By John Boyle
So many penalties… Oh, and a Marshawn Lynch touchdown
Seattle’s much maligned offense just put together one of its best drives of the last few weeks, aided by a whole lot of Rams penalties on one play, one of which got Kendall Langford ejected for contacting an official.
Even without those flags, that was about as good and balanced of a Seahawks drive as we’ve seen in a while, and potentially an encouraging sign going forward.
Seahawks now lead 20-3 with 2:21 left in the third.
Legion of Boom nearly self destructs, Rams get FG
After a long Rams punt return (haven’t seen that too often this year), the Seahawks nearly got a takeaway when Kellen Clemens threw a duck into the end zone after being hit. The problem for Seattle, however, was that three defense backs—Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman and Byron Maxwell—all had a chance at the ball, and all collided trying to catch it. That collision allowed the Rams to keep the ball and kick a field goal, and more troubling for Seattle, led to Sherman staying on the ground for a little bit.
Sherman jogged off under his own power, and after being looked at on the sideline, he appears to be OK, but we’ll get a better indication of that when the defense returns to the field.
It’s now 13-3 Seahawks with 10:49 left in the third quarter.
Seahawks lead 13-0 at halftime
The good news for the Seahawks is that they’re up 13 points and one half away from home-field advantage in the playoffs. The bad news, however, is that the offense is again struggling, though there were some signs of life in the second quarter.
Seattle had another drive stall out in the red zone at the end of the half, this time when a Russell Okung hold wiped out a touchdown pass to Golden Tate. That happened with six seconds left, forcing Seattle to have to settle for three points.
And speaking of Okung, it’s clear he isn’t at full strength right now, and that’s not an ideal position to be in against Robert Quinn, who picked up his 19th sack of the season earlier in the game.
On the plus side, the defense is playing so well 13 points ought to hold up. Last time these teams played, St. Louis ran the ball well (as mentioned below), this time the Rams had negative-2 yards at halftime on the ground.
Hauschka FG makes it 10-0
Seattle’s offense showed some signs off life after a rough first quarter, driving 65 yards before stalling out in the red zone and settling for a field goal. The most encouraging sign for Seattle is that after gaining only 16 yards on the ground in the first quarter, the offense had 34 rushing yards, all from Marshawn Lynch, on that drive.
Perhaps the best sign for Seattle early—aside from the lead obviously—is that the defense is allowing absolutely nothing on the ground. Last time these teams played, the Rams had 200 rushing yards, this time, they have -3 so far.
Seahawks offense struggling early
It’s being masked somewhat right now by a defensive touchdown, but Seattle’s offense is picking up where it left off last week. And no, that’s not a good thing. On two possessions, Seattle has gained just nine yards, going three-and-out both times.
One personnel note early, it was Jeremy Lane, not Walter Thurmond, coming in as Seattle third corner in the nickel defense. Thurmond, Seattle nickel corner for most of the season, is back from a four-game suspension, but is apparently going to have to work his way back into the rotation.
Malcolm Smith pick-six give Seattle early lead
The Seahawks went three-and-out on their opening drive, with Russell Wilson missing Doug Baldwin on third down. But Jon Ryan pinned the Rams deep with a 68-yard punt (with a penalty tacked on too), and after St. Louis picked up a couple of first downs, Malcolm Smith came up with the play of the game (so far), intercepting Kellen Clemens and returning it 37 yards to give Seattle a 7-0 lead.
And that wasn’t Smith’s first big play of the series, either. He had a nice solo tackle on Zac Lacy behind the line of scrimmage on one play, then sniffed out a reverse for a 4-yard loss on the play before the interception.
Pregame and inactives
Instead of an important win-or-go-home game, today it’s win-and-stay-home for the Seahawks. If the Seahawks can take care of St. Louis today, they will be at home throughout the playoffs, meaning any remaining travel will be to the Super Bowl. Lose, however, and Seattle would end up a Wild Card if San Francisco can win in Arizona today.
The Seahawks will have receiver Jermaine Kearse, who is active despite missing the entire week of practice with an ankle injury. No other surprises on Seattle’s inactives, though it’s noteworthy that G/T Michael Bowie is inactive a week after starting at right guard. The reason for having Bowie inactive and Alvin Bailey active is that Bailey can play more positions along the line, including left tackle.
SEAHAWKS INACTIVES: WR Percy Harvin, RB Christine Michael, LB K.J. Wright, T Michael Bowie, T Caylin Hauptmann, DE Benson Mayowa, DT Jordan Hill.
RAMS INACTIVES: WR Tavon Austin, RB Daryl Richardson, S Quinton Pointer, DE Sammy Brown, G Harvey Dahl, DT Matt Conrath, T Mike Person.