TAMPA — Pro Football Hall of Famer Bruce Smith had several memorable one-on-one battles with offensive tackles over his playing career. Some of the best came against Patriots left tackle Bruce Armstrong.
“I always enjoyed the matchup of playing against Bruce Armstrong, especially prior to his injury when he blew his knee out, because that was one of the few opportunities that I could go out and be single-blocked for a short period of time during the game,” the former Buffalo Bills defensive lineman said this weekend at Super Bowl XLIII.
“He was just a tremendous athlete. I enjoyed the battles, the competition. He was truly one of the best offensive linemen in that era, prior to him getting hurt. After he got hurt, he wasn’t quite as agile, and as nifty, but he was just a super talent.”
Smith entered the NFL as a first-round draft choice in 1985. Armstrong was a first-round draft choice in 1987, the 23d overall selection.
Armstrong played his entire career with the Patriots (1987-2000), and started all 212 games he played in, making him the franchise’s all-time leader in career starts and games played.