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Patriots responsible for 2 best Sunday Night Football ratings, but still trailing 2015

Even the Patriots can’t save the NFL.

Sunday’s game between the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks was outstanding. It would have been nice if the Patriots left with a win, but the game featured seven score changes, dramatic moments before the half, and a goal line stand at the end of the game. It was great.

According to an NBC press release, 22.51 million viewers caught the game, making it the 2nd most watched Sunday Night Football match of the season and the most watched week 10 Sunday Night Football game since 1998. What was ranked #1 this year? The season opener between the Patriots and the Arizona Cardinals.

So the Patriots and the NFC West are responsible for the two most-watched Sunday Night Football games of the season, with a Packers-Vikings game, a Bears-Cowboys game, and a Raiders-Broncos game rounding out the top five.

Here’s the problem: The Patriots-Seahawks game wouldn’t have ranked in the top 10 most-watched Sunday Night Football games of 2015.

In 2015, only four games failed to exceed the 20.0 million viewers mark, including the week 10 game between the Seahawks and Cardinals (19.4 million). So the ratings only look good in comparison to one of the weakest games in 2015.

The Patriots-Seahawks rematch lived up to- and maybe exceeded- expectations and should be considered one of the best games so far in 2016. Even the twists and turns and scoring changes and high profile players couldn’t completely save the ratings.