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Volume 24 No. 158
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ESPN's Rams-Giants "MNF" Overnight Down 17% From Week Two Last Year

ESPN earned an 8.8 overnight Nielsen rating for the Rams-Giants “MNF” telecast last night, down 17% from the comparable Saints-49ers game in Week Two last year. The net has now seen a ratings decline for all three of its “MNF” telecasts this season. In N.Y., last night’s game earned a 10.3 local rating on ESPN and a 4.9 rating on WWOR-IND. In St. Louis, the game earned a 12.4 local rating on ESPN and an 11.0 rating on KPLR-IND (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).

FAST START: NBC earned a 14.3 final Nielsen rating and 23.4 million viewers for the Eagles-Falcons “SNF” game, up 3.6% and 1.4%, respectively, from a 13.8 rating and 23.1 million viewers for the Giants-Colts matchup in Week Two last year. Eagles-Falcons was the No. 1 primetime program for the week ending Sept. 18. The telecast also aired up against the Primetime Emmy Awards on Fox, which drew a 7.7 rating and 12.4 million viewers. NBC is now averaging a 15.2 rating and 25.4 million viewers through three NFL game telecasts, marking the most-viewed three-game audience figure since NBC reacquired NFL rights prior to the ’06 season and the best NFL three-game primetime average since ABC started with 25.5 million viewers for “MNF” in ’94 (THE DAILY).

NEED FOR SPEED: Eagles coach Andy Reid said that he did not challenge the ruling that Falcons CB Kelvin Hayden intercepted a pass thrown by Eagles QB Michael Vick during Sunday's game because his staff “didn’t get a second look at the play." Reid: “Well there was no replay for us to look at, and I actually had the people from the broadcast apologize, send me an email and apologize on that.” PRO FOOTBALL TALK's Mike Florio reported NBC did generate “multiple replay angles,” but it was not until after the window for challenging that the net “detected an angle that would have triggered a reversal of play” had Reid thrown the red flag. During the process of checking replays, the Falcons “smartly hustled to get the ball snapped, so that no review could be conducted.” NBC "SNF" Producer Fred Gaudelli said that “40 seconds elapsed before" Falcons QB Matt Ryan got the next play started (, 9/19). Gaudelli said, “Our job is about getting it right. Personally, I was disappointed” (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 9/20).

PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE:’s Jason Whitlock writes NBC "SNF" announcers Cris Collinsworth and Al Michaels "went overboard with their criticism" of Falcons CB Dunta Robinson for a hit on Eagles WR Jeremy Maclin. Whitlock: "Yes, Robinson went helmet to chin/helmet on Maclin. Yes, Robinson deserves a fine under the new NFL guidelines. But it’s damn hard to unlearn years of ‘blow up’ football in just a year.” The transition to a “safer form of football is going to be rocky.” Whitlock adds, “Let’s cut the players a tiny bit of slack. … Don’t crucify them for a culture they didn’t create.” Whitlock: “My other beef with Collinsworth and Michaels is they didn’t rip Mike Smith for the kneel-down strategy at the end of the game that forced the Flacons to punt the ball to DeSean Jackson and survive a Hail Mary pass from the 50. … I hate it when 50-year-old broadcasters find it easier to rip 25-year-old players than 50-year-old coaches” (, 9/20).

ARE WE MISSING SOMETHING? In N.Y., Bob Raissman notes during CBS' coverage of Sunday's Jaguars-Jets game, there was “no visual evidence provided for anyone interested in seeing how" Jets WR Plaxico Burress was doing. CBS instituted a "Burress Blackout.” Raissman: “For whatever reason, Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf, who called the game, had little to say about Burress. He was hardly mentioned in the first half. If you hadn’t seen him on the TV screen, you wouldn't have even known he was in the game. The network’s excuse will be that Sanchez didn’t throw a pass Burress’ way until the fourth quarter.” But Raissman adds, "With all the interest Burress’ story has generated, CBS should have paid some attention to him. A few first-half replays of him being doubled would have sufficed” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/20). Meanwhile, YAHOO SPORTS' Chris Chase notes ESPN during last night's Rams-Giants game showed "zero replays" of Giants LB Michael Boley's touchdown celebration, during which he threw the football "directly at the head" of a guy standing on the sidelines. ESPN's announcers also did not "allude to this moment once during the broadcast” (, 9/20).

FLYING COACH: The NFL Network's debut last Thursday of “A Football Life: Bill Belichick” was viewed by an average of 657,000 fans, making it the most-watched documentary in the eight-year history of the network. NFL Net's encore of the show at 10:00pm ET Thursday attracted 252,000 viewers. The show was the second-most watched program in the Boston market in the time period with an average of 151,000 viewers (NFL).