Like Buffalo fans, Jim Nantz and Tony Romo seemed to be having a lot more fun than they expected in the first half of the Bills’ shocking 27-6 victory over the host Minnesota Vikings.
But they probably didn’t have half the fun of the Bills fans watching and listening to CBS’ No. 1 announcing team praise rookie quarterback Josh Allen, veteran linebacker Jerry Hughes and Coach Sean McDermott.
As if the game couldn’t have gone much better for Bills fans, they also got to hear CBS’ best team work a game that unfortunately went to only 15 percent of the country.
Nantz and Romo had almost as perfect a first half as Allen and the Bills defense had as the Bills took a 27-0 lead at the break.
The historic victory by a 16 and-a-half point underdog was enough to make one think of the late Jack Buck’s call of a memorable World Series home run by Kirk Gibson – “I don’t believe what I just saw.”
[Read more: Carucci on the Bills' excellence in underdog role]
Nantz had more good lines after Allen made some memorable plays than I’ve heard from the play-by-play man in one game in years and he was as excited saying them as Bills fans were watching them.
Meanwhile, Romo illustrated why he has quickly become the best analyst in the game with his ability to explain how quarterbacks should attack defenses and how coaches should give them confidence.
He also frequently illustrated his sense of humor, with his most memorable crack coming after he looked at a bored Minnesota fan and suggested the fan was thinking "three times I tried to get tickets and this is the one I got" to attend.
At game’s start, Romo had a show-me attitude about Allen, saying he had played only three or four games against real competition at any level, college or pro.
He quickly was praising Allen's accuracy and "perfect" first half. By game's end, Romo said Allen was fun to watch and was impressed enough to say he wanted to see the Bills play next week in Green Bay.
"I want to see if this can be sustained," he said.
If only Bills fans could be lucky enough to hear Nantz and Romo again.
[Read more: Jay Skurski's 10 observations from the Bills win]
It isn’t going to happen next week and may not happen again this season. Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts are calling the Bills-Green Bay game.
Nantz and Romo were primarily calling Sunday’s game to get a look at the Vikings, who were supposed to be Super Bowl contenders from the NFC playing the worst team in the National Football League. CBS, which has the rights to the AFC games, has the Super Bowl this year.
Well before halftime, you might have thought the teams had changed uniforms.
At game’s end, Nantz noted McDermott ended the Bills long playoff drought last season last year before adding this win “has to be one of the finest hours for him.”
“It is a bigger win than any they had last year,” said Romo, who might get some push back on that since the Bills made the playoffs last year.
Because of Allen’s performance, Romo gave Bills fans something most had lost after the team’s first two blowout losses.
“It gives you hope,” said Romo, “It gives you the belief that we’re going somewhere we haven’t been in a long, long time.”
Now more highs and lows of the broadcast:
Superman Allen: After Allen scored his first touchdown run on a scramble in which he leaped to hit the end zone pylon, Nantz cracked: “We knew he could run. Did you know he can fly?” Romo added: “Everybody knows he can run. He also is about seven feet tall when he dove from the 5-yard line.”
Superfreak: Nantz had a super-excited call on Allen’s hurdle over Minnesota linebacker Anthony Barr in a highlight reel play. “How many quarterbacks have ever hurdled over anyone?” asked Nantz. “That might be a first. Just when you thought you’ve seen it all in the NFL. This is a freak play.”
Super Story: Near game's end, sideline reporter Tracy Wolfson noted that Allen told his offense to finish the game and to thank the defense for its performance.
Putting His Feet Forward: After an Allen quarterback keeper for a 1-yard touchdown, Nantz noted there’s been a lot of talk about Allen learning to use his feet in his throwing motion. “Well, he’s figured out how to use his feet today.”
Head-shaking Moment: When Nantz saw Allen shaking his head before a break in the Bills first-half domination, he said “you are not the only one shaking your head right now."
A Knockout Line: Noting the shocking score, Nantz noted that the Bills were ruining all the knockout or survivor pools that had Minnesota as a sure winner. Added Nantz: “So many people looking at the score and saying, ‘what?’”
