Several readers called and e-mailed during the game to complain about what they believed was Fox's pro-Dallas announcing crew of Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston and Tony Siragusa, especially Johnston and Siragusa. All pointed to Johnston having played his entire NFL career with the Cowboys, from 1989-99.
I didn't hear quite the bias as some viewers, and I don't believe the crew had a rooting interest in the game. The fact is, even though the Bucs went in 5-2 and the Cowboys 4-3, the Cowboys are one of the league's marquee teams, with tons of characters and story lines. They're the NFL's version of a reality show, and any broadcast with the Cowboys, regardless of what team they are playing, is going to center on the Cowboys. Every pregame show (Fox, CBS, ESPN, NFL Network) had extensive conversations about and/or features on the Cowboys.
They're not called "America's Team'' for nothing.
Cowboys punter Sam Paulescubrought back memories of Jack Tatum and Donnie Shell when he blew up Bucs punter returner Clifton Smith in the first quarter. Maybe the Cowboys should think about including him in their nickel packages.
"I've never seen a punter in the highlight films,'' Fox analyst Tony Siragusa said. "But this might be a first ... ever. Ever!''
Best and worst hustle
Top-notch production and direction by Fox to keep showing shots of Bucs coach Jon Gruden as he had a conniption throughout the Cowboys' final first-half scoring drive, which was littered with Bucs penalties - four in all. Priceless.
But why didn't Fox's Tony Siragusa show a little hustle (or why didn't anyone tell him to hustle) and try to get a quick couple of words with Gruden at either end of halftime? We know Siragusa is on the field to provide a different perspective from analysts in the booth, but why not have him do the job any sideline reporter would be expected to do? He's right there, so why not punch the clock for a little overtime? It would've made the broadcast better, even if Gruden had blown him off.
The guess here is that Siragusa or Fox never considered trying to get a quick chat with Gruden.
Former USF standout Mike Jenkins, right, now a Cowboys defensive back, made a heck of a nice hit on Bucs running back Earnest Graham in the second quarter on a little swing pass and then danced halfway down the field celebrating. One problem: Graham still made the catch and gave the Bucs a manageable third and short. A play later, Bucs quarterback Jeff Garcia scrambled for a first down.
We watch the games for the games, not the commercials. After all, commercials are for refilling the chips bowl and making pit stops. But come on, don't you just sway your head a little when that State Farm commercial using the old Frank and Nancy Sinatra song Feelin' Kinda Sunday comes on?
Doesn't it look like Bucs defensive end Gaines Adams has a helmet that is, like, two sizes too small?
Most frustrating calls
Seriously, you would think that any playbook designed by an offensive genius would include plays for taking a couple of shots at the end zone on the last drive. Wouldn't you? The guess is the pages with 3-yard passes are torn and frayed, and the pages that feature passes of 15 yards or longer remain crisp and shiny.
The Bucs made a cameo appearance on ESPN's Sports Reporters on Sunday morning.
Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan said, "The Bucs are the under-the-radar team that we should be paying more attention to.''
Then again, the Bucs flew really far under the radar Sunday.
Painful loss, for sure, given the wasted chances ... and giving up only 13 points ... and losing to a team quarterbacked by Brad Johnson ... and the missed field goal. Still, with the upcoming schedule - at Kansas City, home against the Vikings, at Detroit and home against New Orleans - the Bucs easily could be 8-4 come the first of December.