- The New England Patriots entered Week 17 needing a win over the Miami Dolphins to secure a first-round bye in the playoffs.
- With the Kansas City Chiefs beating the Los Angeles Chargers, a late touchdown by the Dolphins suddenly swung the bye week to Kansas City as the final seconds of both games ticked off the clock.
- Play-by-play commentator Kevin Harlan was working the Chiefs game but quickly pivoted to calling the Patriots game for viewers to convey the chaos and excitement happening across the league.
- It’s not the first time this year Harlan has earned praise for his dynamic play-by-play ability.
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The race for a first-round bye in the AFC came down to the final seconds on Sunday, and play-by-play man Kevin Harlan made sure that his viewers were aware of all of the drama.
Heading into Sunday, the New England Patriots were in a position to take the first-round bye, needing only to win over the Miami Dolphins to secure the spot. Harlan was calling play-by-play for the Kansas City Chiefs, who needed a win over the Los Angeles Chargers as well as a Patriots loss to jump into the two-seed in the AFC and steal the bye.
As it turned out, both games came down to the final seconds, and Harlan is so good as a professional broadcaster, he was able to take viewers through the moments seamlessly.
In Kansas City, the Chiefs had just scored a touchdown to secure a solid lead on the Chargers, needing only a defensive stop to ice the game. In New England, the Dolphins were driving with a chance to take the lead, getting to goal-to-go with just 30 seconds remaining.
While he was supposed to be calling the Chiefs game, Harlan sensed the moment, and quickly pivoted into play-by-play for the Dolphins.
“Here, Bukner kicks the extra point,” Harlan said of the Kansas City game, before smoothly switching to the action in New England. “And Fitzpatrick throws in the end zone. Touchdown Miami! The Dolphins have just scored! Gisicki, the tight end, got a laser in the back of the end zone on a goal-to-go touchdown pass by Miami quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to take a lead with 24 seconds to go!”
The CBS production team behind Harlan did a solid job supporting him. As Harlan noted the crowd’s reaction to learning the news of the Dolphins comeback, cameras panned to show fans in the stands cheering as they realized they had stolen a first-round bye.
“I’m getting confused, what game are you calling?” joked color commentator Rich Gannon. “I’m calling both games!” Harlan said with delight.
—Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) December 29, 2019
It’s not the first time Harlan has delighted with his commitment to professionalism. Earlier in the season, Harlan earned headlines for his radio call during a “Monday Night Football” broadcast during which a cat ran onto the field interrupting play.
While that call was more comical, this latest example of Harlan’s ability was of great importance to viewers. Rather than wait for the broadcast to throw to a highlight in the studio, Harlan was able to express just how quickly the landscape of the AFC playoff picture was changing in real-time, and with it show why the crowd in Kansas City was so excited.
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It’s never more clear than when chaos breaks out — Harlan is one of the best in the business.
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