The last time the Rams and Seahawks met on the field, it was the 2010 season finale and the NFC West Division crown was on the line.
It was a potential watershed moment for a Rams team that had enjoyed a six-win turnaround from the previous season and found itself on the verge of a playoff breakthrough.
But the Rams couldn’t quite handle the moment that came with such big stakes in the difficult environment of Seattle’s Qwest Field, falling 16-6.
That game certainly left a bitter taste in the mouth of many Rams.
“It hurt, but I’m not that type (to let it linger),” Long said. “That’s why I try to play hard and leave it all on the field.”
On Sunday, the Seahawks and Rams renew acquaintances as the Rams look for their first divisional victory in their return to the Edward Jones Dome after two weeks on the road. The Rams snapped Seattle’s hold over them last year in St. Louis with a 20-3 win.
Coach Steve Spagnuolo is quick to remind anyone who will listen that nothing that happened last year matters and the Rams have a responsibility to look at this week’s game like any other on the schedule.
“It’s like the other 15,” Spagnuolo said. “It’s a regular season game. And we treat them all the same; I’m not trying to downgrade it. I’m just saying, we attack them the same way. We don’t go revenge, we don’t do all that. This is a pretty good challenge; this is a good football team.”
The Rams sit at 2-7 on the season while Seattle is 3-6. But both teams are coming off victories last week and have been playing better on both sides of the ball in recent weeks.
Although the Rams insist that they don’t view this game as some sort of revenge for last year, they do acknowledge that when the two teams meet, there is often an element of extra curricular activity.
“It’s a big game,” quarterback
If past games have been “chippy,” it stands to reason this incarnation of the rivalry will be as well. If only because both teams have seemed to take a more physical, hard nosed approach in the past few weeks.
As the Rams and Seahawks have begun to turn things around, it’s no coincidence they’ve done so by playing much better against the run defensively and running the ball much better offensively.
Seattle has turned to its best offensive player, running back Marshawn Lynch to carry the load for them in recent weeks.
Lynch has done the job, going over 100 yards in each of the past two games, including a grind it out effort against a big, physical Baltimore defense last week.
On the flip side of that, the Rams have been much better against the run in the past three weeks, shutting down the Saints and Cardinals completely and keeping the Browns in check save for one big run.
The Seahawks have been buoyed by a pair of talented young linemen on the right side of the line in guard John Moffitt and tackle James Carpenter. But both promising players were lost for the season in separate injury incidents this week which could make Seattle vulnerable on that side of the line.
Still, the onus falls on the Rams to stop Lynch first and then get after quarterback Tarvaris Jackson in the pass rush.
“Yeah, he’s really a good back,” defensive coordinator Ken Flajole said. “He’s having a nice year for them. He’s a physical back. He’s got a nice blend between power and speed. I know they try and feed him the ball. I know Seattle’s offense relies on the fact that they try and establish the run game. I know they’re making a lot of comments about when they’ve been successful offensively, it’s because they’ve established the run with him. He’ll be another challenge. We get one every week.”
On the other side of the ball, the Rams have enjoyed similar success in the past three weeks with star running back
For the fourth time in his career, Jackson has reached 100 yards or more in three consecutive games going into Sunday. Jackson is running as well as ever and the Rams’ ability to keep those games close has allowed Jackson to continue churning out yards late in games when the opposing defense is worn down.
Seattle’s run defense ranks 12th in the league and is powered by one of the league’s most physical defensive lines, led by run stuffing tackles Brandon Mebane and Red Bryant.
Like the past three weeks, the Rams will again need to rely on Jackson to open things up for a passing game that needs to gain some traction with quarterback Sam Bradford finally back close to full health.
“Those four down guys for Seattle are disruptive,” offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said. “They’re very big. It’s probably one of the better fronts we’ll play all year. We’ve got to make sure that we don’t let them disrupt our running game and let Jack get his rhythm started by getting to the line of scrimmage clean and having a chance to run at the linebackers. And that’s kind of what our focus and our emphasis has been on the last so many weeks and we’ve got to continue it this week.”
One thing the Rams hope will work to their advantage is returning home to the Edward Jones Dome where they haven’t played since their dominant win against New Orleans on Oct. 30.
The Rams are home each of the next two weeks and looking forward to being back in front of the home fans.
“It’s always good to play at home and the last time we were home our crowd was really into it, so it would be much appreciated if they bring the same electricity that they did a few weeks back,” Jackson said. “These next two at home are going to do a lot for us, especially being on the road that much kind of wears down on you. But to be home for the next two weeks, it’s really good.”
And for now, that’s all the Rams are focused on: putting on a good performance in front of the hometown fans against perhaps their biggest divisional rival.
“I don’t have any sense of revenge, it’s just that it’s a rival game and both teams we have respect for one another, but at the end of the day we both know it’s a rivalry,” Jackson said.