Bruce grabs spotlight with key catches
October 02, 2006
On a day when Isaac Bruce moved into the No. 10 spot among NFL pass-catchers, he made the No. 1 and No. 1A grabs for the Rams in their 41-34 nail-biter over the Detroit Lions.
A 14-yard catch from quarterback Marc Bulger in the first quarter Sunday was the 828th reception of Bruce's 13-year career, pushing him past Larry Centers into the top 10 on the league's career list. But a pair of Bruce's catches in the last 2 minutes were more significant in boosting the Rams' record to 3-1.
The Lions led 34-33 when Bruce latched onto Bulger's short toss to the right side and slipped into the end zone. The 5-yard touchdown - his first score of the season - made it 39-34 with 1 minute, 56 seconds left, and then Bulger found Bruce over the middle for a 2-point conversion that provided the final margin in the win against the Lions and Mike Martz, the Rams' former head coach.
"I know Coach Martz, and this was a big game to me," Bruce said. "It was a good time to get the first" touchdown.
Bruce had been relatively quiet in the Rams' first three games under Martz's successor, Scott Linehan. Bruce had collected 13 catches, seven fewer than fellow wide receiver Torry Holt.
But with the Lions deploying their top cornerback, Dre' Bly, to shadow Holt, Bruce exploited the strategy. He collected 100 yards on seven catches, both season highs.
"It's like, pick your poison," said Holt, who added 102 yards on six grabs. "If you're going to double (team) me, then he's going to kill you. If you double him, then I'm going to have an opportunity."
Bulger said, "When you have that, it's a nice luxury. You can't take away both; it's impossible."
Holt holds the franchise record for games with 100 or more receiving yards, with 41. Bruce has 40.
"I'm happy for Isaac," Linehan said. "He's like all the other guys, just hanging in there through all the transitions. They're just trying to see how they fit in and what we're trying to get done."
The Rams had not produced more than 18 points in a game before unloading on Detroit. For the second week in succession, they established season bests in total yards (427) and passing yards (328), and seem to be getting in sync with Linehan's offense.
"I think we're just going to continue to get better and better each week out," guard Adam Timmerman said. "I don't know if it's rhythm or timing or what it is, but it's starting to roll now, and that's a great sign."
For more information on the Isaac Bruce Foundation call 314-369-4074.