Keys to the game: Seahawks at Rams
Posted by Danny O'Neil
Three keys to Seahawks victory
1. Keep on trucking.
In the past two games, Marshawn Lynch has had his two best regular-season rushing totals as a Seahawk. Even with Seattle losing rookie linemen John Moffitt and James Carpenter to season-ending knee injuries, the Seahawks have to start out trying to get traction on the ground against a Rams defense allowing the most rushing yards per game of any team in the league. Paul McQuistan steps in at right guard, and he is an experienced pro, while tackle Breno Giacomini plays with a real edge.
2. Prepare for action with Jackson.
Remember when Steven Jackson carried the ball only 11 times in Seattle's Week 17 victory over St. Louis last year? Yeah, that won't happen again Sunday. Not with Sam Bradford slowed by an injured ankle and the Rams rediscovering the fact that they do have one of the better backs in the league. Jackson has carried the ball 25 or more times in each of St. Louis' last three games, and he has rushed for more than 125 yards in each of them. Seattle needs to be prepared for a heaping helping of Jackson.
3. Scare up some sort of pass rush.
The Seahawks defense has recorded 14 sacks, which is the third-fewest. The Rams offense has allowed 32 sacks this season, the most of any NFL team, and Sunday they'll be playing without either of their two starting tackles. Right tackle Jason Smith will miss his fourth game because of a concussion and left tackle Rodger Saffold is out with an injured pectoral muscle.
Three keys to Rams victory
1. Help the secondary.
This week Al Harris became the ninth cornerback the Rams have lost to injury this year, leaving St. Louis' secondary even more exposed against a big-play receiver like Sidney Rice. Pass pressure is the great equalizer in that regard, and if the Rams let Tarvaris Jackson stand in the pocket, he's going to pick St. Louis apart even with that strained pectoral muscle. The Rams front seven has to help their injury-riddled secondary by compressing the pocket.
2. Don't get greedy downfield.
Seattle's young secondary has played better than many expected, especially considering rookie Richard Sherman is the third different player to start at left cornerback this season. Rookie free safety Earl Thomas has incredible range, and he knows Sam Bradford after facing him in the Big 12. One of his five interceptions last season came against Bradford. The Seahawks showed last week against Baltimore that they can take away the deep pass.
3. Hold the edge in the return game.
Special teams have been a blessing and a curse for both teams this season. The Rams were beaten by Arizona two weeks ago when the Cardinals' Patrick Peterson returned a punt for a touchdown in overtime, and last week St. Louis forced a fumble on punt return to set up what turned out to be the game-winning score against Cleveland. The Seahawks have been similarly inconsistent, allowing two punts and one kickoff to be returned for touchdowns this season. But last week, special teams went a long way to winning the game as the Seahawks forced two Baltimore fumbles on kickoff returns and Steven Hauschka kicked five field goals. Special teams could very well be the difference in this game, too.
Rams DE Chris Long vs. Seahawks RT Breno Giacomini.
Long is a former No. 1 pick who has eight sacks this season, including five in the past three games. Giacomini is stepping in for the injured James Carpenter and making his second career start. Giacomini is a physical run-blocker who plays with an edge, but he's going to have his hands full against a pass rusher like Long.
The Seahawks lost 20-3 at St. Louis in Week 4 last year, ending Seattle's string of 10 consecutive victories over the Rams, the longest winning streak against any opponent in franchise history. Seattle did not cross midfield in the second half of last year's loss, which was Seattle's first to the since 2004. Seattle beat St. Louis 16-6 in the final game of the regular season to win the division title.
Dec 24 - 6:10 AM Looking back: Revisiting Sunday's scouting report
Dec 24 - 1:09 AM Seahawks' scoring binge
Dec 24 - 1:01 AM Video: Summing Seattle's victory
Dec 24 - 12:58 AM Video: Russell Wilson post-game comments
Dec 24 - 12:21 AM Rookie passing roll call