Well it wasn’t the prettiest game but the Seahawks got the job done. Seattle defeated the St. Louis Rams 20-13 in the regular season and home finale on Sunday. The Seahawks finish the regular season 11-5 and finish 8-0 at home for the first time since 2005. The Rams fall to 7-8-1 and finish in third place in the NFC West this season. The game was very close throughout and to be honest I left the stadium more frustrated and worried than happy that we won. I am looking at the pros and cons of this game and trying to shed some light on what needs to change against Washington next week. Here is what I took out of Sunday’s victory.
Sweezy’s Struggles: The Rams out-sacked the Seahawks 6-0 on Sunday and a lot of the Rams success getting to quarterback Russell Wilson came up the middle. At least four of their sacks came after dominating Seahawks right guard J.R. Sweezy. One of the guys who sits in front of me got my attention that St. Louis was using Chris Long in designed interior pass rushes, predominantly against Sweezy. Sweezy struggled throughout the majority of the game and Russell Wilson was under constant pressure. If Sweezy is slated to start next week against the Redskins, I am very scared that London Fletcher will be able to exploit the sub-par play of J.R. Sweezy. The Seahawks offensive line has not looked this perplexed all season and for the majority of this game they looked like the Seahawks offensive lines of 2008 and 2009 where they could not get the running game going and supply enough time for the quarterback to throw. I hope that John Moffitt will be available next week to start at the right guard spot. If Sweezy gets the start again next week, the Seahawks may have a difficult time moving the ball and scoring points.
Wilson Ties Manning: With Russell Wilson’s touchdown pass to Michael Robinson in the third quarter, he tied Peyton Manning for the most touchdown passes by a rookie with 25. As incredible of an accomplishment as this is, it is too bad because Wilson had a chance to break Manning’s record. On the Seahawks final scoring drive of the game with less than three minutes left, the Seahawks had the ball on the St. Louis 1-yard line. Wilson ran a play-action fake and scrambled to the left into the endzone for the touchdown. Before crossing into the endzone he pumped because he saw Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin both covered so he decided to run it in. You could tell Russell wanted the record but settled for the rush touchdown when no passing options were available. I for one would have liked to see a touchdown pass. I can guarantee Wilson thought the same way but at the end of the day Wilson ran it in, gave the Seahawks a 7 point lead and held on to win the game, which is much better than any individual accolade.
Defense Needs To Improve Drastically: The Seahawks put virtually no pressure on Sam Bradford until the final drive of the game. The Rams also did a good job converting third downs and Steven Jackson was able to bust out for some significantly good sized runs. The silver lining of the day is that we only gave up 13 points and we were able to stop two St. Louis drives inside the 5-yard line and the Rams had to settle for Greg Zuerlein field goals. Next week the Seahawks cannot afford to have a defensive performance like they did today because the Redskins will rip us apart in the running game. I was hoping to see Bruce Irvin get more involved but he was a non-factor. The stars of the game on defense belong to Bobby Wagner for recording 10 tackles and Richard Sherman who picked off his 8th pass of the season. Sherman becomes the first player in NFL history to have 8 interceptions, three forced fumbles, one sack, and 20 passes defensed in a single season. If the Seahawks do not make it to Super Bowl XLVII, I fully expect Sherman to make the NFC pro bowl roster because those numbers are definitely worthy of a trip to Hawaii.
Rams Show Potential For The Future: Although the Rams finish with a losing record once again, they have quietly shown flashes of what NFL fans should expect out of them in the coming years. In 2013 Jeff Fisher will be in his second year in St. Louis and will have had more time to put together the roster he wants to build. The Rams have two first round picks in the upcoming NFL Draft and the young nucleus they have on both sides of the ball will continue to get better. In particular I look at the way their offensive line played in a hostile environment today and I think they will make Sam Bradford a pro bowl caliber quarterback very soon. Steven Jackson’s contract status is up in the air and it would not be surprising to see Jackson and the Rams part ways after the season. With Daryl Richardson and Isaiah Pead in the backfield the Rams may be looking at a couple of rising stars. On defense, Chris Long, James Laurinaitis, Cortland Finnegan, and the emerging Janoris Jenkins look like a solid core of defensive players. If they can add another big-time player on the defensive side of the ball over the offseason, St. Louis could challenge for a playoff spot. The Rams proved this year that they can compete against all the teams in the NFC West and were only a couple of losses away from being contenders for the playoffs this year. I still think Seattle and San Francisco are the royalty of the division but the St. Louis Rams could be serious contenders for at least a wild-card berth as soon as next season.
Random Thoughts: I believe the Seahawks were screwed out of 14 points this week. I did not see holding on Anthony McCoy on Zach Miller’s touchdown pass in the second quarter and I thought the 44-yard pass to Doug Baldwin in the fourth quarter should have stood because I did not see holding on the play by Breno Giacomini. The officiating as a whole was not very good this week. Shame on you Jeff Triplette… The Seahawks wore blue jerseys and blue pants this week… Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid rose the 12th Man flag this week… Russell Wilson was presented with the 2012 Steve Largent Award. My guess is that he will be a repeat winner no question about it… I was extremely disappointed about the level of excitement in the stands this week. I noted at halftime on Facebook that it felt like the intensity level was less than half of what it was last week against San Francisco. There were possible scenarios out of our control that could have given us a higher seed and a division championship if we had won. That alone should have been enough motivation for the fans to go all out but overall the noise was abnormally now. Very disappointing… I underdressed for the first time this season. I should have worn another coat under my jersey, worn gloves, and brought hand warmers. Either those things or maybe I should have drank more to get a warm beer belly going… The pregame giveaway was ponchos. What a ridiculous giveaway especially on a day where the skies were clear. I bought Mark, one of the guys who sits in front of me, a beer before the game as a token of appreciation for dealing with the behavior of my guest last week. He was extremely grateful… Good news. Mark and his friend Mike renewed their seats for the 2013 season so I will be sitting behind them for a fourth straight year which will be fun… All the season ticket holders around me made a promise that we would be back in three weeks for the NFC Championship game against the Minnesota Vikings. Let’s all pray we will play for a trip to the Super Bowl at home against Minnesota!
Up Next: With San Francisco’s win over Arizona, the Seahawks are locked in to the 5th seed in the NFC. They head to the nation’s capital next week to take on the NFC East champion Washington Redskins on Sunday afternoon.
I hope to have my preview of the Seahawks wild-card playoff game against Washington up by late Saturday morning. Also, don’t be surprised to see me hop on the blog later on in the week to share my thoughts about practice leading up to next week’s game. Go Hawks!