BEST PREGAME FEATURE: Dan and Claire Marino's adoption of a Chinese girl. A nice story that had nothing to do with the game but was a respite from warmed-over stories on the coaches and Marshall Faulk. Claire's emotion during the piece came off as quite real. Runner-up: Feature on the first black NFL player and coach, Fritz Pollard.
WORST PREGAME FEATURE: The piece featuring the morning show The View was hideous. Meredith Vieira said "it's all about the butt," Joy Behar said "it's a bunch of men jumping around in tights; it's adorable," and Barbara Walters proved her knowledge of football with this tidbit: "They kick something over a goal." Absolutely brilliant. Runner-up: The View. Yes, so bad it deserves a sweep, which journalist _ and we use the term loosely _ Lesley Visser clinched when she asked Giants defensive back Jason Sehorn if he got his job because of "his looks."
BOLDEST PREDICTION: Steve Young saying the Rams would score 40 points.
BEST PREGAME COMMENT: Titans coach Jeff Fisher, asked if he could enjoy the Super Bowl if his team lost: "You don't want to double-bogey 18."
FIRST PREGAME SMILE FOR A BUCS FAN: When Visser mentioned that Rams WR Torry Holt would be wearing a flak jacket after a hit by Derrick Brooks had him "coughing up blood at halftime" last week. Runner-up: Young saying that last week the Rams were "punched in the mouth by the Tampa Bay defense."
FIRST TEARS SHED BY BUCS FANS: Player introductions. Where was the "The Bucs quarterback, from Tulane, No. 10 " Runner-up: Isaac Bruce's catch on the Rams' first drive, which certainly had to conjure up thoughts of last week's Bert Emanuel "catch."
WORST PREGAME SCOOP: Jimmy Roberts said that if Titans WR Yancey Thigpen couldn't start, Joey Kent would make his first pro start. Then Chris Berman later said it would be Isaac Byrd and Kevin Dyson. Finally, the pregame team seemed to settle on Byrd and Chris Sanders.
BEST PREGAME SCOOP: Visser on Holt and the flak jacket.
MOST SUCCINCT ANALYSIS OF TITANS DE JEVON KEARSE: "I hate guys like that," said Young.
MOST IRRELEVANT MOMENT: Tina Turner (lip) singing.
NUMBER OF REFERENCES TO ATLANTA'S BAD WEATHER: 5.
FILLING US IN: Or not. In the last two minutes, Boomer Esiason and Al Michaels failed to mention how Bruce made the game-winning catch (both Titans safeties were out with injuries). Instead, Esiason raved about Kearse, who got to Kurt Warner after he threw the pass,plus we waited too long for one replay.And neither announcer properly coneyed the emotion of the last Tennessee drive.
COLOR CHECK: TV sets across the country were being adjusted for color when Visser, in a bright green outfit, interviewedWarner's wife, Brenda, who was decked out in a bright blue boa-trimmed top.
TOO LATE: Considering how Kearse terrorized the Rams in the first quarter of their first meeting, you'd expect ABC to be watching his matchup against RT Fred Miller closely. But it wasn't until midway through the second quarter that they showed how Kearse was being shut down. On the other side of the line, Kenny Holmes was getting past Pro Bowler Orlando Pace, but they were ignored by Michaels and Esiason.
BEST HALFTIME LINE: Berman on Tennessee holding the Rams to nine points, invoking the name of a former middleweight boxer and bleeder: "They look like Vito Antuofermo, losing rounds 10-9, 10-9, 10-9 "
WORST USE OF NUMBERS: How about ABC's lack of numbers? Where were the stats we've grown to expect during the regular season? Sure, it's the third quarter, but we'd still like to know how many yards Eddie George has. Did they ever even show Warner's stats?
BEST MIKE ALSTOTT IMPERSONATION: George's second touchdown looked a little bit like Alstott's TD against Washington.
_ JOHN C. COTEY