Hey, you want to know a big reason that the Steelers lost on Sunday? What if I told you that it was apparent just by watching the game closely and that it was one play that helped turn the game?
You'd think it would be something that would have been replayed several times, or returned to later in the game to help highlight why the complexion of the game changed, right?
Now what if I told you that the entire CBS broadcast crew never even noticed it. As you can probably guess, I'm not talking about the hit on Ben Roethlisberger that was replayed countless times. That was big, obviously, but it's hard to say that Roethlisberger would have played any better over the final 25 minutes than backup Charlie Batch, who was pretty exceptional himself. But that's the kind of hit-them-on-the-head obvious play that Phil Simms and Jim Nantz were capable of commenting on.
On Sunday, you were better off watching the game on mute. I'm not even talking about the fact that we never found out the extent of Roethlisberger's injury--I don't think I ever even heard them explain that it was a concussion. I'm not talking about the fact that they never noticed that the Steelers were platooning Kendall Simmons and Chris Kemoeatu at right guard--that's the kind of attention to detail that is beyond most announcer's abilities.
I'm talking about the fact that the game turned in part on something that the CBS crew, and their spotters, never even noticed, even though it was visible to them and any attentive viewer at home.
With 2:20 left in the third quarter, Casey Hampton left the field limping, grabbing his hamstring after trying to chase down Ashley Lelie on a 28-yard catch and run. Hampton was clearly visible grabbing his hammy in the CBS replay of Lelie's dash (yes, Hampton was 15-yards downfield trying to catch a wide receiver, heckuva effort huh?), and his backup Chris Hoke came in on the next play. Hampton never returned, but unless I somehow missed it the CBS crew never even noticed that the Pro Bowler was sidelined, much less explained his injury.
The Falcons rushed for 38 yards on 17 carries (2.23 yards per carry) before Hampton left. After Hampton's injury, the Falcons rolled off 135 yards on 22 carries (6.14 yards per carry). Before the injury, the Falcons had passed for 150 yards, after the injury they gained 82 yards in the air.
Not only did they have more success running the ball, but all of a sudden it became a much more viable option with the Steelers big beef in the middle sitting on the sideline--which explains why the Falcons ran the ball more times in the final quarter and a half then they did in the first 43 minutes of the game.
Now I'm not saying that Hampton's injury was the only reason for the Steelers loss--terrible first-half special teams play, Willie Parker and Roethlisberger fumbles also played a big part, but I'm still flabbergasted that CBS pays a ton of money to broadcast the NFL, brings in one of their top crews (who also have spotters paid simply to notice stuff like this), and they never even noticed why the Falcons all of a sudden had a running game.
And I overreacting to this? Or have the networks lost the ability to actually notice what's going on unless a quarterback or Terrell Owens is involved?