Jerry Rice is 42 and was effectively dismissed from the Raiders' offense this season, so half the free world is wondering why he won't just take the gold watch and retire. Here's why: "I need him," says coach Mike Holmgren of the Seahawks, who at the trade deadline last week dealt a conditional seventh-round draft pick to Oakland for the NFL's alltime receptions leader. "Maybe he can't catch a slant and run 80 yards anymore, but he still gets separation from corners, and I know he'll catch the ball. He'll get a lot of use here." In a 25--17 loss to the Cardinals on Sunday, Rice (above, right) had six balls thrown in his direction; he caught one pass for 10 yards and dropped two others. Holmgren says that if drop-plagued split end Koren Robinson loses his appeal of a four-game suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy (likely to be heard in November), Rice would move into Robinson's spot during his absence.
MATCHUP OF THE WEEK
Steelers versus the NFL's best. In the span of eight days beginning on Sunday, the defending Super Bowl champs (the Patriots) and the NFC's premier team (the Eagles) visit Heinz Field. Now we'll see what rookie sensation Ben Roethlisberger (left), who's 4--0 as the starting quarterback with a 69.0 completion percentage, can do in pressure games against the elite teams. Bad omen: Since 1998 the Steelers are a combined 0--4 against New England and Philadelphia.
BY THE NUMBERS
Through seven weeks of the season, playing at home has been anything but a big advantage. Host teams are only eight games over .500 collectively and on pace to have the lowest winning percentage since 1986. At right is how home teams have fared since 1998, when their total winning percentage was .629 (151--89), the highest since 1985.
1. All praise to the Jets' Curtis Martin for moving ahead of Jim Brown into seventh place on the NFL's alltime rushing list on Sunday. But it's a tribute to Brown's greatness that his 104.3 yards per game is 20 yards better than Martin's average.
2. Trust me. Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga isn't hiring Steve Spurrier.
3. Holdout wide receiver Keenan McCardell, acquired by the Chargers in a trade with the Bucs last week, was a good pickup. But players who step on the field after 10 months without contact are high injury risks in the first month back on the job.
Peter King's Monday Morning Quarterback, every week at si.com/football.
SANDRA TENUTO/WIREIMAGE.COM (RICE)