Up-And-Down 'D' flubs opportunity to secure the win
By Bill Coats
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Monday, Oct. 16 2006

Despite going belly-up in the second half, the Rams' defense was handed a golden opportunity to redeem itself in the final two minutes Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome. Instead, it just buried itself deeper.

"It's pretty disappointing, considering we could've done something to seal the victory and we allowed them to kick the game-winning field goal," defensive tackle La'Roi Glover said. "That's upsetting."

After squandering a 21-7 halftime lead, the Rams bolted back in front 28-27 on a 67-yard touchdown catch by wide receiver Torry Holt with 1:44 remaining. "That should have given us the momentum to go out and finish it off," safety Corey Chavous said.

Instead, Seattle needed just eight plays and 94 seconds to hustle from its 17-yard line to the Rams' 31. Josh Brown's 54-yard field goal at the final gun gave the Seahawks a 30-28 victory and the lead in the NFC West.

That capped a monumental reversal in fortunes for defensive coordinator Jim Haslett's troops. The Rams yielded just 74 yards in the first 30 minutes; the flummoxed Seahawks mustered only 4 rushing yards on five tries, and quarterback Matt Hasselbeck was sacked three times.

The second half bore no resemblance to the first, however. Evidence began to mount on the Seahawks' first possession of the third period, when they marched crisply to the 11-yard line. That series ended when Brown's 34-yard field goal attempt hit the left crossbar, then caromed off the right crossbar and fell away.

Still, Seattle had found a crack in the Rams' resistance.

"They changed up a little bit," linebacker Brandon Chillar said. "They were going with more three-step (quarterback drops), and we couldn't get there on the pressures."

In the second half, Hasselbeck piled up 177 of his 268 passing yards, including touchdown strikes of 42 yards to Darrell Jackson and 19 yards to Deion Branch. Running back Maurice Morris, filling in for injured Shaun Alexander, ground out 70 yards on 18 carries after intermission.

"We didn't adjust to what they did, and the results show," nose tackle Jimmy Kennedy said.

Perhaps most telling was Seattle's big-play success in the last two periods. The Seahawks got 10 yards or more on just four first-half plays. Thereafter, they rolled up double-digit real estate 10 times, and eight of those plays covered at least 17 yards.

"Big plays will get you beat every time," Glover said after the Seahawks outscored the Rams 23-7 in the second half.

The Seahawks gained 52 yards on two penalties. Cornerbacks Travis Fisher and Tye Hill were called for pass interference on back-to-back possessions, and Seattle scored on both drives. Fisher and Hill denied culpability.

"I think it was a terrible call ... by far, a terrible call," said Fisher, who was covering Branch along the left sideline when hit with a 30-yard infraction. "I think I had great coverage and timed it right for the pass break-up. And the referee close to me didn't even call it; the referee that was down somewhere just came out late and called it. I don't know what that's all about."

Hill was defending Jackson on the right sideline when he was nailed for a 22-yard penalty. "Everybody saw it. It was a bad call," said Hill, the Rams' first-round draft choice in April. Defensive backs "already are at a disadvantage, and when they do stuff like that, that just defeats the purpose of playing man coverage.

"If they can throw it up and get a 'PI' just because you're looking for the ball, I mean ... sheesh."

With a bye next Sunday, the Rams will have two weeks to nurse their wounded pysche and battered bodies.

"We can let some guys heal up and come back swinging," Glover said. "Simple as that."