December 31, 2012 at 6:12 AM
Revisiting the keys to Seattle’s regular-season finale vs. St. Louis
Keys to Seahawks victory
1. Keep Rams run game in check.
Scouting report: Rams running back Steven Jackson is 10 yards away from reaching 1,000 yards rushing for the eighth consecutive season. Seattle’s streak against Jackson is almost as impressive, however: The Seahawks have never allowed him to gain more than 100 yards in any of the 16 games in which Jackson has played.
Results: Jackson carried 11 times for 52
years yards, and Seattle outgained St. Louis 153-79 on the ground.
2. Stop St. Louis’ pass rush.
Scouting report: The Rams are a decidedly average defense with one exception: their pass rush. They entered the game with 46 sacks, tied for the third-most in the league. Seattle had allowed 27, tied for the eighth-fewest.
Results: The Rams had five sacks in the first half alone, more than Seattle had allowed in any of the first 15 full games it played. While Russell Wilson was sacked only once in the second half, St. Louis showed an ability to bring pressure up the middle of Seattle’s line while keeping ends out to contain Wilson from scrambling.
3. Pay special attention to special teams.
Scouting report: That was the difference in the first meeting between these teams as St. Louis kicked three field goals – two of them from more than 55 yards – and scored its only touchdown of the game on a fake field-goal attempt in which the Seahawks failed to account for all 11 Rams’ players.
Results: Seattle had a significant advantage in field position this game, the Rams starting only one drive outside their own 30. Seattle started four possessions outside its own 30, including one in St. Louis’ half of the field. That spoke not only to Seattle’s defense, but its coverage and return units.
Keys to Rams victory
1. Don’t fall behind.
Scouting report: The Seahawks have scored first in 12 of their 15 games this season. Not only that, but Seattle has scored on its first two possessions in each of the past three games.
Results: The Rams held the Seahawks scoreless in the first quarter ending a string of 13 consecutive periods in which Seattle had scored. Seattle scored first, but its second-quarter field goal was the only points it put up in the first half. Not bad considering the Seahawks had scored seven or more points in 11 of the past 12 quarters they played coming into the game. The Seahawks did score two second-half touchdowns to win the game, and the Rams were 1-7-1 this season when their opponent scores 20 points or more.
2. Find a way to generate takeaways.
Scouting report: St. Louis has forced 21 turnovers this season, tied for 10th fewest in the league. But that doesn’t tell you how important that statistic has been to the Rams, who have failed to force a single turnover in six of their 19 games. St. Louis is 0-5-1 when its opponents don’t commit a turnover.
Result: Sure enough, the turnover the Rams didn’t force may have cost them the game. Marshawn Lynch fumbled at his own 18 in the final 5 minutes, a dogpile ensuing as receiver Golden Tate came away with the loose ball. After the recovery, Seattle went on to score the go-ahead touchdown, finishing the game without committing for the fifth time this season.
3. Stop Seattle’s run game.
Scouting report: That means more than just Lynch. While Lynch has surpassed 100 yards rushing in three consecutive games, Wilson has emerged as a real running threat, too, which St. Louis must honor. In the first 11 games of the season, Wilson averaged 20.6 yards rushing, including a seven-carry, 14-yard day at St. Louis in Week 4. Over the past four games, though, Wilson averaged 51 yards rushing, but more tellingly, 7.6 yards per carry.
Results: Lynch rushed for 100 yards while Wilson had 58 on 10 carries and scored the game-winning touchdown on a 1-yard scramble.