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CBS' Dedes, Archuleta and Tasker perform admirably in 'bananas' snow game

I almost felt guilty watching the Buffalo Bills 13-7 overtime victory over the Indianapolis Colts in a sports bar in "cold" Florida while there was a blizzard in New Era Field.


By cold in Florida, I mean 60 degrees.

Still, I was dealing with less-than-ideal conditions because people watching in a sports bar tend to be loud. So thank heavens for closed captioning.

Jerry Sullivan: Shady's big day keeps Bills on sound footing

It enabled me to better understand all the adjectives CBS play-by-play-by-play man Spero Dedes, analyst Adam Archuleta and sideline reporter Steve Tasker were tossing out like snowballs about the game being played in near-blizzard conditions.

The weather was so bad it's a wonder a Winter Hockey Classic didn't break out.

Working under less-than-ideal circumstances, the announcers and the CBS production crew performed admirably.

Normally, a sideline reporter is rarely seen or heard, but Tasker may have set a record for appearances by a sideline reporter in one game.

It was an ideal day for the former Bills star to spout his expertise about playing in the stadium now called New Era Field.

Tasker started strong by noting before kickoff that the game was being played in the worst conditions he's seen in his 30 years in Western New York as a former Bill who stayed here as a broadcaster and advertising pitchman.

Some of Tasker's predictions were as accurate as Buffalo weather forecasters were earlier last week, even if they were logically based.

He predicted that the game might end in 90 minutes because both teams would rely on rushing the ball; that every possession would be four-down territory because teams wouldn't risk punting; that neither team probably would try to kick a field goal or extra point because of the conditions; and that the Colts' Hall of Fame kicker Adam Vinatieri had a close-to-impossible task to kick a 43-yard "heroic" extra point that tied the game, 7-7.

Nathan Peterman attempts a pass in snow up to his ankles Sunday in New Era Field. (James P. McCoy / Buffalo News)

But hey, they seemed like the right calls at the time. They just didn't end up being right.

Dedes had a decent game as a broadcaster and a part-time meteorologist. He wasn't required to tell viewers where the ball was, since it was tough to see the sideline markers. CBS used a small graphic to do that.

He also wasn't required to get too excited because there weren't too many exciting plays in a game both teams played not to lose. To his credit, he did get excited on LeSean McCoy's winning touchdown run and otherwise when needed.

He wasn't Don Paul or Kevin O'Connell in the meteorological department, but Dedes did a decent job explaining lake-effect snow to the 4 percent of the nation that CBS was sending the game.

Archuleta was opinionated, always a bonus for any analyst. He questioned why the Colts waited until late in the game to look for star wide receiver T.Y. Hilton.

He also questioned the time management of Bills coach Sean McDermott before the half and McDermott's decision to punt on a fourth down and one yard to go inside Colts' territory with only about 4 minutes left in overtime. It was almost universally derided by sportswriters on Twitter and fans in the stadium even AFTER it worked out.

"At this point, you have to go for it," said Archuleta, noting that McDermott expected his defense to get the ball back. "I get it. But I'm not sure I love it."

After it worked, Archuleta called it an "obvious" decision. I assume he was being sarcastic but he didn't pull the sarcasm off and closed captioning doesn’t catch voice inflection.

The game announcers used all the adjectives in their playbook to describe the weather game, including "ridiculous," "incredible," "remarkable" and "wild,"  with "NFL Today" host James Brown adding "picturesque."

The fans who braved some of the worst weather conditions in the history of the Bills' franchise in Buffalo will be talking about Sunday's game against the Colts for a long time. (James P. McCoy / Buffalo News)

My favorite description came from Archuleta: "bananas."

So here are more highs and lows of the coverage of "The Bananas Game."

Conservative Call: Archuleta initially hedged on whether the Colts should have gone for a two-point conversion in the final minutes of regulation instead of kicking a tying extra point. Eventually, he said they had nothing to lose and he was for it. Come on. It wasn't a close call. The Colts were 3-9 and kicking an extra point was no gimme. They initially made the two-point conversion before it was called back by a penalty that appeared to be very late, possibly because no one could see the flag in the snow.

