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  • Seahawks' D gets first real test vs. Rams

    Seahawks' D gets first real test vs. Rams
    Seattle gunning for 4-0 start, but St. Louis stands the way

    The Associated Press
    Oct. 9, 2004

    SEATTLE - Say what you want about Grant Wistrom’s big free agency deal. The Seattle Seahawks believe he’s earning his paycheck, plus this week they get part of the bonus back.


    Nobody on Seattle’s side has to block him.

    The high-energy defensive end switched teams in what is becoming one of the NFL’s freshest rivalries. Wistrom left St. Louis for a free agency offer that included a $14 million bonus.

    “We always had to account for Grant and he gave us the same sort of problems he creates now for other teams,” Seattle coach Mike Holmgren said. “He’s just a good player and I’m glad he’s on our side now.”

    If Holmgren is happy now, he could be ecstatic by Sunday night.

    A victory would make the Seahawks (3-0) unbeaten through four games for the first time ever, extend Seattle’s home-field winning streak to 11 games and open an early but comfortable 2½-game lead in the NFC West.

    But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, not with the Rams (2-2) recovering after a slow start.

    Holmgren thinks the St. Louis defense remains formidable, even without Wistrom. The Rams have been slowed by injuries, but they still have Leonard Little, Adam Archuleta and Aeneas Williams.

    “It’s still a great defense even without Grant,” Seattle guard Steve Hutchinson said. “They’re a good unit. They play really good team defense.”

    And the offense?

    Marshall Faulk is coming off his 40th career 100-yard rushing game in last week’s 24-14 win at San Francisco, when Rams coach Mike Martz embraced what for him seemed an extraordinary run-first approach.

    “I don’t know why that’s such an issue,” Martz said. “I’ve always been pragmatic. I get in a game and I have an idea about what we want to do. If things don’t turn out well in an area, you change gears and move.”

    The offensive line, though, is coming together. Even better, Faulk catches an occasional breather — even if defenses don’t — because of promising rookie Steven Jackson.

    “Anybody who thinks Marshall Faulk has lost a step isn’t watching the same football,” Wistrom said. “He looks as quick as ever and now he’s got another running back who can come in and spell him, something he hasn’t really been afforded since he’s been in St. Louis.”

    Marc Bulger still has Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt running patterns. Orlando Pace is still taking up plenty of room at left tackle. In fact, he’ll match up with Wistrom for the first time at game speed.

    “They are a powerful offensive football team,” Holmgren said. “They have been and they are very, very capable still of lighting things up.”

    Can the same be said of the Seahawks?

    Seattle is coming off a bye week. Before that was a 34-0 win over the ***** where the defense dominated. Sure, the Seahawks put up a lot of points, but there are still questions about when they’ll hit stride offensively.

    “We can achieve more. We can put up 45 points if we really let the dogs loose,” said receiver Koren Robinson, who acknowledged that kind of scoring effort won’t be easy this week.

    The defense, on the other hand, has been marvelous.

    Seattle has allowed only 13 points in three games and held San Francisco scoreless for the first time since 1977. The Seahawks forced four ***** turnovers, and no opponent has reached the end zone since the opener.

    Martz said Seattle has one of the most well-coached defenses in the league. He emphasized it’s not built on “fancy schemes and tricks.”

    “I’m talking about guys who are well-coached in fundamentals,” Martz said. “They play with a great attitude. You don’t see them out of position. They get to the ball in a hurry and they get there in a bad mood.”

    The Seahawks have become tough to beat at home. Only New England’s 13-game home-field winning streak is longer than Seattle’s 10-game streak. A key chapter occurred last year when the Rams visited.

    There was a sentimental tone when Seattle’s Shaun Alexander arrived late after the birth of his daughter. The ending was a genuine thrill, though, with Hasselbeck leading a late TD drive for a 24-23 win.

    “That was the start of a great home-field advantage for us last year,” Holmgren said. “The fact we could win a close game at the end against a really good team, the fans should feel they had a lot to do with it. They did.”

