When: Sunday, 1:05 p.m. PT, Edward Jones Dome, St. Louis
Record: 2-7 after Sunday’s 13-12 victory over the Browns in Cleveland
Where they rank: Tied for No. 25 in offense (16th rushing, 26th passing); No. 24 on defense (32nd rushing, 12th passing)
Series: Seahawks lead 15-10, including a 16-6 victory in the 2010 regular-season finale in Seattle that decided the NFC West championship. But the Rams won 20-3 in St. Louis in Week 4 to snap the Seahawks’ five-game winning streak on the Rams’ home turf.
Star power: Steven Jackson. Players have come, and players have gone as the Rams are on their fifth coach in the past seven seasons. But one thing has remained the same: Jackson is the best player on this team. He leads the Rams in rushing (707 yards, including 128 in Sunday’s win over the Browns; 5.1-yard average); touchdowns (five, four rushing); and is fourth in receptions (20, including a 15-yard TD). Jackson also ranks ninth in the league in rushing, is 16th in total yards (825) and tied for 15th in first downs (38). All this despite missing most of three games with a quad injury. With 8,527 career rushing yards, Jackson is the Rams’ all-time leader in a group that also includes Eric Dickerson, Marshall Faulk and Lawrence McCutcheon. With 9,064 combined yards rushing and receiving since the start of the 2006 season, Jackson is the NFL leader in a group that also includes Frank Gore, LaDainian Tomlinson and Adrian Peterson. As always with Jackson, who entered the league in 2004 as the Rams’ first-round draft choice out of Oregon State, it’s not so much that Jackson rolls up all those stats but how he does it – with an impressive combination of power, speed and determination.
Unsung hero: James Hall. Victories have been hard to come by for the Rams, and plays leading to them even harder. So Hall getting an arm on Phil Dawson’s just-wide potentially game-winning 22-yard field goal attempt in the fourth quarter on Sunday warrants something. In his role as the defensive end opposite Chris Long, Hall also has three sacks.
On the spot: Sam Bradford. The Rams’ QB is playing, but still hampered by the high ankle sprain he got on Oct. 16 that forced him to sit out two games. The offense has scored 13 points in each of the two games since his return. Sunday, Bradford will have to deal with eluding Chris Clemons, who leads the Seahawks with five sacks and has collected 10½ of his 16 sacks the past two seasons on the road – including two in St. Louis last year.
Burning question: What happened to this team? The Rams, if you remember, were the trendy preseason pick to win the NFC West. Instead, they’ve won two games and started the season with a six-game losing streak. The Rams have been beaten up, losing to the Ravens by 30 points, the Cowboys by 27, the Packers by 21 and the Eagles by 18. The Rams also are beat up, as coach Steve Spagnuolo ran through an injury list on Monday that included 15 players.
Number to know: Jackson has 29 100-yard rushing performances in his career, but none against the Seahawks in 13 meetings.
Familiar faces: Kicker Josh Brown was the Seahawks’ leading scorer from 2003-07. Punter Donnie Jones was with the Seahawks in 2004. Wide receiver Brandon Gibson played at Washington State. Defensive coordinator Ken Flajole was an assistant coach with the Seahawks from 1999-2002 and went to Pacific Lutheran. Wide receivers coach Nolan Cromwell held the same position with the Seahawks from 1999-2007. Defensive backs coach Clayton Lopez was an assistant coach with the Seahawks from 1999-2003.
The last word: “This is not easy. It’s hard to get continuity and execution and smoothness when the parts are interchanging. Usually at this point in the year you are kind of hitting your groove and into November. But that’s all right. We will battle through it. We’ll get some guys back and keep plugging away.” – Spagnuolo on the Rams’ rash of injuries
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