Culver City Observer -

By Fred Altieri
Sports Reporter 

Saints Blow Rams Win Streak

Face Seattle Seahawks Sunday

 

November 8, 2018



The winning streak is over, the defense got spanked but the sun is still shining in L.A. The formerly undefeated Los Angeles Rams lost the heavyweight bout of the NFL season to Drew Brees and the surging New Orleans Saints, 45-35, at the Super Dome in The Big Easy. Brees' 72-yard touchdown bomb in the waning minutes dashed a Rams 21-point first-half deficit comeback.

"I think the expectations that our defense has and that we have for them, they would expect to be better," said McVay. "I think Drew does an excellent job. Coach Payton did a great job calling the game, mixing up tempos. They had some good runs and they've got playmakers."

The defensive backfield has turned into the Rams Achilles heal in three of the past four games. Brees torched them for 346 yards passing and four touchdowns to four different receivers. Clinging to a 38-35 lead Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas nailed the game shut as he burnt Rams cornerback Marcus Peters for the long touchdown with 3:52 remaining in the game.

"We were just trying to get in line and get something off and it just happened like that, I got beat," said a testy Peters owning the responsibility postgame. "Regardless of communication, I got beat. Once the play starts you have got to go out there and you have to compete. I did, and they got it off for a touchdown."

Peters, acquired in the off-season along with All-Pro Aqib Talib to shore up the corners, has yet to rise to expectations and currently ranks near the bottom of the league in cornerback ratings. Talib had ankle surgery in September after suffering a high-ankle sprain in Week 3 against the Los Angeles Chargers. The team's hopeful he'll return to action in Week 13 against the Detroit Lions.

The Rams can expect their opponents to keep attacking their suspect secondary. They rank 19th in passing yards per game allowed and have given up a league-leading 11 completions of 40 yards or more. McVay said the cornerback position "isn't one of those spots" the team has identified as potentially needing to address. The next few games against the Seattle Seahawks and the Kansas City Chiefs will test their patience at the position.

Another issue the team needs to address is stopping the run and their opponents' recent success in scoring early. Saints running back Alvin Kamara ran for two touchdowns and caught a 16-yard pass for a touchdown that kept the Rams defensive front line and linebackers off-balance all game. Kamara ran for 82 yards on 19 carries and caught four passes for 34 yards.

The Rams also failed to sack Brees. Aaron Donald, who is second in the league with 10 sacks, said the team needs to watch the film and see where to make corrections. "We just cleaned some things up and made less mistakes, but we didn't play well in the first half. We are disappointed that we lost... we are going to fix it. We aren't panicking."

Encouraging is that the Rams were able to erase a 21-point deficit on the road. Kicker Greg Zuerlein tied the Rams record for longest field goal with a 56-yard boot to end the first half. Leading off the third quarter Quarterback Jared Goff hit running back Malcolm Brown with an 18-yard touchdown pass. Zuerlein converted a 34-yard field goal before the end of the quarter.

The Rams tied the game at 35-35 when Goff threw a 41-yard catch-and-run touchdown to wide receiver Cooper Kupp early in the fourth quarter. The Saints responded with kicker Wil Lutz nailing a 54-yard field goal with 6:23 in the game. The Rams' last gasp ended on a fourth-down incomplete pass at midfield. Goff completed 28/40 passes for 391 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.

McVay: "To our players' credit, we ended up finding a way to get a field goal to cut it to 35-17 at the half, came out, ended up getting some big stops on defense."

"You can look at these learning opportunities that each week provides and if you can use it as a positive example to move forward... and that we will do as a team moving forward this week getting ready for Seattle."

The Rams (8-1) will host Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks (4-4) this Sunday at the L.A. Coliseum for their second clash of the season between the divisional rivals. The Rams overtook the Seahawks, 33-31, on a fourth quarter field goal in Week 5 at CenturyLink Field in Seattle. Both teams will be on edge as the Seahawks lost at home to the Chargers, 25-17, this past Sunday.

Again the Rams challenge will be stopping the Seahawks offense. Wilson threw for three touchdowns and rallied Seattle to a fourth quarter lead in their previous game. Fortunately for the Rams Donald and Ndamukong Suh each had a key sack against Wilson in that game. They also need to slow the Seahawks' ground attack that combined for 190 yards rushing on 32 carries with Chris Carson gaining 116 yards on 19 carries.

Running back Mike Davis also scored a touchdown and added 68 yards on 12 carries in their first encounter. The Rams currently rank 13th in defensive rushing, yielding 105.3 yards per game.

Wilson has 18 total touchdowns and only five interceptions through the half season. Tyler Lockett is his leading receiver with six touchdowns and 28 receptions for 416 yards.

"They did some different things against us that was a little bit different than what we had seen," said McVay. "You talk about the back and forth, high-caliber game we had at their place. We expect the same thing this week and we're looking forward to getting ready for them."

 

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