Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf are not my favorite announcers – far from it. But give them and their producers credit Sunday: While it wasn't their main story line, they did include in their opening remarks Sunday a description the Baltimore Ravens troubling pattern this year of letting down after big wins.
And that was the same sad story for Sunday's 22-17 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. They didn't nail it, but at least they got a piece of it right in their pre-kick-off set-up.
Other than that, well, this was not one of their dumb-and-dumber performances. But it wasn't very good either.
Once again, offering as "inside" knowledge the last thing a coach or player said to him in the hotel Saturday night, Dierdorf made it sound like Seattle quarterback Tarvaris Jackson could barely lift his right arm, let alone throw a football, due to a "partially torn pectoral muscle" on his right side. He and Gumbel talked about how Jackson was in such pain with the injury the day before the game that he tried to protect his right side when he shook hands with them.
Wah. Wah. Wah. Poor Tarvaris.
Can you say rope-a-dope, boys and girls? Or, maybe, CBS Sports could try to find out if they shot Jackson up with pain killers before the game. Other networks have managed to report that players have received pain-killing injections in order to play in games this season, why not CBS?
Whatever the reason, Jackson was throwing the ball pretty well Sunday – especially on key third downs that broke the Ravens comeback hopes in the fourth quarter. But Dan and Greg couldn't seem to get past the way he winced when they shook hands with him at the hotel. What a team of intrepid correspondents.
I admit I am really hacked-off at this telecast, and not just because the Ravens lost. After getting to see Ravens games on Fox and NBC in recent weeks, it was almost unbearable to once again be subjected to the maddening barrage of promotions for CBS prime-time series. All the networks try to exploit the large audiences for football games for promotional purposes, but none do it to the insane extent of CBS.
The network slammed home three quickies for "Hawaii Five-O," "Person of Interest," and "The Mentalist" between the opening montage and the first sounds of the announcers voices – a harbinger of the misery that was to come.
Forgive me, but I think it is overkill to go from a field goal to promotions. And then, come back for a kickoff that is downed in the end zone -- and then break for even more network promotions. Somewhere in that sea of "Only on CBS" was a football game Sunday.
Maybe I should look on the bright side: Sure, the Ravens lost a game they should have won, and that makes me sad. But thanks to the endless reel of promotions that kept interrupting the game, I now know that Marilu Henner will be a special guest star this week on "Unforgettable." And that gives me a reason to live – to see an over-the-hill actress on a show I wouldn't pick up a channel changer if it was lying on the arm of my chair to watch.
OK, how about the production itself?
Well, the director gave me such a lousy angle on the Ravens first failed field goal try that I couldn't tell whether it was 10 feet or 10 yards short. When you show it straight-on from behind the kicker, it is all but impossible to judge length and depth.
The director made the same kind of mistake on a key incomplete third-down pass from Joe Flacco to Anquan Boldin. Viewers were given a ground-level, sideline shot with Boldin running toward the camera, and it left you with no sense of what went wrong on the play, because once again, the right sense of perspective was lost.
And not once during the telecast, were Dierdorf and the director in synch enough to show us visual evidence of some intricacy of play that the analyst was trying to explain. In fact, now that I think of it, Dierdorf offered no such explanations during the entire game.
Instead, he and Gumbel kept saying the obvious over and over: How much the Ravens were relying on the pass as they all but abandoned their running game. But they had no inside explanation for why it was happening.
I guess no one from the Ravens sat them down and explained that to them in the hotel Saturday night. And unless it was handed to them by a publicist, player or team official, how in the world would they ever know the answer?