Thursday Night Football has been in the news a great deal in 2022, starting with a headline-grabbing matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Los Angeles Chargers to kick off Amazon’s foray into full broadcast coverage of the NFL. Viewership numbers are strong and, in the early going, the matchups were solid. In Week 5, however, professional football observers were treated to quite a spectacle, to the point where home fans in Denver were seemingly so annoyed that they vacated the premises at Mile High just before overtime began.
After Russell Wilson threw an interception with a chance to close out the game, the Indianapolis Colts marched the field, kicked a field goal, and forced overtime with a hilarious 9-9 score. As the transition from regulation to the extra frame was happening, Amazon’s cameras caught a slew of Broncos fans heading to the exits, and Kirk Herbstreit expressed his dismay on the air.
Herbstreit likely speaks for many people here in that it is bizarre to see fans leaving before overtime, no matter the context. While it is a night game, it was only about 9:30 p.m. local time in Denver when the exodus started, and you can hear the bewilderment of Herbstreit. His partner in the booth, the legendary Al Michaels, was also sharing quips throughout the night to make fun of the product on the field, and the tone was honestly appropriate.
While the game did have real stakes and was competitive on the scoreboard, there was plenty of evidence that the game was not going well on the whole. For example, both teams threw two interceptions and averaged fewer than six yards per pass attempt in regulation. The Broncos and Colts combined for 15 penalties in the first 60 minutes, with a combined 6-of-29 mark on third down. In short, it was an aesthetically hideous game that only a true sicko would enjoy, and at least some fans in Denver just couldn’t take it anymore.
That proved to probably be a wise move as they beat some traffic while also not having to watch the final twist of the knife, as the Broncos chose to go for it on 4th and 1 from the 5 while trailing by three and, instead of running the ball, they threw the ball for an incompletion to lose.