Rams vs Seahawks: 10 Keys to the Game for St. Louis
It's difficult to outline the keys to defeating the Seahawks, as they are a unique team with no rhyme or reason.
They've won games on the ground, through the air, with tough defense and even with referees (see Green Bay, Week 3).
As a result, it would be inaccurate to claim that the Rams can win the game by simply stopping Marshawn Lynch, or containing Russell Wilson. There's not a single aspect for the Rams to focus on, which means this game must be won on multiple levels.
But don't count out the overwhelmed Rams, who have plenty on the line in this game.
Who comes out on top?
A victory will give St. Louis its first winning record since 2003 (12-4) and will result in their best record since 2006 (8-8).
Additionally, a victory will give the Rams an undefeated 5-0-1 overall record against NFC West opponents, which will provide a great sense of accomplishment for both the fans and the organization.
So what exactly needs to be done for the Rams to achieve this victory and get back on the NFL map?
Read on for St. Louis' 10 keys to victory.
Get Pressure Up the Gut
The St. Louis defensive line features two sack artists in defensive ends Chris Long and Robert Quinn, but the pressure against Seattle must come from the middle rather than the edge.
Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson has scrambled for 133 yards and three touchdowns in the last three games and is a slippery escape artist in the pocket.
For this reason, it's vital that the Rams contain Wilson with their ends and linebackers, but then again, someone has to rush the passer and create pressure.
This is where Michael Brockers and Kendall Langford come into play—the two tackles must get pressure up the middle and make life hell for Wilson, which will free up Quinn and Long for containment duties.
That's not to say that Long and Quinn won't get a number of opportunities to go head hunting, but this would just make things easier on the defense as a whole.
Stop Marshawn Lynch
Russell Wilson has been a major contributor for Seattle, but the Seahawks offense still revolves around Marshawn Lynch.
Considering the Rams have faced Doug Martin and Adrian Peterson in the last two weeks, they are surely getting sick of seeing top-notch running backs, but stopping Lynch is a necessity.
Sure, Lynch ran for 118 yards in Week 4 and the Rams still won the game, but containing Lynch will throw their offense out of sync and possibly even force them to become one-dimensional.
Overcome Qwest Field
Home-field advantage is very real, and Seattle's 7-0 record at Qwest Field this season is proof.
The roaring crowd noise is naturally amplified by the surrounding mountains, while the cold Washington weather also plays a factor.
The Rams' last two trips to Seattle came towards the end of the season in front of a prime-time audience, and the results were devastating.
In 2010, the Rams needed a Week 17 victory in Seattle to make the playoffs. Instead, the Rams were embarrassed in front of the Sunday Night Football audience after being held to six points in 34-degree weather, resulting in a 16-6 loss.
In 2011, the Rams entered a Monday Night Football matchup in Seattle with a 2-10 record, and the humiliation continued with a lopsided 30-13 loss.
The Rams haven't won in Seattle since 2004, which means they'll need to enter Qwest Field in a fearless, hungry state of mind in order to win the game this Sunday.
Don't Give Up the Big Plays
The Seahawks have scored an eye-popping 150 points in their last three games and have simply dominated their opponents.
That type of production doesn't come from small, fundamental scoring drives that end in two-yard touchdown runs. It comes from striking like lightening with monster plays.
The Seahawks have scored seven touchdown on plays of 20 or more yards in the last three weeks, and these plays have absolutely crippled their opponents.
The Rams cannot allow this. It's forgivable to allow a few touchdowns, but 50-yard scores will absolutely suck the life out of the Rams.
Rattle Russell Wilson
Russell Wilson has had a phenomenal rookie season under center and has been somewhat overlooked in favor of Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck.
He has 20 touchdowns and only four interceptions in his last 10 games, while he has clearly established himself as Seattle's quarterback of the future.
Having said that, he's still a 5'11" rookie with weaknesses.
At times, he can be erratic and irresponsible with his passing, which was clear in his Week 7 performance against San Francisco (39.1 percent completion rate) and his Week 3 battle with Green Bay (47.6 percent).
Wilson has completed at least 60.0 percent in seven of his last eight games, so he has found some consistency with his accuracy, but he still possesses the ability to lose rhythm.
For the Rams, confusing the rookie and upsetting his rhythm will be a major factor, and it will require a tremendous game plan from Jeff Fisher.
Take an Early Lead
The Rams have a total of zero first-quarter points in their last five games, and that must change this week.
An early lead will demoralize the Seahawks, who have already clinched a playoff spot and are basically playing for nothing in this game.
It's possible the Seahawks will enter the game jacked up and ready to finish the season strong, but an early deficit could change that mindset and force them to disregard the game and start daydreaming about Round 1 of the playoffs.
Not to mention, an early lead will take the ball off the ground and force it into the air.
The Rams will be much better off if the game is in Russell Wilson's hands, rather than Marshawn Lynch's.
Feed Steven Jackson the Ball
When these two teams faced each other in Week 4, Steven Jackson was still in the process of recovering from a groin injury.
Jackson ran for 55 yards in that game with a mere 3.1 yards per carry average.
In the last seven games, Jackson has found his groove with 587 yards and three touchdowns in that time span.
Sam Bradford and the aerial attack have had ups and downs this season, so it's best to stick with the man guaranteed to produce, even if it's against a Seattle defense that ranks 11th in run defense (104.7 yards per game).
Make Timely Plays
The Rams have lost just one game in the last six weeks, and part of their recent success is an uncanny ability to make game-changing plays in critical situations.
Lance Kendricks caught an 80-yard touchdown pass to start the second half last week against Tampa. Janoris Jenkins returned two interceptions for touchdowns in Week 12 at Arizona, while he followed that up with a fumble recovery for a touchdown the following week against San Francisco.
This young team is beginning to make major plays on a weekly basis, and that needs to continue against Seattle.
Whether it's a pick-six for Jenkins, a 50-yard bomb to Chris Givens or a 60-yard run for Daryl Richardson, the Rams need to be the better playmaking team in this game.
Have Success in All Three Phases
As mentioned in the introduction, the Seahawks are a unique team capable of winning games in a number of ways.
For this reason, the Rams cannot get away with dominating in just one aspect of the game.
Offense, defense and special teams—they all need to bring their best game into Qwest Field.
It's a little obvious to state that dominating in every aspect will result in a victory, but it's particularly true when it comes to an opponent such as Seattle.
Out Coach Pete Carroll
If the Rams have one clear advantage over Seattle, it's their premier coaching staff that owner Stan Kroenke spared no expense on.
It's fine that the Rams are completely outmatched in talent because a solid game plan from veteran coach Jeff Fisher can compensate for a lot.
Since the Rams have no clear physical advantage in this game, it's vital that Fisher develops a unique plan that catches Seattle off guard and gives St. Louis an edge.
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