Those Three Words
By Rustyn Burnside, ESPN 977
Monday Night Football. One of the crown jewels of the regular season. To play on Monday night is to be seen by more than just the football community. That matchup is the only one of the day and gets treated as such. On top of this, people need that extra pick me up after getting back to the work week. The hype, the advertising, the talk show discussions, all of is in full force for Monday Night Football. Since it began in 1970, fans anxiously await the schedule to see how many primetime games their favorite squad will appear in. Monday Night is the pinnacle of Primetime for many.
With that being said, this recent Monday Night Football double header was a major disappointment. The Buffalo Bills throttled Tennessee to the tune of 41-7 to start the night, and for those who sought redemption in the second game, there was none to be had. The Eagles ramrodded Minnesota at 24-7 in a game that featured 0 points in the second half. For the home crowds and the individual fan bases this could be seen as a great success, but for the NFL product as a whole the action was less than ideal. These games show that even though the idea of Monday Night Football is incredible, the games aren’t always the best. You can’t expect tight games every night in the world of professional sports regardless of the two teams you match up. For example, the lowly Falcons gave the defending champion L.A Rams a run for their money on Sunday and it was much more entertaining than either Monday game. The product does not magically get better due to the game taking place on Monday as opposed to Sunday.
Al Michaels once said that “those three words, Monday Night Football, resonate like no other.” That still rings true, like I said, the excitement is still real, but the product sometimes fails to live up to his powerful words. This was especially true in 2016 when Monday Night football produced some certified duds. Not one of the 2016 MNF games had any significance, and that included one playoff game between the Raiders and Texans.
The season kicked off on Monday night with a double header that saw a 38-16 Pittsburgh win in Washington, a 28-0 shutout in San Francisco as they beat up on the Rams. It would only get worse. Five consecutive MNF games to start the year would fail to feature a game within 10 points. The scores were 29-14, 45-32 and 24-10 not including the opening double header. Not until week 5 was a tight game on the docket, as Tampa Bay won on the road in Carolina 17-14. After a brief glimmer of competitive football, the next week would see the Jets get smashed in Arizona 28-3. 8 of the first 9 Monday night games were all decided by 10 or more points, or two possessions. Honestly, only one of those games was a 10-point deficit, the rest were all more.
The only solid stretch in 2016 was a from November 7th to the 21st, also known as three consecutive weeks. These games had differentials of 6, 7, and the tightest game of the season on Monday night which was a 21-20 Giants win over the Bengals. After this stretch however, MNF would only witness one more one possession game the rest of the season as they finished with 5 of the last six all determined by 10 or more points. The 2016 Monday Night Football slate would see the winning team outscore their opponent 528-269. If you tuned in on Monday night, there was a plus 70 percent chance you would witness a game determined by multiple possessions. 13 0f the 17 games that season were all decided by 10 points or more. The MNF schedule that year even blessed the fans with a 41-10 drubbing at MetLife as the Colts took down the Jets.
The moral of the story is, Monday Night Football is fantastic, and like any other fan I rely on it to carry me out of a Monday funk. But just because it has the prettiest paint, and the bright lights does not guarantee a great game. Regardless as football fans we will make sure we don’t miss those three words.