Fox’s Super Bowl game telecast began with Troy Aikman contradicting Joe Buck about the reason for the game’s early safety, and Fox stubbornly sticking to its short-sighted approach of not displaying graphics for either team’s starting lineup.
Fortunately, Fox improved from there, serving up a telecast that was generally solid, despite the lopsided score, but clearly short of exceptional. Aikman offered a bunch of cogent points but delivered several head-scratching moments, too.
The good: Aikman correctly predicted before the game that Seattle’s Percy Harvin would be a factor; adeptly explained what Seattle was doing to frustrate Peyton Manning; noted that Denver’s receivers often couldn’t get into their routes because of the Seattle pass rush and tight coverage; and weaved in useful information gleaned from pre-game meetings, such as Seattle’s Earl Thomas questioning Manning’s arm strength.
He spotted nuances, including the fact Seattle safety Kam Chancellor was downfield on his interception against Manning but is usually lined up near the line of scrimmage. He noted Denver didn’t throw a pass against Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman until more than 31 minutes had elapsed. He bemoaned in the fourth quarter: “I don’t know what Denver’s doing — they’re playing so soft” in coverage.
But Aikman, either confused or not particularly skilled at math, asserted that Denver needed “four touchdowns and three three-point conversions” to rally from a 29-0 deficit. Buck either didn’t hear that or understandably didn’t want to embarrass Aikman by correcting him, even though Aikman earlier disputed Buck’s assertion that noise contributed to the first-quarter safety.
Aikman probably overstated matters in claiming this loss would not affect “one thing” about how Manning is remembered. It will to many people, Troy. Also, Aikman curiously spoke of Sherman possibly needing six months to recover without knowing his specific injury.
Because the Super Bowl audience is comprised of millions who don’t have football Ph.Ds, Aikman should have explained his reference to “natural rubbing action” on a passing play. And Aikman continues to irk grammar teachers everywhere by repeatedly saying “many a times.” (Troy, it’s many a time or many times.)
Fox’s production was exemplary, including a terrific slow motion replay of the shock on Manning’s face when the first snap of the game sailed over his head for a safety.
• Fox studio analyst Terry Bradshaw missed the broadcast while mourning the death of his father, Bill, who passed away Thursday. Michael Strahan took his place handling the postgame trophy presentation.
• Among the highlights of Fox’s pre-game show: a classy retrospective on legendary Pat Summerall; Jay Glazer’s emotional interview with Broncos coach John Fox and his wife about his mid-season heart surgery; and Bill O’Reilly’s sometimes contentious conversation with President Barack Obama.
O’Reilly, who interrupted Obama 48 times in their pre-Super Bowl interview in 2011, interrupted him 26 times in 10 minutes on Sunday, prompting Obama to say at one point: “I’m trying to explain it to you if you want to listen.”
O’Reilly asked Obama if telling people they could keep the health insurance they already had, if they wanted, under the Affordable Care Act was the biggest mistake of his presidency. “Bill, you have a long list of my mistakes of my presidency,” Obama responded.
Obama, denying there’s corruption in the IRS, told O’Reilly that “these things keep surfacing because you and [Fox News Channel] support them.”
But O’Reilly ended the interview by telling Obama: “Your heart is in the right place.”
Fox’s red carpet interviews again served partly as a promotional tool for stars of the network’s prime time series. And even though viewers saw video of CBS’ Charlie Rose walking down the red carpet with Bill Murray, Fox’s Charissa Thompson didn’t acknowledge his existence.
The red carpet interviews weren’t as mindless as usual because Chris Myers, who was summoned at the last minute to handle some of them, came up with decent alternative questions to: “Who’s going to win?” Thompson, unfortunately, still felt compelled to ask most celebrities for their game predictions and fawned over Jennifer Garner, among others.
• Pre-game factoids I found interesting: Seahawks coach Pete Carroll rehearsed the 30-minute halftime with his players, according to Pam Oliver… Sherman told Erin Andrews that his NFC Championship postgame personal attack of 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree was “uncalled for.” Sherman had called Crabtree “a sorry receiver.”... Glazer reported Manning called Saints coach Sean Payton and Cardinals coach (and former Colts interim coach) Bruce Arians for insight on how to attack the Seattle defense. It clearly didn’t help.