Saints Trample Rams 31-13

The Saints started this game like they had something to prove.  They executed their opening possession almost effortlessly, marching 72 yards in 13 plays for the score from Drew Brees to Marques Colston.  That was the first of two touchdowns for Colston in the game.  In that most impressive drive, Payton used a mix of passes and runs to maneuver the field.

But the Rams weren’t going to be outdone, opening with an impressive drive of their own.   At first, they moved the ball with relative ease, also mixing it up with passes and runs.  Then Roman Harper made a spectacular play on the ball to strip it from Steven Jackson on the Saints’ 39 yard line where it was recovered by Jabari Greer.  That strip was Harper’s fifth forced fumble of the year!  Then with 24 seconds left on the clock, Brees hit Colston from 17 yards out to put the Saints up 14-0.  It appeared that total domination by the Saints was on.

The Rams wouldn’t go away quitetly though.  They made their way down the field again, but had to settle for a field goal early in the 2nd quarter.  Bradley Fletcher also intercepted Brees on the Saints next possession.  It was Brees’ ninth straight game with at least one interception and his 17th on the year.  He eventually threw number 18 as well.   This is a dubious stat that I’m sure Brees is not proud off and certainly one that is uncharacteristic of him.  Fortunately, pick number 17 wasn’t too costly.

But Malcolm Jenkins’ interception of Sam Bradford on the Rams’ next possession was very costly for them.  Jenkins sprinted 96 yards for the defensive score, which was the third longest interception returned for a touchdown in Saints history and his first career pick six.  Jenkins went on to have a monster game, finishing with 105 return yards on 2 interceptions.   The Saints led 21-6 at halftime and they never looked back.  Although they weren’t perfect offensively or defensively, they played a very good game on both sides of the ball.

Other Important Game Notables:

  • Drew Brees completed 25 of 40 passes for 221 yards, 3 TDs and 2 INTs.
  • Marques Colston caught 5 passes for 46 yards and 2 TDs.  He’s caught 5 touchdown passes in his last four games.  I guess it’s safe to say that his so-called scoring drought is officially over.
  • Pierre Thomas had 12 carries for 39 yards and 4 receptions for 29 yards.  It was his first game back after missing nine games with an ankle injury.
  • Chris Ivory rushed for 47 yards on 7 carries.  However, he left the game with an undetermined injury to his right leg.
  • Roman Harper got his 5th forced fumble of the season.  He is currently tied for 4th in the NFL in forced fumbles.  He also had a critical sack of Bradford in the 3rd quarter. 
  • Jonathan Vilma made a huge impact play when he sacked Bradford on 1st down and stripped the ball, but it was recovered by Steven Jackson.
  • Courtney Roby was injured on a kickoff return and had to be taken off the field on a stretcher.  It appears to have been a head and/or neck injury of some sort.  He was reportedly taken to Oschner Hospital for further observation.
  • Lance Moore had 5 receptions for 70 yards and a TD.  Moore is truly a dynamic player and he’s reliable.
  • The Saints offense converted 11 of 16 third down attempts for a 69% conversion rate.
  • The Saints defense held the Rams to just 1 for 11 on third down, a 9% conversion rate.  They also held Bradford to 18 of 32 passes and a 53.0 passer rating.
  • The Saints won their sixth straight game to improve to 10-3, but remain a game and a half behind the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC South.  Their 10-3 record is also the second best in the NFC.
  • Sean Payton really opened up his playbook, allowing his receivers, tight ends, and running backs to get in on the action.

Things I noticed:

If I had to speculate, I’d say that Coach Payton really let those guys have it about all the penalties and that he had a few choice words for the special teams coaches and players.  The penalties were way down compared to previous weeks and special teams did a much better job at tackling. 

Defensively, the Saints played a very good game despite the fact that they gave up some big plays and a lot of yards.  But the important thing was they didn’t allow the Rams to score after allowing them to move the ball so well.  The takeaways and sacks were critical and the defensive score by Jenkins was a momentum snatcher.  I see a defense that is steadily improving and getting back to their dominant ways.

Some of the receivers have started back dropping critical passes.  That was something that plagued the Saints early on and allowed them to get into the scoring slump in the first place.  I hope Payton puts the fear in them so they’ll hold on to the ball because they’re going to need to be perfect next week against Baltimore.

Pierre Thomas looks good.  I didn’t see any signs of rust whatsoever in him.  He executed the screen well as always and he ran hard.  For those who wanted Thomas ushered out the door in favor of other backs, I say be careful what you wish for.  Without Thomas, the screen was virtually nonexistent.  Against teams that are stout against the run like the Steelers and Ravens, you have to be able to execute the screen as an extension of the run. 

The running styles of Thomas, Bush, Ivory, and Jones are all different from each other.  That variety is a very potent offensive weapon in itself because it keeps defenses off balance.  It also allows Payton to really open up that playbook of his to get some things done.

Offensively, the Saints can be virtually unstoppable.  When the offensive line holds up for Brees and the receivers hold on to the ball, Brees has too many weapons for any one defense to cover.  If the Saints can eliminate the mistakes on offense, they will prove to be a nightmare for opposing defenses. 

Lance Moore has the surest hands of all the Saints receivers.  Time after time, he goes up and comes down with difficult plays and you rarely (if ever) see him drop the ball.

Jimmy Graham was an excellent draft choice for the Saints.    Graham fits perfectly in the Saints offense and he gives Brees another big target down the field and he’s a pretty good receiver.  As this kid develops, he’s going to be even more special.

Next week, the Saints play the Ravens in Baltimore in what will likely be frigid weather again.  If they can come out and punch Baltimore in the mouth early, they have a better than average chance of beating them, providing that they play well defensively also.

Things are going to get tougher, but the Saints are equipped to win out if they bring their best to the field.


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2 Responses to “Saints Trample Rams 31-13”

  1. Risha Holmes says:

    Love that summary!! I needed it because I worked today and only cuaght the last half.

    I am so proud of our Saints, they are showing us what an elite team looks like in the last month. I have faith that we will make it to the playoffs..it just sickens me that the freaking Falcons are ahead of us and have been so LUCKY. They need to be taken down and QUICK! I soo want to go to ATL for dat game! REVENGE TIME!

    I hate that Roby got hurt…praying for him to recover 100%.

    Glad that Ivory seems ok, too.

    Again, thanks Sheletha, and Saints Gab for keeping me up to date on my FAVORITE team! WHO DAT!

    • Thanks, Risha! I’m so glad you enjoyed the article. The Saints are playing like the elite team that they are now and it’s wonderful to see. And I agree that the situation with the Falcons sucks. I still say the Saints could have easily punched the ball in the endzone against them rather than trying to kick that field goal, but it’s water under the bridge now. It’s take care of business time now. Should be a great game next week.

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