Rams’ De­fense start­ing to show some cracks

Chattanooga Times Free Press - - WEEK 6 - By Gary Klein

LOS AN­GE­LES—The Los An­ge­les Rams are un­de­feated and boast one of the NFL’s most pro­duc­tive and dy­namic of­fenses.

But the ela­tion that per­me­ated the locker room af­ter Sun­day’s nar­row vic­tory over the Seat­tle Sea­hawks was tem­pered on the de­fen­sive side.

For the sec­ond game in a row, the Rams gave up 31 points.

In the fi­nal min­utes with the Rams ahead by two, coach Sean McVay re­versed a de­ci­sion to punt — which would have put the out­come in the hands of a Rams de­fense — and went for it on fourth down. The call paid off when quar­ter­back Jared Goff sneaked for a clinch­ing first down that en­abled the Rams to run out the clock.

McVay said his de­ci­sion stemmed from his con­fi­dence in the team’s abil­ity to gain a half-yard.

But as the Rams pre­pare for Sun­day’s game at Den­ver — where de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Wade Phillips won a Su­per Bowl — the de­fense will be work­ing to cor­rect mis­takes and re-es­tab­lish dom­i­nance.

“We held up when we needed to at the end of the game,” mid­dle linebacker Cory Lit­tle­ton said af­ter the vic­tory over the Sea­hawks. “At the end of the day, it doesn’t make you happy. Yes, we still get that win but we know we can play bet­ter and that’s what we plan on do­ing.”

The Rams, who shut out the Ari­zona Car­di­nals in Week 2, are giv­ing up 19.6 points a game, which ranks sixth in the NFL. They are ninth in to­tal de­fense, giv­ing up 341.4 yards per game, and 10th in pass­ing de­fense (234.6 yards).

But they are 18th in rush­ing de­fense, giv­ing up 106.8 yards per game. The Sea­hawks rushed for 190 yards.

“They haven’t seen a team that’s played phys­i­cal,” Sea­hawks of­fen­sive line­man D.J. Fluker said of the Rams af­ter the game. “They want to be pass rush­ers.”

Asked how much, if at all, he was con­cerned about the Rams’ run de­fense, McVay this week praised the ef­forts of Sea­hawks run­ning backs Chris Car­son and Mike Davis, and said there were so­lu­tions for the Rams’ mis­takes.

“I wouldn’t say you’re con­cerned,” McVay said. “We need to ad­dress some dif­fer­ent things and there’s a rea­son why each one of those runs popped out. … What we’re en­cour­aged about as you watch it as a staff are they’re very fix­able things.”

In last sea­son’s 42-7 rout of the Sea­hawks at Cen­tu­ryLink Field, the Rams sacked quar­ter­back Rus­sell Wil­son seven times. On Sun­day, Aaron Don­ald and Ndamukong Suh each sacked Wil­son once, but he ex­tended mul­ti­ple plays and passed for three touch­downs.

“Ev­ery­body gets ter­ri­fied with 99 (Don­ald) and 93 (Suh),” Fluker said. “We weren’t ter­ri­fied.”

Wil­son’s elu­sive­ness put pres­sure on a Rams sec­ondary that is strug­gling with­out in­jured Aqib Talib.

A few weeks ago, cor­ner­back Mar­cus Peters showed tough­ness by play­ing against the Min­nesota Vik­ings only four days af­ter suf­fer­ing a calf strain against the Charg­ers.

But Peters strug­gled against the Vik­ings, and he ap­peared to get beaten for touch­downs twice against the Sea­hawks. He also was called for de­fen­sive hold­ing twice, one of the in­frac­tions nul­li­fy­ing a sack by Matt Lon­gacre.

[SCOTT EKLUND/THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS]

Sea­hawks run­ning back Mike Davis (27) leaps over Rams strong safety John John­son, lower left, Sun­day in Seat­tle.

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