Safety Talk: Romo smartly noted that Allen missed seeing a safety on the line of scrimmage when he should have changed a running play. He added the Vikings were only playing one safety or no safety high in the first half, daring the Bills to throw deep a play before Allen hit tight end Jason Croom for a touchdown.
In the second half, he explained the Vikings smartly went two safeties high in the second half, adding that strategy was a little too late and likely to help the Bills running game.
Let It Rip: In his pregame keys, Romo said the Bills needed to let Allen be aggressive and “let it rip” and that Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White had to keep Vikings receiver Stefon Diggs in check. Allen didn’t exactly let it rip, but the first half game plan was pretty aggressive by recent Bills’ standards. White, on the other hand, pretty much held down Diggs.
Missed Opportunities: You would have thought Nantz would ask Romo his opinion of McDermott's decision to go for it on a fourth and one foot for a touchdown with a 17-0 lead early in the second quarter. He didn't and Romo never said what he thought of the decision, which led to Allen's second touchdown. The announcers also didn't go deep in addressing why the Bills offense went into a shell in the second half, with Allen throwing only three passes.
Romo Should Have Told Tyrod Taylor: Romo noted he wouldn’t mind if Allen threw two or three interceptions because there is a benefit for a rookie quarterback to do it. "You actually learn by turning it over," said Romo. "It frees you up."
Offensive Remarks: Romo noted that Viking quarterback Kirk Cousins "is not playing very well," but he added the woes of the Minnesota offensive line made it hard for the Vikings to even complete four-yard passes. Romo also noted that Hughes was “a one-man wrecking crew for the Bills” against the line.
The Trap: As the second half started, Nantz warned “this game is not over.” You rarely win in the first half, but Romo noted several times that the Bills came to play and the Vikings did not in what he referred to as a trap game before two tougher Minnesota games. It wasn’t the only excuse the announcers offered. They also noted the Vikings were missing a couple of key players.
Favorite Comment: Near the end of the first half, Nantz noted the Vikings were “the biggest favorite in the NFL in years.” Romo added: “I actually thought it would be 27-0 at halftime. I just didn’t think it would be 27-0 (Buffalo) This is really a shocker.” The Bills were up 43 points over the spread at halftime.
Best Camera Work: Since this was CBS' first team production crew, the shots of Allen flying to the goal line and over Barr were expected. There also was a great moment when the cameras panned across the stadium to see the Viking fans’ sad faces. Romo said: “This stadium is shocked.”
Added Nantz: “Everyone across the country is as well.” That includes the so-called experts who recently said the University Alabama could beat the Bills. I suppose that means the Tide can beat the Vikings, too.
The NFL Has Some Explaining to Do: Nantz, Romo and CBS officiating expert Gene Steratore all thought a fumble call would be reversed and that Allen’s one-foot throw to a back would be called a pass. Shockingly, the call stood.
Catch It If You Can: Romo spoke for all of Buffalo after the second drop by Bills receiver Kelvin Benjamin: “You have to catch that.” Robert Foster also dropped a long pass, making one wonder what it would be like if Allen had quality receivers.
Best Stat: With the Bills up 17-0 in the first quarter, CBS ran a stat that said it was the most points the Bills had scored in the first quarter since 2011.
Call Him Rocky or The Natural: At one point, Nantz said Allen "is really The Natural" before Romo explained he learned to throw by picking up rocks.
Best Prediction: CBS Evening News anchor Jeff Glor of Tonawanda was the only one I saw pick the Bills, 21-17, during a NFL Network appearance. But he was playing the Tim Russert role of optimistic fan.
Locker Room Talk: CBS stayed after the game ended to see McDermott deliver the game ball to defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier a week after McDermott took over defensive play-calling. A former Vikings head coach, Frazier called the plays Sunday.
CBS analyst Bill Cowher was impressed by McDermott. “Leaders deflect the praise and accept all the criticism," said Cowher. "(McDermott) is a selfless man and that permeates throughout this team.”
The Next Hurdle: In a classy post-game interview, Allen also deflected the praise from Wolfson. When she asked him about The Hurdle, he said he is learning and that is one of the things he probably won’t do again. After Allen got past this huge hurdle in Minnesota, Romo isn’t the only looking to see how he will face much larger hurdles ahead.