Raiders-Bills goes until its conclusion on KCBS-Channel 2 … so why now? Because they seem to understand

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(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Oakland Raiders quarterback Jason Campbell (8) is joined in the huddle with teammates with a decal on their helmets to honor the team’s late owner Al Davis in today’s game in Houston.

This time, they stayed.

How come? Apparently, because they now can.

Instead of flipping over to the start of the San Diego Chargers’ 1:15 p.m. game at Denver this afternoon as the NFL maintains it is contractually obligated to do, KCBS-Channel 2 stayed with the conclusion of the Raiders’ 25-20 victory at Houston, and then switched over.

The victory was particularly poignant for the Raiders’ franchise coming a day after owner Al Davis died at the age of 82.

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On Sept. 18, KCBS insisted it was obligated to leave the Raiders’ game at Buffalo with 27 seconds to play. The Raiders led 35-31, but the Bills were driving toward would be a game-winning touchdown. At 1:14 p.m., KCBS left to join the kickoff of the Chargers’ game in New England. The bottom line: L.A. has been established as a secondary TV market for San Diego and thus had to be shown the game from the start.

NFL policy is also to stay with any game until its conclusion — unless there’s a contractual alignment. Except this week, it seems as if that rule can be bent without anyone getting in trouble.

NFL spokesman Dan Masonson reitereated today a stance he told the Daily News that the league’s decision-makers would take in the aftermath of the Sept. 18 non-switch: “We said that moving forward we would take this type of situation into account for secondary markets. In this case, the outcome of a game was in doubt, so we did not require CBS to take the L.A. market away from the game. If the outcome of the early game (Oakland-Houston in this case) was not in doubt, Los Angeles, as a secondary market of San Diego’s, as usual would have seen the start of the Chargers game.”

The policy also seems to affect those who have invested in DirecTV’s “NFL Sunday Ticket,” as games blacked out on their service because they are televised by a local station don’t always re-appear after contractual games are switched over.

At 1:14 p.m. today, with the Raiders leading the Texans 25-17 and 3:43 left in the fourth quarter, the scroll on the screen told viewers: “We will be going to the Chargers/Broncos game immeidately following the conclusion of the Raiders/Texans game.” Houston has the ball inside the 15 yard line and a first-and-10 situation.

At 1:35 p.m., the Raiders-Texans game, which began at 10 a.m., reached a dramatic conclusion — Raiders safety Michael Huff intercepted Texans quarterback Matt Schaub’s pass in the end zone as time ran out and Houston trying to win on the final play. After showing the Raiders’ celebrattion, and a replay, KCBS went to 90 seconds of local commercial spots and, at 1:38 p.m., picked up the Chargers-Broncos game as Denver led, 7-3, with 3:27 remaining in the first quarter and the Chargers in possession on their own 31 yard line.

Twice during the extra time with the Raiders-Texans game, viewers were updated on the CBS score scroll that the Chargers went up 3-0 with 8:37 in the first quarter, and then Denver lead 7-3 with 5:58 left on a 55-yard intereception return.

The NFL has for years maintained that its policy for the Los Angeles market involving the Chargers’ games was a non-negotiable rule. Because KCBS-Channel 2′s signal reaches within 75 miles of the Chargers’ home field at Qualcomm Stadium, L.A. is deemed to be a secondary market for the team and subject to restrictions involving showing all Chargers’ road games. KCBS is not obligated to show Chargers home games.

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