BY SPNW Staff 01:57PM 12/11/2011

Seahawks: Kings of Monday Night Football

A little unbelievably, the Seahawks, at 16-8, have the best Monday night record in the NFL, which maybe is why it’s been four years since they’ve been on the big stage: Fear The Beak.

Anthony Hargrove is part of a Seahawks unit that ranks 14th in the NFL in total defense. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

GAME: Rams (2-10) at Seahawks (5-7). WHEN: Monday, 5:30 p.m., CenturyLink Field. MEETING: 27th (Rams lead 15-11). LINE: Seahawks by 9 1/2. TV: ESPN / RADIO: ESPN-710.

The Seahawks make their 25th appearance on Monday Night Football, where they are an NFL-best 16-8, but have not appeared since a 24-0 victory over San Francisco Nov. 12, 2007. Seattle will be seeking its fourth victory in five games after starting the season 2-6.

In the past four games, the Seahawks are +8 in turnover ratio.

“That’s a big reason why they’re 3-1 in those four games,” St. Louis coach Steve Spagnuolo said this week. “It’s telling, and obviously, every coach is saying the same thing: ‘Protect the football and pull the ball out on defense and get takeaways.’  So it’s just the number one thing you have to do.

“I now see a team (Seahawks) that’s very confident and kind of settled into what they are on offense and defense and special teams. The talent’s there and they’re putting it together pretty good, so we know we’re going to have a tough challenge Monday.”

Although the Seahawks hammered the Rams in St. Louis Nov. 20, and although the Rams have continued to lose since then, Seattle coach Pete Carroll insisted that winning the first game of season series will have no bearing on his team’s preparation for Monday Night.

“One of the things that you notice around the league is that when you play somebody once and you come back and play them again it really has no bearing on what the next game is all about,” Carroll said. “It’s just a brand new opportunity and new time. What happened before doesn’t mean anything to us.

“It’s interesting that we played them just three weeks ago, so it’s been pretty recent, but that’s relative. Everybody at this time of year is banged up. We all have to deal with our issues – they’re doing theirs and we’re doing ours.”

St. Louis is particularly banged up at at quarterback, and along its offensive line. The Rams rested regular starter Sam Bradford (high ankle sprain) for most of the week in the hopes of getting him to Monday in reasonably good condition.

Bradford, who missed last week’s game against San Francisco, practiced for the first time Saturday, but took just half of the practice snaps, splitting time with Kellen Clemens, who was signed Thursday after he was cut Wednesday by Houston.

The Rams’ No. 3 quarterback, Tom Brandstater, did not take any reps with the first team Saturday. Brandstater, in his second year out of Fresno State, has not played in an NFL game.

Regular No. 2 quarterback A.J. Feeley is out with a fractured right thumb, which he hurt against San Francisco.

Another issue for the Rams is the status of their offensive line, which again figures to sport a new incarnation. Although Seattle has one of the lowest sack rates in the league, the Seahawks dropped reached Bradford five times three weeks ago. They also held Steven Jackson to 43 yards rushing.

The Seahawks have rushed as a team for more than 100 yards in five consecutive games. During those five, Marshawn Lynch has 591 yards and scored five touchdowns, seemingly unfazed by massive change the offensive line. In the past two weeks, the Seahawks have placed both tackles (James Carpenter and Russell Okung) on IR. They also lost OG John Moffitt for the remainder of the season.

RIVALRY: Monday’s game will mark the 27th meeting between the Rams and Seahawks and the 14th in Seattle. The Seahawks are 8-1 against St. Louis at CenturyLink Field. The Seahawks have won 12 of their past 13 meetings with the Rams (since 2005).

LAST MEETING (Nov. 20): Wide receiver Sidney Rice (since placed on IR) provided early flash, completing a 55-yard pass to open the game, catching a touchdown pass and drawing a pass interference call to set up a field goal at the end of the half. Chris Clemons then took charge with three of Seattle’s five sacks and two forced fumbles on Sam Bradford in a 24-7 victory over the Rams.

LAST GAME (Seahawks): Lynch bulled through Philadelphia for 148 yards and a pair of first-half touchdowns, David Hawthorne returned the third of Vince Young’s four interceptions 77 yards for a score, and the Seahawks rolled to a 31-14 victory Dec. 1. Lynch ran into and escaped from a massive pileup for a 15-yard TD run in the first quarter, then made a quick cut and went back against the flow for a 40-yard scoring dash on the first play of the second quarter to give the Seahawks a 14-0 lead. It marked the second-best performance of Lynch’s career and a capper to what has been his finest stretch as a pro.

LAST GAME (Rams): The 49ers trounced the beat-up Rams 26-0 Dec. 4 to become the NFL’s second team to secure a playoff berth behind unbeaten defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay. Alex Smith threw second-half TDs of 52 and 56 yards to Michael Crabtree and Kyle Williams, and David Akers kicked four field goals to help Jim Harbaugh join George Seifert (1989) and Steve Mariucci (1997) as the only rookie coaches in franchise history to win the division.

COACHES: Pete Carroll is in his second season as head coach of the Seahawks. In 2010, he directed Seattle to the NFC West title, the Seahawks becoming the first team in NFL history to win a division with a losing (7-9) record. Prior to joining the Seahawks, Carroll served as head coach at Southern California, where his Trojans won seven national championships.

