Defense, Ground Game Send Rams To Win Over New Orleans

Posted Dec 15, 2013

Mere minutes after the Rams had cruised to a 27-16 win over the NFC South-leading New Orleans Saints, Chris Long managed to boil the Rams’ success down to a very simple formula.

“If we stop the run and force turnovers, and the offense runs the football, we’re going to win some football games,” Long said.

Long’s three keys to success were implemented expertly early and often during Sunday’s victory. Behind three takeaways, 144 rushing yards and a 24-3 halftime lead, the Rams ended a two-game slide and collected their fourth home victory of the season.

The tone for Sunday’s game was established on the Saints’ first play from scrimmage, when DE Robert Quinn hurried a Drew Brees pass that was intercepted by rookie safety T.J. McDonald. A 31-yard touchdown catch and run by TE Cory Harkey gave the Rams a lead they would never relinquish.

RB Zac Stacy set a Rams rookie record with 106 rushing yards in the first half, and ended the day with 133 yards on the ground, one yard shy of his career-best. He punctuated a 24-3 halftime lead with a career-long, 40-yard touchdown run with 2:13 remaining in the second quarter.

As the Saints mounted a late rally to bring the game to within two possessions, K Garrett Hartley saw his 26-yard field-goal attempt veer wide left to seal the Rams’ sixth win of the year.

“This was one of those games where we knew we would have to play well in all three phases, and we did that,” Head Coach Jeff Fisher said. “Our kickoffs, our field goals, our punting, the fact that we affected one, if not two, field goals with our rush was really a contributing factor in this game and then our ability to run the football again against a really good defense helped.”

The win kept the Rams in pursuit of their first .500 season in seven years, a significant mark for a team coming off a pair of road losses to divisional opponents.

“Resilient is the word,” said QB Kellen Clemens, who completed 14 of his 20 passes for 158 yards and two touchdowns. “We got beat up against some pretty tough divisional opponents on the road, and it was nice to come back home. Again, all three phases showed up, played well, and we’re excited to get the win.”

Game Notes: Rams vs. Saints

-Quinn collected two sacks on Sunday to push his season total to 15. His eight forced fumbles are the most by a Rams player since Leonard Little had nine in 2002.

-With WR Tavon Austin inactive, RB Isaiah Pead handled kickoff return duties, and WR Justin Veltung returned punts.

-WR Austin Pettis’ first reception of the day was his 31st of the season, establishing a new career-high. Pettis finished the afternoon with four catches for a team-high 41 yards.

-Stacy rushed for 106 yards in the first half, establishing a Rams rookie record.

-TE Lance Kendricks’ 4-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter was his fourth of the season, matching a career-best established last year.

-Greg Zuerlein connected on field goals of 31 and 35 yards on Sunday. He is now 22 for 24 on the season.

-Stacy’s 40-yd TD run was his longest career rushing play.