TO shows he’s still got a lot left at age 36

With one big game, Terrell Owens made his point. He’s nowhere

near finished.

The 36-year-old receiver had trouble finding a team that would

take him this offseason, something he took as a snub. The

Cincinnati Bengals finally signed him, and he’s their leading

receiver after four games.

One of the league’s best, too.

Owens had 10 catches for 222 yards Sunday in a 23-20 loss at

Cleveland. He moved into second place on the career list for yards

receiving, trailing only former 49ers teammate Jerry Rice. He

became the oldest receiver in NFL history to have a 200-yard game,

and the only one this season.

”I think it was an eye-opener for a lot of people out there

that have said a lot of negative things about me, as far as I’ve

lost a step, I can’t play,” Owens said on Wednesday.

Owens still chafes at the way teams ignored him after Buffalo

let him go following his one season there. The Bengals gave him a

tryout, then signed Antonio Bryant instead. Bryant’s knee prevented

him from being ready for training camp, so Cincinnati signed Owens

to take his spot opposite Chad Ochocinco.

Owens wanted to prove something to the teams that passed on

him.

”They think I’m over the hill and I can’t play and I’ve lost a

step and things of that nature,” he said. ”It’s disappointing to

be in that situation. All along I’ve told you guys: I knew I could

play this game. But if you listen to certain guys – GMs, scouts our

what-have-you that assess film – and for whatever reason they say

that I can’t play, I think that’s ignorance.

”Who says just because you’re in your 30s you can’t play? Like,

who dictates that? No man can dictate that. And I think I showed

that in the game this past Sunday.”

The Browns double-teamed Ochocinco, blitzed quarterback Carson

Palmer and left Owens with single coverage much of the time. He

tore it up. Owens caught passes on short and intermediate routes,

and had a 78-yard touchdown on a sideline route, pulling away from

a stumbling defender.

He did it all.

”If you want to single-cover me, then fine,” Owens said. ”If

you want to blitz, then do what you’ve got to do. But if you think

that I can’t play this game at a high level and put up the numbers

that I did, you’re in for a rude awakening.”

None of it surprised Palmer, who lobbied the front office to

sign Owens after they worked out together in California during the

summer. Palmer is impressed with how hard Owens works during the

week.

”I think if there is one thing that has put him where he is in

the history of the league, it’s his work ethic,” Palmer said. ”He

doesn’t take a day off, doesn’t take a practice off. There’s a lot

of guys once they get past 32, 33, they kind of slow themselves

down and back off on Wednesdays and Thursdays. He wants to run as

many routes as possible. He wants to run every one full

speed.”

Owens moved ahead of Isaac Bruce into second place on the career

list with 15,325 yards. Rice had 22,895 yards in 20 seasons,

playing until he was 42 years old. Rice also holds the career

record for catches with 1,549. Owens is fifth at 1,030, trailing

Rice, Marvin Harrison, Cris Carter and Tim Brown.

The 49ers made him a third-round pick out of

Tennessee-Chattanooga in 1996. He watched how Rice prepared for

games and learned fast, moving into the starting lineup as a

rookie.

”I kind of sat back and watched him from afar,” Owens said.

”Obviously he was an idol of mine. I was reserved back then, so I

kind of watched him and watched how he ran routes, and as we

watched film I kind of assessed what he saw with different

coverages and things of that nature.

”So a lot of things I’ve done over my career were definitely

contributed to by the things that Jerry taught me, whether he knew

it or not.”

One big difference: Owens created more headlines. He played for

the 49ers, the Eagles, the Cowboys, and the Bills, gaining a

reputation for undercutting his quarterbacks while piling up

impressive those statistics.

”Throughout my career, a lot of people have labeled me selfish

in a number of ways,” Owens said. ”But despite that, I have been

able to go out and do the things that I need to do on the football

field.”

One game showed he still can.