Maligned defense comes through for Seahawks
ERIC D. WILLIAMS; Staff writer
The Seattle Seahawks’ maligned defense knew the task ahead.
After starting the season with one of the best run defenses, injuries and uninspired play led the Seahawks to the bottom of the rankings.
But Seattle put that all behind Sunday in bottling up the St. Louis Rams, 16-6.
“We just came out tonight and we knew it was all on the line – either win or go home,” said defensive end Chris Clemons, who finished with half a sack.
The Seahawks again held St. Louis running back Steven Jackson in check. The seven-year veteran finished with 45 yards, and has never rushed for more than 100 yards against Seattle.
Once the Seahawks shut down Jackson, they forced rookie quarterback Sam Bradford into some tough throws, including a interception by linebacker Will Herring midway through the fourth quarter.
“I hate rookie quarterbacks and I wanted to hit him as much as possible,” said Seattle defensive end Raheem Brock, who finished with 2.5 sacks. “I’m not going to let a rookie quarterback take me out of the playoffs.”
Bradford likely will win the league’s offensive rookie of the year award, but on this day he struggled, completing 19 of 36 passes for 155 yards and an interception. Bradford had a 52.4 passer rating.
The key for Seattle defensively was its play on third down. The Seahawks held St. Louis to 2-for-14 on third down attempts, forcing three-and-outs on two of the Rams’ first three drives. Seattle came into the contest as one of the worst defenses on third down at 41 percent.
“When our defense does good, we win on third downs,” Seahawks safety Lawyer Milloy said. “And we don’t, we don’t do very good. So we have to concentrate on winning on third down.”
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said the defense’s most impressive play came after Seattle’s only turnover, a Marshawn Lynch fumble at Seattle’s 28 with the Seahawks up 7-3 early in the third quarter.
Seattle’s defense managed to keep St. Louis out of the end zone, holding the Rams to a 27-yard Josh Brown field goal, cutting Seattle’s lead to 7-6. The Seahawks held St. Louis scoreless the rest of the way.
“That was really a big story,” Carroll said. “It just showed that this was a dominant night for the defense.”
OKUNG STAYS IN
It’s become a familiar and frustrating sight for Seahawks fans – talented rookie tackle Russell Okung limping off the field with an injured ankle.
The Seahawks’ top draft pick has suffered severe sprains to each leg this season. And it seems as though at least once a game he will tweak one of those ankles and need to leave the field.
It was no different Sunday. Late in the second quarter, Okung came up favoring his left ankle (the most recent of the sprains) and needed to be helped off the field.
But after a halftime break, a fresh tape job and a little rest, Okung came sprinting out of the tunnel and didn’t miss a second half snap.
“When I went down, I knew I was coming back,” Okung said. “There was no way I was going to sit out this game. I didn’t want to regret anything about it.”
Okung has had his regrets this season when it comes to injuries, missing six games in his first season. But he’s shown a willingness to play through pain.
“I knew the team needed me,” he said. “The guys lifted me up and just like they were always there for me, I needed to be there for them.”
Lineman Chester Pitts suffered a head injury in the second half and did not return. Cornerback Kelly Jennings suffered a lower leg injury but stayed in game.
Punter Jon Ryan did a good job of helping Seattle control field position, finishing with four punts inside the 20-yard line.
The Seahawks forced St. Louis to punt nine times.
The Seahawks are 3-0 when Marshawn Lynch carries the ball at least 20 times, and 6-0 when the y lead at halftime.
Playoff tickets for the game Saturday against the Saints went on sale Sunday night. Check www.seahawks.com
or call Ticketmaster at 1-800-745-3000.
Staff writer Ryan Divish contributed to this report.