The comment was immediately met with backlash ... as many perceived it to be sexist -- with Collinsworth implying he was surprised that females had intricate questions about football.
Collinsworth clearly saw the criticism, because not long after the game ended ... he issued a lengthy apology.
"Today on our broadcast I made reference to a couple of women that I met in Pittsburgh who so impressed me with their football knowledge that I wanted to tell their story on the air," Cris said. "I know the way I phrased it insulted many. I'm so sorry."
"What I intended as a compliment to the fans of Pittsburgh, became an insult. I'm sick about insulting any fan, but especially female fans and journalists."
Cris added, "I know first hand how much harder they have to work than any of us in this industry. I was wrong and I deeply apologize."
The 61-year-old -- who played wide receiver in the NFL in the 1980s -- has been announcing and analyzing NFL games for several networks for decades.
It's unclear if NBC is planning any discipline over Wednesday's comments.