Fox telecast runs an effective route


Tv Coverage

Super Bowl

Patriots 24 - Eagles 21

February 07, 2005|By RAY FRAGER

LIKE THE NEW England Patriots, Fox's production of last night's Super Bowl didn't knock you out, but, in the end, it was a winning effort.

The announcing crew of Joe Buck, Troy Aikman and Cris Collinsworth was on point most of the game. The cliche states the Super Bowl is just another football game once the teams kick it off. The reality is that's what the telecast became - a competently produced game, albeit one with a huge audience, ex-presidents, a fly-over and a former Beatle singing at halftime.

Analysts Aikman and Collinsworth weren't going to sell the game so hard that they ignored a sloppily played first half. They cited the penalties and turnovers that contributed to a low-scoring game as much as either team's defense.

Noting overthrows by Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, Collinsworth said: "Early in games when he gets jacked up, he tends to throw high."

Aikman actually offered some new - at least new to me - information to explain poor throws and fumbled balls. As a former Super Bowl quarterback, Aikman could point out that officials rotate new footballs more often than during other games and those balls tend to be slick.

Collinsworth's sharp eyes - or someone's sharp eyes in the production truck - spotted how one step cost the Patriots a touchdown. Linebacker Mike Vrabel faked a blitz, Collinsworth said, stepping toward the line of scrimmage, and then was unable to get in position to stop a pass over the middle to Brian Westbrook for the Eagles' second touchdown.

What memorable things did play-by-play man Buck offer? Can't remember any.

The best shot in the whole game probably came in the second quarter, when Fox zeroed in on Tom Brady's eyes. The Patriots quarterback looked first at one spot, then another, then a third, where he found David Givens open at the sideline for New England's first touchdown.

Fox certainly enjoys that behind-the-offense perspective. The network doesn't reserve the shots for replays. If you're not accustomed to that look, it can be initially off-putting, but the view grows on you.

At this level, a network's production should be able to cover everything that happens on the field. That was certainly the case last night. Each time a challenged call arose, Fox had the definitive look.

This year's innovation, the Turf Cam, didn't come into play, but at least we didn't end up feeling dizzy while staring up a nose tackle's nostrils. The Pylon Cam? Hope they didn't spend too much on it.

Were there enough entertaining or informative elements of the pre-game to make it worth the four-hour investment? Certainly not, but how many people who aren't being paid to watch the show - anyone come to mind? - hang out for the whole program anyway?

If the pre-game wanted to hammer home one point - other than you should be watching other Fox programming - it was that the Patriots hadn't faced a running quarterback like McNabb all season. We heard that several times.

Ravens fans may have noted a tidbit from Deion Sanders when he took part in a roundtable with four other players. Asked if he was coming back next season, Sanders said the Ravens' acquisition of Randy Moss would greatly increase the chances of his return.

Those who recall one of the great Super Bowl disses of all time - when the Dallas Cowboys' Thomas "Hollywood" Henderson said the Pittsburgh Steelers' Terry Bradshaw was so stupid he couldn't spell cat if you spotted him the "c" and the "a" - may have shaken their heads when Fox's Bradshaw called the Eagles' talkative Freddie Mitchell dumb. Bradshaw, noting how Mitchell named Benjamin Franklin as the first president of the United States, said the receiver was "not the sharpest knife in the drawer" and "he will be no factor" in the game.

Those with an ear for irony probably enjoyed at least one musical performance - John Fogerty on a corporate stage performing two anti-establishment Creedence Clearwater Revival standards, "Fortunate Son" and "Bad Moon Rising."

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