Saints' quarterback Drew Brees came into L.A. on Sunday as a future first-ballot Hall of Famer hoping to add to his Hollywood-worthy stat sheet with a ninth consecutive win.
But instead of Brees and the Saints' high-powered offense putting on a show, it was the Rams defensive line that came out on top — figuratively and literally.
"Anytime you go up against a quarterback like that, you want to get to him early," defensive tackle Aaron Donald said. "It was a big key for us to get some pressure on him and that's what we did."
"That's where you've got an athletic front — they force you to move and get you off your spot a little bit because they are able to create a push and a rush," head coach Sean McVay said. "I thought our defense as a whole played really well."
The Rams front seven — anchored by Donald, defensive tackle Michael Brockers and outside linebacker Robert Quinn — got to the quarterback early and often, recording a trio of sacks and three quarterback hits throughout the contest.
"They rush the passer well," Brees said postgame. "They [have] got quite a few Pro Bowlers on that front that can rush the passer, do a lot of good things and wreak havoc. They gave us some problems early."
In last week's game against the Vikings, L.A. was able to consistently put pressure on quarterback Case Keenum, but was unable to bring him to the ground. Heading into Week 12, the Rams knew it would be imperative to contain Brees from the first drive, capitalizing on any and all pressures.
"We wanted like a little bit of a revenge game just to show that this is a different defense, we can adjust, and everybody isn't going to hit us the same way," Brockers said. "We can fix what we didn't execute last game and I think we showed that today."
"Brees [is a] Hall of Famer, no doubt, so if you let him get going early you know the type of chaos he can cause for a defense," Quinn added. "As a pass rush we just worked our moves, made his day a little hectic, [and] tried to get him down."
And the Rams did just that, getting to Brees on back-to-back sacks by Donald and Quinn during the Saints opening possession, marking the first time the Rams had back-to-back sacks since 2014. Rookie outside linebacker Samson Ebukam added a third sack on Brees in the third quarter.
"I think when you look at the sack that he made [Sunday] — a great job working his hands to counter, the length to be able to extend and drive the tackle back and to be able to finish that play was a big time deal," McVay said of Ebukam. "He's shown up and he's a guy that we feel like has a bright future for us."
And while quarterback Jared Goff and the L.A. offense did their part, scoring two touchdowns and four field goals, it was the Rams' defense that deserved a lot of the credit for the team's win.
"They were tremendous," Goff said. "You play a team coming in off an eight game win-streak [with] a guy like Drew, Hall of Famer and the running backs they have. Our defense played really well. Kept us in the game and kept us in the lead and then ultimately finished it off."