New Orleans Saints vs. St. Louis Rams preview
The New Orleans Saints' ground attack and Drew Brees' big plays late in games have allowed the defending champions to extend their winning streak to five.
The team's defense, though, may need to step it up if the Saints hope to extend their longest run of the season Sunday against the visiting St. Louis Rams.
After leading New Orleans to a 30-27 victory over Dallas with just under two minutes left Nov. 25, Brees again rallied his club last week as he recorded the 14th regular-season comeback of his career.
The Saints (9-3) blew a 20-6 third-quarter lead at Cincinnati and trailed by three with 4:25 remaining, but Brees responded by leading a 68-yard drive that ended with a 3-yard scoring pass to Marques Colston. Brees was able to get the Bengals to jump offsides on the previous play, converting a fourth-and-2 situation, before lifting his team to a 34-30 victory.
The comeback was needed because New Orleans struggled on defense for the second straight week. The Saints couldn't hold down the lowly Bengals one week after allowing 457 yards to the Cowboys.
New Orleans also committed 11 penalties for 100 yards.
"We have to figure it out and get it fixed because the schedule only gets tougher," cornerback Tracy Porter said. "We're pulling it out (lately), but if we continue to make these mistakes and teams continue to capitalize on them more and more, they're going to make us pay in the end."
One area that doesn't seem to need much work is the running game, as rookie Chris Ivory had 117 yards on 15 carries with two touchdowns against Cincinnati. He also rushed for two scores the previous week and has run for 636 yards on the season, averaging 5.2 yards per carry.
With Reggie Bush having returned last week and Pierre Thomas poised to come back after missing nine straight games with a sprained ankle, New Orleans should have plenty of depth in the backfield.
"Chris has done a number of good things and I don't want to affect his snap count at all in regards to his carries," said coach Sean Payton, whose team is averaging 30.4 points during the win streak. "We'll be smart about who's up and then having the plan that we think is best for our team, but certainly has earned the reps that he's getting now."
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