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Kraft in tune with tune-ins

Patriots owner Robert Kraft, in a halftime interview during Sunday night's Patriots-Cowboys telecast, told ESPN sideline reporter Suzy Kolber, "We're going to get you double-digit ratings." He was right -- at least for the Boston market, where the ESPN-produced broadcast was seen on both Channel 5 and ESPN. Ch. 5 earned a 20.1 rating (30 audience share) and ESPN did a 10.5 rating (16 share). The rating is the percentage of the region's TV households tuned to the game and the share is the percentage of TV sets in use that are tuned to a game or show.

The rating was the best for a Patriots game since a 32.4 (62 share) for the team's 27-24 overtime victory over the Dolphins last Dec. 29 in the season finale.

The ESPN/WCVB Patriots simulcasts have been big successes for Ch. 5, with more and more of the audience migrating to the local outlet. Last November's Patriots-Raiders game did an 18.1 on Ch. 5 and an 11.9 on ESPN, a 34-percent advantage for Ch. 5. Last December, Ch. 5 had a 40-percent ratings lead on ESPN for a Patriots-Jets game (18.4-11.0), and last night the disparity grew to 48 percent. The benefits to Ch. 5 extend to the pregame time period, where Ch. 5 did a 9.8 rating for "Primed for Parcells." Ch. 5 carried a big audience into the postgame "NewsCenter5."

ESPN didn't have its national ratings for the game last night, but spokesman Dave Nagel said the network had estimated that 8.5 million viewers would tune in. If so, it would become the third most-watched program in ESPN history, trailing Dolphins-Lions from Christmas Day 1994 (8.93 million) and Bills-49ers from Dec. 3, 1994 (8.64 million).

Thoughts while watching the Patriots' 12-0 win in the defense-dominated game, of which Globe Hall of Fame hockey writer Kevin Paul Dupont said, "This is the football version of hockey's neutral zone trap."

* Those who were at the game said the TV timeouts were brutal . . . and they didn't even have to watch the commercials. Just wait 'til someone gets the idea of showing them on the Jumbotron.

* Those new silver jerseys of the Patriots just didn't catch the light. Note to design dept.: Check with the fan who paints his entire head silver for every game for toning and shading nuances.

* Evidence the Patriots remain under the national radar: Bill Belichick was fifth (10 percent) in ESPN's on-line poll for coach of the year during the game, trailing Parcells (34 percent), Marvin Lewis (24), Dick Vermeil (16), and John Fox (14).

* The evening wasn't in the least spoiled when neither Belichick nor Parcells deigned to do a sideline chat with Kolber at halftime. It should be noted that both coaches spent considerable pregame time with the network, and Parcells did a one-on-one with Kolber that gave ESPN enough material to run from the midday "NFL Sunday Countdown" through the evening "NFL Prime Time," and the postgame "SportsCenter."

* ESPN's cameras did a nice job of catching the frenzied fans and signs in the stands, but neither coach was overly expressive in the many reaction shots on the sidelines. Best shots of the coaches were the pregame sideline pictures that showed them on opposing sidelines and not looking at each other. Those shots showed the range of focus on the cameras and video photo technique as the operator zeroed in on first one coach and then the other.

LB fills hole

Yes, that was Steve DeOssie -- and not Kelly Stouffer as orginally scheduled -- working Saturday's BC-Rutgers game with Eric Frede. DeOssie seemed right at home -- outside of a few strange Telestrator squiggles -- prompting the question of why he doesn't do more games. "I did Atlantic 10 games a few years back, but then gave it up to watch my son's games on the weekend." Zak DeOssie now is a freshman linebacker at Brown. Dad notes, "He's getting plenty of playing time and got an Ivy Freshman of the Week award last month." . . . Thursday's Globe "Sportsplus" airs on NESN following the 7 p.m. Bruins-Capitals telecast. Staffers Jackie MacMullan and Michael Smith will be guests with host Bob Lobel to talk Patriots. In addition, Dupont will go one-on-one with Bruins goaltenders Andrew Raycroft and Felix Potvin . . . Jerry Remy, in his role as folk hero/Webmeister (www.theremyreport.com), is hosting a Toys for Tots "Dinner with The Dawg" party at The Wave Sports Pub in Waltham Dec. 6. Guests include Lobel, Sean McDonough, Don Orsillo, Dan Roche, and Tom Caron. Tickets are $60, with details on the website.

This show no turkey NESN will air "The Boss in Boss Town," Thanksgiving night at 8. It's a behind-the-scenes look at transforming Fenway Park into a concert arena with footage and music from the September Bruce Springsteen concert . . . Phil Esposito has been making the rounds, pushing his new book "Thunder and Lightning." He'll be on FSNE's "New England Sports Tonight" at 6:30 this evening. He was with NESN's Caron and Paul Stewart between periods Saturday night. Stewart's studio analyst debut was quite promising . . . Sunday's NFL lineup has Patriots-Texans (Ch. 4, 1 p.m.) with Kevin Harlan and Randy Cross, followed by Raiders-Chiefs (Ch. 4, 4:15 p.m.) with the CBS `A' team of Greg Gumbel, Phil Simms, and Armen Keteyian . . . Fox sends in Bears-Broncos (Ch. 25, 4 p.m.) with announcers Kenny Albert and Brian Baldinger . . . ESPN has picked up this Saturday's BC-Virginia Tech game as a 3:30 p.m. telecast . . . FSNE has Saturday's Northeastern at James Madison game at noon, and Channel 56 has Harvard-Yale at 12:30 . . . Ch. 5 has the Ohio State-Michigan showdown at noon, followed by Oklahoma-Texas Tech at 3:30 . . . Ch. 4 has Ole Miss-LSU at 3:30.

Bill Griffith's e-mail address is griffith@globe.com

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