Observations from the television broadcast of the Bucs-Bengals game:
By JOHN C. COTEY, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times, published September 30, 2002
Akili Smith played the straight man to analyst Bill Maas' zingers Sunday afternoon, and did quite well. With every poorly thrown pass, every bad decision, every three-and-out, Maas was set up for a retort.
It was almost too easy.
Considering Maas was a defensive lineman, he did very well breaking down the Bengals offense, including coming up with what has to be one of the best lines of the year. It was the second Bucs game for him and play-by-play partner Sam Rosen (Baltimore was the first) and, frankly, it wouldn't be so bad seeing them again.
Especially with more lines like the one likening the Bengals' quarterback situation to an ICU ward, then delivering the knockout punch: "It's your last stop before you're dead."
Maas wasn't done. He explained that though Smith once was a promising prospect, "He got damaged early, I think ... and he hasn't been able to pick himself back up yet."
Maas was critical of the Bengals making Smith run the offense that was used by Jon Kitna and Gus Frerotte when they should have employed something involving rollouts or a moving pocket to take advantage of his athleticism.
In the third quarter after the Bengals went from the Bucs 11 to the 30 in two plays and missed a field goal, Maas recalled former Cincinnati wide receivers Carl Pickens and Darnay Scott telling him, "This is the Bengal way."
If there is one beef with Maas, it's his tendency to sound like a John Madden knockoff, which years ago might have been a good thing. But his "that's the thing" line to punctuate some of his points grows old.
OVER AND OVER: If Rosen had to pay a dime every time he said "blitz coming" Sunday, he would have owed the network money.
INFO PLEASE: Fox could have done much better with its updates. It wasn't until half an hour into the broadcast that it provided scores and highlights of the 1 p.m. games that were finishing (in dramatic fashion), and it showed just one game break from the 4 p.m. games.
If Fox wants to keep its viewers, an overwhelming majority of whom are probably in fantasy leagues or have money on the games, a consistent stream of info would be helpful.
SIDE ITEM: It wasn't until the third quarter that Rosen informed us the losses by New Orleans and Carolina would create a three-way tie with the Bucs in the NFC South. That nugget would have gone much better with highlights from the ends of both games.
ROSEN RIGHT ON: He told us the Bengals were starting a drive in an opponent's territory for the first time all season, told us when they took their first lead of the season,and let us know their touchdown was the first in the first quarter in seven games.
SURE YOU ARE: Hey, give Dick LeBeau credit for being an optimist. Asked if he would be sticking with Smith in the second half, LeBeau danced around the question by claiming "we're going to move the ball here" and some other blather.
The Bengals received the ball and went three and out.
STRONGEST COMMENT: "Jo Juan Armour has a lot to learn about playing in the National Football League." -- Maas after the Bengals safety bit on Brad Johnson's fake, leading to an open Rickey Dudley catching a touchdown.
WEAKEST COMMENT: Rosen drew the parallel early about the Bucs struggling with Cincinnati last year after coming off a Monday night game, and Maas said: "Perception's everything."
After a brief silence, even Rosen had to ask: "What do you mean?"
Needless to say, Maas' explanation was even more confusing.
CLASSIC: The highlights of Bucs coach Jon Gruden at Dayton were priceless.
YIN AND BANG: Jimmy Johnson is very good with his studio work, but when he was called on at halftime to explain why the Giants would throw deep in their territory with seconds left in the first half (it was picked off and returned by Arizona for a touchdown), the former coach foundered.
"Strange," is how a meandering Johnson described it.
Terry Bradshaw, though, saved the day: "Strange is not the right word, stupid is the right word."