Outside of Bill Cowher, once again, all the CBS pregame analysts picked San Francisco to win. You would think after picking against the Ravens in the divisional and AFC championship games, these guys would give them a little respect. But that was not the case.
There was one impressive segment during the CBS pregame show: a feature on Indianapolis coach Chuck Pagano and his battle with leukemia this year. The interviews with his daughters and wife were sensitive, smart and moving. Great stuff.
But it was not nearly enough to redeem the production. Who in the heck decided to set up a desk outside the studio with a crowd of screaming fans drowning out every other word from the analysts?
The 30-minute pregame show produced by the NFL, which followed the CBS pre-ame effort and immediately preceded the game, was brilliant. The choir of children from Sandy Hook Elementary singing "America, the Beautiful" with Jennifer Hudson was sublime.
But then came the kickoff and the telecast produced by CBS, and it was all downhill from there until the postgame, when CBS finally — after an entire season of treating the Ravens and its fans like peasants — put the cameras on the team, stepped back and let us watch as Flacco and Lewis called out to the city that is now the home of the Super Bowl champions.
Even CBS Sports couldn't ruin those moments.
UPDATE 1 a.m.: Just as it was the place to be for great pre-game coverage, the NFL Network was terrific in its post-game coverage as well -- CBS went to the "Elementary" episode it had been promotionally pounding away at all day and night.
Rich Eisen, Deion Sanders, Micheal Irvin, Marshall Faulk, Warren Sapp and Co. had an ecstatic Ed Reed sit down for an interview that had so much joy and energy emanating from the Baltimore safety that it felt as if the TV set was going to explode. The conversation truly communicated a sense of what it felt like to be a champion.
And then, they brought on Joe Flacco and actually found a way to have some fun with the game's MVP, asking him if he was going to seek $100 million in contract negotiations based on his performance.
"Steve Bisciotti said if this happened, then I could pound on his desk and really stick it to him," Flacco said laughing. "And that's what I'm going to do."
When Eisen kidded him about what he had just said "on live TV" about sticking it to Bisciotti, Flacco ad-libbed, "in a good way."
I did not know Flacco had that kind of nimble humor in him.
But then the CBS cameras had already caught Flacco saying something on live TV right after the game ended that some folks probably didn't think they'd hear on network television.
For the record, I think it was fine for people to hear him say the rush of winning was 'expletive awesome.' If that is too raw for you, don't watch professional sports. That's the way some folks talk in moments of such heightened intensity.
As to the network delay being off in live coverage at the end of a game, I have absolutely no problem with that. This is not the kind of profanity that will draw a fine from the F.C.C., believe me. If you think this is a big issue, you need to try living in in the real world.
I really liked the live shots the NFL Network had of Ravens fans celebrating in the streets of Baltimore, but I loved the reactions they got to those images from Reed and John Harbaugh. Fine work all day and night on the NFL Network.
Read my revierw of the NFL Network's pre-game coverage here.