Sunday's game finishes 22nd in Super rankings

THE BALTIMORE SUN

The final A.C. Nielsen numbers are in, and, as expected, Sunday's game finished in the bottom third of all-time Super Bowl ratings, collecting a 41.3 rating and 63 share of the audience, making it the 22nd most-watched of the 29 title games.

Still, San Francisco's 49-26 spanking of San Diego almost certainly will be the most-watched program of the television season, as a shade under 40 million American households took in all or parts of the game.

Locally, Saturday's Duke-Maryland game on Channel 54 was the ratings winner, copping an 8.2/16, beating the three other games that aired that day combined, but just nipping "Wide World of Sports" on Channel 2, which got a 7.1/14, according to Channel 2's Peter Leimbach, this week's official "On the Air" ratings provider.

For the second straight week, a women's game, Connecticut-Kansas (2.8/7) on Channel 13, beat out two other men's games Saturday, including the Connecticut-Kansas matchup (2.4/5) and the Notre Dame-Boston College contest (2.5/5) on Channel 11.

On Sunday, a Shaquille O'Neal "NBA Inside Stuff" special on Channel 11 beat out all non-Super Bowl-related programming, garnering a 5.0/9, and the final round of the Senior Skins Game got a 4.7/9 for Channel 2. The NBA doubleheader, Phoenix-New York (4.6/10) and Golden State-Chicago (4.2/8) on Channel 11, outpaced the NCAA doubleheader, St. John's-Michigan (3.0/7) and Kentucky-Arkansas (2.8/6) on Channel 13.

Finally (and thank goodness for that), the Washington Capitals' home opener Friday against the New York Islanders on Home Team Sports did a 1.2 in the Washington area and a 0.8 in the Baltimore market, according to HTS spokesman Ted Ewanciw. The Washington figure is double the November-to-February average from last season.

In case you missed it

Cable 44, the city government's channel on United Artists Cable, will air games from last weekend's Charm City Classic boys basketball tournament through this Sunday evening at intermittent times, with Gerry Sandusky, Gary Stein and Loyola athletic director Joe Boylan on the call.

In addition, Cable 17 on the Baltimore County Comcast system will air the Northwest championship game between Oak Hill Academy of Virginia and St. John's at Prospect Hall of Frederick Saturday at 6:30 p.m.

Column fillers

Shouldn't "SportsCenter" guy Gary Miller have known that the Towson State mascot is a tiger, not a lion?

Are you having friends over to party down as you watch the Pro Bowl on Sunday? If so, don't you think you need a life?

Let's get this straight: Rick "Doc" Walker, the former Washington Redskins tight end, as a basketball color commentator? Who thought that was a good idea?

Will it help you plan your Feb. 13 viewing to know that John Goodman is host of the ESPY Awards, with presenters including Michael Bolton, Conan O'Brien and "Super" Dave Osborne.

Aren't you tired of hearing about the ESPYs already?

Chargers are comic's relief

How long do you think it took David Letterman to tee off on the San Diego Chargers on Monday's show? If you said two minutes, you win the grand prize, which is an exemption from having to watch next year's Super Bowl halftime show.

Here are some of the printable entries under "The Late Show Top Ten San Diego Chargers Excuses":

* "Thought we were going to be playing against them Budweiser bottles."

* "Wanted to get billion-dollar endorsement deals because of who we are, not because we won some stupid game!"

* "Pre-game pep talk by [Buffalo Bills coach] Marv Levy."

* "We've already been to Disneyland."

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