Week 10 Game Recap: St. Louis Rams 16, Seattle Seahawks 31
What you need to know
QB Marc Bulger got both of his starting wide receivers back from injury (Holt and Bruce), but they looked very out of synch for the bulk of the game. However, Holt and Bulger connected for four fourth quarter receptions including a touchdown.
RB Steven Jackson ran very hard while punishing tacklers that choose to try and take him up high. Jackson and change of pace RB Marshall Faulk were effective out of the backfield combining for nine receptions and 99 yards.
It didnít show up in the box score as a glaring problem, but ill-timed penalties and mental mistakes kept the Rams from being able to cash in what was really a productive offensive day from a yardage perspective. Three defensive off sides, two false starts, an illegal formation, a botched fake field goal, two turnovers, and two other penalties on one play that killed a touchdown by TE Brandon Manumaleuna were just too much to overcome.
RB Shaun Alexander and the Seahawksí offensive line continue to torture the NFC West. Alexanderís 165 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns put him in the league lead in both categories. Alexanderís 33 carries were a season high.
QB Matt Hasselbeck was credited with two interceptions in the game, but neither was his fault. On the first pick the officials missed an obvious illegal contact when a defensive player collided with TE Jerramy Stevens downfield knocking him off his route. The second pick bounced off the chest of TE Ryan Hannam before being intercepted.
The Seahawks have set themselves up as an obvious NFC playoff team and will start staring at the possibility of home field advantage in January. The Seattle offense exercised demons during their last possession after blowing several large leads in the past two seasons including going 0-3 last year against the Rams. With two wins over division contender St. Louis, and the second easiest schedule in the NFL for the remainder of the season, Seattle may be able to coast to an 8-0 division record.
What you ought to know
|QB Marc Bulger, Pass: 28 - 40 - 304 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 2 - 9 - 0|
It was obvious that the lack of practice time with his wide receivers kept the Ramsí passing game from being sharp. However, Bulger was able to post solid passing numbers. He did hook up with WR Torry Holt late for a touchdown, but he was very close to throwing three other touchdown passes. At the start of the second quarter he threw what looked like an easy score on a deep ball to a wide open Holt, but somehow Holt lost the ball in the air or never saw it. In the third quarter he connected with TE Brandon Manumaleuna for a score, but the play was called back by two penalties. He nearly connected with Holt on another touchdown in the corner of the end zone, but Holt had the ball go off his hands. As is the norm with Bulger, he held onto the ball too long and took some big hits in the pocket while keeping his eyes downfield.
Jackson ran very hard with great shoulder lean. Tacklers had trouble bringing him down as it routinely took multiple defenders to get him on the ground. The Rams didnít commit to the running game like they have the past few games. At halftime the Rams had called only nine rushing plays as opposed to 21 pass plays.
Faulk got involved early in the game. The Rams utilized him in third down situations as Faulk delivered with four first half receptions. Further, Faulk did a nice job in the open field using quick moves to evade tacklers and pick up extra yardage.
Curtis led Ramsí receivers in receptions, but he was also manhandled in press coverage by the Seattle defensive backs. At its worst Curtis was knocked to the ground by a Seattle DB in bump and run at the line of scrimmage while a pass from QB Marc Bulger sailed over his head. Curtis dropped his first target on a crossing route inside the ten yard line. On Bulgerís interception Curtis fell down allowing the deep ball to be picked off easily. Curtis was able to draw a pass interference flag on a deep ball in the third quarter setting up a field goal by Jeff Wilkins.
Holt was noticeably hindered by the brace on his leg. He pulled in his first target on a short out route. However, he was wide open deep shortly after this. QB Marc Bulger put the ball right next to Holt for what should have been an easy score, but the ball bounced on the turf next to Holt, as he didnít look like he was even expecting a target on the play or simply lost the ball in flight. Holt was seen walking somewhat awkwardly and adjusting the brace on the field. Late in the third quarter Holt was targeted in the deep right corner of the end zone and had a chance to pull in ball, but it went off his hands. This was clearly not a full speed and ready to go Torry Holt. However, when the fourth quarter began Holt came to life pulling in four consecutive targets and a 14 yard fade for a touchdown on fourth and eleven. Also of note, Holt pulled in a 33 yard deep ball down the right sideline even though there was pass interference on the play. He may have been in bounds for the reception, but the official ruling was he was out of bounds. The play was not reviewed.
Bruce started the game alongside receivers Kevin Curtis and Torry Holt in a three receiver set, but Bruce was not utilized through the game. He was overthrown on his first target during the Ramsí second possession. His only reception was during the third quarter. It was a deep crossing route. Bruce had to dive/slide to make the catch.
Manumaleuna got the Ramsí offense going early with two receptions on the first St. Louis drive. Rookie LB Leroy Hill bit hard on a play action fake allowing Manumaleuna to slip behind the linebackers for a 33 yard pickup leading to the first Wilkins field goal. At the end of the third quarter Manumaleuna caught a short dump and turned it up field making a nice cut and getting in for a touchdown, but the play was called back by two St. Louis penalties. Driving deep into Seattle territory down by 15 points Manumaleuna pulled in a nice third down reception for a first down, but fumbled killing a long St. Louis drive.
With a three point lead, and knocking on the door yet again inside the ten yard line, the Rams attempted a fake field goal. Wilkins rolled out to his left and the holder flipped the ball to him. Wilkins was quickly swarmed by the Seattle defense and taken down.
