25, Bills 21
finished a strong NFL weekend with its coverage of the Patriots'
dramatic 25-21 win over the Bills. Like it did on the much-publicized
Steelers-Lions game on Thanksgiving, CBS seemed to have made the
right moves at the end of the equally controversial contest Sunday.
I'm sure you know, the ending of the entertaining Bills-Patriots
game was tarnished by two highly debatable calls. In both cases,
CBS showed enough replays of the two plays, a sidelines catch
by Patriot receiver Shawn Jefferson and a pass interference penalty
on the game's final play, to satisfy all viewers. And while viewers
always seek the perfect angle on controversial plays, I couldn't
complain with the views presented by the eye network. (although
I think the network could have had a reverse-field view of Jefferson's
catch, but now I'm getting picky).
after the game-winning touchdown, CBS flooded viewers with the
necessary and well-captured reactions of the Bills coach Wade
Phillips, Patriots coach Pete Carroll, Patriot quarterback Drew
Bledsoe as well as other players and fans. CBS did a nice job going
from one shot to another.
did report after the touchdown that the Bills were refusing to come
out of their locker rooms for the extra-point try. Even though Phillips
suggested Monday that the team was never asked by officials to come
back out, it is tough to criticize the network for not nailing that
during the heat of the moment on Sunday.
network's mostly successful production of the Bills-Patriots game
followed a strong weekend of NFL coverage. On Thursday, CBS
was all over "coingate" as its mikes picked up Bettis
earlier Sunday, CBS had one of its best "The NFL Today"
shows of the year, as it moved NFL insider Michael Lombardi
to the desk and had George Seifort reporting on the 49ers from San
Francisco. Lombardi's presence and personality appeared to re-energize
analysts Brent Jones and Marcus Allen, as the threesome enjoyed
some of the most spirited banter heard so far this year on the show.
Sunday's show, Lombardi said instant replay, which could
have been used on Jefferson's catch, will be approved next year.
He said the addition of the Browns and replay activist Carmen Policy
will put support for instant replay over the top. However, Lombardi
also said it was a mistake for Bledsoe to start Sunday. We see now
how that last opinion turned out.
it is becoming more and more apparent that Seifort, who still seems
very uncomfortable in front of the camera, is just passing time
until his next coaching gig. Interested in coming to Philadelphia,
this weekend showed that CBS is getting closer to re-establishing
itself as the leader in NFL coverage.
for the Bills-Patriots game, here are the my highlights, lowlights
and reviews of the announcers.
Lundquist - the unflappable longtime football announcer has
one of the more recognizable voices in football. However, maybe
after all these years, he gets bored doing a game. Sure, Lundquist
still got excited over the big plays, but he seemed sedated through
parts of the first half Sunday. He also didn't seem to recognize
the referee's signal for illegal contact in the first quarter.
Cross - the nine-year announcer was solid but not great. Cross
came into the game well-prepared, knowing what both teams
wanted to do offensively and defensively. He also was quick to
criticize players, such as when Patriot receiver Terry Glenn
clearly short-armed a pass over the middle in the third quarter.
biggest problem, and the reason why I think he is too high on the
CBS totem pole, was that he was not great at detailing the X's
and O's. On three big plays Sunday, Cross offered little to
no explanation as to why they were successful.
- After a 33-yard
catch by a wide-open Glenn, Cross just talked about what Bledsoe
might be saying. ("Well, if you're Drew Bledsoe right now,
you've got to kinda say, 'How do you like my broken finger?'"
I hate it when announcers try to be funny or cute by suggesting
what players are saying with their actions.) Cross added that
plays like that is what the Patriots offense needs to do. No kidding.
Cross offered no opinion or insight as to how Glenn, the Pats'
best receiver, was so wide open on the play.
- After a 56-yard
catch by Bill receiver Kevin Williams near the end of the first
half, Cross talked about how the Bills offense believes in Flutie
and how the Patriots defense fell asleep out there ("You
can almost see the Z's on the screen [during the replay]."
Groan.). Again, no insight.
- After a 84-yard
touchdown catch by Bills receiver Eric Moulds, who made a one-handed
catch 19 yards downfield and ran the last 65 yards into the end
zone, the only insight by Cross was how the safety took the wrong
angle on Moulds.
hard for the game and is willing to criticize players or officials.
Plus, he has a smooth delivery. However, he is also one of the
least insightful announcers and undeserving of the second team slot.
- the rookie sideline reporter was solid Sunday. She reported
on how Bledsoe warmed up before the game with his injured finger
and what little he did to take care of it during the game. She also
talked to both coaches at halftime, which I always consider a plus.
1. The update from New York on the Oilers-Seahawks game in the
fourth quarter did not include Jim Nantz's voice.