    Time for the rematch. This series is becoming known for its dramatic moments and intensity.

    Just ask the guy who’s seen it from both sides.

    “We viewed it as a rivalry in St. Louis,” Wistrom said. “That’s what it’s developed into. These are two of the best teams in the NFC West right now, two teams with a lot of pride.”

    __________________________________________________________
    Keeping the Rams Nation Talking

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  • RamDez
    Seahawks-Rams matchup huge on a number of fronts
    by RamDez
    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...
    -10-07-2004, 12:17 PM
  • 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, 02:13 AM
  • RamDez
    Seattle test will tell us which way Rams are headed
    by RamDez
    Seattle test will tell us which way Rams are headed


    BY JEFF GORDON
    Post-Dispatch Online Sports Columnist
    Friday, Oct. 08 2004

    The Rams got better last week. They ran the ball, they stopped the run, the
    covered kicks, they won a division game on the road . . . all in all, it was a
    splendid Sunday night in San Francisco.

    But now we’ll learn so much more about this team. Rams coach Mike Martz insists
    that the early turbulence was expected and that his team will continue
    improving as the season unfolds.

    The Seahawks will test that theory -- because they have all the tools to
    deliver the Rams a severe beating in Seattle.

    Here is what we’ll be looking for over in this corner of cyberspace:


    * Can the Rams really stop the run?

    The Seahawks will pound running back Shaun Alexander into Larry Marmie’s
    defensive unit, looking to set up play-action passing opportunities.

    The Rams got a handle on Kevan Barlow last Sunday in Frisco, but this will be a
    much greater challenge.

    “You need to try to keep their linemen off our linebackers with the defensive
    front,” Martz observed during his Wednesday news conference. “It’s like putting
    your finger in a leak in the dam, it will spring somewhere else.”

    Like with quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, who is building on last season’s
    progress.

    “All of a sudden he is pulling the ball out of Alexander’s belly,” Martz said,
    “and throwing it down the field. That’s how they work.”


    * Can the Rams really establish the run?

    The Niners are nothing special on defense and Martz made the point of punishing
    them with Marshall Faulk and Steven Jackson. Will he still favor the run this
    week if Seattle has early success stopping it?

    The Seahawks have the league’s third-ranked rush defense, so opening holes will
    be a chore -- especially with the Rams offensive line so banged up.

    We’ll all monitor the play-calling closely. If Mad Mike abandons the run, the
    Seahawks have the personnel to get after quarterback Marc Bulger while making
    it difficult to connect on deep passing strikes. The Seahawks have an excellent
    secondary.

    So far, former Rams defensive end Grant Wistrom has been everything Seahawks
    coach Mike Holmgren hoped for. So far, Seattle's defensive line has been very
    disruptive.

    “Our defensive line, I’m not saying I’m surprised, but they put it together
    nicely,” Holmgren told the St. Louis media during a conference call Wednesday.
    “We’re playing a lot of folks in there. We drafted (Marcus) Tubbs in the first
    round. He’s in there and he’s a rookie. And Rashard Moore is a young guy,
    second-year player in there, and I’m pleased with...
    -10-09-2004, 10:21 AM
  • RamWraith
    Seattle test will tell us which way Rams are headed
    by RamWraith
    BY JEFF GORDON
    Post-Dispatch Online Sports Columnist
    10/08/2004


    The Rams got better last week. They ran the ball, they stopped the run, the covered kicks, they won a division game on the road . . . all in all, it was a splendid Sunday night in San Francisco.

    But now we'll learn so much more about this team. Rams coach Mike Martz insists that the early turbulence was expected and that his team will continue improving as the season unfolds.

    The Seahawks will test that theory -- because they have all the tools to deliver the Rams a severe beating in Seattle.

    Here is what we'll be looking for over in this corner of cyberspace:


    * Can the Rams really stop the run?

    The Seahawks will pound running back Shaun Alexander into Larry Marmie's defensive unit, looking to set up play-action passing opportunities.

    The Rams got a handle on Kevan Barlow last Sunday in Frisco, but this will be a much greater challenge.

