GAME: Seahawks (3-6) at Rams (2-7). WHEN: Sunday, 1:05 p.m., Edward Jones Dome. MEETING: 26th (Rams lead 15-10). LINE: Rams by 2. TV/RADIO: FOX (Channel 13 / ESPN-710).
Since the Seahawks lined up to play the Baltimore Ravens a week ago, they have experienced a profound negative change — the loss of the right side of their offensive line. A day after beating the Ravens 22-17, the Seahawks placed RG John Moffitt on injured reserve (knee). On Thursday, RT James Carpenter joined Moffitt on the out-for-the-year list after suffering a torn ACL.
For Sunday’s game against the Rams (2-7), the Seahawks will replace Moffitt with Paul McQuistan, who started three games earlier this season when Robert Gallery suffered a groin injury, and insert Breno Giacomini into Carpenter’s slot.
“Were pretty lucky because we have Breno (Giacomini) here and Paul (McQuistan), so weve got some veteran guys,” said Seattle assistant head coach Tom Cable. “Paul has a number of starts in his career and Breno has been around the league a little bit, so well be fine.
The Seahawks had two of their best rushing games of the season in the past two weeks, Marshawn Lynch gaining 135 yards against the Dallas Cowboys (Nov. 6) and 109 against the Ravens. Seattle also allowed just one sack in each game.
“Listen, it’s a shame to lose those guys (Moffitt and Carpenter),” added Cable. “But injuries are part of the game. Were all confident in that and I have no worries. Were just going to move forward and continue to get better. Thats what we have to do.
Whether the Seahawks can continue to run the ball effectively without Moffitt and Carpenter anchoring the right side of the line remains to be seen. But St. Louis coach Steve Spagnuolo, despite his own team’s troubles (the Rams are 2-7), has taken notice of the improvement in Seattle’s run offense.
“The two things that jump right out at me,” said Spagnuolo, “is that theyre getting in a groove running the football. Theyve got three good running backs. So we have a tremendous amount of respect for that. And then as soon as you turn on the defensive tape, it seems like every time I watch the sideline view, I see the line of scrimmage being re-established on the other side of the offense.
“They are, in my opinion, very stout, active and aggressive up front. I think thats how you play good defense. I think they do a good job with it. So we have a great deal of respect for those two phases. Then all of a sudden you turn on special teams tape and you see what Leon Washington and that whole special teams group the punter (Jon Ryan), the kicker (Steven Hauschka) can do and weve got a tremendous amount of respect for them.
Although St. Louis has dropped seven games, including the first six of the season, the Rams have rebounded in the last month, winning two of their past three.
“We didnt come out of the blocks we didnt get off to a very good start,” Spagnuolo said. “We lost some tough ones and weve been battling the injury bug. We do not use that as an excuse. Every team in the league is having injuries. But its been hard for us to find the groove and get any kind of continuity with having the interchangeable parts that weve been going through for really 10 weeks.
“I can only recall one Tuesday morning or Monday morning when we werent talking about shuffling personnel or changing the 53 I think it was after the New Orleans game. But every other game, theres been a change here. That makes it difficult. Its a challenge, but everybodys going through it and weve got to find a way to overcome it.
“Our slow start has definitely been something that weve had to overcome but I feel like we have gotten better,” said St. Louis quarterback Sam Bradford. “In the past three weeks, weve played better football and as the year winds down, hopefully well just continue to get better.
RIVALRY: Sunday’s game will mark the 26th meeting between the Rams and Seahawks and the 11th in St. Louis. Seattle is 6-4 against the Rams under the Arch. Seattle and St. Louis split the series in 2010, Seattle losing 20-3 in St. Louis and winning 16-6 in Seattle in the final game of the regular season.
LAST MEETING: On Jan. 2, 2011, the Seahawks won their fifth NFC West title in seven years by defeating the Rams 16-6 in front of 67,325 at Qwest Field (now CenturyLink Field). Charlie Whitehurst started in place of injured Matt Hasselbeck and completed 22 of 36 passes for 192 yards and a four-yard touchdown to Mike Williams. Olindo Mare kicked field goals of 31, 38 and 34 yards for Seattle. Former Seahawk Josh Brown booted two field goals for St. Louis.
LAST WEEK: The Seahawks defeated the Baltimore Ravens 22-17 with Marshawn Lynch gutting out 109 rushing yards and a touchdown. The victory over the AFC North co-leader snapped Seattle’s losing streak at three games. St. Louis held on to defeat Cleveland 13-12 after Browns kicker Phil Dawson missed a 22-yard field goal following a bounced snap with two minutes left.
TRENDS: The Seahawks snapped a three-game losing streak with their 22-17 win over Baltimore. After dropping its first six, St. Louis has won two of its last three, beating New Orleans 31-21 and Cleveland 13-12. Sandwiched between the wins: a 19-13 loss to the Arizona Cardinals.
COACHES: Pete Carroll is in his second season as head coach of the Seahawks. In 2010, he directed Seattle to the NFC West title, the Seahawks becoming the first team in NFL history to win a division with a losing (7-9) record. Prior to joining the Seahawks, Carroll served as head coach at Southern California, where his Trojans won seven national championships.
Steve Spagnuolo: Became head coach of the Rams in 2009 after previously serving as defensive coordinator of the New York Giants from January 2007 to January 2009. He also served as a Philadelphia Eagles assistant for eight years. Spagnuolo had a number of stops in the collegiate ranks at Massachusetts (1981-82), Lafayette (1984-86), Connecticut (1987-89), Maine (1993-94), Rutgers (1994-95) and Bowling Green (1996-97). He also coached the Barcelona Dragons (1992) and Frankfurt Galaxy in the World League of American Football.
