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Bruce adds to legacy by having a big night
By Jim Thomas
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
If Thursday was wide receiver Isaac Bruce’s final home game as a Ram, he went out in style. With an 8-yard catch with 9 minutes, 53 seconds remaining in the second quarter, Bruce passed Hall of Famer James Lofton for third-place on the NFL’s career list for reception yards. Lofton had 14,004 yards. After catching seven passes for 87 yards against Pittsburgh, Bruce has 14,070 yards.
“I’m very grateful,” Bruce said following the Rams’ 41-24 loss. “I thank God for it. He’s been with me through this long run. I thank every quarterback that I’ve played with in this league, especially Marc Bulger, who made it happen for me (Thursday).
Bruce caught a 12-yard touchdown pass early in the second quarter to give the Rams a 14-10 lead. That play put Bruce into a five-way tie for 13th on the NFL’s career list for touchdown receptions, with 84. He tied Mark Clayton, Irving Fryar, Tommy McDonald and Andre Rison.
And with a 21-yard reception in the third quarter — his final catch of the night — Bruce tied Art Monk for sixth place on the NFL’s career reception list with 940 catches.
“Isaac played very, very well,” coach Scott Linehan said. “He made some real tough catches, and kept his feet in bounds on a couple sideline plays that were big. You guys know Isaac can play.”
High, low special teams
The Rams got kickoff returns of 43 and 49 yards from rookie Derek Stanley to set up a pair of touchdowns in the first half. Stanley handled kickoff returns, with Brandon Williams returning punts. Williams had missed the past two games with a sprained ankle.
But the special teams unit also was snookered by Pittsburgh on a fake punt. On fourth and 7 from the Pittsburgh 46 in the first quarter, Steelers punter Daniel Sepulveda took the snap and threw a pass over the middle to a wide-open Najeh Davenport, who had lined up as the "up-back" — or blocking back — for Sepulveda. Davenport rambled 32 yards for a first down, and the Steelers ended up getting a field goal for a 10-7 lead.
Strongside linebacker Brandon Chillar, who registered a first-quarter sack, suffered a right ankle injury later in the first half. He was replaced by rookie Quinton Culberson, who made his NFL debut at linebacker. Culberson had played only on special teams in his previous 12 games. Chillar returned to the lineup at the start of the second half.
Meanwhile, Rams backup tight end Joe Klopfenstein suffered a blow to the head in the first half and did not return.
Owens at fullback
Brian Leonard was in uniform Thursday, but after absorbing a blow to the head Sunday against Green Bay, he was not used as a lead blocker against Pittsburgh. Richard Owens handled those duties, with Leonard used as a single-back in passing situations.
The Rams have placed RB Travis Minor on the injured reserve list because of a sprained ankle. He was replaced on the active roster by Rich Alexis, who was with the Rams in training camp but was released when the Rams claimed Antonio Pittman on waivers.
Alexis was among the seven Rams on the pregame inactive list. The others: CB Eric Bassey, WR Marques Hagans, DE Trevor Johnson, C-G Nick Leckey, OT Mark LeVoir, and OT Rob Petitti. ... Attending Thursday's game was NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
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