Predictably, Jerry Rice was more concerned about a pass he didn't catch than the one that gave him the NFL record for yardage.
When Rice caught a 13-yard pass from Elvis Grbac in the second quarter, he moved past James Lofton's 14,004 yards for a career and into first place. By game's end, Rice had eight catches for 108 yards and the record is 14,040 and counting.
It should be 14,089, Rice said.
A 49-yard bomb from Grbac with 2:30 to play was off Rice's fingertips in San Francisco's 11-7 loss to New Orleans.
"I had my hands on it, and if you have your hands on it you should get the ball," Rice said. "I should have made the catch. If I would have made it, we would have won the football game."
It was that kind of day for the 49ers.
Two plays after referee Larry Nemmers told the crowd, "Congratulations to Jerry Rice on breaking the all-time receiving record in the National Football League," Grbac threw an interception.
Rice already has the record for touchdowns--148--and next in view is Art Monk's record of 180 consecutive games with a catch. Rice has 151, moving past Ozzie Newsome into third place Sunday.
TWO RISKY FOR THEM
When the NFL adopted the two-point conversion two seasons ago, there was applause all around, save for a small assembly, which, as it turns out, controls the situation.
We like it, said the coaches, but when the game is on the line, we'll take our chances in overtime.
Want to take another look, Dave Shula? Want a do-over, Bill Parcells?
While St. Louis' Rich Brooks, fast becoming the NFL's best innovator and most fun coach, and New Orleans' Jim Mora, who benefited from an accident--a high snap to holder Tom Hodson, who recovered to pass to Wesley Walls--used the two with mixed success, Shula and Parcells adopted the fraternity line and took their chances in overtime.
--Cleveland 29, Shula's Bengals 26, after Cincinnati had scored with 15 seconds to play and Shula ordered a kick from Doug Pelfrey for a 26-26 tie. This, after the Bengals had missed a kick earlier in the game that, arithmetic tells us, would have made the issue moot.
--Carolina 20, Parcells' Patriots 17, after New England had capped a 14-point comeback with a touchdown with 52 seconds to play, then had Matt Bahr kick the tying point.
Think John Robinson was reverting to his NFL days Saturday when he had Adam Rendon kick the extra point with 33 seconds to play to give USC a 21-21 tie with Washington?
THEY COULD KICK THEMSELVES
Speaking of kickers, once upon a time--it was in August actually--the Saints had Cary Blanchard in camp, and he made everything he tried in exhibition games. New Orleans cut him in favor of Chip Lohmiller, who had a better NFL pedigree.
Blanchard still hasn't missed, only now it's for Indianapolis, which has benefited from his eight field goals and nine extra points.
Lohmiller was one for three for the Saints on Sunday, and his 28-yard miss midway through the fourth quarter was almost New Orleans' undoing. Mora later decided he had seen enough and had Mario Bates run on fourth and two in field-goal range--for Blanchard, anyway. Bates was stopped, and the Saints' defense had to hold on to beat San Francisco, 11-7.
It should not go without passing that the Carolina Panthers and Jacksonville Jaguars have tied the record for most victories in their first season--three--while the established New York Jets, New England Patriots, Seattle Seahawks and Saints have won but twice.
(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)
Player, Team Att. Cmp. Yds. TD GUS FREROTTE, Redskins 44 22 345 0 ERIC ZEIER, Browns 46 26 310 1 KERRY COLLINS, Panthers 45 25 309 2 BRETT FAVRE, Packers 43 26 304 1 CHRIS MILLER, Rams 43 26 262 1 SCOTT MITCHELL, Lions 23 15 249 3 JEFF BLAKE, Bengals 35 20 249 2 ELVIS GRBAC, 49ers 42 29 243 0 DAN MARINO, Dolphins 35 20 232 0
Player, Team Rec. Yds. TD ANDRE RISON, Browns 7 173 1 HERMAN MOORE, Lions 6 147 3 MICHAEL IRVIN, Cowboys 10 135 1 LESLIE SHEPHERD, Redskins 7 135 0 ROBERT BROOKS, Packers 6 127 1 HENRY ELLARD, Redskins 6 111 0 JERRY RICE, 49ers 8 108 0 ISAAC BRUCE, Rams 9 105 1
Player, Team Car. Yds. TD EMMITT SMITH, Cowboys 26 167 1 BARRY SANDERS, Lions 22 167 0 CHRIS WARREN, Seahawks 23 127 0 EDGAR BENNETT, Packers 22 121 0 DERRICK MOORE, Panthers 28 119 0 CURTIS MARTIN, Patriots 24 85 2
--Compiled by Bob Cuomo and Jim Hodges