Instead of best, L.A. gets West

The New England Patriots are beating opponents by an average of more than 23 points a game. The Dallas Cowboys refused to lose to the Buffalo Bills on Monday night, scoring nine points in the last 20 seconds to produce a new version of “Heidi Bowl” for the PDA generation.

These evidently are two unstoppable teams.

Except in the Los Angeles television viewing area, where Sunday’s eagerly awaited New England-at-Dallas game will be bumped off local Channel 2 in favor of a matchup between the formerly local Oakland Raiders and the quasi-local San Diego Chargers.

CBS is carrying both games, which are scheduled to kick off at the same time, 1:15 p.m. Ninety percent of the nation will see the 5-0 Patriots against the 5-0 Cowboys, but a KCBS Sports spokesperson said Tuesday that the Los Angeles market will instead get the 2-2 Raiders at the 2-3 Chargers.


“The NFL considers Los Angeles a secondary market for the Chargers, so NFL regulations require CBS to carry the Chargers home game, unless it isn’t sold out,” said Mike Nelson, KCBS vice president of communication. “Because of the Chargers’ recent success, very few of their home games do not sell out.”

A final decision by the network will not be made until Friday, but that is pretty much an ironclad NFL rule. So, unlike the Cowboys in their back-from-nowhere 25-24 victory over the Bills, Los Angeles probably won’t rally on this issue. In all likelihood, local fans wanting to watch the Patriots-Cowboys game live will have to find a sports bar or invest in DirecTV’s NFL package.

There is a certain symmetry to the Raiders -- winners of 1968’s original “Heidi Bowl” -- preempting the Cowboys, who on Monday night scored a touchdown and field goal in the final 20 seconds to come back from a 24-16 deficit.

On Nov. 17, 1968, the Raiders scored two touchdowns in the last 65 seconds against the New York Jets to turn a 32-29 deficit into a legendary 43-32 triumph. The game was immediately branded the “Heidi Bowl” because NBC cut away from the game, with the Jets seemingly assured of victory, to air the movie “Heidi.” While millions of television screens across the country flickered with images of a little orphaned Swiss girl, the Raiders’ Daryle Lamonica threw a touchdown pass, the Jets fumbled the ensuing kickoff, the Raiders recovered and went in for another touchdown.

The Cowboys and the Bills rekindled those 39-year-old memories when Dallas quarterback Tony Romo, after being intercepted five times during the first 59 1/2 minutes, threw a four-yard touchdown pass to Patrick Crayton with 20 seconds left, cutting Buffalo’s lead to 24-22. Dallas’ attempt for a game-tying two-point conversion failed, forcing the Cowboys to try a desperation onside kick -- and that succeeded.

After Tony Curtis recovered the kick for Dallas and after two quick completions, Nick Folk made a 52-yard field goal as time expired -- keeping the Cowboys undefeated and making the rookie kicker, yes, an instant Folk hero around Dallas.

Meanwhile, the Raiders, improbably at .500, lead the moribund AFC West by half a game over the Chargers, Denver Broncos and Kansas City, all 2-3. Technically speaking, the Raiders and the Chargers, old rivals and all that, are playing for a possible share of first place, for whatever that’s worth.

Nelson said his station already has received phone calls complaining about the programming choice. “It happens every year,” he said.

And how are local viewers taking the news that there isn’t anything KCBS can do about the decision?

“You know how football fans, and sports fans in general, are,” Nelson said. “They want what they want. Its certainly frustrating for some people.”

On the bright side, New England-Dallas is the NFL’s Game of the Year -- for the month of October. Things happen quickly in this league. The NFL’s Game of the Year for November is only a few weeks away. That would be New England at Indianapolis, on Nov. 4.