Jets-Bills shatters ESPN’s ‘Monday Night Football’ viewership record even after Aaron Rodgers’ injury

The previous “Monday Night Football” record on ESPN came in a 2009 game between the Vikings and Packers

Aaron Rodgers’ debut with the New York Jets lasted only four plays, but ESPN still set a record for “Monday Night Football.”

Monday’s game between the Jets and Buffalo Bills was the most watched “Monday Night Football” game on ESPN in history, the network announced Tuesday. The game drew 22.64 million viewers, which is up almost 15% from last year’s “Monday Night Football” opener. It peaked at just more than 25 million viewers in the first half.

The game broke the previous ESPN viewership record that was set during the Minnesota Vikings’ matchup with the Green Bay Packers in 2009 in Minneapolis. That game drew 21.8 million viewers.

ESPN took over “Monday Night Football” in 2006.

More than 22 million people watched Monday night’s game between the Jets and Bills, an ESPN record. (AP/Rusty Jones)
More than 22 million people watched Monday night’s game between the Jets and Bills, an ESPN record. (AP/Rusty Jones)

Rodgers went down with a torn Achilles on just the fourth play of the Jets’ 22-16 overtime win against the Bills at MetLife Stadium on Monday. He was carted off the field and will miss the rest of the season. The 39-year-old was in his first game with the Jets since being traded to New York by the Packers earlier this summer.

In Rodgers' absence, backup quarterback Zach Wilson and the Jets forced overtime, and then rookie Xavier Gipson ran back a punt for a touchdown in the extra period to seal the win. Jets safety Jordan Whitehead intercepted Bills quarterback Josh Allen three times, including midway through the fourth quarter to set up the Jets' first touchdown. Wilson went 14-of-21 for 140 yards with a touchdown and an interception on the night, and Breece Hall had 127 rushing yards on 10 carries. Allen went 29-of-41 for 236 yards, and he threw a touchdown to Stefon Diggs early in the game.

Wilson will lead the Jets next week against the Dallas Cowboys, and the Bills will host the Las Vegas Raiders. The Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers will square off on “Monday Night Football” in Week 2.