At the end of the first half, I was ready to write my first mostly favorable review of a CBS telecast featuring Greg Gumbel and Trent Green.
Gumbel was far more energized and focused than I can remember him being. And while Green had to be prompted a couple of times by Gumbel to take viewers inside the action, the former quarterback offered solid analysis when given the prompts.
But then with 3:46 left in the third quarter of a 30-17 Ravens win, they fell back on their old self-important, yuk-yuk ways at the expense of alerting viewers to the rhythm of what was happening in the stadium.
The Oakland Raiders had just scored a touchdown bringing them within seven points at 24-17, and the momentum shifted with the score.
But instead of seizing on that energy, the telecast came back with images from Saturday of the Blue Angels flying in formation, which prompted Green to go into an anecdote about riding with them at one of the Super Bowls.
And that led to Gumbel joking about whether Green got sick while in the air. And back and forth and blah, blah, blah, blah they went about this stupid fly-along, while the cameras and microphones were starting to show a stadium coming back to life and then getting louder and louder with the Raiders getting back in the game.
In fairness, once they finally finished with the anecdote and lame jokes, Gumbel said, "Listen to the crowd." But you would have to have been deaf and in a coma not to have been listening to it during their blather.
I might not have lost it here if it was the first time the telecast was about Green and Gumbel instead of the game. But with 9:27 left in the third quarter, we had been treated to yearbook photos and memories of Gumbel's 50-year college reunion.
I would have let this one pass. But coupled with the I-flew-with-the-Blue-Angels-once reminiscence, it was too much — especially given that the Blue Angels talk came at the exact point when the two guys in the booth should have been alerting viewers to the tremendous shift in momentum.
Did you know Gumbel was in a rock band in college called The Whom? I know, how could you not have known that and considered yourself educated.
It is like they lost their entire focus after halftime. After mentioning for what seemed like the hundredth time that the Raiders weren't making enough use of wide receiver Amari Cooper, Gumbel credited him with 7:35 left in the third quarter with a key reception. Except Cooper (#89) wasn't the Raider who actually made the catch. It was Seth Roberts (#10).
Gumbel quickly corrected himself, saying he had "Amari Cooper on the brain," but how do you confuse 89 with 10? Really?
Let me say something good about the telecast.
CBS had excellent replay of Roberts' run along the sideline after the catch. The Ravens challenged the ruling on the field saying Roberts had stepped out of bounds before the spot on the field where the ball was placed, and the replay showed clearly that he had. The Ravens won the appeal.
My notebook is filled with quite a bit of positive stuff in the first half.
With 4:25 left in the first quarter, Green told viewers to note how Ravens running back Alex Collins "holds the ball high" on a strong run. He said it was the result of the coaches trying to cut down on fumbles and suggesting a new way of Collins cradling the ball.
I missed that while watching the run, and I appreciated Green pointing it out. That's just the kind of thing an engaged analyst should do.
And I loved the enthusiasm with which Gumbel started the broadcast, and the prompts he gave Green to get his analyst going.
With 11:57 left in the second quarter, Gumbel asked Green how he thought the Ravens early lead would change the Raiders' game plan. Good question.
With 8:57 left in the second, he asked Green how he thought Joe Flacco was "throwing the ball today."
Yes, I really did want to know what this former quarterback thought of Flacco's performance given what the Ravens quarterback looked like last week.
If only they had stuck to the game and left the talk about college reunions and not eating when you fly with the Blue Angels until later in the hotel bar after the CBS cameras and microphones had been packed up and put away.