This game will do nothing to stunt the narrative that suggests the Saints can't play on the road. Forget cold weather games, the Saints got embarrassed in a dome by a 5-8 team. There was no phase of the game where the Saints played well. They didn't stop the run, they couldn't get off the field on 3rd down, they couldn't run the ball, the pass protection was non-existent and the kicking game was an abomination. A lot of this was the Saints shooting themselves in the foot, but the Rams rushed the passer extremely well and played mistake free football. Any playoff caliber team would have beaten the Saints by at least 30 today, that is not an exaggeration. I will give the Rams' pass rushing tandem of Robert Quinn and Chris Long a ton of credit, their play was outstanding. Below are my bullets on the game:
- Drew Brees deserves some criticism in this one for sure. His first pass was intercepted as he tried to go deep and was hit as he threw which allowed the ball to be slightly underthrown. That put the Saints behind right from the very start. But it was his second interception on a roll out into triple coverage in the end zone that prevented the Saints from at least going down 7-3 early. That play killed the game from the very start. One of the worst interceptions of his career. Inexcusable throw there.
- Charles Brown was no match for Robert Quinn. Watching him pass block was like watching my 3 year old son line up against me. It just wasn't fair. Brown gave up sacks, penalties, was responsible in part for the first pick, and even negated a touchdown before halftime. He would be benched before the game ended. Plain and simple, Charles Brown is just not fit to be a starter left tackle for a playoff team. An upgrade is desperately needed at that position and I would think long and hard about drafting there in the first round come the Saints' 1st round pick.
- If Brown was the LVP of the offense, Malcolm Jenkins earns that distinction on defense. Bad tackling, horrific angles on players as the free safety, and a couple personal fouls to give a weak offense about 30 free yards. Not the kind of play you want to see in a contract year if you're him.
- Garrett Hartley had two field goals blocked. One before halftime (the Saints would have only been down 7 on that final drive if he made that) and another from 26 yards out late to extend the game. Just awful.
- The offensive line played one of their worst games of the season. The Saints couldn't run the ball at all, and it didn't help that the defense was giving up scores in bunches early, which made the Saints more one dimensional. The Saints had just 61 yards on 20 carries and gave up 4 sacks. Drew Brees was hit more than a dozen times.
- Jimmy Graham had 2 catches for 25 yards. The Rams did an excellent job shutting him down.
- Mark Ingram only had three touches. It's a real head scratcher that you'd trade up into the 1st round to get this guy and only give him 3 touches. He actually looked good today, too. Clearly he's not even part of the team at this point.
- Kellen Clemens comfortably completed 14 of 20 passes and was never sacked. There was no pressure on him. I have no idea what happened to the Saints' terrific pass rush but it was dormant all game. Clemens was hit once as a passer after a pass. Rob Ryan seemed content to rush four and trust his coverage and needless to say that didn't work out at all.
- The Saints made a run in the 4th quarter to make the game score look much closer than it really was. Trust me this game was no contest.
- The one thing this defense had to do was stop Zac Stacy. They didn't. He had 133 yards rushing.
- David Hawthorne had a decent game and was one of the few Saints players to show up.
Despite this disaster of a performance, the Saints still have everything to play for next week in Carolina. Win, and they are the NFC South Champions and #2 seed in the playoffs. That's right. After all that they can still lock that up with just one win Sunday. So as bad as this went this is no time to sulk or be down on your team, we get right back at it with a game of huge stakes in 7 days. And as much as many of you are thinking "this game is on the road, we have no chance"… don't forget the Saints beat the Bears on the road this year, and they came within a miracle coin flip dumb luck Tom Brady pass of beating the Patriots. They played exceptionally well on the road in both of those games. And we saw how they match up against the Panthers. Any given Sunday. If you ask me after today if I feel good about this team going into Carolina and winning, i'd say no, but that's the beauty of the NFL. You never know. Every game is a new story, and the Saints are certainly capable of winning that game. That's what we have to root and hope for. The second seed and division title will still feel incredibly sweet if we secure it, I promise.