ST. LOUIS – A recap of the Seahawks’ 20-3 loss to the Rams at the Edward Jones Dome on Sunday:
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Steven Jackson. With apologies to rookie QB Sam Bradford and the Rams’ special teams units, what Jackson was able to do after not practicing all week because of a strained groin only added to his warrior reputation.
He rushed for 70 yards on 22 carries to become the second-leading rusher in the long history of the Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams. He added another 54 yards on three receptions, including a courageous 49-yard run with a screen pass to set up the Rams’ second touchdown. At times on that ramble up the field it looked like a might need a walker, but he kept running to help his team turn this one into a runaway.
“He’s Steven Jackson,” offered Seahawks nose tackle Colin Cole. “He was the same player he’s always been.”
That’s the point. Jackson wasn’t anywhere near 100 percent, but he somehow found a way to give an effort that pushed triple digits.
PLAYS OF THE GAME
Offense: Not to be redundant, but perhaps the most impressive play of the entire day was Jackson taking the short toss from Bradford on the right side and taking it to the Seahawks’ 21-yard line. It not only got the Rams close, it set up the play that produced the score – a screen pass to running back Kenneth Davis to the left side.
Defense: The Seahawks were in a third-and-1 when the game was still a game in the second quarter. But Matt Hasselbeck’s pass that was intended for tight end John Carlson was tipped at the line by Rams defensive end Eugene Sims. Cornerback Bradley Fletcher intercepted the ball and returned it 26 yards to the Seahawks’ 3-yard line. The Rams did not score, however, because rookie free safety Earl Thomas intercepted Bradford’s second-down pass in the end zone. So the Rams’ three-handed play led to the Seahawks’ defensive play of the game – Thomas’ third interception in the past two games.
Special teams: The Rams’ coverage units did an exemplary job containing Leon Washington and Golden Tate, who entered the game leading the league in kickoff and punt returns. But the biggest play was Kevin Dockery reading the Seahawks’ fake off a 51-yard field goal attempt and tackling holder Jon Ryan for a 9-yard loss. That’s how this entire game seemed to go. No matter what the Seahawks tried, the Rams seemed to have an even better countermove.
Pregame: As coach Pete Carroll was getting off the bus at the stadium, he noticed a young girl wearing a Seahawks jersey. He went over to sign an autograph.
In-game: In another example of how this game went, defensive tackle Junior Siavii got to Jackson behind the line of scrimmage in the fourth quarter. But he then removed his helmet and received a 15-yard penalty. First down Rams at the Seahawks’ 29-yard line on a drive that ended with the second of two Josh Brown field goals.
Post-game: Veteran strong safety Lawyer Milloy was not a happy camper in the locker room and really did not want to answer questions from reporters. But he did, because he’s a class act. But after saying he was done, someone tapped him on the shoulder. “I’m done,” Milloy said. But when he turned, the shoulder tapper was fellow Husky alum Demarco Farr. The two then exchanged a hug.
- The Seahawks had won 10 in a row against the Rams.
- The Seahawks are now 16-6 in games prior to their bye week.
- Justin Forsett had 39 rushing yards in the first quarter, but finished with 65.
- Brandon Stokley, who was just signed on Tuesday, caught four passes for 62 yards.
- Third downs were again a problem for the defense, as the Rams converted seven of 16 for 44 percent.
- Marcus Trufant, who did not practice all week because of a sprained ankle, had a game-high eight tackles.
- Chris Clemons got to Bradford for two sacks, giving him four in the past two games.
First-round draft choice Russell Okung started the game, but didn’t finish. He did not reinjure the right ankle that forced him to miss 5½ weeks, but the ankle got sore so he was replaced at left tackle by Tyler Polumbus. Because Polumbus started at right tackle, he was replaced by Sean Locklear.
Rookie rush-end Dexter Davis strained a hamstring in the fourth quarter and did not return.
YOU DON’T SAY
“We can’t be two different teams.” – Milloy, on the Seahawks who are 2-0 at home and the Seahawks that are 0-2 on the road
Peephole perspective: Whatever the Seahawks tried, the Rams seemed to have an answer for it. St. Louis 20-3.
