Sunday football, 'Mentalist' score for CBS

Duo spurs network to weekly win over Fox

NEW YORK -- The AFC championship and a double shot of freshman hit "The Mentalist" carried the CBS ratings ball past the formidable premiere of Fox's "American Idol" last week in primetime.

The Pittsburgh Steelers-Baltimore Ravens game Sunday night was ratings gold for CBS, averaging 40.6 million viewers and a 14.7 rating/36 share in the adults 18-49 demo. CBS continued the victory Sunday with a special episode of "The Mentalist" (16.4 million, 4.6/12) that followed the game. Everything else bowed before it, with ABC's "Desperate Housewives" (13.1 million, 4.6/10) down week-to-week against the latter half of the Steelers' run to the Super Bowl.

Not that "American Idol" was any slouch. "Idol" was down compared to previous years but still dominant among regular programming, with 30.4 million viewers and an 11.7/28 for its premiere Tuesday and 30.3 million viewers with an 11.8/30 on Wednesday. Fox easily won both nights. CBS' Tuesday episode of "The Mentalist" (18.1 million, 3.8/9) was still strong but could only put up token resistance against "Idol." NBC's "The Biggest Loser" (8.9 million, 3.3/8) was up 10% week-to-week against "Idol."

CBS and Fox dueled at the start of the week, with Monday's CBS lineup prevailing against "24." The top program of the night was "Two and a Half Men" (17.1 million, 5.6/13) while the two-hour "24" scored 12.3 million viewers and a 4.1/10 in adults 18-49.

Meanwhile, Thursday night belonged to CBS, even with a half-hour delay for network specials on President Bush's farewell address. "CSI" (24.2 million, 6.6/16) easily defeated ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" (13.1 million, 5.3/12) although they weren't completely head-to-head due to the speech.

For the week ending Sunday, CBS (17 million, 5.0/13) won, followed by Fox (12.8 million, 4.8/12), ABC (6.7 million, 2.4/6), NBC (6.2 million, 1.9/5) and the CW (1.9 million, 0.8/2).