New pro football season lifts NBC in TV ratings

By DAVID BAUDER | September 13, 2011 | 4:05 PM EDT

NEW YORK (AP) — The return of the National Football League has punted NBC into first place in the Nielsen television ratings.

Two gripping prime-time games during the first week of the NFL season each cornered more than 25 million viewers. The Nielsen ratings company says Sunday's game between the New York Jets and the Dallas Cowboys was the most watched since NBC began the Sunday franchise in 2006.

And that wasn't even the most popular game of the week. Thursday's season-opening victory by the defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers over the New Orleans Saints had more than 27 million viewers.

Nielsen says two Sept. 11-related programs finished among its top 20 shows. One was CBS' update of a firefighter-focused documentary. The other was Tom Brokaw's remembrances on NBC.