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Friday, February 23, 2024

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Reviewing Jim Nantz, Tony Romo and CBS’s Broadcast of Super Bowl LVIII

1. Last week, CBS Sports President Sean McManus told Chris “Mad Dog” Russo that he sometimes tells Tony Romo to “calm down a little bit.”

McManus’s message seemed to work for most of Super Bowl LVIII, but it didn’t seem to get through when it mattered most late in the game.

While Romo’s had many solid moments with strategy and identifying defenses, his penchant for hyperbole came back to bite him in overtime.

On a key third-and-6 on the Chiefs’ game-winning drive, he said he thought the Niners should drop back instead of blitz. San Francisco blitzed and got burned big time.

Romo was also right when he said from the get-go that the Niners should go for it on a fourth-and-3 at the Chiefs’ 15 in the fourth quarter. San Francisco went for it, converted and then scored a touchdown two plays later.

However, Romo was too hyped during overtime. Listen, it’s the Super Bowl. It’s overtime. It’s understandable to get hyped. But too often, Romo said, “This is for the Super Bowl.” It can’t work that way. 

When Brock Purdy missed Jauan Jennings with a pass on a third down at the 9-yard line before the Niners kicked their field goal in overtime, Romo said, “I want you to  watch, Jim. This is for the Super Bowl. Cause Chris Jones comes through. Watch on the bottom. Jennings wins for the Super Bowl right down there, but there’s no time because Chris Jones does it again.”

But it wasn’t for the Super Bowl because the Chiefs were going to get the ball even if the Niners scored a touchdown there.

Maybe Romo meant a Jennings touchdown would’ve been for the Super Bowl if the Chiefs don’t end up scoring, but that’s not how it came across on the broadcast and it made me think Romo didn’t know the overtime rule.

You just can’t say “this is for the Super Bowl” when the game is going to continue.

Romo also added to confusion late in overtime after the Niners kicked a field goal when the Chiefs had a first-and-goal at the 3-yard line and the clock ticking away with less than 30 seconds left.

Instead of just saying, “Even if the clock runs out, the Chiefs will still get to continue their drive because it’s their first possession in overtime,” Romo tried to use a first-quarter analogy that didn’t properly explain what was going on. Instead of keeping things simple here, Romo offered an analogy that didn’t really clear things up, saying, “The reason for everyone at home why you’re not taking a time out, just so everyone knows, is ’cause it’s just the first quarter in overtime. That’s how you have to think of it, O.K. We just don’t say at zero we end the game. It’s the end of the first quarter and you move to the second quarter. I can only feel the number of people out there being like, What’s going on?

The “quarter” comparison isn’t what was needed here. What needed to be explained was that the the rules state the Chiefs must finish their first possession overtime.

Unfortunately for Romo, after not being so over-the-top for most of the game, he got caught up in the excitement at the biggest moments in overtime.  

Other thoughts on the telecast:

– Jim Nantz’s call on Mercole Hardman‘s game-winning touchdown was an excellent tip of the cap to Las Vegas. “Mahomes flings it. It’s there! Hardman! Jackpot! Kansas City!”

– I’ve seen a lot of criticism of Nantz and Romo for not belaboring the sideline incident where Travis Kelce yelled at and bumped into Andy Reid. I didn’t have an issue with the duo moving on from it because I know the relationship between Kelce and Reid and I automatically chalked it up to a heat-of-the-moment thing. If you’re an NFL fan, you know that Kelce and Reid have a special relationship. Plus, Tracy Wolfson immediately did a sideline report to explain that Kelce was angry that he wasn’t in the game on a play when Isiah Pacheco fumbled, so I thought the Kelce-Reid incident was a non-story and had no problem with Nantz and Romo treating it as such.

– Major credit to CBS for having the video of the truly awful and stunning injury sustained by Niners linebacker Dre Greenlawn, who tore his Achilles while running onto the field from the sideline. 

– Nantz and Romo were also on top of Kyle Shanahan’s awful decision to take the ball at the start of overtime. They didn’t have enough time to dig into the decision because the action was quickly starting up, but they brought it up and rightfully so.

– After overusing Gene Steratore all season and in the playoffs, CBS was very judicious bringing the rules analyst on during the Super Bowl and it made the broadcast flow so much better.

2. I wish the game would’ve started immediately after CBS’s fantastic opening to Frank Sinatra’s My Way. This package aired at 6 p.m. ET, but the game didn’t kick off until about 45 minutes later after all the manufactured hype and WWE-like nonsense. 

But this tease was so good, it should’ve led right into kickoff.

3. The single-best thing CBS aired all day Sunday was You Are Looking Live, a one-hour documentary-like show on the history of the NFL Today.

I cannot recommend this show enough if you’re a sports media nerd. Brent Musburger offered tremendous insight into the iconic studio show. They didn’t shy away from the controversy surrounding Jayne Kennedy’s dismissal from the show. And the Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder stuff was very powerful. There is a clip of then-Giants coach Bill Parcells giving Greek a pep talk when he was fired from CBS that I don’t think has ever been seen before that was simply stunning.

For some reason, though, it doesn’t appear that the show is available on Paramount+. However, it will re-air on CBS Sports Network this Friday at 6 p.m. and this Sunday at 5 p.m. Set your DVRs.

4. Another highlight of CBS’s Super Bowl coverage was this spoof of The Hangover, featuring the NFL Today crew and one actor from the movie.

5. The call of Hardman’s game-winning touchdown sounded exactly like you thought it would sound on the local Niners radio broadcast. Nothing but pain and anguish.

6. Before he called the Super Bowl on Sunday, Jim Nantz appeared last week on the SI Media Podcast with Jimmy Traina.

You can listen to the podcast below or download it on Apple, Spotify and Google.

You can also watch SI Media With Jimmy Traina on Sports Illustrated’s YouTube channel.

7. RANDOM VIDEO OF THE DAY: Relive the moment on April 27, 2017, when the Chiefs made a pretty good decision.

Be sure to catch up on past editions of Traina Thoughts and check out SI Media With Jimmy Traina on Apple, Spotify or Google. You can also follow Jimmy on Twitter, Instagram and TikTok.

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