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It seemed like such a good idea at the time! The NFL decided to move Chiefs-Broncos out of Sunday Night Football in Week 14 and replaced it with Dolphins-Chargers.
That made a lot of sense. The Broncos are one of the worst teams in the NFL. The Chiefs are one of the best teams in the NFL. Everything about the contest screamed blowout. And, it nearly was.
Kansas City led Denver 27-0 on Sunday before Jerry Jeudy threw an epic temper tantrum following a no-call on a pass interference and sparked a crazy Broncos’ rally. Unfortunately, Russell Wilson got his head slammed into the ground and was knocked from the game.
That essentially killed Denver’s chances of winning, but it ended up as a one-score victory for the Chiefs, 34-28.
So, instead of a one-score game between Patrick Mahomes and — mostly — Russell Wilson, the NFL got a one-score game between Justin Herbert and Tua Tagovailoa. Unfortunately, it wasn’t nearly as dramatic a one-score game.
Dolphins-Chargers on Sunday Night Football was a disaster for the NFL
At the end of the first half, Tua had completed 3-of-15 passes for 25 yards. THREE OF FIFTEEN! It was one of the most brutal first halves for any quarterback this season. All of the Tua truthers are going to have a tough time explaining that one.
Anyway, the Dolphins kept it close thanks to Tyreek Hill doing Tyreek Hill things. Miami had 138 yards of offense from players not named Tyreek Hill. The game wasn’t very fun to watch and the Chargers ultimately won 23-17.
It wasn’t as close as the score — it never seemed as though Miami would win. And, add in the fact that the Chargers aren’t much of a national draw with the fact that Miami doesn’t draw that well (from a TV perspective) in its own market and you end up with a rating dud.
That’s exactly what Dolphins-Chargers on Sunday Night Football was. A dud.
Tom Brady blowout bigger draw than SNF
What’s even sadder about these numbers is that the 49ers absolute blowout of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 35-7, in the late afternoon window outdrew Sunday Night Football SIGNIFICANTLY.
According to Sports Media Watch, San Francisco and Tampa Bay averaged 24 million views on Fox. The game was so bad that most stations switched to Panthers-Seahawks in the second half. Panthers-Seahawks! Geno Smith vs. Sam Darnold!
Despite that, they still posted a big number. Sunday Night Football, on the other hand, averaged 15.7 million viewers on NBC. It was the lowest Sunday Night Football audience in nearly 15 years. Ouch.
It just goes to show that names like Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes draw eyeballs. Regardless of how good the game turns out to be, people tune in.
If you’re going to put Tua vs. Herbert in primetime, it has to be an excellent game.
Unfortunately, Sunday Night Football was anything but an excellent game.
And the NFL — and NBC — paid for it.
Follow Dan Zaksheske on Twitter: @OutkickDanZ