To those who think the St. Louis Rams will show up in Seattle without motivation because of their 6-9 record, here’s a question: Have you been watching Rams coach Jeff Fisher?
“It’s not about rocking their world and affecting their playoffs; it’s just trying to find a way to win the last game,” Fisher said on a conference call Tuesday afternoon.
And to those who believe that statement, I would ask once again: Have you been watching Jeff Fisher?
Fisher has won two of the last five against the Seahawks, and has gotten the underdog Rams close on two other occasions.
He has done it with gimmicks and tricks and fakes, smoke and mirrors, sleight of hand, but mostly by getting his team ready to play exceptionally physical against the Seahawks.
He did it when the Hawks came to St. Louis in October, faking a late punt to maintain possession, and scoring on a tricky misdirection punt return.
The Rams are the only division team to upend the Seahawks this season, so Seattle coach Pete Carroll is wary as he enters Sunday’s game with his team looking to win the NFC West division and once again secure the home-field advantage through the playoffs.
“He’s a great coach; he’s been around a long time,” Carroll said of Fisher. “He’s pulled off some great plays and great finishes and surprised you with all kinds of things over the years. He’s got a great bag of tricks and we honor and respect that. Unfortunately, we’ve been the victim a couple times. Much to his credit.”
Carroll promises the Seahawks will be alert to Fisher’s tendencies, and the focus will be on playing “a really sound game against them.”
Rams punter Johnny Hekker threw a touchdown pass on a fake field goal once against the Hawks, and completed the fake-punt pass in October that helped the Rams hold on for a 28-26 win.
Hekker has relied on the passing skills he developed as a quarterback for Bothell High School.
Hekker said he expects to have 20 members of his family at the game Sunday, so he’s obviously well-motivated. But what about the Rams? Any chance they’ll just be playing out the string?
“In the great words of the announcers in ‘Waterboy,’ it’s the last game of the year, can’t hold anything back now,” Hekker said, before getting serious with an explanation that a few of the league’s spoiled stars could learn from.
“We’re all professionals, and getting to play football is an immense honor, so whenever you have an opportunity to go out on the field and represent your team and represent the city of St. Louis, it means a lot to us,” Hekker said. “So, no matter whether it was the first game of the season, the middle of the season, our last game, or the actual Super Bowl, we’re going to go out there and give it our best effort.”
To score a sweep of the defending world champs, Hekker said, “is the kind of thing where we don’t have anything to gain as far as prolonging the season, but we have a lot to gain as far as momentum into next season if we can sneak out of CenturyLink (Field) with a win.”
The Rams have been unpredictable this season, which is perhaps part of what makes them dangerous to a Seahawks team on a five-game winning streak. St. Louis scored back-to-back shutouts over Oakland and Washington, scoring a combined 76 points.
But they now have lost back-to-back home games against Arizona and the New York Giants.
They’re 25th in offense and 18th in defense, but they’ve sacked Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson more than any other team — 22 times in his career.
Fisher made note of the Seahawks’ 596 yards of offense in Sunday’s win at Arizona.
“It’s very impressive what they’ve done as of late,” Fisher said. “It’s not easy to play so late in the season last year, come back and be playing the way they’re playing right now. I’m very impressed with the job Pete’s done and how they’re responded.”
It’s fair the believe he’s telling the full truth on that one.