Week 7 Game Recap: New Orleans Saints 17, St. Louis Rams 28
What you need to know
The Saints played well in the first half of the game, but were outplayed by the Rams in the second half, as they were outscored 21 to 3 in the second half. Aaron Brooks epitomized the Saintsí team, as he played very well in the first half, but did not lead his team to any touchdowns in the second half. Part of the reason was due to the Rams blitzing Brooks successfully in the second half, which led to him overthrowing passes to wide open receivers on multiple occasions. Another significant factor was that several of the Saintsí receivers dropped passes that should have been easily caught, which would have improved Brooksí passing numbers. Brooks ended with pretty good passing numbers, completing 18 of 39 passes for 230 yards, with two touchdowns and one interception.
The interception was a controversial one, as with New Orleans down 21-17 in the fourth quarter, Brooks threw a completion to tight end Ernie Conwell, who caught the ball, and was tackled to the ground. As he landed on the ground, he extended his hands to show he had possession, and Ramsí safety Mike Furrey snatched the ball out of his hands and ran for a touchdown. As this play began just before the two minute warning and New Orleans was out of timeouts, they could not challenge the call, and the instant replay official could not call for a review, so the play stood even though replays showed that Conwell was down on the ground as a result of the tackle before Furrey took the ball from his hands. That play put the game out of reach for the Saints.
Joe Horn did not play due to his hamstring injury, and as a result Donte Stallworth and Az-zahir Hakim had opportunities to show what they could do. They were both given ample opportunities by Brooks who targeted them 11 and nine times respectively. Hakim made the most of his opportunities, converting six of his nine targets into receptions totaling 100 yards and one touchdown. Stallworth caught four of the 11 passes thrown his way, and finished with 53 yards and one touchdown, but dropped some other passes that he should have caught.
Deuce McAllister is out for the season, and his replacements, Aaron Stecker and Antowain Smith, did a serviceable job of keeping the running game going. They split the majority of the carries, with Smith running the ball 14 times for 56 yards and Stecker 12 times for 33 yards. Smith looked very powerful running up the middle, though he did not get any carries when New Orleans was inside the red zone. Stecker did get two rushing attempts inside the seven yard line on the same series, but totaled four yards without getting into the end zone. Though he hurt his left ankle late in the first half, Stecker came back and ran decisively in the second half.
The Rams started slowly, but made enough adjustments in the second half to take the game over and get the win. Marc Bulger missed the game due to his shoulder injury, and his replacement, Jamie Martin, overcame a shaky first half, to lead them to an improved second half, which enabled them to come away with the win.
Kevin Curtis and Shaun McDonald had an opportunity to show what they could do with both starting wide receivers Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce sideline due to injuries. Curtis displayed his excellent speed by beating the Saints' defenders to the edge of the end zone for the score. McDonald, however, dropped several balls that were catchable, and ended the day with just two receptions for 20 yards. He was used on a variety of routes, and got open on most of the ones where he was the intended target, but did not hold on to the ball very well.
Steven Jackson began the game with a 43 yard sprint up the middle, but found the going tough afterwards until the fourth quarter. Jackson scored the Ramsí first two touchdowns, breaking several tackles on his way to a six yard touchdown run for their first score, and shedding a few more tackles on a fourth and one run up the middle for their second score.
What you ought to know
|QB Aaron Brooks, Pass: 18 - 39 - 230 - 2 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 3 - 28 - 0|
Brooks played well in the first half, but had problems handling the Ramsí blitzing, which intensified in the second half. When given time, he looked very comfortable, and made the right decisions in terms of which receiver was open. He showed he could throw the intermediate and deep balls comfortably, and hit his receivers in stride several times in the first half. Unfortunately, they dropped several passes that they should have caught. In the second half, Brooks overthrew his receivers several times, in an effort to avoid being sacked. He distributed the ball fairly evenly in the first half, but focused on Aaron Stecker and Donte Stallworth more in the second half, targeting them with 13 of the 22 passes he threw. A hot and cold effort by Brooks which resulted in decent numbers, but could have been better.
Smith was used almost exclusively on runs up the middle, and he did not shy away from the contact, breaking tackles on most of his rushing attempts. His involvement in the passing game was primarily that of an outlet receiver. Smith shared the rushing load with Aaron Stecker.
Stecker ran hard but apart from a nine yard run in the first half, did not have any large gains rushing the football. He was in the game on most of the Saintsí passing situations, and did show an ability to make defenders miss when he caught the ball, including one reception he turned into a 17 yard gain.
|RB Mike Karney, Rush: 1 - 3 - 0, Rec: 1 - 10 - 0 (1 targets)|
The fullback carried the ball once, and made a nice catch of his one target, which resulted in a first down. He spent the remainder of the game as a blocker.
Hakim returned to his former teamís home field impressively, scoring a 17 yard touchdown reception, and connecting with Brooks on another 34 yard catch. Hakim showed he is still a quick and dangerous receiver, and found himself open several times in the first half. He disappeared somewhat in the second half, and was targeted just three times in the period.
Despite being given plenty of opportunities to help compensate for Joe Horn not being able to play, Stallworth did not take full advantage. While he did score a touchdown due to running a nice route and showing good concentration to make the catch, he also dropped some passes that he would be expected to catch. Brooks kept going to him, but like his team, Stallworth was not as productive in the second half as he was in the first. Stallworth also lost a fumble while running a reverse.
