Defense reigns as Saints defeat Rams 31-13 in possible playoff preview
Even though the New Orleans Saints (10-3) have a vastly better record than the St. Louis Rams (6-7), the Rams would be a higher seeded team if the playoffs were to start today. Seeds don't always signify the better team though.
In what could be a possible playoff game in the next couple months, the Saints proved that playoff seedings mean nothing as they defeated the Rams 31-13 on Sunday in the Superdome.
Saints' safety Malcolm Jenkins had two interceptions on the day including one run back 96 yards for a touchdown on a day when the defense proved their worth. New Orleans also racked up three sacks and recovered a fumble in the victory.
Those three forced turnovers helped the Saints' offense overcome three turnovers of their own including two interceptions from Drew Brees a fumbled kickoff return by Courtney Roby. Roby ended up being carted off the field with a neck injury, but he had feeling in all his extremities and was responsive. He was taken to Ochsner hospital for further testing.
St. Louis is fighting for their playoff lives in the very weak NFC West where it appears as if only the division winner has any shot at getting into the playoffs. Currently the Rams hold a tiebreaker with the Seattle Seahawks and would be the number four seed if the playoffs started today. The Saints would be the number five seed.
Rookie Sam Bradford finished the day 18 of 32 passing for 231 yards, but the interceptions to Jenkins ended two very strong drives for the Rams deep in Saints territory.
Roby's fumble came near the end of the first half and gave the Rams a chance to score a touchdown and get within one point or even tie the game. Jenkins then stepped in front of Bradford's pass and traveled down the sideline in stride for his first career touchdown.
Jenkins second interception came in the second half and stopped another Rams' drive that was inside the Saints' 10-yard line. The second-year player ran this pick out to the eight-yard line where Brees threw an interception of his own three plays later.
Brees ended up finishing the day 25 of 40 for 221 yards and three touchdowns. Marques Colston caught Brees' first two scoring passes in the first quarter while Lance Moore hauled one in during the third to make it 28-6.
The Saints suffered another injury beside that to Roby and it occurred near the end of the first quarter to rookie running back Chris Ivory. Ivory's hamstring tightened up and coach Sean Payton said that "it wasn't getting any looser" so he kept the young back out for the rest of the game.
After Ivory (7 attempts for 47 yards) went out with the injury, the Saints rushing game appeared to really suffer. A returning Pierre Thomas managed only 39 yards on 12 carries while Reggie Bush could only muster 39 yards on nine carries. The rookie is proving to be a huge cog in the rushing attack of New Orleans, but maybe all Thomas needs is some time to shake the rust off.
St. Louis really couldn't really hold with the Saints' offense as Brees passed around virtually at will throughout the first half of the game. Offensively, running back Steven Jackson was the only other viable weapon beside Bradford.
Jackson finished the day with 96 yards on 16 carries, but had a key fumble in the first quarter that led to the Saints' second touchdown. He had just broken through the black and gold's defense for a 20-yard gain when Roman Harper stripped him from behind and the ball was recovered by Jabari Greer.
Late in the fourth quarter, Jackson fumbled near the goal line and it was picked up by Harper who almost ran it back for another touchdown, but replay reversed the call and gave the ball back to the Rams. Bradford ran it in for a touchdown on the next play.
Next up for the Saints: @ Baltimore Ravens
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