Third-most-watched "NFL Kickoff" game in 12-year history
Despite a 33-minute weather delay that pushed kickoff past 9 p.m., last night's "NFL Kickoff" on NBC was watched by 25.1 million viewers - up 5 percent from last year's opening-game and ranking as the third-most watched "NFL Kickoff" game in the 12-year history of the event, according to official national data released today by The Nielsen Company.
The AFC Divisional Playoff rematch, highlighted by Broncos QB Peyton Manning's NFL record-tying performance for most touchdown passes in a game (seven) as Denver handily defeated the Super Bowl-champion Baltimore Ravens, 49-27, aired from 9:08 p.m. to 12:25 a.m. following the weather delay in Denver.
The Broncos' 22-point win was the second-largest victory margin among NBC's "NFL Kickoff" games, trailing only the Manning-led Indianapolis Colts' 41-10 victory over New Orleans in 2007.
Last night's 25.1 million average viewership was up 5 percent over last year's "NFL Kickoff" game (23.9 million for Cowboys-Giants), and ranks as the third-most watched "NFL Kickoff" game, trailing only the 2011 Saints-Packers thriller between the two previous Super Bowl winners (27.1 million), and the 2010 opener (Vikings-Saints, 27.5 million) featuring an NFC Championship Game rematch, as Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings visited the then-defending Super Bowl-champion New Orleans Saints.
Last night's game had a national household rating of 14.9/26, the third-highest-rated "NFL Kickoff" game behind 2010 (16.5/28) and 2011 (16.0/26). The highest-rated half hour was 10-10:30 p.m. with a 16.9/27.