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  • Bruce Continues to Shine against Mora

    Monday, September 20, 2004

    By Nick Wagoner
    Staff Writer

    Through the years, Rams’ receiver Isaac Bruce has made a habit of picking on the Falcons with big game after big game. Sunday was no different, except this time Torry Holt, Bruce’s partner in crime joined in the fun.

    Bruce finished with 102 yards on eight catches, only to be topped by Holt’s nine catches for 121 yards and a touchdown. Earlier this week, Atlanta coach Jim Mora called Bruce his No. 1 nemesis, as Mora had seen Bruce light up the ***** when Mora was defensive coordinator there.

    The rivalry between Bruce and Mora is friendly and both have joked about it in the past. Bruce and Mora had a few close encounters, including an animated discussion after an illegal contact penalty was called on Atlanta in the second quarter.

    Bruce’s third catch of the game gave him 700 for his career, putting him in 18th place on the career list. It was Bruce’s 35th 100-yard receiving game of his career, his third against the Falcons, and the fifth time he topped the century mark against Falcons’ head coach Jim Mora as his performance also gave him back-to-back 100-yard games for the seventh time, including his streak of six consecutive such games in 1995.

    Holt’s big day was his 26th 100-yard game and his third against the Falcons. He made a highlight-reel catch to help pull the Rams within 17-14 in the third quarter. On first-and-10 from Atlanta’s 33, Marc Bulger lofted a pass to the left corner, where Holt outleaped and outmuscled the defender for the score. Holt fell just shy of a second straight 100-yard game, as he had 96 receiving yards against Arizona in week one.

    INJURY REPORT: St. Louis left Atlanta relatively injury-free. Cornerback DeJuan Groce sprained his right knee in the first quarter, but that was the extent of the hits the Rams took to their health, according to coach Mike Martz.

    INACTIVITY: The Rams seven inactives Sunday were quarterback Jeff Smoker (third quarterback), cornerback Travis Fisher, defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy, linebacker Trev Faulk, guards Tom Nutten, Blaine Saipaia and Darnell Alford and receiver Mike Furrey.

    Wide receiver Kevin Curtis returned to the active roster after battling shin splints that left him on the inactive list in week one.

    Notable inactives for Atlanta included first-round choice DeAngelo Hall, who was out with a hip injury. Kevin Mathis started in Hall’s place. Former Rams’ linebacker Jamie Duncan was also inactive because of a pectoral injury.

    RING IT UP: Atlanta introduced its “Ring of Honor” on Sunday, honoring four of the greats from its past. Running back William Andrews, quarterback Steve Bartkowski and linebackers Tommy Nobis and Jessie Tuggle were honored in a halftime ceremony.

    SHIVERS BACK: Safety Jason Shivers, the Rams’ fifth-round selection in this year’s NFL Draft cleared waivers and was brought back to St. Louis on Friday. Shivers was released so the Rams could move linebacker Tony Newson to the active roster.

    Newson’s presence became important after Trev Faulk re-injured his hamstring, leaving St. Louis with just four healthy linebackers. Teams had

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  • RamWraith
    Failure to gain a few inches is costly in loss
    by RamWraith
    By Bill Coats
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Monday, Sep. 20 2004

    The Rams' 34-17 loss at the Georgia Dome truly was a game of inches.
    Specifically, the 3 inches that separated rallying St. Louis from a first down
    late in the third quarter and stripped away its building momentum.

    After trailing 14-0 early in the second period and 17-7 at the half, the Rams
    had trimmed Atlanta's edge to 17-14 and were driving for the lead. A pass from
    quarterback Marc Bulger to wide receiver Torry Holt on the left sideline made
    it second down and a quarter of a foot to go at the Falcons 25-yard line.

    Bulger took a shot at wideout Isaac Bruce in the end zone on second down that
    fell incomplete. On third down, running back Marshall Faulk tried to slip
    through the left side but was stuffed by tackle Ed Jasper for a 2-yard loss.
    Jeff Wilkins drilled a 48-yard field goal, but the Falcons had retained a share
    of the lead at 17-17.

