Drew Brees passed for 310 yards and four touchdowns, Mark Ingram scored twice, and the New Orleans Saints defeated the Los Angeles Rams, 49-21 on Sunday.
Playing 10 days after being knocked unconscious in a Thursday night loss at Carolina, Ingram rushed for 146 yards on 14 carries, including a 61-yard scamper and a 10-yard touchdown on a fourth-and-1 play. He also scored on a 21-yard screen to the right side of the field, which was wide open as the Rams tried to pressure Brees.
Two of Brees’ scoring strikes went to Michael Thomas, whose touchdowns of 6 and 21 yards were part of a nine-catch, 108-yard performance. Brees’ other touchdowns went to Ingram and Brandon Coleman from 6 yards out.
Saints coach Sean Payton also victimized his former defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams, with some razzle-dazzle that produced a 50-yard touchdown pass from receiver Willie Snead to running back Tim Hightower.
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The victory snapped a two-game skid for the Saints (5-6), who are trying to maintain hopes of a playoff push.
Jared Goff, the NFL’s top overall draft pick last spring, completed 20 of 32 passes for 214 yards and three touchdowns for the Rams (4-7), who’ve lost six of their last seven. Goff had his share of brilliant throws in his first road start, but also was intercepted by safety Kenny Vaccaro and lost a fumble.
GOING FOR IT
After falling behind 14-7, the Saints surged in front on consecutive fourth-down touchdowns less than two minutes apart. In both situations, the Saints were stuffed on third-and-1.
Ingram scored the first of those touchdowns when he took a pitch to the left side and then wrong-footed pursuers with a sharp cut back toward the middle for his 10-yard score.
New Orleans quickly got the ball back when rookie defense tackle Sheldon Rankins sacked and stripped Goff and end Paul Kruger recovered on the L.A. 10. Four plays later, Brees dove over his linemen and extended the ball across the goal line to make it 21-14. It also marked the first time this season any NFL team scored two fourth-down TDs in the same game.
Rams’ defensive coordinator Gregg Williams won’t fondly remember his first game in the Superdome since he was fired by New Orleans coach Sean Payton after the 2011 and both coaches were subsequently suspended for the 2012 season as a result of the NFL’s bounty probe.
The Saints scored more points than in any game this season (previous high was 41) and piled up 555 yards of offense. The highlight for Williams’ unit came early on tackle Aaron Donald’s sack and strip of Brees that set up the Rams’ second TD.
Brees became one of three players with 30 touchdowns in nine different seasons, joining Brett Favre and Peyton Manning. Brees has done it nine seasons in a row.
During the second quarter, the Rams announced that offensive guard Rodger Saffold had a hand injury. In the second half, the Rams announced cornerback E.J. Gaines had a chest injury. In the third quarter, Saints left tackle briefly required attention by trainers before walking to the sideline. He did not return.
It doesn’t get any easier for the Rams, who visit New England next Sunday. The Saints are back in the Superdome on Sunday against Detroit.