NFL Game of the Week: Rams vs Saints
Analyzed Sports | S.K. Patrick
Every NFL season has its surprises, good and bad. Last year no one foresaw the Oakland Raiders and an injured Tony Romo Dallas Cowboys would have established themselves as potential forces for years to come. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Eagles, Jacksonville Jaguars, and New Orleans Saints have come out of the gate with great strength. And there’s one more team on the West Coast that has put the league on notice.
In the offseason, the L.A. Rams signed the 31-year-old Sean McVay (then 30) became the youngest head coach in NFL history. This offensive guru has been getting more out of first-round picks Jared Goff and Todd Gurley, both who struggled mightily under Jeff Fisher last season. Goff and Gurley are both putting together Pro Bowl seasons. Last winter it seemed Jared Goff was going to be a bust. He started seven games and completed only 54.6 percent of his passes for five touchdowns and seven interceptions. It’s safe to say it more had to do with bad coaching.
This year, the Rams are leading the NFC West, and Goff is an MVP candidate. Goff’s Rams fended off a late rally from Brees’s and the New Orleans Saints to win 26-20, ending the Saints’ eight-game winning streak. With the win, Los Angeles improved to 8-3, guaranteeing the team a record of .500 or above for the first time since 2006. The Rams have not had a winning record since 2003. Goff would go on to complete 28 of 43 passes for 354 yards and two touchdowns, while he was intercepted once. It was an impressive performance, but it was aided mightily by the Saints losing the team’s top two cornerbacks to injury before the game.
“I think every win provides an opportunity to gain some confidence,” Coach Sean McVay said about the win at his postgame news conference. “It sounds monotonous but the biggest thing is we got to 8-3.”
Brees has benefited from great offensive line play all season. But on Sunday he was sacked twice on the opening drive, witched the tone for the game. Brees had just 96 passing yards entering the fourth quarter as Los Angeles forced punts throughout the game. A late charge Bress was able to get up to 246 yards for the day as the Rams went into a prevent defense, but at that point, the game was too far out of reach.
The matchup was the most anticipated of the week and resulted in the teams leaving with matching 8-3 records, putting them behind the 10-1 Eagles and 9-2 Vikings in the NFC chase for a first-round bye. The Rams will travel to Arizona to face the Cardinals next week, while the Saints will try to start a new winning streak at home in a crucial division matchup against the 8-3 Carolina Panthers.