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Rams, Hawks Rivalry Heating Up

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  • Rams, Hawks Rivalry Heating Up

    Wednesday, October 5, 2005

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    While the Seattle Seahawks were off winning the NFC West Division last year, something just didn’t quite feel right.

    Maybe it was that their 9-7 regular season record wasn’t as good as many thought it would be. Or maybe it was the lingering aftereffects of three straight losses to the team that they had been trying so desperately to dethrone.

    “We have been the team in NFC West for awhile and Seattle has made all the right moves to dethrone us,” receiver Torry Holt said. “They are supposed to be the new team on the block in the division.”

    And the Seahawks certainly were the new team in town last year, claiming the division for the first time since they joined with realignment in 2002. The Rams had worn that division crown more often than not other wise, winning it in 2003 and before Seattle joined in 2001 and 1999.

    Still, though the Seahawks were able to claim a divisional crown last year, the biggest obstacle that stood in their way, the Rams, certainly wasn’t moved out of the way. St. Louis defeated Seattle three times, including the most important game of all, an NFC Wild Card game at Qwest Field.

    But there was nary a game played in the NFL at all last year that was more memorable than what happened in Seattle on Oct. 10. The Rams trailed that game 27-10 with less than eight minutes to go.

    It appeared that the changing of the guard in the NFC West was happening on Qwest Field that day and there was nothing anyone could do about it. Seattle running back Shaun Alexander was running at will and the Rams couldn’t get much of anything going against the Seahawks’ defense.

    Then, out of nowhere, Seattle was struck by lightning, not once or twice, but three times. It started with tight end Brandon Manumaleuna’s unbelievable catch in traffic for and 8-yard touchdown. Kevin Curtis followed that with a quick-strike 41-yard touchdown grab down the middle of the field and Shaun McDonald capped it with the ultimate lightning bolt in the form of his game-winning 52-yard touchdown grab.

    “Some of the games we have had with them over the past couple of years have been some good battles,” center Andy McCollum said. “Obviously last year we went up there and anyone involved with it is going to remember that. I think that’s just it. When you have two teams battling for the division every year it turns out to be war out there.”

    But it didn’t used to be that way. In fact, the Seahawks at one time were considered the team most likely to be the perennial doormats in the NFC West. But then they began to start spending money on improving the team, signing high-priced free agent and committing to drafting well.

    Seattle also has apparently bought into the theory that if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em by signing defensive ends Grant Wistrom and Bryce Fisher away from the Rams in consecutive offseasons.

    But even with the improved commitment to winning, Seattle still can’t quite get over the hump that is the Rams.

    “I think they made the right moves, but we still somehow come out with the wins over those guys,” Holt said. “It puts a sour taste in their mouths when you speak the Rams to them. But we know what the media is saying about them being the team in the West and we go out and still beat them, that puts another sour taste in their mouth. I guess if they want to take over the West… and they were the champs last year, but we are still up there. Until they can beat us on a consistent basis year in and year out then they will be the team in the NFC West, but that’s not the case yet.”

    And Seattle still isn’t quite the Rams’ top rival. There is too much history between the Rams and ***** for this burgeoning rivalry to reach that kind of epic standard, but it appears that it’s headed in that direction.

    “I think they are making it more of a situation than what this football team is,” Holt said. “We view it as another game in the conference. They view it as this is going to determine whether we win the West or not, which is fine. Whatever a team needs to get up for playing a ball club is what they need.”

    So, what does that leave in store for the teams’ meetings this season? Any number of things can happen. Seattle has an edge in knowing that it is the defending champion while the Rams have the edge of knowing that the Seahawks still desperately want a victory or two that will make the division their property once and for all.

    “I think mentally we have gotten that edge over them,” Holt said. “When you beat a team three times in one year, that’s tough. You start saying, can we really beat these guys? I’m sure they will be ready for us this year and they will probably play their best football when they play the St. Louis Rams.”

    The Rams will probably do likewise with no desire to lose to any team, let alone the team within the division that has been plotting a takeover of the division for some time.

    “I would think they would remember what happened last year,” guard Adam Timmerman said. “I would think that has to be motivation for last year and that makes us have to be at the top of our game.”

