From NBC Sports -
STEELERS-RAVENS IN BATTLE FOR FIRST PLACE IN AFC NORTH ON “SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL”
COVERAGE BEGINS WITH “FOOTBALL NIGHT IN AMERICA” AT 7 PM ET
“The most physical game of the year.” – “Football Night’s” Harrison
“It’s a classic matchup if you like football the old-fashioned way.” – SNF’s Collinsworth
“Mike Tomlin told me that this is the most heated rivalry that he’s ever been involved in.” – “Football Night’s” Dungy
NEW YORK – December 2, 2010 – The Steelers and Ravens, both 8-3 and tied atop the AFC North, meet in Baltimore on “Sunday Night Football” in a matchup that Cris Collinsworth calls, “my favorite game of the year,” and Rodney Harrison says is, “the most physical game of the year.”
Calling Steelers-Ravens will be six-time Emmy Award-winner Michaels (play-by-play), who is in his 25th season as the voice of the NFL’s premier primetime package; 11-time Emmy Award-winner Collinsworth, who last year, his first in the SNF booth, won the Emmy for outstanding event analyst; and sideline reporter Andrea Kremer about whom TV Guide said is “one of TV’s best sports correspondents.”
Coverage begins with “Football Night in America” at 7 p.m. ET Sunday with Bob Costas, who won the outstanding studio host Emmy last year, hosting live from inside the stadium. Dan Patrick will co-host “Football Night” from NBC's 30 Rockefeller Plaza studios joined by Super Bowl-winning head coach and Emmy-nominated Dungy, two-time Super Bowl winner Harrison, and Sports Illustrated's Peter King. Alex Flanagan will report from Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on the Cowboys-Colts game.
“Football Night” (7:30-8:15 pm) is averaging 8.3 million viewers through its first 12 weeks, its most ever for that time frame and up 11 percent vs. 2009’s 7.5 million viewers.
Dungy, Harrison and Collinsworth participated in a conference call today to preview Sunday Night’s game. A replay of the call can heard by dialing 719-457-0820; Passcode: 8696276. Following are highlights:
COLLINSWORTH ON STEELERS-RAVENS: “I’m excited about this game. I like almost all the games on our schedule, but I think that fact that I grew up a little bit in this division, and knew it. This is just one of those old-fashioned, knockdown, drag-out kind of deals. Both of these teams think they are the toughest teams in football. Both these teams know that to get to where they want to go they have to go through the other one. It’s a classic matchup, if you like football the old-fashioned way. Two bullies meeting in the center of the street. That’s all we’ve got with this one. It should be fun.”
DUNGY ON THE RIVALRY: “Mike Tomlin told me that this is the most heated rivalry that he’s ever been involved in. It’s something that he looks forward to and enjoys. I know John Harbaugh feels the same way, and all the players too. It’s going to be very physical…I really can’t wait.”
HARRISON ON MATCHUP: “When I saw the schedule come out this summer, I was really excited. My comments were, ‘this is the most physical game of the year.’ You have two of the best young quarterbacks in the game facing each other; the two most physical defenses in the game, and you have the two best linebackers in Ray Lewis and James Harrison. I’m really excited. You have all the subplots with Troy Polamalu and Derrick Mason, as he’s been a guy that’s a little older but very productive. You have Ray Rice, who’s really come on as of late for the Ravens. I’m really excited about this game.”
COLLINSWORTH ON ED REED AND TROY POLAMALU: “I played quarterback up through my freshman year of college. Watching them on tape, it’s hard to figure out where they are going to go. It takes rewinding it back and forth six times trying to figure out where they are going to go and what they are going to do. I can’t imagine what it’s like playing the quarterback position against these two guys.”
HARRISON ON ED REED: “When I think about Ed Reed and when I see him on film, in my generation, he’s the best ball hawk. He’s a guy that for everything that he brings, he really doesn’t get credit for it. The guy’s a really good open-field tackler, a terrific blitzer. He’s gotten a little older, but he relies more on his instincts and his film preparation. That’s the thing that a lot of people really don’t give him credit for it. Yes, he gets a lot of interceptions and he knocks a lot of balls down, creates a lot of big plays but just his leadership. He’s playing with a bunch of young corners. He makes such an impact on those guys.”
