The Quick 5: Rams March On The Saints 27-16

Michael Thomas

In a reprise of the last time these two teams faced off in 2011, the Rams and Kellen Clemens sent the Saints packing back to the Big Easy. Though New Orleans made a strong push toward the end of the contest, two blocked field goal and interceptions - along with a onside kick by the Rams - sealed their fate.

The Rams' defense, led by Chris Long and Robert Quinn, kept pressure on Drew Brees the entire game. The St. Louis secondary bent, but didn't give up many big plays. Interceptions by T.J. McDonald and Trumaine Johnson early in the game helped set the tone. It was far from music for the Saints, who now have only a half game lead over NFC South foe Carolina. Other games today may help New Orleans get into the playoffs, but Saints head coach Sean Payton has to be worried after how his team played against the Rams. The NFC West has been the source of half the Saints losses this year, and their post season road looks like it will be going through Seattle very soon.

The Rams' Zac Stacy had an incredible game: 133 yards on 28 attempts for a 4.8 YPC, and a touchdown. Kellen Clemens finished with a 126.7 QB rating, going 14-20 for 158 yards and two touchdowns - both to tight ends. Robert Quinn kept his race toward the first ever Deacon Jones Award alive and well, racking up two sacks today.

This was a complete performance, and the score really doesn't tell much about just how physical this game was for the visiting Saints. For a change, let's take a look at a few less noticeable players in the game along with the headliners for the now 6-8 St. Louis Rams...

The unsung rookies...

Stedman Bailey did it all today. No, he didn't score, but he had his best day as a Rams' player. This rookie out of West Virginia was all over the field on special teams, recovering a risky onside kick in the first half. He caught a couple key passes by Clemens, and I can't help but see just how special this young receiver could be for the Rams in 2014. Tough and physical, I can see why the Rams doubled up on UWV receivers in the 2013 NFL Draft. What I notice the most, is how great Bailey positions himself for a catch and fights for the ball. He catches the ball with his hands away from his body, and has a surprising catch radius.

T.J. McDonald had boatloads of detractors coming out of U.S.C. Labeled by his college team's woeful defensive schemes, his draft stock dropped like a rock. After suffering a broken ankle early in the season, he's come back to silence his critics. Fast and oh-so-physical, this young safety is going to be a key to the Rams future defensive plans.

No, I won't mention Zac Stacy and Alec Ogletree here, or at least not yet. This little accolade is for two players who keep turning my head. So smile Rams nation, because Bailey and McDonald are two solid building blocks every championship team needs.

The Saints Killers...

The Rams' former and current back up quarterbacks A.J. Feeley and Kellen Clemens have the number for New Orleans. Each time they faced them for the Rams, they've come out winners. These two journeymen made them look like fools, both players and coaches alike. Why? I have no idea, but who's complaining, right? Clemens' latest version of the back-up QB voodoo, he passed for 158 yards and two TDs. In 2011, A.J. Feeley passed for 175 yards and a touchdown. In these two games, Drew Brees threw for a total of 762 yards; completing  69 of 100 passing attempts, two touchdowns and had 4 interceptions. OK, the Rams defense played a big part in the last two meetings, sacking Brees 10 times. But stay with me here! This isn't about DEFENSE, it's about damn voodoo, and the Rams' back up QBs are the ones sticking pins in Brees and Payton dolls. OK, maybe I'm wrong, but it was the only way I could come up with to point out the Saints have lost to presumed dismal Rams' quarterbacks: TWICE!

The game ball award goes to...

Janoris Jenkins shouldn't even have been on the field today. Made worse by the position he plays - and the receivers the Saints have - there's simply no way a player with a back injury could succeed against such a vaunted offense. But he did, and while he was beat for touchdown late in the game, Jenkins was targeted the entire day by Drew Brees. If there's anyone who deserves a game ball for gutsy play, it's the second year Jenkins. Many will disagree with me here, but I watched an obviously in pain Jenkins rise to the occasion on every play. This was without a doubt a team win, but it wouldn't have happened if Jenkins had been sidelined. He stepped up, which is something that has to have Jeff Fisher smiling ear to ear. Gutsy player runner-up? That would be James Laurinaitis, who was obviously bothered with a sore shoulder for most of the game.

The running game is alive and well in St. Louis...

Zac Stacy is the real thing. The tough - running with balance and speed - 5th round draft choice has made believers out of Rams fans. He now has 854 rushing yards to go with 6 touchdowns. Each and every yard has been hard fought. The former Vanderbilt star, and SEC rushing leader, is on track to hitting 1000 rushing yards in his rookie season. Not bad, eh? What makes this young man really special is that he's a capable receiver, as well as good in pass blocking situations. He's the entire package NFL coaches dream of finding.

The first EVER Deacon Jones Award may land in St. Louis...

You know how a defensive end knows he's elite? When the opposing team double team him every play, and hold him to the point of absurdity the way the Saints did today, it may be an indication Quinn has hit the NFL defensive end stratosphere. He trails only Indianapolis' Robert Mathis, who has 16.5 sacks to Quinn's 15. He was mugged the entire day, and caused Saints head coach Sean Payton to bench his starting left tackle in an effort to find a way to hold Quinn back... And HOLD they did, which the referees missed on all but one occasion. But the best find a way through adversity, and Quinn's strip/sack fumble recovery on Brees marked him well as worthy of a Pro Bowl selection at the very least.

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