By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated February 02, 2004 03:06 AM
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Talk about a touchdown. Or was it really a fumble?

During Sunday’s halftime show at Super Bowl XXXVIII, the snap-on bodice of Janet Jackson’s leather gladiator outfit was “accidentally” torn off by Justin Timberlake, revealing her right breast, which just happened to have a silver star attached to it.

Stage lights at Houston’s Reliant Stadium immediately went black, CBS quickly cut away from the stage, and commentators didn’t mention it. All this left stadium viewers and those at home wondering whether the strip tease was intentional.

“We were extremely disappointed by elements of the MTV-produced halftime show,” Joe Browne, National Football League executive vice president, said in a statement — one of many issued after the incident. “They were totally inconsistent with assurances our office was given about the content of the show.”

CBS spokeswoman LeslieAnne Wade also said the network received several complaints and “deeply regrets the incident.”

MTV also proclaimed its innocence, saying, “The tearing of Janet Jackson’s costume was unrehearsed, unplanned, completely unintentional and was inconsistent with assurances we had about the content of the performance.”

Timberlake, 22, offered his apology, too. “I am sorry that anyone was offended by the wardrobe malfunction during the halftime performance of the Super Bowl,” his statement said. “It was not intentional and is regrettable.”

No word yet from Jackson, 37.

Jackson’s peek-a-boob took place during Timberlake’s song “Rock Your Body,” in which he assures his dance partner that he will “have you naked by the end of this song.”

“It’s unlikely that MTV will produce another Super Bowl halftime,” said the NFL’s Browne.

In the commercial competition, the winners appeared to be Bud Light and a dog, Pepsi and a bear and Chevy with soap in the mouth. The loser seemed to be FedEx and an alien.

As for the game, the New England Patriots licked the Carolina Panthers 32-29, having kicked the final field goal with only four seconds left in the game.