On paper, more than two months ago, this game looked like it could be a real shoot out; a touchdown for touchdown, blow for blow Rams game that we'd gotten used to and expected, sort of, until this season started.
The turnover numbers tell the whole story, and offer hope that we might at least salvage some entertainment value out of this season. Atogwe's interception set up the first touchdown that notched the game at 7-7. Had that New Orleans drive been successful, week ten might well have shaped up like the every other week this season. That the Rams offense executed perfectly and moved the ball downfield for a touchdown made it clear that this game had some potential. I was hooked at that point.
Another key was the opening or outright expansion of the playbook. Come on, the old running back pass for a TD? I had to make sure Linehan hadn't been fired and was in fact on the field.
On the defense, Haslett kept pushing. Compensating for Little's absence by using Witherspoon and his lightening wheels as rusher on the end was brilliant. Even though the Rams managed just one sack, by Witherspoon you'll recall, that move kept the Saints off balance and negated their offense by eliminating the damage Brees could do through the air, the kind of damage he'd done over the Saints' miraculous four game win streak.
Three keys to the game:
- Flawless execution, okay, near flawless. The offense committed two penalties, both holding calls that didn't particularly hurt the drive. Wroten's encroachment and Atogwe's personal foul gave the same Saints fourth quarter scoring drive some help, but none of the penalties actually took the Rams out of the game like they have on so many other occasions this season. We covered the turnovers.
- Better play calling. Deep routes, utilizing hungry/competitive contributors like Pittman, and a pinch of surprise woke up an offense we almost forgot existed.
- Aggressive defense.
But let's get to that in another post.
For now, hey, the Rams won!!