Owens Lights It Up
November 5 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
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Terrell Owens likes to draw attention away from Jerry Rice, itís really the only conclusion I can draw after watching his 12 catch 191 yard performance this past Sunday - in which Owens had four receptions for over 100 yards in the first half alone, and played the entire second half with cramps in his leg. The game was the first time Rice and Owens were on the same field in two years, and like Owens drawing the spotlight away from Rice in his final home game - where Owens set the league record for receptions in a game, he stole the spotlight once again.
This was supposed to be Jerry Riceís day. A chance for him to catch his 200th touchdown, a chance for him to show the 49ers that he is still the best the league has to offer. Riceís seven catch performance was hardly shabby, but Owens was clearly the better man on the field on Sunday. Rice did manage to become the first receiver with over 21000 yards though, and certainly left the 49ers with the impression that he is still performing at a high level.
Owens, who was held without a touchdown did make some key third down receptions, and a few nice grabs including a one handed 40-yard reception. Owens, who is beginning to open up the media again, said that his play on the field was all the talking he needed to do, but did offer a few quotes to the media that he has been boycotting. "This No. 81 is the best in the West." Owens said, of course referring to Tim Brown of the Raiders who was held to just one reception.
Bill Walsh, NFL guru and 49ers executive took it a step farther ďThe West? He's the best receiver in the league no question about it." Now thatís a compliment.
Meanwhile, team mates continue to speak up in defense of Owens, who is often misunderstood. Derek Smith, a starting linebacker for the team most recently: "I don't care what he does I don't care if he pulls a pen out of his sock and signs a ball. I think he's more of a team guy than people point him out to be. He's the kind of guy people don't want to play against."
Owens left little doubt that he is now the receiver in the Bay Area. Playing opposite of two of the NFLís all time greats, Owens was on a level all by himself. It was his biggest game of the season, and is the second strait 100 yard performance for Owens, his 17th of his career. He also surpassed Dwight Clark and Gene Washington for second in 49ers career receiving yards. He must love having Tai Streets starting alongside him. Unprecedented 30 Terry Donahue was left in awe. The 49ers offense closed out the fourth quarter and over time with 30 consecutive offensive plays, something that is believed to be unprecedented in NFL History. It was an amazing performance that included a key fourth and less than one conversion by fullback Fred Beasley.
ďI donít know that Iíve seen anything like that in all my years of football. In fact, Iím sure I havenít seen anything like that,Ē said Terry Donahue. ď30 plays: thatís a half of football. Thatís the most remarkable stat of the day.Ē
It was this late game performance, attributed to gritty play by Jeff Garcia and the commitment to run the ball by Mariucci that allowed the 49ers to win the time of possession battle for the first time in about a month. Not only did they win the battle though, they dominated with almost 45 minutes of play time, nearly a full quarter more of offensive play than the Raiders.
Of course it was made possible by the play of the offensive line, which consistently won the battle in the trenches against a very big Raiders defensive line, and playing injured. It was the play of the offensive line that ultimately allowed Garcia to complete 17 of 19 passes after half time and move the ball into game winning position on two long sustained drives.
Thirty offensive plays in a row is simply an amazing statistic. A little luck in calling the coin toss came in handy, but the 49ers deserved this game, no doubt about it.