Related Topics


  • RamDez
    Rams want to show Seattle who is boss
    by RamDez
    Rams want to show Seattle who is boss
    By Jim Thomas

    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Leonard Little (above) says the Rams have been looking forward to the kind of test the Seattle Seahawks present.
    (Chris Lee/P-D)

    SEATTLE - Almost since the first preseason magazines hit the newsstands in June and July, the Seattle Seahawks have been portrayed as the team to beat in the NFC West and an up-and-coming power in the NFC.

    "There's been a lot of talk that they're going to overtake the NFC West, and that the Rams are fading," Rams wide receiver Torry Holt said. "It doesn't bother me none."

    Holt, in fact, agrees with that assessment. To a point.

    "They are an up-and-coming team in the National Football League," he said. "But we won 12 games (last season). We still are the champs of the NFC West. And until somebody dethrones us, then that's the way we're going to carry ourselves."

    And one last thing.

    "You still have to play," Holt said. "No matter what's being said in the papers and the magazines, we still have to go out there and strap it on. And they have to beat us, and we have to beat them."

    So the NFC West sorting process begins in earnest Sunday afternoon at Qwest Field. A victory by Seattle, which is coming of its bye week, puts the Seahawks at 4-0 for the first time in franchise history. It also puts the Seahawks three games up on the loss side against the Rams.

    But a Rams victory puts them at 3-2, and Seattle at 3-1 with the Seahawks traveling to New England on Oct. 17. A loss doesn't eliminate the Rams, but a victory means the division race is on.

    "This one will tell a lot about who's got early control of the division," Rams defensive captain Tyoka Jackson said. "The season's not over after this game, but. ..."

    As for all the Seattle hype?

    "Well, we heard the same thing last year, so what does that mean?" Jackson asked. "It means absolutely nothing, it's just talk. The game's played on the field. ... If we go out and play Rams football, it doesn't really matter."

    In their two victories this season, "Rams football" has meant a mix of running and passing on offense, zero sacks allowed by Rams blockers, and stingy defense.

    In their two losses, the Rams have been pass-happy on offense, allowed five sacks in both contests, and been overly generous on defense.

    There's no doubt Rams players like the more balanced approach on offense. They've been dropping hints whenever asked about the importance of the running game, as if they're almost hoping the head coach is listening.

    "To be balanced is great," offensive tackle Grant
    -10-10-2004, 02:13 AM
  • RamsFan4ever
    Rams Prepared for Important Early Season Battle
    by RamsFan4ever
    Rams Prepared for Important Early Season Battle
    Thursday, October 12, 2006

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    In the afterglow of a victory, the Rams get a 24-hour grace period from head coach Scott Linehan to enjoy the win before moving on to the next week. That is a pretty standard cooling down for most teams throughout the league.

    But, after last week’s 23-20 win against Green Bay at Lambeau Field, that down time was trimmed considerably. Not more than 20 minutes after the win, Linehan was asked about preparing for the next game.

    That’s because, at this point, there are few games on the team’s schedule with more meaning than the pair of meetings against Seattle.

    In his first year as the Rams’ head coach, Linehan has quickly learned the importance of the games against the Seahawks and acknowledges the rivalry.

    “I think you always look forward to playing the team that sets the bar,” Linehan said. “The bar was set by Seattle last year in the NFC and in our division. That’s kind of the way the league works. It goes in cycles, but they’re certainly the team to beat, not only in our division, but in the entire NFC. It’s a pretty big challenge for us, but it’s also one that we’ve been looking forward to. It will be a pretty big measuring stick based on how this game turns out this week, and kind of lets us know where we’re at at this point.”

    Soon after the divisional realignment placed the Seahawks in the NFC West, the Rams staked their claim to dominance in the division. The only true challenger from that group to emerge was Seattle. This week’s game is the 10th between the teams in the past five seasons in a rivalry that seems to get more heated every year.

    In 2004, the Rams-Seahawks battle picked up steam after St. Louis won the division in 2003. The Seahawks brashly proclaimed themselves ready to take over the NFC West that year, but the Rams did not oblige.

