By SHARON GINN
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 13, 2002
Mike Patrick, Joe Theismann and Paul Maguire make up one of the NFL's most skilled announcing crews, so while there were many things for Bucs fans to whine about Saturday, the broadcast wasn't one of them. The game was well-called, and pregame coverage of reports that Dungy's job was on the line was informative and fair.
Last week, even before a Times report made national news, Maguire predicted the outcome of the game could determine Dungy's future. Saturday he made an observation that didn't take long to be relevant. After the Bucs took a 3-0 lead on after their first drive, he pointed out that "a year ago it was 3-0, and it ended up being 21-3."
Bucs fans needed comic relief, and ABC's crew provided it late in the first half. With seconds left, cameras caught Martin Gramatica clutching his left leg in pain, apparently having hurt himself while warming up.
"Gramatica is limping," Patrick said. "It doesn't look like Gramatica could kick anything right now."
Less than a minute later, as the kicker trotted onto the field, Maguire weighed in:
"Gramatica is dramatica."
Careful what you wish for: At halftime, fed-up analyst Steve Young pleaded with the Bucs to throw the ball around a little. "Next time you get inside the 20, throw it into the end zone. Please. For fun. Just to see what happens." Well, we saw what happened. Brad Johnson went for it in the second half, only to be intercepted by Troy Vincent, who took it from Jacquez Green.
It wasn't the sharpest observation of the night, but it was one of the most relevant. "They have a lot of the bad records," Theismann said (this was after a graphic showed the Bucs had gone 11 consecutive quarters in playoff games without scoring a touchdown, but before Johnson threw his playoff-record fourth interception).
Couldn't ABC have come up with a better name for its postgame studio show than the Between Games Report?
The last word: If Dungy is fired today, Maguire said, "it will be his offenses over the past three years that have betrayed him."
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