|National Football League|
Goff, Rams aim to measure up against Seahawks
The Los Angeles Rams and Seattle Seahawks square off in a critical NFC West game in the Pacific Northwest on Sunday.
The Rams (9-4) are looking to avoid a two-game losing streak for the first time this season.
The Seahawks (8-5) seek to regain their swagger after losing their poise in an ugly road loss.
Los Angeles, after falling to the Philadelphia Eagles, aims to split the season series with a win over Seattle.
If Cooper Kupp, a rookie wide receiver, had corralled a pass in the end zone that caromed off his fingers late in October's loss to the Seahawks, the Rams could have a comfortable lead in the division. But instead they face another playoff-caliber team with plenty at stake. For the Rams, it's another measuring stick in their surprising season.
"I think any time you get a chance to play the top teams, you get a chance to see where you're at," Rams quarterback Jared Goff said. "We've had the Vikings and (the Eagles) that were both close that we'd like to pull out. But, we did beat the Saints at home a couple of weeks ago and we've had a number of other good wins on that road and all over the place.
"So, no I think we're in a great spot. We have another big one in Seattle. It'll be a fun one and a good atmosphere I'm sure."
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll can count on the 12th man at CenturyLink Field. What he needs are ailing Pro Bowl linebackers Bobby Wagner (hamstring) and K.J. Wright (concussion). Both were injured in the 30-24 loss at Jacksonville and their status is uncertain this week.
But the Seahawks need to get going, no matter their depth-chart predicament. Instead of going on a run, they've split their last six games as they try to push toward a playoff spot.
"We got a heck of a matchup coming up against a team that has been playing great football and has really turned everything around and has been enjoying a fantastic season," Carroll said.
The Rams have proven they can beat teams in various ways. That's not lost on Carroll, as he calls the Rams "the most well-rounded team" the Seahawks have played.
"We have a lot of respect in what they are doing in all phases," Carroll said. "Their special teams are great and their defense is playing terrific and their offense is way out there averaging 30 points per game."
To slow the attack, the Seahawks need to duplicate their earlier effort. In beating the Rams at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum this year, Todd Gurley was held to 43 yards on 14 carries. He's been held to a lower total only once since then.
"The offense is clearly built around his ability and the dynamics he offers," Carroll said. "He is a terrific inside and outside runner and he is great with the ball in his hands out of the backfield. He can do everything and he has been so durable, so consistent. He is really the centerpiece."
Rams coach Sean McVay said among his quests is proving Carroll right regarding Gurley. McVay said Gurley didn't get enough touches in the loss to the Eagles.
"However you want to cut it, I've got to get him going, give him more opportunities," McVay said.
Gurley, who has rushed for 1,035 yards and 10 touchdowns, gained 96 yards despite having just 13 carries in the Philadelphia game in which the Rams had but 45 snaps.
But if Seattle focuses on Gurley, it better not overlook Goff.
"He is playing to his potential and he is command of the offense," Carroll said. "He's creative with the plays that he makes and he utilizes his players. He was more in the survival mode last year."
The Rams are far from that as they've consistently rebounded after losses. Among the reasons they've maintained their stride is by not stringing together losses.
"Got a short memory," said Goff, whose late fumble against the Eagles was critical. "Our whole team's got a short memory. I think we understand as good as any team in the league that we can't let a team beat us twice."
The Seahawks, who lead the series 22-16, are trying to sweep the Rams for the first time since 2015.
"We got to come back and try to do that same thing and play a really good game and finish it off," Goff said.
The Rams could get a boost with the return of wide receiver Robert Woods (shoulder) and linebacker Connor Barwin (forearm).
Updated December 13, 2017