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Saturday, December 28, 2013
Things to improve for the Seahawks

By Terry Blount

RENTON, Wash. -- Friday was a look at the things Seahawks fans should want to see from the Seattle offense Sunday. Here’s a list of things you should hope to see on defense and special teams in the game against the St. Louis Rams, with the NFC West title and home-field advantage for the playoffs on the line for Seattle.

Get it done at the end: In the losses at San Francisco Dec. 15 and to Arizona last weekend, the Seahawks' defense was outstanding until the final drive.

Seattle gave up long scoring drives at the end that were the difference in both games – an 11-play, 76-yard drive by the 49ers to set up the winning field goal, and a 10-play, 80-yard drive by the Cardinals for the winning touchdown.

It was the longest drive of the day for San Francisco and Arizona, and the only TD of the game for the Cardinals.

The Seattle defense was on the field a lot in both games because the Seahawks' offense struggled, so maybe the defensive guys were tired down the stretch. But defensive coordinator Dan Quinn has said his defense takes pride in finishing strong, which didn’t happen in the two losses.

More production from Bruce Irvin: When Irvin first returned after his four-game suspension to start the season, it looked like his move to outside linebacker was a great decision. He had a sack in his first game back and added a spectacular interception on a deep sideline throw in the Monday night game at St. Louis.

But Irvin has tailed off. He has one sack in the past 10 games. He had only one assist in the Arizona game last weekend. Irvin was drafted as a pass-rush specialist who would make big plays. He had eight sacks as a rookie last season playing defensive end. He needs to come up with a few more game-changing plays.

Stop Stacy: St. Louis rookie Zac Stacy rushed for 134 yards on 26 carries in the Monday night game against the Seahawks. He’s only 42 yards short of reaching 1,000 yards for the season.

Stop him from getting there and prove that rush defense isn’t an ongoing issue for the team. This is a challenge everyone knows is coming.

“We’re going to hand it to [Stacy] and see what happens,” St. Louis coach Jeff Fisher said Thursday. “It’s a milestone for any running back [reaching 1,000 yards] but especially for a rookie.”

Special-teams clean-up: Show everyone that the Arizona game was a one-week fluke. The special teams have been a big positive for the Seahawks all season, but the Cardinals game was a hiccup.

Robert Turbin fumbled a kickoff return without being touched. Kicker Steven Hauschka banged a 24-yard field goal attempt off the left upright, the first time he missed a kick all season that made it past the line of scrimmage. His only other miss was a blocked attempt at Indianapolis.

Hauschka also had a PAT blocked last weekend, a kick that came off his foot low, but he got a reprieve thanks to a penalty on the Cardinals. It’s probably was just one bad week, because Haushcka has been money all season.

Kickoff returns haven’t been so hot this season, but receiver Doug Baldwin, who likely will return kicks Sunday, had a 37-yard return when he replaced Turbin in the fourth quarter.