During a January news conference in Los Angeles, NBC play-by-play man Al Michaels lamented that Fox got the first overtime Super Bowl in 2017 with the New England Patriots win over Atlanta.
"I guess now we’re rooting for the first ever, like, triple overtime Super Bowl so they go deep into the night," cracked Michaels.
That scenario didn't happen. He got something better.
Michaels and analyst Cris Collinsworth ended up with a game that may go down in history as the best Super Bowl, if you are talking about from start to finish.
The Philadelphia Eagles' video-game like offensive performance in a 41-33 victory over the Patriots went down to the final Hail Mary play in a game that was even more dramatic because viewers were used to Pats quarterback Tom Brady pulling off miracles.
Michaels ended the game with a line that sounded familiar in Buffalo: "For the Philadelphia Eagles, the long drought is over," he concluded.
Michaels and Collinsworth are two of my favorite announcers and they had strong moments.
But they also had some baffling moments, especially Collinsworth.
To his credit, Collinsworth noted near game's end the Eagles defensive line finally got to Brady for a key fumble.
Michaels and Collinsworth also were at their best at the end of the first half, when the Eagles' trick play led to a fourth-down touchdown catch by quarterback Nick Foles from tight end Trey Burton to give them a 22-12 halftime lead.
Collinsworth seemed stunned that Eagles coach Doug Pederson was going for it with a 15-12 lead, and even more stunned after the play succeeded.
"This is an unbelievable call," said Collinsworth before the play. "This is like going for an onside kick. This could decide the game.”
After the play, Collinsworth sang a similar tune: "That is a breathtaking call in the Super Bowl. This play call has a chance to be remembered as one of the all-time greats, just going for it. You don’t make that. ... That is second-guessed forever.”
However, Collinsworth and Michaels weren't very good second-guessing the officials on whether two Eagles touchdown passes would stand or be overturned.
In both cases, they speculated the touchdowns wouldn't stand when they did.
On the first one to Eagles back Corey Clement, they thought he didn't have feet in bounds with control, which was contradicted by a tweet by former NFL head official Dean Blandino.
On the second one to Eagles tight end Zach Ertz that gave the Eagles a 38-33 lead, Michaels was late to realize what Mike Gluc, the spotter for CBS' Greg Gumbel, instantly texted me: The touchdown would stand because Ertz became a runner.
Collinsworth also noted that Brady was having an off-night after he missed a wide-open Rob Gronkowski, only to quickly see Brady hit the tight end on four straight passes in a touchdown drive that brought the Pats to within 22-19.
It also was surprising that Michaels didn't ask Collinsworth whether he thought Pederson was wise to go for a two-point conversion with a 15-3 lead. It failed. They never debated it. When the Pats went ahead, 33-32, that point looked huge.
Collinsworth did make several good points, noting the Pats' fast-paced offense made the Eagles' vaunted pass rush irrelevant until the end of the game, and that Pederson was being even more aggressive during the Super Bowl than he was during the season.
But there is no debating that Collinsworth has had better nights in his broadcasting career.
Now some more highs and lows of the telecast:
- Best Collinsworth line: After Michaels said Brady thought, "My season was over," when Rex Burkhead injured his hand in practice, Collinsworth cracked that Burkhead thought, “My career is over.”
- Best Michaels line: After noting that former Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler was benched for an unspecified reason, Michaels cracked: “It was easier to get information out of East Germany before the wall went down than the Patriots.”
- Ruling overturned: Michaels blamed ex-Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore for being beaten on a long reception to the Eagles' Alshon Jeffery before Collinsworth corrected him to say Pats defensive back Patrick Chung was victimized. To the chagrin of some Bills fans, Collinsworth repeatedly praised Gilmore after he was put on Jeffery and shut him down.
- Handy explanation: Collinsworth wondered if Brady took the tape off his injured hand because he was aware there was a pass play designed to him. He dropped the pass. It seemed odd that he would be thrown to with a bad hand.
- Dumbest comparison: Near game's end, Collinsworth likened the entertainment value of the game to Justin Timberlake's halftime performance. No one is likely to call Timberlake's performance the best ever, except perhaps members of his fan club.
Story topics: super bowl