Countdown to kickoff

ST. LOUIS – Greetings from the Edwards Jones Dome, where the Seahawks are starting to take the field to begin preparing for today’s game against the Rams on the first Sunday of October.

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.

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