Seahawks, Rams battling it out in the basement
The Rams used to be Seattle's measuring stick, the team the Seahawks chased the first few years after relocating to the NFC West. Even though the Seahawks...
Seattle Times staff reporter
Seahawks @ St. Louis, 10 a.m., Ch. 13
at St. Louis (2-11)
Noteworthy: The Seahawks are one loss away from matching the second-most defeats of any season in franchise history.
St. Louis (2-11)
vs. Seattle (2-11)
Noteworthy: The offense has been simply offensive. The Rams have scored two touchdowns in the past five games combined.
San Francisco (5-8)
at Miami (8-5)
Noteworthy: If the 49ers win in Miami, they will have won three consecutive games for only the second time in six seasons.
vs. Minnesota (8-5)
Noteworthy: Only the Saints have passed for more yards than the Cardinals this season. They lead the league with 28.6 per game.
RENTON — The Rams used to be Seattle's measuring stick, the team the Seahawks chased the first few years after relocating to the NFC West.
Even though the Seahawks won their first NFC West title in 2004, it came with the caveat that they lost to St. Louis three times that season, including the playoffs.
"The Rams were on top, and it was our job to go chase them," coach Mike Holmgren said.
Seattle's game in St. Louis on Sunday provides a different kind of measurement. It shows how far the Seahawks have fallen. The two teams who once inhabited the division's penthouse, accounting for all seven playoff berths (including wild cards) out of the division from 2003 to 2007, are now slugging it out on skid row. Each team is 2-11 and the game will be blacked out in St. Louis because it failed to sell out.
It is the battle in the basement. St. Louis opens up the cellar to the Seahawks. Of course, this isn't the Rams' first visit. They finished last in the division last year, too.
The question of how long the Seahawks will be part of the NFC Worst is one worth asking because it wasn't all that long ago the Rams were the division's reigning champions, boxing the ears of upstarts like Seattle.
St. Louis made the playoffs five times in the span of six seasons starting in 1999 and played in two Super Bowls. The Rams haven't returned to the playoffs since 2004, they've fired two coaches since then, and they haven't come up for air other than 2006 when they finished 8-8.
So what happened?
"There hasn't been any continuity with our football team, from top to bottom," Rams wide receiver Torry Holt said. "That hurts you. We had injuries and change in this and change in that, and that has led to no rhythm and no continuity to our football team."
Turnover started at the top in St. Louis. Mike Martz missed 11 games because of a heart ailment in 2005 and was fired after the season, replaced by Scott Linehan who was fired after four games this season and replaced by Jim Haslett.
The change has trumped the continuity the Rams have had at key positions. They have the same quarterback they did four years ago: Marc Bulger. They have a dangerous wide receiver in Holt, and while Marshall Faulk is retired, Steven Jackson is considered one of the league's more complete backs though he has been injured at times this season.
The Seahawks are about to embark on their own overhaul as Holmgren concludes his decadelong run as head coach and will be replaced by Jim Mora.
One pitfall the Seahawks and the Rams haven't been able to avoid is turnover along the offensive line. Since the 2005 season began, St. Louis has not gone more than five consecutive games with the same starting line, and the Rams started 13 offensive linemen last year alone.
The Seahawks' offensive line was the strength of this team during its Super Bowl season, but has been both injured and inconsistent the past two seasons. Seattle has started nine different players on the line this season and last week against New England had only one player from the opening-day starting lineup in Buffalo.
Even in Week 1, the group wasn't at full strength. Center Chris Spencer missed most of camp because of a back injury, and right tackle Ray Willis filled in for Sean Locklear the first few games because of a knee injury.
"We never had the whole group together from the get-go," Holmgren said. "And I think with the offensive line, more than any other position, you need that. So going forward, a lot of it has to do with how we think the injuries are going to come out."
Left guard Mike Wahle is recovering from arthroscopic surgery on his shoulder, while Spencer is out for the year with a herniated disk and said he still hopes to avoid surgery.
Repairing those injuries is just part of the rebuilding process for Seattle as it attempts to work its way out of the basement.
Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or email@example.com
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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