CBS tele­cast was as good as Dal­las in sec­ond half

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

The story of the Cow­boys’ 27-17 vic­tory over the Ravens on Sun­day was the fo­cus and en­ergy with which Dal­las con­trolled the game in the sec­ond half. That was also the story of another strong tele­cast from the CBS team of Ian Ea­gle, Dan Fouts and Evan Washburn.

While the team in the booth was fine in the first half, the pro­duc­tion was be­low par. The main prob­lem in­volved re­plays that view­ers were not be­ing of­fered.

With 11:18 left in the half, for ex­am­ple, a Ravens gain was nul­li­fied by a hold­ing call on Jeremy Zut­tah. The Ravens cen­ter shook his head re­peat­edly in protest, and I wanted to see if he was right. But CBS failed to show a re­play.

The sec­ond half, how­ever, was out­stand­ing. CBS came out ev­ery bit as strong as the Cow­boys, and didn’t miss a beat in chron­i­cling the way they wore the Ravens down.

The cam­era work and re­plays were in per­fect sync with an­a­lyst Fouts — com­ment for com­ment, beat for beat as the Cow­boys started mak­ing plays.

With 11:59 left in the third quar­ter, view­ers saw Cow­boys wide re­ceiver Dez Bryant catch­ing a first-down pass on third-and-9. It looked like a nice catch — noth­ing great.

But then, the first re­play fea­tur­ing a tight shot from a side­line cam­era took view­ers deeper in­side the game by show­ing how fast and strong Bryant was in us­ing his hands on the break to cre­ate space be­tween him and Ravens de­fender Tavon Young. Then view­ers saw Bryant sim­ply out­reach Young for the ball.

“Watch the hands here, reach­ing out and just snatch­ing that ball,” Fouts said as the re­play started to roll — di­rect­ing view­ers to the spe­cific part of the in­ter­play be­tween re­ceiver and de­fender that mat­tered.

View­ers were then in­stantly of­fered another re­play show­ing a sec­ond en­counter that made the play a suc­cess­ful third-down con­ver­sion for Dal­las. This one showed the pass rush of Bran­don Wil­liams be­ing stopped by Dal­las guard Ron­ald Leary.

“Here’s Bran­don Wil­liams, and the pass protection was pretty good that time as Leary takes him to the ground,” Fouts says.

In each re­play, you saw the strength and de­ter­mi­na­tion of a Cow­boys player top­ping that of his Ravens op­po­nent. The tele­cast not only took you in­side the ac­tion, but gave you an un­der­stand­ing of how many things have to go right just to con­vert a third-and-2 in the NFL.

The next play showed rookie run­ning back Ezekiel El­liott gain­ing 14 yards — af­ter be­ing bot­tled up the en­tire first half.

“El­liott clears the hole, and Ezekiel El­liott top­pled as he crosses the 35,” Ea­gle told view­ers as the play un­folded.

“Ron­ald Leary on the block. Four­teen yards for El­liott,” the play-by-play an­nouncer added as El­liott walked back to the hud­dle.

Us­ing an over­head shot, the re­play per­fectly showed Leary once again crunch­ing Wil­liams to open the hole that fi­nally gave El­liott some run­ning room.

The CBS cam­era crew nailed the im­por­tant mo­ments play by play from mul­ti­ple an­gles through­out the sec­ond half.

With 7:31 left in the third quar­ter, we saw two great an­gles of El­liott jump­ing over Young as the Ravens’ de­fender tried to tackle him.

With 6:16 left in the third, we saw mul­ti­ple an­gles of a late hit by Zut­tah and J.J. Wil­cox that re­sulted in a penalty.

And a nice bit of anal­y­sis from Fouts, who pointed out the “good re­straint” by Wil­cox in not throw­ing a punch at Zut­tah and risk­ing an off­set­ting penalty.

With 3:14 left in the third, Fouts an­nounced a turn­ing point in the game.

“You’re start­ing to see the of­fen­sive line start­ing to dom­i­nate,” he said of the Cow­boys.

“This is what the Cow­boys do,” he said with 11:30 left in the game. “They wear you down in the sec­ond half.”

I am guess­ing Fouts up­set some Ravens fans near the end of the game when he said, “The dom­i­nance of the Cow­boys in the sec­ond half was won­der­ful to watch if you were a Cow­boys fan.”

I am sure some Ravens fans un­happy with the loss will read that as bias in fa­vor of Dal­las. I don’t.

If you are a fan of good foot­ball, it was a plea­sure to watch a tal­ented, well-coached team per­form so well down the home stretch. I came away im­pressed with Bryant, for ex­am­ple, in a way I never had be­fore.

The third quar­ter of Sun­day’s game was as skilled and strong a stretch of NFL tele­cast­ing as I have seen on any net­work or cable chan­nel this year.

Ea­gle and Fouts are of­fi­cially the sec­ond CBS booth team be­hind Jim Nantz and Phil Simms. But so far this year, they are No. 1 on the depth chart as far as I am con­cerned.

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