Defensive backs find swagger against Rams
Coach Jim Mora helps backs return to basics, put clamps on St. Louis receivers.
Seattle Times staff reporter
The Seahawks' defensive secondary lost its swagger.
They left it in Buffalo after a season-opening thrashing, and the San Francisco 49ers had them doubting themselves last Sunday.
So all week, defensive backs coach Jim Mora kept reminding them who they are.
"We should be the leaders of this team," Seahawks strong safety Deon Grant said. "With 11 returning starters [on defense] and all the Pro Bowlers we had last year, we should be the leaders. It's not like we've been playing bad, but ... "
But the Seahawks weren't winning. They lost two games. The short-handed offense gave them 30 points last week and they still lost. Their defense got eight sacks and constant pressure last week, and still the secondary surrendered 321 passing yards to journeyman quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan.
"When you have a week like last week when you know as a defense you had a chance to win the game, you always want to show everybody that you're better than what you've been showing," cornerback Kelly Jennings said. "We know we have that swagger and we just have to play with that swagger."
Mora talked with them about the four principles of defense: eyes, hands, feet and leverage.
"When you do those four things ... you're winning as a defense," Jennings said. "You put yourself in good position to make plays. Then all you have to do is finish. Finish the play."
It's a simple concept, but it's something the Seahawks didn't do against the 49ers.
This time, the secondary was stellar. Rams receivers finished with just nine catches and 90 yards, and St. Louis quarterback Marc Bulger had a 53.0 passer rating at halftime when the Seahawks had a 27-6 lead.
"I try to stay away from thinking we're dominating during the game because it only takes one play for us to look bad," said Russell, who knocked down two passes. "I was expecting Torry Holt to come after me or Deon eventually with one of those double-move routes, and that would have swung the momentum a little bit in their favor.
"We kept telling each other: 'Get ready for something like that to happen.' "
Right on cue, Holt ran a fade route to the back of the end zone. Jennings, however, punched the ball away, forcing the Rams to settle for a 29-yard Josh Brown field goal.
Grant punctuated an oppressive performance with Seattle's first interception of the season midway in the fourth quarter. He nearly had another pick and finished with three batted balls.
"You've got to play with confidence," Grant said. "It wasn't like we didn't have confidence, we just needed some good things to happen for us to keep believing in what we're doing. We needed a game like this."
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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