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Volume 26 No. 5
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Chiefs-Rams Thriller Helps ESPN To Best "MNF" Overnight Since '14

Chiefs-Rams marks ESPN's highest-rated telecast of any kind since the CFP title game in January
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

ESPN drew an 11.3 rating for the Rams’ 54-51 win over the Rams last night, marking the highest-rated “MNF” telecast since Week 8 of ’14, when Redskins-Cowboys drew a 12.1. Last night’s number is up 57% from a comparable 7.2 overnight for Falcons-Seahawks in Week 11 last year, and marks ESPN’s best overnight rating for any telecast since the Alabama-Georgia CFP title game on Jan. 8. Two years ago, ESPN drew an 8.1 overnight in Week 11 for Texans-Raiders from Mexico City. Last night’s game peaked at a 12.5 rating on the final drive from 11:45pm-midnight ET. Locally, the game drew a combined 52.8 rating in K.C. (36.2 on KMBC-ABC, 16.6 on ESPN). Hosting its first “MNF” game in 33 years, L.A. drew a combined 19.6 rating (9.2 on KABC-ABC, 10.4 on ESPN). Rounding out the top five were New Orleans (21.4), San Diego (16.2) and Denver (15.7) (Josh Carpenter, THE DAILY).

ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED! Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio said that with the "ratings drop” seen by the NFL in recent seasons, rule changes were instituted that were "deliberately concocted to make the game higher-scoring and more exciting.” Florio: “The NFL sees a more exciting game, it’s more conducive to the younger demographic, and it keeps people from changing the channel. I doubt anyone changed the channel last night who was watching that game. They want to hold and grow that audience, and the way you do it is with offense” (“PFT,” NBCSN, 11/20).

UNDER REVIEW: In L.A., Tom Hoffarth writes ESPN "MNF" play-by-play announcer Joe Tessitore is an "ill-cast former college football carnival barker" and continues to "stand out on the broadcast, but not as a standout." Last night, his "growling words may have even matched what viewers were seeing," but by this point, it "doesn't resonate the way it should." As much as ESPN may "want it to be, an NFL broadcast isn't a college football broadcast." Chiefs-Rams "confirmed that, even if it looked as if a Big 12 Conference shootout." It is "just too bad that when the right time finally came for Tessitore's tautology, he'd already lost his credibility" (L.A. TIMES, 11/20).

STAR TREK: In Ft. Worth, Peter Dawson writes Witten "seems to be making things worse" on "MNF." Fans "lamented that Witten was the man in the booth for this instant classic" (Ft. Worth STAR-TELEGRAM, 11/20). In Philadelphia, Rob Tornoe writes it was "more of the same for Witten, who once again stumbled at times through the broadcast with cliches." He also "struggled to pronounce Samson Ebukam's name, which was problematic because the young Rams linebacker had a big game that included a sack, an interception and multiple touchdowns." Witten also "made odd choices ... like praising" Rams RB Todd Gurley after "being tackled for a loss and ignoring a nice defensive play" by Chiefs CB Kendall Fuller. But Witten also "had his moments." At times, he "offered some insightful analysis on the routes both team's receivers were running throughout the night" (PHILLY.com, 11/20). YAHOO SPORTS' Jack Baer wrote Witten "pulled a Tony Romo and called a touchdown before the ball even landed" in Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill’s hands. The play was a 25-yard pass from Patrick Mahomes that "got the Chiefs on the board at 13-7." Baer: "That’s a fun moment for a broadcaster that has received plenty of criticism in his first season away from the field" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 11/19).

SOMEONE TO LOOK UP TO: In Chicago, Phil Rosenthal writes the "MNF" team of Tessitore, Witten and Booger McFarland would "benefit from studying Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth, who do prime-time games as well as anyone." ESPN "too often seems like it's trying too hard," whereas NBC "lets the game come to it" on "SNF" broadcasts. Michaels and Collinsworth are "authoritative, amiable and experienced enough to keep things in perspective." Michaels also "knows it's not necessary to shout to convey excitement and urgency." He and Collinsworth "let things unfold naturally, not forcing or harping on a subject just because they prepared for it" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 11/20).

AIN'T NO THANG BUT A CHICKEN WANG: AWFUL ANNOUNCING's Matt Clapp noted during Chiefs-Rams, Tessitore made reference to the "'Alboa Bar in Mexico City' multiple times" as the site of a Chiefs-Rams watch party. However, the bar being shown was "definitely a Buffalo Wild Wings." ESPN said that the broadcast "misidentified the bar," confirming that it is a BWW in Mexico City (AWFULANNOUNCING.com, 11/19).