David Zurawik

Fans weigh in on pain of watching CBS telecast of Ravens loss

Maybe it's the holiday season, but some Ravens fans and readers seemed inspired in their comments on the CBS telecast of the Ravens embarrassing loss to the New England Patriots Sunday.

Here's one from Rick Forno. I asked if I could use his full name because I enjoyed it so much and wanted to make sure he got credit for it.


Hi David -

Just to add to your CBS rantage, which I agree with completely, btw......


1) CBS wardrobe folks still living in 2002, apparently.  American flag lapel pins everywhere? Still?

2) CBS logo stitched on their calling teams' blazer pockets?  That's so ... what.....1950s?

3) Can CBS *ever* do more than continually run loops of the first 8-10 bars of their symphonic theme?  After the first 20 times it gets nails-on-chalkboard annoying.

4) CBS sure loves its audio graffiti -- "whoosh!" "click!" "boom!" for graphics and transitions.

5) I remember one game this season when a player went down.  The CBS announcers said "there's an injured player down, so we'll take a timeout."   But didn't tell us who was hurt until AFTER the commercial ended....which we already knew, thanks to Twitter.

6) "CBS StatTraxx"???  Are they trying to be Xfinity-sounding-cool? (sarcasm!)

7) Is it just me or does CBS run far far far more commercials / breaks than NBC or FOX?  Seems like they just can't wait to go to a break.

8) You mentioned about missing the 'stadium experience' on the telecast.  Sad to see CBS use annoying audio-overs when teasing their 'upcoming' programs between points.   The announcers can't just say "Coming up later on CBS....." -- no, they need background music (or tick-tick-tick for 60 Minutes) as well to 'brand' their promo.  No crowd shots or stadium noise.


9) CBS's overall NFL coverage, from pre-show to in-game, just feels "stuffy" and "stale" and as if things are just thrown together each week w/o passion or excitement.

CBS' tagline is "Only CBS" --- they're right.  Only CBS has such horrific production quality.  That's why this season I only caught a handful of Ravens games live ... just on principle.

NBCSNF is the gold standard for production value and commentary during a football game (minus Bob Costas).  Fox is a strong second these days.

Sorry for the rant, but I had to chime in.

Happy holidays anyway, 41-7 notwithstanding.

-- rick

Just because I'm near the punchbowl doesn't mean I'm also drinking from it.


Z responds: I love the punchbowl line. It was the first time I was able to laugh about anything connected with the Ravens' terrible performance.

Here's Zachary with a link to an article on the best/worst NFL announcers:

Dave: Love reading your articles, always on the spot. If you didn't see the article on ranking NFL announcers check it out. Your opinions have been validated!

Z responds: Thanks for the link. I hope other readers will check it out.

Jerry sent me this one shortly after kickoff during Sunday's game. He had just finished watching a 1 p.m. game on CBS, a game that had big implications for the Ravens.


I frequently disagree with your criticism of CBS' NFL coverage. However, having just finished watching its coverage of the Dolphins game, I must acknowledge that CBS has set an all time low.

I lost count of the times that either the play by play guy or the so-called analyst announced that the Dolphins controlled their own destiny for the playoffs -- they did not -- and that a Dolphins loss clinched a playoff spot for the Ravens -- it did not.

Even a minimal amount of preparation would have clued in these bozos as to what was going on in the AFC. To be so wrong, so often, on 2 such key points is indefensible. If I were calling the shots at CBS, both of them would be looking for a new job.

This one from John came in during the game, too. It referred to a column I recently wrote criticizing Ray Lewis for pulling out his credit card and acting like a hotdog -- saying he would pay the fine of a player involved in a controversial call with which Lewis didn't agree.

David, Great column on Ray Lewis last week. About time someone called him out.

And since the post is getting really long, let's end it with this from Jay in Salisbury:


Mr. Zurawik,

I must take exception to your review of the Ravens  telecast. While the game was a disaster, you didn't review the actual calling of the game, which I thought was spot on.

Phil Simms mentioned the knee brace being a possible cause of Flacco's underthrown to Smith on the Ravens first possession, which Ravens fans know is something that has happened all year.

Both Simms and Nance pointed out bad decisions AND bad passes by Flacco. Simms pointed out how the Ravens offense is the most blitzed in the league, which I did not know, because defenses are not afraid to over our receivers 1 on 1 and our offensive line is so vulnerable. He pointed out how Flacco had tried to convert a 4th down pass to Jacoby Jones in tight coverage and failed when he had Pitta wide open underneath for a first down conversion. How his second interception was a terrible pass, and a long pass down the middle to a doubled covered Jones was a throw he should not have made and how he didn't understand how Flacco even attempted the pass.

And with Simms being an ex quarterback, I thought I could sense frustration in his voice on that particular pass.  He also said it was a bad call by Ravens on 3rd and 1 inside the 10 when the Ravens went with 5 wide outs leaving no one in the backfield so the Patriots didn't even have to worry about a run or even a play action pass. And how on 4th down they went with the same 5 wide formation, called a time out, and then came back with Rice in the backfield.

As I heard Gerry Sandusky on the radio say about the procedure penalty being changed to encroachment, it may have mattered if this was a close game. And besides they actually got the call correct along with getting the call correct on the Ravens player helmet coming off. Isn't that what we want? And Simms did point out the interference call on Jimmy Smith in the end zone was questionable.


I believe everyone knows this year has been the worst officiated year in a long time, if not ever. To harp on it in a blowout loss? Really not necessary. At least for me.

Thank you.

Z responds: Thank you, Jay, for your very civil disagreement. You are the kind of fan and viewer with whom I appreciate having a dialog. I agree with you on many of the things you credit Simms for doing well. I have often praised him. But I am still angry today about him and Nantz refusing to call the officials out, because it is a symptom of the larger problem with CBS coverage: It is more concerned with pleasing the NFL than serving the fans. Overall, it was a lazy, lackluster telecast. And with the first-string CBS team in town, it should have and could have been much better, despite the Ravens wretched performance.