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Thread: Rams-Seahawks: 5 Things To Watch
Rams-Seahawks: 5 Things To Watch
By Jim Thomas
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
When the teams met Oct. 15 in St. Louis, the Seahawks tried to make the Rams one-dimensional by crowding the line and taking away the running game. Steven Jackson rushed for a season-low 56 yards (on 20 carries).
"They played more of an eight-man front, and they held up when they did play a seven-man front," coach Scott Linehan said. "They didn't give up any big runs. ... We've got to have a much better rushing output this game if we expect to win."
Jackson's longest run that day went for a modest 9 yards. He needs to break tackles and move the pile Sunday, as he has done most of the season. According to the STATS statistical firm, Jackson ranks fifth in the NFL in yards after contact as a rusher with 385 yards. He trails only Minnesota's Chester Taylor (442), Kansas City's Larry Johnson (410), San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson (408), and the New York Giants' Tiki Barber (400).
LB Julian Peterson had some big games against the Rams as a San Francisco 49er, and he's doing the same now that he's moved up the Pacific coast to Seattle. Peterson had two fourth-quarter sacks against the Rams in October. On the first, he beat Steven Jackson to the inside, with Jackson whiffing on a block. On the second, he was being blocked by LT Orlando Pace when Marc Bulger was flushed up in the pocket because of pressure from the right side. Peterson peeled off Pace for the sack.
"When you're in obvious passing downs, he can play that edge rusher (on the line)," Linehan said. "He's big enough, and he holds up. ... He's having a fantastic year."
Peterson's eight sacks already are a career high.
More than Peterson
Seattle's defense led the NFL in sacks a year ago, and is up to its old tricks after a slow start this season. The Seahawks had nine sacks Monday in Oakland, their highest total in a game since 1998. Seven of them were on four-man rushes. The Seahawks blitzed only six times against the Rams in October, getting burned on one for a Torry Holt TD. But safety Ken Hamlin beat TE Joe Klopfenstein for a sack on a second-quarter blitz, and Marc Bulger's one — and only — interception of the season came on a fourth quarter blitz when the Seahawks sent a safety and a linebacker. Although Peterson's having a monster year, it's hard to concentrate too much on any one defender, because several Seahawks can get after the passer. DE Bryce Fisher had two sacks against Pace in October. DT Craig Terrill had a career-high three sacks against the Raiders. You can't sleep on DT Rocky Bernard and DE Grant Wistrom, either.
Last month in St. Louis, Seattle coach Mike Holmgren wrote a reminder on his play chart to run the football. It worked well in the second half, when Maurice Morris gained 70 of his 74 rushing yards, helping the Seahawks wipe out a 21-7 halftime deficit. After seeing the Rams run defense flounder against San Diego and Kansas City, Holmgren may want to place a billboard on the Qwest Field sideline that reads: Run the ball! Morris, by the way, ran for a career-high 138 yards against Oakland. The Rams have allowed five 100-yard rushers this season. Two others came close: Arizona's Edgerrin James (94) and Detroit's Kevin Jones (93).
The acquisition of WR Deion Branch in a trade on Sept. 11 has been a lifesaver for Seattle, particularly since free-agent pickup Nate Burleson, has been a flop. Branch caught two TD passes against the Rams last month, and presents matchup problems when he lines up in the slot with his combination of speed and quickness. "He's not tall, but he plays big," said Linehan, who coached Branch in college at Louisville.