The Patriots continue to draw big TV ratings.
On Sunday, they faced the Steelers, considered a team that could derail their march toward an undefeated record. The 4:15 ET game on CBS - which was Pittsburgh-New England in most of the country - earned an 18.4 overnight rating and a 33 share in the nation's 55 largest markets.
The comparable time slot at this time last year on CBS received a 13.7.
The rating is the percentage of all homes with televisions watching the game, while the share is the percentage of TVs in use at the time that are tuned in to it. National ratings are expected Tuesday.
The three games that have earned the highest overnight ratings this season all involved the Patriots: a win over the Indianapolis Colts drew a 22.5, and a victory over the Dallas Cowboys received an 18.5, all on CBS.
The quarterback looked like the 44-year-old that he is. The running back fumbled again. The star receiver again couldn't get involved.
While the offense has been downright offensive since Jake Delhomme was lost for the season, Sunday's 37-6 loss to Jacksonville set new highs for Carolina ineptitude.
With Vinny Testaverde missing open receivers and having an interception returned for a touchdown, DeShaun Foster losing his fifth fumble and Steve Smith mostly a non-factor, the Panthers (5-8) virtually ended their already-slim playoff hopes.
And it left embattled coach John Fox with a decision to make at quarterback. With high-priced David Carr so far down the depth chart he's out of the equation, does Fox stick with Testaverde or go with rookie Matt Moore for the final three games?
For Fox, it's deciding between the second-oldest starting QB in NFL history with a 65.8 passer rating, and an undrafted rookie, signed in September, with a 21.1 rating.
``We weren't as consistent throwing the ball as we needed to be,'' Fox said. ``When we have been, we've been in games. When we haven't been, we've not.''
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