On the Record

The Vikings and Redskins gave ESPN everything it could have wanted...and more.

When Disney Corp. decided to put in a big bid on the Monday Night Football package from its longtime home on ABC to ESPN, it was theorized that, on cable, the program could garner better ratings than had been seen on the cable sports giant and make money -- as opposed to losing money in prime time on ABC.

That gamble seems to have paid off. The Vikings-Redskins games garnered a 9.9 rating -- the highest rating in the history of ESPN, beating out the old record set by the Lions-Dolphins game on Christmas Day 2004.

In fact, the ratings were the second-highest cable ratings in history, trailing only the 1993 debate between Al Gore and Ross Perot.

While the ratings may eventually get higher down the line, the folks at ESPN couldn't be happier. People are watching and, for Monday's game anyway, got a heck of a show.

* Dwight Smith is expected back in the starting lineup for Sunday's game vs. the Panthers.
* The team is closing in on signing veteran wide receiver Quincy Morgan, who would likely take over the kick return duties from Troy Williamson.
* From the Irony Department comes this: Two years ago, the Jets worked out a trade to get ahead of the Vikings in the second round of the 2005 draft and took kicker Mike Nugent. The Vikings then signed kicker Paul Edinger. On Tuesday, because Nugent is kicking so poorly, the Jets began auditioning other kickers. Among them was Edinger.
* Redskins safety Pierson Prioleau, who was injured in a non-contact injury on Monday's opening kickoff, is gone for the year with a torn right ACL.
* The Packers cut fullback Vonta Leach to make room for Koren Robinson on the roster.
* About 600 tickets need to be sold by noon Sunday or the Vikings-Panthers will be subject to the first blackout for the Vikings since 1997.

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