Super Bowl XLVI gave viewers a thrill down to the last play, giving the New York Football Giants a 21-17 win over the New England Patriots, and the G-Men’s 4th Championship. In a telecast that should shatter an average and total viewership record, NBC did a fantastic job keeping the game as its focus, and didn’t stray from the formula. Thanks to the game remaining close throughout, NBC did not have to rely on cutaways of celebrities, NFL dignitaries, random fans and cheerleaders.
Instead, producer Fred Gaudelli, director Drew Esocoff and the announcing crew of Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth and Michele Tafoya were able to concentrate on the game action. In his 8th Super Bowl, Michaels again rose to the occasion, spotting trends, explaining key calls as was the case with the extremely rare safety called against Tom Brady for intentional grounding, and rising for the big moments such as the soon-to-be legendary Mario Manningham catch on the sidelines that kept the Giants winning drive alive.
The Manningham catch was captured perfectly by NBC’s cameras and replayed to show not only did the Giants wide receiver keep both of his feet in-bounds, but that he maintained possession of the ball. The NBCee It feature blowing up a clear and resolute picture of Manningham’s shoes on the sidelines enabled the viewers at home and at Lucas Oil Stadium to confirm the catch and also assisted the official review. Collinsworth’s analysis of the play was tops as well.
For the entire game, Collinsworth did a bang up job and showed why he continues to be among the upper echelon of NFL analysts on TV.
NBC’s graphics showed the tackle box to show why an intentional grounding penalty and safety were called on Tom Brady. It was used again to demonstrate why Manningham gave Giants quarterback Eli Manning little room to throw him a pass on the sidelines in the 4th quarter.
The network did a fantastic job for Super Bowl XLVI and should still be on top of its game when it airs Super Bowl XLIX in 2015.
For the first time in a long time, I was able to view all of NBC’s Super Bowl pregame show. There were pros and cons.
- Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward both did very well in their guest analyst roles. Rodgers and Ward were relaxed and expressed their viewpoints clearly and concisely. In particular, Rodgers made some good points on the Giants defense and why they able to cause turnovers. Rodgers was better than many current analysts.
- A feature on former New Orleans Saints special teams player Steve Gleason narrated by Peter King was well produced. Gleason blocked a punt against the Atlanta Falcons in the Saints’ first game at the Superdome since Hurricane Katrina and now suffers from ALS. NBC’s piece on his struggles was one of the best I’ve seen.
- A segment focusing on NBC’s Rodney Harrison and former New York Giants wide receiver David Tyree in which Harrison said the catch Tyree made against him in Super Bowl XLII still affects him and standing next to Tyree was affecting him at that moment.
- An on-field segment with Cris Collinsworth, Harrison and Doug Flutie demonstrating how Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski’s injured ankle would come into play in the Giants coverage.
- A profile of Patriots defensive lineman Vince Wolfork and his wife. We need a reality show featuring this couple.
- Nick Cannon interviewing celebrities. Cannon was a disaster, yelling, screaming and making no sense. Awful.
- A cooking segment with Bravo’s Top Chef personalities giving a client stroke to a cracker company. A waste of time.
As for the Super Bowls, it was another weak crop. I’ve graded the entire batch and many were average. The best of the ads was the Chrysler commercial narrated by Clint Eastwood on Detroit’s comeback. I also loved Samsung’s ad featuring The Darkness’ “I Believe in A Thing Called Love”. Volkswagen’s follow-up to its mini-Darth Vader ad garnered a B. Many ads lost their luster having been released early. It might behoove the advertisers to return to the old school way of showing them during the game first and then worry about social media buzz later.
And halftime by Madonna was a fun time, but she should not have lip synced. NBC has apologized for not catching M.I.A. flipping the bird during the performance, however, NFL Network was responsible for this halftime as it produced the show.
Overall, NBC gets an A for its production of the game and a B for the pregame The ads were mostly average. Halftime gets a B minus. A fun Super Bowl Sunday. Now let’s get back to work.