ESPN earned a 9.7 overnight rating for the Ravens' 18-16 win over the Lions on "MNF" last night, up 23% from a 7.9 overnight for Jets-Titans in Week 15 last year. However, the 9.7 rating is down 10% from a 10.8 overnight for Steelers-49ers in Week 15 in '11. Last night's game earned a 40.2 local rating in the Baltimore market (12.1 on ESPN, 28.1 on WBAL-NBC). The telecast also earned a 35.0 local rating in Detroit (10.6 on ESPN, 24.4 on WXYZ-ABC). Rounding out the top five markets were San Diego (15.0), Las Vegas (14.6) and Sacramento (14.5) (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor). In Baltimore, David Zurawik wrote after watching ESPN's "Monday Night Countdown" last night, he "wondered why they even bothered to play" the Ravens-Lions game. Zurawik: "At first, it was just annoying. But then, it became embarrassing when Steve Young and Trent Dilfer started talking about the 'moral authority'" that fellow analyst Ray Lewis provided for the Ravens. Zurawik: "I understand that ESPN has a huge investment in Lewis as its new marquee analyst, but don’t demean the Ravens players to promote him." Zurawik wrote color analyst Jon Gruden deserves credit, as he was "generally honest and accurate in reporting and critiquing what happened on the field once the game started." Overall, ESPN’s game coverage was "crisp, clean, informed and illuminating." The chemistry between the producer, director, Gruden and play-by-play announcer Mike Tirico is "in a league" with NBC's "SNF" (BALTIMORESUN.com, 12/16).
RANK AND FILE: SPORTS ON EARTH's Aaron Gordon lists the "best and worst NFL announcers." Gordon: "I listened to 32 NFL games -- two per crew -- charting every foolish, false, annoying, ridiculous and downright dumb thing each of them said" to determine "which NFL crew is the worst of the lot." Gordon divided announcers' "verbal infractions into six categories," including clichés, factual errors, nonsense, self-references, plays off and off topic discussion. Gordon notes the CBS crew of Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf committed 70 infractions, which were "largely Dierdorf's fault." Gumbel is "actually quite respectable, with a mere nine infractions over two games." However, Dierdorf "has a whopping 61 infractions, giving him the honor of the statistically worst commentator in the NFL." Meanwhile, Fox' Chris Myers and Tim Ryan committed 87 infractions. The crew "holds the honor of worst tandem." Ryan "loves him some clichés, as 20 of his 55 infractions came in that category." NBC's Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth had just 20 infractions. Gordon: "They're generally regarded as one of the best in the business, and I agree." When this crew "screws up, it's because they're bending over backwards to compliment a superstar or head coach" (SPORTSONEARTH.com, 12/17).
FUNDAMENTAL FOCUS: In Jacksonville, Brian Hodges noted he listened to a portion of the Bills-Jaguars radio broadcast Sunday on WOKV-AM. Play-by-play announcer Brian Sexton and analyst Jeff Lageman were "doing the postgame show, expounding on the success" of Jaguars RB Jordan Todman. Sexton and Lageman then "focused on the fact that there were only two games left in the season and they were meaningless games." Hodges: "I arrived at work and jumped out of the car -- without knowing the final score. Fundamentals are important. Even in broadcasting" (JACKSONVILLE.com, 12/16).