Penalties? Two, for just 15 yards.
Red zone efficiency? Two touchdowns on four trips inside the 20.
The New Orleans Saints were nowhere near perfect Sunday, but they were standout enough in enough areas and accomplished enough of what they needed in a 27-20 victory over the Rams in the Caesars Superdome, raising their record to 4-7, ending a two-game losing streak and keeping themselves in play in the NFC South.
OFFENSE: We can't say for sure whether Sunday's quarterback plan – Andy Dalton and Taysom Hill rotated plays for a good portion of the game – will be the plan going forward. But it was a winning combination for the Saints on Sunday, and you do what you have to do in order to win that game on that day. New Orleans totaled 323 yards, and the third-down conversion rate (4 of 11) and red zone efficiency were a bit lower than hoped for. But Dalton (21 of 25 for 260 yards and three touchdowns, without an interception) was the picture of precision and Hill (nine rushes for a team-high 52 yards, and 1 for 3 passing for 14 yards) was much more of a changeup than he had been in earlier games. New Orleans still has to re-establish its run game (24 carries for 88 yards), but the Rams are a tough team to run against. The counter to that was Dalton's accuracy and rookie receiver Chris Olave (five catches for 102 yards) continuing to build on his impressive debut season. Four sacks were allowed, a couple that probably should have been avoided, but all in all a really solid effort for a unit that struggled mightily the previous two games.
DEFENSE: Yes, there was an explosive play allowed, a 62-yard touchdown pass. And, yes, the Rams ran for 148 yards on 30 carries. But those numbers don't tell it all for a unit that entered the game without five starters, and then lost one of the guys that did start (defensive end Payton Turner) due to an ankle injury. The Saints' defense simply is a beat-up unit, but not so beat up that it didn't abbreviate quarterback Matthew Stafford's day, after he threw the long touchdown. Between Stafford, who left after being evaluated for a concussion, and Bryce Perkins, the Rams passed for 223 yards and two touchdowns. But New Orleans piled up four sacks – linebacker Kaden Elliss and defensive end Carl Granderson had 1.5 each – seven quarterback hits and five pass breakups. Perkins' mobility was a bit of a thorn when he entered the game for Stafford, but once the Saints were able to force him into passing situations, they were able to get to him often (three sacks on 13 dropbacks). New Orleans' ability to produce stops on third-and-1 and fourth-and-2 in the first half proved to be significant.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Seems just a matter of time before Rashid Shaheed pops a punt return. His numbers Sunday (four for 40 yards) would have been better if not for a penalty. The skill is there. Blake Gillikin didn't give the Rams much of anything to work with, punting five times for 47.8 yards (45-yard net), with three downed inside the 20. And when the Rams did try to return punts, the coverage was excellent (2 for 9 yards). Wil Lutz made a couple of field goals, and has made 11 of his last 12 so he appears back to being exactly what we expected after missing last season.
New Orleans Saints players in action during their 2022 Week 11 game against the Los Angeles Rams.