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Rocking rookie

Rams' Holt comes up big on the biggest stage

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Posted: Monday January 31, 2000 08:36 AM

  Torry Holt In addition to his third-quarter touchdown, Holt's first-half receptions were crucial in the Rams' scoring drives. AP

By Ryan Hunt,

ATLANTA -- Mike Martz could see this coming a mile away. He sensed Torry Holt was about to do something special.

Hey, they don't call him an offensive genius for nothing.

"We were talking going into the game that Torry might have eight to 10 catches," said Martz, the Rams' offensive coordinator. "We knew he'd be a big factor with the slants and the quick routes."

And Holt was just that -- catching a game-high seven passes for 109 yards and a touchdown in the Rams' 23-16 win over Tennessee in Super Bowl XXXIV. It set the record for most receiving yards in the Super Bowl by a rookie.

"I was just in the rhythm of the game," Holt said. "I was able to use some of my athletic ability and some of my technique that I learned over the course of the season to get open. Coach [Martz] said if I was able to get open against the single coverage that I would have a big day."

Then again, it was another week, another standout game for one of the more lesser-known cogs of the Rams' offensive arsenal. In the NFC Championship Game, Ricky Proehl caught Tampa Bay by surprise.

The fact that Holt, the Rams' first-round pick this year out of N.C. State, made such an impact wasn't that much of a shock.

But what Martz didn't anticipate was the Rams' troubles in the red zone.

St. Louis doesn't leave points on the field very often. So the fact that the Rams failed to score a touchdown in their first five trips inside the 20 -- the first team in Super Bowl history to achieve the dubious feat -- was particularly disturbing.'s Trev Alberts

"Halfway through the season, coach Dick Vermeil's press conferences showed a change. It wasn't a cockiness. It was a confidence. He had his guys believing they could get it done.

"The Rams are an aggressive offensive team. They want to throw the football down the field. With the Titans starting free safety, Marcus Robertson, out with an injury, they challenged the safeties. And the result was Isaac Bruce's 73-yard touchdown."


So, fittingly, it was Martz's hunch that finally brought an end to their red zone woes. It was Holt's 9-yard touchdown catch on a quick slant that got St. Louis into the end zone for the first time, giving the Rams a 16-0 third-quarter lead.

"The play was a sight adjustment, actually, just like last week," said Martz, comparing Holt's touchdown to Proehl's game-winning reception against the Bucs. "They blitzed the safety on the back side, so we went to the slant. We had a lot of misfires, but that one clicked"

Warner, in fact, missed his first 12 pass attempts inside the red zone.

In the first half alone, he was 19-of-24 for 277 yards between the 20s, but 0 for 11 deep in Titans' territory. Holt's touchdown was his only red zone completion of the day.

"They did a good job down there," Warner said. "We had a couple of shots, but they brought a lot of pressure and didn't allow me to scan the field and find that one-on-one guy."

He did, however, find Holt when it counted.

Holt, who earlier had a touchdown pass batted out of his hands, beat Titans cornerback Dainon Sidney clean off the line of scrimmage, and Warner found Holt in-stride in the end zone.

"I was able to juke him out and make my move," Holt said. "Kurt was patient enough to find me for a touchdown. It something you always dream of. And to have it happen is overwhelming."

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