Grading the Super Bowl broadcast (cont.)
SI's Peter King had a timely piece on Steelers defensive guru Dick LeBeau, the maestro of the zone blitz. Two of his players, James Farrior and James Harrison, made like participants in a Jay Leno "Man in the Street" skit, failing to remember when LeBeau played. "They know I did," said LeBeau. And so did we after seeing some vintage video. Costas and King did some back-and-forth, but it wasn't a day for big NFL news.
Live video of the plays that were also caught in still photography and became SI covers commemorating Pittsburgh's five previous Super Bowl championships ... A bit with space shuttle commander Mike Fincke, who turned upside down in space so we could read his "Terrible Towel" ... The flashing "14 minutes to Bruce Springsteen interview" ... NBC newsman Brian Williams on his encounter with The Boss at a gas station ... Alaska governor Sarah Palin giving a shout-out to the nation's military men and women serving overseas ... The crew of Flight 1549 being introduced ... Jennifer Hudson's return to public life with the National Anthem ... NBC's new graphic package for the game.
Outdoors with Jim Cantore
The Weather Channel guy is a favorite in this corner. You knew it wasn't going to be a weather event when he wasn't dressed in his work uniform -- that impervious-to-everything blue foul weather gear he wears when storm debris is flying by his head. He did look spiffy in his tailored business suit, though, as he guaranteed good weather for the game.
Grade B for beautiful day.
He had the promotional tour for NBC shows and Universal movies. Nice shows all, I'm sure, but none will do what the final episode of M*A*S*H once did and outrate the Super Bowl.
Andrea Kremer & Alex Flanagan
These two had the arguably thankless jobs of reporting from in front of the buses, outside the team hotels and then from the sidelines. Fortunately, they're both pros and understood their contributions also served as an unofficial clock in moving the show along. Flanagan did a live pregame interview with Kurt Warner. His cooperation helped it work: "You're restless with different plays going through your mind. It's hard to get away from it. It's getting closer. You're anxious and excited. That level is going up as kickoff gets closer." Kremer had a "poetry in motion" piece with Steeler Troy Polamalu. "The greatest warriors in history all had long hair," he said. There weren't any notable sideline reports needed in the game.
Harrison, on his mending leg (quadriceps tear), demonstrated to Cris Collinsworth some techniques for defending the Cardinals' Larry Fitzgerald. "People play off him. I get frustrated as a DB seeing him run free in the postseason. I'd stay low, play inside technique and jack him up every play. If you play off him, like the rest of the league, when you're backpedaling, you give up the out route. That's the 70-yard catch." Harrison punctuated his demo with a couple of shots to Collinsworth's unprotected ribs. "Hey, where are you going," said Harrison. "I've had enough," said Collinsworth ... On David Tyree's game-changing catch last year, Harrison said, "For the first six months I second-guessed myself. Finally I realize that some things you can't do anything about. It was destined for them to win that game. It still hurts every time I see it."
The Coaches & Matt Millen
Millen was very good, Mike Holmgren was excellent, and Tony Dungy was superb. Dungy is ready for prime time immediately. Millen is a veteran of the TV world. Holmgren would be ready for next season should he decide to move in that direction. All worked well with Collinsworth and Costas, and worked easily segueing
Neumy is an outstanding live interviewer. His only call was from outside the Cardinals' hotel (after Flanagan departed for the stadium). "If you like the Cardinals, you're going to love this nugget. Teams, college and pro, who have stayed at this unnamed hotel over the last three years are undefeated. That's an eight-game winning streak." Unfortunately that streak was broken. Neumy clearly was at the ready in case a news story broke during the game.
The late-night guys: Conan O'Brien & Jay Leno
O'Brien joined Costas and cracked some so-so jokes and did a slapstick piece (in a Tom Brady uniform) about trying out as a placekicker. It was lame, but better than the video piece about not playing football at Andover, Mass., High that Leno mailed in. Far more effort went into the later promo for Leno's coming fall show -- which he shot while driving a Cobra.
Grade: D for dumb
His star keeps growing at NBC. Besides contributing on the studio desk with Dungy, Holmgren, Millen and Costas, he contributed an excellent pregame film breakdown on the two teams with The Beli-Strator -- Patriots coach Bill Belichick:
On stopping the Steelers' rush: "Everyone's got to be picked up, then you have to block them. You've got to be physical with them or they start to smell the blood in the water. You can spread the field, which the Cardinals do a lot. Kurt Warner doesn't have a lot of protection and has to get the ball out in a hurry."
On the Cardinals: "Their linebackers run downhill. They attack the line of scrimmage rather than running laterally. If they penetrate, it's a loss. It gives the Steelers the opportunity to run reverses, crossing patterns or bootlegs."
Collinsworth: "That's pretty good stuff. You ought to think about getting into coaching." That brought a Belichick laugh.
Matt Lauer with President Obama on Day XII
It seemed a bit informal, more chummy than journalist-interviewing-President, especially when serious topics included the economy and Iraq. Still, the President revealed more of his home life in 10 minutes than some NFL coaches do in 10 years. You had to love his "I now have a nice home office" line, support for the Rooney family, and preference for a college football playoff.
NBC had added goal-line cameras -- 300 frame per second "X-Mo" units -- that came into play on Arizona's early challenge and the review of Steeler James Harrison's half-ending 100-yard interception return. The camera angles and shot selection made it clear this was an NBC production and not CBS or Fox.
NBC producer Gaudelli and director Drew Esocoff concentrated on the game and sideline emotion. Of the crowd shots, the most interesting was the transformation of Brenda Warner.
The Cable Cam got a lot of use and showed a definitive replay of Warner's intentional grounding throw in the third quarter.
Audio made it sound like a definite Steelers' crowd.
Replays highlighted the two Larry Fitzgerald catches -- the David Tyree-like one-yard grab and the stunning 64-yarder on which cameras caught him looking at the video board to check on his pursuers. A replay with the "Show All [players] camera" showed how Pittsburgh's defense was set to deny the deep ball.
The Michaels-Madden combination. Just fine, thank you.
Great game, great coverage.
The halftime show
Best ever. Vintage Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band. Funny Lines: "Throw that Hail Mary," "It's Boss (over) Time," "We're going to Disneyland." Surely, NBC would have preferred him to say Universal...