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Bills Vs. Jets Breaks ‘Monday Night Football’ Viewers Record

The Buffalo Bills' season opener against Aaron Rodgers and his New York Jets generated 22.6 million viewers, the most ever for an ESPN Monday Night Football game.

All eyes were on the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets as they squared off under the bright lights on Monday night.

The season debut of Monday Night Football drew massive viewers, breaking records for the marquee event. According to ESPN public relations, the game averaged 22.64 million viewers, the most ever for a Monday Night Football game on ESPN. The peak viewership reached even greater heights, with 25.2 million tuning in near the end of the first half at around 9 p.m. ET.

The accolades don't stop there, though. According to Sports Media Watch, the game garnered the most viewership of any Monday Night Football game since 2000, narrowly beating the previous record of 22.637 million in a 2005 game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Indianapolis Colts.

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It's worth noting, though, that those numbers do have a bit of an asterisk. January's game between the Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals actually drew a larger audience with an average of 23.8 million viewers, per CNN. However, that game was never finished as Bills safety Damar Hamlin went into cardiac arrest in the first quarter. Excluding that no contest, Monday's game reins supreme in terms of viewership.

It also marks the first time since the NFL's current media deal began in 2006 that a Monday Night Football opener beat its Sunday Night counterpart, as the Dallas Cowboys-New York Giants game averaged 20.18 million viewers. Overall, the Bills-Jets game drew the second-largest audience of Week 1, only trailing the Detroit Lions-Kansas City Chiefs season opener on Thursday night with an average of 24.75 million viewers.

Monday's game had a ton of hype behind it, as it marked the Jets debut of four-time MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Unfortunately, Rodgers left the game on the Jets' first drive with an ankle injury that ended up being a season-ending torn Achilles tendon. The Jets would go on to win 22-16 in overtime, but it was a pyrrhic victory given the cost.

With five more primetime games on the schedule, the Bills could pull in even more impressive viewership numbers throughout the season.