Bruce hauls 'em in
December 25, 2006

No time for interviews, Rams wide receiver Isaac Bruce said after Sunday's 37-31 overtime win. He had to hustle to the airport to catch a flight.

Which seemed appropriate after Bruce flew all over the field against the Washington Redskins. "He had a great game," fellow wideout Kevin Curtis said. "You wouldn't think the guy's on year 13; you'd think it was three or four."

Critics have hinted that Bruce, 34, has lost a step or two. He should have silenced some of them, at least, by collecting nine catches for 148 yards and a touchdown Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome. Those marked team highs for the day, and season highs for Bruce.

For the year, Bruce has 70 receptions for 1,042 yards the eighth time he has topped 1,000. He boosted his career totals to 883 catches and 13,310 yards, both No. 7 in NFL history.

"Unbelievable ... he defies Father Time," coach Scott Linehan said. "There are a lot of guys that don't have it anymore ... (but) it's phenomenal how he's able to get so open at his age. That's why he's a Hall of Famer, in my opinion."

The Redskins deployed a cornerback and a safety to shadow Torry Holt, the Rams' leading receiver and a recent Pro Bowl selectee. When the other safety dropped down for run support, a single defender was left to take on Bruce.

That's a matchup the Rams were happy to exploit, quarterback Marc Bulger said.

"That's why I just kept going at him," Bulger explained. "Maybe that's the perception around the league, that you can play one-on-one with him. I think (the Vikings) will be helping out with him now" in next Sunday's regular-season finale at Minnesota.

The Rams trailed 7-0 when Bulger found Bruce in the back of the end zone from 10 yards. The officials initially ruled that Bruce was bobbling the ball when he crossed the end line, but the Rams challenged and the call was over-ruled.

Bruce broke free for a 43-yard grab over the middle as the Rams scored again on their next series to move in front 14-7. Later, he snared 9- and 15-yard catches on an 87-yard fourth-quarter march to a field goal and a 31-28 lead.

"Isaac is a guy that's consistently shown up year in and year out," running back Steven Jackson said. "I don't think his play has gone down. To see defenses have to focus on him late in his career like this, it's something I want to strive for."

By Bill Coats

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