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Saints, Dalton Bounce Back to Defeat Rams

The Saints show signs of life at the Superdome after breaking the losing skid and knocking off the Rams.

NEW ORLEANS -- The Saints aren't dead yet, finally figuring some things out on offense and then getting some good play out of a defense that was missing several key players. Andy Dalton had a bounce back game, although it wasn't perfect, but things just clicked in all phases. New Orleans improved to 4-7 on the year after knocking off the Los Angeles Rams in the Superdome 27-20.

Game Recap

The Saints won the opening coin toss and elected to defer to the second half, putting the Rams offense out first. New Orleans responded well after two runs by Darrell Henderson to start that set up a 3rd-and-1 early, but Paulson Adebo shut down the jet sweep attempt with Brandon Powell to force the punt. The Saints offense returned the favor with a three-and-out of their own, as the first play was a swing pass to Alvin Kamara from Andy Dalton with room to run, but did not connect. 

New Orleans allowed a first down on their next series, but quickly responded by shutting down the Rams offense to force a punt. Chris Harris Jr. made a big play on 3rd-and-6 to break up a Matthew Stafford pass. The Saints offense took over with 8:50 to play in the opening quarter, proceeding to put together a 9-play, 31-yard drive that resulted in the first points of the game after the 46-yard Wil Lutz field goal with 4:14 left in the first quarter. And Dalton hit a big 26-yard hookup to Juwan Johnson on 3rd-and-1 to help put them into Rams territory, and after getting into the red zone, New Orleans went from 2nd-and-10 to 3rd-and-18 and then 4th-and-25 after back-to-back sacks.

It took the Rams one play to answer after a good kickoff return, as Stafford found TuTu Atwell for a 62-yard hookup to get into the end zone to take a 7-3 lead. He beat Chris Harris Jr. in coverage with what appeared to be no safety help over the top. The Saitns offense got one first down on their next series with Dalton to Chris Olave, but that was all, as they stalled out and punted back to Los Angeles with 1:09 left in the opening frame.

Blake Gillikin had a nice punt to help pin the Rams down inside their own 5-yard-line after Bryce Thompson downed it. The defense was able to force a three-and-out, getting a big pass breakup from Alontae Taylor working against Van Jefferson on the 3rd-and-8 play. Alvin Kamara got things going on the drive with a nice run as the quarter ended, and New Orleans was able to get into the end zone after a 7-play, 49-yard drive was capped off with an 8-yard touchdown reception to Juwan Johnson from Andy Dalton. Kamara also had a key 15-yard reception on the drive to help set things up.

As it went to 10-7 with 12:11 until halftime, the Rams got aggressive on their next series, but were turned away by the New Orleans defense in the end. They moved across midfield and got into Saints territory after some good runs by Cam Akers, but got stuffed on 4th-and-2 to turn the ball over on downs. Payton Turner was lost on the play after helping make the stop, being carted off with an apparent lower left leg injury. The Saints offense wasn't able to do anything with it, unfortunately, running a three-and-out.

Los Angeles took over with 3:13 left in the half, and they went to work to get into the end zone right before the half ended. The Rams marched 87 yards in 11 plays and had the drive end with Stafford finding Allen Robinson for a 6-yard touchdown to take a 13-10 lead. The Saints defense offered little resistance on the drive, as Stafford had plenty of time and capitalized on the lack of pass rush and coverage. New Orleans also helped with some missed tackles.

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Second Half

New Orleans opened the third quarter by marching down the field to get a touchdown, as Dalton found Jarvis Landry on back-to-back plays to finish the drive, including a 7-yard hookup to help take a 17-13 lead at the 10:23 mark of the quarter. Big plays to Alvin Kamara and Chris Olave were highlights on the drive, as Landry also had an 18-yard reception right before his touchdown. 

The Saints defense responded by forcing a three-and-out, as Demario Davis got sack No. 6.5 on the year on 3rd-and-8. New Orleans got the ball back with 8:40 to play in the third, and pieced together another scoring drive, as Dalton hit the home run ball to Chris Olave for a 53-yard score to see the Saints take a 24-14 lead with 5:47 in the third. Dalton redeemed himself after a trick play went for a big loss. The drive started with positive Taysom Hill plays, and then also saw a nice hookup to Juwan Johnson before the score.

The next Rams possession saw them rolling with Bryce Perkins at quarterback with Matthew Stafford being evaluated for a concussion. Perkins was able to help move Los Angeles down the field, being a problem as a runner and also getting some big support in the run game. Again, missed tackles were a problem for the New Orleans defense. Shy Tuttle came up big on 3rd-and-6 from the Saints' 15-yard-line to turn them away and force a 33-yard Matt Gay field goal to make it 24-17 with 14:48 left in the game.

New Orleans was able to get more points on the board, but likely should have resulted in a touchdown after Andy Dalton took a bad sack with the team on the 3-yard-line to put them back to the 14-yard-line. Big plays to Jarvis Landry, Taysom Hill, Chris Olave, and David Johnson were the highlights of the drive. Regardless, Wil Lutz knocked through the 25-yard field goal to make it 27-17 with 9:06 to play in the game after the 9-play, 69-yard drive.

Los Angeles looked to keep it interesting, but stalled out after a 6-play, 26-yard drive. Thee defense was able to fix some issues and limit the run success the Rams were having, forcing a punt to take over with 6:16 left in the game. The Saints were able to bleed some clock, going three-and-out on their ensuing possession.

After a holding call on a trick play punt return by the Rams, they were backed up on field position and the Saints defense turned in two big sacks from Carl Granderson and Kaden Ellis to put the Rams into a 4th-and-27 at the two-minute warning. New Orleans would bleed the clock down to 1:34 before having to punt back to Los Angeles. Kaden Elliss would pick up another sack, and the Rams would add a late field goal with 11 seconds left, but were unable to get the onside kick and New Orleans would get the win.

The Saints move to 4-7 on the year and will travel to the West Coast to take on the 49ers next Sunday to see if they can keep it going.

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