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Considering the teams involved, CBS did an OK job with Ravens telecast

The way things are going for the Ravens, I am starting to feel as if I'd rather watch curling coverage from Quebec on Sunday afternoons – in French without subtitles.

But I blame almost none of that today on the CBS telecast with play by play announcer Andrew Catalon and the vocally indistinguishable Steves – Beuerlein and Tasker – on analysis.

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In fact, I have no major complaints and several modest way-to-goes for CBS in its coverage of the Ravens' 15-13 loss to the Dolphins.

In the pre-game analysis, Tasker said that for Baltimore to win the Ravens needed to "play mistake-free." And they followed that by noting quarterback Matt Schaub's "penchant for the pick-six" interceptions.

"That has been his reputation," Tasker added.

Thanks for cursing us, Steve.

That's what I was thinking when Dolphins defensive end Derrick Shelby tipped a pass, caught it and lumbered into the end zone for a 22-yard touchdown in a killer of second quarter. But, as an analyst, Tasker certainly put his pre-game finger on the problem with Schaub.

I had to laugh during halftime when Catalon set up Beuerlein, a former quarterback, to explain why Schaub has thrown so many interceptions that have been run back from touchdowns like the one by Shelby.

"I really don't have an answer for what the problem is," Beuerlein said with a candor rarely heard from any former player working in a network booth. "You almost think he's trying to do this. I know for a fact that he's not obviously, but for that to happen as often as it's happened, that is unbelievable bad luck, coincidence, bad decisions on his part in certain situations."

There you have it, folks: He's cursed, which is the kind of thing that can lead you to making bad decisions.

Given the bad calls the Ravens again suffered, it would probably give some readers an outlet for their frustration to say the CBS announcing team favored the Dolphins. But it wasn't true. The three guys in the booth were in the Ravens corner on every play and bad call – and there was once again no shortage of the latter.

With 1:27 left in the half, coach John Harbaugh started going off on the officials after a series of penalties finally led to Miami getting two points instead of one after a touchdown.
While one of the Steves wondered what Harbaugh was so hot about given that the last penalty called, an offside infraction, was pretty obvious, the other Steve said, "Well, I'll tell you he's arguing a whole season of this kind of stuff going on. He's up to his eyeballs in bad calls."

From pre-game to the final let's-send-it-back-to-New-York moments, the trio characterized the Ravens as a team that had lost incredibly close games while playing with great character through an inordinate number of serious injuries and bad calls.

Hometown fans can't ask for more than that – especially given that some of the games were lost by the Ravens themselves on bonehead calls and bad plays.

While I again liked Catalon's command in calling the game, I do have to nominate him for what might be the most awkward segue of the season from a CBS announcer to a promotional message for a network entertainment program. It came with 11:05 left in the first half.

As Catalon finished reading the script for one of a seeming 10,000 promos for Sunday night's Frank Sinatra musical special saluting the singer on what would have been his 100th birthday ended, Catalon said, "Matt Schaub's not 100 years old. He's 34, out of the University of Virginia. "

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Beyond the silliness of the link, there is a larger point here about the networks and cable channels trying to make it seem like those intrusive promos that are slammed onto the bottom of the screen during the game are part of the normal flow of a sports telecast. Such segues are sounded by the announcers after the read the hard-sell copy to make it seem natural and logical that they should be popping up in the game.

They are not natural or normal. They are the product of excessive greed by the networks. It's the money aspect of these telecasts making deeper incursions into the game.

OK, I'm off the ledge.

The production values were sound. They failed to capture good angles on several controversial calls and plays, but I am guessing that is more a function of the number of cameras this crew got for a game this far down the food chain than anyone being asleep at the wheel.

And while they were not consistently able to turn around replays instantly the way the first and second-string crew usually do, the crew here did a nice job of fitting them in a couple of plays later. Again, I am going to be nice to the folks in the truck and say it was function of the technology and manpower allotted for coverage of game involving teams with losing records.

As for me, I DVR'd the curling. I'll get to it tonight after President Obama's speech.

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