"THE NFL ON CBS" CONTINUES AFC PLAYOFF COVERAGE WITH AFC DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF GAMES ? JACKSONVILLE vs. NEW ENGLAND ON SATURDAY, JAN. 12 AND SAN DIEGO vs. INDIANAPOLIS ON SUNDAY, JAN. 13 ON CBS
AUDIBLES WITH LEAD ANALYST PHIL SIMMS AND DAN DIERDORF - EXCERPTS FROM "NFL ON CBS" NFL DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF GAMES CONFERENCE CALL
THE NFL ON CBS continues its coverage of the 2008 American Football Conference Playoffs with the national broadcasts of the AFC Divisional Playoff games on Saturday, Jan. 12 (8:00 PM, ET) and Sunday, Jan. 13 (1:00 PM, ET) live on the CBS Television Network. Undefeated AFC East champions and No. 1-seeded NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (16-0) host the No. 5-seeded JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (12-5) on Saturday night, while the AFC South champions and No. 2-seeded INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (13-3) host the AFC West champions and No. 3-seeded SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (12-5).
CBS Sports' lead announce team of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms call the Jaguars-Patriots action live from Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. Lance Barrow is the coordinating producer of THE NFL ON CBS and lead game producer and Mike Arnold is the lead game director. Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf call the Chargers-Colts action live from the RCA Dome in Indianapolis, Ind. Mark Wolff is the producer and Bob Fishman is the director.
CBS Sports' coverage of THE NFL ON CBS begins with THE NFL TODAY, the Network's pre-game studio show on Saturday night (7:30-8:00 PM, ET) and on Sunday (12:00 Noon-1:00 PM, ET), with host James Brown and analysts Dan Marino, Boomer Esiason, Shannon Sharpe and Bill Cowher, along with NFL TODAY "General Manager" Charley Casserly, as well as reporters Lesley Visser and Sam Ryan, live from THE NFL TODAY studio at the CBS Broadcast Center in New York City.
Eric Mann is senior producer and Bob Matina is director of THE NFL TODAY.
CBS Sports' coverage of the AFC Playoff games is in HDTV, the highest definition television format - 1080i lines of picture resolution - along with 5.1 digital audio.
Sean McManus is President, CBS News & Sports. Tony Petitti is Executive Vice President & Executive Producer, CBS Sports. McManus and Petitti serve as executive producers of CBS Sports' coverage of THE NFL ON CBS.
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Following are excerpts from THE NFL ON CBS conference call on Tuesday regarding the NFL Divisional Playoff games this weekend:
(On Giants-Cowboys playing for third time this season): When it comes to the playoffs you can't draw up too many new plays. You are who you are. You can't turn into a zone team from a blitzing team. You become so familiar with what the other team does, that should help you. My thoughts are that it could drive scoring down. I don't expect the Giants and Cowboys going up and down the field in this game because of too many good players and too much information available about what the other team is trying to do. That should curtail some of the scoring.
(On Giants QB Eli Manning): I don't know if the light came on, or that golden age hit him...I think we should've seen more games like we've seen these last two weeks from not only Eli Manning but maybe from the Giants and the coaching during the season. It just seems like it's been easier for him. The rhythm of the play-calling was terrific the last two weeks. I think that had so much to do with why they won. Physically it looks like it was easier for him. He had more short throws. [He] wasn't always trying to make a big throw down the field to Plaxico Burress. To me, that's the big thing...There's no question that Eli Manning, in college and in the pros, has taken a lot of snaps. He has been well-coached, especially with the New York Giants, and it's all coming out. We're seeing the fruits of a lot of hard work by a lot of people, especially Eli Manning. With the atmosphere down there in Dallas, I expect him to play pretty well because he knows that team. He has good players around him. The weather will not be a factor - all that seems to help him. I expect him to play well this weekend.
(On San Diego): They have big-time players. When you have big-time players, they're going to get chances to make big time plays. They're difference makers. They can win games when they make a play...They have as many play-makers on that football team as any team in the NFL...Philip Rivers was living in a dream world last year. First-year as a starter, 14-2, that team, that talent - he got roughed up this year on the field, in the press, and maybe I'm a little "old school," but sometimes that is the best thing that can happen to your quarterback. It just makes them a little more grisly, tougher. It just helps them compete better. He has fought through injuries and some unbelievably tough games. For as good as they are, he has taken his share of hits this year. He has come through it very, very well.
(On Jacksonville): If they're looking for a physical football game, they're going to the right spot. The Patriots love the action. I always say be afraid of the people who love the action. They're not so concerned about winning and losing, they just want to ruffle it up a little.
(On Jacksonville-New England): These are teams with two distinct styles. Who can win the early battles will determine the style of game it will be. That's what Jacksonville is going to try and do...When you play the Patriots you try to play the game, get it into the fourth quarter and try to make the play that wins.
