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  • Seahawks-Rams matchup huge on a number of fronts

    Seahawks-Rams matchup huge on a number of fronts

    By CLARE FARNSWORTH
    SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER REPORTER

    KIRKLAND -- Watching the St. Louis Rams kick the gold dust out of the ***** in San Francisco on Sunday was like watching what the Seahawks did to the once-proud ***** the week before at Qwest Field.

    It also prompted similar questions. Are the Rams (and Seahawks) that good? Or is it that the ***** are that bad?

    These twin conquerors collide Sunday in an early season biggie in the NFC West. The defending division champion Rams are 2-2 and need a victory to climb above .500, while the 3-0 Seahawks can open a 2 1/2-game gap with a victory.

    "It's obvious San Francisco is having some problems," All-Pro guard Steve Hutchinson said yesterday, when the Seahawks resumed practicing after having the previous four days off during their bye week.

    "But St. Louis is a good team. They're the best team, in all aspects of the game, that we'll face so far."

    That's more than locker-room talk the week of a big game. Despite their 1-2 start, that included a squeaker over the Arizona Cardinals and an overtime loss to the New Orleans Saints at home, the Rams are winners of the NFC West three times in the past five seasons and runners-up the other two.

    Three reasons the Seahawks should be concerned:



    <LI>For the offense: The Rams' defense ranks 27th in the league and former coordinator Lovie Smith is now the head coach in Chicago. But the Rams still have safety Aeneas Williams and defensive end Leonard Little -- two players who have given the Seahawks fits.

    Williams had a career-high eight solo tackles against the Seahawks last December in St. Louis. Little had two sacks, six quarterback pressures and a forced fumble against the Seahawks in Seattle last year, and eight tackles, one sack and a forced fumble against them the year before, also in Seattle.

    "Their speed and their scheme," Hutchinson offered when asked what most worries him about the Rams' defense. "They like to bring pressure from a lot from different looks, and they have speed -- even their nose guard is fast."



    <LI>For the defense: The usual suspects. Torry Holt. Marshall Faulk. Isaac Bruce. Mark Bulger. Orlando Pace. Between them, they have been to 17 Pro Bowls and accounted for 279 touchdowns in their careers.

    "They're well-rounded. They have a lot of weapons," defensive end Chike Okeafor said. "We've just got to be disciplined, but still try to create havoc and turnovers."



    <LI>Intangible: The Seahawks are 0-5 after their bye weeks under Holmgren, including a 35-13 drubbing at the hands of the Packers in Green Bay last season that followed a 3-0 start.

    Three reasons for the Seahawks to be optimistic:



    <LI>For the offense: Grant Wistrom is now a Seahawk and Brian Young is now a Saint. Last year, these two high-rev competitors comprised the right side of the Rams' defensive line, combining for 210 tackles, 10 sacks, 58 quarterback pressures and countless headaches for opposing offenses.

    "There's a specific way that we're going to need to attack their defense. That will be our focus," said quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, who won't get the game plan until today. "Our job is going to be to go out and execute the game plan; find whatever matchups we want to take advantage of."



    <LI>For the defense: This defense hasn't been constructed specifically to match the Rams' at-times helter-skelter tempo on offense, but the infusion of speed and aggressiveness the past two seasons is undeniable and gives the Seahawks a better chance to combat whatever the Rams might throw at them.

    The Seahawks have the defensive linemen to pressure Bulger and a secondary capable of disrupting the Rams' passing game.

    "I think we are better equipped to match up with this offense," cornerback Marcus Trufant said. "But at the same time, if we don't come in focused -- no matter how equipped we are -- things won't happen for us."



    <LI>Intangible: The game is at Q, where the Seahawks have won 10 consecutive games -- the longest home streak in franchise history. It started with a 30-10 victory over the Rams on Dec. 22, 2002, and also includes a 21-20 victory over the Rams last September.

    "They are a good football team," Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren said. "It's a division opponent. A real rivalry. They have won our division. It's a home game. So you put all those things in the pot, there are a lot of reasons it's a big game."

