Ever since the Seahawks joined the NFC West, I have had one heart-attack after another, as the Rams play us tough to the finish. Regardless of personnel, coaching, and records each game seems to come down to the very end.
This year we saw a vastly undermanned Rams team, pull off the greatest fake punt return and gutsiest fake punt—in the same game—to beat the Seahawks. As such, I was unable to breathe a sigh of relief until #51 (Bruce Irvin) scored a pick-6 interception return for a touchdown.
At stake for the Seahawks, was the #1 seed for the NFC playoffs. The Rams, with nothing to play for but pride, smothered the Seahawks offense for the first half of play. For the first time in Russell Wilson’s three years at the helm, he was held to zero points in at halftime. The Rams offense had a difficult time moving against the Seahawks defense but with a pair of Greg Zeurline field goals the Rams were poised for an upset.
My first observation is that the Rams have a defense that I guarantee is stronger than Green Bay, Dallas, and Carolina. Scoring 13 offensive points against seems to point towards an anemic performance, but I do not expect the same results versus most of the other teams in the playoffs.
The second thing I noticed, is that the defensive philosophy used to stop the Seahawks failed the Rams after halftime adjustments. In the 1st half, we saw constant blitzes and up-field rushing. The goal was to punish Russell Wilson on each and every play. To the credit of Russell Wilson and Daryl Bevell, adjustments were made.
On read option plays, I noticed that the defensive ends over pursued Russell Wilson, leaving gaps open for Turin and Lynch to rush for 6-10 yard gains. Additionally, we saw the passing game open up for rookies Paul Richardson and Kevin Norwood. As the pass rush harassed and hounded Wilson, we got to see the true magic of Russell in the 2nd half as he found the young receivers time and time again.
A last quick observation: the penalties for the Seahawks were at an agreeable level for a change. Normally the Achilles heel, the Seahawks had only 2 penalties. A drastic reduction in the “mental” breakdowns in pre-snap penalties (offsides/false start) contributed heavily in the victory.
In a season, where the Seahawks generously gift yardage to the opposition at frightening rates, it is good to see the Seahawks cleanup their sloppy play; going into the playoffs, yards will be at a premium, it is encouraging to see offensive and defensive lines focusing on the goal ahead of them.
Looking at the performance against these Rams, the Cardinals, and the 49ers (3 of the NFL’s best defenses) we can see that we have performed well against the stiffest of competition. Forged in the fires of these challenges, the Seahawks offense is better positioned than most teams heading into the playoffs.