The fact that the Rams fell far behind in the second half Sunday dropped what was on track to be the team's highest-rated game on television in six years to their fourth-best rating of this season.
The Nielsen Co. reports that 28.1 percent of homes in the St. Louis market with a TV tuned in Sunday as the Rams lost 31-13 to New Orleans. The Saints surged ahead 28-6 early in the third quarter to take much of the drama out of the proceedings.
Because viewership usually increases during the final stages of a close game, a suspenseful finish almost certainly would have given the Rams their first rating in the 30s since the 2004 season. But after the rating for the first two hours was 29.8, the final 60 minutes generated a 26.7 figure.
Still, the Rams average rating this year increased to 25.9, their best number through 13 games since they were at 26.0 in 2004.
On another front, there had been some talk a few weeks ago that the NFL might move the Rams-Saints game to prime time because of Dallas' struggles. But it looked like the wise decision was made to keep the Cowboys-Eagles game in the spotlight - the preliminary national rating (16.5) for Philadelphia's 30-27 victory matched the highest figure in the five seasons NBC has aired "Sunday Night Football."
NFL Week 15 games scheduled to be televised in St. Louis:
San Francisco at San Diego, 7:20 p.m., NFL Network
Kansas City at Rams, noon, KMOV (4)
Atlanta at Seattle, 3:05 p.m., KTVI (2)
N.Y. Jets at Pittsburgh, 3:15 p.m. KMOV (4)
Green Bay at New England, 7:30 p.m. KSDK (5)
Chicago at Minnesota, 7:40 p.m., ESPN