The NFL is invincible. After a season of unnecessary distractions and safety crises and owner collusion and labor stoppages, in the course of two days the sport managed to put on two games that were so good they make you want to run through a fucking brick wall. Saturday's slugfest in Denver and yesterday's near-comeback in Atlanta had action, storylines, and are already all-time playoff classics—everything is forgiven, football, you're the best—-and nobody's happier about it than the networks.
The ratings for Seahawks-Falcons aren't in yet, but the numbers for Ravens-Broncos are fittingly gigantic. According to a CBS press release (via Awful Announcing), an average of 35.3 million viewers tuned in. And that breaks some records.
It's the most-watched AFC Saturday divisional playoff game as long as CBS has been keeping records (since Jan. 1988). Its Nielsen rating/share, 20.1/36 (which means one in five of all TV sets in America was tuned in to the game, and one in three TV sets in use) is the best AFC Saturday rating since a 1994 Raiders-Bills thriller, with a wind chill of negative-32. For the 8:00-8:30 block, which corresponds roughly to the first overtime period, 40.8 million viewers were watching.
It'll be interesting to see the ratings for Seahawks-Falcons, when the overnights come in shortly. It'll suffer some for being a first-half blowout, but likely more than make up for that with its prime Sunday timeslot. Whatever it is, the rating will reflect just how dick-explodingly good football was this weekend.