Player of the quarter: Make it plural, make it the Rams’ coverage units and make it for a game-long effort. The Rams completely controlled the players who led the NFL in kickoff (Leon Washington) and punt (Golden Tate) returns entering the game.
Play of the quarter: In a sequence that summed up this afternoon for the Seahawks, DT Junior Siavii got to Jackson behind the line of scrimmage. But he then removed his helmet and was penalized 15 yards, giving the Rams a first down the Seattle 29.
Number of the quarter: 10. The number of letters in W-a-s-h-i-n-g-t-o-n. It’s significant because the Rams have evened their record at 2-2 with back-to-back home wins over the Washington Redskins and the NFL team from the state of Washington by a combined score of 50-19.
The bigger picture: The Seahawks’ defense forced a three-and-out on the Rams’ first possession of the quarter, but the ensuing Seattle series consisted of one play – Matt Hasselbeck’s 36-yard pass to WR Brandon Stokley to the Rams’ 41. Hasselbeck made the pass from the end zone after dropping the shotgun snap.
The two teams continued to do little on offense for most of the quarter until Josh Brown kicked a 31-yard field goal to make it Rams 20-3 with 2:35 to lays.
The Rams got the ball right back as DE James Hall beat LT Tyler Polumbus for a fumble-forcing sack of Hasselbeck and DT Fred Robbins recovered the Seahawks’ 10. The Seahawks defense held, however, as LB Aaron Curry dropped Jackson for a 2-yard loss on third-and-goal and DE Chris Clemons got to Bradford for a 10-yard sack on fourth down.
Player of the quarter: Steven Jackson. Strained groin? What strained groin? The Rams’ battering-ram of a back showed no signs of his injury in taking a screen pass for 49 yards to set up St. Louis’ second TD.
Play of the quarter: That 49-yarder by Jackson. It got the Rams close enough, and also set up the screen for the TD that followed.
Number of the quarter: 34. It was the uniform number of both players involved in a big defensive play for the Seahawks. Burned by a couple of screen passes for gains 49 and 21 yards early in the quarter, CB Roy Lewis (No. 34) read a screen to RB Kenneth Darby (No. 34) and dropped him for a 2-yard loss.
The bigger picture: The Seahawks got the ball first, but did nothing with it in a three-and-out series. The Rams then screened their way to a 17-3 lead as QB Sam Bradford threw a screen pass to Jackson on the right side for a 49-yard gain to the Seahawks’ 21 and then – on third-and-10 – used a screen pass to the left side to RB Kenneth Darby to get the ball into the end zone.
The Seahawks next series fizzled when Rams MLB James Laurinitias dropped RB Justin Forsett for a 3-yard loss on second down from the Seattle 45 and DE James Hall then beat LT Tyler Polumbus in getting to Matt Hasselbeck for a 7-yard sack.
The Seattle defense made a couple of plays to thwart the Rams’ ensuing possession. First, DT Junior Siavii chased Bradford out of bounds for no gain on second down and CB Roy Lewis then dropped Darby for a 2-yard loss on a third-down screen pass.
Following another three-and-out by the Seahawks, the defense came up with a big third-down stop as Lewis blitzed to force Bradford into a 12-yard sack by LB Will Herring.
Player of the quarter: Earl Thomas. For lack of a most statistically stunning performance, the Seahawks’ rookie FS intercepted a Sam Bradford pass in the end zone to keep the first half score as close as it was.
Play of the quarter: As Olindo Mare lined up for a 51-yard field goal attempt, the Seahawks opted for a fake. But it didn’t work as the Rams’ Kevin Dockery tackled holder Jon Ryan for a 9-yard loss before he could get around the left side. The Rams then drove to a field goal as time expired.
Number of the quarter: 3. The number of points scored by the Seahawks, despite generating 174 yards of offense, leading in time of possession and driving into Rams territory on numerous possessions.
The bigger picture: The Seahawks scored on the second play of the quarter, as Mare kicked his 25th consecutive field goal – a 22-yarder – to make it 7-3 and cap a 14-play, 81-yard drive that consumed 6½ minutes. The Seahawks moved into the red zone as Hasselbeck hit a 12-yard pass to WR Brandon Stokley and Justin Forsett ran 11 yards to the Rams’ 17.
