NFL fans love Thanksgiving games. This year that was more evident than ever. The not-so-thrilling game between the Las Vegas Raiders and Dallas Cowboys was watched by more people than any other NFL game in the past 31 years.
According to CBS, 38.531 million viewers tuned in to watch the game that the Raiders won in overtime. That makes the duel the most-watched NFL game since 1990, and the number of viewers was 26 percent higher than last season’s Thanksgiving game.
CBS also said that the 36-33 Raiders triumph was seen by more people than any other match streamed on the Paramount+ service it owns.
10 Million Viewers More Than the Second Most-Watched Game This Season
That number of over 38.5 million viewers is a significant increase when compared to the most popular game of the NFL season before it. The Dallas Cowboys vs Kansas City Chiefs duel that took place last week held the record as the most-watched game of the NFL season for only a week.
Approximately 28.1 million viewers watched the Cowboys – Chiefs game, meaning 10 million fewer viewers tuned in on that occasion. Interestingly, the Cowboys played in both of these games, once again reaffirming what we already knew, the Cowboys are the most popular team in the NFL right now.
Referees Made the Game Difficult to Watch
Unfortunately, the viewership figures were not the only record on the day. Referees made sure that the Raiders – Cowboys game also produced the most penalties since 2016. There were 14 flags for each team that resulted in 276 penalty yards in total.
To give you some perspective on that, the Lions and Saints had fewer yards combined during their respective Thanksgiving games than the penalty yards the Cowboys and Raiders accrued on their Thanksgiving outing.
Rather fittingly, the game was also decided by a penalty. The Raiders were on their 3rd down with 18 yards to cover when Anthony Brown, the Cowboys cornerback was penalized for pass interference. So, instead of playing a 4th down and going with a long punt, the Raiders were back in the game, as the pass interference penalty moved them into field goal range.
Anthony Brown accrued the most penalties during the game and was penalized on four occasions for 91 yards. In other words, the cornerback collected nearly a third of the penalty yards on the day. The last one cost the Cowboys the game.
So, even though the Raiders and Cowboys game had record viewership figures, the penalties and flags made the match quite difficult to watch, especially for neutrals.
Not a Thanksgiving to Remember for NFL Fans
The other two games between the Detroit Lions and the Chicago Bears, and the Buffalo Bills versus the New Orleans Saints weren’t any better either.
The Lions-Bears game was a duel between a team that couldn’t get a win to save its life and a franchise getting ready to fire its coach. And the game looked exactly as that description sounds.
The 31-6 Bills win over the Saints, on the other hand, was as good as over as soon as it started. The Bills didn’t impress during the game, but the Saints had so little to offer, that even a Bills team that didn’t need to get out of second gear could brush them aside with ease.