    The Rams posted three consecutive victories that year, including an NFC Wild Card game win at Seattle in January of 2004. The Seahawks won the division, but they could not get past the hurdle that was the Rams.

    Finally, last year, Seattle made the leap by knocking off the Rams twice last year, winning the division and eventually the NFC Championship before falling in the Super Bowl. Since realignment in 2002, the Rams lead the series 5-4 with a 5-2 record at the Edward Jones Dome.

    At 4-1, the Rams are in first place in the NFC West, a half game ahead of Seattle. The Seahawks are 3-1 and coming off a bye week. It’s only Week 6, but it’s clearly a big game for both teams.

    “I believe that is definitely the case,” linebacker Isaiah Kacyvenski said. “The games in the last four or five years always are hard fought games down to the end. I know, being on that side last year, how we won it in the end was one...
    -10-13-2006, 05:20 PM
  • RamWraith
    Seahawks overtake Rams as West bullies
    by RamWraith
    By Bryan Burwell
    Sunday, Nov. 13 2005

    SEATTLE — A year ago, whenever the Rams came into this modern
    architectural marvel called Qwest Field, they were in the business of being
    rude and rowdy party crashers. They seemed to absolutely relish the physical
    and emotional demands of exposing fragile competitive egos and spoiling
    premature championship dreams.

    Yet as cold and miserable rain came drifting down Sunday through the stadium's
    arched, open-air rooftop, the Rams were in no mood to party. Shaun Alexander
    practically was dancing into the end zone for his third touchdown of the day to
    put the final touches on the Seahawks' 31-16 victory. He was looking up into
    that steel-gray November sky, letting the thunderous noise of 67,192 delirious
    spectators and that bitter winter drizzle sweep over him as though he was
    standing in the midst of a soothing summer shower.

    This was a defining moment these crazed Seahawk faithful had been waiting for.
    As Alexander glided into the end zone, he soothed the fluttering hearts in the
    Pacific Northwest who kept seeing unsettling flashbacks of another
    gut-wrenching, fourth-quarter St. Louis comeback. And as Alexander continued
    his impressive audition for league MVP, he presented evidence that a seismic
    shift has occurred in the power structure of the NFC West. The Seahawks, who in
    a previous life played the role of spineless whipping boys in this compelling
    competitive drama with their archrival Rams, were now officially the new
    bullies on the block.

    "It's a really cool thing when you can see the change of the guard, when you're
    the new big dog on the scene," said the Seahawks running back, who gained 165
    yards rushing and continued his march towards a 2,000-yard season. "Even though
    we won the division last year, we didn't feel like we took it from them. We
    feel like we almost got it handed to us."

    In the game's final moments, there was no doubt who had assumed control of this
    division, this rivalry, and this bitter psychological war. Just as the Rams
    were on the verge of overcoming a 24-6 deficit, after Marc Bulger dropped a
    beautiful touchdown pass into the arms of Torry Holt to cut the Seattle lead to
    24-16 with 7 minutes remaining, Alexander and the NFL's top-rated offense took
    the field.

    In a previous life, this is where bad things usually happened to the Seahawks.
    Mike Holmgren would reach into his elaborate playbook and pull out some
    mind-numbing play that would kill their momentum. The Seahawks would fumble,
    crumble and expose themselves as pretenders to the division throne. The Rams
    would cackle at them, shove them...
    -11-14-2005, 06:52 AM
  • RamWraith
    First Things First
    by RamWraith
    Saturday, October 8, 2005

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    All week the questions asked of the Rams have been the same and repeated almost ad nauseum.

    Do you consider Seattle a rival? Do you have a psychological edge because of the three wins against the Seahawks a year ago? What do you remember most about those games from a season ago?

    But come Sunday’s noon meeting at the Edward Jones Dome, there is only one thing that matters to any of the Rams, regardless of which team lines up on the other side.

    “Right now we’re in the mindset that we need to win a ballgame,” receiver Torry Holt said. “As far as all that psychological and physical edge and all that stuff, we haven’t really given too much thought about that…This is an opportunity for us to win a ballgame against a division opponent at home. The guys understand how critical this is, how critical this game is.”