After the defense forced a three-and-out, the Seahawks moved into Rams’ territory again on their next series, but FB Michael Robinson dropped Hasselbeck’s pass on 4th-and-2. The big play on the possession was Hasselbeck’s 17-yard pass to WR Mike Williams on third-and-14.
The Rams then drove to the Seahawks’ 42, but were penalized for illegal formation on fourth-and-1, nullifying Jackson’s run to pick up the first down, and the Rams had to punt. SS Lawyer Milloy had a sack on the series to put the Rams in a third-and-15 situation.
On the Seahawks’ ensuing series, Hasselbeck’s third-and-1 pass to TE John Carlson was tipped at the line by DE Eugene Sims and CB Bradley Fletcher made the interception. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll challenged the play, but the ruling on the field stood and Fletcher got a 26-yard return to the Seahawks’ 3.
The Seahawks also had Tyler Polumbus at LT on the short-lived series, because Russell Okung got an ankle injury. That put Sean Locklear at RT.
On the Rams’ first play, DT Colin Cole came off a block to stuff Jackson for a 1-yard gain. FS Earl Thomas then intercepted Bradford’s second-down pass in the end zone.
The Seahawks couldn’t convert, despite dipping into their bag of tricks. On third-and-8, Hasselbeck threw the ball to Robinson behind the line of scrimmage and Robinson then passed across the field to RB Leon Washington for a 33-yard gain to the Rams’ 33. But as Mare lined up for a 51-yard attempt, a fake field-goal didn’t work as Ryan, the holder, was tackled for a 9-yard loss.
The Rams then drove 45 yards in eight plays to a 30-yard field goal by Josh Brown to take a 10-3 lead as time expired.
Player of the quarter: Justin Forsett. The Seahawks’ committee-of-one carried seven times for 39 yards, a 5.6-yard average; and also caught a 5-yard pass.
Play of the quarter: The one that produced the only points, QB Sam Bradford’s 15-yard TD pass to former Washington State WR Brandon Gibson on third-10.
Number of the quarter: 98. It was the total yardage for each team in the quarter.
The bigger picture: The Rams got the ball first when MLB Lofa Tatupu called heads in the coin toss and it was tails.
RB Steven Jackson did indeed start, and got the first carry – only to be dropped for a 3-yard loss by SS Layer Milloy. Milloy also had a hit on QB San Bradford on second down to force an incompletion, and a Rams punt.
When the Seahawks took over, Russell Okung was at LT and Tyler Polumbus at RT. WR Brandon Stokley, who was just signed on Tuesday, was part of a four-wide package on third down and catch a 6-yard pass for the first down. But the drive stalled after the Seahawks reached the Rams’ 44 as the St. Louis pressured Matt Hasselbeck into a pair of incompletions.
An offside penalty against DE Chris Clemons on third-and-2 gave the Rams a first down, and they took advantage of it. Bradford passed 8 yards to WR Mark Clayton on third-and-6; Jackson broke a 16-yard run to the Seahawks’ 49; Bradford passed 34-yard to Clayton, who got open behind CB Marcus Trufant, to the 15; and Bradford’s third-down to Gibson for the TD capped a 10-play, 90-yard drive with 5:49 left in the quarter.
The Seahawks took the ensuing kickoff and drove into Rams’ territory again. The big play was RB Justin Forsett’s 12-yard run to the Seahawks’ 49 on third-and-1. Hasselbeck also hit his first three passes – 10 yards to WR Deion Branch; 5 yards to Forsett and 8 yards to WR Mike Williams. The Seahawks were at the Rams’ 7 with a third-and-5 when the quarter ended.
With Julius Jones being inactive, the Seahawks have three running backs available today – starting tailback Justin Forsett, Leon Washington and the versatile Michael Robinson, who will play fullback but also can slide to tailback if needed.
But all six wide receivers are active, including Brandon Stokley, who was just signed on Tuesday. The coaches are intrigued by what his experience and skills operating from the slot can provide the passing game. But at the cost of whose snaps?