Say What: Archuleta seemed to question whether the penalty was a good call, without fully explaining the rule of a receiver being allowed to block someone a yard from the line of scrimmage. Where is Mike Carey when you need him? Kidding.

Dr. Archuleta: After Bills quarterback Nathan Peterman took a hit that knocked him out of the game, Archuleta said: “It looked like for a brief moment Peterman was knocked unconscious.” Tasker added: "He was not steady on his feet.”

The 20-Minute Rule: As part of his meteorological duties, Dedes notes that "20 minutes away it can be a completely different scene." I've been explaining that to my relatives for years.

Buffalove: Dedes spread Buffalove like snowflakes. "These are blizzard conditions anywhere in the country," said Dedes. "Not to these folks in Buffalo. This is lake-effect snow and this is something people here are used to." Uh, yeah. But not at a football game.

An Audition: CBS cameras caught Bills cornerback Tre'Davious White appearing to audition for "Dancing With the Stars" a few times as he danced in the snow to either illustrate that he was having fun or trying to stay warm.

Funny Line of the Day: Tasker, at the start of his sideline duties: "I can't believe you talked me into this." I imagine many people in the stands were telling their friends the same thing.

Funny Lineup of the Day: CBS showed Bills wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin lining up a yard off-sides because he couldn't see the line of scrimmage before the first quarter ended and saved the Bills a penalty.

Spot On: Early in the game, Tasker said "the only way this could get more ridiculous is if someone challenges a spot."

Best Tribute: In a tribute to the late Indianapolis and New England coach Ron Meyer, who died last week, CBS ran a shot of Meyer's memorable moment of having the Patriots game crew send out a plow to clear the spot before field goal kicker John Smith lined up a game-winning kick in 1982.

Taking a Knee: Tasker gave a shout-out to the Bills game day field crew, noting that "the shovel crew is gassed" after shoveling in between plays and were "taking a knee and drinking Gatorade."

Hard-Hitting Comment: When Peterman dove headfirst to get down instead of sliding before taking a legal hit that sent him into concussion protocol, Dedes said: "This is a mistake Nathan Peterman can't afford to make."

A Miracle: When Vinatieri made the tying extra point,  Dedes called it a "miracle kick." That came a few seconds after Tasker said "He's never kicked in worse conditions than this."

Playoffs? After CBS showed a clip of former Bills quarterback Jim Kelly hitting Tasker for a touchdown in the Bills last playoff victory in 1995 over Miami, Tasker said: "I am very glad this is the worst game I've ever been in and not that one."

Best Halftime Moment: At halftime, CBS' Nate Burleson noted that McCoy ran for 217 yards and two touchdowns for Philadelphia against Detroit when Burleson played for the Lions in 2013. Burleson also cleverly said CBS carried "Frosty the Snowman" recently and was now showing "Buffalo the Snow Game."

Post-Game Report: Tasker gave a long list of players hurt by the conditions and oddly included McCoy on it. He didn't seem to be having any problems.

Surprising Adjectives: When Peterman hit Benjamin for a first-half touchdown, Archuleta used three words not often heard about Bills quarterbacks – "beautiful touch and finesse.”

Lost Opportunity: Tasker interviewed McDermott at halftime, with the coach oddly and somewhat offensively comparing the game to military situations. Tasker would have been put to better use interviewing some Bills fans about why in the world they were braving the elements and how they were surviving. After all, they became a post-game story.

Keep Hope Alive: When Vinatieri missed a game-winning field goal at the end of regulation to send the game into overtime, Archuleta said: "There is nobody who wants to continue playing this game." I understand what he meant. Bills fans have suffered enough throughout history so those in the stands didn't need a fifth quarter to extend the game to more than three hours. But the comment also was a little bananas. Somehow, I think many Bills might have wanted to keep playing a once-in-30 years game just to keep their playoff hopes alive for at least one more week.

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