RB Shaun Alexander posted 165 yards and three touchdowns. Not much to report after that. There were moments when the Rams front seven was able to stuff Alexander. Ten of his carries went for one yard or less, including five for loss, but too often St. Louis was dominated at the point of attack allowing blockers to get into the second level opening big holes. Also, two times in the game backside pursuit did not maintain a disciplined contain technique allowing Alexander to cut back for big gains.
The Ramsí front seven recorded no sacks, and put very little pressure on QB Matt Hasselbeck, even with the return of DE Leonard Little. Seattle RT Sean Locklear kept Little in check the entire game. On the touchdown pass to WR DJ Hackett, CB Travis Fisher thought he had deep help from S Mike Furrey, but the Furrey let Hackett get deep when he abandoned Fisher to cover WR Bobby Engram working out of the slot.
Hasselbeck was very effective directing the Seattle offense on five drives of at least 60 yards, and another of 47. He was able to stand alone in the pocket and survey the field without much to worry about from the Rams. On the few occasions he was pressured, Hasselbeck was able to slide side to side in the pocket well keeping his eyes down field. Both interceptions in the game were not his fault. One should have drawn an illegal contact penalty and the other bounced off the chest of his intended receiver. There were a few nervous moments late in the game when Hasselbeck couldnít connect with WR Bobby Engram on consecutive plays failing to burn some time, but he came through on the final Seattle drive completing both of his attempts moving the offense well when they needed a play.
Alexander ran very hard picking up lots of tough yards, particularly late in the game when Seattle was able to run out the clock on their final possession leading to his third touchdown. Alexander topped 160 yards for the second week in a row ripping off several longs runs. Following the same pattern thatís developed all season long, Alexander found his biggest holes and longest runs running off left tackle behind LT Walter Jones.
Strong had only two carries. Both were on third down. The first one got Seattle a first down on a third and short carry. The second carry came on a third and five. QB Matt Hasselbeck audibled to the running play and Strong fought hard, but came up a yard short.
Morris did not get a touch in this game.
Engram had five receptions on eight first half targets. QB Matt Hasselbeck looked Engramís way on third down repeatedly connecting for three conversions to keep drives alive before half time. Engramís leaping 27 yard grab on a deep seam route was impressive snatching it away from the defensive back. At the outset of the fourth quarter Engram was targeted on consecutive plays. He was overthrown on the first play, and fell down on the second coming out of his break. The two plays were key in giving the Rams a chance to come back as each stopped the clock. However, on the final Seattle possession Engramís 14 yard reception converted a third and three putting the game out of reach. After losing multiple big leads late in games over the past two seasons, a collective sigh of relief was heard across the northwest after this play.
Even though Jurevicius has been starting for several weeks now, he and QB Matt Hasselbeck appeared to be on different pages multiple times in the first half. Two Hasselbeck passes landed on the ground when Jurevicius ran a different route than was expected. One of them was on third down inside the ten yard line. His only target in the second half came on the final Seattle drive. After a carry for a loss of one on first down, Hasselbeck hit Jurevicius on a quick slant for ten yards setting up an easy third and one. The play was huge in helping the Seahawks milk the clock to end the game.
Hackett pulled in his 47 yard bomb at the start of the second quarter. He beat his man deep on a go route up the middle. Hackett did a nice job of catching the ball and holding on even though there was contact as the ball came in. This catch swung the momentum in the game and started a ten point swing in favor of Seattle. Hackettís 31 yard touchdown reception in the third quarter was an easy toss for QB Matt Hasselbeck. The cornerback thought he had deep cover help and allowed Hackett to get behind him for the score.
Played in the game late, but was not targeted.
Did not play due to a knee injury heís recovering from.
Stevens was utilized early and often just as he has been for the bulk of the season. Stevens caught two balls on the first drive. Further, Stevens was targeted on the interception thrown by QB Matt Hasselbeck that ended the drive. A defensive back ran into Stevens downfield knocking him off his route making it an easy pick for the defender. Stevens caught a pass in the second quarter that was discounted when the Seahawks opted to take a Rams' penalty on the play. Both of his other targets came early in the drive that led to the second Alexander touchdown.
Hannamís first target was a ten yard reception early in the first Alexander touchdown drive. He was also targeted on the first play of the third quarter. QB Matt Hasselbeck hit Hannam between the numbers on a ten yard pass, but the ball bounced off him up into the air and was intercepted.
Brown hit his only field goal attempt. There was nothing else of consequence to report.
The Seahawk defense hit Steven Jackson up high looking for ďknockoutĒ blows too many times. Jackson bounced off tacklers time and time again picking up great yardage after contact. Not wrapping up ball carriers was a problem for the Seahawks on several instances. However, they were able to stuff Jackson on first down through most of the game putting the Rams in obvious passing situations that set up several opportunities for the Seahawks to pressure QB Marc Bulger. Rookie linebacker Lofa Tatupu made several big plays in the game and led the team in tackles.
Seattle opened the second half with sacks on the first three Ramsí possessions (Bernard, Hill, and Tatupu). Each play ended St. Louis drives. Two of the sacks were in the red zone forcing the Rams to settle for field goals. Seattle opened up their blitz packages more in the second half forcing QB Marc Bulger to get rid of the ball a few times sooner than he wanted to. Rookie LB Leroy Hill and reserve FS Marquand Manuel filled in well for injured starters Sharper and Hamlin.