Eagle, Fouts, CBS do it good old-fashioned way
This is what a broadcast team that is in sync sounds like. With 1:13 left in the game, and the Cincinnati Bengals driving, Ravens defensive end Brent Urban reached up and deflected a pass by Andy Dalton at the line of scrimmage.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen this before: Four passes knocked down by defensive linemen,” analyst Dan Fouts said excitedly.
“In the last eight attempts,” added analyst Ian Eagle, finishing the thought without missing a beat.
“Unbelievable,” Fouts replied, responding to the defensive performance on the field and the energy in the stands at M&T Bank Stadium.
The CBS crew of Eagle, Fouts and sideline reporter Evan Washburn delivered another strong telecast Sunday in the Ravens’ 19-14 victory over the Bengals.
I’ve been saying a lot of nice things this season about this crew, particularly Eagle. But I only realized Sunday during the first half what I truly like about him and Fouts this year: They are doing a modern-day version of an old-school broadcast.
I mean, old-school like Ray Scott and Jack Buck of the Green Bay Packers golden era. Maybe that’s old enough to qualify as Old Testament, rather than just old-school. But whatever the case, I’m loving it.
Eagle is a professional broadcaster who seems totally focused on delivering a steady stream of storylines, information and data to the fans without his ego getting in the way. And this season, Fouts seems to have adjusted his game to be a solid complement to the play-by-play lead.
They don’t act like best buddies. They don’t talk about what they had for Thanksgiving dinner or what costumes their kids wore for Halloween — or how much they love all the CBS series being endlessly promoted between plays. Fouts has even stopped talking about his glory days as an NFL quarterback. Hallelujah.
They just do their homework, show up and totally engage with the play on the field.
Most of all, they don’t keep chattering away in the booth, as if they are afraid that three seconds of silence at the microphones is going to drive a massive viewer tune-out. Of all the CBS crews, none is better when a game is tight in the final minutes at letting the telecast breathe — shutting their mouths and letting the energy and ambient sounds of the stadium take over.
This is not to say it was a flawless performance.
With 6:47 left in the game, the Ravens were called for a penalty. On third-and-22, linebacker Albert McClellan was called for hands to the face of the man blocking him, which gave the Bengals a first down.
Viewers did get one replay of the infraction, but it was from the back of the blocker, and you could not see McClellan’s hands. All you could see was the blocker’s head coming up and snapping back.
Fouts tried to make it seem as if that was enough to justify the call, but it wasn’t. And there was time to show another replay after the ensuing play — featuring a camera angle from the side or behind McClellan. But viewers never got it.
That’s not a huge deal. But if the camera work had been as good as the performance in the booth, CBS would have had better views and found the time to show them to viewers.
On the other hand, the production team had three excellent replays of the catch in the back of the end zone by Breshad Perriman for the Ravens’ only touchdown — each showing him getting both feet down with an extra toe tap for good measure.
I know this is a lot of love from me for a CBS sports telecast. And when I tell you that I smiled at one of Fouts’ jokes, some readers will surely be convinced the Russians hacked my computer and are posting fake Zurawik reviews. (Come on, if they can hijack the vote totals in key battleground states, why not? I’m kidding.)
But I had to laugh at the start of the game when Washburn and Eagle reported that Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said the hamstring injury to wide receiver A.J. Green wasn’t nearly as bad on a scale of1to 5 as it was initially thought.
“That’s according to the coach,” Fouts said dryly, “who can’t feel a thing.”
Of all the CBS crews, none is better when a game is tight in the final minutes at letting the telecast breathe.