Usually, this is one of the real stinkers on the schedule, the one week of the season when even devoted fans can get away with scheduling other activities on Sunday and not worrying about missing much when the Seahawks play the St. Louis Rams.
But a month into the 2010 season, this morning’s meeting with the Rams has turned into what could be a pivotal game against a team on the rise.
Seriously, by this afternoon, the Seahawks could be in control of their division.
Who would have believed it a month ago if somebody had predicted that the Seahawks had the chance to head into the bye week with a 3-1 record. And, on top of that, it’s expected to be a close game because the chronically lame Rams have a surprising win and two narrow losses.
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“This is a team that’s just catching on,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said of the Rams.
As proof, he cited last week’s 30-16 win over Washington and losses to Arizona and Oakland that were within the margin of a field goal.
And, it’s another game on the road … a touchy issue for the Seahawks and Carroll after a big loss at Denver two weeks ago.
“I talk so much about getting on the road; that’s what’s at hand,” Carroll said. “We’re not ducking from it. We got to see if we can go play a good football game out there and start progressing.”
The progress has been easy to see at home, with a win over San Francisco to start the season and a dramatic win over San Diego last week that imprinted the Seahawks as an exciting, big-play team that can score in a number of ways and stop opponents when it has to.
The Seahawks’ five straight wins over the Rams in St. Louis, Carroll said, are irrelevant. This is a new team under a new staff, with half the players new to the roster.
Still, he recognized the power of human nature: “They may feel comfortable with the setting (in St. Louis), but half this team is different. We’re starting all over again,” he said. “That’s why all of the approach and the principles about going on the road and traveling right now are so paramount to me because I’ve got to get us all on the same page so that we can capitalize on (this).”
Carroll took the blame for the team not playing closer to its potential in Denver, where turnovers and weak third-down defense doomed Seattle.
“I need to do a much better job than I did last time around; I didn’t get it done with the guys,” Carroll said of the Denver loss. “It’s so important because half of your future is based on getting on the road and being successful, so it’s a big step for us.”
Winning anywhere is a big step for the Rams. The quick development of No. 1 overall draft pick Sam Bradford at quarterback has been a key thus far. Carroll raved about Bradford’s talents and surprising maturity.
But his effectiveness will be tested if Pro Bowl running back Steven Jackson misses the game because of a groin injury. He was listed as questionable.
The Seahawks won’t have much sympathy for the Rams’ health issues, because cornerback Marcus Trufant, tackle Sean Locklear and defensive tackle Brandon Mebane missed considerable practice time this week. And although left tackle Russell Okung was back at practice, his readiness remains a question.
One guarantee, though, is that after 10 consecutive losses to the Seahawks, the Rams will be highly motivated.
It’s too early to take any single game too seriously, but a win today would put the Seahawks in an unexpected position of strength.
Arizona heads into today at a shaky 2-1, and has to play at San Diego and at home against Super Bowl champion New Orleans before having to visit Seattle to take on the Seahawks at Qwest Field. A tough stretch.
San Francisco is 0-3 and in disarray, and a loss by the Rams today would leave them 1-3.
Advantage Seahawks, all the way around.
If they win, that is.
Dave Boling: 253-597-8440 firstname.lastname@example.org