    __________________________________________________________
    Keeping the Rams Nation Talking

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  • 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
    10/09/2004
    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, 01:13 AM
  • DJRamFan
    [Seahawks] Rams' comeback still in Hawks' heads
    by DJRamFan
    Seattle has struggled ever since St. Louis' Oct. 10 miracle rally

    By CLARE FARNSWORTH
    SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER REPORTER

    KIRKLAND -- They are 11 minutes that will live in infamy.

    With 7 minutes, 47 seconds remaining in a Week 5 game against the St. Louis Rams at Qwest Field, the Seahawks were a couple of guffaws from completing a laugher. Up 27-10, the Seahawks' No. 1-ranked defense had the Rams backed into a third-and-13 corner at their own 31-yard line.

    Before the Seahawks knew what had blindsided them, the Rams ran off 17 points to tie the score in regulation and then scored on the sixth play in overtime to win 33-27.

    Five weeks later in St. Louis, the Rams held the Seahawks without a touchdown in winning a rematch.

    Has the futility of those games, especially that October loss in Seattle, allowed the Rams to take up residence in the Seahawks' psyche?

    "Definitely," Rams defensive end Anthony Hargrove told reporters in St. Louis yesterday. "They've put on a good game, but we've still come away with victories."

    The Seahawks get another shot at redemption Saturday, when they host the Rams once again in the first round of the NFL playoffs.

    That colossal collapse -- or combustive comeback, depending on which side of the field you were on that October day -- is getting a lot of play this week, for the obvious reason.

    After that game, the Seahawks never were the same team that started 3-0.



    "Heck, I could tell you that we've blocked it out of our minds," coach Mike Holmgren said this week. "But that would be dishonest. You play a game like that, and if you lose a game like that ... I'm not sure I'll ever forget that game."

    The Rams, meanwhile, have relied on the resiliency they flaunted that day several times during the dozen games that followed.

    "We've used that a lot this year any time we've faced adversity," quarterback Marc Bulger said in a telephone interview. "A couple weeks ago, we were 6-8 and we knew we had to win our last two. We reflected back to that final quarter of the Seattle game a lot just because of the hole we were in, and knowing we could dig ourselves out."

    For those who have forgotten, or simply couldn't bear to watch, here's how the excavation process went:


    Bulger completed a 20-yard pass to Isaac Bruce on that third-and-13 play, which became a 35-yard gain to the Seahawks 34 when defensive tackle Rocky Bernard was penalized for a blow to the facemask of the Rams quarterback.


    One more third-down conversion, this time a 24-yard pass to Shaun McDonald, set up Bulger's 8-yard touchdown pass to tight end Brandon Manumaleuna that pulled the Rams to within 27-17 with 5:34 left in regulation.
    ...
    -01-06-2005, 03:34 PM
  • RamDez
    The Rams Will Win The West
    by RamDez
    The Less Things Change, The More They Stay The Same:
    By Rams Nation's AvengerRam

    As a loyal fan of the Rams for over a quarter-century, I could have easily reached this conclusion solely with my heart. Fortunately, the same conclusion also results from objective analysis of the facts at hand.

    The starting point of this analysis is an undeniable fact: the Rams were the better team in 2003. Not only did they have a better record (12-4 to 10-6), they scored more points (447 to 404), allowed only one more point (328 to 327), had more takeaways (46 to 28), a better turnover ratio (+7 to -1) and more sacks (42-40) than the Seahawks.

    So, I ask… what has changed since then that would cause me, or anyone else, to conclude that the outcome will be different in 2004? The answer again is simple: in the aggregate, virtually nothing has changed. The teams enter the 2004 season with rosters that are not markedly different than last years’ versions. Consequently, when fan loyalty is taken out of the equation, the only logical conclusion is that the Rams will reign supreme again.

    On offense, the Seahawks begin the season with the same starting lineup as last year. In fact, the team has not added a significant offensive player to the roster, either through free agency or the draft. So where will the improvement come from? Seahawk fans might suggest that key players like Matt Hasselbeck will progress and become elite players. But isn’t that what they said about Koren Robinson? You remember Koren, right? The guy who had a break out year in 2002, was on everyone’s “next big thing” list for 2003, only to fall from grace in a year marred by drops, internal disciplinary actions and an overall downturn in productivity. The bottom line is that the progression or regression of players cannot be predicted with any accuracy, and therefore cannot form the basis of a logical prognostication.

