Jared Goff passed for 354 yards and hit Sammy Watkins and rookie Josh Reynolds for touchdowns, and the Los Angeles Rams snapped the New Orleans Saints’ eight-game winning streak with a 26-20 victory on Sunday in a meeting of NFC division leaders.
NFL scoring leader Greg Zuerlein kicked four field goals for the Rams (8-3), who earned their fifth victory in six games.
For the first time since 2006, this revitalized franchise is guaranteed not to finish the regular season with a losing record.
Los Angeles turned in a gritty defensive effort against the high-scoring Saints (8-3), holding Drew Brees to 246 yards passing – just 96 in the first three quarters – and sacking him three times.
Alvin Kamara made an early 74-yard touchdown run and a late TD reception for the Saints, who finally lost for the first time since Sept. 17.
One week after rallying from 15 points down late in the fourth quarter to beat Washington in overtime, the Saints fell behind on the opening drive and never caught up.
New Orleans struggled to stop Goff’s passing game with its top two cornerbacks sidelined by injuries, and the Rams methodically moved the ball to win a meeting between two of the NFL’s top three highest-scoring teams.
Goff went 28 of 43, patiently picking at the Saints’ defense in his fourth 300-yard game of the season despite the absence of top receiver Robert Woods. Rookie Cooper Kupp set career highs with eight catches for 116 yards, and Reynolds made his first career TD catch in the second quarter.
The Rams made two lengthy drives ending in fourth-quarter field goals, and Watkins recovered the onside kick after the Saints finally trimmed Los Angeles’ lead to one score on Kamara’s TD catch with 1:45 to play.
The Rams scored on their opening drive for the second straight week, with Watkins catching a slant for a 5-yard TD. Los Angeles also sacked Brees twice early, but the Saints adjusted and got back in it with that brilliant run by Kamara.
Reynolds’ TD catch capped an 86-yard drive for Los Angeles in the second quarter. The methodical Rams outgained New Orleans 250-166 in the first half and held the ball for 18:35.
Saints: Return home to host Carolina on Sunday in a showdown for first place in the NFC South.
Rams: A trip to Arizona on Sunday to face the Cardinals, who got blown out by the Rams in London last month.