Thanks to a number of alert readers and TV viewers of the Panthers-Broncos game who first pointed this out to me, I reviewed the final minute of the first half of the game Monday morning and came to this conclusion: CBS really whiffed in its coverage of that part of the game.
CBS’s announcers were so intent on talk-talk-talk that they TOTALLY MISSED the fact that the official added seven seconds to the play clock, changing it from 10 seconds to 17 seconds.
Then the CBS analysts basically accused the Panthers of cheating – of “unbelievable home cooking,” as CBS's Dan Fouts proclaimed -- to allow Carolina time to kick a field goal at the end of the half.
This was completely incorrect. It took CBS at least 15 minutes to explain its error, and even then the explanation came off as half-hearted and pretty weak.
OK, let’s back up a second. Here’s what happened: Carolina led 17-10 when Denver got the ball at its own 18 with 30 seconds to go.
The Broncos had a pass for no gain on first down, then called timeout with 17 seconds to go. The clock ran down to 10 seconds, but the official clearly stated over his microphone that seven seconds were going to be added because that’s when Shanahan asked for the timeout (conceivably, an advantage to Denver at that point).
Shanahan then, inexplicably, had the Broncos run the ball. What’s the point of the timeout if you’re going to run? To make matters worse for Denver, Selvin Young fumbled after a huge hit by Carolina’s Charles Godfrey and Carolina’s Tyler Brayton recovered with 0:07 to go.
In the CBS three-man announcing booth, analysts Fouts and Randy Cross kept interrupting each other, so intent were they to say: “The clock didn’t run! The clock didn’t run!”
They had totally missed the fact that the clock had already been reset to 17 seconds and did, in fact, run for the entire play (for 10 seconds in all).
Play-by-play man Dick Enberg missed all that, too. Fouts and Cross kept egging each other along on how awful this is and what a shame it is to have a clock “not run until the fumble." That’s when Fouts (jokingly?) accused the Panthers of “unbelievable home cooking,” as if some shadowy Panther figure was managing the clock somewhere deep in Jerry Richardson’s box.
Even the replay – shown a couple of times and clearly showing the clock counting down from 17 to 7 seconds – seemed to totally befuddle the CBS crew. It’s one of those moments where thousands of Panther fans had to be screaming at their TV screens: “You idiots!”
Carolina, meanwhile, kicked a field goal and went up 20-10 after the fumble. It was a huge sequence of events, giving Carolina a two-possession lead and lots of momentum just before halftime.
After the halftime break, the announcers came back before the third quarter and Enberg explained the situation. He told it like it basically was – I’ve always liked Enberg’s style – as to how the clock was reset from 10 to 17 seconds by the officials.
BUT THEN Fouts and Cross make no mention of the incident at all – they just started talking about Steve Smith.
A stand-up guy at that point would have said: “Look, I apologize for implying the Panthers somehow influenced the clock at the end of the first half. We were wrong. We just didn’t notice that the officials had put seven seconds back ono the clock. Sorry about that. It was our mistake." And then they could have just moved along.
Instead, Fouts and Cross just acted like their previous comments never happened, like no one noticed them at all.
Well, believe me, lots of people noticed them. This isn’t a huge deal or anything. But it always irritates me when TV guys make a mistake, and then either barely make mention of it or ignore it altogether.
Just say when you messed up, guys. It’s not that hard.