Ready or not, Rams to play in prime time

News-DemocratOctober 27, 2013 

— Downtown St. Louis will be the center of the sports world on Monday night with the St. Louis Cardinals playing in Game 5 of the World Series at Busch Stadium and the St. Louis Rams playing on Monday Night Football at the Edward Jones Dome.

Whether many fans will be interested in attending the Rams' game against the Seattle Seahawks with the Cardinals playing down the road remains to be seen.

"Not really something that I can worry about, but we'll take everybody we can get,'' Rams quarterback Kellen Clemens said of the potential for a low fan turnout at the Edward Jones Dome. "So, hopefully the Cardinals are blowing them out early and everybody wants to leave Busch Stadium and come join our party."

The Rams hope their pre-Halloween party doesn't turn into a scarefest against the Seahawks, who are 6-1 and off to their best start in team history.

With Sam Bradford lost for the season with a torn ACL in his knee, Clemons will be making his 13th NFL start. He's 4-8 as a starter.

After entering it with heightened expectations, the Rams are trying to avoid letting their season spiral downward out of control in light of Bradford's injury.

"Obviously, we're disappointed for Sam,'' Rams offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said. "Obviously, I thought he was having a terrific year. No matter who it is guys have to step up. Coach (Jeff) Fisher does a great job at just setting the example and the environment with these guys, and again Kellen's a guy that has been around the game. It's not going to go out there and be too big for him. Will he play perfect? No. But again, he doesn't have to win the game by himself.''

Clemens will be going against the NFL's second-ranked defense going into Week 8.

"Oh, that's good. It could be the first,'' Clemens said.

Clemens is more mobile than Bradford, and that scrambling ability could come in handy against a defense that registered seven sacks last week against Arizona.

The Seahawks also rank seventh overall in offense, and their special teams are solid.

"There's three phases that are challenges for you,'' Fisher said. "Of the four core special teams units, I'm told that 43 of their 44 are veteran players. They have one rookie on their four core special teams, so they're very experienced. Then, of course, their defense is outstanding, pressure all the way around. Offensively, with his (quarterback Russell Wilson) mobility and his arm strength and his accuracy and then the run game makes them one of the better teams in the National Football League."

Wilson has completed 115 of 187 passes (61.5 percent) for 1,489 yards with 11 touchdowns and four interceptions. His quaretrback rating is 97.2.

The Seahawks also have Marshawn Lynch, who has rushed for more than 100 yards in his last three meetings against the Rams.

"Indy's got a pretty good defense, and he runs for 107 (yards) and the quarterback runs for 107,'' Rams coach Jeff Fisher said. "So, they present all kinds of problems. He's an outstanding back. He plays good without the ball. He's a good blocker. I saw a game where there's a turnover and he comes and strips (the) defensive lineman from behind.''

With Percey Harvin still sidelined after undergoing hip surgery in August, Doug Baldwin (22 catches for 360 yards and one touchdown) and Goden Tate (27 catches for 346 yards and one touchdown) are the Seahwawks' top receivers.

Safety Earl Thomas is the Seahawks' top tackler on defense with 49. He also has four interceptions and two forced fumbles.

Defensive end Michael Bennett leads the Seahawks in sacks with 4.5.

The Seahawks have shown the ability to win on the road over the last couple of seasons.

In their last 16 road games, the Seahawks are 8-8 and none of the losses have been by more than 10 points. Their 3-1 on the road this season.

Clemens said the Rams can turn being huge underdogs into a positive thing.

"There's something to that, and there's a little bit of motivation,'' Clemens said. "But at the same time, we're professionals. Every guy in this locker room at some point's been an underdog. It comes with the territory. You're either favored or you're not. It doesn't matter. We're going to go out there and play our best ball and hopefully come away with a win."

Contact reporter Steve Korte at skorte@bnd.com or 239-2522.

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