DANNY ONEIL

Rams a specifically stiff challenge for Russell Wilson, Seahawks

Sep 16, 2016, 6:26 AM | Updated: 9:26 am
Since 2012, the Rams have gone 4-4 against Seattle with an average of 4.4 sacks per game. (AP)...
Since 2012, the Rams have gone 4-4 against Seattle with an average of 4.4 sacks per game. (AP)
(AP)

Achilles had a heel.

Shaquille O’Neal had free throws.

And the Seahawks? They’ve got the Rams. At least that’s how it has seemed since 2012 because even as Seattle has pole-vaulted into the realm of perennial playoff contention, the Rams have remained a specifically troublesome opponent.

“The Rams, they play good football against us,” defensive lineman Michael Bennett said. “They just don’t play good football against everybody else. It’s just when we play them, they play their hardest.”

Seahawks’ Person of Interest: Rams quarterback Case Keenum

Bennett said that last December after the Rams’ 23-17 victory in Seattle. It was the Rams’ second win over the Seahawks last season and their fourth over the past four years, most of any opponent in that time.

“We have not played them well the last few times out,” coach Pete Carroll said.

No kidding. The reasons for that aren’t all that tough to decode, either.

The Seahawks haven’t found any room on the ground against the Rams, averaging 121.6 rushing yards per game and 4.2 yards per carry against the Rams. Compare that to the averages of 156.8 rushing yards per game and 5.5 yards per carry against all other teams.

Russell Wilson hasn’t had much room, either. He has been sacked 35 times in those eight games against the Rams, an average of 4.4 per game. He has been sacked an average of 2.3 times against all other opponents in the regular season.

That’s a really long and numerically specific way of stating that the Rams’ defensive line has pretty much had its way with the Seahawks up front.

There’s a reason for that. In the 12 years since the Rams last made the playoffs, they’ve used high-end draft picks on their frontline. And while Chris Long was released in the offseason, the cupboard is hardly empty as Aaron Donald, Michael Brockers and Robert Quinn are all former first-round draft picks who are poised to chase Wilson all over the Los Angeles Coliseum on Sunday.

“Their personnel is really, really talented,” Wilson said. “You’ve got to give them credit.”

Wilson has actually completed a higher percentage of his pass attempts against the Rams compared to other opponents. He has averaged more passing yards against them, too, and while Wilson has nine touchdown passes counterbalanced by six interceptions against the Rams, that ratio is skewed by the fact that three of those interceptions occurred in Week 4 of his rookie year.

Pressure has been the story, though. Wilson has been sacked five or more times in a game only eight times in the regular season. The Rams were responsible for three of those games, and that was when he was healthy.

On Sunday, the Rams will be chasing a quarterback who is less than 100 percent. Wilson suffered an ankle injury in the third quarter of last week’s win over Miami, and as impressive as his recovery has been, he may not be as elusive as usual.

Even when the Seahawks are at their best, the Rams have been able to bring out Seattle’s worst. It has been true in Seattle victories like the one in October 2013 when the Seahawks won a Monday night game despite only 130 yards of total offense. It has been true in defeats, too, like that game last December when the Seahawks were held to 59 yards rushing, their lowest total in any game in more than two years.

“They’re well-coached and they’re tough,” Carroll said of the Rams. “They make things happen. They’ve got a lot of talent. They’ve taken advantage of their draft opportunities and they’ve got a lot of people on this team that can play ball.

“So I think they’re as talented as anybody we play.”

With four regular-season victories over Seattle in the past four seasons, the Rams are as tough a matchup as the Seahawks have had, and that was without their quarterback limping.

Danny and Gallant Show

Wyman & Bob

Danny ONeil

Seahawks Quandre Diggs...
Danny O'Neil

O’Neil: Seahawks have uncertainty with a player ‘holding in,’ but it’s not Quandre Diggs

While Quandre Diggs appears to be the third Seahawks player to "hold-in" during training camp, Danny O'Neil writes that it's Duane Brown whose future is up in the air.
2 months ago
Follow @dannyoneil...
Danny O'Neil

AZ Good AZ it Gets

SPONSORED – Phoenix was the place where the rest of the country found out that Seattle fans took their enthusiasm on the road with them. That was 2013. It’s also the place where I discovered how restorative a desert vacation can be. That was 2015. Let’s start with the screaming. That’s what caught everyone’s attention […]
2 months ago
Mariners Jarred Kelenic...
Danny O'Neil

O’Neil: Mariners aren’t handing the spotlight over to Seahawks just yet

This is the time of year that Seattle tends to shift its focus to the gridiron, but the Mariners are still commanding attention.
2 months ago
Seahawks Duane Brown...
Danny O'Neil

O’Neil: When Seahawks decide not to extend players, they’re rarely wrong

If you think the Seahawks must sign Duane Brown to an extension, when's the last time they opted against re-signing someone and it came back to bite them?
3 months ago
Follow @dannyoneil...
Danny O'Neil

Oh, LA, LA!

Week 15, Dec. 19: Seattle at Los Angeles Rams, SoFi Stadium, 1:25 p.m. Pacific SPONSORED – Maybe it was fitting that the opening act for the first pro-football game I covered in Los Angeles was a rock band I loved as a teenager. There’s no place that makes me think of growing up more than […]
3 months ago
Follow @dannyoneil...
Danny O'Neil

Star in a Lone Star Adventure

Week 14, Dec. 12: Seattle at Houston Texans, NRG Stadium, 10 a.m. Pacific SPONSORED – Enchiladas and greatness. That’s what I think of in Texas. The enchiladas are pretty straightforward. They’re so delicious at El Tiempo Cantina that it’s hard to take a bite without closing my eyes. There are three locations though the one […]
3 months ago
Rams a specifically stiff challenge for Russell Wilson, Seahawks