Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth and the NBC production team did their best for Super Bowl LVI

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Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth began their Sunday Night Football partnership on NBC in 2008. If Super Bowl LVI was their last game together, that ends a successful run. Their chemistry was on display throughout the Los Angeles Rams’ 23-20 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. Unlike a three-man stand where analysts have to work together to get points across, Collinsworth and Michaels forged a conversation and gave each other the breathing room that makes them one of the best announce teams in all of sports. .

With many rumors that Michaels will be heading to Amazon (to call Thursday Night Football) or ESPN (to return to Monday Night Football), Al hinted that Super Bowl LVI could be his last game for the Peacock when he called for Collinsworth to “come and slide here one last time”.

NBC reruns were perfect. The angles on the Rams’ sloppy extra point in the first half made it clear that starter Johnny Hekker’s snap was slipping out of his hands. Also, on a nifty play by the Bengals in the first half, running back Joe Mixon threw a touchdown pass to Tee Higgins, Michaels had the right call and Collinsworth stopped play using clean replays. from the production truck led by producer Fred. Gaudelli and director Drew Esocoff.

When the Bengals scored to open the second half on a 75-yard touchdown pass from Joe Burrow to Higgins, it appeared defenseman Jalen Ramsey was down.

However, NBC found multiple replays that showed Higgins actually pulling off Ramsey’s face mask and tossing it aside, in what should have been offensive pass interference. It would have been the perfect time to bring in rules analyst Terry McCauley, but as with the rest of the game, he wasn’t used much.

It’s because there weren’t many penalties all night. There were flags thrown on back-to-back plays in the final two minutes of the Rams’ game-winning drive, including a suspicious holding penalty on the Bengals where Collinsworth and Michaels questioned the validity of the call.

As the defenses took control of the game (especially the Rams), Collinsworth was able to show the failure of the Bengals offensive line as Burrow was sacked multiple times, seven times in total. Although unpleasant to watch, NBC even offered a great angle replay of Joe Burrow’s apparent knee injury, capturing him screaming in pain immediately after the clumsy blow.

As an analyst, Collinsworth gets paid for second-guess calls, but he made several correct first guesses, including a run from Joe Burrow fourth in the third quarter. Michaels was only happy to give him credit for predicting the race.

With the game close throughout, Michaels and Collinsworth didn’t have to go into blowout mode, sticking to the coaching strategy.

As with previous Super Bowls, NBC used the Big Game to launch a new scoring bug and graphics package. Compared to the previous scorebug, this new version was cleaner and less cluttered. It certainly looked better than a leaked build that came out earlier in the week. The graphics were also cleaner and designed to look better on screen.

During pregame coverage, NBC gave time to some of the NFL’s biggest stories, including the trial of Brian Flores. This lawsuit was even mentioned by President Joe Biden during the traditional Super Bowl presidential interview. Insider Mike Florio has raised the possibility of Washington Commanders team owner Dan Snyder being kicked out of the league after new allegations of sexual misconduct.

Most of the time, however, the pregame was used to heavily promote cable programming from NBCUniversal, Peacock, and of course the Olympics. (Running simultaneously to the Super Bowl for the first time, leading to a whirlwind week for Mike Tirico.)

After the game, Michaels paid tribute to sideline reporter Michele Tafoya who is leaving sports television to pursue other projects. Michaels left his future open, but punched partner Collinsworth over what appeared to be the end of their 13-year partnership.

As for career changes, the departure of Tafoya asked Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald if this was his last game and while he was emotional, he didn’t bite the question.

If this is the last game for Michaels and Collinsworth, they emerged victorious. It would likely be the last Super Bowl for the 77-year-old Michaels. NBC’s next turn in the rotation would be in 2026; Amazon obviously isn’t a factor in Super Bowl coverage, and even if it somehow lands on ESPN/ABC, their first Super Bowl opportunity won’t be until 2027. Even as good that Michaels was last night, it seems unlikely that he’ll still be calling games at that time. (Although if anyone can, it’s him.)

As this was his 11th Super Bowl broadcast tying him with CBS and Fox’s Pat Summerall, Michaels proved he could still rise to the occasion, create the right mood and set his partner up for success.

Overall, the NBC production gets an A, and Michaels and Collinsworth also get a solid A.

Thus ends another season of the NFL, one of media’s biggest properties culminating in the biggest night on television. If you’re wondering: It’s Fox’s turn for the Super Bowl next year.

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