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Rams would make a statement by beating Seahawks
BY JEFF GORDON
STLTODAY.COM SPORTS COLUMNIST
OK, so maybe the Rams really were lucky to win in Arizona on Kurt Warner’s late fumble and in Green Bay on Brett Favre’s late fumble.
It isn’t often that former MVPs demonstrate such extreme charity to the same team in such a short period of time.
But now the Rams have an opportunity to stake their claim to legitimacy in 2006. If they can handle the Seahawks at home Sunday, they will move to 5-1 with 10 games remaining.
If the Rams do get to 5-1, then they could likely reach postseason play by playing .500 the rest of the season as their schedule toughens up.
As you would expect, Rams coach Scott Linehan really didn’t want to go there. He repeats the “one game at a time” mantra, refusing to do the math that fans and media types are doing.
“It’s bigger because it raises our record from 4-1 to 5-1 if we win the game, and puts us in better position in our division,” Linehan told reporters at his Wednesday news conference. “There is some reality to that.”
But . . .
“I think it’s important that we look at it as the next game, even though it is a division rival, and defending division champs,” he said. “It does kind of give you a little bit more of a feel as to where you’re at, playing a team that pretty much dominated the entire NFL last year. Our guys are real excited for the challenge.”
The Rams are catching the Seahawks at a pretty good time. Star running back Shaun Alexander is sidelined by a foot injury. Receiver Bobby Engram could miss the game as well.
Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck threw seven interceptions during his previous three games and coach Mike Holmgren is lamenting his team’s pass protection woes.
“The quarterback is getting hit too much,” he told reporters in Seattle.
The Seahawks fell to 31st in total defense after their disastrous 37-6 loss to the Bears. “We couldn’t have beaten a high school team that day,” Hasselbeck told St. Louis reporters during a conference call.
But Seattle (3-1) still is the defending NFC champion. The Seahawks are rested after a bye week and they should be agitated in the wake of that Bears game.
If the Rams can find a way to beat the Seahawks -– through fumbles, interceptions, whatever it takes -– it would be a statement victory. The rest of the NFL would have to view the Rams as serious contenders again.
The Rams would see themselves in a different light, too, since this team is still in its formative stage with a new coaching staff. A victory Sunday would offer an important reaffirmation.
After this game, the Rams will get a much-needed break with their bye week. Next up after that is a trip to San Diego, where the Chargers are playing like a Super Bowl team.
The Chiefs visit The Ed on Nov. 5, then the Rams have tough road games at Seattle and Carolina. If they survive that trip in more or less one piece, they will return home to face also-rans Arizona and San Francisco before the ominous Bears visit on Dec. 11.
After that, there is a trip to Oakland to face the hapless Raiders, a home game against the so-so Redskins and a season-ending trip to Minnesota to face the surprising Vikings.
There are some likely defeats during that 10-game span, but some probable victories as well. That is why Sunday is one of the “swing” games in their schedule.
By winning Sunday, the Rams would greatly improve their postseason chances. By losing Sunday, they would raise serious questions about their viability for the playoff drive.
“It doesn’t matter right now,” Rams quarterback Marc Bulger argued during his Wednesday media session. “We’re only five games in. You can look at years past and see that there are a lot of teams that start off 6-0 or 7-0 and don’t even make the playoffs.
“We’re not even going to start talking about that until at least Week 13 or 14, so we’re a long way from that.”
But they would move much closer to that by winning Sunday.
Re: Rams would make a statement by beating SeahawksBobby Engram