American football: Receiving record for Rice but 49ers flop

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Jerry Rice became the National Football League's all-time leader in receiving yardage, but the San Francisco 49ers fans had little else to cheer about as the Super Bowl champions were beaten 11-7 by the lowly New Orleans Saints at Candlestick Park

Rice passed James Lofton's record of 14,004 receiving yards on a 13-yard pass from Elvis Grbac in the second quarter, but he said: "The record doesn't mean anything because we lost."

Grbac, replacing the injured Steve Young, scored on a one-yard run in the second quarter, and that was all the offense the 49ers could muster. Mario Bates ran 11 yards for a touchdown early in the third quarter to lift the Saints to their second win of the season. He rushed for 96 yards on 25 carries.

Deion Sanders - who has signed a pounds 20m-plus contract - made his debut for the Dallas Cowboys in a 28-13 win over the Atlanta Falcons.

Sanders caught one pass for six yards and nearly made a diving catch in the end zone on a 45-yard pass from Troy Aikman. "It should have been a touchdown. We gave him a little ribbing. It wasn't a great throw," Aikman said.

Bernie Parmalee and Terry Kirby ran in second-half touchdowns as Dan Marino returned from knee surgery to break the Miami Dolphins' three-game losing streak with a 23-6 defeat of the Buffalo Bills.

Carolina Panthers became the first expansion team to win three consecutive games in their inaugural season with a 20-17 victory at the New England Patriots.

The other expansion team fared less well. Neil O'Donnell threw two second- quarter touchdowns as the Pittsburgh Steelers avenged an embarrassing loss three weeks ago to the Jacksonville Jaguars with a 24-7 victory.

NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE: Atlanta 13 Dallas 28; Cincinnati 26 Cleveland 29 (OT); Indianapolis 17 New York Jets 10; New England 17 Carolina 20 (OT); Philadelphia 20 St Louis 9; Pittsburgh 24 Jacksonville 7; New Orleans 11 San Francisco 7; Houston 19 Tampa Bay 7; Detroit 24 Green Bay 16; Miami 23 Buffalo 6; Arizona 20 Seattle 14; New York Giants 24 Washington 15.