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Los Angeles Rams vs. New Orleans Saints: Report card grades positively in statement win

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The defense should take a bow, because this was one of their most impressive games all season

New Orleans Saints v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Quarterbacks

Jared Goff had quite a terrific day, all things considered. He had some muddied pockets at times, but routinely re-shuffled his feet and threw some hummers to open receivers. Anytime you can throw for 354-yards and two TD’s, you had a good game. His lone INT was not exactly his fault as it was an under-thrown vertical to Sammy Watkins which was tipped up for the pick. Goff had a handful of misses on the day, but all in all was sharp and made great decisions. Today seemed to be another step towards becoming a truly great QB.

Running Backs

This grade is a bit harder to dole out. First, if it simply depended on Gurley, it would be an “A+”, because he was awesome. He only had 17-carries for 74-yards (4.4 YPC), but also had four receptions for 54-yards. The grade is dragged down a little bit by Tavon Austin who once again looked completely lost and unproductive.

Wide Receivers

The WR group has lots to be happy about after today’s performance. First, Sammy Watkins was finally more involved within the offense with Robert Woods missing, and it resulted in a 4-82-1 line, with another two major pass interference’s forced. Cooper Kupp rebounded from a rough game vs the Vikings with maybe his best game as a pro (eight receptions for 116-yards). He was clutch all day and displayed some beautiful grabs, specifically on the final offensive drive. Rookie Josh Reynolds got some playing time, and it was an impressive debut. Reynolds managed 4-37-1, though he looked like he sustained a minor injury at one point (returned later to the game).

Tight Ends

Tyler Higbee had one of his best offensive days with three receptions for 48-yards, one which he refused to go down and fought for more yardage. Gerald Everett also had one catch for nine yards. The TE group was also involved in the running department.

Offensive Line

Jared Goff was officially sacked four times (one of which wasn’t a real sack), though there was some more pressure applied by the Saints pass rush. LT Andrew Whitworth had a rough game as Cameron Jordan was very active with two sacks and a handful more impressive plays. There wasn’t much of an attempt at a running game, though when the Rams tried, Gurley and the OL were very successful.

Defensive Line

The defensive line (other than one huge 74-yard TD scamper by Alvin Kamara) held the Saints rushing attack in check all game. Other than that play, the Saints had 16-carries for 49-yards, an average of 3.0 YPC. Not only that, but Aaron Donald notched himself another sack, and another terrific performance.

Linebackers

Alec Ogletree and Mark Barron were both active in run support, sans the massive TD by Kamara. Samson Ebukam and Robert Quinn both registered sacks on Drew Brees (Quinn’s was a sack-fumble). Alvin Kamara had a very productive day, but the Rams LB unit did enough to get the job done, specifically on 3rd downs where they had multiple stops short of the chains.

Defensive Backs

Outside of dropped INT’s by Lamarcus Joyner, Trumaine Johnson, and Kayvon Webster, this group had quite a day. If you subtract the last drive the Saints had (where the Rams played a pure prevent defense), Drew Brees threw for 161-yards. Sure, there were some plays where the Saints had some completions (Mike Thomas comes to mind), but this group did an outstanding job limiting the most explosive offense in the NFL, specifically with how much attention needs to be dedicated to the RB stable of Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram.

Special Teams

Johnny Hekker had three punts for an average of 46-yards per punt, rebounding from a MIN game where he wasn’t quite himself. Greg Zuerlein missed one kick which was a 63-yarder, outside of that was 4/4 on FG’s and 2/2 on XP’s. Pharoh Cooper also had 59-yards returning punts, and 110-yards returning kicks.

Coaching

Wade Phillips was masterful during the entire game, as his defense came to play against a top-5 offense in the NFL. Coach Bones’ boys also had a terrific performance through all three phases of special teams play. The offense/Sean McVay actually bring this grade down a tiny bit because I felt he got too cute at times with plays like the hook-and-ladder, the Kupp throw, and far too much Tavon and not enough Gurley. They got the job done still which was great, but there were definitely things to clean up.