With the only undefeated team in the league in town, the New Orleans Saints' biggest stars shined the brightest Sunday.
Quarterback Drew Brees threw for four touchdown passes and 346 yards, running back Alvin Kamara had three touchdowns, and wide receiver Michael Thomas caught 12 passes for 211 yards including a game-deciding 72-yard touchdown.
Add it all up and you get a 45-35 victory for the Saints over the Los Angeles Rams (8-1) at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The victory pushed the Saints' winning streak to seven games, kept their lead in the NFC South as they moved to 7-1 and gave them the inside track for the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs.
The Rams rolled into New Orleans as the NFL's lone undefeated team, a potential juggernaut with a top-two offense and a defensive line featuring four first-round picks, including last season's NFL's Defensive Player of the Year.
They leave the Crescent City with their hopes of undefeated season over as the Saints offensive line was able to protect Brees, allowing him to come up with the big plays when the Saints needed them.
Brees had a spectacular first half – three touchdown pases, 211 yards – and finished 25 for 36 for 346 yards in his duel with Rams quarterback Jared Goff, who had a strong outing of his own with 391 yards and three touchdowns, plus a costly interception
Kamara led the scoring for the Saints with three touchdowns – all in the first half – two rushing and one receiving as he carried the ball 19 times for 82 yards and caught four passes for 34 yards.
Thomas had a huge game, the 211 yards is a Saints single-game record, and his 72-yard touchdown reception with 3:52 to play put the game out of reach.
And while the offenses ruled the day, two plays by Saints linebackers helped win the game for New Orleans. First, Craig Robertson snuffed out a fake field-goal attempt in the first half and tackled Rams punter Johnny Hekker just short of the first down, giving the ball to the Saints at their 13. They quickly turned that into a touchdown.
Alex Anzalone intercepted Goff with 59 seconds left in the half, giving the Saints an extra possession and ultimately one of Kamara's three touchdowns, this one a 1-yarder.
Rams running back Todd Gurley – considered the top back in the league – was held in relative check although he did have a couple of long runs and an 8-yard touchdown. He finished with 68 yards rushing. Former Saint receiver Brandin Cooks had a nice outing with six catches for 114 yards and a touchdown.
The Saints didn't get to put any distance between their two main NFC South rivals as the Carolina Panthers routed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to improve to 6-2. The Atlanta Falcons beat the Washington Redskins to even their record at 4-4
The Saints will play at the Cincinnati Bengals (5-3) next Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals had their bye this weekend. Their last game was a 37-34 win over the Bucs.
Key Saints statistics
Brees, 25 of 36 for 346 yards with four TDs
Ingram, nine carries for 33 yards
Kamara, 19 carries for 82 yards and two TDs
Thomas, 12 catches for 211 yards and one TD