positions. When you come in as a rookie, it’s very difficult to learn one position, let alone two, and he’s done a phenomenal job at both.”

Dungy on Cowboys QB Cooper Rush: “Cooper just needs to relax tonight. He’s going to have a great running game going for him that’s going to set up some one-on-one throws. Let the game come to you, Cooper.”


Brees: “Kirk Cousins is having a very sneaky good year.”

Harrison on Cousins: “They are looking for the big play. They don’t care who you are, they don’t care about the down or distance. If Kirk Cousins looks to the side, if he sees one-on-one, he’s going to drop back, he’s going to throw it.”

Dungy on the Vikings defense against Cowboys running backs Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard: “We have looked at Minnesota under Mike Zimmer, great defense all these years. You would think with Cooper Rush playing, they’ll close down on that running game, but they have been very, very porous against the run. They’re going to have their hands full tonight trying to stop the two-headed monster.”


Dungy on the Saints’ defense: “The New Orleans defense gave Tom (Brady) some problems reading, getting away from the coverage, and with pass pressure.”

Simms on the Saints and Sean Payton’s play-calling vs. the Buccaneers: “He likes to throw for a lot of yards, but he likes to beat you up physically and trick you, too…Just a great all-around effort from so many people who are not household names.”

Brees on if he was surprised by QB Trevor Siemian’s performance: “No, I wasn’t. I think Trevor Siemian is a guy who can execute the offense very well. He knows where the ball needs to go, he’s going to get it out on time, and so he’s a guy who can execute.”

Florio on QB Jameis Winston’s injury: “Jameis Winston was taken to a local hospital during the game for an MRI on that knee and coach Sean Payton told reporters after the game that the injury is significant. Taysom Hill has missed some time with a concussion. I’m told he’s expected to be cleared to play this week so that helps, and if Winston is indeed out for the year, Sean Payton dealt with Cam Newton for the better part of a decade in the NFC South. We’ll find out if Sean Payton thinks Cam Newton has anything left in the tank if they give him a phone call if Jameis Winston’s out for the year.”


Dungy on WR Cyril Grayson’s wide-open touchdown: “On Halloween, he was dressed up as the invisible man. No one knew he was out there.”


Dungy on Bills ‘sloppy’ win over Dolphins: “I don’t think the Buffalo coaches would be happy with this performance. They won the game, but they weren’t razor sharp today.”


Brees on the Titans: “I don’t think anybody has clearly separated themselves (in the AFC), but I think you can’t ignore what Tennessee has done so far this year. I think they’re battle-tested, I think they’re mentally tough. They’ve gone on the road and won two overtime games and look at their last three victories – they beat Buffalo, they beat Kansas City, and they went on the road and beat Indianapolis at their place, who really needed to win this game. They’re taking the ball away on defense and hitting on all cylinders on offense.”

Tirico: “We don’t set the playoff bracket until after New Year’s, but Tennessee may have taken the South to an untouchable place from the rest of the division on Halloween.”

Harrison on S Kevin Byard: “He was outstanding today…He’s been one of the best safeties in the league for the last five or six years and he came up with the game-winning play.”


Simms on 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo: “This is why his teammates love him, he’s tough, he’s gritty, he had two touchdown runs today…I think he’s the guy going forward. Don’t give up on the 49ers yet.”


Simms: “Justin Fields, I felt, played his best game as a pro against a pretty good defense in San Francisco.”


Dungy on no-call on Browns hit on K Chris Boswell during a fake field goal attempt: “This is roughing the passer. If this was a big-time quarterback, I promise you that would have been called roughing the passer. I’m just baffled that wasn’t called.”

Brees: “T.J. Watt has been a monster all year long.”


Jac Collinsworth: “We were calling the Bengals a real sleeper in the AFC. Well, they were sleeping against the Jets today that’s for sure.”

Harrison: “If you want respect around the league, you have to win games like this. If they have playoff aspirations, it’s going to come back and haunt them losing to the Jets.”


Dungy on QB Mike White: “His composure today was unbelievable.”

Tirico: “The Jets crowd really connected with this quarterback.”

Dungy on controversial personal foul for helmet hit late in the game: “Not controversial, ridiculous because the defender is making a textbook tackle and the offensive player lowers his head.”

Florio on Jets QB Mike White: “Let me tell you, I talk to guys every week. Mike White, I talked to him for at least 10 minutes. He was so energetic, he was excited, he was enthusiastic about what happened today. It was very refreshing to hear from a guy who finally got his moment after four years in the league…He was also confused at one point. He heard the crowd chanting something. He said to backup (quarterback) Josh Johnson, ‘What are they chanting? Are they chanting my name?’ Yes, they were chanting his name.”

Tirico: “Make a name in New York. That’s what you do when you get a Jets victory on Halloween against a good team.”

Dungy: “Enjoy that while it lasts (laughs).”


Simms: “It’s about time they opened up the offense in Seattle. DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, they’re the two best players on offense with Russell Wilson out. Get them the ball. They did that today.”


Simms: “New England, watch out a little bit. Offense has gotten better and better here the last few weeks. The defense, that looked like a Belichick defense today, gave Justin Herbert and company some real problems.”

Taylor: “4-4, look out AFC. It’s getting spooky season.”

Tirico: “This is a story we’ve seen before. Bill Belichick vs. a young quarterback (Herbert). Bill wins.”


Brees: “Justin Herbert’s just going to need to really – it sounds cliché – just get back to the basics, the fundamentals. Good decision making, get first downs, score points, but take care of the football because the defense needs all the help they can get. They have struggled against the run.”


Florio: “A week ago, the Dolphins and the Texans were closing in on doing a deal and the Dolphins want Deshaun Watson to settle the 22 civil lawsuits filed against him for sexual misconduct during massage therapy sessions. The Texans caught wind of the possibility of those cases settling in order to facilitate the trade, and they drove up the price that they want. That caused the deal to fall apart. It could still happen, but the primary impediment is what the Texans want, and if the trade happens to Miami, the expectation is that Deshaun Watson will find a way to settle the 22 civil complaints. If there isn’t a trade, then the expectation is those 22 civil lawsuits will continue.”