Johnny Manziel helped the NFL Network shatter its preseason ratings record in his debut on Saturday night at Ford Field against the Detroit Lions.
As good as Detroit Lions quarterback Kellen Moore was in leading the Lions to a 13-12 win, showing plenty of poise on the final touchdown drive, all eyes were, of course, on Johnny. When Manziel left the game in the fourth quarter, the stadium started to empty out. Plenty of people had been watching Manziel on their televisions as well.
According to BigLeadSports, “the five highest-rated preseason games in NFL Network history” are:
1) Aug. 9, 2014: Cleveland vs. Detroit. 1.81 US HH / 2.82 M viewers
2) Aug. 5, 2007: New Orleans vs. Pittsburgh (HOF). 1.25 US HH / 2.07 M viewers
3) Aug. 15, 2010: Denver vs. Cincinnati. 1.23 US HH / 2.01 M viewers
4) Aug. 5, 2012: Arizona vs. New Orleans (HOF). 1.25 US HH / 1.97 M viewers
5) Aug. 18, 2012: New York Giants vs. New York Jets. 1.27 US HH / 1.90 M viewers
Manziel led the team in rushing, and he was more accurate than Brian Hoyer, with whom he is competing for the starting job. Manziel had to deal with some broken plays because he was playing with the second-string offensive line. But he made the best of it. He had an electric 16-yard scramble but also had two head-first dives that stung him a bit. He learned quickly and made a feet-first slide on one of his final scrambles. He converted a fourth-and-one attempt by scrambling, but he could have made it easier on himself if he had thrown the ball to the halfback in the flat. A promising drive was stalled when running back Dion Lewis fumbled in Lions territory. And two receivers dropped passes that were right on the money.
Manziel is likely to start and get reps with the first team on Monday night against the Redskins. ESPN will televise that game, and ratings should go through the roof.