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Comparing Moss to Jerry Rice’s Record

As the Pats head into the final weekend of the regular season, they are poised to break several records. With a win, they will become the first team to go 16-0 in the regular season, joining the ’72 Dolphins as the only team to finish the regular season undefeated. With two touchdown passes, Tom Brady will beat Peyton Manning’s record of 49 during the regular season. And with two touchdown catches, Randy Moss will beat Jerry Rice’s record of 22 during the regular season.

Putting aside the Patriotgate issues that have given reason for people to doubt the legitimacy of New England’s pursuit of perfection, there is another record that is called into question: Randy Moss against Jerry Rice. In 1987, Rice caught an incredible 22 TD passes from Joe Montana in only 12 games because of the strike. Through 15 games this year Moss has 21, not 22 TDs. Does it hurt his record if it took him more games to break Rice’s mark?

I think it’s just a small footnote in the record books should Moss catch more than one TD and break Rice’s record. Did anyone say anything about McGwire or Bonds or any other modern baseball record that was achieved in 162 games rather than 154? Not much of a fuss has been raised about this issue since 1961. Just like nobody will remember the close calls against the Ravens and Eagles, nobody will remember that it took Moss extra games. One caveat however: Moss still needs to catch at least two touchdowns to make this argument relevant.

*You might also enjoy a previous comparison in which I argue that Randy Moss is better than Jerry Rice.



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  • Gene

    Jerry Rice raised this point himself.

    Yes, Rice did it in 12 games, but he did it against opponents who were disorganized because of the replacement players and the inconsistent return of the regulars.

    It must also be noted that Rice played his home games in better climates and weather conditions than Moss had. Anyone who saw games this weekend or the weekend of the Jets-Pats game would recognize this. No asterisk needed.

    Jerry Rice is considered the greatest receiver of all time, but for him to raise this argument about the number of games shows that his ego is even greater than was his considerable ability.

  • http://www.sportaphile.com Sportaphile

    give me a break, now Jerry Rice’s record is tainted because he plays on the west coast?

    Maybe we should nullify Emitt Smith’s rushing yards mark while we’re at it, because Dallas plays in a dome.

  • Mike

    ummm…Dallas doesn’t play in a dome. The last I knew, there was a big freaking hole in the roof.

  • http://maxsportz.com maxsportz

    Only the die hard fans that keep up with the details will remember it took less games for Rice.
    But simple math tells me that fewer games with more TDs is more impressive.

  • http://themdp92.blogspot.com spencer096

    theres a big difference between 154/162 and 12/16.

    4 games is a quarter of an NFL season and that’s not that much? Really?

    Jerry Rice played on the West Coast…sure he had better weather, but that doesn’t inflate his numbers to the point where they should be discounted.

    moss’ record would still count IF he gets it, but at the same time, Rice’s previous is still more remarkable.

  • http://www.thehookandlateral.com The Danza

    IF (big if) Randy Moss breaks Jerry Rice’s record, then it doesn’t matter how many games that it took him to do it. Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that Randy Moss ends the season with 23 TDs. What if Jerry Rice had played 16 games? Was he guaranteed to be able to get that extra TD catch. Common sense says that he likely would have, but who knows? He may have been injured or gone into a slump. You can’t always extrapolate statistics out based on the past. If you extrapolate Burress’ stats out from Week 1, then he would have 48 TD catches this year. An extreme example, but you get the drift.

  • Nancy

    All of these asterick arguments are getting a little ridiculous. I get what you are saying but along the same lines wouldn’t you have to say that if the Patriots go undefeated at 16-0 it is better than the Dolphins going undefeated in 72 because they played 2 less games at 14-0? I wish people could just relax with all the footnotes and comparisons because while you’re busy crunching the numbers, you are missing one of the greatest NFL teams we will ever see… and what a show it is!

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  • Tony D

    All asterisks deserve as asterisk for ass riskery. No homo!

  • http://badideabluejeans.blogspot.com Dirk

    On a similar subject, keep in mind that Peyton Manning threw 49 TD passes in 2004 while sitting out the final game of the season (he played the first 3 plays). So does Brady getting an asterisk as well for taking 16 games to break a record Manning set in only 15?

  • JB

    Why doesn’t anyone point out the obvious:

    JERRY RICE PLAYED AGAINST “SCABS” THAT YEAR!!

    Will someone in the media PLEASE pick up on this argument?

    The 49’ers had more people cross the picket line than anyone. Stay classy, San Francisco. Jerry trying to make an argument for himself points out the great, hidden secret about him: he WASN’T a “nice guy,” he was petty, self-centered, and is proving it once again.

