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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Hawks, Rams well-acquainted

Division rivals looking to rebound from rough ’08

Danny O’Neil Seattle Times

SEATTLE – The rivalry is based on proximity yet it has nothing to do with geography. In fact, if you go by mileage, St. Louis is the most distant of Seattle’s three division rivals. But the Seahawks and the Rams have been close in two very important ways: on the scoreboard and in the standings.

Since the NFC’s Great Western Reformation of 2002 when Seattle switched conferences, the two teams have played 14 times. Eight of those games have been decided by six points or fewer.

It was more than the score that made those games to remember, it was the significance.

St. Louis and Seattle were the conference heavyweights. They finished in the top two spots in the division for four successive seasons starting in 2003.

They were side by side in the NFC West last season, too, except this time it was on skid row. The Rams went 2-14, the franchise’s worst season since 1962, while the Seahawks were 4-12, their worst record since 1992.

This week offers a blank slate for both teams. A fresh start for two teams under new head coaches – Jim Mora for the Seahawks and Steve Spagnuolo for the Rams – seeking to leave last season’s struggles in the rear-view mirror.

“You only get one first game,” linebacker Lofa Tatupu said.

One chance to go 1-0, and familiarity will only raise the stakes.

“We’ve had some great games with them,” Tatupu said. “They’re excited. … We both had tough seasons last year.”

It was the second bummer in a row for the Rams, who have finished last in the division each of the past two years.

That’s been a steep fall for the Rams from their perch as the divisional bully that used to push the Seahawks around. St. Louis won the division in 2003 when the Seahawks made the playoffs for the first time since joining the division, and while Seattle won the NFC West in 2004, it was a paper title. St. Louis beat Seattle twice in the regular season and again in the playoffs.

Seattle has won eight in a row against St. Louis since that game, the Seahawks’ longest winning streak against any single opponent in franchise history.

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