Keys to the Game: Seattle

Posted Oct 27, 2013

The Rams make their home return to Monday Night Football against Seattle this week, renewing an NFC West rivalry that began in 2002. The Rams enter Monday looking to improve their home record to 3-1 against the division-leading Seahawks. Here are three keys to watch for Monday.

Protecting the Football

With QB Sam Bradford at the helm of the offense through the season’s first seven weeks, the Rams were among the league’s best in limiting turnovers. Bradford threw just four interceptions this year, and the Rams played consecutive games without a turnover in Weeks 5 and 6.  Despite their three turnovers last week in Carolina, the Rams are tied for the eighth-fewest giveaways this year.

QB Kellen Clemens will now be tasked with providing a spark against the league’s second-ranked defense, as well as continuing the Rams’ steady turnover ratio. This week will be Clemens’ first start since 2011, though he has gained a penchant for his ability to protect the football. In 17 games, including four starts, since 2010, Clemens has thrown just two interceptions.

Rams’ Run Defense vs. Marshawn Lynch:

Seattle employs perhaps the most run-heavy offensive attack the Rams will see this year, led by RB Marshawn Lynch. Entering this week, Lynch ranks second among all NFL backs with 578 yards on the ground. He has also rushed for six touchdowns, which ranks second in the league.

The Rams have faced their share of talented backs through seven weeks, including San Francisco’s Frank Gore and Houston’s Arian Foster. While those backs gained success at times against the Rams’ defensive front, Lynch may be the best back of the lot. In two games against the Rams last season, Lynch carried 38 times for 218 yards and a touchdown.

“He’s the toughest guy to tackle in the NFL,” LB James Laurinaitis said. “Every year, he has some highlights that kind of defy football and what should happen. I have a lot of respect for Marshawn and it’s going to be a huge challenge.”

Starting Quickly

Through the season’s first seven games, few factors have been more indicative of the game’s outcome than the halftime score. When the Rams begin the second half either tied or in the lead, the Rams are 3-0.  Meanwhile, the Rams have trailed entering the second half in each of their four losses.

Getting off to a quick start offensively could prove to be a significant challenge this week, as Seattle boasts the league’s third-ranked scoring defense and has allowed just five first-half touchdowns through seven games.