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Holt may be NFL's top WR
St. Louis Rams' Torry Holt, left, tips the ball en route to a 67-yard touchdown catch from Rams quarterback Mark Bulger in the fourth quarter as Seattle Seahawks' Lofa Tatupu comes from behind in an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 15, 2006. The Seahawks won 30-28. (AP Photo/Bill Boyce)

PHILADELPHIA (MCT) - When he began his quest to extract more money from the Eagles following Super Bowl XXXIX, Terrell Owens argued that he should be among the top three highest-paid wide receivers in the National Football League. He wanted to be up there with Randy Moss and Marvin Harrison. He wanted the respect that goes with the dollars. He wanted recognition.

But one player who rarely gets mentioned in conversations about the best receivers currently in the league just might be the best receiver in the league: Torry Holt.

Last week, in his 116th game for the St. Louis Rams, Holt became the fastest player in league history to gain 10,000 receiving yards when he caught eight passes for 154 yards in a bitter loss to division rival Seattle.

The achievement marked a career goal. When he entered the league as a wiry rookie from North Carolina State in 1999, Holt set the 10,000-yard mark as a target. Never did he imagine he would reach it in just his ninth season.

"I don't want to sound selfish or conceited, but I'm really, really excited about moving into the 10,000-yard club,'' Holt told reporters after the Rams' 30-28 loss to Seattle.

And Holt should be. It is an elite club, led by the spectacular Jerry Rice, whose 22,895 career receiving yards are nearly 8,000 more than his next closest competitor, Tim Brown. Owens got into the club last season, his 10th in the league. Moss also got in during the Raiders' next-to-last game last season, his 140th game as a pro. Harrison hit 10,000 in the Colts' second-to-last game in 2003, his 122nd career game.

After gaining 788 yards as a rookie in 1999, Holt has never finished with less than 1,300 yards in a season. Last year, he became the first player in league history with six straight seasons of at least 1,300 receiving yards, and he is on pace for a seventh this season with 526 yards in six games.

Before the 2003 season, Holt signed a seven-year contract extension worth a reported $42 million, including an $11 million signing bonus.

Clearly, the argument of who is the best will continue. It's an ongoing debate, but Holt is as solid a top-notch receiver as there is in the league. He has great hands, evidenced by the amazing catch he made last week against the Seahawks.

With the Rams trailing by six points with less than two minutes to play, Holt got away from Seahawks safety Michael Boulware and got his right hand on a deep pass from Marc Bulger. He then reached back and pulled in the ball for a 67-yard touchdown that put St. Louis up by one.

"That's why we call him 'Big Game,' " Rams wide receiver Kevin Curtis said afterward. "It's unbelievable, that play he made. It was something else.''

Said Bulger: "Great players do things like that. It was just a great play by Torry.''

While Holt has always put up big yardage numbers, he has only finished two seasons in double digits in touchdowns, and he has never had more than 12. This season, he leads all receivers with seven, putting him on pace for 18.

Maybe if Holt has that many scores this season, he will be mentioned with Harrison, Moss and Owens as the best receivers in the game. He certainly deserves to be part of the conversation.

(c) 2006, The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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