Monday, Nov. 21, 1994

Rice's 16 catches one too many for Rams

By Dennis Georgatos
Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO -- Jerry Rice didn't let a second chance get away.

Rice made up for a fourth-quarter fumble by catching his third touchdown pass from Steve Young with 1:56 left and the San Francisco 49ers rallied to beat the Los Angeles Rams 31-27 last night.

"When you have the football, you have to secure it," Rice said. "I was very upset with myself at first. I was just fortunate to have the opportunity to get the winning catch on the final drive.

"Everything was on the line and, after I scored the touchdown, I just wanted to give thanks. I learned my lesson."

Rice finished with a club-record 16 catches for 165 yards, the last an 18-yarder to complete a 67-yard, 10-play drive for a sixth straight win by San Francisco (9-2).

"The defense kept bending and bending and then that last play we snapped," said Rams defensive back Todd Lyght, who had problems with Rice all night.

The game-winner came on Rice's trademark slant route.

"I wanted to go to Jerry because I knew that play had worked before," Young said. "It was just a very small seam -- a linebacker nearly got his hand on it -- but it went through."

The Rams (4-7) reached the San Francisco 38 in the final minutes, but no farther. Chris Miller had four straight incompletions, including a
game-saving deflection in the end zone by Deion Sanders of a pass intended for Flipper Anderson.

"Without a doubt, it was a touchdown," Anderson said. "I had the safety beaten, but I didn't see Deion. It was a perfect play by a great defensive back."

"That ball was right on the money," said Sanders, who earlier had been beaten by Anderson for a score. "There was no time to think, just react."

Young threw for 325 yards and four touchdowns, completing 30-of-44 passes. Miller nearly pulled the game out with two second-half scoring throws, and completed 16-of-33 for 228 yards.

Earlier in the fourth quarter and trailing 27-24, the 49ers were moving. On first-and-10 from the Rams 25, Young completed a pass to Rice, who fumbled after being tackled by linebacker Shane Conlan. Defensive lineman Gerald Robinson recovered at the 23 with 6:07 left, but the Rams couldn't get a first down and punted.

Then the most prolific active passing combination in football -- Rice and Young have combined for 57 touchdowns, one more than Buffalo's Jim Kelly and Andre Reed -- won it.

"In the second half, we changed up quite a bit defensively, but Steve Young was unbelievable and their receivers were outstanding," Rams coach Chuck Knox said. "With (John) Taylor and (Brent) Jones and some other guys, there's no way you can double Rice or anybody else. That is a talented team. We were in a position to win, but they made the plays down the stretch."

Miller's 22-yard scoring pass to Jessie Hester with 13:05 remaining and Jerome Bettis' run for the two-point conversion put the Rams in front by three, their first lead. Miller scrambled away from pressure and Hester shook off defensive back Eric Davis to make the grab in the end zone.

The Rams jolted the 49ers for 13 third-quarter points, getting within 24-19 after Miller's 50-yard touchdown pass to Anderson over Sanders.
San Francisco also was taken by surprise on an end-around that Todd Kinchen turned into a 44-yard TD run. He turned the corner unchallenged, accelerated upfield and managed to break away from a group of defenders at about the 20 by cutting back to the left sideline. Miller's conversion attempt fell incomplete, making it 21-12.