UPDATE (1 a.m.) at end of post with review of NFL Network's excellent post-game show and comment on Flacco profanity after game.
It was a fabulous day and night for TV football, with the Ravens winning the Super Bowl, 34-31. But little thanks for that goes to CBS, the network that had broadcast rights to the game.
The network's pregame show was overproduced and under-imagined, with no unifying vision. One segment that found Boomer Esiason and Shannon Sharpe walking the streets of New Orleans handing out Pizza Hut pizzas to people willing to yell "hut, hut, hut," set a new low in debasing broadcasters and turning what is already an over-commercialized production into a nonstop advertisement.
CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus should be ashamed for doing this to Esiason and Sharpe. CBS made plenty of money Sunday without having to turn two ex-NFL players into pizza delivery boys.
And then came the telecast itself, with Jim Nantz and Phil Simms in the booth.
I have long been a fan of this duo, but they were pathetic in the first half in their inability to modify or abandon their Colin-Kaepernick-is-the-Second-Coming storyline. The two could not drop the script, even though it bore little relationship to what was happening on the field throughout the first half.
By the time the power went out in the Superdome and CBS temporarily lost its audio with 13:22 left in the third quarter, it was almost a welcome relief not to have to hear Nantz and Simms anymore.
And what about the performance by CBS Sports during that 34-minute delay that reversed the momentum of the game?
The CBS cameras showed John Harbaugh on the field, obviously highly agitated, but no one bothered to tell us what the coach was so agitated about.
CBS Sports did release a self-congratulatory statement by the end of the game, saying that while the broadcasters lost power in the booth and some of their 62 cameras, sideline reporters Steve Tasker and Solomon Wilcots managed to keep the audience informed.
CBS is the only network that doesn't use sideline reporters during the regular season, something I have complained about all year. McManus said they weren't needed — it's better to give their airtime to the guys in the booth.
But Sunday night, they were sure needed. I just wish they had done a better job and done some real reporting — like telling us exactly what Harbaugh was so angry about — or why the lights went out.
I thought Simms was awful.
With 1:15 left in the half and the score 21-3 in favor of the Ravens, thanks in large part to a shaky performance by Kaepernick that included throwing a big interception to Ed Reed, the two guys in the booth were still singing the second-year quarterback's praises as if he were dominating the Ravens.
"When you're judging a quarterback, I always say: When they rear back and throw it, can they control it?" Simms said. "And he can."
Oh, really? He had a number of passes that sailed on him, including Reed's crucial interception, and a two-point attempt late in the game.
Typical of Simm's commitment to storyline over what was happening on the field was his halftime comment about Kaepernick's less-than-stellar play the first half.
"I know this: Colin Kaepernick is my man. I'm going down with him, no matter how he plays," Simms said.
Simms provided no insight during two of the biggest plays of the games: a fake field goal by the Ravens in the first half and Jacoby Jones' 108-yard kick return to start the second half. I still don't know why one failed and the other succeeded. Explaining such big moments is Job One for an analyst.
There is almost nothing good to say about CBS, from its pregame through the game itself.