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Sealing the deal with sacks
Yes, Sam Bradford watched the Seahawks’ victory over the Green Bay Packers on Monday night.
But rather than the last play that has been scrutinized beyond belief, what caught the eye of the St. Louis Rams’ quarterback were the first 27 plays. That’s when the Seahawks were unleashing a pass rush that resulted in Aaron Rodgers being sacked eight times in the first half.
“You look at what they were able to do this Monday night and they look unbeatable almost,” Bradford said Wednesday during a conference-call interview from St. Louis, where the Rams are preparing for Sunday’s game against the Seahawks at the Edward Jones Dome.
“They’re so big and physical, and then you add (Chris) Clemons in there with his speed, it’s just a tough group to try to block. I don’t know if diverse is the right word, but they’re so multiple in the way they can rush you. They can beat you with power. They can beat you with speed. They can beat you around the edge. They’re doing a great job right now up front, and we’re definitely very aware of that and it’s something we’re going to have to be mindful of if we want to perform well on Sunday.”
Asked during his news conference with reporters in St. Louis what he was thinking while watching Seahawks’ pass rush against the Packers, Rams coach Jeff Fisher said, “I thought about starting (backup QB) Kellen Clemens. Honestly.”
Bradford already has been sacked 12 times during the Rams’ 1-2 start. The only QB in the league who has gone down more? Rodgers (16).
The leader of that Monday night onslaught was Clemons, who produced a career-high four sacks – all in the second quarter – to earn NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors.
But Clemons shared the award with the rest of the defense, as first-round draft choice Bruce Irvin and nose tackle Brandon Mebane had two sacks each and the Seahawks did their damage primarily with a four-man rush thanks to the “plaster” coverage from the secondary and linebackers.
“I always take honors for the group, because I couldn’t just do it by myself,” Clemons said. “It comes because of the whole defense. Our DBs did a tremendous job, plastering back there when Aaron was trying to run.”
“So my name may be on the honor, but it’s a group effort.”
And there was enough credit to spread from one end of the line to other and one unit of the defense to the others.
“The production in the first half was as outrageous as I’ve ever seen,” coach Pete Carroll said. “The ability to rush such a good quarterback and such a good offense in that manner was extraordinary.”
That was the plan – and hope – when the Seahawks selected Irvin in the first round of the draft and also signed rush-tackle Jason Jones in free agency to upgrade their nickel line.
“If I told what I hoped it would look like when we played at home when we drafted him, that’s what it would have been like,” Carroll said of Irvin.
But even with Clemons and Irvin producing six of the eight sacks, the Seahawks’ mad dash of a pass rush wasn’t a two-man show.
“Our other guys rushed well, too,” Carroll said. “Jason rushed well, missed a couple opportunities to get sacks. (Alan) Branch had a couple of really good rushes. Mebane had some great penetration up inside. So everybody contributed to it. Red (Bryant) had two really good rushes, his two best rushes of the year.”
But it was the rookie who got things rolling in a disruptive and productive direction with his bull rush against 314-pound right tackle Bryan Bulaga for a sack on the Packers’ first third-down situation.
“His first rush, that started things in motion,” Carroll said of the 248-pound Irvin.
And it quickly became loco-motion, as Mebane got his first sack when Rodgers lost his footing on the Packers’ next possession. And Irvin added another sack three plays later. And Clemons got his first sack on the first third-down situation of the second quarter. And then added another on the Packers’ next third down. And Mebane got one on a first-down play. And Clemons got sacks on back-to-back snaps on the Packers’ final possession of the half.
“That was fun,” defensive line coach Todd Wash said. “And it’s probably a once-in-a-lifetime deal for those guys up front. But you’ve got to give credit to the backend also; they made Rodgers hold the ball to buy time for us to get there.
“At the same time, give credit to the guys up front for getting it done with a four-man rush. And that’s something we’re going to have to do for us to be successful. And they know that.”
And now, so do Sam Bradford and Jeff Fisher.