First-round draft choice Russell Okung is active, after being sidelined since the second preseason game with a high ankle sprain. So is right tackle Sean Locklear, despite missing most of the week with a sore knee. The flip card lists Tyler Polumbus as the starter at left tackle (for Okung) and Locklear on the right side. But the line that was up first in pregame warm-ups has Okung on the left side and Polumbus on the right – with an interior of Chris Spencer at center and Ben Hamilton and Stacy Andrews at the guards.
On defense, Marcus Trufant is listed as the starter at left cornerback, but he did not practice all week because of a sprained ankle he got in last week’s game. Trufant is working with the starters in warm-ups.
The following players are inactive today for the Rams:
WR Laurent Robinson
S Darian Stewart
TE Billy Bajema
LB Chris Chamberlain
OT Renardo Foster
TE Michael Hoomanawanui
DT Clifton Ryan
DT Darrell Scott
Not on the list, of course, is leading rusher Steven Jackson. He strained a groin against the Redskins last week and did little in pregame warm-ups. So it will be interesting to see how many carries he gets.
The following players are inactive today for the Seahawks:
RB Julius Jones
CB Nate Ness
OL Evan Dietrich-Smith
OL Allen Barbre
OT Breno Giacomini
TE Anthony McCoy
DT Craig Terrill
DE E.J. Wilson
Last week, Jones did not get a carry against the Chargers. Today, the team’s leading rusher the past two seasons is inactive.
CB Marcus Trufant and RT Sean Locklear are active, but it remains to seen whether they start. Trufant (sprained ankle) did not practice this week and Locklear (sore knee) was limited on Wednesday before sitting out Thursday and Friday. Rookie Walter Thurmond and Tyler Polumbus replaced them in practice.
The Seahawks are 2-1 to share the NFC West lead with the defending division champion Arizona Cardinals. They could be 3-1 and alone in first place entering the their bye week after today’s action, because the Cardinals play the Chargers in San Diego and the Seahawks are facing a team they’ve beaten 10 consecutive times – including five in a row in the dome.
Could, however, won’t translate to will unless the Seahawks take care of business.
As quarterback Matt Hasselbeck put it this week when asked about that 10-game winning streak, “It probably means that they’re hungry and that we have to be ready.”
The Rams have yielded 17, 16 and 16 points in their first three games, despite ranking 24th in total defense – 25th against the run and 24th against the pass. But they have forced eight turnovers (three interceptions and five fumble recoveries), and it was turnovers that greased the way to the Seahawks’ loss to the Broncos in Denver two weeks ago.
Hasselbeck has started eight of the Seahawks’ 10 consecutive wins and is 10-3 in his career as a starter against the Rams – including three-touchdown pass outings in 2006 and 2009 and a pair of 300-yard passing performances.
The Seahawks, of course, can help Hasselbeck by continuing to improve their running game. Today, Justin Forsett likely will be running behind yet another new line combination – one that is expected to feature the regular-season debut of first-round draft choice Russell Okung at left tackle and Tyler Polumbus stepping in for a sore-kneed Sean Locklear at right tackle. Polumbus started the first three games on the left side while Okung was out with a high ankle sprain.
It’s not likely that the Seahawks’ defense will have to face Steven Jackson today. He left last week’s win over the Redskins with a strained groin and did not practice this week. Even if he does play, Jackson will not at full battering-ram strength.
That means the Seahawks’ fifth-ranked run defense will see a lot of Kenneth Darby. He scored not only his first NFL rushing touchdown last week but his first since his 2005, when he was a junior at Alabama. It’s not that Darby didn’t play much for the Crimson Tide; it’s that he was replaced when they got near the goal line. In fact, Darby finished his career at Alabama 241 yards shy of the school rushing record that was set by – you guessed it – Shaun Alexander.
Whether it’s Darby, Jackson or a combination of the two, the Seahawks need to continue stuffing the run to put rookie QB Sam Bradford into passing situations. But even that is only part of their equation for success, because they then have to pressure the first pick overall in the April draft into making mistakes.
The Seahawks have seven sacks and 21 QB hits. All but one in each category, however, came in their two games at Qwest Field. They didn’t get enough pressure on the Broncos’ Kyle Orton and he completed 25 of 35 passes for 307 yards and two TDs.
We’ll be back shortly with the list of inactive players.