Reimer: Annoying yelps aside, Tony Romo reminded us he's the best analyst around during Patriots-Steelers

Alex Reimer
December 16, 2018 - 10:14 pm

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

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Tony Romo’s worst sin as a broadcaster is that he gets excited during big plays. After being forced to listen to Dan Fouts spout inanity for the last three months –– with select cameo appearances from cliché-machine Troy Aikman –– picking on a football announcer for his enthusiasm over football seems petty. Romo is the sharpest analyst working today, and it only took one quarter to show why. He offered more insight in the opening minutes of Patriots-Steelers Sunday than most of his peers do all season. 

On the Patriots’ opening touchdown drive, Romo predicted they would try to speed up the tempo on 3rd-and-1 in an effort to catch the Steelers flat-footed. Sure enough, New England rushed to the line of scrimmage, and the Steelers were flagged for having too many men on the field. Tom Brady found Chris Hogan for a 63-yard touchdown on the next play.

Afterwards, Romo stressed how the Steelers must communicate better on defense if they’re going to win. 

Through two seasons, Romo’s defining trait as a broadcaster is his penchant for staying ahead of the action. He rarely seems confused about calls on the field and regularly picks up on small details that add context for the viewer at home. On a Steelers 3rd down late in the second quarter, for example, Romo immediately pointed out the Patriots were crowding Antonio Brown with multiple defenders. Ben Roethlisberger’s throw to JuJu Smith-Schuster was a lame duck, and we all knew why. The play was designed for Brown, but he wasn’t open. 

According to the social media peanut gallery, Romo spends the bulk of his time during replays grunting and moaning. That is wrong. Unlike Fouts and other network commentators, who often just narrate what everybody can see with their own eyes, Romo will explain why something happened. When reviewing Roethlisberger’s touchdown throw to Vance McDonald, Romo mentioned how Big Ben’s eyes diverted safety Patrick Chung away from the tight end. Romo also talked about how all of the Patriots’ receivers in motion left Hogan wide-open on his long touchdown. 

Most notably, on Brady’s terrible red zone interception, Romo was quick to point out he thought TB12 was trying to throw the ball away. Sure enough, that was Brady’s explanation for the errant toss in his postgame presser. 

We ask our color analysts to take us inside the minds of the stars on the field. That’s exactly what Romo did there. 

Another piece of criticism lobbed at Romo is that he has a habit of cheerleading in the booth. This was apparent late in the first half, when he lauded Bill Belichick for running out his offense on 4th-and-1 before bringing out his punting unit. “Look at this –– genius!,” Romo exclaimed.

As hardened critic Mike Mutnansky points out, Mike Tomlin’s idiocy for not calling timeout in that spot speaks louder than Belichick’s brilliance, which Romo addressed as well. “Pittsburgh should’ve taken a timeout!,” he said.

Besides, Romo’s adulation of Belichick should expunge the silly narrative that he was rooting for the Steelers Sunday. While Romo may have sounded like he was ready for a celebratory cigar after every big Steelers defensive stand in the second half –– “this is best Pittsburgh has played New England in years!” –– he was feeding off the home crowd. And by the way, that was the best defensive performance Tomlin’s Steelers have ever put forth against Brady. They were deserving of the verbal applausee.

Romo also criticized the Steelers at points during the game. He lambasted the play-calling on their last drive, when they opted to run on second down. “You’re saying you need a field goal to win this game, and that’s not true,” Romo said.

It's been roughly three months since Romo last called a Patriots game. We received the full experience, and it's better than the other options. 

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