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Los Angeles Rams vs. Seattle Seahawks film review: Coming up big on third-down

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The Rams saw the lowest third-down conversion rate so far this season against the Seahawks, which helped put LA back in the win column

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Los Angeles Rams Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Prior to Sunday’s game, I talked about how the Rams needed to take advantage of their red zone opportunities. Against the Seahawks, LA executed relatively well (4-of-7).

The Seahawks, however, took advantage of nearly every red zone trip (3-of-4). But Seattle couldn’t execute on third-down, where the Seahawks went 2-for-9. It was the lowest third-down conversion rate the Rams saw through 10 weeks.

The last time an opposing offense did that poorly on third-down was in Week 2 (Arizona). The work LA’s defense did on third-down was one of the biggest contributors to their victory.

4th Quarter, 3rd-and-10

Let’s start with the biggest third-down stop of the game which came on the final Seahawks drive. Seattle send four receivers — two are sent on fade routes while two are sent on 10-yard curl routes near the first-down marker. Mike Davis is sent up the middle for the quick dump.

But by the time Russell Wilson gets to the end of this three-step drop, he faces the pressure from his right. The receivers on the comeback routes (near either sideline) have coverage. His receivers in the middle of the field on fade routes have a slight opening, but pressure from Ndamukong Suh and Samson Ebukam forces Wilson out of the pocket.

Seattle doesn’t convert on it’s fourth-down, either. Rams take a knee to seal the game.

1st Quarter, 3rd-and-4

A roughing-the-passer penalty helped the Seahawks on their first third-down situation of the game, Seattle found itself in another third-down look in the red zone. They needed four yards for the first down, but eight yards for the touchdown.

From the snap, Wilson leads Lamarcus Joyner from the middle of the field, which leaves his two crossing receivers with one-on-one situations. Pressure forces Wilson out of the pocket, but Nick Vannett gains separation from Josh Johnson for the touchdown catch. This was the first non-penalty conversion of the game. The Seahawks wouldn’t convert against until the fourth quarter.

2nd Quarter, 3rd-and-6

The Seahawks need six here and they go with an empty backfield and Mike Davis is lined up as a receiver.

Davis (at the top of the screen) stays put off the snap and when the defender runs up to minimize the gap between them, he runs a slant and appears open the entire play.

But Wilson doesn’t look to his right the entire play. The defensive line runs a stunt between Aaron Donald and Suh, with Donald getting the better of JR Sweezy (dope name, bad block).

It looks like maybe Cory Littleton might be able to take advantage of the stunt and get Wilson up the middle, but he’s picked up by Justin Britt. It’s Donald who manages to get Wilson on the ground for the stop.

The Rams went on to score the following drive.

2nd Quarter, 3rd-and-7

Somewhat similar to the previous clip, the Seahawks are on a third-and-seven and again go with an empty backfield and send Davis as a receiver. This time, however, he’s sent on a route down the sideline.

From the snap, Wilson has no options as most of his receivers have tight cover or a man close by. Except for David Moore, who lines up to Wilson’s left, who gets separation on slant against Marcus Peters.

But like the previous play, Wilson doesn’t see the open receiver because he doesn’t look to that side of the field. John Franklin-Myers shoots the B-gap which pushes Wilson to his right with Suh coming near. Wilson tosses to Davis but is unsuccessful.

The Rams kick a field goal on the following drive.

4th Quarter, 3rd-and-5

This is the first of two big-game stops for the Rams defense.

The Seahawks put a man in the backfield with Wilson and have three receivers in a bunch formation to the left. Off the snap, the front and back-right receiver run go left to give Tyler Lockett a chance get separation on the pick.

By the time he gets open past Sam Shields, Wilson is on the ground courtesy of Suh and Donald.

4th Quarter, 3rd-and-3

The Seahawks need three yards for the first and go with another empty backfield. The Rams go with man-defense and call another stunt with Donald and Suh.

Dante Fowler beats Duane Brown one-on-one for the strip of Wilson. The Rams scored on the first play of the ensuing drive.

It was a huge play for LA. But as great as it was for LA, it was confusing for Seattle. The Seahawks needed three yards for the first down and had six minutes left in the game. They needed a touchdown on this drive, so converting this third-down was imperative.

The Seahawks rushed for 273 yards on Sunday. Wilson had 92 and Rashaad Penny had 108. The Seattle running game is second only to the Rams and average 4.8 yards per carry. Why would they not run it here?

The (second-to) last Seahawks drive

This was another close game the Rams could have lost. The run-defense is going to get a lot of flack for the amount of rushing yards they surrendered, but the passing defense had just as poor a game.

These are the two plays that cost my attention the most on the drive.

This was an incomplete pass on second-and-six. Watch the two receivers (Doug Baldwin and David Moore) at the bottom of the screen. Moore has a huge cushion against Peters and has a chance to catch a pass on the slant. More importantly, watch Baldwin — the Seahawks best receiver. He runs in front of three defenders and could have caught a pass in front of him and extended for the first down.

The next play, Wilson finds Baldwin for the first down and the Seahawks go on to score a touchdown, cutting the Rams lead to five points with just under two minutes to play. The Rams had the ball for all of 20 seconds (of game clock) before the Seahawks got the ball back again.

The Rams pass-defense played terribly on this drive and it’s not much different when playing against playoff teams like New Orleans. If this kind of play pass-defense exists in the playoffs, the Rams will be golfing before February.