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Times staff writer Tom Jones looks back Sunday's Bucs-Cowboys broadcast on Fox.
Published Sep. 21, 2009

Diehard fans typically look for any kind of bias from announcers, and many are convinced broadcasters are secretly rooting against their team. It's actually a silly notion because announcers don't care which team wins, especially at the NFL level. Still, there likely were some looking for the slightest hint that Fox analyst Daryl Johnston, who spent his 11-year career playing for the Cowboys, was favoring Dallas. And, of course, there was nothing because Johnston is a pro.

Fox's team of Johnston, Kenny Albert and Tony Siragusa had a good day, led by Johnston, who is creeping onto the short list of the best NFL game analysts. He's smart enough to know that the Cowboys used to pay his salary, but these days, his checks come from Fox.

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Best quote

.Everyone - Bucs fans especially - couldn't help but smile as they heard Fox analyst Daryl Johnston talk about Bucs running back Cadillac Williams: "I just don't think people understand how amazing this is. He has come back from two knee injuries that people just don't come back from. ... If they do come back, they're not the same player. He looks just as good to me.''

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Best info

.Tip of the cap to the Fox production people. Just after Dallas tackle Flozell Adams was called for a personal foul penalty, announcer Kenny Albert alerted fans that Adams had committed more penalties over the past two seasons than any player in the NFL. Then later, when Bucs running back Derrick Ward broke off a 22-yard run, Albert immediately announced that Ward led the league last season in runs of 10 yards or more.

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Strangest sight

.Nice job by Fox to show replays of an incredulous Bucs coach Raheem Morris and an equally bewildered Sabby Piscitelli after Piscitelli was called for running into the punter to give the Cowboys a first down in the first half. And after looking at the replays, exactly what were Morris and Piscitelli complaining about?

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Worst analysis

.Fox analyst Tony Siragusa praised Bucs quarterback Byron Leftwich during the Bucs next-to-last drive in the first half when Leftwich scrambled out of bounds. Siragusa said, "That's a smart play right there. Get out of bounds and get to the next play.''

In fact, the Bucs completely mismanaged the clock on that drive. At their own 14 with two minutes left, the Bucs completed a pass that lost a yard. They huddled, and it appeared they would run out the clock. Instead, Leftwich scrambled on second down and stopped the clock by running out of bounds. The Bucs then ran the ball on third down. The Cowboys called time out, got the ball back and scored a TD two plays later. It turns out that Leftwich getting out of bounds was anything but a "smart play.''

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Half the story

.Fox studio analyst Howie Long was somewhat impressed by the Bucs at halftime. "How about the job Raheem Morris is doing in Tampa?'' Long said as he reeled off all the Bucs' offseason changes. "A look at (the first half) and they're sending out notice today that they're just not a W on the schedule.'' Wonder what he thought after the second half?