Steve Spagnuolo: Became head coach of the Rams in 2009 after previously serving as defensive coordinator of the New York Giants from January 2007 to January 2009. He also served as a Philadelphia Eagles assistant for eight years. Spagnuolo had a number of stops in the collegiate ranks at Massachusetts (1981-82), Lafayette (1984-86), Connecticut (1987-89), Maine (1993-94), Rutgers (1994-95) and Bowling Green (1996-97). He also coached the Barcelona Dragons (1992) and Frankfurt Galaxy in the World League of American Football.

SEAHAWKS STATS/NOTES: Seattle is 34-25 in prime-time games and 16-8 in Monday Night games. The .667 winning percentage on Monday tops the NFL . . . The Seahawks rank 28th in total yards at 298.5 per game, 22nd in rushing at 104.1, 25th in passing at 194.4, and 26th in scoring at 18.0 . . . Defensively, the Seahawks rank 14th in total defense (339.7), 11th in rushing (103.5), 20th in passing (236.2) and 12th in scoring (20.5) . . . When Red Bryant blocked both a field goal and an extra point against the Redskins Nov. 27, he became the first player in franchise history to block a FG and PAT in the same game. Bryant now holds the franchise record for most blocked kicks (4) in a single season . . . Chris Clemons is tied for eighth in the NFC with 8 sacks.

RAMS STATS/NOTES: The Rams rank 31st in total offense (284.0), 27th in rushing (98.6), 28th in passing (185.4), and 32nd in scoring (11.7) . . . Defensively, the Rams rank 23rd in total defense (366.2), 32nd in rushing (157.8), eighth in passing (208.4) and 25th in scoring (24.7).

Art Thiel

ART THIEL’S TAKE: The nation’s football fans with holiday shopping left figure to flood the malls Monday night, knowing that a Seahawks-Rams rematch is, like the unplanned holiday arrival of drunken uncle Torvald, a reason to get out of the house.

So let them go, fools that they are. They will miss Lynch slashing up the Rams defense, led by a Lemuel (Jeanpierre, for those of you not following the turnstile of  offensive line personnel).  They will miss Jackson getting 200 yards passing on 10 throws and nine completions. And they will miss His Humongousness, Red Bryant, doing his Jabba the Hutt thing to the Rams offense. Pity (although Bradford would like to go shopping with them). Seahawks 34, Rams 6.

Steve Rudman

STEVE RUDMAN’S TAKE: Based on the Seahawks’ play in three of their past four games, including a Nov. 20 pounding of the Rams under the Arch, Seattle vs. cupcake St. Louis shapes up as a lopsided victory for the locals, especially considering the Rams are 2-10, don’t have a healthy quarterback and have sustained serious injuries along their offensive line.

One thing is for sure: If the Seahawks lose to the downtrodden Rams, it will mark one of the most embarrassing losses in franchise history — certainly a setback similar to one that Seattle sustained Dec. 30, 2007, when a 3-12 Atlanta team embarrassed the playoff-bound Seahawks 44-41.

I can’t envision Seattle falling to those depths Monday, but in the NFL, you never know. Seattle 27, Rams 10.

ARRIVE EARLY: Fans traveling to the game are urged to arrive at least 90 minutes prior to kickoff to avoid parking delays and overcrowding at the gates. Touchdown City will open at 2:30 p.m. and all stadium gates will open at 3:30 p.m. Kickoff is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. For tickets, visit www.Seahawks.com/tickets.

Additional parking is available for fans at the Metro Transit garage on 6th Avenue and Royal Brougham, just a few blocks east of CenturyLink Field. The garage opens three hours before kickoff and closes one hour after the game. Fee is $25.

Seahawks game day security is now using hand-held metal detectors as part of the screening process. The hand-held metal detectors enable staff to screen fans more efficiently and effectively as part of a NFL league wide initiative. Fans should be aware the Metro Transit Park & Ride bus service will not be available for the weekday game.

COMING UP: The Seahawks play two of their final three (at Chicago Dec. 18 and at Arizona Jan. 1) on the road.

2011 Seahawks Schedule/Results

Date Opponent Time TV W/L Score Rec.
9/11/11 at San Francisco 1:15 p.m. FOX L 33-17 0-1
9/18/11 at Pittsburgh 10 a.m. FOX L 24-0 0-2
9/25/11 vs. Arizona 1:15 p.m. FOX W 13-10 1-2
10/2/11 vs. Atlanta 1:05 p.m. FOX L 30-28 1-3
10/9/11 at N.Y. Giants 10 a.m. FOX W 36-25 2-3
10/16/11 BYE Week
10/23/11 at Cleveland 10 a.m. FOX L 6-3 2-4
10/30/11 vs. Cincinnati 1:15 p.m. CBS L 34-12 2-5
11/6/11 at Dallas 10 a.m. FOX L 23-13 2-6
11/13/11 vs. Baltimore 1:05 p.m. CBS W 22-17 3-6
11/20/11 at St. Louis 1:05 p.m. FOX W 24-7 4-6
11/27/11 vs. Washington 1:05 p.m. FOX L 23-17 4-7
12/1/11 vs. Philadelphia 5:20 p.m. NFLN W 31-14 5-7
12/12/11 vs. St. Louis 5:30 p.m. ESPN
12/18/11 at Chicago 10 a.m. FOX
12/24/11 vs. San Francisco 1:15 p.m. FOX
1/1/12 at Arizona 1:15 p.m. FOX

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