RB Steven Jackson rushed for 159 yards and two touchdowns to lead the St. Louis Rams to an upset 31-21 win over the New Orleans Saints Sunday afternoon at Edward Jones Dome.
After trailing 24-0 with 2 minutes left in the third quarter, the Saints scored 14 unanswered points but With 3:01 remaining in the game QB Drew Brees was intercepted for a Pick-6 by Darian Stewart crippling any chance the Saints had for a comeback.
"Obviously it's a disappointing loss and hats off to Coach (Steve) Spagnuolo and those guys," said Head Coach Sean Payton. "I just told the team this in the locker room - everyone in there, starting with me, has to be better."
Brees finished the day completing 30-44 passes for 269 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. With his scoring strike, Brees' TD pass game-streak extended to 35 games, the third longest streak in NFL history behind QB Johnny Unitas (47) and Brett Favre (36).
RB Pierre Thomas led the Saints in rushing with 23 yards on seven carries and a touchdown.
In his first action of the season, RB Chris Ivory rushed for 18 yards on six carries.
Sproles chipped in with 16 yards on six carries.
WR Lance Moore had games bests of eight receptions and 82 yards along with a touchdown. Sproles hauled in six catches for 60 yards.
DE Will Smith led the Saints on the defense with five tackles and two sacks (16 combined yards lost) and a pass deflection.
S Malcolm Jenkins had five tackles and strip-sack that led to a fumble recovery touchdown by LB Jonathan Vilma.
St. Louis won the coin toss and elected to receive. P Thomas Morstead's opening kickoff went in the end zone for a touchback.
On the first play of the game, a pass by A.J. Feeley was successfully defended by CB Jabari Greer. A second-down screen pass by Feeley to Jackson was completed for a 15-yard gain.
With a fresh set of downs, Jackson carried for a nine-yard gain before being tackled by Jenkins. On second down, Jackson pushed the pile for a two-yard gain, moving the chains before being tackled by LB Jo-Lonn Dunbar.
Feeley ran a play action fake and his throw intended for WR Brandon Lloyd was knocked down by Jenkins. On second down, the Rams ran a fake reverse, but he overthrew Lloyd followed by an incomplete pass on third down to send the punt unit out. Rams P Donnie Jones' punt was downed by St. Louis at the Saints 15-yard line.
Brees immediately threw to TE Jimmy Graham, for a 13-yard gain. RB Pierre Thomas then took a handoff before being tackled by Rams DE James Hall after a seven-yard gain. Following an incomplete pass, New Orleans converted when Brees threw to Moore for a six-yard gain.
Ivory then took his first carry of 2011 for a two-yard gain. A second down pass intended for Moore was incomplete and a third down throw intended for Colston was deflected by S Quintin Mikell. Morstead's 39-yard punt would be called for a fair catch at the 20.
On St. Louis' drive, Smith, dropped Feeley for a nine-yard loss on first down, putting the Rams behind the eight ball and eventually forcing a punt that would give New Orleans starting position at their 42.
After Sproles was stopped for a two-yard loss, Ivory gained six yards. On third and seven, Brees found Sproles split wide for a gain of 19 yards to the St. Louis 36. On first down, Brees was sacked for a loss of eight yards by Rams LB James Laurinaitis. On a pass to Colston, the wideout was stopped by Rams LB Chris Chamberlain for a loss of four more. On third-and-22, Brees found Moore for a 17-yard gain to put the Saints in field goal range, but K John Kasay's 49-yard attempt was wide left.
Feeley's first pass of the drive was incomplete, but Jackson then gained eight yards on a run before being tackled by Shanle. On third-and-two, Feeley converted with a throw to Lloyd for a six-yard gain and a first down. Jackson gained only one yard on a first down carry before being stopped by DT Shaun Rogers.
On second and nine, Feeley tried a bootleg, but under pressure from LB Jonathan Casillas, he threw it incomplete. The third down throw was deflected by Casillas, second the punt unit out. Sproles fielded the 34-yard punt and New Orleans would have starting position at their 16.
Brees first threw to WR Robert Meachem for an eight-yard gain. On second down, Thomas took the handoff and gained three yards for the first down before being tackled by Laurinaitis.
A pass to FB Jed Collins was complete, but the runner was immediately tackled by Chamberlain for a five-yard loss. Sproles took a handoff out of the backfield but gained only two yards before he was tackled by Rams DE Robert Quinn in the final play of the first quarter.
