SAN DIEGO — Dierdorf was as hot as the Washington Redskins Sunday.
He had about as many good lines during ABC's coverage of the Super Bowl as the Redskins had big plays.
As the first half came to an end, Dierdorf said: "I guess a 25-point lead would cut down on the chances of an overtime game."
Dierdorf seems to have a knack for summing up situations. "My jaw is sitting on my chest," he said of the Redskins' 35-point second quarter.
Earlier, after a wild banjo-playing fan wearing a San Francisco 49ers shirt and beanie appeared on camera, Dierdorf said: "It'll be another week before he realizes the 49ers aren't here."
After the umpteenth promo for a new ABC show, which made its debut after the Super Bowl, Dierdorf irreverently said: "We screened that last night in Frank's room."
In the third quarter, he said: "John Elway's passing percentage is headed toward Tijuana."
Dierdorf, however, offered a lot more than just comic relief. He was observant, offering quick insights throughout the game, and he wasn't afraid to be critical.
After Denver cornerback Mark Haynes made a half-hearted effort at an interception, Dierdorf said: "Mark Haynes won't appreciate this, but that was a weak effort on Mark Haynes' part."
Dierdorf was continually on the Denver defense for not being able to stop Tim Smith on what is called the counter gap play.
"The Redskins run that play a couple of hundred times a season, that's their bread-and-butter play," Dierdorf said, "but the Broncos act like they've never seen it."
Overall, it was a good day for ABC. Al Michaels, who seems to do his best work on big events, was his typically sharp self. Dierdorf, in only his third year as a network broadcaster, performed as if he were a seasoned veteran, and Frank Gifford even had his moments.
Also, director Larry Kamm and the rest of the ABC crew deserve plaudits for the camera work.
After the telecast, Kamm, talking to a few sports television reporters, said the 18 manned cameras and 3 unmanned cameras available for game coverage were all used. "But I don't think we overdid crowd and fluff shots," he said. "I was very proud of everyone connected with the telecast."
But the stars of the day for ABC were Dierdorf and Michaels. They handled the Super Bowl like a stroll in the park.
After ABC signed off, Dierdorf said: "All week long, friends kept saying 120 million people would be watching, and it started to get to me.
"But about two minutes before we went on, I smiled and thought, 'Hey, the only reason you get into this is for something like this.' My ego took over and I was fine."
And so was Michaels, who also delivered some good lines.
"It's Fantasyland for Timmy Smith," Michaels said at one point in the second quarter, referring to the kind of day the Redskin rookie running back was having.
Later, Michaels said: "If Reggie Jackson is Mr. October, then Tim Smith is Mr. January."
That may be stretching a point a little--Smith hasn't quite yet reached the stature of a Reggie Jackson--but it still is a pretty good line.
A typical Michaels-Dierdorf exchange came in the first quarter when the Redskins' Ricky Sanders fumbled a kickoff, and the officials, for some reason, went to the replay camera.
Dierdorf: "You need a ground-level camera to determine anything there."
Michaels: "What you need is a gopher."
When Denver was leading, 10-0, ABC put up the graphic of the day. It read: "No team trailing by more than seven points during any point of the game has ever come back to win a Super Bowl."
That wouldn't be the case on this day.
Michaels sort of jumped the gun with this observation midway through the wild second quarter: "This has the makings of the Super Bowl we've been waiting 22 years for."
After the game, Michaels said: "We had a great game for one and a half quarters, then after I said that, it all started to fall apart."
The Broncos are the ones who really fell apart. And the announcers, like the Redskins, showed little mercy.
Frank Gifford even got into the spirit of things near the end of the first half when he said of the Broncos' Tony Lilly: "It's been a long day for Lilly already, and it's only halftime."
Then, relying on a line that has become somewhat of a cliche, Gifford said: "If this was a fight, they might stop it."
One thing that needs to stopped is the tradition of devoting two hours to Super Bowl pregame shows.
Making a half-hour pregame show interesting is a tough assignment. Making a two-hour pregame show interesting is near impossible.
If you'd tuned in at one point, you might have thought ABC was previewing a yacht race. At another point, you'd have thought this was the Winter Olympics.
But all things considered, ABC had a good day. The only problem was the Broncos didn't do their part.