Keys to the game: Seahawks vs. Rams
Three keys to Seahawks victory 1 Subject St. Louis to a run-on sentence. The Seahawks have rushed for more than 100 yards in five consecutive...
Three keys to Seahawks victory
1. Subject St. Louis to a run-on sentence. The Seahawks have rushed for more than 100 yards in five consecutive games, the first time they've done that since 2005. With Paul McQuistan moving from right guard to left tackle, it's even more important for Seattle to establish the run and avoid obvious passing situations that would allow Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo to choose from his vast menu of blitzes.
2. Keep cranking out turnovers. The Seahawks didn't force a turnover until Week 3 and had just 11 after eight games. Well, they have 12 in the past four weeks, a total that includes eight interceptions. Seattle has 23 takeaways and has committed 19 turnovers, the first time all season the team has had a positive turnover ratio.
3. Avoid early mistakes. Tarvaris Jackson's first two passes against the Rams on Nov. 20 were intercepted, setting up St. Louis' only touchdown of the game. That was, in fact, the only time the Rams moved the ball inside the Seahawks' 30. St. Louis has the lowest-scoring team in the league, which means that if Seattle doesn't help out by committing turnovers, the Rams are ill-equipped to help themselves.
Three keys to Rams victory
1. Get Steven Jackson involved. The Rams running back had just 11 carries in the 2010 regular-season finale in Seattle with a playoff berth on the line, matching his second-fewest carries in any game last season. Jackson ran just 15 times against Seattle when the teams played in St. Louis three weeks ago, as the Rams repeatedly used a spread offense with four receivers. Jackson is the best thing the Rams have going, and they need to make a more earnest effort to run the ball even though that means running straight at the strength of Seattle's defense.
2. Don't get behind early. The Rams simply don't have the firepower to play catch up. They've scored a total of four touchdowns in their previous five games. A deficit would also make it more difficult for the Rams to stick with Jackson and the run game, while playing into Seattle's plans to control the clock. St. Louis is allowing 157.8 yards rushing per game, most in the league, and plenty of that is because opponents get a lead and sit on the ball.
3. Pressure the passer. The Seahawks have lost 60 percent of their starting offensive line in the past four weeks with injuries to guard John Moffitt and tackles Russell Okung and James Carpenter. The Rams defense has plenty of problems, but pressuring the passer is not one. They have 33 sacks, tied for fifth most in the league. Eleven have come in the past three games, including four against Seattle on Nov. 20.
Rams DE James Hall vs. Seahawks LT Paul McQuistan. The Seahawks were able to weather season-ending injuries to right guard John Moffitt and right tackle James Carpenter. Whether they can cope with the loss of left tackle Russell Okung because of a torn pectoral muscle is another question entirely. McQuistan has started games at both right and left guard this season, and he has played right tackle in the past. This will be a different challenge. Hall has three sacks in his past three games against the Seahawks. And before you say Seattle will have to deploy tight end Zach Miller to help, don't forget that Chris Long is the Rams' other defensive end, which will leave right tackle Breno Giacomini with his hands full.
The Seahawks beat the Rams 24-7 on Nov. 20. It was Seattle's 12th victory over St. Louis in their past 13 meetings. Seattle has won six consecutive regular-season home games against St. Louis, and the Rams have scored a total of one touchdown in their past four games at Seattle. St. Louis has not won any game in Seattle since the Rams won a first-round playoff game 27-20 on Jan. 15, 2005.
The Seattle Times photographs
Purchase The Seattle Times images