    "Sometimes those plays go overlooked, but that was really a pivotal play,"
    Atlanta coach Jim Mora said. "Momentum had shifted a little bit, it had gotten
    a little bit quiet. Our team did a great job of rallying."

    From that point on, the Falcons dominated. They ran 26 plays, producing 162
    yards, two touchdowns and a field goal; conversely, the Rams had just nine
    offensive attempts and netted a mere 12 yards. And, of course, zero points.

    Rams coach Mike Martz agreed Monday that the failed third-down play blunted his
    outfit's charge. "It did," he said. "And had we not lost the yardage on that
    play, we probably would've gone for it on fourth down."

    Martz said he decided against a quarterback sneak because in a similar
    situation earlier, the Falcons had "covered all three down linemen and put the
    two linebackers inside." But they changed their alignment, and Faulk had
    nowhere to go.

    "I was surprised, to be honest with you," Martz said. "The play that we ran, we
    felt . . . we had a real good shot at it."


    Bruce tops NFL

    If Bruce maintains his pace, he'll put together one of the most productive
    seasons in his 11-year career. After two games, Bruce leads the league in
    catches (17) and is third in yardage (214). That projects to 136 receptions for
    1,712 yards over 16 games.

    Bruce, 31, was at his best in 1995, the Rams' first season in St. Louis, when
    he grabbed 119 balls for 1,781 yards.

    Right behind Bruce is teammate Torry Holt, who led the NFL in receptions and
    yards last year. Holt is second in catches (16) and yards (217), which projects
    to 128 receptions for 1,736 yards.
    ...
    -09-21-2004, 05:21 AM
  • RamDez
    Five things to watch
    by RamDez
    Five things to watch
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Friday, Jan. 14 2005

    Dunn and Duckett

    There's a lot more to Atlanta's league-leading rushing attack than QB
    Michael Vick. With 1,106 yards, the underrated Warrick
    Dunn
    finished with his third 1,000-yard season in eight NFL campaigns.
    Slight in stature at 5 feet 9, 180, Dunn isn't afraid to take it between the
    tackles but still has breakaway speed.

    "He's capable of going the distance at any time, and we know that," Rams coach
    Mike Martz said. "There are very few backs in the league who can
    really do that."

    T.J. Duckett is the Falcons' 254-pound change of pace. Although he
    missed two late-season games with minor knee surgery, Duckett played more as
    the season progressed and has become the Falcons' goal-line back. After taking
    a 31-17 lead over the Rams in September, Atlanta pounded the St. Louis defense
    with Duckett, who had eight carries for 43 yards in the fourth quarter.

    On the receiving end


    Atlanta had the league's 30th-ranked passing offense, and only Pittsburgh had
    fewer passing attempts than the Falcons' 395 in the regular season. The Falcons
    didn't have a wide receiver with more than 45 catches, or more than 575 yards.

    Peerless Price hasn't come close to fulfilling the potential he
    displayed at Buffalo two seasons ago. Former Chicago Bear Dez White
    has speed but never has posted big numbers in five NFL seasons. Some feel the
    team's No. 3 receiver, tall and rangy Brian Finnernan, is the
    Falcons' most reliable wide receiver.

    But put the three of them together, and they total just 1,203 yards, or less
    than either Torry Holt (1,372) or Isaac Bruce
    (1,292) of the Rams.

    The Crumpler factor

    The Falcons' go-to receiver is tight end Alge Crumpler, a two-time
    Pro Bowler. Even though he missed Atlanta's final two regular-season games with
    a knee injury, Crumpler set the franchise mark for catches by a tight end with
    48 this season. Atlanta coach Jim Mora says he has the best hands of
    anyone he's seen other than former Minnesota great Cris Carter.

    No doubt, the Falcons were taking notes last week when Seattle TE Itula
    Mili
    caught six passes for 98 yards against the Rams. If totally healthy,
    Crumpler represents a huge challenge for Rams linebackers, particularly
    Tommy Polley, but also strong safety Adam Archuleta. When
    the teams met in September, Crumpler had a 33-yard reception late in the third
    quarter, setting up the go-ahead TD for Atlanta in what was then a 17-17 game.

