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Game Recap: Strong second half pushes Rams past Saints

A strong second half by the offense helped the Rams (2-0) defeat the Saints 27-9 in their 2019 home opener Sunday afternoon at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

The Saints (1-1) were marching downfield on their first drive when Rams safety Eric Weddle drilled Saints TE Jared Cook as Cook was trying to haul in a pass from QB Drew Brees near the L.A. 35-yard line. The loose ball went airborne, then fell into the hands of Rams safety John Johnson II as he was lying on his back for the interception. It led to a 24-yard field goal by kicker Greg Zuerlein for a 3-0 Rams lead with 8:42 left in first quarter.

Brees was injured on the Saints' second drive and reportedly was getting his right hand wrapped after it was hit by Rams DT Aaron Donald. He was replaced by backup Teddy Bridgewater on New Orleans' next offensive series and did not return.

Early in the second quarter, Donald went back to the locker room with a Rams trainer. He was ruled questionable to return with a back injury but returned to the field in the second quarter.

With Donald out briefly, Bridgewater and the Saints offense managed to find a rhythm in his second series under center, leading New Orleans on a seven-play, 41-yard drive that ended with a 34-yard field goal by kicker Wil Lutz to tie it 3-3.

On the ensuing drive, a 14-yard touchdown pass from Rams QB Jared Goff to WR Robert Woods was nullified by an illegal block in the back penalty against LG Joe Noteboom. Starting RG Austin Blythe sustained an ankle injury on the next play and had to be carted back to the locker room. Blythe did not return.

Goff appeared to get sacked and fumble the ball on the final play of that same series, but officials initially ruled incomplete pass. New Orleans challenged the ruling, and officials reversed the original call upon further review.

Gaining possession after the overturned call, the Saints reached midfield but failed to convert on 4th and 1 at their own 48 as RB Alvin Kamara was stuffed at the line of scrimmage. A steady dose of outside runs by RB Todd Gurley got Los Angeles all the way down to the New Orleans 4-yard line, but similar to the opening series they failed to punch it into the endzone. Instead, L.A. had to settle for another Zuerlein field goal, this time from 22 yards out for a 6-3 halftime lead.

Rams TE Tyler Higbee suffered a chest injury on the team's first possession of the second half and was later ruled out.

New Orleans opened the second-half scoring with a 52-yard field goal to tie the contest 6-6, but lost starting LG Andrus Peat to an ankle injury. He was officially ruled questionable to return at the start of the fourth quarter.

Los Angeles finally converted in the redzone with 5:39 left in the 3rd quarter on a four-yard touchdown run by Gurley, his first of the season, to regain the lead 13-6. The score gave Gurley 348 points for his career, moving him into a tie for 13th on the Rams' all-time scoring list with Eric Dickerson.

Back-to-back sacks by Rams LB Clay Matthews and DL Michael Brockers forced the Saints to punt deep in their own territory on the ensuing drive. A 26-yard punt return by JoJo Natson helped set up a short field for Los Angeles to work with, and L.A. capitalized with a 2-yard touchdown pass from Goff to WR Brandin Cooks for a 20-6 lead by the end of the third quarter.

A 42-yard field goal by Lutz trimmed the Saints' deficit to 11 early in the fourth quarter, but the Rams responded quickly. Goff connected with WR Cooper Kupp on a spectacular 67-yard touchdown pass, but officials overturned the score upon further review, instead crediting Kupp with a 66-yard reception and spotting the ball at the Saints 1-yard line. The Rams still managed to convert, though, as Goff punched in it on the QB keeper to give the Rams a 27-9 lead. Goff eclipsed 10,000 career passing yards with the completion to Kupp.

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