San Jose Mercury

Owens fined; so are 2 Giants
January 10, 2003
By Dennis Georgatos
Mercury News

The NFL fined wide receiver Terrell Owens $10,000 for his role Sunday in a melee near the end of the 49ers' 39-38 playoff victory over the New York Giants.

Also fined were Giants safeties Shaun Williams ($10,000) and Omar Stoutmire ($7,500), league spokesman Michael Signora said Thursday.

The sanctions stem from a ruckus in the aftermath of Tai Streets' go-ahead touchdown catch with a minute left. Owens, the target of relentless trash-talking from Williams earlier in the game, got in Williams' face immediately after Streets' touchdown and was flagged for taunting. When Williams retaliated by barging into the 49ers' huddle in an attempt to get at Owens, officials flagged him for unsportsmanlike conduct, and the penalties offset.

Tempers flared again on the ensuing two-point conversion attempt. Cornerback William Peterson intercepted Jeff Garcia's pass in the end zone and began running it back, though conversions can't be returned in the NFL.

Owens shoved Peterson after he had gone out of bounds, bringing a flag for unnecessary roughness.

Stoutmire jumped on Owens, and Williams took a swing at 49ers center Jeremy Newberry, and both Giants were flagged for unnecessary roughness. Williams also was ejected for fighting.

49ers Coach Steve Mariucci did not comment on the fine, but did note Wednesday that Peterson ($10,000), Williams ($5,000) and Stoutmire ($5,000) had been fined by the league in September for taunting Owens in the 49ers' 16-13 season-opening win.

Owens, who has ignored most reporters' requests for interviews this week, did not make himself available for comment. He did provide a lighthearted moment in the locker room, waltzing through after practice in a Spider-Man costume. The get-up, which drew a combination of stares and laughs from teammates, was part of a skit he filmed for ABC television. Spider-Man is Owens' favorite cartoon character.

Run defense

Lost in the 49ers' come-from-behind thriller against the Giants were some surprising breakdowns in the team's run defense, which ranked seventh in the league during the regular season.

That could be cause for concern Sunday in the divisional playoff against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, whose rushing game features the slashing style of Michael Pittman and the power running of Pro Bowl fullback Mike Alstott.

The two combined for 1,266 yards rushing, though Tampa Bay's overall running game was among the league's weakest, ranking 27th during the regular season.

Still, one reason the 49ers fell behind by 24 points to the Giants was the explosive play of Tiki Barber, who had 115 yards in 26 carries. Barber was just the second running back this season to go over 100 yards against the 49ers.

Pittman's speed can be dangerous, and the 6-foot-1, 248-pound Alstott can be especially difficult to handle if he gets on a roll.

``He's a guy that you don't want to let get out in the open field with a full head of steam because once he gets rolling, he's tough to take down,'' 49ers linebacker Derek Smith said.

Injury update

Newberry wore a protective boot Thursday on his left foot after spraining his ankle during practice Wednesday.

He was joined on the sideline by left tackle Derrick Deese and right guard Ron Stone, who haven't practiced this week because of sprained left ankles.

All three will play Sunday at Tampa Bay, Mariucci said.

Owens (groin) practiced for the first time this week and should be ready to play, Mariucci added.

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