    "The tight end is such a factor (blocking) in the running game, then all of a
    sudden he's downfield, with all of the...
    -01-15-2005, 02:46 AM
  • RamDez
    Rams, Falcons Renew Matchup
    by RamDez
    Wednesday, September 15, 2004


    By Nick Wagoner
    Staff Writer


    Isaac Bruce remembers Atlanta well. It wasn’t so long ago that he played the Falcons twice a year in one of the better NFC Western Division rivalries.

    After the Houston Texans entered the league, the divisions were realigned into four groups. Since Atlanta doesn’t exactly border the Pacific Ocean, the Falcons were the odd team out of the NFC West. They joined Tampa Bay, New Orleans and Carolina in the newly-formed NFC South.

    That move promptly ended St. Louis’ rivalry with Atlanta and the Saints. Beginning this week, though, the Rams get to renew old ties. St. Louis (1-0) travels to the Georgia Dome for its second game of the season against the Falcons (1-0).

    WR Isaac Bruce said Wednesday that he is excited to play Atlanta again after an extended absence.

    “I think those were some of the best games I ever played in,” Bruce said. “They were so close. We had fans that go down and they have fans that come up this way. In the past, we’d see each other twice a year and we’d kind of get tired of looking at each other. Inside this locker room and their locker room, I’m sure they are looking at it like one of the biggest games of the year.”

    The Rams own the series lead with a 46-23-2 record since the teams first met in 1966. In the most recent meeting in 2003, St. Louis won 36-0 on Monday Night Football. That game was just one of the debacles the Falcons suffered through last season without quarterback Michael Vick. The difficult campaign led to a changing of the guard, as Atlanta replaced Dan Reeves with Jim Mora Jr.

    Mora Jr. is the son of Jim Mora Sr., who coached New Orleans and Indianapolis. He was the defensive coordinator in San Francisco before taking the Atlanta job. He said he hasn’t had the opportunity to appreciate any kind of rivalry between Atlanta and St. Louis.

    “I don’t know much about it,” Mora Jr. said. “Is it a rivalry? I just don’t feel that. I haven’t been here long enough to know who our rivals are. I haven’t felt it yet.”

    ROSTER SHUFFLE CONTINUES: The Rams brought back tight end Mike Brake as a member of the practice squad. Brake took the vacant spot left by cornerback Dwight Anderson when he was moved to the active roster.

    Anderson moved on to the roster after the release of linebacker Dedrick Roper and tackle Greg Randall.

    In another move, St. Louis released quarterback Russ Michna from the practice squad. Replacing Michna is Drew Wahlroos, a linebacker from Colorado. Wahlroos was a three-year starter for the Buffaloes, where he earned All-Big 12 Conference honors. He spent part of the 2003 training camp with Philadelphia before playing for the Amsterdam Admirals in NFL Europe. He spent this year’s training camp with Tennessee. The Titans released him on July 27.

    The practice squad now has...
    -09-15-2004, 11:08 PM
  • RamWraith
    Fiercely competitive Bruce off to best start ever
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Salter
    Associated Press
    10/14/2004

    One of the last of the original Rams is showing no signs of age.

    Isaac Bruce began the season with four consecutive 100-yard games, becoming the first NFL player ever to do so at the start of the season. The streak ended in Sunday's improbable come-from-behind 33-27 overtime win in Seattle. Still, Bruce led the Rams with six catches for 78 yards, including a 27-yard catch-and-run that set up the game-tying field goal, rallying the Rams from a 17-point deficit in the final six minutes.

    Not bad for a receiver who turns 32 next month and who broke in with the Rams -- the Los Angeles Rams -- in 1994, a year before they moved to the Midwest. Only Bruce and punter Sean Landeta remain from that team.

    Bruce on Thursday waved off any questions about his strong start. But his teammates and coaches are impressed. Coach Mike Martz cited a strict offseason workout that keeps Bruce in prime condition.

    "Just the way he works," receiver Shaun McDonald said. "He's out there working like he hasn't caught a pass in the NFL. I think that's what keeps him on top."

