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After tedious start, Super Bowl broadcast finally delivers

After 3½ quarters of what had been to that point a middling Super Bowl, Al Michaels was trying hard to keep a stiff upper lip in the NBC broadcast booth.

Both quarterbacks had been injured, a game-breaking receiver had left the game, a blown call had altered the outcome and one coach seemed content to run the ball though his team trailed. Even the commercials left a lot to be desired.

The game, however, was still close, prompting Michaels to optimistically ask viewers “What are we set up for here?”

He was right. When push came to shove, the big game turned out to be as reliable as an old Buick. It may have had trouble getting started but in the end it got you there.

Here are XI takeaways from NBC’s broadcast of Super Bowl LVI:

I: Best visual: Replay showing the Bengals’ Tee Higgins twisting the facemask of the Rams’ Jalen Ramsey before catching Burrow’s 75-yard touchdown pass on the first play after halftime.

II: Keen observation: Play-by-play voice Al Michaels, putting the game’s slow start in perspective after the family of 40-something offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth, who has played for both of this year’s finalists, was shown in the stands: “There’s one of his daughters immersed in a magazine or a book.”

III: Most dubious prediction during the five-hour pregame show: Mike Tirico, saying a lot of viewers will know about monobob after Sunday night. Monobob is a Winter Olympics event in which a bobsled rider hurtles down a mountain by her lonesome. Apparently the studio host hasn’t seen the overnight ratings from Beijing.

IV: Best pregame feature: NBC’s political data analyst Steve Kornacki explaining the percentages behind an office Super Bowl squares pool.

V: Best graphic illustrating that statistics sometimes are overrated: Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford tied for the NFL lead with 17 interceptions (he had two more Sunday) while Bengals counterpart Joe Burrow led the league by being sacked 51 times (not counting seven more in the Super Bowl).

VI: A power-packed lineup of which most unhip older Americans are not eminently qualified to speak: Sunday’s Super Bowl halftime roster comprised of Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige and Kendrick Lamar.

VII: Worst foreshadowing: Analyst Cris Collinsworth, after Michaels pointed out in the second quarter that both teams had run 24 plays, about the difference in the game to that point. “Odell Beckham Jr. has been the nightmare so far.” On the next play, Beckham went down with a knee injury and did not return.

VIII: Closest thing to the “Hey Kid, Catch” 1980 Super Bowl commercial for Coca-Cola featuring Mean Joe Greene and the kid in the tunnel that was so heartwarming it has its own Wikipedia page: Upon further review, check that. Nothing came close.

IX: Little known fact about the “Hey Kid, Catch” commercial: Longtime Henderson resident Linda November was one of the six session vocalists who sang the “Have a Coke and a Smile” jingle for it. “It was a great idea,” November said on the 35th anniversary of the spot that won the Clio (the advertising Oscar) for which she said she was paid about $300. “But it was just another gig.”

X: Best take on the lack of penalty flags by somebody I follow on Twitter until the zebras tried to make up for it during the Rams’ game-winning drive. “With the officials not calling any penalties, this would have been an ideal game for the Raiders to play in,” wrote LVSportsBiz.com’s Alan Snel.

XI: Famous last words? Michaels, who tied Pat Summerall’s record with his 11th Super Bowl play-by-play assignment in the final game of his contract with NBC, about the Rams’ Cooper Kupp and Aaron Donald making the big plays at the end, providing the game with a memorable final scene in a setting known for them: “At the end, the stars came out. ”

Contact Ron Kantowski at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow @ronkantowski on Twitter.

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