Posted on November 27, 2017, by Travis Pulver
When the 2017 season began, no one had the Saints-Rams game in Week 12 circled on their calendars. No one expected the game to be any good or mean anything so why make a point to watch it? As it turns out, both are not only pretty good but among the best in the league.
As a result, this game not only became must-see-tv for NFL fans, it became a potential playoff preview.
It was the second such game in a row for the Rams who played the Minnesota Vikings last week. But unlike last week, they were able to get their offense on track early and pull out a win over the Saints, 26-20.
“It was a big win for us. There’s a difference between going 7-4 and 8-3, especially against a team like this. Not necessarily a must-win, but a game that’s going to give us a lot moving forward,” Rams quarterback Jared Goff said after the game (ESPN).
Goff led the way with his third 300+ yard effort in the team’s last four games completing 28 of 43 passes for 354 yards and two touchdowns. After going a month without allowing a 300+ yard passer, the Saints defense has now allowed two in a row (Kirk Cousins had 302 yards last week).
While the Rams were concerned about getting the offense going against the Saints defense, they knew they could after watching the Redskins do so well the week before. But the more significant concern was controlling the two-headed monster the Saints have in the backfield.
Take out Alvin Kamara’s 74-yard touchdown run and they did the job. Mark Ingram only gained 31 yards on his 11 carries. Kamara added just 13 more to his total with his four other carries. But Kamara also had 101 yards (six receptions) and a touchdown in the passing game.
After the game, Rams linebacker Alec Ogletree had this to say about Kamara (ESPN):
“He was everything that we saw on film, and a little bit more. A great running back. He’s going to be something to deal with in this league for a long time.”
The Rams struck first on the opening drive of the game with a five-yard touchdown catch by Sammy Watkins. They tacked on a field goal late in the quarter, but it was on the second play of the Saints next drive Kamara ripped off his 74-yard touchdown run.
Josh Reynolds extended the Rams lead back out to 10 points with an eight-yard touchdown catch late in the second quarter. But the Saints would tack on a field goal to get within seven, 17-10, before halftime. The Saints defense did a much better job against the Rams offense in the second half. But the Rams were still able to tack on three field goals and extend the lead to 26-13 with 2:27 left to play.
But the Saints were in an impossible position last week and managed to pull it out. Maybe they could do it again?
For a brief moment, it looked possible. Drew Brees needed just six plays and 42 seconds to get the team in the end zone. But they would need to pull off an onside kick if they were going to do it this week and couldn’t.
The Saints really don’t have too much to worry about. So the winning streak is over. The offense looked great. With both starting cornerbacks out, it is not surprising that the defense struggled against the pass. At this time, it is not clear if they will be available next week against the Carolina Panthers.
As for the Rams, they have to be happy with how the team responded. But with the Seahawks beating the 49ers, their hold on the NFC West is tenuous at best. They will have to keep the offensive machine rolling to make sure they don’t lose their one-game cushion.
They face the Arizona Cardinals next week.