Cam Newton was understandably upset after the Carolina Panthers lost to the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50 last night. The Broncos defense pretty thoroughly beat him into submission. An experience those who watched the game at home could probably relate to, since the game and the broadcast did pretty much the same thing to the audience.
Look, I’m a Buccaneers fan. If anybody can appreciate a stellar defense bailing out a shoddy offense, it should be me. And while you have to give a ton of credit to Denver for shutting down Carolina the way they did — and to the Panthers’ defense for holding Manning and company in check too — this was far from a defensive clinic. It was just bad football. Offenses that were out of sync, uninspired, unable or unwilling to adjust, and, by the end, looking for all the world like they just wanted the game to be over so they could get off the field. Denver had the #1 defense in the league, but it felt like the #11 defense could have fared just as well against Newton.
Some will point to the fact that the game was close as proof it was entertaining, which is ridiculous. Just because two teams are equally inept doesn’t make for compelling viewing. The year the Seattle Seahawks blew out the Broncos, it remained watchable because we were watching a great team running like a well-oiled machine. It wasn’t exciting, but there was pleasure in the overwhelming efficiency on display. Last night? It felt like it was just a matter of time until a defense made a stop, and someone kicked a field goal, and the score crawled upward ever so slightly. None of which was exciting or memorable or inspiring. Just events that were occurring in front of us.
It didn’t help that probably the weakest of the network broadcast teams had this game. Jim Nantz and Phil Simms just never seem to get very excited about what they’re watching. There’s a remove to the way they call a game. And they both come across as artificial at times, as if they’re deliberately summoning what emotion they can rather than actually feeling it. Give me the enthusiasm Michaels/Collinsworth any day.
And we didn’t even have good commercials to distract us from the bad game! Oh, sure, there are ads people are buzzing about, but more in the “Can you believe that was on?” sense than the “Oh my god did you see that?” sense. PuppyMonkeyBaby has become everyone’s new nightmare fuel, but I wonder how many people remember what that monstrosity was even advertising. Maybe we’ve reached saturation, a point where when every commercial is trying to be clever and meta and shocking, no commercial really can be, because we’re expecting it.
The halftime show? Eh. It was never going to be great. Coldplay are a decent bunch of musicians who know how to do moody, dreamy pop that’s completely unsuited for a break in a football game. And I felt bad for them having Beyonce and Bruno Mars grafted on to their show, even if the two did bring some welcome energy and Chris Martin seemed game to have them on hand. But we’re reaching the point where this too is just never going to match expectations. I’d love it if a network one year just said, “Folks, here’s a picture of some bunnies for ten minutes. Go the bathroom, get more food, whatever. We’ll be here when you get back.”
On top of all that, I ate too much and didn’t particularly enjoy what I ate. And if that isn’t an apt metaphor for the Super Bowl experience, I don’t know what is.