Cold, shoulder are Rice's toughest rivals of week

January 30, 1995|By Vito Stellino and Mike Preston | Vito Stellino and Mike Preston,Sun Staff Writers

MIAMI -- Jerry Rice figures that playing hurt is part of the job.

The San Francisco 49ers wide receiver suffered a slightly separated shoulder and went to the locker room for treatment after the team had jumped to a 21-7 lead in Super Bowl XXIX by scoring on their first three possessions.

On the possession he missed, the 49ers punted for the first time.

He came back to help the 49ers put together a fourth touchdown drive and then caught two touchdown passes in the second half of their 49-26 victory in Super Bowl XXIX last night.

"The mark of a receiver is when he can play hurt. Anybody can go out there healthy and make the plays. I felt like I couldn't let my team down," he said.

"It was very painful. I know tomorrow is going to be very difficult to walk around," he said.

Rice said he now understands how Emmitt Smith of the Dallas Cowboys felt when he played with a separated shoulder against the New York Giants last year.

On top of the separated shoulder, Rice was fighting a sinus cold. He had an IV before practice Saturday and again two hours before the game.

Rice said he felt good when he first game out for warm-ups, but then started to feel weak.

"I was scared," he said.

But when the game started, he was ready.

Rice also gave a speech before the game, reminding his teammates they had played all year for this game.

49ers running back Ricky Watters said, "Jerry Rice stood up and he made a big speech. He said we worked all year for this. This is it. This is the final frontier. There's nothing else left. Leave it all on the field."

Return policy: Take back words

Team president Carmen Policy, who said after the NFC title game victory that the Super Bowl was going to be an anticlimax, amended his comment last night.

"There's no question about it, the height we realized in the Dallas game was truly euphoric, but we had to bring it to the proper conclusion by winning tonight in order for everything to be relevant. And that's what you're seeing tonight, finishing the job that had to be done," he said.

Of his "anticlimactic" comment, he said, "If somebody would serve me a plate that was loaded with my words, I'd eat them. As a practical matter, I will say this: The feeling after the Dallas game two weeks ago was truly euphoric. But to suggest that the culmination of the season would be anticlimactic would be irresponsible on my part. I can tell you this: tonight we have

closure, tonight we have fulfillment."

Game within game: Beat spread

The 49ers are like money in the bank.

They covered every spread in the playoffs, including the 19-point spread against the Chargers.

But they proved why oddsmakers are sometimes reluctant to give so many points. There is always a danger a team will let down at the end and enable the losing team to cover.

The 49ers had a 49-18 lead when Tony Martin caught a 30-yard pass from Stan Humphries with 2:25 left.

The Chargers then got the ball back with 1:38 left on their 6.

They had to go 94 yards to cover the spread. The Chargers got as far as the 49ers' 35 with 16 seconds left.

For the fans who hadn't wagered on the game, it was all over.

For those who had, there was a lot of drama in Humphries' last three throws.

He overthrew three times and the 49ers had the spread covered.

No answer for 49ers' offense

Defensive coordinator Bill Arnsparger of the Chargers said his team tried everything to stop the 49ers' passing game.

"We got in trouble on the pass, no matter what the coverage was, whether it was man, zone or blitz. You have to play your coverages and you have to mix your blitz. But it was one of those nights that was frustrating for us when there is nothing you can call that you have confidence in because we didn't play well," he said.

Arnsparger ducked the question when he was asked whether the 49ers have the best offense he's ever seen.

"It was certainly the toughest this year, but I really don't know who I would compare it with. I really haven't tried to think about that," he said.

S.F. was right place for Norton

Ken Norton Jr. became the first player ever to play on three consecutive Super Bowl championship teams. He played with Dallas the last two years and then he signed with the 49ers this year.

"Once I saw the writing on the wall in Dallas, once I saw the balance changed a little bit, I said I better jump on over here and it was the perfect fit for me," Norton said. "They needed what I brought to the team. I needed to be appreciated, and from the day I decided to sign [with the 49ers] it felt very magical.

"The way the organization really respects the players here is second to none. It's the best in the league as far as the players, the fans, as well as the ownership."

Sanders comes clean

Now that the game was over, 49ers cornerback Deion Sanders was telling the whole story.

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