When: Sunday, 1:25 p.m., CenturyLink Field
Record: 7-7-1 after Sunday’s 28-13 victory over the Buccaneers in Tampa
Where they rank: No. 24 on offense (19th rushing, 19th passing); No. 15 on defense (16th rushing, 15th passing)
Series: Seahawks lead 17-11, but the Rams won in St. Louis in Week 4 to snap the Seahawks’ three-game winning streak
Star power: Janoris Jenkins. Yes, he’s only a rookie cornerback. But just look at what this rookie cornerback has done. Sunday, he returned an interception 41 yards for a touchdown. It was his third pick-six of the season, and only two other rookies have done that – the 49ers’ Ronnie Lott in 1981 and the Lions’ Lem Barney in 1967. But that’s not all. The Rams’ second-round draft choice also has returned a fumble for a TD. And his teammates just love watching Jenkins get his hands on the ball. “When he steals the ball, it’s almost like Madden for me,” left tackle Rodger Saffold said, referring to the popular video game named after the former Raiders coach, not John Madden himself. “I’m literally like, ‘OK, cut inside! OK, go right! Get in the end zone. Good job!’ ” Jenkins is averaging 37.5 yards on his four interceptions, including the one he didn’t score on. During a conference-call interview on Wednesday, Rams coach Jeff Fisher said, “He’s an outstanding young man. Loves the game. Understands the game. And he’s certainly over the last three, four weeks improved significantly. I don’t want to say he’s guessing right, but he’s making good decisions out there and it’s been paying off for him.”
Unsung hero: Lance Kendericks. He’s living every tight end’s dream by becoming more involved in the passing game. In Sunday’s win over the Bucs, he had his first 100-yard receiving game on four receptions – and 80 came on the longest scoring play by a tight end in franchise record. Kendricks broke a 55-year-old mark that belonged to Leon Clarke (70 yards). For the season, he’s got 39 receptions and four TDs. We’re not talking Jason Witten or Tony Gonzalez here. But for Kendricks, a few receptions to go with all the blocking he does has been welcomed.
On the spot: The Rams. Think about it. The Seahawks lost to the Cardinals (by four points), Rams (by six) and 49ers (by seven) on the road in the first seven weeks of the season. In the December rematches at CenturyLink Field, the Seahawks beat the Cardinals 58-0 and the 49ers 42-13. Fisher referred to the matchup as “our final challenge of the year.”
Burning question: Is this the season Steven Jackson finally will play on a Rams team that finishes with a winning record? That’s right; the Rams’ first-round draft choice from 2004 never has played on a team that won more than it lost. There were 8-8 records in 2004, which got the Rams into the playoffs and allowed them to beat the Seahawks in a wild-card game; and also in 2006. But the Rams also have finished 7-9 (in 2010 and 2011), 6-10 (2005), 3-13 (2007), 2-14 (2008) and 1-15 (2009). “We have a lot to play for: a winning season, undefeated in the division and something to build off of and go into the offseason feeling happy and strong about,” Jackson said.
Numbers to know: 10, rushing yards needed by Jackson to reach 1,000 for the eighth consecutive season, something only sixth other backs in the history of the NFL have done – Emmitt Smith, Barry Sanders, Curtis Martin, Thurman Thomas and LaDainian Tomlinson. … 3, consecutive road victories for the Rams, who won at Arizona and Buffalo before beating the Bucs on Sunday. Their last three-game road winning streak came in 2003. … 4-0-1, Rams record in the NFC West. … 3.4, the rushing average of the Bucs’ Doug Martin on Sunday. He came in averaging 4.6 yards. … 149, career victories for Fisher, which ranks third among active NFL coaches behind Bill Belichick (185) and Mike Shanahan (163).
Familiar faces: Wide receiver Brandon Gibson, who’s second on the team with 48 receptions and has a team-high five TD catches, played at Washington State. Tackle Wayne Hunter was with the Seahawks in 2003. Punter Johnny Hekker went to Bothell High School.
The last word: “I can’t remember a team that’s averaging 50 points a game over three consecutive weeks. So that’s very impressive. But you’re talking about a team that’s six out of their last seven. They’re younger players are just getting better and better. It starts with the quarterback. They’re healthy, they’re playing hard, they’re making plays in all three phases. That’s what contributes to good football and winning football.” – Fisher on the Seahawks
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