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Sunday, December 15, 2013
Halftime Report: Rams 24, Saints 3

By Mike Triplett

ST. LOUIS -- The New Orleans Saints just wrapped up their ugliest half of football this season, with a little bit of everything going wrong. They trail the St. Louis Rams 24-3. Here are a few thoughts on the action so far:

Brees off-target: Saints quarterback Drew Brees threw interceptions on the first two drives. The first one came on the Saints’ first offensive play. Brees was hit as he threw by Rams pass rusher Robert Quinn, and his pass didn’t reach intended target Jimmy Graham as safety T.J. McDonald snagged it. Then on the Saints’ second drive, Brees made a poor decision while trying to fire at Graham between three defenders in the end zone. Brees wasn’t pressured on the throw, but it was also underthrown -- almost as if he didn’t see cornerback Trumaine Johnson underneath in coverage.

Quinn hurting Saints: Quinn is living up to his reputation in this game. He beat left tackle Charles Brown at least four times for negative plays to hurt the Saints. In addition to the forced interception, Brown also had a sack to force the Saints to settle for a field goal. He later forced a holding penalty to stall a drive. And he forced an illegal hands to the face penalty that nullified a potential touchdown.

Poor tackling: The Saints defense hasn't been bailing out the offense in this one. They missed tackles left and right -- three of them on tight end Cory Harkey's 31-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter and another one on running back Zac Stacy's 40-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. Stacy has 16 carries for 106 yards already (and he was even temporarily sidelined by an injury). The Saints have also been hurt by three personal-foul penalties (one of which was a questionable call against safety Malcolm Jenkins).

Special teams, too: The Saints are getting beat on special teams, too. The Rams successfully converted a surprise onside kick in the first quarter, setting up a field goal drive. And Saints kicker Garrett Hartley's 36-yard field goal attempt was blocked before halftime.