St. Louis Braces for Challenge
Wednesday, October 6, 2004

By Nick Wagoner
Staff Writer

It might seem like the same old song and dance, but this it isn’t. Every week players and coaches alike say that week’s game is the most important.

While it might be essential to always focus on the task at hand, it isn’t always true that one game doesn’t mean more than another. For instance, the Rams’ game against San Francisco was important because they were playing their biggest rivals and a loss would have dropped them to 1-3.

Perhaps no game, though, has more implications than the game St. Louis began preparing for with practice Wednesday. The Rams travel to Seattle for a 3:15 p.m. game against the Seahawks on Sunday. At stake is a lot.

St. Louis is the defending NFC West Division champions and will be until someone takes it away. Seattle is the biggest threat to the crown with a 3-0 record and the Rams at 2-2, while the rest of the division wallows in losing records. A Seahawks’ win will put them another game up in the loss column and make it difficult for St. Louis to recover. The teams’ burgeoning rivalry will also be rehashed as they have emerged as the class of the division in the past two years.

Rams’ coach Mike Martz said he isn’t surprised by the Seahawks’ position as one of the favorites.

“In our division at this point, they really are the team to beat,” Martz said. “They are playing so well in all phases. They have the top defense in the league at this point. This is going to be fun; it’s a real challenge. It’s a division game with a lot of ramifications… this is a playoff atmosphere. We look forward to it.”

After an important win against the ***** on Sunday night, the Rams enter this week with a lot of confidence. They proved they could run and pass with equal aplomb and the defense made many strides. Even the special teams got an important shot in the arm from linebacker Trev Faulk. With all of those things working for it, St. Louis has an opportunity to earn its biggest, by far, win of the young season.

Working against the Rams, though, is the game Seattle is not coming off. The Seahawks likewise pounded the ***** 34-0, but then had a bye week. That bye allowed Seattle an extra week to gameplan and prepare for St. Louis’ visit.
Martz said this challenge is one of the things he loves about the game.

“This is a good football team,” Martz said. “It should be a heck of a game, a heck of a matchup for us.”

INJURY REPORT: The Rams escaped Sunday night’s game relatively unscathed. Left guard Scott Tercero, who made his first career start, was the only injury of note, according to Martz.

Tercero fractured his hand, but should be ready to play against Seattle. He sat out Wednesday’s practice because of the injury, but is listed as probable.

Strong safety Adam Archuleta continues to battle back problems and will probably play, but not start against Seattle. Rich Coady started against the ***** in Archuleta’s place and Martz said Coady will do so again this week. Coady played well in Archuleta’s stead, racking up 10 tackles and earning the team’s defensive player of the week honors.

Also sitting out Wednesday’s practice were cornerback Travis Fisher (out-broken forearm), defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy (out- broken foot), and guard Chris Dishman (questionable- knee), Tercero and linebacker Robert Thomas (probable- ankle).

Linebacker Tony Newson (ankle) is also questionable. Running backs Arlen Harris (hamstring) and Marshall Faulk (shoulder) and cornerback DeJuan Groce (knee) are also listed as probable.