CBS play-by-play announcer Andrew Catalon was having a very solid game even before he called the Kyle Williams' 1-yard touchdown run in the Buffalo Bills' 22-16 victory over the Miami Dolphins Sunday.
But Catalon's excitement on the Williams call and the fact that he even recognized the defensive lineman had the ball -- while analyst James Lofton rambled on about the previous play – had me thinking of the late Dick Enberg's call of the Bills' 51-3 victory over the Oakland Raiders before the their first Super Bowl appearance.
The Williams' call was that memorable.
"Amazing," said Catalon of Williams' run. "Un-believable. The guy who is the heart and soul of the Bills team."
Nobody could have said it better.
It was my favorite touchdown call of the season.
The only thing that might have been better for Catalon would have been if the Bills victory had finished AFTER the stirring, unbelievable last-minute victory by the Cincinnati Bengals over the Baltimore Ravens put the Bills in the playoffs.
If the Buffalo-Miami game had been the last to finish, Catalon would have had the opportunity to say something even more memorable about the Bills ending their 17-year playoff drought.
The NFL was smart to move all the key games in the playoff race to the late window Sunday and build suspense.
The only downside was CBS had to get off the air relatively quickly in prime time so there was no time to interview any Bills players or coaches about the end of the historic drought.
Catalon, who worked Bills preseason games with former Steve Tasker, had a very strong game. He worked alongside Lofton, the former Bills who became a CBS analyst this season and essentially replaced Tasker alongside Catalon.
I had to feel a little bit for Tasker for not working the game.
I made a New Year's resolution not to criticize Lofton as much this time as I had when he and Catalon worked the Bills victory over Oakland and the Hall of Fame receiver seemed to think he was paid by the word. Let's just say Lofton is a better comedian than he is an analyst. His jokes are more memorable than anything he says about what is happening in the game
CBS showed Western New Yorkers only the final minutes of Cincinnati's win and analyst Dan Fouts was more enlightening in that brief time than Lofton was throughout the Bills game as he belabored the obvious.
Before Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton threw the winning touchdown to Tyler Boyd in the last minute, Fouts noted that Boyd was in the slot on one-and-one coverage and was the guy Dalton should look at.
Sure enough, Dalton hit Boyd for the touchdown that may have excited Bills fans as much -- or more -- than the Kyle Williams touchdown.
To be honest, I immediately thought of the late Jack Buck's call of a home run by an injured Kirk Gibson in the 1988 World Series: "I don't believe what I just saw."
The Bills victory means they will be playing Sunday in their first playoff game since meters came to Western New York to measure the local audience, and that many 20somethings will see their first Bills postseason game.
I wouldn't be surprised if the game against Jacksonville pitting two of the NFL's four smallest market teams – to be called by CBS' No. 1 team of Jim Nantz and Tony Romo -- hit a 50 rating here. That is normally received for a Super Bowl. You know that thing the Bills played in 20something years ago.
Here are more highs and lows of Sunday's coverage and a look ahead to Sunday's game.
Eligibility Issues: Before the game began, Lofton said a lot of Western New York kids who have lived through the drought don’t understand the Bills are actually eligible to go to the playoffs. I think he was kidding when he used the word "eligible." After the football gods smiled on Buffalo Sunday, the Bills no longer are the joke of the NFL.
No Debate: Catalon didn't ask Lofton what he thought of the Bills going for two points when they went ahead, 19-0, until after it failed. Lofton endorsed the decision, saying it was like punching the bully in the nose. If the Dolphins had scored on their final drive, they could have won the game by that point. Catalon also didn't ask Lofton what he thought of the Bills punting rather than trying a 60-yard field goal at the end of the first half.
Funny Analytics: CBS ran a graphic with how long in hours, minutes and seconds the Bills playoff drought had been to show the pain of fans here.
Happy Jack: Who wasn't happy the "Nick O'Leary is Jack Nicklaus' grandson moment" ended early when the tight end caught a touchdown pass to give the Bills a 7-0 lead? CBS immediately cut to Jack, looking sharp in a Bills hat. "And Jack is loving it in South Florida," said Catalon.
Fore: Unfortunately, when Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor overthrew O'Leary in the end zone for what could have been another touchdown, Lofton brought out one of his golf lines out of the bag. Lofton said Tyrod’s overthrow to O’Leary was a 3-iron when he needed a 4-iron for a shorter distance. He also said after Bills kicker Stephen Hauschka kicked a low line drive: “Do you think Hauschka mishit the ball because he knew Jack Nicklaus was watching?”
