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Familiar surroundings don't help Mornhinweg's plight

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Once again, Terrell Owens insists he's been
misunderstood by Steve Mariucci. And once again, a controversy
didn't stop him from coming up with big plays for the San Francisco
49ers.

Owens caught two second-half touchdown passes from Jeff Garcia
as the 49ers kept Detroit winless, beating the Lions 21-13 on
Sunday.

Still steaming from a midweek war of words with Mariucci over
the coach's play-calling in a loss to Chicago, the Pro Bowl wideout
caught nine passes for 125 yards as San Francisco rallied.

After helping San Francisco to another victory in its surprising
season, Owens said his anger hasn't subsided -- but he also won't
apologize for his words.

"I took a lot of criticism this week, but no matter how bad a
coach makes me look, no matter how bad the media tries to make me
look, as long as I've got family on my side and the Lord on my
side, it doesn't matter," Owens said.

Owens started the controversy on Wednesday when he suggested
Mariucci stopped trying to score with a 15-point lead in the second
half of a loss in Chicago last week. The Bears rallied for an
overtime victory.

Is Garcia-to-Owens the most lethal combination in the NFL?
Statistically, it looks like it -- they've combined for 20 touchdowns in 20
games. That's a pretty lethal connection, if you ask me.

Even after all that went on during the week with Terrell Owens -- he had
criticized the play-calling of coach Steve Mariucci in last week's overtime
loss to the Bears -- Owens came out and produced today. The 49ers were down
and they rallied, so give Owens, Garcia and the 49ers as a team credit for
hanging tough after that tough loss last week.

Some other stellar quarterback-receiver tandems that come to mind: Peyton
Manning-to-Marvin Harrison (Colts) and Brett Favre-to-Antonio Freeman
(Packers).

ESPN.com's Vinny Cerrato was director of player personnel for the
Redskins and 49ers.


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Owens said he thought Mariucci's longtime friendship with Bears
coach Dick Jauron played into the decision. Mariucci fired back on
Thursday, calling Owens' comments "utterly ridiculous."

The two first clashed last season, when Mariucci suspended Owens
for a game following two outlandish touchdown celebrations in a
game at Dallas. Owens later claimed he was only praising God for
his scores.

"Everybody is criticizing me for standing up for just wanting
to win," Owens said Sunday. "If wanting to win real bad is wrong,
then I don't even want to be right."

Mariucci barely mentioned Owens in a short postgame news
conference.

When asked if he thought things would ever be right with
Mariucci, Owens said, "No," then left the locker room.

For now, at least, the 49ers (5-2) have no problems winning
while their coach and best player are openly feuding.

Owens caught a 30-yard TD pass early in the third quarter to put
the 49ers ahead for good. He added a 7-yard scoring catch early in
the fourth quarter to cap an 87-yard drive.

Owens and Mariucci didn't congratulate each other after either
of Owens' TDs. In fact, Owens appeared to avoid the center of the
49ers' sideline all afternoon, though he has been known to stand
away from his teammates for years.

"I don't think their off-field struggles with having a
relationship should affect what we do on the field," Garcia said.
"I thought (Owens) did a great job of fighting through any
negativity in the whole week of practice. ... None of us criticized
T.O. We came out today, and it was business as usual."

Garcia was 26-of-35 for 296 yards and three TDs, but he threw
two interceptions and fumbled while playing with a knee brace.

Mornhinweg, the 49ers' offensive coordinator in the previous
four seasons, got the Lions off to a fast start. But Detroit (0-7)
couldn't find a way to stop Owens and Garcia, who grew into Pro
Bowlers last season under Mornhinweg's tutelage.

"Our opponents remain faceless to us," Mornhinweg said.
"However, you do take as much emotion out of it as you can,
especially up here in San Francisco. Being on the visiting side was
different. The glare was pretty good. I've never been in the
visitors' locker room, ever."

With Mornhinweg jumping and screaming with enthusiasm on the
sideline, the Lions -- who managed 131 total yards to San
Francisco's 427 -- made one final drive from their 9 to midfield.

But Detroit's Larry Foster dropped a pass inside the 5 with 1:20
left. The 49ers, who blew a 15-point lead in the fourth quarter
last week in Chicago, finally took a breath when Charlie Batch's
fourth-down pass fell incomplete.

Along with the huge yardage disparity, San Francisco held the
Lions without an offensive touchdown. Detroit's only TD came on
Robert Bailey's 74-yard interception return on the 49ers' opening
drive.

"We've been depending on our offense to outscore teams,"
Bailey said. "The defense is not getting it done. Other teams are
moving the ball at will against us."

The 49ers finally got rolling with rookie tight end Eric Johnson
catching a 4-yard TD pass 54 seconds before halftime.

Game notes
The Lions, the NFL's last winless team, haven't won in
seven trips to San Francisco since 1975. ... Detroit blocked two
field goal attempts by Jose Cortez -- the second from 19 yards with
1:54 left, setting up the final drive. ... Detroit rookie QB Mike
McMahon played one series in each half. Batch, benched for Ty
Detmer earlier in the season, wasn't pleased. "That's not a
position you go back and forth on. It's not," Batch said.

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