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Fox brings 'A' game to Super Bowl XLV

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By Barry Jackson

Super Bowl musings from the couch:

• There was a lot to like about Fox's coverage, especially Joe Buck's diligent play-by-play and the superb production, with ample and timely use of replay. Buck — always in command — gives yards gained as quickly as anyone in the business after plays, and his timing was impeccable, noting the Packers had no sacks 10 seconds before they recorded their first one (during the third quarter).

Fox wisely used replay not only to show the previous play but also to capture the reactions of players and coaches, including injured Packers CB Charles Woodson, whose concern was evident when Pittsburgh made a big play. Random crowd shots were kept to a minimum.

• Troy Aikman's delivery lacks pizzazz, but he's meticulously prepared and better than most in dissecting strategy. He was sharp on Super Sunday, including on Pittsburgh's unsuccessful final drive, when he knew Mike Wallace had no idea what the correct route was on second down.

Aikman told us early that the Packers "really like" the matchup of WR Jordy Nelson against the Steelers' cornerbacks. Bingo! Aaron Rodgers threw to Nelson for a touchdown soon after.

Aikman also said early on that the Packers want to get the ball to Greg Jennings in the middle of the field and said "if Pittsburgh is vulnerable in any area consistently," it's down the middle. Jennings used the middle of the field to catch a second-quarter touchdown pass as well as a key 31-yard reception in the fourth quarter.

• Because Super Bowl audiences include so many people who don't watch a lot of football, Aikman should have known better than to use jargon such as "gap integrity" without elaborating.

• Best off-field video shot: Cameron Diaz feeding popcorn to Alex Rodriguez in a Cowboys Stadium suite. "I'm sure Alex is thrilled we put the camera on him at that moment," Buck wisecracked.

• Most mindless pregame segment: The red-carpet celebrity interviews, most marked by insipid dialogue. When Michael Strahan asked actor Tim Olyphant, "What's the game going to come down to?" Olyphant was stuck for an answer, as if he had been asked to explain nuclear physics. Memo to Fox: Asking multiple celebs "Who's going to win?" gets very old, very quickly.

• Most educational pregame segment: Fox's Mike Pereira, the NFL's former vice president of officiating, shared factoids most viewers wouldn't know: Super Bowl officials study film of the teams before the game and ask both head coaches if they're planning to run any different or unusual plays.

• Breathless hype award: To Fox host Curt Menefee, who has a habit of overselling everything. Too many interviews are ones "we won't want to miss." Several times, he called Bill O'Reilly's chat with President Obama an interview that "all of America has been waiting for" or some variation of that.

• Odd end to an interview: Terry Bradshaw — who ripped Ben Roethlisberger earlier this year — told him that "it's important I have a relationship with you." Then Bradshaw told viewers, "It's important that he and I get along."


Barry Jackson covers sports media for the Miami Herald.

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