© St. Petersburg Times, published January 13, 2003
San Francisco's final drive meant nothing in the grand scheme of things, but it bailed out Fox's top team of Joe Buck, Cris Collinsworth and Troy Aikman, which admittedly ran out of things to say at the end of Sunday's Bucs blowout.
Otherwise, it was another solid performance for the team correctly considered the best in the business. Sure, maybe there was a little too much about Brad Johnson's lack of respect, Steve Mariucci's coaching future (okay, so waaayyyy too much) and the (exaggerated) importance of injured 49ers cornerback Ahmed Plummer.
And maybe the gratuitous shots of Warren Sapp, now even after offensive touchdowns, has grown old (though Vegas has posted the over/under of shots of Sapp winking at the cameras next week at five.)
But overall, an enjoyable game to watch and listen to, capped by the final drive by San Francisco. It meant nothing, but shots of Derrick Brooks and John Lynch ("One more play," you could see him mouthing) put an exciting capper on the broadcast.
Other thoughts and observations from the broadcast:
WHITE FLAG: All three jumped on the coaching staff when San Francisco ran out the final 50 seconds of the first half. With a shot of an enraged Terrell Owens as the backdrop, Buck muttered, "I don't believe this" and correctly added, "Another lift for the Tampa Bay defense. In essence, the 49ers are heading off the field saying we're calling time."
Collinsworth called it a "huge give-up mistake."
It set the tone for the second half, especially after the Niners threw an interception on the first play of the third quarter, prompting Collinsworth to declare the game "an unmitigated disaster" for the Niners.
FUNNY MAN: Buck's best, and sometimes most under appreciated, gift is his sense of humor.
On Joe Millionaire: "The first guy's mullet gave it away, so they had to pick a new guy."
On a push in the back not called: "It may not be a foul, but I'll tell you what. It's rude."
On Johnson's return after gushing blood from his forehead: "Mills Lane says its okay for (him) to come back."
On sideline reporter Pam Oliver's no-duh report on Plummer's injury, when she said he was doubtful to return after viewers saw him on the sideline without a uniform on: "I'll say, without pads on and without a jersey."
OOPS: With the Bucs up 28-6, Collinsworth mentioned San Francisco was only the fourth top 10 offense the Bucs have faced this season, and, "They were just 1-2 against the previous ones, so you just can't assume they will shut out the 49ers the rest of the way."
GOOD CALL: Collinsworth said, "I just don't think these cornerbacks of the Bucs are good enough to play these 49er wide receivers one-on-one. I think that's a mistake."
Collinsworth made perfect sense, considering Owens cast aside Ronde Barber with a stiff-arm and Tai Streets did the same thing earlier.
LOCAL PUB: Brent, part of WQYK 1010-AM's afternoon sports talk show, The Replacements, got some TV time when cameras twice showed him interviewing Tiki Barber moments after brother Ronde ran an interception back for an apparent touchdown.
MEANIE: Jimmy Johnson closed Sunday's postgame show by saying, "I love Philadelphia."
That came as no surprise considering his pregame and halftime comments included criticism of Brad Johnson's playoff record and him telling Eagles cornerback Troy Vincent the Bucs receivers "can barely outrun me."
BEST SHOT/WORST SHOT: Why not just dub the words in if you're going to show a close-up of a player, in this case Johnson, mouthing such an easy-to-figure-out expletive?