That seems to be what the New York Times’ Richard Sandomir is driving at.

If NBC sees fit, it will ignore the very game it is showing at 8:15 Eastern time every Sunday to load viewers up on highlights. Research tells NBC that this is the approach to take. This contrasted with ESPN™s approach last night; before the Vikings and the Redskins played, it offered eclectic programming that reflected on Sunday and on 9/11, and previewed the game.

For Sunday night™s Manning Bowl, there was barely a mention of the game in the studio. Ebersol felt viewers already knew enough. This was a bewildering omission, considering the hype for a game that attracted 22.7 million viewers, the most for a prime-time N.F.L. opener since 2000.

There were no highlights of the game at halftime, let alone a word uttered about it. Very strange. Instead, there were more highlights of games before the Colts and the Giants kicked off. Late in the first half, the studio group popped in to talk about the game for a mere 33 seconds. ESPN offered moving memories of the 9/11 attacks in its halftime slot.

Could any of the 12 games already played be more important to NBC than the one it carried? Ebersol said the program was a review, not a preview.

œOur ambition is to react to what happens, not put smoke into a balloon about what might happen, he said. On-site reporters, deployed to contribute summaries of games already played, would cover any stories.

(Peyton and Eli concur, most of the guided tour in Bristol was deadly dull, but “Steve Levy : The Ride” was the highlight of their vacation)

The Daily News’ Bob Raissman flips channels and explains how NBC’s Sunday launch might’ve been undermined by Fox’s refusal to start “The Simpsons” at a Mushnick-friendly time.

The NFL has tried setting some unofficial ground rules covering this situation, but those guidelines did not help NBC Sunday night.

“(Sunday’s) doubleheader postgame coverage was nothing different than we have offered over the past 12 years,” Tim Buckman, a Fox Sports spokesman, said yesterday.

Yeah, but over those 12 years NBC was not televising Sunday night NFL football. So, while Bob (Rapping Roberto) Costas, Cris Collinsworth, Jerome Bettis and Sterling Sharpe were embarking on their maiden studio voyage, Fox was airing the fourth quarter of Dallas-Jacksonville with Joe Buck and Troy Aikman at the mikes.

That game finished at 7:23 p.m.. Fox wasn’t done. Buck said that after a wrapup in Jacksonville, viewers would first be taken to Arizona for the end of 49ers-Cardinals, then to Fox’s “The OT” postgame show.

“Gosh,” Buck said gleefully. “You’ve got a lot left on Fox today.”

Translation: “Stick with us as we stick it to NBC.”

Niners-Cardinals, where multiple “The OT” promos were seen on screen, ended at 7:36 p.m. and went off air at 7:39 p.m. “The OT” followed at 7:40 p.m. and ended at 7:57 p.m. If you did not hang for the few commercials that followed, you might have caught the tail end of NBC’s new pregame show.