ReFo: Rams @ Seahawks, Week 17
Ultimately, it was a game that mattered very little. The San Francisco 49ers’ stroll to victory meant the Seattle Seahawks knew the divisional crown they coveted was out of their grasp, but to their credit they played hard and enter the playoffs with some precious momentum on their side.
However, we can’t credit the Seahawks alone for their effort, how about those St Louis Rams? With nothing to play for but pride they gave their fans a glimpse of the future with a hard-fought performance against one of the in-form teams in the NFL. They ultimately came up just short, as Sam Bradford took the bait of Richard Sherman, but this will go down as a year where they took a huge leap forward.
Let’s look at some of the most noteworthy performances.
St Louis – Three Performances of Note
Long Day All Round
On the surface of things this was a triumphant day for Chris Long (+0.6). Three sacks and five hurries on 28 pass rushes earned him a positive grade for his pass rushing, but not to the degree you might think.
This comes from the fact that one of his sacks was more Russell Wilson running into him, another came when a stunt (and dubious non-hold call) saw him run free, and only on the last one did he beat a player off the edge. His five hurries were more impressive as he turned the corner on Breno Giacomini for two of them, as well as drawing a flag on a holding infringement from Anthony McCoy. However, with two of his pressures unblocked this is where the stats flatter him a bit.
Then, when you look at his work in the run game, where he looked ill-prepared to defend the Seahawks’ option package, you see why he walked away with only a marginally positive grade.
Pass Protection Holds Firm
It’s been a concern all year, but in ensuring that Sam Bradford faced pressure on just 9 of 43 drop-backs the Rams’ offensive line can be pleased with their day’s work. Rodger Saffold (+2.8) was especially impressive, allowing just the one hit, and it was only Barry Richardson who allowed multiple quarterback disruptions. Given how Bradford has struggled this year under pressure (in this game he completed only two of nine attempts, averaging 1.9 yards per pass) it’s encouraging to see how this unit, featuring a lot of castoffs, has improved as the year has gone on.
It’s a shame that Trumaine Johnson (+1.0) made such a mess of one play (missing two attempted tackles with 3:19 to go in the game) because he was quietly having a second very impressive game. His ability to go up and beat Golden Tate for a deep jump ball with 4:53 to go in the third was particularly impressive.
What was less impressive was the performance of Craig Dahl (-3.6). With Quintin Mikell having one of his weaker games of the year (two missed tackles), the team could have used Dahl stepping up. Instead he didn’t, missing three tackles of his own, getting drawn in by play action and making it all too apparent the Rams could use an upgrade at the free safety spot.
Still, given the work they were able to do this year who’s to say they won’t find that?
Seattle – Three Performances of Note
Bad Day for Breno
In a line that performed well Breno Giacomini (-5.2) was something of a weak link. That’s something of a shame considering how he has improved himself in the second half of the season, grading positively in the seven games that proceeded this one.
Unfortunately, whether it was Chris Long or William Hayes, he had trouble stopping either man turning the corner on him. With some poor run work that saw him struggling to stop defenders get across his face, Seattle are left hoping this was an aberration and that he’ll return to his more solid self come playoff time.
Only time will tell.
Mebane Makes Presence Felt
There are plays where you watch Brandon Mebane (+2.5) and you think he’s practically unstoppable. A big unit of a man, he tends to line up on the shoulder of the center and then sets about trying to wreak havoc from there. Matched up predominantly with Scott Wells, it’s safe to say he won the majority of his battles, finishing the day with three defensive stops and a handful more plays where his impact redirected runners. He’s one to most definitely watch in the playoffs.
Tate Steps Up
With Sidney Rice not targeted, Golden Tate (+2.1) was the difference-maker in the receiving game. He’ll be disappointed that an illegal formation penalty (when he covered the tight end) wiped off a first down, but his work after the catch on the three other balls he caught was something to behold. As previously mentioned, his reception with 3:19 to go in the game was essentially the play that swung the game in the Seahawks favor. He caught a ball downfield, before breaking three tackles to put Seattle in striking distance. After some earlier excellent work this was a real example of a receiver making the most of his opportunities, as the five tackles he broke shows.
— Russell Wilson had an adjusted accuracy percentage of 94.4%.
— The Seahawks missed five tackles. The Rams? 16.
— Barry Richardson ended the year with a positive pass-blocking grade that meant his cumulative mark for the year, in that area, was +0.3. In 2011 it was -11.1.
PFF Game Ball
I haven’t spoken about him a lot, but this was another assured performance from the excellent Russell Wilson. He came through when his team needed him, and that should scare a lot of teams.
Follow Khaled on Twitter: @PFF_Khaled