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Sound bites

By MIKE STEPHENSON

© St. Petersburg Times,
published October 22, 2001


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Observations on the Bucs broadcast:

Deion Sanders was good in his short-takes segment with NFL Today host Jim Nantz. His Bucs feature didn't cover new ground, though he did get Keyshawn Johnson to say: "If we don't take care of business in the next four games, it's going to hit the fan."

Sanders also spoke about Tony Dungy's chances to return as Bucs coach: "I think he has to win it all.

Given that the Bucs rarely play on CBS, the network should have done a better job introducing its announcing crew. Dan Dierdorf didn't speak through the first two minutes of the game.

Sideline reporter Bonnie Bernstein did a nice job, reporting at the start of the game that Steelers running back Jerome Bettis was having problems with asthma. She followed up after Bettis' 46-yard touchdown run by reporting that he received special treatment at halftime to aid his breathing.

CBS has said it continues to use the first-down line on its broadcasts, but the helpful line was not part of the Bucs-Steelers broadcast.

Unlike recent Fox analysts John Madden and Troy Aikman, Dierdorf confined most of his analysis to individual plays and offered few overarching opinions on the Bucs' woes. He was fairly soft in his criticism of the Bucs until late in the game.

Pittsburgh mixed surprises into its offense, with a halfback pass from Bettis for a touchdown and a direct snap to receiver Hines Ward lined up in the backfield. Dierdorf should have pointed out that such wrinkles almost are never used by the Bucs.

Studio analyst Randy Cross was sharper with his analysis, saying of the Bucs before the game: "This is not a consistent football team. ... Those are the kind of teams that get broken up and end up other places." At halftime, Cross spoke of the Bucs' seeming lack of concern about their slow start: "Time to panic! This football team is not doing anything to be recognized as the Tampa Bay Bucs."

In the third quarter, Dierdorf said the Bucs couldn't abandon the run, which they seemed to have done early on. In fact, play-by-play man Dick Enberg seemed more in tune with the situation, saying: "(Mike) Alstott had a couple of great runs, and they haven't given it back to him since."

Late in the third quarter, Dierdorf began to sharpen his analysis, saying of the Bucs' problems stopping opponents from converting third-down plays: "That starts to work on their confidence when they can't get the offense off the field the way they're used to."

Dierdorf followed with good points on the dominance of Pittsburgh's defense and how its running game was overpowering the Bucs even when they knew a running play was coming, but never did Dierdorf attempt to explain how Pittsburgh was beating the Bucs offensive line for 10 sacks.

Again, Enberg cut to the chase at the end of the game on viewing a replay of Brian Kelly's attempt to recover Martin Gramatica's onside kick: "He didn't have control."

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