Tennessee found a statement win early in the season against No. 17 Pittsburgh on Saturday afternoon.
While there is plenty to talk about from an in-game perspective, there was also an interesting moment on the ABC/ESPN broadcast after the final whistle blew. After rightfully spotlighting the broadcasters throughout the game, the red light was left on a little too long on Saturday, resulting in a hot mic situation for about a minute after the game ended.
The camera and microphones were still picking up ESPN broadcasters Sean McDonough and Todd Blackledge as they chatted about their thoughts at the end of the game.
“It was all set up for the storybook ending,” McDonough was picked up saying about Pittsburgh. “Frank Cignetti [Jr.] dials it up for the backup quarterback in there. I’ve got to give [Nick] Patti credit, he battled.”
“They’re rather pedestrian though,” Blackledge responded. “I mean, [Pittsburgh] averaged five yards a play for the game.”
See the full minute below:
— Justin Graves (@doc_graves) September 11, 2022
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Ultimately, McDonough has the story right. Pittsburgh was set up for a storybook ending with a backup quarterback who was leading his team from behind for an improbable comeback. Not to mention, Pitt was also playing with added weight after the announcement of the passing of Pittsburgh offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti’s father earlier on Saturday.
Throw in the fact that it was the second game of a home-and-home and in front of a roaring home crowd in the finale of the Johnny Majors Classic, and those are certainly the ingredients for a storybook ending.
But, in the end, Pittsburgh didn’t get a happy ending to their story. The Tennessee defense did not allow that to happen.
This is the type of game that Tennessee has often lost in recent history. The Vols haven’t been great at winning close games in the last few years, which has given plenty of teams the chance to successfully complete the narrative of that game. What we saw on Saturday, though, was different.
Pittsburgh was set up for the storybook ending until the Tennessee defense put a stop to the Panthers’ offense when it mattered most.
Tennessee’s defense may have bent some in the final drive of overtime, but they did not break. And that’s what matters.
Pittsburgh’s offense was eight yards away from extending the game until Tennessee safety Trevon Flowers tackled those dreams away with a 12-yard sack on quarterback Nick Patti. The Panthers’ next pass was incomplete and the celebration was on for the storybook-denying Volunteers.
Watch out for the hot mic next time, ESPN!