From the lack of offense to a forgettable halftime show, Super Bowl LIII created a carnival of complaining and gave excuse for a nation to come together and be excessively negative.
There was, however, at least one thing football fans could celebrate as one.
Everyone’s favorite football broadcaster made his Super Bowl debut on Sunday, calling the Patriots-Rams game for a CBS audience that will end up numbering well over 100 million people.
Romo came into the day riding a wave of good press over the success rate of his predictions during the AFC title game. And while he didn’t venture into his Kreskin routine as much this time around, Romo was more than solid. He and partner Jim Nantz provided an entertaining broadcast of a game that was often anything but.
Romo made good work of his telestrator, frequently circling players and matchups to watch just before the snap. He also was a bit funnier than usual, sharing a gallows humor with the audience at home. He shouldn’t have any regrets until his next Super Bowl, which could come at LVI in 2022, assuming he stays with CBS after his contract is up after next season.
Indeed, Romo posted more highlights than Tom Brady and Jared Goff combined.
Here are a few of our favorites.
Romo’s self-deprecating introduction
The ex-Cowboys quarterback played 13 seasons in Dallas, winning only two playoff games and never reaching the Super Bowl. When he finally did reach the big stage on Sunday, Romo handled the situation with a great dose of humor.
“Let me bring in my friend,” Nantz said at the top of the broadcast. “Welcome to the Super Bowl, Tony Romo.”
“I’ve been waiting to hear welcome to the Super Bowl my whole life!” Romo said.
A few moments later, Romo showed that his excitement was genuine.
“Super Bowl!” he yelled as the kickoff soared high into the air. “Let’s have a day, Jim.”
The Jim Nantz jinx
As Stephen Gostkowski lined up for a first-quarter field goal attempt, Nantz took time to note that all 31 field goal attempts at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium were successful this season.
Romo followed the line with what everyone at home was thinking. Nantz had jinxed the kicker.
“Did you just do it to them again?” he said.
“Don’t blame the announcer,” Nantz said. “No good!”
“I don’t believe it,” Romo said. “It’s almost automatic, when you go 31-for-31 and tell the world …”
“Is this one of your predictions?” Nantz interrupted.
“I’m not predicting anything!” said Romo.
The 17-year challenge
CBS ran a segment showing what several of the game’s key players looked like in 2002, the last time the Rams and Patriots met in the Super Bowl. Of course, they couldn’t help themselves from also showing Romo, then a quarterback at Eastern Illinois.
Tony Romo… America’s favorite boy band heartthrob. pic.twitter.com/rfAhdOBUX8
— Fantasy Sports Markets (@FSMContests) February 4, 2019
Even Tony Romo is wrong sometimes
Romo was pressed for a prediction during a midweek press conference and he responded with a pick of 28-24, though he didn’t identify a winner.
Late in the first half, when the score was 3-0 and it was becoming apparent we wouldn’t be hitting 52 combined points, Nantz asked Romo if he remembered what he’d predicted.
“Yeah, I told you it’d probably be 3-0 with, what three minutes to go in the second quarter so … you’re welcome!” Romo said with a smirk.
Nantz followed with Romo’s actual 28-24 prediction.
“I don’t remember that!” Romo said with another knowing smile.
Announcers: They’re just like us
At no point did Romo or Nantz pretend like the game was some sort of instant classic. Romo expressed frustration over the Rams’ inability to sustain a drive and later got sarcastic when a Greg Zuerlein field goal tied the score at 3.
“It feel like we got a scoring spree going on!” he said.
Romo’s ears perked up after one of Brady’s audibles was picked up by microphones.
“Is that Ronald Reagan?” he asked.”He just called it Reagan!”
The play was a James White run to the right for a yard or two.
“And obviously, Reagan means a run to the right,” he said.
Standing up for Jared Goff
The play of Rams quarterback Jared Goff wasn’t very defensible. It will go down as one of the worst quarterback performances in Super Bowl history.
A lot of that, though, was due to the Patriots game plan and Romo did a good job of illustrating how the Patriots defense was shutting down almost any read that Goff had.
He wasn’t immune to dealing out criticism, however. A few plays later, when Goff went deep instead of finding a wide open receiver over the middle, Romo was quick to call up a replay to show just how open that receiver had been.
The call on the big play
There weren’t many big plays for Romo to dissect, but he was all over Rob Gronkowski’s big reception down to the two-yard line in the fourth quarter. As the ball was snapped, Romo instantly identified that it was the same play that the Patriots had run on the two previous plays.
Pregame interview with Tom Brady
— Paul Casserly 👮♀️🇺🇸🇮🇪🇨🇦👮♀️ (@BostonRaleigh) February 3, 2019
Romo was visible on CBS at other points during the day. One of his Skechers ads ran in the third quarter and his interview with Tom Brady ran before the game.
Looking relaxed in a sport coat with no tie and white sneakers with no socks, Romo opened the interview by joking about the question Brady had been asked all week.
“So if you win this game, you’re totally walking away, aren’t you?”
“Absolutely,” Brady laughed. “It’s over. It’s over completely.”
The two quarterbacks shared a laugh after the interview was done.
“Knocked it out of the park!” Brady said. “That was easy.”
“That was pretty good,” Romo said with a sigh of relief. “I’m not going to lie, I thought I killed that.”
More Super Bowl coverage from Yahoo Sports:
• Wetzel: Super Bowl LIII was a complete disaster
• LeBron among the many confused by halftime show
• National anthem performance sparks different controversy
• Grading the best and worst Super Bowl ads