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Grading CBS’ Super Bowl broadcast from Las Vegas | Super Bowl | Sports

Grading CBS’ Super Bowl broadcast from Las Vegas | Super Bowl | Sports

Las Vegas got just enough of the spotlight during the live CBS coverage of Super Bowl 58 without becoming too hacky or cliché.

It’s certainly a fine line, but the team of Jim Nantz and Tony Romo navigated it well during the Chiefs’ 25-22 overtime victory over the 49ers on Sunday at Allegiant Stadium.

Two of the most glaring efforts to drop references to the iconic host city into the game came at the beginning and on the decisive final play.

“Even 10 years ago, nobody would have thought it: A Super Bowl in Las Vegas,” Nantz said after all the pomp and circumstance of the pregame started to give way to football. “And what a magnificent host city it has been.”

About four hours later, Nantz appeared to have another nod to the city holstered as the Chiefs lined up for a play inside the 5-yard line with a chance to score a walk-off touchdown.

“Jackpot, Kansas City,” Nantz said as Mecole Hardman caught the game-winning pass at the goal line from Patrick Mahomes.

Just after halftime, Nantz and Romo thought Chiefs coach Andy Reid was considering keeping his offense on the field for a fourth-down attempt deep in his territory. They said it would be the “biggest gamble in Las Vegas history.” When the teams were tied at 19, there was a decently creative reference to 19 usually being a winning hand in this town.

Solid nod without being terribly intrusive. That was the theme of the day on what turned out to be the most-viewed program in TV history.

Some of the pregame programming got more over-the-top, but that’s the right place for it. The “Hangover” themed bit featuring the network’s studio hosts was well produced and not completely unfunny. Perhaps the best work CBS did all day was on a “My Way” production that interspersed an orchestra playing the song with Frank Sinatra’s lyrics and players from both teams and their families talking about their journey to reach the pinnacle of the sport.

Bravo on that.

Ups and downs

Kudos to the production team for going to commercial break with some timely musical selections. Just after the 49ers ran a gimmick play for the game’s first touchdown, the broadcast transitioned to break with the Run-D.M.C. classic “It’s Tricky.”

Another break used a great view of the Sphere with local artist Panic! At The Disco’s “Vegas Lights,” which was a good advertisement for the city.

They weren’t all hits, though. At one point, producers gave a nod to Strip headliner Adele by playing “Rolling in the Deep,” but Romo inexplicably tried to sing along and only managed to muster sounds that more resembled an injured whale than anything the British songstress might belt out. It was truly strange.

So was the execution on some of the graphics packages. At one point, there was a chart and some photos to explain the 49ers’ family connections between the McCaffreys, the Shanahans and the Kubiaks. But they ran out of time before a new play started and cut off the explanation. Two plays later, Nantz tried to revisit it and was again cut off by a play starting.

Then he just gave up.

An animation showing Mahomes taking the baton from Tom Brady in a relay race was pulled off much smoother.

CBS unveiled a new scorebug that took some grief online, but it was fairly nonintrusive and contained all the necessary information. The font for the teams could probably stand to change. Otherwise, no issues.

The innovative upright cam also worked out well, as it provided great views of the two record-setting field goals in the game.

Grading Romo

Now on to perhaps the most controversial part of any CBS broadcast: Romo.

Someone must have told him to relax a bit more, and it paid off for most of the game. He stayed within himself and let things play out, breathed and then shared his thoughts. He was good. But things got away from him in the fourth quarter and overtime. He gets too worked up, and the passion is great, but he has to maintain the discipline he showed early in the broadcast for the entire game.

Romo did remind viewers that when he is on his game, he is exceptional.

On a pass that appeared to be well behind Justin Watson, Romo used several angles to show that Mahomes had thrown to that spot because a linebacker on the second level would have been able to deflect a ball thrown to a better spot. It took a different shot to see exactly what he saw on just the second look.

He was quick to point out some poor clock management by 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan in the second quarter and correctly predicted the 49ers would go for it on a fourth-down play before the third-down snap had occurred.

He noticed early in the second half that San Francisco had abandoned the run, and it ended up being a major storyline by the end of the game. Romo was fast in identifying the motion on the game-winning play that also had been used in a similar matter last year in the Super Bowl, though that part of the broadcast probably will be more remembered for Romo trying to spit out random words while Nantz delivered a great play-by-play call of a touchdown that will live in Super Bowl history.

Throw the flag

Nantz is always a pro, but the third member of the booth isn’t always great and certainly wasn’t flawless Sunday.

Rules analyst Gene Steratore, much to the shock of some fans, actually disagreed with officials every once in a while, which was a bit jarring considering many of his broadcast appearances.

But one play stands out. Steratore correctly pointed out an intentional grounding called against Mahomes should not have been flagged because there was a receiver in the area. It was close, but no flag was necessary in that case.

The real issue came when the three got too carried away with that discussion and never pointed out that Mahomes was flagged at the 13-yard line and the ball was placed closer to the 10. It appeared to be a significant mistake that was never mentioned.

Final verdict

Overall, CBS delivered a quality product. And the network even seemed to find a balance with how often to show a certain pop star, though it might not have been enough. Look, many people were watching football for the first time. Let the people see Taylor Swift more if that’s what they want. It shouldn’t be ruining anyone’s day to see her for a total of less than a minute.

Let’s face it, something worked. It was the most-watched broadcast of any kind in history.

A great full-day advertisement for Las Vegas. What could be bad about that, unless Romo tries to sing again?

Contact Adam Hill at [email protected]. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on X.

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