(AP Photo/David Duprey)
New York Giants wide receiver Mario Manningham (82) makes a catch at the sideline as New England Patriots free safety Patrick Chung defends during the fourth quarter of Sunday’s Super Bowl.
For a Super Bowl that began with Gisele Bundchen requesting prayers for her husband, was interrupted by Madonna trying to relive her glory days with “Like A Prayer” and concluded with Tom Brady’s Hail Mary bouncing away in the end zone, NBC had to feel as if its prayers were answered Sunday.
So much so, that “Saturday Night Live” head writer Seth Meyers tweeted out after New York’s 21-17 verdict: “If I were NBC I would pick up Pats/Giants for full season.”
A confession here: Without the fourth-quarter performance by Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth, keeping us up to speed on clock management, the time-out situation, and why it was counter-intuitive for the Giants’ Ahmad Bradshaw to score a go-ahead touchdown with less than a minute left, we’d have been feeling as stupid and vulnerable as Danica Patrick trying to pull off another GoDaddy.com commercial appearance.
The live and replay camerawork – or the NBC-EE-IT, as it wants to be called — captured the moment of the game from all angles as Giants receiver Mario Manningham pulled in the 38-yard reception from Eli Manning along the sideline to start New York’s eventual game-winning scoring drive with 3:39 left.
“Simply remarkable,” Collinsworth, the former NFL All-Pro receiver, described Manningham’s play. He could have just as easily been complimenting the technical staff at the time as well. Collinsworth would later, after the game ended, call is “one of the greatest catches in Super Bowl history.”
But for the rest of the way, Michaels and Collinsworth were the ones we trusted up in the front seat, mapping out the rest of the journey. All we had to do was enjoy the ride.
It was all the simple, yet mandatory things, that broadcasters need to do in that situation, no matter how well versed the audience is that’s watching – remind us how the Giants had to figure out not just a way to go ahead, but do it not too soon as to give Brady time to work with.
With 1:37 left and the Giants inside the 20, Collinsworth foreshadowed something that many Madden video gamers already knew: “This is one of those weird situations that if your running back breaks out, you may actually tell him: Fall down on the 1 yard line so you can run out the entirety of the clock (and) kick a field goal. Tough decision, tough to say, but it is a strategy.”
And it is what almost happened, as Bradshaw tried to hold up, but fell into the end zone to put the Giants ahead.
“He wanted to stop!” said Michaels. “That’s exactly what New England was doing. They wanted him to get into the end zone. . . . I don’t think he expected to see the Red Sea part to that level.”
Added Collinsworth: “I guarantee you, Bradshaw was told to get down, and he just didn’t do it. . . . It’s a big mistake, Al.”
Neither Michaels nor Collinsworth, nor the rest of the NBC production and talent involved in the broadcast, will have to second-guess any perceived mistakes in post-game meetings.
Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers, left, walks on the field before Super Bowl XLVI on Sunday. He worked on NBC’s pregame show.
(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
In fact, one of the fortuitous hirings turned out to be Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who joined NBC for much of its pre-game analysis right up to the opening kickoff.
Had anyone figured out how to incorporate him into the booth, it could have been a Hall of Fame threesome.
Rodgers offered up insightful information, was very personable, and didn’t try to upstage anyone. One of his pertinent observations was of Brady, who said that the two things he picked up from the Patriots quarterback was his ability to “manipulate defenders with his eyes” and “make subtle moves in the pocket to create a throwing lane.”
Rodgers also pointed out how the Giants defense is known to fake injuries when faced against a hurry-up offense, a strategy the Packers employed in a game this season.
As for Rodgers’ prediction for the game’s outcome: “There’s something special about the Giants. They’ve won a lot of tough games on the road. I think you’ll see Victor Cruz doing a salsa dance up on the podium at the end.”
Twitter reviews of his performance came from all over the place, including James Andrew Miller, author of the recent ESPN oral history book, who tweeted out: “How much money will ESPN try to throw Aaron Rodgers way one day to have him as an analyst — and keep him off NBC, CBS and Fox? A lot.”
More ups, downs and sideways glances at the coverage:
== If you could navigate through NBC’s six-hour-plus pregame show – especially around anything that remotely included something touched by Nick Cannon – the most inspiring few minutes came from Peter King’s interview with former New Orleans Saints safety Steve Gleason as he and his wife, Michel, talked about his battle with ALS.
At least that wasn’t done by NBC news anchor Brian Williams wearing a Giants jersey.
== On the NFL Network’s pregame show, Green Bay Packers cornerback and guest analyst Charles Woodson said it about Eli Manning: “If he wins this game, that ‘E’ in his name will stand for ‘elite.'”
Hey, CW, if you really think about it, you can’t really spell “elite” without “Eli,” right?
== Favorite tweet of the day came from the Sklar Brothers, paying homage to the usual way NBC telecasts a major sporting event: “Please don’t tell us who wins the #superbowl today. We’re watching it on the west coast feed.”
Most poignant tweet, from Eric Stangel, one of the head writers for CBS’ “Late Show with David Letterman”: “Fun to watch all these commercials for things no one can afford anymore.”
== How obscene was NBC’s halftime show? M.I.A. seemed to sum it up quite well, with the “We’re No. 1” salute.