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  • Rams want to show Seattle who is boss

    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 Williams said. "We were all talking afterwards (against San Francisco). You could tell, and you could probably see on TV, they weren't real sure what was coming. So it's just advantageous for everyone. It even makes it easier to throw for Marc (Bulger) when we do throw."

    Against the *****, the Rams had seven runs go for more than 10 yards, their second-highest total of the season. (They had eight against Arizona.)

    "Any time you can run it, that gets those linebackers aggressive (in run support)," Bulger said. "It opens up the play-action. I think it was evident watching Isaac (Bruce) get behind the linebackers in that zone. That's pretty much what you're trying to get off the play-action."

    The second part of the victory equation at San Francisco was the play of the defense. The Rams forced turnovers, rushed the passer and took chances on the blitz. The result was a dominating performance for 2 1/2 quarters.

    "We came out with a lot of intensity that game," linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa said. "We got that turnover on the second series, and that just made us want more and more."

    More of that kind of defense is needed to stay on the field with Seattle. The Seahawks have a balanced offense, with a solid offensive line and threats at all the skill positions.

    "This is probably the best offense we've played all year," defensive tackle Ryan Pickett said. "They can pass, run the ball. Great offensive line. So it's a big challenge."

    Meanwhile, the Seattle defense is off to a surprisingly strong start, bolstered in part by the offseason acquisition of former Rams defensive end Grant Wistrom. Almost across the board, there are no glaring weaknesses on either side of the ball for Seattle.

    If that weren't enough, the Seahawks are building up the kind of home-field dominance that the best teams display. The Seahawks have a franchise-record 10-game home winning streak, currently second only to New England's 13-game home streak in the NFL.

    No wonder coach Mike Martz says, almost matter of factly, "In our division, at this point, they really are the team to beat."

    Bulger agrees, but adds, "It's up to us to change it. We respect them, but at the same time, we're not intimidated by them or anything like that. I think it's going to be a good test to see where we're at."

    Keeping the Rams Nation Talking

Related Topics


  • RamDez
    Seahawks-Rams matchup huge on a number of fronts
    by RamDez
    Seahawks-Rams matchup huge on a number of fronts


    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
  • RamWraith
    Rams, Hawks Rivalry Heating Up
    by RamWraith
    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...
    -10-05-2005, 02:15 PM
  • RamWraith
    Martz puts emphasis on playing with attitude
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Saturday, Nov. 13 2004

    Mike Martz began the week in a frenzy, and never really calmed down. He is at
    his wits' end over the current state of the 2004 Rams and is trying shock
    therapy to revive his team's fortunes.

    "I've never seen him like this," wide receiver Torry Holt said. "I hate to see
    him like this, because that tells us we ain't getting things done. But it shows
    me that he does care how we perform as a football team, and where we are as a
    football team.

    "So hopefully, we can go out there and give him a performance to kind of cool
    him down."

    Martz's tense, at times abrupt, and at times surly interchanges with the media
    weren't for show this week. The players got a similar - even stronger - message
    behind closed doors. He's tired of mistakes. He's tired of counting on players
    who aren't delivering. He's tired of missed blocks and half-hearted tackles.

    "After that meeting, it was a little quiet around here," Holt said. "Guys were
    a little more focused. Guys were a little more quick in their steps. If that's
    what it takes for us to get back on the winning edge, then I'm all for it."

    Which meeting? Monday's?

    "Every day, actually," Holt said, laughing.

    There is no time like the present, because if ever a season boiled down to one
    game, it's Sunday for the Rams. Seattle comes to the Edward Jones Dome in first
    place in the NFC West with a 5-3 record. The Rams are 4-4.

    Both teams would be 5-4 if the Rams win, but by virtue of their comeback
    victory Oct. 10 in Seattle, the Rams would have the tiebreaker edge. In
    essence, they'd have the lead in the NFC West.

    And what if the Rams lose? They would be 4-5 with four of their next five games
    on the road. Seattle would be 6-3 with their next three games at home against
    Miami (1-8), Buffalo (3-5) and Dallas (3-5). In short, that's not a pleasant
    possibility for the Rams, even with seven games remaining in the unpredictable

    "With all the problems we've had, we're sitting in a situation where if we can
    win one game right now, then we'll be OK," defensive lineman Tyoka Jackson

    "We've been pretty fortunate in that respect," quarterback Marc Bulger said.
    "We are not playing our best right now, but we are still in halfway decent
    shape in this division. We could've built a nice lead, but we didn't. But
    playing as bad as we have, and knowing that we could be tied for first place
    after this game, is a saving factor."

    But even Bulger concedes it's a dire outlook if the Rams...
    -11-13-2004, 08:04 PM
  • 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
  • RamDez
    Seahawks' D gets first real test vs. Rams
    by RamDez
    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...
    -10-10-2004, 02:08 AM