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Super Bowl may turn out super boring performance

January 22, 2001

CBS has a good reason to be a little worried about televising Super Bowl XXXV.

This year’s Super Bowl has the potential to be the “Super Bore.”

The New York Giants versus the Baltimore Ravens doesn’t really send people frantically rushing to television sets.

There is no story like Kurt Warner’s Arena Football League career or John Elway’s quest for one last Super Bowl ring to draw additional viewers.

Instead of Warner, CBS will get the Giants’ Kerry Collins and the Ravens’ Trent Dilfer - two quarterbacks labeled as failures only a few seasons into their young careers.

Viewers will also get two defenses that held their opponents to 3 points or less in the conference championship games.

The NFC Championship game featured Collins’ five touchdowns passes. The AFC Championship game featured the longest pass in NFL postseason history - a 96-yard strike from Dilfer to Shannon Sharpe.

But these offensive explosions are unlikely to happen during this year’s Super Bowl.

Instead, CBS and its viewers can expect a defensive battle.

Like their teams, both quarterbacks emerged from nonexistent careers to win football games this year.

Dilfer’s offense just needs to put a few points on the board and sit back while football’s best defense ever dominates their opponents.

The Giants’ defense shut out the high-powered Minnesota Viking offense in addition to their own offense’s 41-point explosion. The likelihood of another scoring barrage like that against the Ravens is low.

This could be the lowest scoring game in Super Bowl history. I can already see the ratings and excitement of a 14-6 Ravens win.

Oddsmakers know it too. They’ve already set the over/under (total points in game) at 33 points - a low number in gambling circles.

If I were CBS, I would want to see points, and lots of them.

Low-scoring football games featuring anemic offenses affirm the importance of a solid defense. I can appreciate a Ravens’ victory in which they only score 16 points. Unfortunately, appreciation does not mean I’ll watch it, and more importantly, enjoy it.

I may even be able to tolerate a defensive battle, if I’m seeing a prolific offense dismantled. Watching Elway struggle to find open receivers and elude pass-rushers is exciting. Watching Kerry Collins do this is not.

Football purists will disagree, saying it’s defense that wins championships, not high-scoring offenses. Defense may win championships, but ratings? That’s a different issue.

I’m not trying to take anything away from the amazing accomplishments of the Giants and Ravens. Both teams have been surprising fans all season.

However, these accomplishments do not change the fact that no one at the beginning of the season wanted to see this game decide who leaves Tampa with the Lombardi Trophy.

Many people, myself included, will still tune in to watch the Super Bowl.

But with the teams playing their anticipated style of play, I will have virtually little to keep me from dozing off.

In a season full of shocking surprises, I hope the Ravens and Giants surprise me and play an exciting, high-scoring game. I hope the Super Bowl shows why these teams are the league’s best on both sides of the football. I hope this is more than a defensive battle.

If not, CBS’s Super Bowl programming will be about as thrilling as PBS.

Dan Woike, State News intern can be reached at woikedan@msu.edu.

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