Ratings go through roof for AFC Championship Game

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A Broncos fan holds a sign in the first half of the AFC Championship Game against the New England Patriots at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on Sunday, Jan. 24, 2016. (Photo: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

NEW YORK — The only thing inflated in Sunday’s AFC Championship game were the ratings.

CBS’s telecast of the Broncos’ thrilling 20-18 win over the New England Patriots brought in the highest rating for an AFC Championship Game in 29 years.

The NFL game saw two of the league’s best quarterbacks — Peyton Manning and Tom Brady — square off, and brought in overnight rating of 31.8, according to the network.

Sunday afternoon’s game was up 31 percent from last year’s AFC championship, which also included the Patriots and would later be synonymous with the “Deflategate” controversy. It was also played in the more favorable East Coast prime time slot.

The AFC Championship Game topped the NFC championship game between the Arizona Cardinals and Carolina Panthers. That game, easily won by the Panthers, brought in an overnight rating of 26.8, according to CBS. Fox, which broadcast the game, has not yet released its numbers.

The Broncos-Patriots game peaked with a 36.6 rating from 4 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. when the Patriots drove down the field to nearly tie the game in the final moments.

In Denver, the ratings were through the roof.

Preliminary ratings had the game overall drawing a 51.7 rating with an 85 share. It peaked from 4:15 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. when the rating spiked to an amazing 58.5 with a 90 share.

The rating measures all televisions in the market. The share measures TVs that are in use. In other words, in the final 15 minutes of the game, nine of 10 TVs that were on in the Denver market were tuned into the game.

The big rating for the Broncos-Patriots matchup again shows that the NFL is the biggest ratings powerhouse on television and just continues to get bigger.The game was also undoubtedly pumped up because of a massive snowstorm that hit the Northeast causing many to stay in and watch the game on Sunday. The history between the two quarterbacks most likely also played a part in helping build the big viewership.

This was the 17th meeting between Manning and Brady and was the fourth match up between the two legendary quarterbacks in an AFC title game.