Player –Years — Rec.
Jerry Rice –1985-04 –1,549
Tony Gonzalez — 1997 — 1,104
Marvin Harrison — 1996-08 — 1,102
Cris Carter — 1987-02 — 1,101
By Jeff Schultz
Detroit — It didn’t seem to bother Tony Gonzalez on Sunday that he has risen as high up the NFL career receiving ladder as he’ll go.
“I don’t think Jerry [Rice] will be caught,” the Falcons’ tight end said, laughing. “I’m happy with second place.”
The dizzying career numbers continue for the 35-year-old who at times still looks 25. Gonzalez had five more receptions for 62 yards in the Falcons’ 23-16 win over Detroit. He is now at 1,104 catches, vaulting him past Marvin Harrison (1,102) and Cris Carter (1,101) into second on the NFL’s all-time receptions list, just behind Rice (1,549).
So hypothetically, if Gonzalez retires after this season, he would need 445 catches in the next nine games to catch Rice. Yeah. Not going to happen.
Gonzalez knew this achievement was coming, so there was no surprise. But he was just happy it came in a victory.
“It’s not just me,” he said. “Any time you get something like that, I share it with everybody I’ve ever been able to play with, all of the coordinators I’ve been with, all of the quarterbacks. Guys like Trent Green, Rich Gannon, Elvis Grbac and, obviously, finishing with a guy like Matt Ryan. It’s a lot of guys.”
The 62 yards in receptions also increased Gonzalez’s career total to12,843 yards, moving him past wide receiver Irving Fryar (12,785) for 13th place on the NFL’s all-time reception yardage list.
Gonzalez didn’t score a touchdown, but his receptions were key in the win. His 11-yarder on third-and-9 in the first quarter extended a drive and led to a field goal. His 30-yarder in the second moved the Falcons to the Lions’ 39 and helped set the stage for Ryan’s 18-yard touchdown pass to Roddy White that increased the Falcons’ lead to 17-6. Two other catches gave the Falcons first downs.
“He’s just very consistent at what he does,” White said of Gonzalez. “He doesn’t just catch the ball. He doesn’t lack in any area of the game. Just watch this guy go to work like he does. He helps the young tight ends, he helps the wide receivers, everybody. As long as he’s on our team, we’ll be successful.”
White also had five catches against the Lions. That gives him 469 for his career — a ways behind Gonzalez.
“I ask him what it feels like to have over a thousand catches,” he said. “I’m not anywhere close to that. I’m not sure that I’ll get there.”
–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog