Pace, Holt selected to Pro Bowl

Thursday, December 22, 2005

The offensive lineman's selection deflected criticism from that unit's play in Sunday's loss.

ST. LOUIS -- Orlando Pace's reward for another stellar season, a seventh straight Pro Bowl berth, eased the sting Wednesday of some critical comments directed at the St. Louis Rams' entire offensive line by their interim coach.

Angered by eight false start penalties in a one-point loss to the Eagles, Joe Vitt said Monday that the line was "soft" and that changes would be made this week in practice.

Pace pointed out that the Rams rushed for 178 yards and a 4.9-yard average and did not allow a sack. He also said some members of the line are playing hurt.

"I thought guys went out there and fought," Pace said. "We do have to cut our mistakes. Guys probably shouldn't even be playing, a lot of guys. We're just out there fighting."

Pace and rookie offensive guard Claude Terrell also drew criticism for missing blocks on a crucial botched fourth-and-1 play late in the game that ended up with a 2-yard loss. Vitt said Terrell was responsible for calling the blocking assignments on the left side of the line, and Pace pulled and whiffed on a block.

"We did it right, I made the call, they just dialed up the right defense," Terrell said.

Pace said there was some "miscommunication" on the line.

"It was just one of those situations," he said.

Wide receiver Torry Holt got his fifth overall berth, and kicker Jeff Wilkins was named an alternate for the Rams, the other shining spots in a 5-9 season.

Holt is third in the NFL with 88 receptions for 1,128 yards and a team-high eight touchdowns despite missing two games with a knee injury. He became the second-fastest player in NFL history to reach 600 receptions and has five 100-yard games this season and 38 in his career.

"To be honest I really didn't feel very confident about making the Pro Bowl," Holt said. "With the lack of success we've had as a team, missing the two games, the quarterback changes and stuff like that, to still be able to overcome that make it in is I think a great testament to the reputation I've built."

Pace is in his ninth season and has made the Pro Bowl every season since 2000. His run is tied for fourth in team history behind defensive tackle Merlin Olsen (14), offensive guard Tom Mack (11) and linebacker Les Richter (8).

"It never gets old," he said.

He believes his play has improved from last season, in part because he signed a long-term contract extension in the offseason. The previous two years, he played on one-year deals as the team's franchise player.

"It's just another thing you don't have to worry about," Pace said. "Sometimes when you're going through a contract dispute you can say it really doesn't bother you but in the back of your mind, when you're by yourself, it kind of eats at you."

Wilkins has 101 points, his fifth career 100-point season. He's 23-for-25 on field goals, with both misses outside the 40, and has 307 consecutive extra points -- the second longest in NFL history.

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