The Seahawks need a victory over the Rams Sunday to wrap up the NFC West title, the conference’s No. 1 seed and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
GAME: St. Louis Rams (7-8, 4th, NFC West) at Seattle Seahawks (12-3, 1st, NFC West). TYPE. Regular season. WEEK: 17. WHEN: Sunday, 1:25 p.m., CenturyLink Field. MEETING: 32nd (Seahawks lead 19-12). STREAKS: Seahawks W 2. . HEAD COACHES: Jeff Fisher, St. Louis; Pete Carroll, Seattle. LINE: Seahawks by 11. TV: FOX. RADIO: ESPN 710 AM, KIRO 97.3 FM.
The Seahawks have clinched a playoff spot, but nothing else. Yet even with the stumble to Arizona last Sunday, the Seahawks still have the inside track on the NFC’s No. 1 seed. If Seattle defeats St. Louis, or the San Francisco 49ers lose at Arizona, the Seahawks will win the NFC West and earn home field throughout the playoffs. But if the Seahawks lose and the 49ers win, the Seahawks lose the tie-breaker and fall all the way to the No. 5 seed.
Since 1990, only one No. 5 seed, the 2007 New York Giants, won the Super Bowl.
“The fact that there’s something at stake, legitimately, is good for us; we’ll try to make the most of it,” said coach Pete Carroll. “Everybody would have liked to have gotten there earlier. But I don’t know if that would have been what’s best for us. So we’ll find out as we go through this and see how it prepares us for what’s coming up in the playoffs.”
The Seahawks spent a significant time this week addressing issues in the running game, their sudden inability to convert third-down plays, and the problems they expect to encounter with the Rams’ defensive front.
Marshawn Lynch hasn’t delivered a 100-yard rushing performance since Week 10 at Atlanta. The Seahawks are 10-for-38 converting third downs in their past three games. The Rams are not only every bit the equal of Arizona defensively, they limited Seattle to 135 yards and seven first downs Oct. 28 at the Edward Jones Dome.
“There’s a lot of similarities between the Cardinals and Rams,” Carroll said. “The nature of their defensive coordinators is very similar. They’re all aggressive and tough, and their coaches put them in position to do good things that they’re well-equipped at.”
The key player is Robert Quinn, a 6-foot-4, 264-pound defensive end drafted by the Rams out of North Carolina in the first round in 2011. A destroyer of offensive game plans, Quinn leads the NFL in sacks with 18 and is second in forced fumbles with seven. He sacked Russell Wilson three ( of seven) times in the first meeting.
“It starts with his speed,” said Carroll, when asked what makes Quinn so effective. “He’s really fast, he’s a tremendous athlete, he’s got great flexibility, terrific quickness. He’s got the body of a skilled athlete, of a defensive back-type athlete at 260 pounds. He can roar around the edge. He’s rare.”
“He’s the best that we’ve faced, by far,” added Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. “Quinn causes problems whether it’s just speed rushing off the end, but (the Rams) also moved him inside and they’ll put him and Chris Long together on the same side. You have to really know where they are, know how you want to use your protection schemes. We have our tackles back from the last time that we played them (starters Russell Okung and Breno Giacomini did not play against St. Louis in the first meeting), which we feel that would help us a little bit.
“Their defensive line is stellar, particularly the two edge rushers, and we have to make sure we block them. We didn’t block them very well last game. I think they had three sacks on one side and three sacks on the other. They’re comparable to our defensive line with how much edge pressure that they can bring.”
Quinn was responsible for what might be the NFL’s best individual defensive play of the season, a strip sack of Drew Brees that led to a touchdown Dec. 1, when the Rams beat the Saints 27-16.
“It was one of the best plays I’ve ever seen,” said Rams coach Jeff Fisher.
Bevell’s other consideration this week: determining why Seattle has had so many problems converting third downs.
“There are various reasons for why we have struggled, but we have to find what the issue is and get it corrected,” said Bevell.
Due to RB Robert Turbin’s kickoff muffs against Arizona, WR Doug Baldwin will probably be assigned that chore until Percy Harvin returns. Harvin didn’t practice this week, won’t play Sunday, and might be done for the season.
The Seahawks also have CB Walter Thurmond available now that he has served his four-game suspension. Carroll said this week he doesn’t know how much Thurmond will play Sunday, but the Seahawks activated him Friday and released CB Perrish Cox to make room on the roster.
The Seahawks haven’t lost to the Rams at CenturyLink since falling 33-27 in overtime in 2004. If the Seahawks win Sunday, they will tie the 2005 club for best record (13-3) in franchise history. If they lose, they will become the first team since the adoption of the 16-game schedule in 1978 to win 12 of the first 14 and blow the final two at home.
SERIES: Dates to Oct. 31, 1976, when the Rams, then in Los Angeles, won 45-6 at the Coliseum. Seattle collected its only points on a pair of John Leypoldt field goals. In the first meeting this season between the teams, the Seahawks won 14-9 with two touchdown passes from Russell Wilson to Golden Tate, 2 and 80 yards. Seattle finished with just 135 total yards, 44 rushing.
Seahawks: Scored 390 points (26.0 per game), ranking 8th; allowed 222 points (14.8 per game), 2nd; differential of +168 points ranks 2nd. Rams: Scored 339 points (22.6), ranked 13th; allowed 337 (22.5), 15th; differential of +2 points ranks 15th.
SEAHAWKS HEAD COACH: Pete Carroll (70-57 career, 37-26 Seattle) is in his fourth season. 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 Pac-10 titles.
