Team Report: Inside Slant

Inside Slant | Notes and Quotes | Strategy and Personnel
In what is expected to be a battle of offenses Sunday in Seattle, it stands to reason that the defense and field position will be a major factor in which team wins the game.

When the Seahawks defeated the Rams 37-31 in St. Louis on Oct. 9, Seattle outgained the Rams 433-386 and both teams struggled on third down. The Seahawks were 2-for-11 and the Rams 3-for-12.

Field position, however, was dominated by Seattle. Thanks in large part to poor punting by the since departed Reggie Hodges (33.2-yard average), the Seahawks started five possessions in Rams territory and another at the 50-yard line, resulting in 27 points. For the game, Seattle's average drive start was the 36-yard line compared to the 19-yard line for the Rams.

While the Rams are cognizant of the game-breaking ability of running back Shaun Alexander, they actually did a decent job defending Alexander in the first game this season. He finished with 119 yards on 25 carries, with two touchdowns, but 52 of the yards on nine attempts came in the fourth quarter. Alexander had three carries for 29 yards when the Seahawks ran out the clock.

Still, the Rams defense knows it must continue to contain Alexander.

"That's one of our goals going into every game, to defend well whether it's the run or the pass," linebacker Trev Faulk said. "He's obviously a huge part of what they do and a huge part of their success. We definitely have to focus on trying to stop him, but we can't really just focus on trying to take away the run and allow (quarterback Matt) Hasselbeck to pick us apart. They have a real good offense over there, so we have to be prepared for everything that they do."

One of Alexander's touchdowns in the first game was from 18 yards, which was his long gain of the afternoon. On that play, free safety Mike Furrey took a bad angle and Alexander scooted by him around the edge.

That is an aspect the first-time starter is trying to improve. Furrey also took a bad angle against Jacksonville Oct. 30, and the result was a 71-yard touchdown by Fred Taylor.

Said Furrey, "I was really trying to hit (the bye) week hard about taking my angles and tackling and watching everybody else and getting some feedback on what other safeties do in the league. I took advantage of (the) week by trying to get better from a tackling standpoint."

Furrey also stated the obvious in reiterating the importance of the game for the Rams. Win and they move to within one game of the Seahawks in the division. Lose, and they fall three games behind, although it is actually four because the Seahawks would own the head-to-head tiebreaker by having defeated the Rams twice.

"This is a huge game," Furrey said. "This is a huge game for us. We set ourselves up nice the last couple weeks by getting two wins and getting back to .500, but I think this is going to be our big season breaker. If we can go up there and win and come back home with a victory from Seattle, we have four home games and two division games at home, we'll be all right."

Asked if the Rams need to beat Seattle to have a realistic shot at winning the division, center Andy McCollum said, "The way it looks now, probably, yeah. This is the next game on our schedule, so this is what we're focused on. Right now, it's the most important game of the year."

SERIES HISTORY: 15th regular-season meeting. Rams lead the series 9-5, and also have won one playoff game between the teams. That came last season, when the Rams beat the Seahawks twice in Seattle. Since 2002, when the teams have been in the same division, the season series has split twice, with the Rams sweeping the series in 2004.