Fox Sports began its last season covering Thursday Night Football. Next year, Amazon Prime gets the exclusive rights.
The Los Angeles Rams defeated the Seattle Seahawks at Lumen Field, 26-17. Joe Buck and Troy Aikman were on the call, with sideline reporters Erin Andrews and Kristina Pink as well as rules analyst Mike Pereira.
Buck and Aikman were as sharp as ever. Aikman is arguably the best analyst in the league at diagramming plays and matchups. Both Andrews and Pink provided effective sideline reports, and Pereira was involved with a wild sequence on a Seattle punt.
Here are my ten observations:
- Andrews (Rams) and Pink (Seahawks) were each assigned a team. Prior to kickoff, Erin said that LA’s Andrew Whitworth was focused on wanting to come back from a “bad day at the office” for the Rams in their 37-20 loss to the Arizona Cardinals in Week #4. Pink talked to Seattle safety Quandre Diggs who said that the Seahawks were looking to avenge last year’s 30-20 loss to the Rams in the NFC Wild Card game. Both quotes helped set the stage for the game and highlighted each team’s motivation to win.
- Los Angeles kick returner Tutu Atwell fumbled the opening kickoff out of bounds. Joe Buck jokingly remarked that fumbling the kickoff was not what Atwell “was thinking about when he went to sleep last night.”
- Seahawks went for it on 4th-and-2 at the Rams’ 29-yard line with 3:06 remaining in the first quarter. Seattle called a run, which LA stuffed. Rams’ star defensive tackle Aaron Donald was in on the play, and Troy Aikman remarked, “You don’t think they’d run at Aaron Donald. You’d think they would try to avoid that guy.”
- Los Angeles was called for a delay of game on a 3rd and-5 in the second quarter, making it 3rd and-10. Aikman said the play clock management is something that LA head coach Sean McVay is concerned about, dating back to when former Ram Jared Goff was behind center. Joe Buck said the delay of game was “just about as bad as the Seahawks’ 4th-and-2 call.”
- Seattle kicker Jason Myers missed a 35-yard field goal right before halftime. After the miss, Buck told the audience that Myers had made 37 straight field goal attempts which were under 40 yards. Buck claimed his innocence of jinxing the kicker, saying, “(You) can’t blame the announcer because I said it after (he missed).”
- Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford dealt with a taped-up index finger throughout the game. To its credit, Fox showed a closeup of Stafford’s finger as he was warming up for the second half while Andrews concurrently gave her sideline report. McVay told Andrews that the thumb was okay. However, Aikman talked about his experience playing with a taped-up index finger: “I’ve had that happen to me. It’s a factor.”
- Los Angeles kicker Matt Gay missed an extra point after the Rams took a 9-7 lead in the third quarter. He then subsequently booted the ensuing kickoff out of bounds. Aikman remarked, “I don’t know what’s (going on) in Matt Gay’s head, but he’s going to have to get over it.” Gay would go on to make a 47-yard field goal to give the Rams a 26-17 lead with 24 seconds remaining in the game. Aikman stated that “all is forgiven” for his earlier miscues.
- Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson injured his middle finger on his throwing hand in the third quarter and did not finish the game. Aikman said, “We’re not sure if he can throw the football right now.” Buck pointed out how both quarterbacks were dealing with finger issues.
- Down 16-7 in the third quarter, Seattle punter Michael Dickson had his punt blocked, only to pick up the football during a mad scramble and punt it 68 yards to the Los Angeles 11-yard line. It gave rules analyst Mike Pereira a chance to weigh in. Aikman wittingly remarked “It’s always good for Mike to chime in on the action.” The play was the type that will probably be featured on NFL Football Follies in twenty years. Pereira’s interpretation of the rule was that the football cannot be kicked twice on the play. However, referee Ronald Torbert ruled that the play was legal. The Fox camera crew did a great job of finding the right angle yet again, as it showed Dickson punting the second time beyond the line of scrimmage. It was one of those weird plays that you’ll rarely see.
- Buck did a good job of setting up the last drive, saying that Seattle quarterback Geno Smith had to lead the team 84 yards to the end zone. When Los Angeles safety Nick Scott intercepted Smith on the first play of the drive, Buck exclaimed, “The drama is over.” Both Buck and Aikman were complimentary of Smith’s performance in the game, as he led Seattle to ten points to keep them within striking distance. “You just hate to see it,” Aikman said.
Buck and Aikman will call the New York Giants-Dallas Cowboys game on Sunday as part of Fox’ “America’s Game of the Week” coverage (4:25ET in most markets). Of note, Buck will not begin his MLB postseason assignment until Friday, October 15th, the start date of the ALCS.