Rams Hold Off Saints in Battle of N.F.C. Powers

Rams Hold Off Saints in Battle of N.F.C. Powers

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.

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Hekker’s Banana Punt

Most punters only attempt the banana kick in practice. But the Rams’ Johnny Hekker has the audacity to try the spinning, skidding punt in games. Here’s how he does it.

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Los Angeles was limited in the running game, with Todd Gurley carrying the ball 17 times for 74 yards, but Cooper Kupp (8 receptions for 116 yards) and Watkins (4 for 82) more than made up for the absence of Goff’s favorite receiver of late, Robert Woods, who is out for a few weeks with a shoulder injury. Gurley also chipped in with 54 receiving yards.

Beyond Goff’s two touchdown passes, all of Los Angeles’s scoring came off the foot of Greg Zuerlein, who had field goals of 50, 49, 46 and 26 yards, while he missed what would have been a career-long 63-yarder at the end of the first half.

The Saints, who had seemingly scored at will throughout their long winning streak, had a harder time moving the ball against the Rams’ underrated defense.

Brees, who has benefited from great offensive line play all season, was sacked twice on the opening drive, setting a tone for the game. He had just 96 passing yards entering the fourth quarter as Los Angeles repeatedly forced punts. He was able to get up to 246 yards for the day as the Rams went into a prevent defense late in the game, but at that point the game was too far out of reach.

The high point of the game for the Saints came in the first quarter when Alvin Kamara, the team’s electrifying rookie running back, broke through the right side of the Los Angeles defense and then out-sprinted the entire team on a 74-yard touchdown. He and Mark Ingram combined for 123 rushing yards, but a 3 for 13 performance on third down conversions was far below the team’s typical standard.

The matchup was among the most anticipated of the week, and resulted in the teams leaving with matching 8-3 records, putting them just behind the 10-1 Eagles and 9-2 Vikings in the N.F.C.

Despite the win against another division leader, McVay was unwilling to declare it more important than any of the team’s other victories.

“I think it was the biggest because it was the most recent,” he said. “Every one of these counts as one.”

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.

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