By Michael Rushton, Contributing NFL Editor
(SportsNetwork.com) – The Seattle Seahawks are coming off a rare home loss in
the Russell Wilson era.
They hope they don’t suffer a rare setback to the rival St. Louis Rams as they
visit their fellow NFC West resident this Sunday at Edward Jones Dome.
The Seahawks went into last Sunday’s matchup with the Dallas Cowboys having
gone 19-1 at home since Wilson took over the starting quarterback role as a
rookie, but saw the Cowboys rally for a 30-23 victory.
Steven Hauschka’s field goal midway through the fourth quarter put Seattle
ahead 23-20, but Dallas went ahead on touchdown run by DeMarco Murray and then
added a late field goal after the Seahawks failed to get a first down.
The Seahawks got the ball back with just over a minute left, but Wilson was
picked off by Rolando McClain to confirm the outcome.
The defending Super Bowl champions had won two in a row, but fell to 3-2 on
the year after allowing Dallas to go 10-for-17 on third downs. The Seahawks
also held the ball for just 22:21 compared to the Cowboys’ 37:39.
“We were not right in any phase of our game today,” Seahawks coach Pete
Seattle did not lost its second game last season until Week 14 and will try to
avoid another loss this weekend to a Rams club it has bested in three straight
matchups and in 16 of the last 18 encounters.
The Seahawks are 9-3 in their last 12 road games, while the Rams make a fourth
attempt at their first home victory of the campaign. St. Louis jumped out
quick this past Monday night against visiting San Francisco, but saw the 49ers
storm back to hand the Rams a 31-17 defeat.
The Niners put up 24 straight points after the Rams went ahead 14-0 in the
first quarter on Benny Cunningham’s one-yard run and Austin Davis’ 22-yard
touchdown strike to Lance Kendricks.
Davis completed 21-of-42 passes for 236 yards with an interception in St.
Louis’ third straight loss overall. He has thrown for 938 yards and seven
touchdowns over his last three starts, stabilizing the position following the
loss of Sam Bradford to a season-ending knee injury.
“I’m pleased with what Austin is doing,” said Rams head coach Jeff Fisher.
“He’s our guy.”
St. Louis’ defense, though, failed to get a sack and allowed Niners
quarterback Colin Kaepernick to throw for 343 yards and three touchdowns. The
back-breaker came when he hooked up with Brandon Lloyd for an 80-yard score
with 14 seconds to play until halftime.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
The Seahawks and Rams are two teams known for their defense, but neither club
is playing to its strength right now.
Seattle’s secondary, which bruised and abused receivers last season, is giving
up 252.2 yards per game to rank 19th in the league, though the run defense is
giving up just 82.2 YPG.
However, the Cowboys were able to post 162 rushing yards against the Seahawks
last weekend and quarterback Tony Romo was sacked just once while completing
21-of-32 pass attempts.
“Well really, the focus to me goes to hitting the quarterback and it’s caused
by good coverage, it’s caused by good rush, and we just need to complement
better — teams have done a nice job, we’ve faced the best of the best so far
and they’ve been able to hold us off a little bit,” said Carroll of his
Carroll was forced to shuffle his linebacker look for this game because
linebacker Bobby Wagner, who leads the club with 50 tackles, is expected to
miss a few weeks due to a toe injury.
“He’s really sore and it looks like it’s going to be a while for him,” Carroll
K.J. Wright will slide from the outside into the middle spot in Bruce Irvin
and backup Malcolm Smith.
“K.J. is one of our favorite guys because of all his versatility that he has
so we maintain leadership and a voice in the huddle,” noted Carroll.
Carroll will look to get Davis out of rhythm as the second-year quarterback
makes his fifth straight start. He has completed 63.8 percent of his passes
while getting picked off four times and posting a passer rating of 89.6.
“He’s been consistent getting the ball down the field and going over his
reads,” said Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman. “You know he’s been doing a
great job. Just doing what they need him to do and obviously they’ve scored
some points in some ballgames and he’s brought them back. So he’s played well
for being the third quarterback and not coming into the season with any
Expectations were high for the Rams defense this season after the club amassed
53 sacks last season, 19 of those by end Robert Quinn.
St. Louis has only gotten to the quarterback once this season and that sack
came from rookie Aaron Donald in Week 2.
The Rams are without end Chris Long because of an ankle injury, but need more
production from Quinn, Donald, William Hayes and Michael Brockers.
Wilson, who has a 118.8 passer rating in three straight victories over the
Rams, will look to use Seattle’s second-ranked ground game (149.8 YPG) to keep
the Rams off balance.
“I know they get to the quarterback really well usually and they cause a lot
of havoc,” said Seattle’s quarterback. “So, we’re going to have to do a great
job in terms of protection and do a great job of running the football well and
throwing and catching, just like every week. Our attention to detail has to be
great. We have to play a very good game in terms of connecting all the dots.”
With the Rams skidding towards another likely season without playoffs, Fisher
got a number of his high-profile rookies game action on Monday night. Greg
Robinson, the second overall pick of the most recent draft, got his first
career start and played every offensive snap at left guard.
Robinson’s start moved Rodger Saffold to right guard and pushed David Joseph
out of the starting lineup.
“He was physical and athletic. He was in the right place more times than we
thought. I thought he played pretty well,” Fisher said of Robinson.
Donald also got his first career start after getting picked 13th overall in
the draft, while fellow rookie and running back Tre Mason got into his first
NFL game and led the club with 40 yards on five carries.
Two losses aren’t the end of the world, but the Seahawks are showing a
vulnerability that rarely showed its ugly head last season.
Part of that stems from being the defending champion and Carroll’s club
usually gets the best of each team it faces.
“This is what you expect. This is what you really need to be at your best,”
said Carroll. “These games and these matchups and the effort that we’re
getting from our opponents is what’s going to make us the team we’ll become as
we get into the home stretch of the second half of the season and all that.
“It will all pay off. We just have to stay strong and keep getting better and
help us get stronger by it.”
The Rams can give the Seahawks the best they have, but it will still be an
uphill struggle. Even on the road, Seattle can use this game to get some
confidence back on the defensive side of the ball by taking advantage of the
inexperienced Davis and the ground game should have not issues moving the ball
against a Rams team allowing 139.8 YPG to the run.
Sports Network predicted outcome: Seahawks 27, Rams 16