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Rams Look Sluggish in Loss to Seahawks : NFL exhibition: Lackluster offense, penalties, missed field goal attempts mark 23-7 defeat.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Following the game plan, if not a prescription for successful football, the Rams plodded their way to a 23-7 loss to the almost-as-sluggish Seattle Seahawks Saturday night at Anaheim Stadium.

It was night of missed field goals and offsides calls, muffed field-goal attempts and the familiar call of the boo-bird among the 47,834 fans. It was not a night for the 1991 Ram highlight film.

When is that regular-season opener, anyway?

The Rams’ offense, determined to control the football even if it meant looking lackluster, checked its creativity at the door.

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“I don’t think I saw anyone that didn’t play poorly,” Coach John Robinson said of the team’s offense. “I think we have some work to do on offense, we certainly have some work to do at center. Tom (Newberry) had two holding penalties.”

The Rams close their exhibition schedule Thursday night in Memphis against the Houston Oilers.

“This is still a learning stage,” receiver Flipper Anderson said. “We’re trying to do different things--get the running game going and stuff like that. We’ll be OK Sept. 1.”

When the Rams (1-2 in exhibition) tried to open things up some in the second half, quarterback Jim Everett threw two interceptions and the 5-11 death spiral of 1990 didn’t seem that far away, after all.

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Everett finished 12-for-24 for 138 yards. The Rams’ offensive attack centered on the power running game, which wasn’t running on all currents. Overall, the Rams rushed 32 times for 105 yards--a mediocre 3.28-per-carry average.

“I think we kind of went through the motions offensively,” Robinson said. “I don’t think we were determined to be physical offensively. I don’t think we threw the ball very well. I don’t think we handled the adjustments.”

Tailback Cleveland Gary carried the ball 12 times for 46 yards in the half, turning in his second consecutive fumble-free and effective exhibition game. He finished with a game-high 50 yards in 17 carries.

At halftime, the Rams had 67 yards rushing in 18 up-the-gut carries, had 10 first downs, and held a 4:18 time-of-possession advantage. But they trailed, 13-0.

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“We had a lot of first downs that we couldn’t turn into touchdowns,” Gary said. “That’s what preseason is all about. When the season comes around, hopefully we’ll capitalize on those first downs.”

The Rams’ defense lacked the zip of last Monday night’s performance against the San Diego Chargers, but didn’t embarrass itself. Seattle starting quarterback Dave Krieg completed only 12 of 20 pass attempts in the first half.

The Rams drove deep on their first possession, but accomplished nothing except put an end to the Dale Hatcher experiment as kick-holder.

With Tony Zendejas set to attempt a 38-yard field goal, Hatcher dropped the snap, and Zendejas whiffed it.

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At the end of the first half, the Seahawks moved up the field in a two-minute drill, culminating on a 31-yard scoring pass from Krieg to receiver Bernard Clark. It was the first touchdown the Rams defense had allowed in five exhibition-game quarters.

On the touchdown play, the Rams came at Seattle with an all-out, free safety blitz, leaving right cornerback Darryl Henley all alone on the left side of the field with Clark. When the blitz failed to produce immediate chaos, Henley was hung out to dry with newly signed, newly rich Todd Lyght standing on the sidelines watching.

Lyght, who did not dress Saturday night after signing a $5.5-million deal Friday after a 30-day holdout, is slated to play right corner when he is physically ready.

The Seahawks took a 6-0 lead on field goals by John Kasay and Norm Johnson. The Clark touchdown made it 13-0.

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In the second half, the Rams gave up three interceptions, and the Seahawks piled on 10 points behind rookie quarterback Dan McGwire against the replacement Ram defense.

The Rams offense finally began moving the ball again in the fourth quarter, aided by a 15-yard personal foul against cornerback Harlan Davis, who also had two interceptions on the night.

One play later, backup quarterback Chuck Long got the Rams on the board with a 19-yard scoring toss to receiver Stacey Bailey.

Notes

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Disgruntled defensive tackle Doug Reed started at right tackle and played the first quarter and sporadically in the second half. After playing him briefly last week, the Rams wanted to get a long look at Reed in significant playing time before making a decision this week on whether to trade, release or keep him.

“I felt a little better about things,” Reed said. “Now I’m just going to sit back and let them decide. I’m just going to keep playing and just hanging around until they tell me otherwise.”

In the game, tailback Cleveland Gary suffered some bruised ribs, and cornerback Darryl Henley reaggravated the left hamstring problem that has limited his playing time all preseason.

Defensive end Kevin Greene (leg muscle), tackle Gerald Perry (right knee), guard Duval Love (left knee), and safety Alfred Jackson (right ankle) did not suit up for the game. Tailback Marcus Dupree (left toe) wasn’t scheduled to play but saw limited action. . . . Recently signed Fred Strickland played most of the fourth quarter at left outside linebacker.

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Two recently-signed players, fullback Buford McGee and No. 1 pick Todd Lyght did not dress for the game. . . . Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Jack Kemp, father of Seattle backup quarterback Jeff Kemp, attended the game.


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