BY KEITH WELLS
Football fans from all over tuned in to watch a compelling AFC championship game on Sunday. As competitive as the game turned out to be, it was not the most exciting championship game many expected. Defense was a key strategic concept and play-by-play commentators Jim Nantz and Phil Simms were on hand to help fans comprehend each down.
Leading up to the inevitable clash between the efficient Patriot offense and the highly-respected Ravens defense, there were a few instances where defensive lineman for the Baltimore Ravens, Terrell Suggs, took advantage of the media in order to give his opinion publicly on what he believed his team, mainly his quarterback (Joe Flacco), was capable of. Terrell Suggs made several appearances on ESPN’s First Take and SportsCenter aggressively refuting early reports of Flacco becoming “rattled” in their previous playoff game against the Houston Texans in which the Ravens won 20-13. He also had numerous debates with respected ESPN analyst and columnist Skip Bayless about how much faith he had in himself and his quarterback to get the job done come game-time against the legendary Tom Brady-led Patriots.
These random media feuds Terrell Suggs took upon himself to spark only added even more anticipation to the already hyped confrontation between the Patriots and the Ravens. After all, the media is in the business of entertainment and Terrell Suggs was the top salesman this past week leading up to the game. Say what you want, but the entire media spectacle provided unbridled entertainment and humor and reminded people of the type of refreshing competitive atmosphere the playoffs can be.
As for the actual in-game commentary, announcers Simms and Nantz brought knowledge and clarity to the broadcast. A remarkable amount of time was spent on the play-by-play breakdowns during the game. This ultimately helped the audience notice different professional defensive schemes and formations that maybe had not been used throughout the regular season as often by the Ravens or Patriots. It was a tremendous help for the fans, because it allowed for an inside and deeper look into what was taking place on the field. This ratcheted the game up on the interest scale a lot more, especially seeing as there was not as much offense in the game as Patriots fans are used to seeing.
Toward the end of the game, the announcers did a wonderful job of packaging the emotions expressed by the crowd at the game and being consistent in the delivery of their broadcast with those emotions. When the Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff missed the final field goal attempt by the Ravens to tie the game and go into overtime, Nantz and Simms communicated through their emotions in their broadcast they were just as surprised as the fans that were in attendance at Gillette Stadium that night. It was a great approach to the broadcast which really made those who were tuning-in feel a part of the Ravens’ loss and the Patriots’ victory. Overall, it was a great game coupled with a professional broadcast by experienced commentators.