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Rams hold off Saints’ fourth-quarter comeback to remain in thick of playoff race

The Los Angeles Rams took care of business at home on Thursday night, dominating the New Orleans Saints, 30-22, to remain in the thick of the NFC playoff race. 

Both teams entered this game 7-7, but it was the Rams collecting a much-needed win to remain in playoff position. Meanwhile, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers could take sole possession of first place in the NFC South with a win over the Jacksonville Jaguars this weekend – something the Saints looked to avoid. 

Offense, once again, was the driving factor of this home victory for Los Angeles, as Matthew Stafford orchestrated a beautiful 95-yard, 14-play drive to begin the game after the Saints punted. 

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The drive came down to a decision to go for it on fourth-and-goal from the New Orleans’ two-yard line, where Stafford threw a bullet to Puka Nacua for the two-yard score. 

The Saints didn’t get off to the same start, turning it over on downs on their second drive and a punt followed that. 

However, Derek Carr & Co. finally got on track when Rashid Shaheed, the speedy deep ball option, pulled away from his defender and Carr hit him for a 45-yard touchdown to make it 10-7. 

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From there, though, it was all Rams. 

Another turnover on downs for New Orleans led to a five-play drive where Demarcus Robinson, who scored in each of the previous three games, got his fourth straight touchdown grab before the end of the half. 

Things started to go off the rails for the Saints when the Rams following another field goal drive. Carr stepped into a throw intended for Juwan Johnson, but Jordan Fuller stepped right up at safety and picked him off. 

Five plays later, Kyren Williams rushed 10 yards for the third touchdown of the game for Los Angeles. 

But, while this game appeared to be getting out of hand, the Saints started to mount a comeback in the fourth quarter. 

With the score 30-7, Carr went 12 plays and found Johnson for a five-yard score that cut the lead down seven. After getting the punt they needed from Los Angeles, Carr decided to take another shot in this game, and he found A.T. Perry for a 35-yard score down the left sideline. 

Instead of using Shaheed, the Saints had him run a crossing route that had him pull the safety away from Perry’s 1-on-1 matchup. The Saints went for two and Chris Olave, the leading receiver with 123 yards on nine catches, caught it in the back of the end zone to cut it to just an eight-point lead. 

But the Rams knew they needed to pick up first downs on the ensuing drive, killing the remaining clock to end the game. They did just that and finally got back over .500 for the season at the right time. 

Looking at the stat sheet, Stafford was 24-for-34 for 328 yards with two touchdowns through the air. Nacua racked up 164 of those yards on just nine catches, including a 41-yard catch. Robinson had 82 yards on six catches, while Cooper Kupp had 52 yards on six of his own. 

Williams also rushed for 104 yards on 22 carries with his score. 

For the Saints, Alvin Kamara had just 19 yards on nine carries, as the Saints rushed for 35 yards as a whole. 

 

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