Seahawks visit L.A. to face suddenly explosive Rams
LOS ANGELES -- Pete Carroll will lead the Seattle Seahawks onto the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum turf to play the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday.
Back when Carroll was at the University of Southern California, his teams filled the historic stadium with a brand of football that was as entertaining as it was successful.
And one of the teams in Sunday's game arrives with a similar reputation, but can it really be the Rams?
"To the players' credit, they've made a handful of plays," new Rams coach Sean McVay said.
Make that a fistful at least. The Rams (3-1) look nothing like last year's team that was built around a running game stuck in the mud and a defense that bent and broke.
Instead, quarterback Jared Goff has shed a shaky rookie season and is directing a multi-pronged attack that has collected an NFL-high 142 points.
So excuse the Seahawks (2-2) if they don't recognize this revitalized L.A. unit. The Rams split their two games with the Seahawks last year, but they didn't score a touchdown in either game.
Spinning the scoreboard hasn't been the problem this season and how stout Seattle's defense can be will likely determine this NFC West showdown. But the Seahawks figure to be challenged, especially with defensive end Cliff Avril out.
Rams running back Todd Gurley has 42 points, which is second in the NFL. The leader is Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein with 56.
It was Zuerlein's three field goals that led the Rams to a 9-3 win over Seattle last year.
Just last week, Zuerlein had a franchise-record seven field goals in beating the Cowboys 35-30 in Dallas.
"I'd like to have a couple more PATs," McVay said.
While the offense has become the darling of the NFL, the defense has shown plenty of warts. Its ranked 28th in surrendering 26.2 points per game.
Seattle will try to pile on after beating the Indianapolis Colts 46-18. It was by far Seattle's best effort as it finally established a running game to complement Russell Wilson's pinpoint passing.
The Seahawks rolled up a season-high 194 rushing yards and Wilson had the most accurate game of his career in connecting on 21 of 26 passes.
"When you're running the football, there's kind of an energy about it that you can play off of," Carroll said. "But there's also the fact that you're running the football and it allows you to work all the passing game stuff that comes off of it, which we love to do. When it's working, there's a sense that you have of it, and it plays right to our style."
Carroll knows the Rams' style all too well -- he won a national championship with a high-octane attack. Come Sunday, he'll be trying to stop one.
"We've seen the Rams and they have been explosive on offense and has really controlled the ball," Carroll said. "It's a tremendous turnaround for their program."
Spoken like a one-time college coach.
Updated October 5, 2017