    "You need to try to keep their linemen off our linebackers with the defensive front," Martz observed during his Wednesday news conference. "It's like putting your finger in a leak in the dam, it will spring somewhere else."

    Like with quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, who is building on last season's progress.

    "All of a sudden he is pulling the ball out of Alexander's belly," Martz said, "and throwing it down the field. That's how they work."


    * Can the Rams really establish the run?

    The Niners are nothing special on defense and Martz made the point of punishing them with Marshall Faulk and Steven Jackson. Will he still favor the run this week if Seattle has early success stopping it?

    The Seahawks have the league's third-ranked rush defense, so opening holes will be a chore -- especially with the Rams offensive line so banged up.

    We'll all monitor the play-calling closely. If Mad Mike abandons the run, the Seahawks have the personnel to get after quarterback Marc Bulger while making it difficult to connect on deep passing strikes. The Seahawks have an excellent secondary.

    So far, former Rams defensive end Grant Wistrom has been everything Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren hoped for. So far, Seattle's defensive line has been very disruptive.

    "Our defensive line, I'm not saying I'm surprised, but they put it together nicely," Holmgren told the St. Louis media during a conference call Wednesday. "We're playing a lot of folks in there. We drafted (Marcus) Tubbs in the first round. He's in there and he's a rookie. And Rashard Moore is a young guy, second-year player in there, and I'm pleased with how the defensive line is playing. They set the table for the linebackers and secondary."


    * Will Martz get Faulk out in...
    -10-08-2004, 08:06 PM
  • RamDez
    Seahawks DE downplays matchup with former team
    by RamDez
    Seahawks DE downplays matchup with former team

    By TIM KORTE
    AP SPORTS WRITER

    KIRKLAND, Wash. -- Grant Wistrom remembers the animosity on the field between NFC West rivals Seattle and St. Louis.

    Now, it's not so clear.

    Any free agent who switches teams within the same division knows what's coming twice a year: showdowns against former teammates and endless questions about how it's going to feel.

    That's the case this week for Wistrom, who spent his first six NFL seasons with the St. Louis Rams (2-2).

    "I think everybody is making a bigger deal about this than I am," said Wistrom, who ranks second on the Seahawks (3-0) with 2 1/2 sacks. "When the opening kickoff happens, you forget about all that stuff. It's just another football team."

    Oh, but there's a little extra invested for Wistrom this week.

    Not only is he facing his former teammates, but for the first time he'll line up against the potent Rams offense directed by his old coach, Mike Martz, a man he grew to know very well.

    Martz said Wistrom's departure had "a deep, deep emotional impact. He's like one of my family, like one of my kids."

    Wistrom's reasons for leaving were sound, Martz said. Wistrom received a $33 million contract that included a $14 million signing bonus, and Martz said he believes the star defender deserves that kind of money.

    "I don't look forward to playing him," Martz said. "I've watched him on tape and I think he's really playing very well."

    Wistrom went out of his way in recent years to stand up for Martz when he felt the coach was being unfairly maligned.

    "We were pretty tight," Wistrom said. "I really appreciate coach Martz. When he was catching a lot of heat, I always stood behind him. I told him that I believed in him as a coach, and I think he receives a lot of undue criticism."

    Another unusual experience for Wistrom will be matching up against five-time Pro Bowl tackle Orlando Pace. They routinely faced off in blocking drills, but Wistrom expects this to be different.

    "It's going to be a 60-minute battle," Wistrom said. "I practiced against him for six years, but Orlando's practice speed and his game speed are two different things. I'm going to have to work."

    There's one more twist.

    Wistrom was fined $5,000 by the NFL last season for flattening Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck during the Rams' 27-22 win in St. Louis. The next day, Hasselbeck called it "a great block."

    That's ancient history, though, because Hasselbeck understands Wistrom's full-throttle approach on the field. They're buddies now, and it's not unusual to see them trading good-natured barbs in the locker room.

    "He's just a good guy," Hasselbeck...
    -10-06-2004, 10:29 PM
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