I never thought I had anything in common with Bruce Arians, the coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who last season was the third man in the CBS booth alongside play-by-play man Greg Gumbel and analyst Trent Green.
But after Green thoroughly described the New York Giants touchdown that narrowed the Buffalo Bills lead to 21-14 Sunday, Gumbel said “a year ago, BA (Arians) would have been going “uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh, you’re exactly right.”
That’s pretty much what I was doing to everything Green was saying Sunday in the Bills’ 28-14 victory.
To use the analyst’s most frequently-used word, Green was in “rhythm” throughout the game. I’ve never heard him better. He was as sharp in the first half as Bills quarterback Josh Allen.
He was strong analyzing Allen’s improvement from a year ago, describing replays and even taking on Gumbel’s role by asking CBS’ referee expert Gene Steratore about a debatable call. He was a marked improvement on last week’s analyst, Rich Gannon.
Green also was willing to criticize Allen and Giants quarterback Eli Manning after they made some bad decisions, something some quarterbacks-turned-announcers don’t do. He also noted Bills cornerback TreDavious White was out of position on the 27-yard touchdown run by the Giants' Saquon Barkley. The comment came after White played a similar play well.
Meanwhile, Gumbel did a play-by-play man’s job by asking Green questions, including whether Allen's confidence seemed to be growing. He had a good excitement level as always, didn't have any player identification issues and was sharp to instantly see the Bills’ Ed Oliver tip a pass into the hands of Trent Murphy on a key first-half interception.
Unlike last week during the Bills' opening victory over the New York Jets, CBS also was on top of just about every important replay and there were several of them involving penalties.
Overall, there wasn’t much to complain about. And when’s the last time you heard me write that sentence about a Bills broadcast?
I suppose it would have been nice to see and hear how the Bills defensive strategy changed to stop Barkley after the Giants ran the ball down the Bills throat on their opening drive to take a 7-0 lead.
And you could quibble a little bit about Green’s excitement level. He doesn’t have the most exciting rhythm – there is that word – in his voice. But at least he illustrated a good sense of humor on occasion.
Here are some highs and lows of the telecast:
Biggest Surprise: I know the Bills were up 14 with five minutes left, but I was still a little surprised Gumbel and Green were acting like the game was over. A lot of strange things can happen in the last five minutes of NFL games – and the Bills have proved that as much as any team over the years.
Best Crack: After Bills linebacker Tremaine Edmunds dropped what looked like a sure interception, Green noted that receivers are told to catch with their hands before he added: “With a linebacker, catch it with your body and not your hands.”
Frazier the Storyteller: After it was noted that Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier was on the 1985 Chicago Bears Super Bowl winning team, Green said, “There were a few characters on that Chicago defensive unit. There may be a few stories for Leslie to share.”
The Late Call: After showing a replay of what looked like a weak penalty call against the Giants' Dexter Lawrence for unnecessary roughness for hitting the defenseless Bills snapper, Reid Ferguson, on a field goal attempt, it took an unusually long time before Green asked Steratore if it was a good call. Steratore disagreed with the call, which led to a Bills touchdown instead of a field goal and also ate up some valuable time.
Graphic Judgment: The CBS list of important injured Giants receivers included Corey Coleman, who is out for the season. Coleman was briefly a Bill during the 2018 training camp before being cut. He hardly was someone the Bills likely would have feared.
Say What? To the surprise of Bills fans, Steratore said a no-call against the Giants' Lorenzo Carter for hitting a scrambling Allen late was a good decision. The late hit led to the Bills' Cody Ford coming to Allen’s defense and getting a penalty for it.
Good Review: Green was sharp to note after Allen may have fumbled that the play was blown dead and that meant the play wasn’t reviewable when the Giants wanted to challenge it.
Halftime Report: Studio analysts Bill Cowher, who predicted the Giants would win in the pregame show, and fellow studio analyst Nate Burleson gave big props to Allen at halftime. “He looks better from week to week,” said Cowher. “His decision-making, his decisiveness, his athleticism.” Added Burleson: “On certain plays, he just looks phenomenal.” Cowher continued the praise on the post-game show.
Do Your Homework: On the post-game show, Cowher said the Bills play the New England Patriots Sunday. They play Cincinnati Sunday, the Patriots the following Sunday. Buffalo fans have to hope the Bills aren't looking ahead, too.
Gumbel’s Best Question: In the first half, when Allen was leading three straight touchdown drives, including a 98-yarder, Gumbel asked Green a question that he knew the answer to: “Can you see the confidence building in Josh Allen?” Green answered: “You can definitely see... You can see by the way he is delivering the football.” Green praised Allen repeatedly for throwing passes away when pressured rather than force things as he has done in the past. The better decisions to throw the ball away actually made Allen's statistic line of completing 19 of 30 passes a little misleading. If you throw away the four or five intentional throwaways, his completion percentage would have been even higher.
Green’s Best Question: After the Allen touchdown run led by a Frank Gore block, Green asked: “How about Frank Gore?” Gumbel responded: “We say that every time we see him play."
Now for Something Completely Different: Gumbel, before one of the Bills' touchdowns: “This is a pretty confident Buffalo team.” When did you last hear that?
Here Comes the Sun: It was difficult to see the flight of the missed field goal by Giants kicker Aldrick Rosas – his first in 21 attempts – because of the glare on the camera from the sun.
Morse Code: After looking at a replay, Green and Gumbel were both baffled by a holding call against Bills center Mitch Morse that negated a big gain. But they noted Morse didn’t complain.
Best Prediction: Before Allen’s touchdown run, Green noted that the Bills like to get Allen in space to run and "don't be surprised if he gets outside the pocket."
Really: CBS felt the need to show Scott Norwood’s missed field goal in the 1991 Super Bowl loss to the Giants because it is one of the most memorable plays in NFL history. I am confident it went over better in New York City than Buffalo.
Bad Timing: After Green praised Allen for getting rid of the ball quicker than he had last season, the quarterback took a sack for holding the ball too long. To his credit, Green noted the sack came after his praise.
On the Money: On the pregame show, CBS studio analyst Boomer Esiason: “Look for Josh Allen to have a big day today.” He is right about 50 percent of the time.
Just Another Day at "The Office": Before the kickoff, CBS sideline reporter Melanie Collins noted Allen's response when asked if he was superstitious. "I'm not superstitious, just a little stitious," Collins reported was his answer. She added it was a line from the comedy "The Office." More specifically, it was a line by Michael Scott, the boss of the office played by Steve Carell.
The Key Tie: Collins’ primary responsibility was keeping up on injuries. But she also had this pregame nugget. Bills coach Sean McDermott wore the same tie on the flight to New York City that he did last week before the Jets game. Now that’s reporting. Of course, she didn’t tell us how many ties McDermott owns. I am confident McDermott will wear the same tie on game days until the Bills lose. I can almost hear all "stitious" Bills fans saying "uh-huh."