    Any thoughts of rivalries or bitterness toward the Seahawks notwithstanding, this game is about as important as a game taking place in the fifth week of the regular season can be.

    Like last season, it appears that Seattle and St. Louis are going to fight it out until the last week for the NFC West Division crown. Both teams enter Sunday’s game with records of 2-2, sitting atop the division with Arizona and San Francisco at 1-3. The winner will emerge with sole possession of first place in the division, some momentum for the following week and an edge for a possible tiebreaker at the end of the season.

    Those simple reasons for winning make this game more important than anything that happened last year.

    “From season to season, game to game, nothing you have done the week before has any bearing on what you’re doing right now,” coach Mike Martz said. “That was a nice thing last year. It’s over. It’s long gone. We don’t even think about it or talk about it.”

    Unless of course, they are faced with a constant barrage of questions about it, such as this week. Sure, the Rams and Seahawks are fast becoming a big rival in the division, but that is mainly because neither the Cardinals nor the ***** have provided much competition in recent years.

    Last season, St. Louis and Seattle dueled into the final weeks before the division was decided, but it wasn’t like the two teams were exactly dominant. By the time the Seahawks had claimed the division, they were 9-7 and the Rams sneaked into the playoffs with an 8-8 record.

    Because the Rams and Seahawks have been the two best teams in a division that isn’t too deep, these meetings have added importance. If for no other reason, that’s why this is a rivalry that is beginning to boil over.

    “I know how people feel about the West Division, it’s either us or Seattle,” running back Steven Jackson said. “I think that in itself makes it a rivalry. Playing them three...
    -10-09-2005, 07:32 AM
  • RamWraith
    Showdown in NFC West is parity party
    by RamWraith
    By Bryan Burwell

    For all this fancy talk about heated division rivalries, inflammatory bulletin-board quotations, vengeful rematches and delicious psychological warfare, the true essence of this ongoing Rams-Seahawks football feud can be found right there at the top of the NFL standings.

    This might be a brawl for it all in the NFC West, but for the time being, let's just say that we ought to hold back on any breathless banter about postseason implications and championship possibilities. What we're about to witness inside the sold-out Edward Jones Dome is nothing more exciting than a grudge match between two rather flawed 2-2 teams wrestling for supremacy in a division that lacks any true powerhouse legitimacy.

    We are still waiting for someone in this division to define themselves as worthy championship contenders. We are still waiting for someone in this division to start flexing their muscles and act like they deserve being mentioned in the same breath among the NFC power elite.

    Right now, the NFC West's greatest claim to fame is its consistent ability to produce underachieving, disappointing pretenders. Wasn't 2005 supposed to be the Year of the Arizona Cardinals? Oooops, that hasn't worked out so well so far. Wasn't 2005 supposed to be the season of the great rejuvenation of the Rams offense and redemption of the rebuilt defense?

    Again, ooooops.

    And how long have we been waiting for the Seahawks to live up to their promise as a team on the rise? Weren't they supposed to be the "It Team" of 2003, or was it 2004? Haven't they been labeled for the past three years as one of those promising young teams just on the verge of a breakout season? Weren't they supposed to be ready to make some serious noise?

    But now look at them. The only noise they're making is "ouch!!!!" The 2-2 Seahawks are playing just as unevenly as the 2-2 Rams, and Sunday their top two wide receivers (Darrell Jackson and Bobby Engram) won't play because of knee and rib injuries. That's 75 percent of their passing offense that's going to be back in Seattle. And if they're battered physically, imagine the damage that's been done to their psyches whenever they see those gold and blue Rams helmets coming toward them.

    So now the team of the future looks a whole lot more like a team whose time may have passed them by. You think things are rough for the Rams and Mike Martz? Well get a load of the popularity of Seattle's Mike Holmgren, who got a pass for a long time about the merits of his offensive "genius" tag. Lately, however, Holmgren's struggled to live up to the reputation.

    So what's the biggest beef about Holmgren in Seattle? They think he's too conservative, too tightly wound, too boring and predictable late in games when victory or defeat is being decided.

    -10-09-2005, 07:32 AM