HARRISON ON REED PLAYING AGAINST ROETHLISBERGER: “The way Ben likes to play, he likes to run around, create plays, and keep the play going for five to seven seconds. He likes to play what I call ‘garbage football.’ He’ll escape the rush and throw a ball down the field. A lot of the time he throws it up for grabs. He cannot do that against Ed Reed because Ed Reed will come down with the ball. And he is the best at it that I’ve ever seen play. I’m really excited to see Ed, and to see if Ben can out-wit, out-match Ed Reed back there. We’ll see what happens on Sunday night.”
HARRISON ON TROY POLAMALU: “This guy is a complete game changer. He’s the one X factor, and the guy you try to account for. We always used to prepare for Troy, but you could never really prepare for him because you never know. He has such freedom on the defensive side. Tony talks about James Harrison being really the key. I think he’s an enforcer, but this is an entirely different defense without Troy Polamalu. I think we saw that last year when he got injured. The confidence, the ability, and the plays that he makes. His ability to rush, time up, jumping over the ball, stopping people short of the goal line. Just so many different things that he brings that you can never prepare for the guy. For some reason, great players always come up with the ball. You see Troy time and time again making big plays and showing his ability to cover the wide receiver, the tight end, blitz and doing so many different things. This is a completely different defense without Troy Polamalu. It’s the equivalent of an offense not having their starting quarterback. That’s what they miss when they don’t have Troy Polamalu.”
COLLINSWORTH ON JOE FLACCO: “He has improved greatly since the beginning of this season. Go back and look at some of his numbers from the first half of the season and the second half of the season. For me, maturity in the quarterback position is much more important that arm strength and we are starting to see that out of Flacco”
DUNGY ON JAMES HARRISON: “The former Defensive Player of the Year in the NFL and he’s playing to that level again. He’s a guy who could impact the game in so many ways. It is a shame that some of the hits and the fines have taken away from what he’s really doing. But sacks, putting pressure on the quarterback, chasing down run plays from behind, dropping into pass coverage, making plays up the field in the passing game, he’s really doing it all. Troy Polamalu is obviously the heart and soul and spiritual leader of that defense, but James Harrison is the one irreplaceable guy because he does so much for them.”
DUNGY AND HARRISON ON BEING A SECOND YEAR COMMENTATORS:
Dungy: “Last year I felt like a total rookie, just like my first year in the NFL. It was almost worse, because when I came into the NFL, I felt like I knew something about how to play football, but really didn’t know anything about broadcasting. But we’ve got a great team here and a great group, they have taught us a lot. Most people make a big improvement between their first and second year of playing the game. I feel like we have made a big improvement, but I still feel like we have a long ways to go.”
Harrison: “The one thing that has really made my transition from the first year to the second year a lot easier is just being around Tony, knowing him, having that trust and that respect for one another. You couldn’t be around a more unselfish guy, a guy that definitely doesn’t do or say anything just to get attention. He’s a guy that I respect as a person. These guys (behind the scenes) have really worked with us and really told us, ‘Look guys, you don’t say anything to make headlines. Be yourself, give your opinions.’ They really taught us how to be ourselves instead of trying to be TV people. When you’re in front of millions of people, and you’re trying to do something outside of yourself that’s not you, of course you feel uncomfortable.”
HARRISON AND COLLINSWORTH ON DEREK ANDERSON LAUGHING DURING GAME:
Harrison: “If I’m getting my butt kicked, there is nothing, nothing whatsoever for me to crack a smile at. Guys work too hard; guys sacrifice so much, coaches, the time, the effort, the pain, the sacrifices in your relationships. There is nothing funny about getting your butt kicked. There is nothing funny about going out there and not playing well. He’s the quarterback, and he’s been awful this year. So yes, I think the criticism was well deserved. If a guy makes light of a situation, you don’t laugh about it. You say, ‘you know what, we’re going to get better. We’re going to keep trying. We’re going to keep trying to get it done or change what we’ve done in the past.’ You don’t laugh about it. There is nothing funny about getting your butt kicked.”
Collinsworth: “I just don’t think it makes any sort of statement about the preparation or effort of a guy if he gets caught offhanded in one brief moment there where somebody says something and you kind of laugh it off. He may have been saying, ‘do you have any ideas? I’m going to get killed in this press conference.’ And the guy could have come up with anything. It could have been anything at that moment and it may have been related to the game. You just have no way of knowing. I just can’t pass judgment on somebody with a blanket statement of no matter what it was he’s wrong.”
