Tony Romo was on point, as he often is, but this time it was not about anticipating a play call but rather anticipating a defensive tendency — one that helped decide Super Bowl LV.
Early in the game on Sunday, the CBS analyst alerted the audience that Kansas City’s secondary tends to grab hold of receivers — and only sometimes gets away with it.
Sure enough, it happened early and often in the first half, part of a devastating series of penalties that helped Tom Brady and the Buccaneers secure a 31-9 victory.
That is but one illustration of another insightful performance by Jim Nantz and his partner, as CBS did what it could with a shockingly non-competitive game.
Romo also made a call early on that the Buccaneers needed to double-team Tyreek Hill and rely on their front four generating pressure, all of which they did to great effect.
There were some misses.
It was not until less than 3:41 remained that the announcers mentioned a vehicular accident on Thursday that involved Andy Reid’s son Britt, an assistant coach, causing him to miss the game and seriously injuring a 5-year-old girl.
The potential effect on Reid and the rest of his staff clearly was a relevant story line.
Also, with 13 seconds left in the first half and the Buccaneers facing a first-and-goal, Brady clearly could be heard yelling things at his sideline that would have been enlightening had Nantz and Romo not spoken over the audio.
In a news conference the week before the game, Nantz lamented that his first Super Bowl with Romo two years ago resulted in a clunker that the Patriots won, 13-3, over the Rams, and guaranteed that would not happen this time. Then it kind of did.
Nantz and Romo made the best of it, maintaining the easygoing chemistry they have shown throughout their partnership.
In the first quarter, Nantz said of Brady, "He looks exactly like he did 10 years ago."
To which Romo added, "So do you, Jim."
When Nantz noted Brady had not led a first-quarter touchdown drive in his first nine Super Bowls, Romo said, "Did you jinx [Kansas City defensive coordinator Steve] Spagnuolo?"
Seconds later, Brady found Rob Gronkowski for a touchdown.
"They got in the end zone with 37 seconds to spare," Nantz said.
With the score 14-6 late in the first half and the Bucs facing a third-and-1, Kansas City took a timeout in hopes of getting the ball back with some time left.
Nantz and Romo noted the risk involved if Tampa Bay converted. Then the Bucs did, and the pivotal decision helped them score a late touchdown to make it 21-6 at halftime.
During the intermission, studio analysts Boomer Esiason and Nate Burleson said the officials were calling the game too tightly, but by then the damage to Kansas City had been done, much of it self-inflicted.
For the postgame celebration, CBS used a camera that captured Brady in sharp focus with background images blurred, serving to highlight his special status as the now-undisputed greatest quarterback in NFL history.
The clear theme of the four-hour pregame show was the NFL managing to survive the challenges of COVID-19, starting with host James Brown’s opening, in which he said, "After a season full of uncertainty, folks, we have made it to Super Bowl Sunday."
A few minutes into the show and again at 4 p.m., CBS addressed the Britt Reid story, but then dropped it until about 10 p.m.
The most effective of the early features was one on Kansas City guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, a starter in last year’s Super Bowl who took this season off to help care for COVID-19 patients in his native Canada.
Later CBS aired a segment that paid tribute to people playing roles on the front lines of the pandemic battle. It was the dominant story line of the night, until the Bucs’ defense started dominating.
On the pregame show, Burleson interviewed former Giant and current Bucs defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who said: "I ain’t gotta prepare for Patrick Mahomes. He’s gotta prepare for me — period."
He was right.