David Zurawik

CBS performs even worse than Ravens in loss to Steelers

How bad did the Ravens look in their 19-16 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday?

So, bad that CBS analyst Dan "I never publicly like to call a player or coach out" Fouts called them out at the start of the second half for the unimaginable gaffe of getting a delay of game penalty after taking a timeout.


Honestly, I don't know which was worse Sunday — watching the Ravens lose the way they did to the Steelers or having to watch it on CBS, which delivered another hopelessly flawed telecast.

I am astounded by the lack of focus both in the control room and the booth.


Viewers missed the start of the second play of the Ravens' first offensive series because the replay of the opening play lasted too long. It came with 12:18 left in the first quarter, and the reason that part of the live play was missed was the extra length of time given on the replay to let Fouts draw useless circles on his telestrator.

Hint to CBS: Seeing the live, real-time action is more meaningful to fans than most replays. It is not like you don't have enough timeouts to show replays. Clip one of your two million promos for CBS Monday night comedies.

And here's a typical bit of the lack of focused analysis from Fouts. It came with 3:38 left in the first quarter, following the replay of a short completion from Joe Flacco to Tandon Doss: "Watch Joe Cool with all this pressure coming at him, a five-man rush, he finds Doss inside on that coverage there …"

The job of the analyst is to tell viewers what kind of coverage was "there." You might think Fouts could do better than "that coverage there" since he was a quarterback and that's his area of expertise. But that would require turning his brain on.

And here's CBS play-by-play announcer Ian Eagle on a key third-and-1 with a minute left in the first quarter when Ravens running back Bernard Pierce was stopped for a loss.

"Can Pierce get the first down?" he asked as the play started. "He cannot. Spilled down behind the line of scrimmage. William Gay forcing the issue. It's a loss of one."

Gay was a key part of the play, but as anyone watching the screen could see, it was Steelers nose tackle Steve McLendon who made the tackle pushing Ravens center Gino Gradkowski aside like a fly, penetrating along the line and into the backfield to wrap up Pierce.

But the "analysis" and replay only made it worse with Fouts again uselessly using the telestrator to try and draw a circle around Steelers defensive lineman Ziggy Hood.


"The Steelers are going to straighten this one out," Fouts said. "Here's Ziggy Hood right in here. Watch him get inside there of Gino Gradkowski and along with McLendon."

Along with McLendon what, Dan?

Fouts stopped in mid-sentence, because by the end of the replay, he apparently realized it was McLendon, not Hood, whom Gradkowski was "blocking, " and that McLendon is the guy who made the tackle. As the camera zeroed in on McLendon jumping up and waving his fist, Fouts lamely added "along with McLendon."

For the record, it was Marshall Yanda who was blocking Hood.

It makes you wonder if the folks in the CBS booth even watch the play in real time.

And wouldn't it be nice if Fouts did some real analysis and told us why, seven games into the season, our starting center is still missing blocks so badly on third-and-1 situations.


Really, I would love to hear a real analyst like NBC's Cris Collinsworth tell me why Gradkowski still stinks so badly after a year of allegedly being groomed and almost half a season as a starter. But Fouts went nowhere near anything as complicated or potentially upsetting to the Ravens as that on Sunday.

In fairness to Eagle and the other play-by-play folks on CBS, I do have to say that I noticed something this week about the overload of promotional messages that CBS now has them doing within the game itself.

As little images of the stars of Monday night comedies pop up on the bottom of the screen, they have to read copy advertising for the shows. Then, they have to shill for other network enterprises, with, "Hey, fantasy football fans, don't forget to catch …" blah blah blah.

No wonder none of the announcers can give viewers a sense of the shifts of momentum in the game on the field. They are too busy hitting all the promos they are pounding into the actual telecast — in addition to the promos and advertisements during actual commercial breaks — to be engaged with what's happening on the field.

I know this isn't new. But it does seem as if this happening more than ever within the game — with the play-by-play announcer being used more and more as a carnival barker.

The lack of focus — heck, let's call it what it is, ineptitude — even extends into halftime at CBS.


After showing a field goal that gave the New York Jets a 30-27 overtime win over the New England Patriots, Boomer Esiason told viewers that the Jets won, 27-24.

"[Jets kicker] Nick Folk's going … to kick the game-winning 42-yard field goal, and the Jets go on to win, 27-24," is the exact quote.

I know the Ravens need this coming bye week to try and regroup.

But, I swear, I need a bye week from the ineptitude of CBS even more.