Let’s just go ahead and end the suspense right from the get-go. Jerry Rice, who most believe is the greatest wide receiver in history, is the all-time leader in receiving yards and receiving touchdowns in the NFL playoffs and it’s not even close in both categories.
Now, one of the reasons why Rice is the all-time postseason leader in these categories could simply be because he’s appeared in more NFL playoff games than any other wide receiver in history. But let’s get real. Jerry Rice, who’s also the all-time regular-season leader in receiving yards (22,895) and touchdowns (197), really was just that damn good.
Oh, by the way, those 197 receiving touchdowns are part of another NFL record held by the Hall of Famer. Rice, who played 20 seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, Oakland Raiders, and Seattle Seahawks, has scored more touchdowns than any player in NFL history with 208.
But even though we know Jerry Rice holds the No. 1 spot in each category listed below, we’ll still go ahead and give you the top five in each. (All stats are current through Super Bowl 56.)
Jerry Rice has played in more NFL playoff games than any wide receiver in history
Jerry Rice appeared in 29 NFL playoff games over the course of his career, 23 with the Niners, five with the Raiders, and one with the Seahawks, a game in which he didn’t even record a single reception. Those 29 appearances are the most by any wide receiver in NFL history and the third-most of any player. Only Tom Brady and Adam Vinatieri have appeared in more. Stephen Gostkowski has also appeared in 29.
As far as wide receivers go (by the way, we’re counting tight ends in all of this as well), Rice is obviously No. 1 on the list and is seven games clear of second place, a spot currently held by five players.
- Jerry Rice: 29 games — San Francisco 49ers, Oakland Raiders, Seattle Seahawks
- Cliff Branch: 22 games — Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders
- Billy Joe DuPree: 22 games — Dallas Cowboys
- Pete Metzelaars: 22 games — Seattle Seahawks, Buffalo Bills, Detroit Lions (he also played for the Carolina Panthers for one season in 1995 but did not appear in the NFL playoffs that year)
- Drew Pearson: 22 games — Dallas Cowboys
- Rob Gronkowski: 22 games — New England Patriots, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jerry Rice has the most receiving yards in NFL playoff history by a wide margin
In those 29 NFL playoff games, which includes four appearances in the Super Bowl, three with the 49ers and one with the Raiders, Jerry Rice caught 151 passes (another NFL record) for 2,245 yards, which is 803 yards more than the man in second place, Julian Edelman. Here’s a look at the top five.
- Jerry Rice: 29 games — 2,245 receiving yards
- Julian Edelman: 19 games — 1,442 receiving yards
- Rob Gronkowski: 22 games — 1,389 receiving yards
- Michael Irvin: 16 games — 1,315 receiving yards
- Cliff Branch: 22 games — 1,289 receiving yards
Rice also has the most receiving touchdowns in the postseason
Jerry Rice also holds a commanding lead in receiving touchdowns scored in the NFL playoffs with 22, eight of which came in his three Super Bowl victories with the 49ers. Gronk currently sits in second place with 15, while John Stallworth is currently in solo third with a dozen. But right on his heels is Travis Kelce, who is now tied for third with 11. And this top five is actually a top nine as five are tied for fifth with 10.
- Jerry Rice: 29 games — 22 touchdown receptions
- Rob Gronkowski: 22 games — 15 touchdown receptions
- John Stallworth: 18 games — 12 touchdown receptions
- Travis Kelce: 15 games — 12 touchdown receptions
- Fred Biletnikoff: 19 games — 10 touchdown receptions
- Larry Fitzgerald: 9 games — 10 touchdown receptions
- Antonio Freeman: 16 games — 10 touchdown receptions
- Randy Moss: 15 games — 10 touchdown receptions
- Hines Ward: 18 games — 10 touchdown receptions
Stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference