Although it dominated the night on television, ESPN's opening Monday Night Football doubleheader fell short of last year's starting pair.
ESPN's coverage of the New England's 38-24 throttling of Miami -- during which Patriots quarterback Tom Brady threw for a MNF-record 517 yards and four touchdowns, including a pair to Wes Walker -- averaged 14.6 million viewers, according to Nielsen data. That was down 2% from the 14.97 million who watched Baltimore defeat the New York Jets in the first game of the 2010 MNF doubleheader.
The Sept. 12 nightcap in which the Oakland Raiders edged the Denver Broncos 23-20 tackled 11.1 million watchers, down 9% from the 11.9 million for the second contest last season, when the Kansas City Chiefs topped the other member of the AFC West, the San Diego Chargers, by a 21-14 count.
Together, ESPN averaged nearly 12.9 million viewers, off 4% from last season's twinbill, which scored with 13.4 million. The 2010 pair was ESPN's top opening night since gaining the rights to the franchise in 2006.