Alan Pergament: Cris Collinsworth may have gained Bills fans with effusive praise of Josh Allen, teammates | Television

At game’s end, NBC analyst Cris Collinsworth said the ease of the Buffalo Bills’ 31-10 victory over the defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams Thursday night in the NFL season opener was “pretty stunning. I did not expect a blowout.”

Those Bills fans who love to hate Collinsworth probably were just as stunned listening to all the love he dished out to quarterback Josh Allen and company for more than three hours.

The game should go down as the day that Collinsworth developed a crush on Allen. That became evident a few minutes into the second quarter as Allen was dismantling the Rams offense and completing his first 10 passes.

“I feel like I am watching Tom Brady,” he said, noting that Allen was performing as the “GOAT” has done for years. “Josh Allen is just reading everything, throwing to the right guy every time and throwing it perfectly.

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“He looks great, he just looks great,” Collinsworth said at another point in the game.

And then there was this gem after another amazing Allen play: “Josh Allen is the favorite for MVP, and you see why.”

One of the criticisms of Collinsworth is that he talks too much, which is a strange knock since he is paid to talk. It was even stranger Thursday night because everything he said about the Bills was positive.

Collinsworth also deservedly praised defensive star Von Miller, nickel back Taron Johnson, offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey, General Manager Brandon Beane, defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, safeties Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer, linebacker Matt Milano and the list goes on and on. He even praised tackle Spencer Brown after he committed a penalty.

Buffalo Bills safety Jordan Poyer (21) intercepts a Matthew Stafford pass during the fourth quarter.

Harry Scull Jr. / Buffalo News

It got to the point that the only Bills player that Collinsworth didn’t praise was punter Sam Martin and that was only because he never got to punt. (Martin, however, did have a nice hold on an extra point when the snap was slightly off.)

Dare I say that Collinsworth may actually have gained some Bills fans?

As usual, Collinsworth, who has earned 17 sports Emmys, was strong explaining nuances of the game, including how much the Bills pass rush with the addition of Miller enabled the team to play the nickel defense it prefers.

He was excellent in describing several replays, including how the Rams’ Jalen Ramsey apparently thought he had help when Stefon Diggs blew by him on a 53-yard touchdown that gave Buffalo a 31-10 lead and clinched the game.

Play-by-play announcer Mike Tirico, the Syracuse graduate who is as liked in Buffalo as much as Collinsworth is hated, had a typically strong game. He has a great excitement level and added some analysis of his own, explaining that Miller’s addition helped the other members of the Bills defensive line exploit their one-on-one matchups.

And he put a defining statement at the game’s end. After noting that opening games like the Bills performance often lead to overreaction, Tirico concluded the win was “a massive statement” by the Bills.

“The Rams put up a banner, the Bills put on a show,” said Tirico.

Boogie burns

Buffalo Bills defensive end Boogie Basham (55) runs downfield after his fourth quarter interception.

Harry Scull Jr. / Buffalo News

Now on to more highs and lows of the telecast.

2.2 Seconds: That’s how long Collinsworth said Allen was taking before throwing passes to offset the pass rush of the Rams’ Aaron Donald. He added that it was super fast. (And 2.2 seconds is a much better memory than 13 seconds.)

A Beautiful Sale: On the Bills’ first touchdown on an Allen pass to Gabriel Davis that went for 26 yards to take a 7-0 lead, Collinsworth explained that the receiver had to sell he was blocking on what looked like a running play. “He sold it beautifully,” said Collinsworth looking at the replay.

NHF: Tirico invented a new quarterback category after Allen’s first interception, which came on a bobbled catch by receiver Isaiah McKenzie that fell into the hands of Rams linebacker Ernest Jones. Tirico suggested “NHF” should stand for “Not His Fault.” Collinsworth wasn’t overly critical of Allen’s second interception, which was his fault. The analyst said Allen didn’t anticipate Rams cornerback Troy Hill would undercut Bills receiver Jamison Crowder.

The First Gift: After the first interception of Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford, Tirico noted that he led the league in interceptions last season and “he always gives the other guys one or two a game.”

The Dances: Miller and Diggs both showed off their dance moves after big plays, an early Miller sack and Diggs’ clinching touchdown.

The Heat: If you quibble about one thing Collinsworth said, it was his surprise that the Bills handled the Los Angeles heat so well. It isn’t December. It was actually pretty hot in Buffalo a few weeks ago.

The Rotation: The announcers noted the Bills defensive linemen frequently substituted on a rotation, as they did last year. “The quality of the rotation has gone up,” added Tirico.

Being Picky: After a Bills defensive stop, Tirico said: “This Bills defense is picking up right where they left off last year.” Not exactly. The defense ended last year unable to stop Kansas City in a devastating overall playoff loss. Tirico undoubtedly was referring to the defense’s regular season performance.

The Fair Warning: Even the members Bills Mafia had to agree with Collinsworth when he was concerned that Allen was running unnecessarily in the fourth quarter when the Bills had a 21-point lead, and the game was pretty much over.

“Really Good on Really Good”: That was how Tirico described the play in which Diggs caught a back shoulder pass while being defended by Ramsey.

Allen to Diggs

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs (14) falls backwards as he makes a touchdown catch against Los Angeles Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey (5) during the fourth quarter.

Harry Scull Jr. / Buffalo News

‘Cuse Humor: As the Rams’ Riley Dixon punted the first time, Tirico mentioned Dixon is a Syracuse University graduate, which is the announcer’s alma mater. “I got Syracuse in. I’m good for the night.”

Miller Time: The announcers were amused by all the talk about Miller returning to Los Angeles after winning a Super Bowl and all the love he gave his former teammates. “‘I hope they all like me,'” said Collinsworth, talking as if he were Miller. “Give me a break.” Added Tirico: “He was only a teammate for half a year (after a trade from Denver.)”

Clock Management: When the play clock went to zero before a Rams play got off, Tirico spent some time explaining why officials allowed that to happen without calling a penalty.

The Tackle: Collinsworth turned humorist after Stafford tackled Boogie Basham after Basham batted a pass in the air and intercepted it. “I hate to say it but probably the highlight for Matt Stafford is that tackle,” he said dryly. Actually, the Stafford highlight was his touchdown pass to Cooper Kupp, who amazingly got his feet down in the end zone. The replay showing Kupp’s footwork was excellent.

What Distraction?: Since Martin never had to punt, there was no need for the announcers to address the controversy and any potential distraction surrounding the allegations that led to the release of rookie Matt Araiza.

A Little Nuance: That’s what Collinsworth called McKenzie’s route on his 7-yard touchdown catch, explaining that the receiver delayed briefly before making his cut to get open for the score that gave the Bills a 17-10 lead.

The Sympathetic Shoutout: Near the game’s end, Tirico and Collinsworth addressed the undisclosed illness of Kim Pegula, the Bills and Sabers co-owner, and hoped and prayed for her recovery. “One of our favorite people in the NFL,” said Tirico. “She is one of the terrific people in the NFL,” added Collinsworth. It was a nice touch.

The Presence: In the second quarter, Tirico spoke of Allen’s impact on Buffalo beyond the statistics. “The presence is there. You talk to everybody, Von Miller, Sean McDermott, Gabe Davis. This is his team and his town.” “Nobody will dispute that,” added Collinsworth. I am sure some haters will dispute how good Collinsworth was Thursday night. But when Tom Brady becomes a Fox analyst in a year or two, he should watch a tape of Collinsworth’s performance.


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