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Monday, November 21, 2011 - Page updated at 07:30 p.m.
Watching the Seahawks defense is great entertainment
By Jerry Brewer
Seattle Times staff columnist
ST. LOUIS — You call it boring. They call it ideal.
You call it low scoring. They call it a fight.
You call it ugly. They call it a party.
The Seahawks engaged in a defensive tussle with the St. Louis Rams on Sunday, and while it had its sleepy moments, the Seattle defense wound up frolicking in the Edward Jones Dome. The Seahawks won exactly the way they're built to win, resting their forearm on the opponent's neck and flashing a sadistic smile all the while.
This rugged, oversized yet agile, young defense turned boorish against the offensively challenged Rams. The result was a 24-7 victory and a clear understanding that though the Seahawks are far from a juggernaut, they're a different kind of bad than the Rams are.
At 2-8, St. Louis is biding time until the April NFL draft. At 4-6 and winners of consecutive games, the Seahawks have a chance to make an interesting turnaround after a woeful start.
They're improving mostly because of a good defense that keeps getting better. In this game, offense should've been measured in inches rather than yards. And that's exactly the type of wrestling match the Seahawks can win. Position for position, pound for pound, play for play, this fledgling defense can match up with any 'D' in the NFL, especially when it finds answers for its pass-rushing weakness.
The Seahawks gave up just 185 yards to the Rams. They stopped running back Steven Jackson, who rushed for just 42 yards. Their cornerbacks manhandled the St. Louis receivers, which led to poor efficiency from quarterback Sam Bradford. The former No. 1 overall pick completed just 20 of 40 passes for a measly 181 yards. Seattle, which had just 14 sacks (third fewest in the NFL) entering this game, dropped Bradford five times.
Defensive end Chris Clemons had three of those sacks and forced two fumbles. Red Bryant intercepted a pass. Everyone on the defense contributed to this victory.
"It was fun," safety Earl Thomas said. "We had a party out there. Big guys were coming up with turnovers and running with the ball. It was great."
In the locker room afterward, the players couldn't talk enough about Bryant's interception and return, which included a vicious stiff arm that uprooted Rams wide receiver Austin Pettis.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll called it a play "we will always cherish," and he wasn't full of hyperbole in saying so. Thomas shook his head and declared, "That's grown-man strength." Linebacker Leroy Hill simply said, "Red Bryant's stiff arm was hell."
"I can't wait to see the stiff arm on tape," Bryant said. "A lot of people are telling me I went 'Beast Mode' on him, looking like Marshawn Lynch. When I got the interception, I had tunnel vision. I just wanted to get to the end zone, and I wanted to get there by any means necessary."
Bryant had a powerful 5-yard return, but he was tackled 21 yards short of the end zone. The turnover set up a Justin Forsett touchdown run.
The most discussed play wasn't the biggest play for the defense, however. That came from Clemons. With the Seahawks leading 10-7 in the third quarter, he sacked Bradford and forced a fumble. Defensive tackle Clint McDonald picked up the football and tried to run, but St. Louis offensive lineman Adam Goldberg knocked it out of his hands. Fortunately, Roy Lewis recovered the previously recovered fumble at the St. Louis 25-yard line. It led to Lynch scoring a touchdown on a 3-yard run. The Seahawks led 17-7, and the Rams were deflated and maybe even demoralized.
The defense keeps getting better. The Seahawks have lost two starting cornerbacks to injury and traded a starting linebacker, but the defense keeps getting better. They're starting three rookies and two second-year players, but the defense is maturing quickly.
So, how good can they be?
"We don't even think about it," rookie cornerback Richard Sherman said. "We just study and play disciplined and stick to the game plan. We don't know how high the ceiling can go, and we're not trying to see how low it can go."
Said Bryant: "We've got unique guys and special-team camaraderie on defense. We just want to get on a nice run, continue to play defense, and how good we are, it'll speak for itself."
They're partying, and everybody knows that at a good party, the music is too good and too loud for people to make useless small talk.
So the Seahawks defense will continue to groove, with big men bouncing all over the place. And if they're not entertaining you, then you'll probably never learn how to have a good time.
Jerry Brewer: 206-464-2277 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @Jerry_Brewer.
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