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CBS' Gannon comes out firing bullets

This is what I'm thinking:

* CBS' new starter, Rich Gannon, had an impressive start analyzing Bills quarterback J.P. Losman last Sunday. The retired Oakland Raiders quarterback did a solid job alongside CBS play-by-play man Bill Macatee explaining what Losman didn't see in the Bills' 19-3 debacle in Tampa Bay.

Gannon was sharp on the first series, noting that Losman didn't see Bucs linebacker Derrick Brooks drop back into zone coverage after Brooks dropped a potential touchdown.

Gannon also didn't shy away from criticizing Bills coach Mike Mularkey for benching Losman in the fourth quarter. He said he was "shocked" by the move, adding it would feed media speculation about a quarterback controversy and undermine Losman's confidence.

Confidence doesn't appear to be as big a problem for Losman as reading defenses. He does have luck on his side, with the Bucs and Texans having dropped several potential interceptions.

* Alex Van Pelt, the retired Bills quarterback, continues to illustrate that he isn't a homer. On Sunday's broadcast, he noted that Losman had a poor day throwing.

* The Bills-Tampa game had a healthy 35.9 rating on WIVB-TV, with ratings in the Buffalo market only behind those in Kansas City (42.7) and Pittsburgh (37.3) in NFL cities. And fans of the Chiefs and Steelers at least saw high-scoring victories. Fortunately for the Bills and their reputations, the Bucs game only went to 6 percent of the country.

* It would be beneficial for Bills fans if another retired quarterback worked the Bills-Atlanta game Sunday on Fox affiliate WUTV to assess Losman's performance. No such luck. Play-by-play man Sam Rosen is joined by former All-pro defensive lineman Bill Maas. The telecast is going to 18 percent of the country.

* The Bills might have been originally wearing throwback jerseys when WGR AM-550 and WGRZ-TV had the same owner. But the stations are getting cozy again. The radio station's Howard Simon appears on WGRZ-TV on Monday mornings to talk about Bills games and Mike Schopp is now a regular on Sunday night's "Sports Extra." Meanwhile, Channel 2 Sports Director Ed Kilgore pops up on Schopp's afternoon show and in the evenings with Brad Riter. Channel 2 General Manager Jim Toellner said he is a big WGR listener and thought the trades would work well for both parties. Toellner said he isn't paying Simon or Schopp.

* It turns out that five hours can be too much football on Monday night. The first half of the New York Giants' 27-10 victory over the New Orleans Saints had a 12.8 rating on Channel 7. Washington's comeback 14-13 victory over Drew Bledsoe and the Dallas Cowboys had an 11.5 rating in prime time and slipped to under double-digits by the time the Redskins' Santana Moss scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns. We think of Buffalo as a huge football town, but CBS' prime time lineup on Channel 4 won a one-sided victory Monday over ABC's football.

* Notre Dame's 2-0 start under new coach Charlie Weis led to heightened local interest in the Irish's game at Michigan State last Saturday. The game averaged a 6.5 rating on WKBW-TV, two to four times as high as most college games get here.

* Paul Maguire, the ESPN analyst and local advertising pitchman, reportedly will work college football games next season now that ESPN has decided to team Joe Theismann with Al Michaels on "Monday Night Football" when it gets the package next season.

* Still no word on whether the Dish Network is going to make a deal with MSG in time to carry regular-season Buffalo Sabres games. DirecTV has already made its deal. The more Dish subscribers inquire about it, the more likely the satellite service will get the message that a deal must be made to prevent switches to DirecTV.

* You knew this was coming. After getting the new NHL contract, OLN reportedly plans to ask cable companies for a raise of 40 cents per subscriber. And how will the cable companies get the money back? By asking you, the subscriber, for it.

* If you want to suffer through the Bills-Tampa game again, Adelphia is offering a 10-minute highlights version on one of its demand channels for digital cable subscribers. It can be found by calling up channel 916 or going to Sports and Fitness on your guide, pressing the NFL Network and heading to the Buffalo Bills zone.

e-mail: apergament@buffnews.com

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