OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—Reality hit Jerry Rice in the final minutes and his spontaneous reaction was somewhat shocking: He kicked a yard marker and hurled his helmet at the ground.
Rice didn’t figure his team-first attitude would lead to the end of his NFL-record receptions streak.
But Ronald Curry’s big day Sunday is a sign the Oakland Raiders will no longer rely as much on Rice in their talented receiving corps. Rice’s record streak of 274 games with a catch ended, and Curry caught five passes for 89 yards and a touchdown in the Raiders’ 13-10 victory over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.
“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 a starter, but has said he’s willing to accept a lesser role for the Raiders (1-1) if it helps the team rebound from last season’s 4-12 debacle. He didn’t get a pass thrown his way until 2 1/2 minutes before halftime— and that was the only one.
The last time Rice didn’t catch a pass was Dec. 1, 1985, at Washington. Rice was substituted almost every other play during Oakland’s second-to-last drive. He came out with 2:37 left during a Buffalo timeout and threw his helmet to the ground, causing it to bounce over a metal bench.
He yelled in frustration and paced the sideline for several minutes, twice taking a seat alone on a bench.
Afterward, he joked about the whole thing.
“Oh yeah, I was working on my kicking, just in case (Sebastian Janikowski) had a little trouble,” Rice said of booting the 30-yard marker. “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.”
Drew Bledsoe’s first career game in Oakland wasn’t much fun, either. Playing before Raider Nation for the first time in his 12th season, Bledsoe was sacked seven times and struggled for the second straight week to take advantage of good field position.
Three of the sacks came in the first half, when Bledsoe’s 31 yards passing were only seven more than those of Bills punter Brian Moorman. In Buffalo’s first two games, it has failed to score on five drives of 10 plays or more.
DeLawrence Grant had two sacks for the Raiders, who hosted the Bills in Oakland for the first time since 1977.
“Offensively, we didn’t get the job done,” Bledsoe said. “I didn’t throw it well enough, we didn’t block well enough, we didn’t run well enough, we didn’t catch the ball well enough. We’re a better offense than what we showed. We have to execute better. There were some glaring mistakes.”
The Raiders staged a goal-line stand on the first play of the fourth quarter, stopping Travis Henry for no gain on fourth-and-1.
Curry caught a 43-yard TD pass from Rich Gannon in the second period, then Janikowski kicked field goals of 21 and 33 yards. Buchanan intercepted a pass and returned it 27 yards early in the third to lead to Janikowski’s first field goal.
Gannon completed 10 of his first 12 passes and played a clean game after fumbling three times and throwing two interceptions in last week’s 24-21 loss at Pittsburgh. But Gannon, the 2002 NFL MVP, also was frustrated by Oakland outgaining the Bills only 273-243. He had no idea Rice’s record was on the line.
“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.”
The Bills managed only a 32-yard field goal by Rian Lindell after getting 48 yards of help from Raiders penalties on one drive. Charles Woodson was flagged for a 28-yard pass interference against Moulds and then again for a 15-yard face mask on Henry on the next play. Oakland’s Travian Smith was offside moments later.
Robert Gallery, Oakland’s top draft pick No. 2 overall out of Iowa, made his first start at right tackle and was flagged for a false start in the second quarter. … The teams combined for 17 penalties, 10 by Oakland. … Gannon finished 19-for-27 for 209 yards. … Moorman threw a 24-yard completion to Kevin Thomas on a fake punt.