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Seahawks' defense has Rams' attention

Saturday, September 29, 2012 | 8:17 p.m. CDT; updated 8:57 p.m. CDT, Saturday, September 29, 2012
St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford, left, was sacked six times last week against Chicago.

ST. LOUIS — Forget about that crazy ending in Seattle on Monday night. What caught Rams coach Jeff Fisher's attention was the Seahawks' eight sacks in the first half against the Packers' Aaron Rodgers.

The Rams (1-2) are next up for Seattle, and they're saddled with a patchwork offensive line minus two standouts that had considerable difficulty protecting Sam Bradford last week. After surrendering six sacks in a loss to the Bears, they're looking mighty vulnerable.

Maybe, the coach joked, it's time to take the long view with his franchise quarterback.

"I thought about starting Kellen Clemens," Fisher said with a grin. "Honestly, and you can go tell him that."

Clemens definitely got a kick out of it.

"I love Fish, I love Fish," the backup said. "Let them get it all out of the way and then put Sam in. Absolutely. If I can be of use, put me out there. Put me out there. He's classic."

Bradford, who missed six games with a high ankle sprain last year, was not that amused.

"Not sure I like that idea. I sat enough last year. I didn't really enjoy that," Bradford said. "Hopefully, it doesn't come to that."

Whoever's under center Sunday had better get the ball out fast. The game-changing final play in the Seahawks' 14-12 win over the Packers is what'll be remembered, but airtight defense got the Seahawks in position to pull out the unlikely win.

Before replacement officials ruled that Golden Tate had caught a touchdown pass from Russell Wilson on the final play of the game — and that it wasn't intercepted by Green Bay's M.J. Jennings — the Seahawks' pass rush was the story of the day.

Chris Clemons had four of the first-half sacks, tying the NFL record for sacks in a half set by the Chiefs' Derrick Thomas in 1992. Rookie Bruce Irvin, the Seahawks' first-round draft pick, and Brandon Mebane had two sacks apiece.

"It was like a feeding frenzy there for a while," Seattle coach Pete Carroll said.

The Seahawks (2-1) are allowing 13 points per game, best in the NFL, and are fourth in total defense.

Big bodies on the line — end Red Bryant and tackles Mebane and Alan Branch — are the foundation. Linebackers Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright each posted career highs for tackles against the Packers, with eight and 11 stops, respectively. Safety Kam Chancellor tied his career best with 10 stops.

"We can line up against anybody, we're going to play you well and that's just what it is," linebacker Leroy Hill said. "We match up well with a lot of good offenses in this league.

"The media wants to take the better story of the refs and the last play and that's rightfully so. In this locker room, as long as we know we're pretty good that's all that matters."

The toughest task for Seahawks this week might be shaking off euphoria instead of dealing with a short turnaround.

"I would hope everybody is focused on St. Louis," cornerback Richard Sherman said. "I haven't thought nothing about Green Bay, I'm moving on to St. Louis.

"If you're still thinking about Green Bay and the game and the call and all of that you're stuck in the past."

Added Carroll: "Our fans had the moment of their life and I know it's crushing on the other end of it. The point now is to understand that we have to find the discipline it takes to be turned into the next preparation."

Fisher watched the game on TV and is avoiding controversy, saying only that Packers coach Mike McCarthy "did an extraordinary job dealing with a difficult set of circumstances."

Rams players were not so diplomatic.

"I think everyone in the country, except for people who live in Seattle, saw it as an interception," Bradford said.

"You know, I was yelling 'Interception!' all day long," cornerback Cortland Finnegan said.

The Seahawks-Rams series has been pretty easy to call for a while now. Seattle has won 13 of the past 14 since 2005 and in the past three has outscored St. Louis 70-26.

From the day he took the job, Fisher's presence has been something of an equalizer for the Rams, instilling confidence to a franchise worn down by years of losing. Instead of folding when they fell behind by 15 to the Redskins in the home opener, the Rams rallied behind Bradford's arm and strong defense.

The Rams' defense is much improved, holding the Bears to 17 points last week. Finnegan has an interception in all three games and has been an all-around disruptive force.

Help is on the way, too, with first-round pick Michael Brockers, a tackle, expected to make his debut and give the interior line another big body. The 322-pound Brockers is at least a week ahead of schedule from a high right ankle sprain sustained in the preseason finale.

Steven Jackson had only 29 yards on 11 carries last week while limited by a groin injury and did not practice Wednesday, leaving the extent of his game-day availability in question. Center Scott Wells (foot) is out until Week 9 and left tackle Rodger Saffold (knee) isn't expected back soon, either.


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