In 2018, Christmas Eve acts as something of a dead zone for live sports. The entire NBA took the day off with an eye toward the league’s annual Christmas Day showcase and the college basketball world also went dark this year. Beyond that, college football is in a holding pattern when it comes to bowl season (because the Hawaii Bowl was inexplicably played over the weekend), leaving the NFL on its own to create an environment for sports viewing when family duties were done.
Unfortunately for the league, Week 16’s Monday Night Football battle doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme, as the Oakland Raiders and Denver Broncos square off in a match-up between two teams with no playoff aspirations. Still, die-hards didn’t have to wait long for a bit of action, as madness broke out within the first five minutes when Raiders special teams ace Dwayne Harris put together a 99-yard punt return touchdown to give his team a 7-0 lead.
While a 99-yard return is impressive under any circumstance, Harris made an insane play that featured a bungled punt coverage attempt from the Broncos.
Because the ball was seemingly downed at the 1-yard line by the Raiders, Harris had no real risk in trying to snatch the ball and take it the other way. He deserves credit for both realizing that and, of course, turning the corner and running away from Denver’s pursuit in the open field.
Still, this was a colossal mess for the Broncos, who entered the game as the betting favorite (with the much better season-long record) and looked to be in great position in forcing the Raiders to drive a long field offensively. It is probably fair to say that this week’s Monday night face-off isn’t going to draw rave reviews or huge ratings but this was a wild play and not something you say every week in the league.