SEAHAWKS QUARTERBACKS: Russell Wilson has completed 242 of 384 passes for 3,185 yards, 25 TDs and 9 interceptions for a passer rating of 101.1. His game-by-game lines:
Tarvaris Jackson vs. Jacksonville, 7 of 8, 129 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT, 158.3 rating; at Indianapolis, no statistics; vs. Minnesota, 1 of 3, 6 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs, 42.4 rating; at NY Giants, 2 of 2, 16 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT, 100.0 rating.
SEAHAWKS STATS / NOTES
SEAHAWKS 2013 OFFENSIVE LEADERS
SEAHAWKS 2013 DEFENSIVE LEADERS
|Tackles||Wagner 107, Thomas 98, Chancellor 85|
|Sacks||Avril 8.0, Bennett 7.5, Wagner 5.0|
|Quarterback Hits||Bennett 23, Averill 13, McDonald 12|
|Interceptions||Sherman 8, Thomas 5, 2 with 3|
|Passes Defensed||Sherman 18, Maxwell 11, Browner 10|
|Forced Fumbles||Avril 5, Thomas 2|
|Fumbles Recovered||Chancellor, Mebane, McDaniel, Wright 1|
RAMS NOTES: St. Louis defeated Arizona (27-24), Jacksonville (34-20), Houston (38-13), Indianapolis (38-8), Chicago (42-21), New Orleans (27-16) and Tampa Bay (23-13), and lost to Atlanta (31-24), Dallas (31-7), San Francisco 35-11 and 23-13), Carolina (30-15), Seattle (14-9), Tennessee (28-21) and Arizona (30-10) . . . St. Louis ranks 20th in scoring offense (22.6), 26th in total offense (314.6), 16th in rushing offense (115.9), 27th in pass offense (198.7), 13th in scoring defense (22.5), 17th in total defense (350.1), 7th in rushing defense (102.3), 20th in pass defense (247.7) and T6 in turnover differential (+10) . . . Zac Stacy leads the Rams in rushing with 235 yards and 7 TDs and Jared Cook leads in receiving with 40 catches for 641 yards and 4 TDs. Stacy ran for 134 yards in the first meeting Oct. 29 . . . Robert Quinn has 18 sacks and Chris Long 7.5. Both players had three sacks in the first meeting . . . Jeff Fisher is in his second year with the Rams after spending 12 years as head coach of the Tennessee Titans.
RAMS QUARTERBACKS: Kellen Clemens completed 121 of 212 or 1,516 yards, 7 TDs and 5 INTs for a rating of 80.6. He is coming off a 158-yard, 0 TD, 0 INT effort in a 23-13 win over Tampa Bay.
2013-14 KEY DATES: Jan. 4-5, 2014 — Wild-card playoff games; Jan. 11-12 — divisional playoff games; Jan. 19, 2014 — AFC and NFC championship games; Jan. 26, 2014 — AFC-NFC Pro Bowl, Honolulu; Feb. 2, 2014 — Super Bowl XLVIII, MetLife Stadium, New York; Feb. 18-25, 2012 — Scouting combine, Indianapolis; March 11, 2014 — Free agency begins; May 8-10, 2014 — NFL draft.
NFC West Standings
|Seattle||12-3-0||3-2-0||Sun, vs. St. Louis|
|S. Francisco||11-4-0||4-1-0||Sun, at Arizona|
|Arizona||10-5-0||2-3-0||Sun, vs. S. Francisco|
|St. Louis||7-8-0||1-4-0||Sun, at Seattle|
2013 Seahawks Preseason Schedule
|8/8/13||at San Diego||7 p.m.||NFLN||W||31-10||1-0|
|8/17/13||vs. Denver||7 p.m.||NFLN||W||40-10||2-0|
|8/23/13||at Green Bay||5 p.m.||CBS||W||17-10||3-0|
|8/29/13||vs. Oakland||7 p.m.||Fox||W||22-6||4-0|
2013 Seahawks Regular-Season Schedule
|9/8/13||at Carolina||10 a.m.||FOX||W||12-7||1-0|
|9/15/13||vs. SF||5:30 p.m.||NBC||W||29-3||2-0|
|9/22/13||vs. JAX||1:25 p.m.||CBS||W||45-17||3-0|
|9/29/13||at Texans||10 a.m.||FOX||W||23-20||4-0|
|10/6/13||at Indy||10 a.m.||FOX||L||34-28||4-1|
|10/13/13||vs. Tenn||1:05 p.m.||CBS||W||20-13||5-1|
|10/17/13||at Arizona||5:25 p.m.||NFLN||W||34-22||6-1|
|10/28/12||at StL||5:40 p.m.||ESPN||W||14-9||7-1|
|11/3/13||vs. Tampa||1:05 p.m.||FOX||W||27-24||8-1|
|11/10/13||at Atlanta||10 a.m.||FOX||W||33-10||9-1|
|11/17/13||vs. Minn||1:25 p.m.||FOX||W||41-20||10-1|
|12/2/13||VS. NO||5:40 p.m.||ESPN||W||34-7||11-1|
|12/8/12||at SF||1:25 p.m.||FOX||L||19-17||11-2|
|12/15/13||at NYG||10 a.m.||FOX||W||23-0||12-2|
|12/22/13||vs. Ariz||1:05 p.m.||FOX||L||17-10||12-3|
|12/29/13||vs. STL||1:25 p.m.||FOX||—||——||—|