Raiders edge Bills, Rice's streak over

On the same day the Oakland Raiders got a victory (13-10 over the Buffalo Bills Sunday) that lacked style points, wide receiver Jerry Rice's record of consecutive games with at least one reception ended at 274.

Rice has done his best to display a team-first mentality as the Oakland Raiders have given more playing time to younger receivers. In the final moments on Sunday, however, Rice kicked a yard marker and threw his helmet at the ground.

The question continues -- is Rice's reduced role the one that Tim Brown did not want? The Raiders released Brown after 16 seasons. Brown is now a Tampa Bay Buccaneer, the Raiders opponent on Sunday night.

Ronald Curry, one of those young receivers taking on a bigger role, caught five passes for 89 yards and a touchdown.

"I expect to catch footballs," Rice said. "I never thought it would come to an end like this. But, you know, it's OK. It's all right. It happens. Life goes on. I'll just start another one and get another 200."

Rice is still the nominal starter opposite Jerry Porter but has said that he is willing to accept a role if it means helping the young receivers improve. Rice did not get a pass thrown his way until late in the first half.

The last time Rice went without a reception was Dec. 1, 1985, at Washington, when Ronald Reagan was beginning his second term as President.

Despite the fact that Rice yelled in frustration and paced the sideline for several minutes, twice taking a seat alone on a bench, he joked later.

"Oh yeah, I was working on my kicking, just in case (Sebastian Janikowski) had a little trouble," Rice quipped. "I'm a competitor. You get a little frustrated at times and I apologize for that. Otherwise, I just enjoy the game and I love being a part of it, and I want to contribute to the team. It didn't happen today."

Oakland made Bills quarter Drew Bledsoe's day a miserable one. The Raiders, who played host to Buffalo in Oakland for the first time since 1977, sacked Bledsoe seven times as linebacker DeLawrence Grant accounted for two of them.

"We liked the matchups we had today," Oakland head coach Norv Turner said. "We played faster and more physical."

The Raiders staged a brilliant goal-line stand early in the fourth quarter as defensive end Bobby Hamilton led a host of Raiders in stuffing Travis Henry on fourth-and-goal from the Oakland 1.

Buffalo did not reach the end zone until 1:20 remained in the contest when Bledsoe hit Eric Moulds for a 5-yard touchdown pass. Porter recovered the ensuing onside kick.

Oakland, meanwhile, reached the end zone with 14-seconds gone by in the second quarter. Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon hit Curry for a 43-yard touchdown pass, the first scoring reception of Curry's three-year career. That score came on third-and-27.

"I knew there was a chance," said Gannon, who completed 19-of-27 passes for 204 yards. "I knew it was third and a bunch. I knew a double-move would work."

Gannon, however, added that he was not aware that Rice's streak was in jeopardy.

"I just felt like we couldn't get much going the latter part of the second quarter and the second half," Gannon said. "Knowing Jerry like I do, I'm sure he'll start another streak."

Janikowski added field goals of 21 and 33 yards as a Ray Buchanan interception set up one of them.

Vince D'Adamo can be reached at vdad7@yahoo.com


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