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Fox telecast not quite as sloppy as play on the field in Ravens' victory

The telecast of the game wasn't as sloppy as the play on the field in the Ravens' 16-13 victory over the St. Louis Rams. But it wasn't all that much better either.

It was refreshing to get a Fox telecast instead of CBS if no other reason than seeing endless promotional messages for primetime series other than "NCIS" and "The Big Bang Theory."

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But after the second or third promo for "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" and "Gotham," that got old, too. And could they have shown one more add for Ford trucks, pizza, beer or men giving women jewelry and women looking totally blissed out as snow falls on their heads? I am going to see F-150 trucks, Christmas trees and diamond rings in my sleep tonight – and I am not looking forward to it.

Hey, by the way, did you know that you can get 10 chicken nuggets at Burger King for a $1.49 now? Yeah, $1.49.

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Even though it was a different network, once again we saw a crew come back from halftime and seem to totally lose its focus. I have ripped CBS telecasts for not having the replays instantly on the screen to amplify what the analyst was trying to explain. But, at least, the various down-the-depth chart CBS crews that get sent to Baltimore seemed to have been trying a little.

By the third quarter today, it felt like Fox gave up the ghost of even showing video of what analyst Daryl Johnston was talking about.

Case in point: With 2:55 left in the third quarter, Ladarius Webb was called for a pass interference. But viewers were shown C.J. Mosley's coverage of a Rams receiver instead. They did show Webb walking around and lining up for the next play, but no replay of him interfering.

And if the referee got the call wrong and it wasn't Webb, shouldn't Johnston or play-by-play announcer Kenny Albert have explained it.

My guess: Fox did not have replay video of Webb, so they showed Mosley in replay instead. Who cares? It was a Ravens defender covering a Rams receiver. Close enough, no?

And then, less than two minutes later with 1:36 left in the quarter, Johnston was explaining to viewers how Ravens linebacker Courtney Upshaw shoved Wes Welker to the ground and the officials totally missed it.

"Boy, Courtney Upshaw just got away with a 15-yeard penalty," Johnston said. "He got tangled up with Wes Welker … Away from the ball, completely away from the ball, he just threw Wes Welker to the ground, and he's lucky he didn't get a flag."

But, guess what? Again, no video. Viewers never got close to seeing that one.

And Johnston deserves better. He is a fine analyst.

He did have a few miscues today.  He got so mixed up on one pass play with 31 seconds in the first quarter that he made two mistakes. But he gracefully corrected himself and turned it into a joke, saying, "I'm 0 for 2 here, Kenny."

What Johnston did well most of the afternoon was explain what was working and what wasn't without making it overly technical.  He broke down the Rams' touchdown pass with 6:14 left in the third quarter expertly explaining how all the movement in the offensive line and backfield all went right, except for a tight end who allowed himself to get bunched up in the line blocking for a few beats before slipping off down the left side of the field uncovered.

And, miracle of miracles, Fox actually had video of that one.

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As for sideline reporter Laura Okmin, she was late in  reporting Justin Forsett's broken arm. The Sun already had it posted online by the time she announced it. But, in fairness, she quoted it as being "officially" confirmed by the Ravens, and the contract between Fox and the NFL might require her to hold off until she gets that kind of confirmation.

The best thing Fox did all day in connection with the Ravens and Rams didn't happen in Baltimore or during the game. It came out of the "State Farm Game Break" (see the advertising overload did officially fry what's left of my brain) post-game studio show.

Michael Strahan started the ball rolling by questioning why Rams quarterback Case Keenum was on the field at the end of the game after stumbling around in the closing minute after his head hit the turf.

"I was surprised Case actually stayed in the game after that hit," Strahan said.

"Yeah, isn't there a guy up in the booth who's supposed to be looking for guys who've had significant hits?" Howie Long asked ending his remarks with a whistle.

"He was staggering after the hit," Jimmie Johnson concurred.

"The system faltered on that one," Long concluded.

Good for you guys.

But watch out. Didn't you get the memo that turned Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth at NBC into NFL puppet dogs singing the praises of Commissioner Roger Goodell during their telecasts?

Don't you know you cannot criticize the NFL – especially when the great Goodell says how dedicated the league is to policing head injuries and what a great system it has in place to protect the players.

As for me, I'm heading over to Burger King for those $1.49 chicken nuggets. Maybe I'll pick up a diamond ring on the way home.

david.zurawik@baltsun.com

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