Rookie Holt has big game in Rams' biggest game

The hard knocks never got to Torry Holt.

In the NFC championship game, the St. Louis Rams' rookie wide receiver twice had to leave the game. The first time, it was bruised ribs; the second time, it was a shoulder injury. Neither kept him out, or from playing a major role in the Rams' 23-16 Super Bowl victory over the Tennessee Titans Sunday night.

"Oh man, I'm hurting right now,'' Holt said. "On a scale of one to 10, it was a six maybe. But I had to suck it up.''

Holt missed Wednesday's practice leading up to the Super Bowl, and the Rams kept backup wide receiver Chris Thomas active on Friday just in case Holt, who had been listed as probable, couldn't go. Just a precaution.

But he also had a cortisone shot. And after the game he couldn't lift his right arm above waist level.

"I had to get a lot of treatment,'' Holt said. "Luckily, the training staff got me ready to play and I was able to come up with some big things.''

The sixth pick of the draft, and not Isaac Bruce, has been quarterback Kurt Warner's go-to guy throughout the playoffs. The Super Bowl was another big day for Holt, who caught seven passes for 109 yards in the Rams' 23-16 victory over the Tennessee Titans on Sunday night.

"I was just into my game,'' Holt said. "I was just vibing, I was into the rhythm, and was able to use my athletic ability to get open.''

Holt caught six passes for 100 yards in the first half and then scored the game's first touchdown on a 9-yard reception midway through the third quarter that put the Rams ahead 16-0.

On the touchdown, Holt beat the one-on-one coverage of nickel back Dainon Sidney, breaking free after some jukes at the line of scrimmage.

In the first half, Holt's work was crucial to all three of Jeff Wilkins' field goals. The only thing lacking was a touchdown pass, but he wasn't alone. Despite Warner's 277 yards passing, the Rams led only 9-0 on the three short field goals.

Holt beat Blaine Bishop for a 32-yard catch on the drive that produced a 27-yarder by Wilkins for the game's opening score. He had gains of 13 and 15 yards to help set up Wilkins' second field goal, a 29-yarder in the second quarter.

In a span of three plays on the third field goal drive of the half, Warner hit Holt for first-down catches of 16 and 18 yards.

Holt was the top player on the Rams' draft board, regardless of position, and he had a solid rookie season with 52 receptions, a 15.2-yard average and six touchdowns.

He caught a touchdown pass in each of his first two career starts. He went without a score the next eight games, during which he also dropped more than his share of balls. He concluded the regular season with two 100-plus yard receiving games.

Martz said Holt hit a wall, mentally and physically, in the second half of the season, and then got back to speed for the playoffs.

"I think like a lot of rookie players, after about Game 11 he was looking for a bowl game or something,'' Martz said. "Once the season ended, he realized this thing was going to continue to go and that he belongs in this mix of receivers.''

In the first two playoff games, Holt totaled 13 catches for 133 yards.

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