December 26, 2013 in Sports

Seahawks wary of Rams’ rush

Bob Condotta Seattle Times
 
Courtesy photo

Seattle Seahawks
(Full-size photo)

RENTON, Wash. – The Seattle Seahawks have already defeated Sunday’s opponent, the St. Louis Rams, once this season.

But their 14-9 win at St. Louis on Oct. 28 was hardly an easily duplicated formula for victory.

In fact, that game stands as one of the oddest of the NFL season as the Seahawks won despite being outgained in total yards 339-135.

How unlikely was that win? Teams that had been outgained by 200 yards or more were 37-291 since 2001 before that game.

In October, the Rams amassed seven sacks and held Seattle to a season-low 44 rushing yards in a game in which the Seahawks had to stop the Rams on fourth down from the 1-yard line in the game’s final seconds.

“They just whupped us,” offensive line coach Tom Cable said.

Now, after losing to Arizona 17-10 on Sunday, the Seahawks have to beat the Rams again at CenturyLink Field if they want to control their fate in the NFC West. A victory assures Seattle the division title, while a loss opens the door for the 49ers if they beat Arizona.

The Seahawks hope they can handle the Rams better now that they have both starting tackles back – Russell Okung on the right side and Breno Giacomini on the left. Each missed the first Rams game because of injury, one of seven Seattle played this season without both tackles. Cable, though, said not to assume it’ll be easy.

“It’s a group effort, and so we have to do better as a group,” he said.

Still, much of the focus of the game will be on the matchup of Okung against St. Louis defensive end Robert Quinn, who is emerging as a Defensive Player of the Year candidate with a league-leading 18 sacks. He had three in the first game against the Seahawks, while Chris Long had three on the other side.

“We’ve got to win the one-on-one battles,” fullback Michael Robinson said. “He’ll (Quinn) be lined up right there on our left side, and Russell is going to have to block him and that’s just the way it is. And if he doesn’t, then somebody else has got to do it.”

Thanks to Quinn and Long (who has 7.5 sacks), the Rams have 49 sacks this season, third in the NFL, a pass rush that has helped spark St. Louis to four wins in its last six games.

“I definitely think we have one of the best front fours in the game, if not the best,” Quinn said Wednesday. “…We got pressure on Russell Wilson (in the first game), I think we got him rattled a little early, but we weren’t able to close out the game. I think we’ll somewhat stick to that kind of game plan maybe and we’ll see what happens.”

Other than figuring out how to score more points than the Seahawks, the Rams have had a good game plan in every game they have played against Seattle since Jeff Fisher took over as coach before the 2012 season.

The Rams beat Seattle 19-13 in St. Louis last year, when Wilson threw a career-high three interceptions. Seattle then beat the Rams 20-13 last December as the Seahawks needed to win to stay alive in the NFC West race. The Seahawks won despite allowing six sacks – three by Long.

“They are really good,’’ Cable said of St. Louis’ defensive front. “So we will have to have it right.”


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