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THE NFL / 1996

Rice Reaches Another Milestone in Grand Style

NFC: Receiver becomes first with 1,000 receptions and he catches a 36-yard touchdown pass in 24-17 victory over Saints.

November 04, 1996|From Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS — As usual, Jerry Rice did exactly what was needed to win the game. He also got exactly what he needed to become the first player with 1,000 career receptions Sunday night.

Rice caught a 36-yard touchdown pass, set up another San Francisco touchdown with his milestone catch and recovered an on-side kick that sealed a 24-17 victory over the New Orleans Saints.

"What can I say about him?" said 49er offensive lineman Chris Dalman. "He's the best? There'll never be another one like him? Thank God he's on our team? They're all cliches, but they're all true when you talk about Jerry."

Rice needed three receptions to reach 1,000, and that's exactly what he got. He reached the milestone when he grabbed a nine-yard pass from Steve Young with 11:47 left, but he still wasn't satisfied.

"That was the first ball I caught in the second half," he said.

The officials at first signaled touchdown when Rice caught the ball. It would have been his second score of the night, but the ball was marked at the two-yard line. Young sneaked in on the next play to put the 49ers (7-2) up, 24-14, with 11:31 remaining.

"I think we did a pretty good job of containing Jerry, holding him to three passes," cornerback Eric Allen said. "It just shows you how much he can hurt you on three passes."

New Orleans (2-7) got a field goal to get within seven with 2:16 left, and after Rice recovered the on-side kick, the Saints held and got the ball back with a minute left. But they got no closer than the San Francisco 44.

Art Monk is second on the career list with 940 catches.

Rice had one catch for no gain in the first quarter and made a 36-yard touchdown catch in the second period. He now needs only four points to become San Francisco's career scoring leader.

"I haven't been in the end zone that much [this year]," Rice said. "It felt good. I've tended to disappear in the second half."

Rice is the NFL's career leader in catches, receiving yards (15,864), receiving touchdowns (151) and total touchdowns (162).

It was the first game for Rick Venturi, named the Saints' interim coach after Jim Mora's sudden resignation.

San Francisco appeared to have scored in the first quarter when Rice took a reverse 50 yards into the end zone. A penalty wiped out the score, however, and after an incompletion and a reception for no yards by Rice, the 49ers settled for Jeff Wilkins' 34-yard field goal and a 3-0 lead.

Rice's second reception was his touchdown, which capped a 76-yard San Francisco drive. Young scrambled in for the two-point conversion for a 14-7 halftime lead.

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