    Bruce is the Rams' all-time leading receiver in all major categories -- receptions (726), receiving yards (10,987) and touchdowns (69). Already this season he has moved passed Terance Mathis, Gary Clark and Keenan McCardell into 17th place on the all-time receptions list. He's also moved past Stanley Morgan and Clark to 13th place on the career receiving yards list.

    The four-time All Pro has 38 catches for 528 yards, both second in the league. His 13.8-yard average per catch is also among the league leaders.

    Martz said Bruce's fierce competitiveness sets him apart.

    "He's probably as good a competitor as I've ever been around and it's never wavered," Martz said. "He just has such great passion for playing this game and playing that position and winning."

    Bruce has also been helped by the added attention the Rams' other Pro Bowl receiver -- Torry Holt -- gets, especially after Holt caught 117 passes for 1,696 yards in 2003. In fact, Holt caught more catches for more yards than Bruce each of the previous three seasons. This season, Holt has 30 catches for 363 yards.

    Bruce began the season with nine catches for 112 yards in a 17-10 win over Arizona. He had eight catches for 102 yards in a 34-17 loss at Atlanta, and eight for 134 yards in a 28-25 overtime loss to New Orleans. He caught seven passes for 100 yards in a 24-14 win over San Francisco.

    NOTES: Martz said guard Chris Dishman, special teams standout Trev Faulk and defensive lineman Tyoka Jackson are all questionable for Monday night's game against Tampa Bay. Dishman sprained his right knee Sept. 26 in a 28-25 overtime loss to New Orleans. Jackson and Faulk have hamstring injuries. ......
    -10-15-2004, 05:12 AM
  • RamDez
    Bruce showing that career has gone deep
    by RamDez
    Bruce showing that career has gone deep
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Thursday, Sep. 16 2004

    Georgia Frontiere made a rare practice appearance Wednesday afternoon at Rams
    Park. She spoke briefly with coach Mike Martz and president of football
    operations Jay Zygmunt. But when practice was over, guess who she walked off
    the field with? Why, Isaac Bruce.

    Some around the NFL seemingly have forgotten that Bruce exists. But not the
    Rams' team owner.

    "She's always been great to me," Bruce said. "She's been great to my family
    from the first day I met her in Los Angeles. After I was drafted, she sent my
    mother a bouquet of flowers, and told my mother she'd take care of me. And
    she's held true to that."

    Bruce has held up his end of the bargain. Four Pro Bowls; 1996 NFL leader in
    reception yards; two-time team MVP; game-winning catch in Super Bowl XXXIV;
    career club leader in both catches and reception yards.

    He's steadily moving up the NFL's career charts as well, ranking 15th in
    reception yards (10,573) and 19th in receptions (697).

    "Yeah, (the numbers) mean a lot," Bruce said. "Especially once I'm done
    playing. But I don't see that happening any time soon."

    At times, coaches, scouts, fans, and the media have short memories. Some would
    tell you that NFL stands for "Not For Long." But for those thinking Bruce, at
    age 31, was approaching the twilight of his career, he delivered this simple
    message through his play last Sunday against Arizona: Think again.

    Bruce caught nine passes for 112 yards against the Cardinals, including the
    game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter.

    "It was a whole lot of fun," Bruce said. "It was pretty much how we scripted
    it. It put us a game up in the division. We come out and start off on a winning
    note, and expect a carryover."

    For the first time since his hamstring injury years (1997-1998), Bruce dipped
    below 1,000 yards receiving last season. An ankle injury cost him one game, and
    limited him in the regular-season finale against Detroit.

    With Torry Holt seemingly becoming more entrenched as the Rams' go-to wide
    receiver, there were questions about whether Bruce's skills were in decline.
    Not to the extent of questions concerning teammate Marshall Faulk, but
    questions nonetheless.

    "Him and Marshall, I get a kick out of people saying they're not the same, and
    they've lost speed," Atlanta coach Jim Mora said Wednesday, on a conference
    call with St. Louis reporters. "They haven't lost anything. They're great
    athletes. They're great competitors. They take care of their bodies." ...
    -09-15-2004, 11:08 PM
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