A jolt, a bolt ... Must be Holt

Thursday, October 30, 2003

ST. LOUIS -- Torry Holt's latest game, seven catches for 174 yards and a touchdown at Pittsburgh, was just another ho-hum day at the office.

The St. Louis Rams' wide receiver leads the NFL with 52 receptions, and has been unstoppable the last month. In three of the last four games, Holt has topped 100 yards receiving. In two of them, he's topped double digits in receptions.

Quarterback Marc Bulger said Holt, half of the Rams' dual receiving threat along with Isaac Bruce, is the best in the NFL.

"There's Marvin Harrison and Randy Moss and all those guys, and they're great receivers and you don't like to compare to other teams," Bulger said. "But if I had to pick right now, I'd take Torry."

So would coach Mike Martz, who noted he's obviously biased.

"He's technically outstanding right now, just absolutely at the top of his game," Martz said. "He's in and out of things really sharp, he's under control, he knows how to set up corners and he can go deep -- all the things you'd want him to do."

Holt has a career-best eight touchdowns in seven games, exceeding his previous best of seven in 2001, heading into Sunday's game against the 49ers. He's averaging 15 yards per catch on the year, and the last two weeks it's a gaudy 22 yards.

His precise route-running has helped Bulger fine-tune his touch on the long ball, the young quarterback's only weakness early in the season. Against the Steelers, Bulger threw 11 passes that went for 20 or more yards, and the work of Holt and Bruce helped open up the middle of the field for their less elusive teammates.

"We're just on the same page right now," Holt said. "He's knowing what I'm thinking, I'm knowing what he's thinking and he knows where I'm going to be and I know where he's going to put the ball.

"That's the relationship you've got to have, and it will continue to grow."

Holt has six touchdown catches the last month, helping the Rams (5-2) resurrect their reputation as the Greatest Show on Turf. During their four-game winning streak, St. Louis has scored 30 or more points each time.

"It's a whole new season, it's a different team, different guys running the routes, different guys throwing the football, different guys blocking and different guys tackling," Holt said. "But putting up those points is definitely great. That's what we're used to."

Holt was a first-round draft pick in 1999 and with 778 yards already this year, second only to Moss (791), is closing in on his fourth straight 1,000-yard receiving season. He's always benefited from extra attention given to Bruce, long among the premier wide receivers in the NFL, but now the pendulum is likely to swing in the other direction.

"Every guy wants to be considered the best at his position and I've been working hard the last five years to try to get to this point," Holt said. "Now that I'm here I just want to maintain it and be consistent and do what I can do."

Holt said the differences in his game this season are subtle. Just like previous seasons, he works out at Rams Park on his days off, but he's also paying closer attention to minor details like recognizing coverages faster.

"Physically, I can compete with anybody in the NFL," Holt said. "It's just a matter of me knowing how they're going to play me, and knowing how I can get open."

Bulger has only 13 career starts, but he's noticed the change.

"He's always had great talent, but he might just understand the whole scheme of things now," Bulger said. "I think just the experience of playing in the league this long is showing."

Plus, Bruce keeps the defenses busy on the other side of the field. Bruce has 39 catches for 599 yards, a 15.4-yard average, and only one touchdown.

"He's not second fiddle to anybody and never will be," Martz said. "He's always got so much attention and now the thing is going to have to even up a little bit.

"It has a tendency to swing back in the other direction, where Isaac will have those 13-catch games."

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