  • Shane

    Anyone who considers the climate in Candlestick to be a plus point for a receiver has obviously never been there.

  • ko

    I agree with JB. The point isn’t the number of games, its that Rice recorded his totals while playing against replacement players not actual NFLers. They had no concept of the ins and outs
    of the game.

  • Bjorn Randolph

    Also worth noting that Manning threw those 49 touchdowns without the benefit of his coaches knowing what plays the opposing defenses would be running in advance.

  • Thomas Gerling

    Rice did not set the record againts “SCABS”. He only played in games 1 – 2, sat out the next 4 games (week 3 was not played at all), and returned with the regulars for weeks 7 to 16. He caught 22 TD passes while playing against NFL regulars, in just 12 games.

  • Thomas Gerling

    Rice only had 6 TD’s after week 9, having only played 5 games up to that point. Over the final 7 games of the season, he caught 16 TD’s, for an average of 2.28 per game.

  • Todd

    For the sake of Thomas’ argument, then take away all of Rice’s touchdowns he had in the scab games. Moss has more TD’s. End of story.

    Then take into effect that Rice, Montana, Dwight Clark, etc. were all in synch, having already been playing together, when the regular players came back…those same players/opponents who had a month’s layoff.

    Moss deserves the record on the basis of principle: he’s playing against NFL talent every week. Rice didn’t. His desire to cross the line is a whole can of worms he and Joe hope history forgets. Sorry, Jerry, not yet.

  • Ian

    Was there this much whining and griping about asterisks when Eric Dickerson set the single-season rushing record? I don’t remember O.J. ever crying like a little girl about it the way Rice is about this.

  • http://www.stormingthefloor.com Extra P.

    The way we all track stats these days, anyone with the desire to look will be able to tell the relative merit of any two records from different eras. And if they can’t figure it out for themselves, we’ll be happy to blog the shit out of it for them.

  • Andrew

    To repeat, for those like Todd who apparently can’t read, Rice never lined up against a scab. There were 15 games played in 1987. 3 of those games were played with replacement players. Rice did not play in those games. Neither did any other 49er regular.

    To reiterate, no replacement player played in any game that was played in any of the twelve weeks that Jerry Rice suited up.

  • GUHoyas5

    I think is very important to look at the eras in which both reciever played. Jerry played in an era when cornerbacks were allowed to push, shove and even knock recievers down after five yards. It was a much more physical era and alot more difficult for wide recievers to have the enormous numbers we see today.

    In saying that, Randy is a freak of nature, able to catch the ball deep in double and triple coverage and nearly impossible to stop in the redzone, things that separate him from Rice and make his 23 td season in 16 games legit.

    After reading your article about who is the best Rice vs. Moss id still say Jerry is the greatest. Its easy for us to say Moss now because Jerry is retired but go back and look at his highlights from the 80’s and 90’s and you’ll be reminded about just how dominant this guy was in the regular season and playoffs. Moss need’s 6 more seasons like this to come close to Rice’s records

  • Derek

    “There were 15 games played in 1987. 3 of those games were played with replacement players. Rice did not play in those games. Neither did any other 49er regular.”

    Any regular except Joe Montana, Dwight Clark, and Roger Craig, you mean? Montana was the most notorious scab of all. Get your facts straight.

  • bob

    Good points. Although this stat sticks out the largest. Randy Moss has 17+ TD’s in 3 seasons. Rice only has 2 17+ TD seasons in his whole career. It would seem Moss will produce more of those seasons. I give all the respect to Jerry Rice, he’s the best. But all the Moss hating needs to stop. Moss might be in the class of Bo Jackson, Deion Sanders & Randy Moss as greatest athletes ever. Also remember Barry Sanders to some is the greatest running back ever and he doesn’t hold all the NFL records. But above all, be a fan. Enjoy Randy Moss. He truly is the Jerry Rice of this era.

  • jack wingnew

    Wow, I didn’t know that about the 17 td seasons. Wow. Moss one day looking back, may be the best if he has the rings. IMO, they are both great receivers. Why debate?

  • david lee

    WHAT THE FUCK ARE U SMOKING?>!??!?! nobody will remember that RICE did it in less games??!?!?!??!?! get off the patriots dick and stop talking this bullshit.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_XWN2AAQVFBEVPAX6BCHQHPGQOE Anonymous

    NO COMPARISON MOSS VS. GOAT PLEASE!!!!!