On third-and-13, Brees completed a pass to Thomas, but it was only for a three-yard gain before he was stopped by Laurinaitis. Morstead's season-long 62-yard punt would go out of bounds at the 14-yard line.
The Saints would take advantage of the field position and S Roman Harper would sack Feeley for a nine-yard loss, putting them at their four. On the next play, Feeley handed off to Jackson who gained ten yards before being pushed out of bounds by Harper. On third and nine, Feeley threw to Rams WR Brandon Gibson for a 13-yard gain and the first down. Feeley then completed a pass to Lloyd who gained 11 yards before being tackled by CB Patrick Robinson.
A pass intended for Lloyd was thrown out of bounds. Feeley then handed off to Jackson, who ran up the middle for a 15-yard gain before being stopped by Harper. However on the next play, Smith would drop Feeley for a seven-yard loss to put St. Louis back at their 45. Feeley then tossed a screen to Rams WR Greg Salas for a gain of eight before he was dropped by Smith. On third down, Feeley found Jackson who advanced to the 40 setting up fourth and two with the Rams going for it.
Feeley found a wide open Salas who broke a tackle for what appeared to be a gain of 33 yards to the New Orleans seven. However, following a New Orleans challenge, it was ruled that Salas had put his foot out of bounds at the 23-yard line, reducing the gain to 17 yards. Feeley rolled out and a pass intended for Gibson was nearly picked off by Greer. A handoff to Jackson then resulted in a gain of three yards before he was stopped by DT Tom Johnson.
Feeley's third down pass was deflected by Smith, sending the field goal unit out. Rams K Josh Brown would boot a 35-yard field goal to the give the Rams the first lead.
Sproles brought the ball out of the end zone for 24 yards to the 23-yard line. Brees immediately drilled Graham with a seven-yard throw. On second down, Ivory took a handoff and gained one yard before he was tackled by Laurinaitis. Brees converted the third down on a throw to Thomas for a gain of seven yards to the Saints 37.
Brees completed a throw to Collins for a 14-yard gain and another first down. At the Rams 49, Thomas carried for a two-yard gain before being tackled by Hall. Brees then tossed a throw to Meachem near the Saints sideline for a four-yard gain.
But on third down, Brees was dropped by Quinn for a loss of 11 yards sending Morstead out. Morstead's punt went out of bounds at the 14-yard line where a skirmish ensued. On the play, Rams S James Butler was called for a personal foul penalty after the ball was out of bounds, putting St. Louis at their 8.
Jackson took a handoff and gained two yards before being tackled by Shanle. Feeley's second down pass was completed to Salas for a eight-yard gain before being tackled by Casillas. St. Louis G Harvey Dahl was called for a false start, putting the Rams back ten yards to the 13. Robinson stepped in front of the pass intended for Lloyd on first and 15.
Jackson was then dropped by Dunbar for a five-yard loss in the Rams backfield. Following a New Orleans timeout, the Rams were assessed a delay of game penalty, pinning them back to their four. Jackson gained 16 yards to the 20, but it wasn't enough for the first down and would send the punt unit out.
With New Orleans starting at their 25, Brees found Moore for a 14-yard gain. However, following an incomplete pass, Brees was dropped by Rams DE Chris Long for a loss of nine yards. After another incomplete pass, Morstead's punt was blocked by Quinn. Two plays later, Jackson would extend the Rams' lead to 10-0 on a two-yard rush.
Taking the kickoff out, Sproles was tackled by Quinn and Rams RB Quinn Porter at the New Orleans 12. A Brees throw intended for WR Devery Henderson was intercepted by St. Louis CB Josh Gordy at the Saints 38.
Following two incomplete passes by Feeley, the Rams gunslinger completed a 14-yard throw to Gibson for the first down. On the next play, Robinson was called for a defensive interference penalty, advancing St. Louis to the New Orleans 19.
Feeley then completed a pass to Lloyd for a nine-yard gain to the ten. Feeley scrambled on the play and Galette was called for an illegal hands to the face penalty, advancing the Rams to the three. St. Louis T Jacob Bell was then called for a false start penalty. On the next play, Feeley's pass was incomplete under pressure by Galette. However, Feeley would complete an eight-yard touchdown pass to Lloyd to give the Rams a 17-0 lead.
On the opening kickoff of the second half, Sproles was tackled at the 17. Brees started with a completion to Thomas for a six-yard gain before being tackled by Rams DT Fred Robbins. Collins then took an outlet pass and pushed forward for the first down at the 27.