Henderson dropped some passes he would be expected to catch, and as a result his numbers were not overwhelming. He showed he could get open, but did not display the concentration necessary to hang onto the ball consistently.
Though he officially did not have a reception, Conwell did appear to have a reception for a first down that was ruled an interception, though it seemed as though Conwell was down by contact. He was used as a blocker for most of the game.
Carney had a 45 yard field goal attempt blocked, and made his other attempt from 22 yards. He made both of the extra points he attempted.
After allowing a 43 yard run on the Ramsí first play of the game, the Saintsí run defense did a credible job in terms of limiting the number of yards he ran for, holding him to ten yards in his next nine attempts. However, they were unable to keep the Rams from running inside the 10 yard line, yielding touchdown runs to Jackson twice and on a reverse to Kevin Curtis. Overall, much like their entire team, the Saintsí run defense was inconsistent, showing to be fairly stout for most of the first half, but not making many stops for losses in the second half. This was especially evident as Jackson gained most of his yards running up the middle in the second half.
New Orleansí pass defense left a lot to be desired, though they had a couple of plays that could have turned the game. On one occasion they stripped the ball from a Ramsí tight end, but the offense was unable to convert that turnover into a score. On another play, one of their defensive backs intercepted a pass by Martin, but did not maintain control of the ball before going out of bounds, so the Rams retained possession. The Saints could not muster much of a pass rush in the second half, and their secondary was beaten several times by the Rams, who were without their starting wide receivers. Despite the Rams playing it safe with emphasizing a more conservative passing attack, the Saints were beaten deep when the Rams decided to open the passing game up.
|QB Jamie Martin, Pass: 18 - 29 - 198 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 4 - -2 - 0|
Martin handled the scaled down passing game plan well. The vast majority of the passes he threw were of the short variety, but he did throw deep to Kevin Curtis on a couple of occasions, connecting with him once. Of the six plays the Rams ran inside the Saintsí ten yard line, only one was a pass, and that was a short one to Faulk, designed for him to elude defenders if he was to get to the end zone. Martin did was what asked of him, and did not take many chances, which resulted in him ending with modest passing numbers.
Jackson displayed the type of resiliency one would expect from a very good running back. He began the game with a 43 yard run, and then was held to ten yards over his next nine carries. However, as very good running backs do, he got stronger as the game wore on, and finished with just under 100 yards rushing. Jackson ran with power, as evidenced by his two touchdown runs, and ran the type of pass route up the middle of the field past linebackers, that Faulk used to run in his heyday with the Rams, on one play where he had an 11 yard reception. Jackson showed a very nice combination of speed and power on his 43 yard burst, which began as a run up the middle.
Faulk was hardly involved in the running game, and most of his receptions came when Martin needed an outlet receiver. Faulk was primarily in the game on passing situations, and was only asked to run short routes to be available in case Martin needed to check down to him as an outlet receiver.
|WR Kevin Curtis, Rush: 1 - 5 - 1, Rec: 4 - 90 - 0 (5 targets)|
Curtis made the most of the balls thrown his way. The one ball he dropped was one that was catchable. He was used deep on a couple of occasions, and executed a reverse perfectly that resulted in a touchdown. On one play, he had beaten his defender on a deep route, but the defender committed a penalty on him, dragging him down at the Saintsí six yard line before he could attempt to catch the ball.
Looker was used on short to intermediate routes, and caught most of the passes thrown his way. He was not asked to run any deep patterns that had the potential for a big play.
McDonald was asked to run a variety of routes, but did not capitalize on the opportunity, as he dropped several catchable passes. He ended the day with ordinary numbers, in large part due to him dropping passes, despite being targeted the most by Martin.
Thompson did not play much, but was able to record his first NFL reception.
Manumaleuna fumbled his lone reception, and focused on blocking for the majority of this game.
Cleeland was not involved much in the game.
Hedgecock caught the one ball thrown to him, but it was called back due to penalty. He spent the remainder of the day blocking.
Wilkins had a quiet game, making all four of his extra point attempts. He did miss his only field goal attempt, kicking a 48 yard attempt short.
The Ramsí run defense was aggressive, and led by the inspired play of safety Adam Archuleta. He played near the line of scrimmage most of the game, and combined with the Ramsí defensive linemen to make several stops, though Antowain Smith was able to break some of their tackles in the game. Despite losing defensive tackle Damione Lewis because of a personal foul he committed, the Ramsí defensive line played the run well. They were supported well by the linebackers.
Though they gave up 230 yards passing and two touchdowns to Brooks, the Rams' pass defense improved greatly in the second half. For the game, they contributed to Brooks having 21 incompletions, in large part to constantly blitzing him. Ramsí safety Archuleta recorded two sacks and linebacker Dexter Coakley recorded another sack while blitzing Brooks. Though the Ramsí secondary allowed several receptions to the Saintsí receivers, especially in the first half, and were helped by Saintsí receivers dropping passes, they applied pressure to Brooks constantly, and forced several him to hurry several of his throws. Considering they were missing their best pass rusher, Leonard Little, the Ramsí pass defense played fairly well.