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Romo and Nantz have 'remarkable' game as Bills are relevant again

CBS said last week that No. 1 analyst Tony Romo didn't have time for an interview before the Buffalo Bills playoff game with Jacksonville because he was busy studying for it all week.

I was a little skeptical that he couldn't find 15 minutes to talk.

But after Romo's work alongside play-by-play announcer Jim Nantz during Jacksonville's 10-3 victory over Buffalo, my skepticism has disappeared like the Bills' playoff hopes.

Romo did his homework and was on top of almost every situation.

He noted: The Bills were selling out against the Jaguars running game early and he and waited and waited for the Jags to adjust before they finally did on the game's only touchdown drive in the second half.

The Bills borrowed the San Francisco 49ers successful offensive game plan against the Jags but Jacksonville adjusted and were prepared for bootlegs by Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor.

Jerry Sullivan: It was a fun week for the Bills, then reality came knocking


Bills tight end Charles Clay was out of bounds before making a key fourth quarter reception that was overturned.

The Bills should have tried to run up the middle because the Jags were too strong and fast on the ends and at linebacker.

It was interesting to see Jacksonville play "off coverage," which Romo concluded was because "they don’t think Buffalo can drive the field over and over again.” (They were right.)

And he laughed when Nantz said the halftime show would feature highlights in a 3-3 game. That led Nantz to add that there might be other things at halftime to fill the time.

Nantz had a strong game as well. His one misstep was confusing Tyrod Taylor with LeSean McCoy, a mistake a few announcers have made this season.

He surely made Buffalo fans smile when he suggested there should be a NFL community award for the area's contributions to the Andy and Jordan Dalton Foundation after the Cincinnati quarterback threw the touchdown pass against Baltimore that put the Bills in the playoffs.

And when the Bills were down in the final minutes by a touchdown, he suggested "they need an Andy Dalton play of their own right now."

They didn't get it.

Backup quarterback Nathan Peterman's pass was intercepted by Jags' cornerback Jalen Ramsey on a play that Romo briefly thought might be overturned.

Nantz and Romo also were sharp to realize relatively soon that McCoy, who injured his ankle a week earlier, was looking like the real McCoy.

They managed to make what was an ugly, dull game pleasurable to watch, just as they did calling three previous Bills games.

CBS' top team called four Buffalo games, making the Bills relevant again on national TV.

Here are some more highs and lows of CBS' coverage:

Pregame Highlights: CBS Evening News anchor Jeff Glor of the Town of Tonawanda wore Dalton and Taylor jerseys in a feature at the start of the pregame show. Studio analyst Bill Cowher gets credit for asking McDermott the tough question of starting Peterman over Taylor in the Los Angeles Chargers in an otherwise positive pregame feature shot in Buffalo about the team breaking the 17-year playoff drought. "I did not catch a cold, but I did catch the mojo," said Cowher. The Bills Mafia probably gave him more credit for jumping on a folding table and breaking it after his prediction. "I was just surprised the table went down that easily,” said Cowher.

Best Introduction: James Brown in introducing the Cowher piece in Buffalo: “This has to be the happiest place on Earth.”

Isn't That Special? After Nantz suggested a community award, Romo added: "That's what makes Buffalo special." After Nantz noted that McCoy had changed his career goals to 12,000 yards, 100 touchdowns and a title and wants to do it in Buffalo, Romo added "it is pretty nice when a guy loves his place."

High Praise: CBS studio analyst Phil Simms noted after the game that there were no long pass plays before adding: "It was tension-filled and still exciting."

Good Vision: Romo not only gave Bills fans some hope that Ramsey's interception might be overturned before he concluded it wouldn't be. He and Nantz also realized the officials gave McCoy a first down when it appeared he was short and then the Bills got off a play before Jags coach Doug Marrone could challenge it.

Best or Worst Stat: As Taylor tried to lead the Bills to a tying fourth quarter touchdown, CBS showed a graphic that showed they had scored only three points in the fourth quarter of the last six games. Make that seven.

Missing Stat: It would have been nice if CBS told us how many Taylor passes were dropped. His receivers didn't help him. I counted at least four.

Best Line: After Ramsey's game-sealing interception, Romo said he could be the best cornerback of the NFL in the future.

Mr. Charisma: Marrone, the former Bills coach who now is Jacksonville's coach, was wearing stylish sunglasses. His postgame talk to his players was hardly magnetic.

A Word From NBC: NBC studio analyst Tony Dungy tweeted at halftime "poor decisions and clock management cost the Bills 7 points at the end of the first half. We’ll see if it comes back to bite them in the 4th quarter." You could argue that it should have been 7-0 at halftime and therefore regulation might have ended 7-7.

Late Call: Nantz was a little late but right to note the Bills saved the Jags two timeouts with an incompletion and an out-of-bounds catch that enabled Jacksonville to kick a field goal before the first half ended.

Tell Me Why: After an offensive interference call on Bills receiver Kelvin Benjamin in the end zone moved the Bills from the 1-yard-line to the 11, Romo said: "I don’t know why you throw it” on first down when a run up the middle would have played to Jacksonville's weakness.

Halftime Talk: In the one thing that Romo missed, Simms noted that Taylor had a run-pass option on the end zone pass to Benjamin, which the Bills confirmed after the game. Simms added that Taylor should not have had the option. CBS analyst Boomer Esiason agreed in a tweet.

A Word from CNN: Jake Tapper, who had a memorable shutdown of President Trump aide Stephen Miller Sunday morning, tweeted "honestly, this is like watching an old timers game, a bunch of NFL veterans in their 40s having a practice scrimmage. I’m rooting for the Bills fwiw." I didn't see anyone tweet back "stick to politics Jake."

Positively Shocking: After one of Taylor's third-down scrambles for a first down, Romo said he was "shocked Jacksonville played two safeties high. There was no spy for Taylor.”

The Producer: Romo constantly praised the CBS producer who had Bortles' running statistics ready after one of his game-changing scrambles.

No Debate: Nantz didn't ask Romo what he thought of Marrone's decision to punt on a fourth and 13 yards inside the Bills' territory. Romo did volunteer he would have punted on a Bills fourth down in the final three minutes before Bills coach Sean McDermott made that call. The Bills got the ball back.

Gone With the Wind: Romo suggested the wind was impacting Bortles' poor passing display. He was being kind. A CBS graphic said the wind was only at 3 miles per hour on a field goal attempt.

Four Words Rarely Spoken: After Bills back Mike Tolbert got a first down, Nantz said: “Nice move by Tolbert.”

That's Fair: After a commercial, Nantz explained that the officials blew a play dead by Bills punt returner Brandon Tate with a whistle because he had signaled for a fair catch.

A "Remarkable" Opening: CBS started the game with Ian Eagle's call of the Dalton touchdown, which he called "remarkable." Unfortunately for Bills fans, there wasn't a "remarkable" ending that would have meant Buffalo remained "the happiest place on Earth."

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