2. The announcers mikes went out for a few seconds in the
first quarter after CBS played "The NFL Today" jingle
to signal the scores at the bottom.
comments: 1. Lundquist said, "I think the perception of
Drew Bledsoe has been altered, perhaps forever, because of that
performance [the Patriots' comeback on Monday night against the
2. Cross on the Patriots' offensive problems Sunday, "They
can't run the ball when they have to."
lines: 1. Lundquist called a field goal by Bills kicker Steve
Christie that bounced in off the goal post, "ricochet romance."
shots: 1. A field-level shot clearly showed that a Bills defender
pulled on the face mask of Patriots receiver Terry Glenn.
2. An overhead angle showed that the Patriots had 14 defensive
players on the field when it called timeout in the fourth quarter.
in action: A better view to see if the Bills got a lucky or
a fair spot after Flutie dove for the first down on a critical fourth
quarter drive by the Bills. And, as I mentioned, I also would have
appreciated a better perspective on Jefferson's controversial fourth-down
catch during New England's dramatic final drive.
that make you go hmm:
1. Cross said, "Flutie is like a major league pitcher.
He's got four or five delivery points."
2. At the beginning of the game, CBS showed Doug Flutie's famous
"Hail Mary" pass to beat Miami in 1984. However, over
the video, the network used the call made on radio instead of the
one made for CBS.
CBS gets an A for the weekend, while the Bills-Patriots broadcast
gets a B+ (which would have been lower if not for the solid production
at the end of the game).
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31 Giants 7
Francisco's win over the Giants wasn't great but it was an interesting
night at the Monday Night corral. Al Michaels was efficient,
Dan Dierdorf was improved and Boomer Esiason showed signs
of becoming a star.
First, I'd like to compliment ABC's coverage of the grotesque
knee injury suffered by Niners defensive tackle Bryant Young
in the fourth period. Having learned from its errors in covering
Joe Theismann's broken leg in 1986, ABC only showed the injury once
on replay. Michaels & Co. capably handled the situation, with
Dierdorf and Esiason visibly shaken by the incident.
Esiason's best broadcasting trait is his ability to stick to what
he knows - quarterbacking. Just one year removed from the game,
Boomer is able to give viewers insight that Frank Gifford was unable
to provide. To wit:
- Noted that
Giants QB Danny Kanell was benched partly because he took
too many sacks.
- Said Niners
Steve Young forced a pass to Jerry Rice, rather than throw to
a wide-open Greg Clark. Earlier, the trio talked about how San
Francisco may force the ball to Rice after the receiver complained
this week of not getting the ball, despite leading NFL receivers
- On a third-quarter
scramble by Steve Young, pointed out that many teams teach a "scramble
drill" where receivers run downfield as the quarterback runs
toward the line of scrimmage. As Young's throw was too tall for
Rice, Esiason noted that passes by a left-handed quarterback tend
to sail high while scrambling left.
Dierdorf wasn't at Esiason's level but he wasn't bad, either.
He did a much better job of talking about line play and didn't
make many stupid comments. With 11 minutes left in the first half,
the Hall of Fame tackle noted the extra wide splits between Niners'
o-linemen and showed why such alignments are not conducive to run
In the third quarter, Dierdorf noted that the Giants defense was
tired from 1) Being on the field too much and 2) Playing
on soggy grass at San Francisco's 3Com Park, which tires players
more than playing on the Meadowlands' artificial turf, where the
Giants can best use their speed.
I didn't think it was
possible, but sideline reporter Lesley Visser reached a new low
with her third-quarter "interview" of Robin Williams.
The brief chat was so brutal, with Visser asking the comedian about
his hat, that Dick Stockton may change the locks before Visser returns
Visser delivered a couple of informative nuggets - reporting
Eddie DeBartolo hopes to have the Niners' ownership issue resolved
by Jan. 1 and delivering a quick, informative statement after Bryant
Still, she is not getting all she could from her sideline post and
continues to add about as much to the telecast as Dierdorf's mustache
Best picture: Pre-kickoff shot of San Francisco coach Steve
Mariucci blessing himself with the Sign of the Cross.
What?: "He looked like Larry Doby on that one."
- Dierdorf, after a poor punt in the first quarter by Reggie Roby
of the Niners.
Top stat: Entering the game, San Francisco was 9-for-9 on
third down and one situations this season.
Top lines: 1) "You realize that Graham is the all-time
leader in yards per pass. Unfortunately for the Giants, it's (former
Browns great) Otto Graham." - Michaels, when speaking about
Giants QB Kent Graham. 2) "Another completion and they'll
be out of field goal range." - Dierdorf, after the Giants lost
yardage on a pass for the second consecutive play.
Grade: B (Boomer - excellent;
Al - solid; Dan - improved; Visser - brutal.)
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