Second-half contributions from a variety of key offensive players, a rebound special teams performance and clutch defensive plays helped the Los Angeles Rams moved to 2-0 on the season with a 27-9 win over the New Orleans Saints at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
Here are five instant takeaways from the matchup.
1) HALFTIME ADJUSTMENTS CREATE LATE SEPARATION
Considering these two teams combined for 80 points in their last regular season meeting and 49 in the NFC Championship, it was somewhat surprising to see the halftime score read Rams 6, Saints 3.
Still, credit Los Angeles for adapting in the second half.
L.A. had 207 of its 380 total yards of offense across the third and fourth quarter despite losing starting RG Austin Blythe to an ankle injury before halftime. QB Jared Goff's poise was a big part of that, as was the steady rushing attack led by RB Todd Gurley II's 16 carries for 63 yards and one touchdown.
2) BOTH TEAMS LOSE KEY OFFENSIVE CONTRIBUTORS TO INJURY
It was a busy day for the Rams' and Saints' training staffs.
For the Rams, there was Blythe's ankle injury (carted off the field), a temporary back injury scare with DT Aaron Donald (he went back to the locker room but later returned) and TE Tyler Higbee's chest contusion (did not return).
For the Saints, starting QB Drew Brees injured his right thumb after hitting it against Donald's with 6:48 left in the first quarter, starting LG Andrus Peat sustained an ankle injury that prevented him from returning, WR Tre'Quan Smith suffered an ankle injury which knocked him out of the game and WR Keith Kirkwood hurt his hamstring before the game.
Neither team got out of this one completely unscathed, but between the two of them, New Orleans was clearly impacted the most by injuries.
3) KUPP HAS ANOTHER STRONG DAY
If last week wasn't enough assurance that Rams WR Cooper Kupp was back to his usual self, look no further than Sunday's effort against the Saints for full confirmation.
With nine minutes left in the fourth quarter, Kupp caught the ball at the Rams' own 40 on a slant route, then took it all the way down Saints 1-yard line. It was initially ruled a 67-yard touchdown, but officials overturned the call upon further review and placed the ball at the Saints 1, crediting Kupp with a 66-yard reception instead.
While the touchdown got overturned, Los Angeles still took advantage of the big play, as Goff punched it in on a QB keeper for the score. Kupp finished the game with five receptions on nine targets for 120 yards, all team highs.
4) SPECIAL TEAMS BOUNCES BACK FROM TOUGH SEASON-OPENER
A blocked punt and a missed field goal are miscues you don't see often from punter Johnny Hekker and kicker Greg Zuerlein respectively, let alone a unit led by special teams coordinator John Fassel.
One week after it cost the Rams 10 points in their season opener, Fassel's squad returned to its expected form against the Saints.
Zuerlein made both of his field goal attempts, making him responsible for six of the Rams' 27 points. Hekker averaged 49.8 yards per punt and didn't get any of his attempts blocked. Punt returner JoJo Natson's long of 32 set up L.A.'s offense at the New Orleans 26, and with a very short field to work with, it was able to capitalize with a 2-yard touchdown pass from Goff to WR Brandin Cooks.
Overall, Week 2 showed the usual positive impact Fassel's crew makes.
5) DEFENSE DESERVES CREDIT, TOO
Natson's punt return was made possible by back-to-back sacks from LB Clay Matthews and DL Michael Brockers. Both forced the Saints to punt from deep in their own territory.
New Orleans wide receiver Michael Thomas had 10 catches for 89 yards but was kept out of the endzone. The bigger development, though, was limiting the dual-threat Kamara. After registering 11 catches for 96 yards in the NFC Championship, Kamara had just one catch for 15 yards – only the third time in his career he's been held to one reception in a regular season game.
Furthermore, the Saints offense got inside the Rams' 20-yard line just once across 11 drives.