Jerry Rice wasn’t going to let anything stop him, not the stinging in his shoulder, not the ache in his chest.
Even with cold symptoms so bad he needed intravenous fluids before kickoff and a seperated shoulder that forced him to leave the field to get iced, Rice had a record-breaking night Sunday in a Super Bowl he hinted might be his last game.
“Yeah, it was very difficult, but there was no way I was going to be taken out of the game,” said Rice, who caught three of Steve Young’s six TD passes in the San Francisco 49ers’ 49-26 win over San Diego.
“I left it up to the coaches,” said Rice, who had 10 catches for 149 yards to set Super Bowl records for career receptions (28), receiving yards (512) and TDs (7). “They asked me, ‘Do you want to stay in?’ I told them, ‘Yes.’ If I stayed in the ballgame, the defense still had to respect me and that would open up some of the other guys and it did.”
Rice put San Francisco in charge with his first catch, a 44-yard touchdown 1:24 into the game. Just like that, the 49ers were on their way to a record fifth Super Bowl victory.
Steve Young spotted Rice behind Darrien Gordon and Stanley Richard and lofted a beautiful spiral that Rice gathered in for his record fifth career Super Bowl score.
Rice added two TD catches in the second half and didn’t look anything like a player who should be considering retirement. He said this week he was approaching the Super Bowl as his final game, just in case he decided to retire during the off-season.
“That’s something I’ll address when it’s time,” Rice said. “Right now, the only thing I’m going to do is enjoy this and I think we really deserve to enjoy this.”
When he wasn’t scoring, Rice was helping to set up a 49ers’ offense that overwhelmed San Diego.
Ricky Watters had three TDs, tying Super Bowl records by Rice in 1990 and ex-49er Roger Craig in 1985. He ended San Francisco’s second offensive series with a 51-yard TD catch for a 14-0 lead.
“When we’re hitting on all cylinders, I don’t think anyone can stop us,” Rice said.
“There was a time in that game where we felt like every time we touched the ball we were going to score,” added San Francisco guard Jesse Sapolu. “It was like a symphony. Steve Young was conducting and everybody was just doing their job.”
Rice got the team fired up for the game with a stirring pregame address.
“He said we worked all year for this and what we worked for is finally coming to fruition,” Watters said. “There is nothing else so leave it all on the field.”
Rice set an NFL record with his sixth postseason 100-yard receiving game. He came back later in the quarter to pick up the offense with a pair of receptions in a nine-play, 49-yard drive for a 28-7 lead.
“I wanted to win the game so badly,” Rice said. “We were brought together to do a job and we did it. I’ve had 10 great years, been part of three Super Bowls and I have no regrets.”
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