These days, however, St. Louis is the one team Seattle can count on beating.
What was once a showdown for NFC West supremacy has deteriorated to a battle of two of the NFC's worst teams, but the Seahawks showed once again, this time with a 27-17 victory, that they have a leg up on the Rams.
It was the Seahawks 10th straight win over St. Louis, a streak that started during their 2005 Super Bowl season. A year earlier the Rams beat Seattle three times, including a playoff game in Seattle that ended the Seahawks' season.
“It is different,” Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck said of playing the Rams earlier this decade. “Those of us that have been here a while remember coming to this stadium when it was Astroturf, when it was ‘The Greatest Show on Turf' when it was Grant Wistrom, Leonard Little, the defense that they had. They were very, very tough to beat. Going back to '04 even, we were a pretty good team and we lost to them three times that year. They were the team we needed to beat, we spent the whole offseason getting ready for them. It's obviously a little different now, but that's just how the NFL goes.”
The Seahawks have no doubt fallen on hard times these past two seasons, but the situation is even worse here in St. Louis. “The Greatest Show on Turf” left town a long time ago, and the current show at the Edwards Jones Dome mostly draws boos from the fans that bother to show up.
The win was the first on the road for the Seahawks since they won here last December. In five road games before Sunday's win, the Seahawks had lost all five by an average margin of 17.2 points, yet they were able to win by double digits in St. Louis. Going back to the start of last season, four of the Seahawks eight wins have been against the Rams.
This was hardly a win for the Seahawks to feel great about. They led by four at halftime thanks to Josh Wilson 65-yard interception return for a touchdown, but were out-gained 213 yards to 111 in the half and 364-265 for the game.
The lead eventually grew to 17 points, but it was hardly a dominant performance considering the Seahawks beat St. Louis 28-0 earlier this season, and the Rams were missing four offensive starters to start the game, including their quarterback, and lost a fifth starter in the first half. St. Louis' best player, running back Steven Jackson, was playing with a bad back that caused him to miss the entire week of practice. Jackson, the No. 2 rusher in the NFL coming into the game, finished with 89 yards on 23 carries, marking the first time in five games that he has not gained over 100 yards.
“Well it wasn't always pretty, but we accomplished our objective, which was to go on the road and get a win,” Seahawks coach Jim Mora said. “Nobody is going to call it beautiful except for those who are in that locker room and got a win on the road. Obviously there is a lot that we need to correct and we will do that like we do after every week and then we will move on and gear up for the next week.”
But for the Seahawks, just getting a road victory, no matter how aesthetically challenged, was enough.
“It was a great day,” Wilson said. “There's still a lot of things we need to work on, finish and fine tune, but it was a great day. Any time you win, it doesn't matter what happens, it's a great day.”
It was Wilson who gave the Seahawks the lead for good with a second-quarter interception. With score tied at 7, St. Louis was driving and decided to go for it on fourth-and-4 at the Seattle 34-yard line. Kelly Jennings dove in front of Donnie Avery to break up Kyle Boller's pass, and the ball popped up into the air to Wilson, who took it 65 yards down the sideline to give the Seahawks a 14-7 lead.
The Rams cut the lead to 14-10 on a 55-yard field goal by former Seahawks Josh Brown at the end of the half, but the Seahawks put the game away in the second half with a pair of Olindo Mare field goals and a 2-yard touchdown run by Justin Forsett.
Forsett got the last-minute start when it was determined that Julius Jones was not yet ready to come back from a bruised lung he suffered two weeks earlier. In his second-career start, Forsett rushed for a career-high 130 yards on 22 carries as the Seahawks piled up a season-high 170 rushing yards. That was quite a chance of pace for a team that rushed for just 4 yards, the lowest total in franchise history, a week ago in Minnesota.
And against the Rams, a strong rushing performance was more than enough to carry a sub-par day in the passing game. Next the Seahawks will find out if a fairly comfortable win over a bad team can translate as the schedule becomes a bit more difficult.
“Any win is a confidence builder, especially on the road,” defensive end Patrick Kerney said. “We hadn't done this yet, so hopefully this will build our confidence and have us that much better prepared for a big game against the 49ers.”
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org. For more Seahawks coverage, check out the Seahawks blog at heraldnet.com/seahawksblog
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