The National Football League held its conference championship games as scheduled yesterday, although Iraqi missile firings into Saudi Arabia prompted television networks broadcasting the games to interrupt coverage several times.

League officials had said they would wait until yesterday morning to decide whether the games would be postponed, and Commissioner Paul Tagliabue said Friday they would be postponed if the networks decided events in the Persian Gulf War so warranted.

But, after attending the AFC championship game between the Los Angeles Raiders and Buffalo Bills in Orchard Park, N.Y., Tagliabue said the games went on "after we reviewed the fact that there were no major negative developments in the Mideast" Saturday or Saturday night.

Early in their pregame shows, NBC's Bob Costas and CBS's Greg Gumbel said game coverage would be interrupted if necessary to cover the war. Both networks performed as advertised, which meant a busier-than-usual day for their production staffs.

"It was pretty hectic for sure," CBS Sports Executive Producer Ted Shaker said after his network's broadcast of the New York Giants' last-second, 15-13 victory over the San Francisco 49ers in San Francisco. "Every time the phone rang, I thought it was Joe Peyronnin {CBS's vice president-news}. But News is dealing with life and death, war and peace. We're just dealing with who won the game."

NBC cut away from the AFC game, which began at 12:30 p.m., four times for a total of about 15 minutes. NBC also provided news updates at the close of the first quarter, during halftime and at the close of the third quarter. Despite the interruptions, the network did not consider leaving the game entirely, spokesman Ed Markey said.

During the first of NBC's in-game interruptions, viewers missed a Bills touchdown. During another, they missed an interception by the Bills and a subsequent field goal. All of those plays were shown on replay, and none proved to be particularly significant because the Bills routed the Raiders, 51-3.

However, NBC's first cutaway was important to its Persian Gulf coverage, as it was the first of the three major networks to report on the first Iraqi missile attack.

During its pregame show, NBC presented the results of a network poll for which respondents were asked whether the Super Bowl should be played this Sunday if the war continues. Sixty-one percent said the game should be played, 27 percent said it should be postponed, 7 percent said it should be canceled. The rest were undecided.

CBS ended its pregame show with a news update and left the game twice, missing one play. It also provided an update at halftime and at the beginning of its postgame show.

"We moved some commercials" and made some other adjustments and judgments on the fly, said Shaker. He added Peyronnin "would call and say, 'We're not sure of this situation, but if it's true, we're going to want to get in.' "

CBS's first in-game cutaway occurred early in the second quarter, when it reported on a second missile attack while a change in possession was taking place. But because of an arrangement between CBS and the NFL, play did not resume until the network had completed a report that lasted about two minutes.

"We anticipated that situation could happen," CBS spokeswoman Susan Kerr said, "and the league cooperated by extending the break by a minute."

But when the second cutaway occurred late in the second quarter, CBS missed a play during a Giants drive that ended in a field goal.

"As things mounted in the second half, I think everybody forgot about {the war} for just a second," Shaker said. "I don't mean to wax philosophic, but I think that was a tonic for everyone. It allowed you to get lost for a second."

Neither NBC nor CBS showed live coverage of a 12:30 p.m. briefing from a U.S. military official in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. ABC, which did not have any sports programming yesterday, made that briefing part of a report that lasted about a half-hour.

A mid-afternoon briefing from the Pentagon that was scheduled to begin at 3:30 actually began around 3:10. Briefings had begun at 3:30 on Friday and Saturday. All three networks carried yesterday's briefing live, but with the AFC game still being played, NBC was the first to leave it.

Asked if all the interruptions of the AFC games were nerve-wracking, Taglibue said: "I wouldn't say it was nerve-wracking. There were eight or 10 or 12 Super Bowls played during the Vietnam War, and I think certainly the U.S. troops went through a lot there that was as serious as we're seeing here."

Tagliabue said he was pleased with the efforts of security personnel at Buffalo's Rich Stadium; security was increased significantly yesterday.

"It went very, very well," Tagliabue said. "The local authorities, as well as the Bills and our people, did an extremely good job. We had no problems, no incidents of any kind."

In other developments, the Washington Bullets' regular radio network will not cover today's 1 p.m. game against the visiting Orlando Magic. WTOP, among others, will devote the time to war coverage.

U.S. skiing coaches and officials met at the national governing body's offices in Park City, Utah, to discuss the possibility of sending a team to the World Alpine Championships, which begin Tuesday in Austria. The organization pulled its teams out of Europe last week as a precaution, but did not officially withdraw from the event, which is held every other year.

Also, the Los Angeles Times reported that the U.S. Tennis Association is considering postponing its first-round Davis Cup match against Mexico, which is supposed to take place in Mexico City from Feb. 1-3. But USTA communications director Ed Fabricius said yesterday he believed everything remains on schedule.

Staff writer Richard Justice contributed to this report from Orchard Park, N.Y.