Goff helps Rams stop Saints eight-game winning streak
LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Rams held back the New Orleans Saints 26-20 on Sunday, and afterward head coach Sean McVay exhaled.
“I have so much respect for their offense,” McVay said of the Saints. “You can see why they had won eight in a row.”
New Orleans’ winning run was halted by an impressive effort by the Rams defense. It held Drew Brees to one touchdown pass and made his life miserable with three sacks.
“They put us in some tough situations at times,” Brees said. “We were just unable to find a rhythm and maintain our drives.”
While Brees and crew struggled, Jared Goff, his counterpart, had a stellar day.
Goff passed for two touchdowns and a career-high 354 yards by completing 28 of 43 passes, with an interception. He led the Rams (8-3) to their fifth win in six outings.
Goff, who did not throw a touchdown pass in last week’s loss to the Minnesota Vikings, clicked with veteran Sammy Watkins and rookie Josh Reynolds. Greg Zuerlein added four field goals, three from at least 46 yards, as the Rams prevailed.
With the Saints down two starters in the secondary, the Rams opted to let Goff control the game instead of focusing on a running attack.
“You can see Jared get better week in and week out,” McVay said. “He was making good decisions, we got the running game going later and the offensive line played well.”
New Orleans (8-3), which averaged 30.2 points during its winning streak, was stifled by Los Angeles’ defense. The Saints, who were 3-for-13 on third downs, entered the game averaging 415 yards but were held to 346.
“It’s a disappointing loss,” Saints head coach Sean Payton said. “Give credit to the Rams. Clearly, they played better in every area today. Offensively we could point to a lot of things, but on third downs, we stunk.”
Brees, who directs the NFL’s second-best passing offense, was 22 of 32 for 246 yards and a score. Much of Brees’ production came late against the Rams’ soft coverage as they protected their lead.
Los Angeles defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, who was with Brees when they were with the then-San Diego Chargers, got the better of him.
“They rushed the passer and they played the run well today,” Brees said. “I just have a ton of respect for Wade Phillips. Everywhere he goes he gets results.”
Goff, who lost to the Saints last year in his rookie season, was intercepted for the first time since Oct. 22 when Watkins dropped a ball into P.J. Williams’ hands.
Rookie Cooper Kupp, after a shaky game in Minnesota, paced all receivers with 116 yards on eight receptions.
“I was proud of Cooper today,” McVay said. “I knew he was going to bounce back, that’s just the type of person he is.”
Saints rookie running back Alvin Kamara, who had a combined 188 yards, hauled in a 15-yard touchdown pass from Brees with under two minutes remaining.
Zuerlein’s final field goal came from 26 yards with 2:27 to play.
The Saints settled for Wil Lutz’s 21-yard field goal to get within 23-13 with 10 minutes remaining. Brees’ touchdown pass to Mark Ingram II was erased on tight end Michael Hoomanawanui’s pass interference penalty.
Zuerlein’s 49-yard field goal to start the fourth quarter pushed the Rams ahead 23-10.
Lutz’s 50-yard-field goal in the first half’s closing minutes shaved the Rams’ lead to 17-10.
Goff heaved his second scoring pass, a 7-yarder to Reynolds, giving the Rams a 17-7 advantage. Reynolds’ first touchdown catch, and second reception of the season, was set up by Kupp’s 53-yard reception.
Kamara ripped off a 74-yard, first-quarter touchdown run that pulled the Saints to within 10-7. Kamara went right, cut left, then headed back right where he hugged the sideline until cutting upfield when Mark Barron made a last-ditch effort to tackle him.
Zuerlein kicked a 50-yard field goal in the opening quarter, pushing the Rams ahead 10-0.
Los Angeles struck fast, capping its opening possession on Watkins’ 5-yard scoring catch for a 7-0 lead.
NOTES: New Orleans CB Marshon Lattimore (ankle) didn’t play. ... CBs Dexter McDougle and Sterling Moore were added to the Saints’ roster. ... Rams WR Robert Brooks (shoulder), the team’s leading receiver, was out. Los Angeles LB Mark Barron (arm) left in the third quarter and didn’t return. .... The Rams signed CB Kevin Peterson to the roster. ... Hall of Fame G Tom Mack lit the Coliseum’s Olympic torch before the game.