Matthew Stafford ready to experience Rams-Seahawks rivalry
The NFC West rivalry between the Rams and the Seattle Seahawks intensified in 2017, when the Rams under first-year coach Sean McVay tipped the division’s balance of power by winning the first of two consecutive titles.
The San Francisco 49ers won in 2019 before the Seahawks reclaimed the title last season.
Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford played the previous 12 seasons with the Detroit Lions, yet the Rams-Seahawks dynamic apparently reverberated across the league.
“I could feel it from afar,” Stafford said Tuesday, adding, “It’s exciting to get my first taste of it.”
Stafford’s opportunity will come Thursday night when the Rams play the Seahawks at Lumen Field in Seattle.
The Rams (3-1 overall and 0-1 in the NFC West) are coming off a 37-20 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, an outcome that quieted conversation about Stafford as the potential NFL most valuable player.
It was the first time this season that Stafford failed to lead the Rams to a convincing victory or a comeback win.
Stafford passed for two touchdowns, but the second was late in the fourth quarter when the outcome was all but decided. The Cardinals intercepted a pass in the first quarter and converted the turnover into a touchdown.
Stafford missed low on several passes, high on others. The precise timing with receivers that characterized much of Stafford’s play during the first three games was mostly absent against the Cardinals.
With only a few days to prepare for the Seahawks, Stafford said he returned to a proven methodology for bouncing back from a less-than-perfect performance.
“The biggest thing for me personally, it’s just trying to go back to the fundamentals and just make sure you’re as good as you possibly can be on those,” said Stafford, who has passed for 11 touchdowns, with two interceptions, this season. “And then let the chips fall where they may. … There was no time to sit there and think too much about it, especially with the Thursday game coming.
“So, I think we’re all excited to get back out there and go take it out on somebody else.”
Stafford is 1-4 in games against the Seahawks, including a playoff loss at Seattle in the 2016 postseason. He has passed for seven touchdowns against them, with seven interceptions — though five of the interceptions came in a 2009 defeat during his rookie season.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Tuesday that Stafford looks comfortable in the Rams’ offense.
“He’s always been a gunslinger,” Carroll said during a call with Los Angeles reporters. “He’s always had all of the throws and the toughness about him to hang in there. … He’s a very difficult player to play against because he has all those big plays in him.”
McVay did not sound concerned about the short turnaround and how it might affect Stafford’s ability to prepare for the Seahawks (2-2, 1-0 in the division), who are coming off a 28-21 victory over the 49ers. McVay said Stafford had four Seahawks games from this season to study, as well as three games the Rams played against them last season.
As a 13th-year pro, Stafford has played against numerous schemes.
“The experiences that he can draw on seeing a lot of different defensive structures throughout the course of his career will be beneficial,” McVay said.
Stafford noted that he has experience playing against All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner and practicing against safety Quandre Diggs in Detroit. Safety Jamal Adams also is a star for the Seahawks defense.
“There’s a few things they do that puts a bunch of stress on us as an offense,” he said of the unit, “but a lot of times it’s just letting their guys line up and go play.”
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