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RamView: Week 17 – Defense

* Defensive line / LB: The Ram defense didn’t control the line of scrimmage like they did in the first meeting because, once again, they inexplicably let a bad rushing offense run all over them. Chris Long might have had his worst game of the season, against the run, at least. Shoved a mile into the backfield as Marshawn Lynch went off RT for 12 in the 1st. Completely blown away as Lynch did it again in the 3rd, for 24 yards, with David Vobora doing a terrible job on fill. 2nd-and-SEVENTEEN two plays later, Justin Forsett gets it all back ON THE GROUND, sprinting through a huge hole Fred Robbins got pushed out of along with the accidental DT, C.J. Ah You, with James Laurinaitis getting blocked and Oshiomogho Atogwe getting caught flatfooted downfield. Seattle went on to their 1st FG. We had to know the jig was up midway through the 4th when Lynch’s 13-yard sweep right set up their 2nd FG, because there was Sean Locklear, as bad a lineman as there is in the NFL, completely humiliating Long with a dominating block. By the time Lynch got done grinding out the clock and setting up Seattle’s clinching FG, he had 75 yards, and Seattle had run for 141. It boggles the mind how the Rams repeatedly let poor running teams steamroll them, even though there were bright spots. Chris Chamberlain stuffed Lynch a couple of times and put his helmet right on the ball to help Ron Bartell strip a fumble away from Lynch in the 2nd. James Hall had a heroic game, running 60+ yards to bring Ruvell Martin down from behind on Seattle’s first drive. His sack of Charlie Whitehurst would have ended that drive if not for Ron Bartell’s holding penalty. Hall had several stuffs and drew several holds, one of which was actually called. Chamberlain’s the best OLB the Rams have right now by a good stretch. David Vobora mostly got run on or run around. Bryan Kehl was barely any better but did stuff Lynch for a big loss on a blitz in the 1st. Terrible day for pass rush if you like sacks; the Rams had none to show for the biggest game of their season. Whitehurst repeatedly scrambled out of the pocket on them instead, eight times, for 30 yards. Nice containment. Long and Vobora missed golden opportunities for sacks, though Vobora’s missed sack came on the play where Lynch fumbled. I still can’t figure out the second play of the game. The Rams rushed three over RT, and a couple, including Kevin Dockery, got through clean to Whitehurst, then ran right by him as he fired to Martin wide open downfield for 61. What? Should have taken that right away as a sign it wasn’t going to be the Rams’ day. The Rams got enough pressure on Whitehurst to prevent him from just standing in and scanning the field, but this offseason, this is the game the Rams defense will find themselves wishing they’d made more big plays.

* Secondary: Another unit just inconsistent enough to get the Rams beat today. The most important play of the game was the second one. While a heavy blitz ran right by Charlie Whitehurst, Ruvell Martin ran right by Craig Dahl, who didn’t pick him up until very late, giving up a 61-yard catch that led to Seattle’s TD. Ron Bartell kept the drive alive by holding Ben Obamanu. Perhaps a picky call, but c’mon, your supposed shutdown back has to hold Ben Obamanu in the first place? Then, playing in zone at the goal line, Bradley Fletcher failed to pick up Mike Williams on a drag route in time and got caught flat-footed for the TD pass. Whitehurst on the first drive: 5-for-5, 85 yards. After that first drive, though, the secondary really got its act together. Coverage was usually good enough to give the line time to pressure Whitehurst. Bartell helped force a Lynch fumble in the 3rd that set up a FG. Oshiomogho Atogwe stuffed Whitehurst on a 3rd-and-1 sneak to force a punt in the 4th. After practically sending TE John Carlson to the Pro Bowl last year, the secondary kept him completely in check in both of this year’s meetings. Overall, a pretty nice performance, but you have to wonder how much different things would have been if they had come out ready to play to start the game.

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