Brian Allee-Walsh

Los Angeles Rams survive Saints’ fourth quarter rally

Saints columnist Brian Allee-Walsh
Saints columnist Brian Allee-Walsh Biloxi

A second consecutive epic fourth-quarter comeback proved too much to ask of the New Orleans Saints on Sunday at sun-splashed Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Consequently, the new kids on the block Los Angeles Rams snapped the Saints' eight-game winning streak with a wire-to-wire 26-20 win in a marquee matchup of NFC division leaders.

The Rams (8-3) continue to lead the NFC West while the Saints (8-3) dropped into a tie with Carolina (8-3) atop the NFC South, though the Black and Gold currently own the tiebreaker over the Panthers by virtue of a 34-13 win in Week 3.

The rematch between the Saints and Panthers is set for 3:25 p.m. Sunday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

One week after becoming the first team in 70 years to rally from a 0-2 start with eight consecutive wins, the Saints found themselves swimming upstream from the outset after yielding a game-opening touchdown drive to the Rams.

The Saints trailed 10-7 after one quarter, 17-10 at halftime and 20-10 after three quarters. After sure-footed kicker Greg Zuerlein extended LA's lead to 13 points with the third of his four field goals with 14:11 remaining, the Saints appeared to have the Rams right where they wanted them.

After all, a week ago the Saints rallied from a 15-point deficit with less than three minutes remaining in regulation to upend the Washington Redskins 34-31 in overtime.

But it wasn't to be Sunday.

The Saints did put a scare in the home team, however, trimming the deficit to 26-20 on a 15-yard scoring pass from quarterback Drew Brees to sensational rookie running back Alvin Kamara with 1:45remaining. Kamara finished with 111 yards from scrimmage on 11 touches, including an electrifying 74-yard scoring run.

But the Rams closed the deal on the ensuing play when wide receiver Sammy Watkins of their "Good Hands'' team cradled Saints kicker Wil Lutz's bouncing onside attempt at the New Orleans 46-yard line.

Game over.

At first glance, I'm not sure the best team won Sunday though the Rams played the best, amassing 415 yards, producing 10 more first downs, dominating time of possession by nearly 11 minutes and exploiting a Saints secondary that played without starting cornerbacks Marshon Lattimore (ankle) and Ken Crawley (oblique strain).

Rams' second-year quarterback Jared Goff took full advantage of the Saints revamped secondary, completing 28 of 43 passes for 354 yards with two touchdowns and one interception for a 96.5 passer rating.

It might be different if the teams meet again if you catch my drift.

Meantime, the Saints have more pressing matters inside the NFC South, beginning Sunday afternoon against the Panthers then four days later on Dec. 3 against the rejuvenated Atlanta Falcons (7-4) in primetime at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

The Saints' eight-game winning streak may be history.

But their potentially splendid season is far from finished.