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SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL VIEWERSHIP NOTES
A NOVEMBER TO REMEMBER: “Sunday Night Football” had a four-game November viewership of 20.9 million, making it the most-watched November ever for SNF and the best November for a primetime NFL package in 14 years (23.9 million on ABC in 1996).
* NBC’s 12-week viewership of 21.3 million is nearly two million more than and nine percent above last year’s 19.5 million, and up 31 percent over 2008 (16.3 million) through the same point in the season.
TOPS COLTS-CHARGERS SNF GAME IN 2008 BY NEARLY 4 MILLION: Sunday’s game, in which the Chargers out-scored the Colts 20-0 in the second half, drew 19.1 million viewers, nearly four million more and 26-percent higher than Week 12 in 2008 (with the same matchup) when the Colts beat the Chargers, 23-30, (15.2 million) and just one percent off of last year’s Week 12 game that featured the Ravens beating the Steelers in an overtime thriller (19.2 million). Sunday night’s household rating of 11.4/18 is nearly two rating points and 20 percent higher than that Colts-Chargers game in 2008.
SNF AVERAGE VIEWERSHIP THROUGH 12 WEEKS:
1. 2010, 21.3 million
2. 2009, 19.5 million
3. 2006, 17.5 million
4. 2007, 16.6 million
5. 2008, 16.3 million
DEFEATED ALL SUNDAY NIGHT COMPETITION: Sunday’s Chargers-Colts broadcast defeated all Sunday night competition for the 12th time in 12 weeks, on an evening that included such original competition as CBS's 60 Minutes, Amazing Race and the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie “November Christmas,” and Fox's Simpsons and Cleveland Show.
SNF IS 12 FOR 12: With 19.1 million viewers, “Sunday Night Football” was the most-watched primetime show on Sunday night for the 12th straight week this season (100 percent). Last season, SNF was the most-watched Sunday night primetime broadcast in a record 15 of 16 (94 percent) weeks. In 2008, SNF won 13 of 16 (81 percent) Sunday nights after winning 11 of 16 in 2007 (69 percent) and nine of 16 in 2006 (56 percent).
The 12-week average household rating of 12.8/21 is eight-percent higher than last year’s 11.8/19 and 27 percent ahead of 2008 (10.1/16) through the same point in the season.
NO. 1 SHOW OF THE WEEK: For the 12th straight week, “Sunday Night Football” was the No. 1 regularly-scheduled primetime broadcast of the week by a wide margin among Adults 18-49, the coveted advertiser demographic. SNF was also the No. 1 show this week among Adults 18-34, Adults 25-54, Men 18-34, 18-49 and 25-54.
* For the week, “Sunday Night Football” had a 34-percent margin of victory over the No. 2 show in Adults 18-49 (7.1 for SNF vs. 5.3 for Desperate Housewives).
* Through 12 weeks of the NFL season, “Sunday Night Football” stands as the most-watched primetime show on television, and the No. 1 regularly scheduled primetime show in all key adult and male demos.
o SNF is also the No. 3 show since the beginning of the football season among Women 18-34 and 18-49.
REMAINING 2010 “SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL” SCHEDULE
Regular Season – “Football Night in America” begins every Sunday at 7 p.m. ET
Sun. Dec. 5 *Week 13 Steelers at Ravens (no change)
Sun. Dec. 12 *Week 14 Eagles at Cowboys (no change)
Sun. Dec. 19 *Week 15 Packers at Patriots
Sun. Dec. 26 *Week 16 Chargers at Bengals
Sun. Jan. 2 *Week 17 TBA
ABOUT FLEXIBLE SCHEDULING: The NFL will utilize “flexible scheduling” on Sundays in Weeks 11-17. Flexible scheduling will ensure quality matchups in all NFL Sunday time slots in those weeks and give teams a chance to play their way onto primetime and into the late-afternoon 4:15 PM ET time slot on CBS and FOX.
For each of the flexible scheduling weeks with the exception of Week 17, the NFL will announce the start times of games on Sundays no later than 12 days prior to that weekend. To ensure a Sunday night game and doubleheader games with playoff implications in Week 17, the flexible scheduling decision for that Sunday may be made on six days notice.