(On Joe Gibbs): He has nothing left to prove. If he retired, that just means that is what he wanted to do. He is going to go down as one of the best coaches in NFL history, and well deserved.
(On New England QB Tom Brady): What makes him a great NFL quarterback is when you give him the opportunity, he can make the play. I don't care about all the intangibles. That's all wonderful. The intangible I look at first, if the guy is open 20-yards down the field, the coverage is tight - can you stick it in there? And Tom Brady can stick it in there. Oh, he's open way down the field, you have to throw it 65-yards to Randy Moss? He can do that. His greatness of throwing the football has enabled him to do all this other stuff we always talk about.
(On New England being a television draw): That big zero has gotten the nation curious. We're all curious. I'm curious. I can't wait. I want to see, can they do this (go undefeated)? Being an ex-player, and now a broadcaster, I find it extremely exciting. I've probably focused on the Patriots more this year than I have any other team since I've been doing television just because I find it intriguing.
(On possibility of an Indianapolis-New England AFC Championship and their rivalry): You have two marquee quarterbacks who are always involved in this contest. The coaches are the same and a lot of the key players are the same. We're going to see them again next year too. It has it all. It has that marquee value...It is one of the best rivalries that we've seen in a long time. It's as good as I've seen since I've been following the NFL.
(On San Diego at beginning of season vs. San Diego now): It's not that they were a horrible football team. They were just a very good football team that was struggling to find a way to win...I like where the Chargers are right now. I like the way they think about themselves. I like that they can find different ways to win. And they're playing good solid defense. There's a lot to like about San Diego...That losing streak got them focused. They have grown during the season. Ted Cottrell is calling a different game than he did earlier in the season. Earlier in the season he seldom rushed Shawne Merriman and Shaun Phillips at the same time. He had Phillips go into coverage while Merriman rushed. Later on in the season he has brought a lot of pressure on by bringing both of those guys together. That is great pressure off the edges when you can come with two quality guys like Shaun Phillips and Shawn Merriman. That is really special.
(On San Diego going into Indianapolis): They (San Diego) can't count on Darren Sproles running back a punt. And they (San Diego) can't count on Peyton Manning throwing six interceptions in a game that they only won by two points. The Chargers are going to realize that they're going to have to play a whole lot better than they played in that first game if they think they're going to go to Indianapolis and win there...The Chargers certainly aren't going there over-confident just because they won there earlier in the year, and just because they won there back in '05...I would put the ball into Philip Rivers' hands right off the bat. I would not wait for them to struggle running the ball before I started letting Rivers put the ball in the air. I'd throw on first down with regularity against the Colts...I would come right out of the gates throwing the football. I would come right out and put it right into Rivers' hands in trying to get that Colts defense a little bit off-balance.
(On Jacksonville being the "team nobody wanted to play"): Jacksonville got that moniker - "the team nobody wanted to play" because of how physical they are as a hard-hitting, muscular, testosterone-filled team. And I don't mean that in terms of illegal drugs. I'm talking about a team that muscles up when they play. They are just a reflection of Jack Del Rio.
(On Joe Gibbs' legacy): I don't think what happened in the last four years, anyone who in any way applies any negativity to the overall accomplishments and legacy of Joe Gibbs is talking to the wrong person. I think it just goes to show how hard it is to win in the National Football League and, in my mind, he went out on a really high note. It's hard to coach a team any better than Joe Gibbs coached his football team in the aftermath of what happened to Sean Taylor. I think Joe Gibbs' legacy is intact.
(On what impresses about New England QB Tom Brady from an offensive lineman's perspective): His physical toughness and leadership ability. You want to block your [butt] off for a guy that will stand back there and take a shot. You want to block for a guy that just radiates passion the way Tom Brady does. When you look at the performance of that offensive line of the New England Patriots, there is a whole lot of one-two involved because they don't want to disappoint the undisputable leader of that football team. Tom Brady has every intangible that you would love a quarterback to have.
For more News, Notes and Video Clip Highlights of analysis from THE NFL ON CBS go to: http://www.cbssports.com/
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Following are the NFL assignments for the AFC Divisional Playoffs (subject to change).
AFC DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF GAME #1 - Saturday, Jan. 12
GAME PLAY-BY-PLAY/ANALYST PRODUCER/DIRECTOR
8:00 PM, ET starts:
Jacksonville @ New England Jim Nantz/Phil Simms Lance Barrow/Mike Arnold
AFC DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF GAME #2 - Sunday, Jan. 13
GAME PLAY-BY-PLAY/ANALYST PRODUCER/DIRECTOR
1:00 PM, ET start:
San Diego @ Indianapolis Greg Gumbel/Dan Dierdorf Mark Wolff/Bob Fishman
AFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME - Sunday, Jan. 20
GAME PLAY-BY-PLAY/ANALYST PRODUCER/DIRECTOR
3:00 PM, ET start:
TBD Jim Nantz/Phil Simms Lance Barrow/Mike Arnold