Thomas then took a handoff and was stopped for a one-yard loss by Rams LB Bryan Kehl. Brees was then sacked by Long for a loss of eight. T Charles Brown was then called for a false start. Faced with third and 24, Brees completed a pass to Colston for a gain of 14, sending the punt unit out. Following a 46-yard punt by Morstead, the Rams would have starting position at their 27.
Jackson took the opening carry for a gain of four before being tackled by Dunbar. The Rams then ran an end around with Gibson for a gain of 11 yards before he was run out of bounds by Greer. Feeley then rolled out and a pass was dropped. On second and ten, Feeley completed a throw to Rams WR Austin Pettis for a gain of six. On third down, Salas took a reverse for a gain of nine and the first down. Jackson took the next carry for a gain of three yards before he was dropped by Rogers. On second down, Feeley rolled out and completed a pass to TE Lance Kendrick's for a one-yard gain before he was dropped by CB Tracy Porter.
On third-and-seven, Feely completed a throw for a five-yard gain to Jackson and on fourth-and-two, the Rams would go for it. Feeley handed off to their bellcow who gained 33 yards to the three-yard line before being tackled by Jenkins. On first and goal, Feeley handed off to Cadillac Williams who was stopped by Shanle for no gain. On second-and-three, Jackson carried for the touchdown.
Starting at their 17, Ivory took a handoff for a gain of five. A first down was converted on a throw to Moore for a six-yard gain, advancing to the 28. Sproles then carried to the 31 for a three-yard gain before being stopped by Mikell. The speedy rusher then gained six before being tackled by Rams S Darian Stewart and Kehl. Ivory took the handoff on third down and was stopped by Laurinaitis for a loss of a yard to send the punt unit out. Morstead's 59-yard punt went out of bounds at the Rams six.
On first down, Williams was tripped up by Smith for no gain. On second down, Bell was called for a false start penalty that pinned them at their three. A pass to TE Billy Bajema resulted in a gain of seven, setting up third and six. A rush by the New Orleans defense resulted in a forced fumble and sack by Jenkins, which was recovered in the end zone by LB Jonathan Vilma for a touchdown and putting the Saints on the scoreboard.
New Orleans would get new life when the defense would force a three-and-out when on third down, Lloyd dropped a pass that would have gone for a first down. Sproles then returned a 59-yard punt 15 yards to the 32 yard line.
The drive would start with a carry to Thomas for a nine-yard gain to the 41 before he was tackled by Stewart. Thomas then took a carry up the middle for no gain where he was met by several Rams defenders. Ivory converted the first down with a gain of six before being tackled by Kehl.
Brees then rolled out and eluded Long, completing a pass to Graham for a 11-yard gain. Sproles took a run on first down for a three-yard gain before being tackled by Rams DTs Justin Bannan and Gary Gibson. Brees then faked a handoff and attempted to find Graham before the pass was broken up by Laurinaitis. On third-and-seven, Meachem was called for a false start penalty. On third and 12, Brees completed a throw to Colston, advancing to the 19-yard line. Following a five-yard rush by Sproles and an 11-yard completion to Colston, New Orleans had first and goal at the three where Thomas ran in for the touchdown to cut the Saints' deficit to 24-14.
Morstead's kickoff hit the end zone. After a 20-yard run by Jackson, put the Rams near Saints territory, a chop block penalty would move them back to their 31. Following an incomplete pass on third and 25, a screen to Lloyd resulted in a four-yard gain and Porter tackling him. On third-and-21, Rams OL Roger Saffold was called for a false start.
Jackson made a 15-yard gain on third down, but it wasn't enough, sending Jones and the punt unit out. Following a false start penalty, on the punt, there was a fair catch interference penalty for 15 yards on St. Louis that would give the Saints starting position at their 33.
Following an incomplete pass on first down, a second down throw intended for Meachem was defended by Stewart. A third down throw under pressure went into the ground. On fourth and ten, the punt unit with Morstead came out, with a 42-yard punt and a fair catch by Pettis at the 25-yard line. A 16-yard pass play from Feeley to Gibson resulted in a first down, but the Saints would then force the Rams to punt. Sproles called a fair catch at the 20-yard line.
On the very next play, Stewart picked off Brees to put the Rams lead at 31-14 with 2:51 left in the game
Brees drove the Saints on an 80-yard, 15-play drive capped off by a eight-yard touchdown pass to Moore with six seconds left to put the score at 31-21.
The Saints kicked an onside kick on the next series which the Rams recovered.