NBC drama “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” closed out its fifth season in a big way Tuesday, establishing series highs and crushing the competish.

Although Fox won the night as usual with another huge “American Idol” and the solid “24,” the most jaw-dropping result of Tuesday’s action was the powerful perf at 10 from “Law & Order: SVU,” which has arguably become the strongest performer among the “Law & Order” skeins.

According to Nielsen, the crime drama averaged a big 7.4 rating/19 share in adults 18-49 and 18.36 million viewers overall, more than a full ratings point better than its previous high (6.3) set in January 2003.

“SVU” easily topped the combined 18-49 scores of ABC’s “Super Millionaire” (2.8/7) and CBS’ “Judging Amy” (3.2/8) with the best result in the hour for NBC (excluding sports and election coverage) since March 1999.

Leading into the record-setting “SVU” was a repeat of the drama that also scored very well (5.2/13 in 18-49, 14.67m), winning the 9 o’clock hour over Fox’s “24” (5.1/13 in 18-49, 10.97m) and ABC’s comedies.

“American Idol” kicked things off for Fox with another decisive victory at 8 (10.0/28 in 18-49, 23.61m), topping the other major nets combined. For the season, ratings for both nights of “Idol” continue to pace ahead of last year.

ABC was paced by an above-average “According to Jim” (4.2/11 in 18-49, 10.73m), CBS by the season finale of “Judging Amy” (3.2/8 in 18-49, 11.31m).

In its season finale, the WB’s “Gilmore Girls” (2.4/7 in 18-49, 5.46m) placed second to “Idol” at 8 in persons 12-34 (3.0/10). And lead-out reality skein “Superstar USA” (1.7/4 in 18-49, 3.69m) was up slightly from its Monday premiere.

For the night, Fox topped second-place NBC in both adults 18-49 (7.6/20 vs. 5.0/13) and total viewers (17.5 million vs. 13.3m) and has now won Tuesday for 19 consecutive weeks.