Alan Pergament: Unlike the Bills, Romo lived up to the hype - The Buffalo News

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Alan Pergament: Unlike the Bills, Romo lived up to the hype

CBS analyst Tony Romo was as good as advertised.

The Buffalo Bills weren't.

Unlike the Bills, Romo didn't disappoint in the New York Jets' 34-21 victory on Thursday Night Football.

It was the first time for many Bills fans to watch a whole game called by Romo to see if all the positive national reviews for the former Dallas Cowboys quarterback's new job were warranted.

Almost from the start, Romo proved they were.

It took him a little while to make his signature move – predicting plays before they happen. But then he predicted a read-option play by Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor to the right seconds before it happened.

Romo's final play prediction came on the final meaningful play when he saw the Jets would run right on a third and long to try and get a first down and run out the clock. They did just that.

You could tell Romo isn't a big fan of Taylor even if he didn't say that. He often questioned the quarterback leaving the pocket early and occasionally praised him when he stood in it and made a typical NFL quarterback play.

It also was clear that Romo and play-by-play man Jim Nantz have established a quick rapport as they had fun with each other.

When CBS cameras' caught famous Jets fan Fireman Ed in the crowd with the Jets leading, 24-7, Nantz noted that the superfan must have come out of retirement before quickly adding that he wasn't suggesting Romo do the same.

They had several humorous and entertaining moments that were needed in what was essentially a Jets' blowout victory. What Bills fan wanting to go to sleep didn't love Romo's suggestion that the officials stop calling penalties midway through the fourth quarter and get the game over quickly?

If there is one thing to criticize Romo for it is something he can't do anything about: His voice. He doesn't have a top-flight broadcasting voice.

He has a casual commentary style that also means he doesn't sound very excited even when he is. Not that there was much for a Bills fan to get excited about Thursday.

Nantz seems to easily have made an instant adjustment from switching from Phil Simms to Romo as his broadcast partner on the No. 1 CBS team and does a good job drawing out Romo with questions, as a play-by-play man should.

Now on to more highs and lows of the broadcast of what surely was the low point for the Bills this season.

Stranger Things: Romo and Nantz constantly said this game was upside down from the Bills' 21-12 victory over the Jets in the season opener. He noted that the Bills dominated the opener on both sides of the ball and had a huge rushing advantage over the Jets, while the opposite occurred in this game. "Sometimes it is about effort, health and, once in a blue moon, scheme comes into play," assessed Romo.

Great Opening: CBS opened the game cleverly with a feature that noted all the abuse the Bills and Jets were receiving in preseason about their chances to win games this season.

Let's Get Physical: When the Jets went ahead, 31-7, Romo provided the best summary of the game: "Give the Jets credit for dominating both sides of the ball and Buffalo did not show up on two sides of the ball as they have been in the past."

The Eyes Have It: Romo was so gentle in his criticism of Taylor overall that you had to read between the lines. "I just wish he'd trust his eyes," Romo said early in the game. That appeared to be a nice way of saying Taylor should anticipate throws better.

Film Student: Romo singles out players who miss assignments and he appears to know the assignments just by looking at coverages. One presumes that is because he does a lot of film study as preparation.

Film Teacher: Romo also explains defenses well. I imagine many fans enjoyed hearing what the 6 technique of playing defensive end means. Or not.

He Said Playoffs? Playoffs? Early in the game, Romo said the Bills success wasn't a "mirage." With the Jets ahead, 10-7, in the second quarter, Romo added: "I think the Buffalo Bills make the playoffs this year."

Hey, Grandpa: The fact that Bills tight end Nick O'Leary's famous grandfather is mentioned in every Bills game has become a bit of a joke. But Romo put a fresh spin on near the end of the game when he asked if Jack and Barbara Nicklaus have to hear they are O’Leary’s grandparents every game. By that time, every Bills fan needed a laugh.

No Maybe About It: After Bills rookie receiver Zay Jones scored his first touchdown, Romo said: “This is the best route I’ve seen Zay Jones run maybe of the season.”

More Positive Analysis: After one of LeSean McCoy's few decent runs, Romo said: "People tell me he is losing a step. He is not losing anything.” He blamed McCoy's issues on poor blocking. Who could argue Thursday night?

Another Laugh: Romo declared the game over with about 8 minutes left with the Jets up 34-7, and then seemed to take it back. He explained a producer sent a message to his ear to hedge about it being over. No need to hedge.

Dancing with the Stars: CBS' cameras showed the Jet defense dancing on the field in the fourth quarter. They obviously weren't as concerned as the CBS producer about the game not being over.

They Said Playoffs? Playoffs? You knew the Bills were in trouble when Nantz and Romo started talking about the Jets' playoff chances in the second quarter. By game's end, the Jets looked like the playoff team.

Hughes Mistake: Just as I asked on Twitter, CBS showed a replay of what earned the Bills' Jerry Hughes a 15-yard penalty. Apparently it wasn't what we saw, but what we didn't hear.

Romo Rubs Off: After Nantz told how former receiver Chad Ochocinco took Jet receiver Robby Anderson under his wing, Anderson caught a touchdown pass. That led to a suggestion that Romo's play-calling anticipation was rubbing off on Nantz. It was fun, but Nantz didn't predict a pass to Anderson so it wasn't the same thing as calling a play.

Graphic Mistake: CBS' graphics have made a few stumbles this year. When a penalty was called against the Bills' Tre' Davious White, the graphic said it was on "J. Ihedigbo." He was on the Bills last year.

Trade Talk: Romo was enthusiastic about the Bills' acquiring receiver Kelvin Benjamin in a trade: “That is shocking," he said. "That’s a big-time get.”

Good News: The good news for the Bills is this embarrassment likely will be the lowest-rated NFL prime time game of season since it is only on nationally on The NFL Network and locally on broadcast stations in Buffalo and New York.

After Further Review: At the end of the game when the Bills' schedule was put up on a slide, Romo appeared to change his mind about the Bills playoff prediction without actually saying it. "I said the Bills were going to make the playoffs," said Romo. "Look at their schedule." Look at this game, too.

The Future: After praising the enthusiasm of Bills fans at New Era Field home games, Nantz suggested he and Romo could be here Dec. 3 for the Bills game with the New England Patriots. Off of this performance, they are welcome to do Bills games any time. And by then, Bills fans should know if the 5-2 start was a "mirage."

email: apergament@buffnews.com

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