By David Zurawik
The Baltimore Sun
7:38 PM EST, November 24, 2013
It’s hard to be too critical of any NFL telecast that delivers the kind of images CBS did Sunday following Jacoby Jones’ touchdown catch that put the Ravens up 19-3 over the New York Jets.
The money shot with five seconds left in the third quarter was a close-up on the face of Ed Reed, the Jets safety who was beaten on the play.
Reed, the former Raven who is considered by many to be the best safety ever, was sitting on the bench looking toward the field with a pained expression on his face. He then hung his head in embarrassment as his former teammates celebrated across the field on which he had once enjoyed so many triumphs.
Wisely, director Suzanne Smith brought her cameras back to Reed no less than three times coming in and out of commercials as replays of Jones’ great catch replayed. Each time, Reed looked just as pained. It was the look of a man who perhaps knew that he had hung on for one paycheck too many.
That was the high end of CBS’s coverage and it also included images of a joyous Joe Flacco coming off the field after that pass showing as much excitement as you’re ever going to see from the Ravens’ stone-faced quarterback.
On the other hand, in that very same window of time following the touchdown, CBS failed to provide any images of Jones dancing in the end zone.
I had to go to Twitter and the Baltimore Sun’s Aaron Wilson to even know Jones was dancing in the end zone.
“Jacoby Jones with an end-zone dance after his second touchdown catch of the season,” Wilson tweeted.
Given Jones’ “Dancing with the Stars” history and the kinds of moves he made on the field Sunday, his post-TD steps would have been nice to see — very nice to see.
I later saw it on WJZ’s local highlights show after the game. I don’t think CBS ever showed it during the telecast.
But like I said, it’s hard to be too critical. The great image was that of Reed, and CBS delivered that one.
Overall, Smith and producer Mark Wolff put together a solid and energetic telecast.
There were some strange shots, like a tight focus on what looked like a plastic bag on the field.
Maybe it was an errant shot, a directorial mistake, or maybe it would have meant something if play-by-play announcer Greg Gumbel or analyst Dan Dierdorf had explained it. But they said nothing, so I have no idea what it meant.
And the telecast was wildly uneven on injuries.
Again, I had to go to Wilson on Twitter to know “Jets linebacker Troy Davis is being evaluated for a head injury after being crushed on a block by Courtney Upshaw.”
Ditto for “Chris Canty went into locker room for evaluation.”
CBS did tell viewers Canty was out at one point with a possible shoulder injury — but not in the locker room.
And CBS never told me when Canty and Arthur Brown, who also went out with an injury, returned later in the game.
I had to go to Sun writer Jeff Zrebiec on Twitter for that.
But I don’t blame Smith, Wolff and their crew for hit and miss (I’m being kind) injury reporting.
As I have said many times, that’s on CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus who won’t give them a sideline reporter and the resources they need to do it right the way as Michele Tafoya does on NBC.
Speaking of Upshaw’s crushing block, I wanted to see more of that in replays. It came on a Jacoby Jones punt return up the sideline in front of the Jets bench. And try as Smith might at least three times in replay, I don’t feel like CBS ever gave me a good look at how a Jets coach interfered with a referee on the play. Give Smith credit for trying, though. She kept giving us different perspectives as Dierdorf explained the ruling that resulted in an unsportsmanlike conduct call.
Which brings us to Dierdorf, who was better Sunday than he’s been in as long as I can remember. Maybe it was that he found some energy or a sense of relief in announcing his retirement last week.
My feelings have been crystal clear and they did not change an iota this week: I think he should have retired a couple of years ago. He was once an outstanding analyst, but not the last two seasons.
That’s not me being mean. That’s me being honest. Players are told all the time by coaches and managers that it is perhaps time to retire. No one says the coaches and managers are mean.
I was struck by Dierdorf’s energy Sunday. The first half, he was talking after almost every play. He was still going pretty strong at the end. What a contrast to the games the last two years in which Gumbel had to do play-by-play and fill in the long silences where his analyst should have been late in games.
Dierdorf did irritate as only Dierdorf can when he offered us his Swami, the Mind Reader, analysis of what Flacco was thinking when a play called by offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell had him line up as a receiver with Tyrod Taylor at quarterback.
“I don’t believe I’m going to run downfield and block for Ray Rice,” Dierdorf told viewers as he channeled Flacco’s thoughts up in the booth.
I have to be honest, I’m not going to miss that that kind of “analysis” one bit.
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