Radio's Kyle Williams: Everybody feels good for Williams, who finally made the playoffs in his 12th season. I must admit I also feel good for John Murphy, the radio voice of the Bills who never has gotten to do play-by-play on a playoff game since he moved over from being Van Miller's analyst. The drought is over for him, too.
Why Is This Man Smiling? Referee Jeff Triplette seemed to be smiling throughout the game. He made as many mistakes as any play-by-play announcer this season, misstating what down it was a few times.
Lofton's Best Line: It came after Triplette called a penalty on Richie Incognito during a fight even though the Bills guard wasn't on the field. Lofton surmised Incognito was saying: "I know I caused a lot of trouble when I was here but it wasn’t me this time.” Lofton was referring to bullying accusations when Incognito was a Dolphin, though that was never explained.
Not Again: After Bills linebacker Preston Brown ran 99 yards for an apparent touchdown after a fumble by the Dolphins' Jarvis Landry, Catalon wondered aloud if the Bills would lose their second touchdown in two weeks to replay. Lofton noted the possibility Landry was out of bounds when he fumbled. That was the eventual decision, though it wasn't clear on the replays that CBS showed. Lofton was right about one another thing during the delay: "The defensive players hope it takes a while to review because they need to catch their breath." It did.
Dancing with the Stars: In one of the game's stranger moments, Brown seemed to be competing with Bills cornerback Tre' Davious White for a spot on the ABC reality show. He and was shown dancing in celebration while the ruling actually negated his touchdown.
Lofton's Second Best Line: When CBS ran a graphic showing all the things that have changed since the Bills last playoff appearance, including the price of gas and when HBO's "The Sopranos" premiered, Lofton said “If you are one of the Sopranos you can still get gas at $1.14 a gallon.” He also had a good line when Catalon noted that Kyle Williams was too tired to play defense after scoring a 1-yard touchdown. Lofton cracked you get tired "when you run that far with the ball."
Lofton's Rule Fumble: The announcers didn't seem to realize the Bills were trying to draw the Dolphins off-sides on a fourth down before they called a timeout. Lofton seemed to suggest they might do it again and call another timeout. The NFL penalizes back-to-back timeouts on a dead ball.
Pregame Chatter: CBS studio analyst Boomer Esiason said of Taylor: “ This guy has nine lives.” Studio host James Brown said it might be 10. After this victory, make that 11.
Gazing into the Future: Catalon noted early that Adam Gase was going to go for it on fourth down when warranted. The Dolphins coach did so several times. In the process, he showed why most coaches don't go for it. Lofton added that some high school coaches do it all the time.
Bad Timing: Catalon started talking about Bills second-half offensive woes after viewers could clearly see LeSean McCoy was hurt and threw off his helmet. When CBS showed McCoy pounding the turf, Catalon said: "You could see the frustration of McCoy."
Shady News: The NFL Network's Mike Garafolo relieved the anxiety of some Bills when he said the Bills believe LeSean McCoy suffered a sprained ankle and that X-rays were negative. However, sprained ankles can take some time to heal.
Failing Sight Line: In one of Catalon's rare mistakes, he thought that Dolphins quarterback David Fales had made a first down when TV viewers could see otherwise.
Strange Timing: Calaton praised Lofton for saying Gase should have called a timeout with more than two minutes left in the half before the Bills punted. However, saving the timeout was just as effective. And it proved to be a good idea to run the clock since the Dolphins didn't move the ball and the Bills got it back with plenty of time to score. They didn't.
The Legend of Kiko: Catalon was sharp to note after the Dolphins' Kiko Alonso tackled McCoy that he was traded by the Bills to Philadelphia for McCoy, who famously asked “Who is Kiko Alonso?”
He Got That Right: At one point, Lofton really said a penalty was on Miami or Buffalo. And he wasn't trying to be funny.
Raining on the Parade: After the Bengals win put the Bills in the playoffs, CBS studio analyst Boomer Esiason said: "What a wild ride for the Buffalo Bills." He seemed genuinely excited for the Bills. But studio analyst Phil Simms tried to spoil the party. “It is the best thing that could happen to Jacksonville to get the Buffalo Bills. For Buffalo to have a chance, Tyrod Taylor will have to be magnificent." Of course, Simms is right. But some euphoric Western New York kids Lofton was talking about who will see the Bills in a playoff game for the first time probably were channeling McCoy by saying, "Who is Phil Simms?"