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Monday metatarsal musings
Seattle Seahawks players will have the chance to share the causes that are important to them during all Week 13 games, as part of the NFL's My Cause, My Cleats campaign. Defensive end Cliff Avril, wide receiver Doug Baldwin, tight end Jimmy Graham, cornerback Richard Sherman, and quarterback Russell Wilson all chose to participate, personalizing their footwear to help tell their stories. View
Chris Clemons with a career-high three sacks and two forced fumbles. Three other players at least shared in sacks. Seven other hits on quarterback Sam Bradford, and also seven breakups of his passes as Brandon Browner, Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, Earl Thomas and Roy Lewis turned the Seahawks’ secondary into a primary concern for the Rams.
But before the pass defense took over Sunday’s 24-7 victory at the Edward Jones Dome, the Seahawks’ run defense set the table in the first half for the second-half feeding frenzy.
Steven Jackson was coming off consecutive rushing performances of 159, 130 and 128 yards, and averaged 5.1 yards per carry as the Rams had won two of those games.
Sunday, Jackson averaged 2.8 yards on 15 carries – and without his 19-yarder in the second quarter on the one run where the Seahawks allowed him to get his 6-foot-2, 240-pound body going in a positive direction, that average dipped to 1.6 yards on his other 14 attempts.
So there’s no chicken-or-the-egg quandary here: This was defense the way it’s supposed to be played; stop the run and then pressure the passer into making mistakes.
And the first to step up and point it out in the locker room after the game was Clemons.
“These guys they played, they had a lot to deal with up front,” he said while glancing at defensive tackles Brandon Mebane, Alan Branch and Clinton McDonald, who repeatedly got to Jackson before he could get going.
“I give them all the credit, because without them I wouldn’t have been able to do what I did. They didn’t really get a chance to get to me in the run game, because they were everywhere. It was a great day for our defensive line.”
Coach Pete Carroll concurred.
“That’s a great job, and we respect (Jackson) so much,” Carroll said. “He’s such a great football player.”
One rendered below-his-average by the Seahawks, and not just on Sunday. Jackson has 30 career 100-yard rushing performances, but none in 12 regular-season games against Seattle. And Sunday was his lowest output in those dozen matchups.
Red Bryant lived both sides of this D-linemen’s dream Sunday. He was part of the suffocating effort against the run, and then intercepted a pass that was tipped by nose tackle Brandon Mebane to set up the final – not frosting, but Forsetting-on-the-cakewalk – TD by Justin Forsett.
“No question. No question,” Bryant, the 330-pound D-end, said when asked about the effort against Jackson. “I feel like we brought our big-boy pads today. Bang-Bang (Mebane), they couldn’t do anything with him. He stayed in the backfield all day. All day.
“The whole D-line did a great job of just being disruptive.”
With that said, here’s a look at three other things that worked against the Rams, and three things that need work this week as the Seahawks prepare for Sunday’s game against the Washington Redskins at CenturyLink Field:
The suddenness of the secondary – The pass-rushers weren’t the only ones bringing the heat on Sunday. Browner and Sherman each had two pass breakups and their physical presence made for long afternoons for the Rams wide-outs.
“The coverage was really good,” Carroll said. “Brandon got checked out a bunch and he was involved in a couple balls over the middle that he knocked down. Balls up the sideline; he did a great job on those as well. And Sherman got a couple of shots, although they went the other way for the most part.
“But that’s a beautiful job by those guys. To have them knocking balls down in critical situations, that’s great coverage. They’re not just misthrowing it; our guys are knocking things down. That was a very good day on the backend.”
And also a good sign with the Redskins’ Jabar Gaffney (41 catches, 14.5-yard average, three TDs); Eagles’ Jeremy Maclin (46, 13.3 and four) and DeSean Jackson (35, 16.9 and two); and Rams’ Brandon Lloyd (45, 13.4 and three) coming to town in the next three weeks.
Marshawn Lynch and the end zone – The Seahawks’ “Beast Mode” back really had to work for his 88 yards against a Rams defense that was flying to his gaps. But he did score a touchdown in his sixth consecutive game started.
Third-down defense – The Rams did convert five of 15 on the pivotal down, but they were two of eight in the first half when the defense forced three of its four three-and-outs. The total of three-and-outs ties for their second-best effort of the season (with the Giants game; and one behind those against the 49ers and Bengals).
WHAT NEEDS WORK
Penalties – The Seahawks had 13 for 100 yards against the Rams, and those weren’t even season-high totals because they matched the wrong-way numbers from last week’s game against the Baltimore Ravens. Somehow, the Seahawks won both games.
But this has to, if not stop, at least move into the reasonable range at some point. Doesn’t it? The Seahawks now have 96 penalties for 723 yards in 10 games. That’s a pace that will set a franchise record for number of infractions (154, compared to 128 in 1984) and come close for yardage (1,157, compared to 1,179 in ’84). Oddly enough, that ’84 team went 12-4.
“The penalties were distracting,” Carroll said. “And we’re trying like crazy not to do that. You don’t even want to know all the emphasis we’re throwing on it. … We’re getting into some dangerous territory, with torture and all kinds of things.”
He was kidding about that last part, but you get the picture.
Starting faster – We all know, as Carroll has repeatedly said, it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. But a little work on the starts wouldn’t hurt. The Seahawks have scored 30 points in the first quarter, and 65 in the first half.
Sunday, there were two interceptions in the Seahawks’ first five plays, which leads us to …
Tarvaris Jackson’s TD-to-interception ratio – In the past four games, Jackson has thrown six picks – including two on his first two throws against the Rams – and one TD pass. In his first four starts, he had five TDs and four interceptions. That, course, was before he strained the pectoral in his throwing shoulder.
But he can’t let his physical situation affect his decision-making, because if the Seahawks are to take advantage of the schedule that is laid out before them his TD-to-interception ratio has to improve. Read