    Stated another way, while the Seattle faithful may hold out hope that last year’s lineup will produce greater results on offense in 2004, its just that… hope.

    By contrast, the Rams are objectively likely to improve on offense. They, like the Seahawks, return with all eleven starters. However, at the same time, they have addressed the offense’s biggest problem of the past two years – depth behind Marshall Faulk. By adding rookie Steven Jackson, rated by most as the top running back in this year’s draft, the Rams now have a far more talented understudy than Lamar Gordon and Arlen Harris to take over if Faulk cannot stay healthy (if he can, all the better). Jackson can also be a significant upgrade in the Rams’ short yardage and red zone running game, as he is a bigger, more powerful back than anyone on last year’s roster.

    Thus, the Rams offense, which outscored the Seahawks by 43 points last year, has added a blue chip running back, while the Hawks merely hope for improvement...
    -05-27-2004, 11:45 PM
  • r8rh8rmike
    Another Monkey For The Seahawks
    by r8rh8rmike
    Just when the Seahawks think they shook the monkey, along comes the Ram dominance in Seattle issue. One of these teams will take a big hit to their mental health on Sunday. I'm looking forward to Isaac Bruce pointing to his helmet on a conquered Qwest Field. I know how you Seahawk fans feel about the good Reverend and I'm sure we all hope he plays, albeit for different reasons.

    A Ram win would turn the tables in so many ways, as would a win for the Seahawks. This game is SO huge for both teams in so many ways. It should be a good one.
    -11-07-2005, 09:36 PM
  • RamDez
    Seahawks/NFL: Hawks must stick to plan
    by RamDez
    Seahawks/NFL: Hawks must stick to plan

    By CLARE FARNSWORTH
    SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER REPORTER

    KIRKLAND -- The obvious concern when playing the St. Louis Rams is defending their explosive and multi-tentacled offense.

    But the real problem concerns an implosion by your own offense. The destructive tendency when going against Marshall Faulk, Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce, Marc Bulger, Orlando Pace and Mike Martz is to think you have to score every time you touch the ball.

    This just-trying-to-stay-in-the-game approach too often takes a team out of its plan.

    It has paralyzed better teams than the Seahawks, who play host to Martz, his pack of productive players and all the mayhem they can create tomorrow at Qwest Field.

    That's why Matt Hasselbeck's reaction this week to the panic-button question was revealing and reassuring.

    The job of the Seahawks' offense, according to their quarterback, is finding advantageous matchups and going at the Rams within the framework of the game plan coaches have had extra time to formulate because of last week's bye.

    "As we get older and more mature, you worry about yourself more than you do about the other team," offensive coordinator Gil Haskell said through a smile when told of his quarterback's assessment. "The most important thing is that we understand what we're doing and do it better."

    The Rams have been in a nirvanic offensive zone for several seasons. That will happen when you win one Super Bowl and play in another, as the Rams did between 1999-2001.

    There is no better indicator of the Rams' confidence -- which some consider arrogance -- than Martz's play calling.

    Asked if he was looking forward to matching wits with Martz, Seahawks coach and play-caller Mike Holmgren offered, "Nah. Mike's a lot wittier than I am."

    Just another indication that the Seahawks are coming at this important game with the proper perspective. When teams and coaches try to outwit Martz, getting away from their modus operandi, they get their brains beat in.

    The Seahawks have been guilty of this in the past. Not this time. Not in a game in which they have a chance to start 4-0 for the first time in franchise history and open a 2 1/2-game lead over the defending NFC West champions five weeks into the season.

    Smart? Or smug? Who are these guys to flaunt a take-what-they-give-us attitude with a team that already has been where they're hoping to get?

    The Seahawks' 3-0 start has been constructed on a series of big plays by their No. 1-ranked defense. The offense has been more opportunistic than efficient, and ranks only 16th in the league.

    All the more reason to jab away rather than come out and try to exchange haymakers with the Rams.

    The Rams' revamped defense ranks 27th in the league and 28th...
    -10-10-2004, 01:08 AM
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