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Early Ratings: Tom Brady’s Season-Opening Victory Over Steelers Ties NFL’s Best-Ever Kickoff Game

Patriots win matches Vikings-Saints game from 2010

Boy, is NBC glad Tom Brady‘s four-game “Deflategate” suspension was overturned: The New England Patriots’ win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday matched the top overnight rating ever for an NFL Kickoff game, with a 17.7.

That number ties the 2010 Vikings-Saints season opener, which also had a marquee quarterback storyline. The game from five years ago opened Brett Favre’s second season as Minnesota’s quarterback — but at the time, it was known the season would be his last.

Thursday night owns at least one victory outright: The game‘s 30 share is the highest of all-time for the event.

New England’s victory was up 5 percent from last year (16.8 Green Bay-Seattle) in overnight ratings and up 9 percent from 2013 (16.2 for Ravens-Broncos).

Here are last night’s top markets:
Boston 39.5/62
Pittsburgh 34.5/51
Providence 34.1/51
Baltimore 24.4/39
Richmond 23.9/36
Norfolk 23.4/37
Buffalo 23.2/37
West Palm Beach 22.4/39
Cleveland 21.7/33
Denver 21.7/38

Nielsen will release more accurate and final numbers later in the day. Overnight numbers are intended to be a preliminary measurement.