For a guy who is listed as fifth on the CBS announcing depth chart, Gus Johnson gets more publicity and accolades than all the network's other play-by-play guys combined. All of it is well deserved. Football's supposed to be fun and listening to Gus Johnson call a football game is definitely that. His excitement, energy, exuberance and enthusiasm have made him a favorite of both college basketball and NFL fans alike.
And this year seems to be Pax Gusana. Gus and his partner Steve Tasker have found themselves in the booth for some of the most exciting games each weekend despite getting stuck with dud matchups like Atlanta/Cincinnati and Kansas City/Buffalo. The duo is in the midst of a six-week stretch in which they've called two overtime games, a game-winning touchdown in the final seconds, two huge comebacks and, of course, the Hail Mary.
People are noticing that wherever Gus goes, great games follow. Bill Simmons calls it the "law of Gus" and Rich Eisen has been making a point of mentioning which game Gus is doing during the NFL Network's GameDay Morning show, lest you tune out and miss a potential thriller.
To test out this theory that great games and Gus go hand-in-hand, we looked at each of the 11 games he's called this season, picked his best call from that game and transcribed it with appropriate emphasis and spellings and then rated the game's Gus-ness on a scale of zero to five:
Recap: Bills get late touchdown to make the game somewhat interesting, but Miami is never really threatened.
Signature call: On Malcom Floyd's(notes) 54-yard touchdown catch: (Before the play) "That's 40 or 60 million, nothing according to Coach Saban. Ha-HA. Here's Rivers, up TOP -- CAUGHT! TOUCHDOWN, MALCOLMFLOYD!"
Week 3: Pittsburgh Steelers 38, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 13
Signature call: On Brett Keisel's(notes) 79-yard interception return for a touchdown: "Cadillac Williams back in the game, standing next to Freeman. This ballllllll - PICKED OFF! Watch this! KEISEL! Can he get a block? Look at the big fella! OOHHH KEISEL, cuts it back -- OOHHHH TOUCHDOWN PITTSBURGH! HAHA! 79 YARDS!"
Gus-o-meter: (even when he gets back-to-back dog games, there's still some eerierGus-ness involved. Notice the identical scores for weeks 2 and 3.)
Signature call: On Foster's 74-yard touchdown run: "Second down and four from the 26. Here's Foster. Oh boy. FOSTER. DOWN THE SIDELINE. FOSTER, STILL RUNNING. COACH, PUT ME IN THE GAME. TOUCHDOWN!
Week 5: Jacksonville Jaguars 36, Buffalo Bills 26
Recap: Jags come back from 10-point deficit to send Buffalo to its first 0-5 record since 1985.
Signature call: None. It was like Johnson was told to tone it down in week 5 as all his calls were boring and non-descript. Either that or he was depressed at having to watch a game in Buffalo.
Week 6: Houston Texans 35, Kansas City Chiefs 31
Recap: He's back! Johnson and Tasker were in Houston to call the crazy finish of this one, which had the Texans storming back from 10 points in the final minutes to get a win.
Signature call: On Andre Johnson's(notes) game-winning touchdown catch with 11 seconds remaining: "Matt Schaub ... with time. Dances, fires, endZONNNE -- TOUCHDOWN!!!!! (pause) THE GREAT ONE! ANNNNNDDRREE JOHNSON!"
Week 7: Atlanta Falcons 39, Cincinnati Bengals 32
Recap: We're on a roll now. Cincy stormed back from a 24-3 halftime deficit to briefly take a lead on the favored Falcons, but Atlanta eeked out the victory.
Signature call: Adam Jones'(notes) fumble recovery for a touchdown, which gave Cincinnati the lead. Notice what Gus wants to call Adam before correcting himself: "Starting inside Cincinnati territory. Sideline ... guess who? Roddy White(notes)! Lost it, picked up. (Silence as Jones runs to the endzone) TOUCHDOWN! PAC -- ssss -- ADAM JONES, HAHA, WOW!"
Week 8: Kansas City Chiefs 13, Buffalo Bills 10 (OT)
Signature call: On Succop's missed field goal in overtime: "Succop, from 39 yards out for the win ... and he hooked it! HOOOLY MACKERAL! WOW! NO GOOD! AND BUFFALO IS STILL ALIVE!"
Recap: For the second straight week, Gus gets a thriller from a game that, on paper, appeared to be a stinker.
Week 10: Jacksonville Jaguars 31, Houston Texans 24
Recap: The Hail Mary game.
Signature call: The Hail Mary, obviously: "Garrard, steps up, fireees, MIKE SIMS-WALKERRRR ... (solemnly) knocked down. OHHH HE CAUGHT IT! UNBBBBEEEELIEVABLE! MIKE THOMAS(notes)! TOUCHDOWN JAGS! BALL GAME! 50 YAARDS! WHOOOOOOOA! HA-HA!"
Week 11: Buffalo Bills 49, Cincinnati Bengals 31
Recap: In typical Gus fashion, this game appeared to be a snoozer when Cincinnati took a 28-7 lead. But then the Bills scored 35 unanswered points, proving that it ain't over until
the fat lady sings Gus Johnson says "haha."
Signature call: On Drayton Florence's(notes) fumble recovery for a touchdown, which put the Bills within three points. "Benson, and he's ridden down, LOST IT! PICKED UP! FLORENCE! TOUCHDOWN! BUFFALO! WOW!"