NEW ORLEANS — It’s been a wild first half at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, and after the first 30 minutes the Saints lead 35-17. Here are a few notes from the first 30 minutes of action.
*SAINTS STRIKE FIRST *
New Orleans took an early lead on their opening drive, moving 75 yards in 12 plays to get into the end zone.
The Rams had the Saints in 4th-and-1 at the L.A. 37, but Saints third-string quarterback Taysom Hill — a wildcard for the New Orleans offense — took what looked like a designed pass play up the middle for a nine-yard run and a first down.
Running back Alvin Kamara finished off the possession with an 11-yard touchdown to the left, with Kamara breaking a couple tackles, as he often does, in the process.
*GURLEY BREAKS A RECORD *
Los Angeles didn’t take long to tie the game up, with quarterback Jared Goff connecting with tight end Tyler Higbee on the left side for a 33-yard reception.
But it was running back Todd Gurley who brought the ball into the box, taking four carries for 29 yards on the possession. He gave L.A. 1st-and-goal at the eight-yard line with a 14-yard gain, then scored on a pitch to the right for an eight-yard touchdown.
With the score, Gurley broke the Rams franchise record for consecutive regular-season games with a touchdown. He’s scored in each game he’s played in dating back to Week 14 against the Eagles in 2017.
*KAMARA AGAIN *
Kamara got in the end zone for a second time on New Orleans’ second possession, this time coming through on a 3rd-and-8 play in the red zone for a 16-yard score.
Quarterback Drew Brees hit Kamara on a crossing route on the right side. And Kamara used is speed and shiftiness to score a New Orleans go-ahead touchdown.
*WELCOME BACK, COOKS *
Rams wide receiver Brandin Cooks was drafted by the Saints in the first round back in 2014, and looked right at home at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome early in the contest.
On Los Angeles’ second possession, Goff hit Cooks in stride with a 48-yard deep pass off play-action down the left side to move the club into the red zone. And following a defensive holding penalty, Goff hit Cooks again — this time in the back-right corner of the end zone for a four-yard touchdown pass.
*HOLD ON TO YOUR HATS *
Los Angeles gained an extra possession with a takeaway on New Orleans’ third drive. On 1st-and-10 from the Saints’ 25, outside linebacker Samson Ebukam put a hard hit on running back Mark Ingram to get the ball out in the backfield. Defensive tackle Aaron Donald recovered the loose ball to give the Rams a first down at the New Orleans 22.
But even with that terrific field position, the Rams got no points out of it. After a pair of Goff incompletions, a screen to Cooks to the left gained only six yards.
That’s when Los Angeles got gutsy — calling a fake field goal. Punter/holder Johnny Hekker fielded the long snap from Jake McQuaide, then ran to the right. And while it appeared Hekker may have gotten enough for a first down, he was spotted just short. Head coach Sean McVay challenged the ruling on the field, but the play stood as called.
*STAYING ON SERVE *
With the ball back at their own 13, New Orleans went down the field in 10 plays to re-take the lead midway through the second quarter.
The Saints stayed efficient on the possession, not even facing a third down until they had 3rd-and-goal at the four. There, Brees connected with wide receiver Tre’Quan Smith on a short pass over the middle for a touchdown.
Though kicker Greg Zuerlein has been “Mr. Automatic” for much of the last two seasons, he was unable to put a field goal through the uprights on his first attempt of the day.
It was a 51-yard attempt from Zuerlein, and though it had the distance, the kick went wide right — keeping the score at 21-14 late in the second quarter.
The Saints would score their fourth touchdown of the half following the missed field goal.
*BIG TURNOVER *
With the ball back and just over a minute left to play in the first half, Goff threw his sixth interception of the season.
The quarterback was looking for wideout Robert Woods over the middle, but instead linebacker Alex Anzalone was able to catch the pass instead — returning the takeaway to the L.A. 34.
Kamara gave the Saints points off the turnover, taking a handoff a yard up the middle to give New Orleans a 35-14 lead.