Whicker: Saints sound a familiar lament after running into Rams
By Mark Whicker
LOS ANGELES — With few exceptions, NFL teams are having bad games in the presence of the Rams.
At this point it might not be coincidence.
The Saints had not lost since mid-September. They were leading the league in yards per rush and yards per pass. They had the fewest three-and-outs, and were seventh in touchdown percentage within the red zone.
They came to the Coliseum on Sunday with the Rams in attendance.
“I just thought we were pretty sloppy offensively,” coach Sean Payton said.
“We never seemed to get into a rhythm,” quarterback Drew Brees said.
“I take this loss personal,” defensive end Cameron Jordan said. “We gave up too many big plays.”
Meanwhile, the Rams did their thing and wound up winning, 26-20, to raise their record to 8-3.
They had hit their first real roadblock last week in a no-doubt 24-7 loss at Minnesota. Their first response to that backward step was right out of the Barney Fife playbook: Nip it in the bud. It certainly was their best performance against a quality team.
The Saints gave the Rams full tribute. There were 112 penalty yards for New Orleans, some unforced, some not. There was bad field position, with no Saints possession beginning outside their own 25, but that wasn’t a coincidence either. The Rams’ punt team allowed zero return yards.
“I thought they hurt us with some returns,” Payton said, referring to Pharoh Cooper’s brazen game-opening dash that set the Rams up on the 41 and led to a breezy touchdown drive that ended in Sammy Watkins’ hands.
“Their pass rush was a factor, too. We’ll have to watch tape to see if we got the ball out quick enough, or if it was a problem with the protection. I didn’t see us affecting their passer as much as I’d like. And when we look at […]