Los Angeles - The New Orleans Saints' winning streak ended at eight games as the Los Angeles Rams defeated them 26-20 Sunday at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
The loss dropped the Saints to 8-3 and into a tie for first in the NFC South with the Carolina Panthers (8-3). The Saints will play host to the Panthers on Sunday, Dec. 3 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and then play the Atlanta Falcons (7-4) the following Thursday in Atlanta. The Rams (8-3) solidified their hold on the NFC West with the victory. All three of the Saints' losses this season have been to division leaders (Minnesota, NFC North; New England, AFC East).
Most of the attention going into the game was how the Saints defense would respond minus three starters - cornerbacks Marshon Lattimore and Ken Crawley and defensive end Alex Okafor. And while Rams quarterback Jared Goff threw for more than 300 yards it was the Saints offense that was out of sorts.
Except for Alvin Kamara's amazing 74-yard touchdown run in the first quarter and his 15-yard touchdown reception with 1:45 to play, the Saints offense struggled to get any traction. Quarterback Drew Brees was held to 246 yards passing and had fewer than 100 yards going into the fourth quarter. The Saints punted seven times, had just 14 first downs (five in first half), gave up three sacks and had seven penalties for 112 yards.
Saints defensive end Cam Jordan was a force with two sacks, two batted passes and several other play disruptions. Safety Vonn Bell and linebacker Craig Robertson added sacks. The Saints started De'Vante Harris and P.J. Williams at cornerback in place of Lattimore and Crawley and Williams made a nice interception in the fourth quarter to end a Rams drive.
The Rams raced out to a 10-0 lead thanks to a 5-yard touchdown pass from Jared Goff to Sammy Watkins and a 50-yard field goal by Greg Zuerlein.
After the Saints were forced to punt on their first two posessions, Kamara got them on the scoreboard when he took a handoff from Drew Brees down the right side of the field, dodging one final would-be tackler before gliding into the end zone.
Kamara has scored a touchdown in five consecutive games, becoming the first Saints rookie to score a touchdown in five consecutive games, surpassing receiver Donte' Stallworth, who scored a receiving touchdown in the first four games of the 2002 season. And according to ESPN research, Kamara is the first NFL players since Herschel Walker in 1986 with 500 rushing and 500 receiving yards in his first 11 games.
Wil Lutz made a 50-yard field goal with 58 seconds left in the first half and a 21-yarder with 10:05 to play for the other Saints points.
The Rams scored their second touchdown on a 7-yard Goff pass to Josh Reynolds. The score was set up by a 53-yard completion to Cooper Kupp, grandson of Saints legend Jake Kupp. Zuerlein added three other field goals, a 46-yarder, a 49-yarder and a 26-yarder to complete Los Angeles' scoring.
Saints left tackle Terron Armstead had to leave the game with a hamstring injury. New Orleans Saints stat leaders
Drew Brees, 22 of 32 for 246 yards with one TD
Alvin Kamara, five carries for 87 yards and one TD, six catches for 101 yards and one TD
Michael Thomas, five catches for 52 yards
Los Angeles Rams key stats
Jared Goff, 28 of 43 for 354 yards with two TDs
Todd Gurley, 17 carries for 74 yards Cooper Kupp, eight catches for 116 yards