Toppling troubling opponent has Seahawks flying into bye
RENTON, Wash. (AP) - By toppling one of their more troubling opponents, the Seattle Seahawks went into their bye week on Monday back in control of the NFC West.
Yes, the Seahawks continue to have their own issues. But the 16-10 win over the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday followed what's been Seattle's blueprint early in this season - relying on a stifling defense that held the Rams 25 points below their season average while doing just enough on offense to get out of Los Angeles with a victory.
It was a significant early win. A loss to the Rams would have left Seattle (3-2) two games behind and with Los Angeles holding the tiebreaker. Instead, the Seahawks are tied for the division lead headed into their break.
"We were able to keep them from being effective in the ways they had been effective and we'll see how many times people hold them to 10 points," Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. "They started fast and got off to a real good roll and our guys rallied and came back and played three quarters of really great football and kept them down. They're good. They're doing a lot of really good stuff. It took us some special plays and good fortune."
Seattle slowed down the Rams by containing Todd Gurley. The do-everything running back for Los Angeles was held to 43 yards rushing and had just two catches for 7 yards.
Gurley was also at the center of one of the biggest plays for Seattle when safety Earl Thomas chopped Gurley's arm just short of the goal line and forced a fumble that went off the pylon and became a touchback for Seattle. It happened on the first drive of the game and by the end was a massively important play.
Thomas made a similar play in a 2014 game against the Rams. The Seahawks have held four of their first five opponents under 20 points, the one outlier being a 33-27 loss at Tennessee.
"It's a phenomenal play. And what's really exciting is he's done it before. The picture is on the wall in the hallway down there," Carroll said, pointing toward the Seahawks locker room. "To watch the play and watch the absolute maximum intensity from the first step he took in chasing the football to making that play and to get it done with just a fraction of an inch ... it was because of his phenomenal will to stop that play."
Seattle will need to make changes on the offensive line when it returns from the bye. Starting left guard Luke Joeckel is scheduled to undergo arthroscopic surgery on his left knee later this week to clean up a lingering issue. Carroll said Joeckel has been able to play through the discomfort for the first five weeks but needs the surgery. Carroll said it's unlikely Joeckel would be able to return in time for the Oct. 22 game at the New York Giants.
"We brought him back very carefully and there was something that was kind of hanging in there that was irritating him for some time," Carroll said. "We tried to wait it out and see what it was, and we have waited as long as we can wait and he's been a stud about it. Now it's time to get cleaned up."
Seattle brought in veteran Branden Albert for a workout on Monday as a potential option. The 32-year-old was released by Jacksonville in August. But the loss of Joeckel for likely one game won't help the Seahawks' struggling ground game. Seattle finished with 62 yards rushing against the Rams and has been held under 100 yards in three of five games.
NOTES: DE Michael Bennett suffered a plantar fascia injury in the win over the Rams and was "really sore" on Monday, Carroll said. Bennett was injured late in the first half but played the rest of the game. "He's going to need these couple of weeks here," Carroll said. ... LT Rees Odhiambo was also sore after playing with a bruised sternum suffered in the Week 4 win over Indianapolis.