The already staggering injury list for the Rams grew Friday when starting left tackle Rodger Saffold suffered a serious pectoral injury that could require season-ending surgery. The team said Saffold suffered the injury during a routine weight-lifting session. The Rams were already missing starting right tackle Jason Smith because of a concussion. Besides playing backups at both positions, they recently switched out their center spot, replacing center Jason Brown with Tony Wragge. . . . The Seahawks rank 29th in the NFL in total offense (299.6), 28th in rushing offense (91.7), 22nd in passing offense (207.9) and 26th in points per game (16.0). The Rams rank T26 in total offense (310.4), 16th in rushing offense (113.8), 26th in passing offense (1986.7) and 32nd in scoring (12.6). Seattle ranks T15 in total defense (349.4), 12th in rushing defense (106.4), 19th in pass defense (243.0) and 18th in points allowed (22.4). St. Louis ranks 24th in total defense (371.3), 32nd in rushing defense (150.6), 12th in pass defense (220.8) and 25th in points allowed (24.8) . . . Carroll is 1-2 lifetime against the Rams, 1-1 with the Seahawks . . . Spagnuolo is 1-3 against Seattle . . . If Lynch rushes for 100+ yards against St. Louis, it will mark the first time in his career than he has put together three consecutive 100-yard games . . . Seattle ranks fourth in the NFL in opponent rushing yards per attempt (3.56) . . . The Seahawks feature the youngest offense in the NFL, their most currrent starters averaging 25 years, 354 days in age.
ART THIEL’S TAKE: The Seahawks get the Rams twice in four weeks, which this season should be as close at it gets to Christmas before Christmas. But after an 0-6 start, the Rams have won two of their past three. Yes, the wins were over lame peers Arizona and Cleveland, both 3-6, but that’s what the Seahawks are.
Bad as the Seahawks offense has been — 26th in the league at 16 points a game — the Rams, beset by injuries and a poor start by second-year QB Sam Bradford, are the worst, at 12.6 and last. They’re also last in the NFL in rushing defense (150.6 ypg), where injuries have piled up. The injury loss for the season of Cliff Harris (knee) Sunday means four of the five top cornerbacks are out. And they now are missing both starting offensive tackles.
The last time the teams played Jan. 2, backup QB Charlie Whitehurst was good enough to beat St. Louis 16-6 to win the NFC West title. Tarvaris Jackson is an upgrade at QB, at least enough to exploit the Rams’ newbie secondary. Seahawks 17, Rams 13.
STEVE RUDMAN’S TAKE: If Lynch can punch out 109 yards against a very good run defense like Baltimore’s, he should carve through the Rams with no problem, providing that Giacomini and McQuistan are up to the task of replacing Carpenter and Moffitt. If the Seahawks can hold the Ravens to 17 points, they should have no problem shutting down the Rams, who score just 12.6 points per game.
But what should happen and what will happen could be drastically different things. In the majority of Seattle’s nine games, the Seahawks have shown almost no offense whatsoever. But twice, in a 36-25 victory over the New York Giants Oct. 9, and again last Sunday against Baltimore, the Seahawks have played capably, even remarkably well, at times.
Then there is a fact that Steven Jackson (128 yards against the Browns) is always a load and quarterback Sam Bradford has had a return to health. Bottom line: Despite last week, I don’t trust the Seahawks to deliver any kind of consistency. Rams 17, Seahawks 13.
COMING UP: The Seahawks return to Seattle for three consecutive games at CenturyLink Field against the Washington Redskins, Philadelphia Eagles and Rams. The second game against St. Louis is Monday night, Dec. 12. Seattle plays two of its final three (at Chicago on Dec. 18 and at Arizona on Jan. 1) on the road.
2011 Seahawks Schedule/Results
|9/11/11||at San Francisco||1:15 p.m.||FOX||L||33-17||0-1|
|9/18/11||at Pittsburgh||10 a.m.||FOX||L||24-0||0-2|
|9/25/11||vs. Arizona||1:15 p.m.||FOX||W||13-10||1-2|
|10/2/11||vs. Atlanta||1:05 p.m.||FOX||L||30-28||1-3|
|10/9/11||at N.Y. Giants||10 a.m.||FOX||W||36-25||2-3|
|10/23/11||at Cleveland||10 a.m.||FOX||L||6-3||2-4|
|10/30/11||vs. Cincinnati||1:15 p.m.||CBS||L||34-12||2-5|
|11/6/11||at Dallas||10 a.m.||FOX||L||23-13||2-6|
|11/13/11||vs. Baltimore||1:05 p.m.||CBS||W||22-17||3-6|
|11/20/11||at St. Louis||1:05 p.m.||FOX||—||—||—|
|11/27/11||vs. Washington||1:05 p.m.||FOX||—||—||—|
|12/1/11||vs. Philadelphia||5:20 p.m.||NFLN||—||—||—|
|12/12/11||vs. St. Louis||5:30 p.m.||ESPN||—||—||—|
|12/18/11||at Chicago||10 a.m.||FOX||—||—||—|
|12/24/11||vs. San Francisco||1:15 p.m.||FOX||—||—||—|
|1/1/12||at Arizona||1:15 p.m.||FOX||—||—||—|