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Super Bowl, 'Inside' get high marks

This is what I'm thinking:

*Here's another local Super Bowl ratings record that resulted from Pittsburgh's 27-23 victory over the Arizona Cardinals.

The 50.4 rating on Channel 2 made it the highest-rated program in Western New York history since Nielsen meters began measuring the audience in April of 2000.

All the highest-rated games here have been Super Bowls except for a Buffalo Bills regular season game with Cleveland in December 2007 that had playoff implications. It had a 46.9 rating.

*The Super Bowl edition of Showtime's "Inside the NFL" made some points that were missed in NBC's coverage. Warren Sapp noted that the Cards' Larry Fitzgerald was unable to catch up with the Steelers' James Harrison on his 100-yard interception return for a touchdown until it was too late because he bumped into the Cards' Antrel Rolle in a prohibited area on the sideline.

Cris Collinsworth said the Steelers would have gotten a free play to kick a field goal if Harrison had been stopped short of the goal line because there was a Cardinal penalty on the play.

Phil Simms added that Fitzgerald came from out of bounds anyway and it was illegal for him to make the tackle. However, a Bills spokesman said a player is allowed to make a tackle after being blocked out of bounds.

The program also had great sound of Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin and MVP Santonio Holmes on the sidelines and addressed the issue that NBC avoided during the game -- the officiating. All in all, this episode alone proved why HBO was foolish to cancel "Inside" after last season and Showtime was smart to pick it up.

*At the end of Niagara University's basketball victory over Iona on Monday on Time Warner 13, the play-by-play man noted that Iona coach Kevin Willard twice refused to shake the hand of NU's Joe Mihalich. You might have thought that postgame interviewer Jeremy White would have asked Mihalich about it. He didn't. If White didn't know about it, the producer or play-by-play man should have told him.

*Who would watch the six-hour Super Bowl pregame show? More people than you might expect. "The Road to the Super Bowl" at noon had a 2.5 rating on Channel 2, which is better than network weekend basketball games get here. The ratings rose every half hour and hit double digits by 4:30 p.m. It hit a 13.9 when Matt Lauer interviewed President Obama after 5 p.m. and rose to 18.4 at 5:30 p.m., which any prime time series would die for. At 6 p.m., the rating hit a 36.7.

*The most impressive new announcer during the pregame show was New England safety Rodney Harrison. He was especially good explaining what he was thinking when the New York Giants' David Tyree made his incredible big catch in the 2008 Super Bowl with Harrison draped all over him. Harrison also did a good job demonstrating with Collinsworth how tightly he would try to defend the Cards' Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin at the line of scrimmage.

*Bob Costas is where he belongs -- on the MLB Network. The big baseball fan will be the lead play-by-play commentator for "a select number" of the network's 26 live regular season games and host special original programming. Time Warner will add MLB Network in HD once the games begin.

Costas will stay with NBC, which doesn't have many significant sporting events in non-Olympic years after the NFL season ends. Costas gave up his HBO show, which often focused on sports issues. The pay-cable network then hired Fox baseball announcer Joe Buck, who expects to become more opinionated when his HBO show arrives in May.

*If you're a Buffalo Bills fan, the question of whether Cardinal quarterback Kurt Warner needed to win a second Super Bowl to become a Hall of Famer had to be the silliest pregame issue. Jim Kelly, Marv Levy, Bruce Smith and Thurman Thomas are all in the Hall without winning one Super Bowl. There's little question that Warner will make it.

*Here's a reason for sports fans to watch David Letterman on Monday. The cover of the 2009 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue will be be revealed. Two nights later, the cover model gets the Letterman treatment.


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