A late surge of bets on the New England Patriots saved Super Bowl XX from being a dud for Nevada sports books, although some lost money on an oddball bet involving an unlikely running back.

Oddsmakers at Nevada's 36 legal sports books were saying last week the Chicago Bears-New England matchup would be one of the least attractive for bettors because of the teams involved and the 10 or 10 1/2 points given the underdog Patriots.

But sports book managers now are saying the handle, or amount bet, could match the record $40 million bet last year at the only places in the nation where this kind of sports betting is legal.

Many books that offered a wide variety of exotic bets took a bath on one proposition -- whether Chicago's William (The Refrigerator) Perry would score a touchdown. Some books were offering 12 to 1 for a Perry touchdown, but the odds dipped as low as 3-1 when bettors began gambling on the Bears' star.

"I think some books took quite a loss, a real pasting, on that one," said Sonny Reizner, whose Castaways Sports Book did not offer the proposition. "A lot of money showed that he would score."

Perry's third-quarter touchdown, a one-yard lunge, left some books sharing the sting with the New England line . . .

Thousands of cable customers in Wilmington, Del., missed the second half of the Super Bowl because transmission wires were deliberately cut at five locations, officials of Rollins Cable-Vision said. One person was arrested for all five incidents and charged with criminal mischief . . .

Bob Schnelker, who in 1961 caught the Minnesota Vikings' first touchdown pass ever -- the first of Fran Tarkenton's NFL-record 342 scoring throws -- is back with the Vikings as new Coach Jerry Burns' offensive coordinator. An NFL assistant with seven clubs in 23 years, he was fired by Green Bay after last season, his fourth coordinating the Packers' offense.