A tele­cast wor­thy of big-mar­ket ad­ver­saries

Baltimore Sun - - RAVENS INSIDER - David Zu­rawik david.zu­rawik@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/davidzu­rawik

Let’s give CBS Sports some credit for its cov­er­age of the Ravens’ 19-17 vic­tory Sun­day over the Jack­sonville Jaguars.

I have not been shy about rip­ping them, so I should not be ret­i­cent about giv­ing them their due.

The an­nounc­ers, Tom McCarthy and Adam Archuleta, kept their fo­cus pri­mar­ily on the game, and the pro­duc­ers gave us two re­play an­gles on ev­ery play that mat­tered. And the re­plays were al­most al­ways up within the space of one live play. They didn’t have all the cam­era an­gles, but they made good use of the ones they had.

Trans­la­tion: I am a mostly happy camper.

There was a stretch of four turnovers in the fourth quar­ter that de­fined the qual­ity of this tele­cast. Fourth quar­ters are usu­ally a time when bad broad­cast­ing teams start to drift and lose fo­cus. Remember Dan Dier­dorf’s last cou­ple of years?

Granted, it is kind of hard to lose fo­cus when the ball is chang­ing hands as of­ten as it did fol­low­ing a fum­bled punt by Devin Hester with 9:01 left in the game, but this crew was never bet­ter than dur­ing the wild stretch that fol­lowed.

The best mo­ment dur­ing that se­quence came with 4:10 left in the game, when Timmy Jerni­gan tipped a pass that led to a Ravens in­ter­cep­tion.

I could not tell who was re­spon­si­ble for the tip as it hap­pened live, but Archuleta said, “I think that’s Timmy Jerni­gan again.”

It was hard to see who it was in the crush of Ravens surg­ing to­ward Jack­sonville quar­ter­back Blake Bor­tles on the play, and Jerni­gan had an of­fen­sive line­man try­ing to drive him into the ground, so his num­ber was par­tially ob­scured. But sure enough, the first re­play showed Jerni­gan’s right arm come up at the last sec­ond to de­flect the ball. And the sec­ond play an­gle made it even eas­ier to see, thanks to Archuleta telling me where to look.

“Un­be­liev­able play by Jerni­gan,” Archuleta said, as that re­play ran.

And less than a minute later, with 3:20 left in the game, Archuleta nailed the ex­pla­na­tion for an in­ter­cep­tion of Joe Flacco by line­backer Paul Posluszny.

“This is all about the out­side pass rush,” he said just be­fore the first re­play ran.

As he di­rected viewer’s at­ten­tion to de­fen­sive end Dante Fowler, the re­play showed the Jack­sonville pass rusher hit­ting Flacco’s right arm just as the Ravens quar­ter­back re­leased the ball, re­sult­ing in the wounded duck that hung in the air for Posluszny to grab.

Archuleta wasn’t per­fect. In fact, a few of his ear­lier play pre­dic­tions were off

With 40 sec­onds left in the first half and the Ravens at mid­field, he told view­ers the Ravens were “go­ing to work the mid­dle of the field, down­field, to try and get a big play.”

On the next play, Flacco threw a short side­line pass.

But his pregame pre­dic­tions were dead-on, es­pe­cially the one that told view­ers to pay at­ten­tion to Jerni­gan and Ter­rell Suggs ver­sus of­fen­sive line­men Luke Joeckel and Christo­pher Reed. Suggs came to life in that wild fourth quar­ter and made some big plays, as well.

McCarthy brought en­ergy, emo­tion and fo­cus to his play-by-play, even dur­ing the early stretches of the con­test when it seemed like two medi­ocre teams play­ing with­out much in­ten­sity. Best of all, his fo­cus was to­tally on the field. There was no silly chit-chat in the booth, thanks to the tone he set.

And, hey, let’s hear it for side­line reporter Chris Fis­cher, who ac­tu­ally man­aged to get an in­ter­view (of­f­cam­era) with John “I’m-too-im­por­tantto-talk-to-a-peas­ant-like-you” Har­baugh.

It ap­pears Har­baugh ac­tu­ally told him some­thing that seemed to be true: that the Ravens were go­ing to try and get the ground game go­ing in the sec­ond half by run­ning be­tween the tack­les.

Bal­ti­more and Jack­sonville are two small-mar­ket teams that have not gen­er­ated much na­tional in­ter­est so far. If there was any game on which CBS Sports could have saved a few bucks in pro­duc­tion costs, this was it.

But CBS Sports didn’t. We got a solid crew and a tele­cast wor­thy of a much big­ger mar­ket.

I know. I am kind of shocked, too.

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