Monday, December 12, 2011
Rapid Reaction: Seahawks 30, Rams 13
By Mike Sando
SAN FRANCISCO -- Thoughts on the St. Louis Rams and Seattle Seahawks following the Seahawks' 30-13 win at CenturyLink Field:
What it means: The Seahawks improved to 6-7 and kept alive their long-shot playoff hopes. They did not play well enough to inspire much confidence heading into games against Chicago, San Francisco and Arizona. Both offensive lines struggled. Sam Bradford struggled and took a beating. This was an ugly game pitting two teams with severe injury problems on their offensive lines and insufficient firepower. Seattle inevitably pulled away. The Rams' pass-happy play calling near the goal line should invite harsh criticism.
What I liked: Marshawn Lynch and Steven Jackson ran exceptionally hard, occasionally with positive results. Lynch broke multiple tackles during a 12-yard run to the St. Louis 10-yard line in the third quarter. Both defensive fronts exploited mismatches exaggerated by injuries along both teams' offensive lines. The Rams, after allowing more rushing yards than any team in the league before Week 14, did a good job against Lynch early in the game. Jackson gained 50 yards on a screen. The Seahawks were at times effective exploiting the perimeter with Doug Baldwin and Golden Tate, an effective strategy against a defense lacking speed outside. Seattle's Brandon Browner made an aggressive, athletic play on the ball to pick off Bradford's pass to open the second half. Browner snagged the ball between his forearm and biceps, controlling it before gathering himself and securing the interception, his fifth of the season. Seahawks quarterback Tarvaris Jackson held the ball too long at times, but he improved as the game progressed. Jackson completed 21 of 32 passes for 224 yards, one touchdown and a 96.4 NFL passer rating.
What I didn't like: The Rams goal-to-go offense remained abysmal and was never worse than when Bradford took an intentional-grounding penalty when a touchdown would have pulled St. Louis within three points late in the third quarter. Why were the Rams passing in that situation? Because that is what they do. The Rams entered Week 14 running the ball only 32 percent of the time from inside opponents' 10-yard line. Only Green Bay has a lower percentage. That type of strategy makes sense for the Packers. They have Aaron Rodgers and one of the NFL's best offenses. The Rams have Steven Jackson and not much else. Later, the Rams ran Bradford on a failed sneak from the 1 despite his bad ankle. Also, Rams receiver Austin Pettis and tight end Lance Kendricks, perhaps wary of previous big hits from Seattle strong safety Kam Chancellor, appeared to shy away from contact early in the game. Rams linebacker James Laurinaitis dropped what should have been a momentum-turning pick early in the game. Both quarterbacks struggled against pressure. Seattle's Tarvaris Jackson held the ball too long. Browner and fellow Seahawks corner Richard Sherman again could not keep their hands to themselves, drawing repeated penalties for interference/illegal contact. Sherman also drew a taunting penalty after breaking up a third-and-goal pass from the 1.
Roster roulette: The Rams kept only two quarterbacks active, Bradford and Kellen Clemens, even though Bradford was clearly hurting. Bradford gutted it out and made it through the game. At one point, however, the Rams' medical team was surrounding him while Clemens warmed up along the sideline.
Skittles shower: Fans showered Lynch with his favorite candy after Lynch's touchdown run blew open the game late in the fourth quarter. That run gave him 115 yards for the game and 969 for the season. Lynch topped 100 yards rushing for the fifth time in six games. He scored a touchdown for the ninth game in a row, not counting the game he missed against Cleveland in Week 7.
Bradford did not look right: The Rams' quarterback showed toughness and mettle, but he had trouble driving the ball downfield. Watching him run away from pressure and then feebly succumb to a sack in the final minutes showed how much Bradford's ankle injury was limiting him. A sense of futility pervaded the Rams at times.
Boos rain upon Leavy: Referee Bill Leavy was working a game in Seattle for the first time since his crew's controversial rulings during Supe Bowl XL angered the Seahawks. Fans booed when Leavy waved off an interference call against the Rams in the third quarter. They would have booed that ruling no matter the referee, but if there was a little extra vigor, the history explained it.
What's next: The Seahawks visit the Chicago Bears. The Rams are home against Cincinnati.