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SOUND BITES

Did you know Phil Simms talked to Tom Brady this week? And Bill Belichick. And Ty Law. And Mike Rucker. And Adam Vinatieri.

Oh, and Greg Gumbel, he talked to Jake Delhomme. And John Fox. And Stephen Davis. And Dan Morgan.

Gentlemen! We get it! You talk to people.

Please (sob) stop.

Gumbel is paid to call games, and Simms, a former NFL and Super Bowl winning quarterback, is paid for his analysis. Instead, they delivered a constant stream of "What (insert player/coach) told us this week was "

Simms informed viewers he talked to Belichick, who told him "if it gets in the fourth quarter and it's tight, we're going to put the ball in Tom Brady's hands and tell him to get it done." As opposed to snapping the ball to Christian Fauria every time?

That was just part of the reason CBS' duo delivered a rather bland version of the NFL's biggest game. They talked over each other, they stammered (especially Simms, who seemed to start sentences without first having an ending planned) but mostly they weren't funny and just don't work as a team.

Dick Enberg, now he makes an event sound big. Gumbel made it sound like just another game, and Simms was surprisingly mundane. Imagine Joe Buck and Cris Collinsworth had a streaker run across the field, like one did Sunday. That could have been funny.

They should have done better with what Jim Nantz, who is from Houston, called the greatest Super Bowl game ever in the postgame show.

The greatest? A fitting end.

Some other thoughts and observations on the broadcast:

NOT ALL BAD: Simms deserves some credit for correctly predicting the Patriots' first play and for his stance against Carolina's two-point conversion tries with so much time left.

As they often do, one missed two-point try begat another, and instead of kicking to tie the score, Vinatieri got to win it with five seconds left.

OVERSELL: Delhomme had time to throw, a receiver who was 20 yards open, and he still threw a pass that Muhsin Muhammad had to wait for, making the go-ahead touchdown that much tougher. But to Simms, it was "an unbelievable play by Jake Delhomme."

Simms said Delhomme's throw was "so hard to do," then asked Gumbel, "Have you ever seen two long passes as perfect as Jake Delhomme has thrown today?"

Do we need to answer that?

MISSING THE DANCING: New England's insistence on being introduced as a team two years ago at the Super Bowl has ruined the pregame introductions forever. Thanks guys. The introductions Sunday were the worst ever, sealed by a couple of inane questions for one player from each team by sideline reporters Bonnie Bernstein and Armen Keteyian.

WOW!: Bernstein asked Fox after the game, "How tough is this loss to swallow?"

Good one!

IS BOWLING NEXT?: The CBS crew compared first-quarter action to boxing (body punches) and baseball (strike zone). How about football?

HALFTIME THOUGHTS: Did Nantz almost get hit with something thrown from the stands? Weeks and weeks of hype to see halftime performers lip synch? Music's biggest stars can't pull off their 15-second halftime spots with a live microphone? Justin Timberlake the surprise guest? And did he rip off part of Janet Jackson's top, revealing her right breast?

Why yes, yes he did.

_ JOHN C. COTEY

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