Seahawks 3 – Rams 20
Seattle and St. Louis games have been pretty one-sided streaks as of late. St. Louis beat Seattle three times in 2004, including the wild card game in the playoffs. Since then, Seattle has owned the Rams, winning 10 straight games. The streak has been good because St. Louis is the only place Seattle has been able to win on the road as of late.
A lot has changed for both teams since their last meeting. Sam Bradford looks like Charlie Brown in his helmet, but he’s been playing like a number one pick for the Rams so far. Seattle dialed up the pressure on him Sunday afternoon, and it had an effect on the rookie. Given time, Bradford was accurate and deadly. After getting hit, he was a lot less accurate and hurried his throws.
The Rams offensive line and defense are better too. Overall, they look like a team that is on the upswing. They have problems, as all teams do, but on this day, the Seahawks were unable to exploit anything thanks to their own weaknesses.
Play of the Game:
I’m going to go with the busted fake field goal by the Seahawks. This is because they had the momentum up to that point. I’m all for aggressiveness, but sometimes you have to take the points. The field goal attempt was 51 yards, but you’re looking at the final minutes of the half. For the second game in a row, the Seahawks went into the locker room at halftime having missed an opportunity at points. And for what, a trick play that was not well run and did nothing for the Seahawks? Was it supposed to be a run or a pass? I’ve watching it way too many times and I’m still not sure.
1. Run defense – Stephen Jackson is an overrated punk bad ass wannabe and has never had a 100-yard rushing game against the Seahawks. Think about that for a moment. When Frank Gore was gashing Seattle a couple of years ago for 200 yards, Jackson, supposedly one of the best running backs in the league, did nothing against the Seahawks. This game he passed Marshall Faulk, a much better running back, for second all-time in Rams history. He also rushed 22 times for 70 yards.
2. Blitz – The Seahawks got good pressure on Charlie Brown, with four sacks and 11 hurries. They were able to dial up different looks and rattle the rookie. The Rams OC did a good job of adjusting and had Bradford running screens to take advantage of the aggressiveness. The one TD drive the Rams ran in the third quarter had 70 yards on two screen passes.
3. Aggressiveness – After years of the bland Mike Holmgren Show, I am very excited by the aggressive play calling and attitude that the Seahawks show. Yes, it will bite you sometimes, such as that fake field goal attempt that really killed the Hawks, but sometimes you have to roll the dice. If anything, I’d ask they exercise a little caution on it. After all, this isn’t college.
4. Mike Williams – Four catches for 32 yards isn’t great, but Williams has been getting better and better for the Seahawks, and paying back the chance head coach Pete Carroll took on him. What I want is to see Williams being used for the corner fade route and other routes to take advantage of his height against the shorter corners around the league.
1. Second Half Offense – The Seahawks offense made the Rams defense look like the ’85 Bears team. Nothing seemed to work and when something did work, Seattle would follow a good play with a bad one or a stupid mistake. Fifty-eight yards of total offense in the second half–I’m not counting that crap in the last minute–is just stupidly bad. This inability to do anything in the second half has now repeated for a second game in a row and is a disturbing trend. I blame both the play calling and the execution for the problem. This week the special teams couldn’t bail the Seahawks out again.
2. Special Teams – The announcers made a big deal about Leon Washington trash talking the Rams’ punter and kicker, both former Seahawks by the way, before the game. Washington, who was the special teams player of the week, didn’t back it up. Seattle spent most of the time backed up in their own 20, not the place you want to be when your offense is sucking already. The Rams didn’t bottle up the Seahawks special teams; it was more that the Rams won the battle of field possession by bottling up the Seahawks offense deep. The Seahawks offense couldn’t do anything so their punt would end up at midfield.
3. John Carlson – It’s not completely Carlson’s fault. With the line so bad right now, he’s been forced to block more than catch, but something has to happen to get him in a route and catching the ball. That’s where his strength is, not in blocking.
4. Matt Hasselbeck – I am still not a Hasselbeck hater, I still think he’s the best QB in the NFC West, but he’s clearly gotten worse as the season has progressed. Part of the problem, I believe, is that Hasselbeck gets frustrated and starts trying to force the ball and make plays that just aren’t there. That’s been his problem since I can remember, so it’s obviously not something that is going to change.
The solution? Maybe running more misdirection, draw and screen plays, getting away from stupid penalties and mistakes by the offensive line, and playing to Hasslebeck’s strengths instead of forcing him to try and throw the long ball.
When Seattle was driving the ball right before the horrible fake field goal, they tried two deep passes down the side line in a row, once to Golden Tate and once to Deion Branch. Both were incomplete and neither were high percentage moves. I can see going deep once in a while, as it keeps the defense honest and tests the corners and safeties, but there has to be a rhyme and reason to it.
1. Offensive line – It was truly offensive and killed any good things that the offense might’ve put together. Stacy Andrews, to name just one culprit, has been getting stupid false start penalties. He missed a block that got Justin Forsett killed in a loss on a running play to his side. Andrews isn’t alone, Chris Spencer is still not looking like he was worth a first round pick, thanks to Tim Ruskell.
Russell Okung started but left after the first quarter with a high ankle sprain. Much like Walter Jones, maybe it’s time to sit Okung and work on what you have. Okung is certainly good enough to wait for him to heal completely but until he does, it’s no use wasting time waiting for him. The foundation for the offense is the offensive line. Seattle has dealt with, and is still dealing with, injuries along the front line for the last couple of years. That’s no excuse though, every team has injuries, and maybe the effects of Alex Gibbs’ retirement are now being felt.
2. Coaching – I’m growing less enamored with the coaching now. I feel like I’m watching the Seahawks try and play a college game. That was one of my biggest fears when Carroll was hired. Maybe it’s Jeremy Bates, the offensive coordinator. Maybe it’s a combination of personnel and coaching, although with the roster turnover, you can’t say this isn’t Carroll’s team. The trick plays, college formations, clock management, and burning through challenges all seem just a little unprofessional. I have hopes that the staff will get better as the season progresses but until then, it’s just ugly.
3. Rams Class – Like school on Saturday, the Rams have no class. The Rams players spent a lot of time late in the game talking trash, late hitting, picking fights and acting like they were the defending Super Bowl champions, not a team that just doubled their win total from last year. In a way, it was good because I’ve always felt the Rams had no class, and it was too easy to forget that when the Seahawks were kicking their ass every year. Now their visit to Seattle on January 2nd will be a day to look forward to for me and the rest of the 12th Man.
So now the Seahawks can’t claim a road victory in St. Louis again. That’s okay. After 10 straight victories, it had to end sometime. Despite the loss, the Seahawks are 2-2 and tied for the NFC West lead headed into the bye week to get ready to head to Chicago for a tough game against the Bears.
Make no mistake, the Rams look better than they have for a few years. I was impressed with how well they played and in a lot of ways, am happy they are back on track.
In the meantime, I and the rest of the 12th Man will be circling the date for the Rams visit to Qwest Field and planning our revenge.