Hey CBS pre-game gang, want to re-think your unanimous Pittsburgh pick?

The Baltimore Sun

On the afternoon of such a glorious victory over a hated foe, I am not going to go psycho-negative and start ripping the CBS Sports team that brought us the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers season opener Sunday. There is too much joy in Ravens Land today for that.

But I also can't let the CBS pre-game gang off without pointing out what an act-like-you-know bunch of hotdogs they were in their unanimous picks of the Steelers to beat the Ravens. And no one was a bigger gasbag anywhere in the land of football television Sunday than Dan Marino in explaining why he was picking the Steelers over the Ravens.

For the record, Boomer Esiason, Bill Cowher, Shannon Sharpe and Marino all picked the Steelers to win. (Et tu, Shannon?)

But then, trying to sound like only a fool would even consider the Ravens, Marino says after the picks, "The Steelers are loaded, boys. Who makes the big plays? Ben Roethlisberger makes the big plays."

Not exactly, Dan.

Not this Sunday.

Joe Flacco made some big plays. Ray Rice made some big plays. Ed Reed, Ray Lewis, Haloti Ngata, Terrell Suggs and other Ravens made lots of big plays. But not really Roethlisberger so much.

Look at the bright side. At least the CBS announcers weren't calling Roethlisberger "Big Ben" all afternoon once the gamegot underway and the Ravens started beating up on him.

In retrospect, the pre-game pro-Steelers talk might not have seemed so offensive if it hadn't continued at the start of the game telecast with Jim Nantz and Phil Simms. I like Simms and Nantz in a lot of ways, but right out of the box, Simms is mimicking the wisdom back at CBS Sports headquarters.

"The Pittsburgh Steelers are coming in on a high," Simms told viewers at the top of the telecast.

"It's the exact opposite for Joe Flacco and the Ravens. Their offensive line is in disarray."

Simms did semi-acknowledge his flawed critique in the last couple of minutes of the telecast, saying, "All week long, I've been saying it's going to be tough with the Ravens offensive line -- I don't how they're going to do it."

He almost apologized for his wronghedaded analysis, but not quite. Simms and Nantz acted like they had access to inside Ravens thinking all week. But if that is true, they would have at least mentioned the local mantra, "In Ozzie We Trust" -- the belief that General Manager Ozzie Newsome can almost always pull a rabbit out of the hat as he did again with the signing of offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie.

But here are a couple of things I really did like about the telecast Sunday: the 9/11-related ads and the way the CBS crew got out of the way for the pre-game remembrance of 9/11. The images and the music were what mattered -- not anything an announcer could say.

Verizon, Budweiser and State Farm all produced tastetful, powerful and respectful ads for the 10th anniversary of one of the darkest says in the nation's life. And for once, the ads enriched and elevated the entire telecast.


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