While much of the attention Sunday was on the season-opening debut of former Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo as analyst on the top NFL broadcast team at CBS, a smaller story about the network's football coverage has gone less noticed.
CBS Sports has done a good job of deepening its bench and bringing younger and more enthusiastic play-by-play announcers and analysts to weekly lineups of five and six games — especially in smaller markets. Case in point: the call of Spero Dedes and Adam Archuleta in the Ravens' 20-0 win over the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday.
There was nothing terrific about either of them. But they were informed, largely held their focus and did not run their mouths about their careers or personal feelings. That's what some of the over-the-broadcast-hill former players and their play-by-play partners did in the bad old days when too many folks in the CBS booths acted like they were at a sports banquet celebrating their careers instead of working to make the game more accessible and enjoyable to fans.
(Readers of this column over the years will know who I am talking about. No need to beat up on folks who are no longer employed at CBS. OK, Dan Dierdorf?)
Dedes made some mistakes, like saying the Ravens were going to run out the clock at the end of the first half when they were clearly trying to get into field-goal range. But he instantly corrected himself.
Archuleta seemed a little over-invested early on in a story line of Joe Flacco that said no quarterback is likely to be very sharp after missing the entire pre-season. But once it became clear that Flacco was plenty sharp enough to make the throws he had to in beating the Bengals, Archuleta gave him his due.
I did think he was a little slow in noticing how disruptive Terrell Suggs was early on. But, again, there were a lot of other strong defensive performers for the Ravens before Suggs took control of the game as few players can.
Archuleta's most-perceptive analysis of the day involved him talking about how Ravens pass defenders "seemed to know what is coming before the Bengals do … and are in perfect position."
The next beat in that analysis should have been to talk about why that was happening. Was it scouting? Was it coaching? Are the linebackers and secondary that good?
Archuleta could have done a lot more in that regard. But, at least, he noticed and commented on what was happening.
Sideline reporter Melanie Collins made the most of her on-air time. With 4:10 left in the first quarter, she had details and confirmation of the injury to Ravens running back Danny Woodhead. That was less less than 30 game-clock seconds after he went down grabbing his hamstring.
I thought Collins also did a good job of getting details and explaining why Flacco was in the medical tent on the sidelines at the end of the third quarter.
With 14:35 left in the 4th quarter, she told viewers that an "independent spotter" had seen his head hit the turf when he was sacked and thought he should be checked for concussion. The way the Ravens have been snakebit by injuries I was delighted with the news that he was cleared to continue on the field.
If someone beat her on social media, big deal. CBS Sports is legacy media, and legacy media still try to actually confirm stuff.
If you are looking to give a game ball to somebody, I would give it to director Jim Cornell and producer Sellers Shy. They had cameras in the right places on most of the key plays and generally followed with informative replays. And when you are telecasting primarily to Baltimore and Cincinnati, you have fewer cameras.
They had an excellent replay on the Flacco sack that showed the vicious whiplash he experienced as he was sandwiched by Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap.
They had sharp focus on each of the tipped balls that led to Ravens interceptions and most of the key penalties.
No, there was nothing to rave about in this telecast. But there was nothing to make your head explode either. And I remember the days only a few years ago when CBS crews were missing kickoffs and analysts were talking about their Halloween costumes instead of what was happening on the field.
I will take Sunday's telecast any day.