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Los Angeles Rams vs. New Orleans Saints: Five things we learned in the big Week 12 win

Sunday’s win was a statement game, and the Rams had plenty to say to the Saints and the entire conference.

New Orleans Saints v Los Angeles Ram Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Long time coming

I don’t want to beat a dead horse, but holy s**t does it feel good to have eight wins. What makes this even better? There is plenty of season left and the Rams are definitely going to have more than eight wins.

While there are certainly franchises who have had it much worse (Cleveland), there are few groups who are more deserving of a good football team than the Rams fan base. Whether it’s in St. Louis or Los Angeles, the fans have been through so much since 2003 and 2004, the last notable seasons of success for this franchise.

Fans have endured Billy Devaney (a general manager who thought Donnie Avery and Tye Hill were locks), terrible head coaches, terrible assistants, terrible defensive coordinators, a relocation, Jeff Fisher’s Fisherball; all while losing so many football games.

But those days are over for the time being. Right now, the Rams fans are getting what every fan base deserves: a good football team.

Gurley needs a better feeding system

HB Todd Gurley carried the ball 17 times for just 74 yards. Had he gotten more carries in the game, he would have been well over 100 yards.

When the ball was in Gurley’s hands, on running or passing plays, the offense was rolling. Gurley was side-stepping, cutting, or running through defenders on his way to the first down or to solid gains. Yet, for whatever reason, Sean McVay kept Gurley’s carries light. There was one point in time when WR Tavon Austin had more carries than Gurley.

The Rams ended up winning the game, but they could have had an easier time sealing the game had Gurley been able to run the ball more. Nitpicking after a win, sure. But Gurley needs more carries—end of story.

Goff is everything and more

Goff almost had 400 passing yards on the day against a Top 10 pass defense. While they were without two of their better defenders, it’s an impressive feat nonetheless. The pass-rush seemed to get stronger as the game went on, but Goff held his ground. He stepped into throws even with a defender closing in on his face and made several big throws.

McVay helped Goff make an important pivot in his career. But McVay turns Goff loose on Sundays and watches the repurcussions of his work: a confident, young quarterback who can lead an offense and make smart decisions when under pressure.

The team is for real, especially the defense

Last week’s Minnesota game was a big test the Rams ultimately could not pass. They were in it until the fourth quarter.

McVay and the whole team swore they would correct their mistakes and improve and wouldn’t you know it; they did that and more.

The Rams were playing all four quarters of quality football and all three phases of the game (offense, defense, special teams) were firing on all cylinders. They played a like a team with a lot to play for and a lot to prove. The Saints were a tough team, and the Rams came up big.

Especially the defense....

While they allowed more than 100 yards on the ground, I will admit that I was wrong about the defense.

Leading up to the game, the Rams defense was inconsistent and inefficient against talented running teams and quarterbacks. Yet defensive coordinator Wade Phillips and his players shut both down.

After HB Alvin Kamara’s 74-yard touchdown run, the Saints offense only had 49 yards the rest of the day. After Kamara’s run, he only had 13 yards on four carries.

QB Drew Brees has 223 yards on the day and one touchdown, which came near the end of the game. A lot of Brees’ numbers came near the end of the game when New Orleans was trying to play catch-up.

The Rams will be okay with Robert Woods

WR Robert Woods’ presence will be missed. But for the time being, the Rams offense will be alright.

WR Sammy Watkins let everyone know that he is A) alive and B) very good. To start the drive, Watkins was hit by Goff twice; once on a 24-yard pass and another on a touchdown pass that got the game going on the first drive.

Watkins finished the game with 4 catches, 82 yards and a touchdown.

WR Cooper Kupp, who many of you called for to be A) benched B) cut C) frozen in carbonite and shot into the sun, led the receivers with eight catches and 116 yards. He made a few catches with extra effort, one of them being a toe-touch at the very edge of the sideline.

If everything stays the same (or is even improved from this week) the Rams will be an even greater threat when Woods returns.