NFC South: Edward Jones Dome
October, 30, 2011
By Pat Yasinskas | ESPN.com
Thoughts on the New Orleans Saints' 31-21 loss to the St. Louis Rams on Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome.
What it means: I’d like to say there’s no shame in losing to a St. Louis team that came into the game winless. But I can’t. I’d like to say there’s even less shame because the Rams were using future Hall of Famer A.J. Feeley at quarterback instead of the injured Sam Bradford. But I can’t. I’d also like to say there’s no shame in not scoring an offensive touchdown until the fourth quarter when you’ve got Drew Brees and a world of offensive talent going against a defense that hadn’t been stopping anybody this season. But I can’t. Quite simply, the Saints can’t afford to lose a game like this if they want to go to the Super Bowl. But they did. They could have been waltzing away with the NFC South race. Now, they’ve opened the door for Atlanta and Tampa Bay. There’s no other word to describe this one besides shameful. Well, unless you want to go with “embarrassing.’’ Take your pick.
Stat of the day: The Saints were held scoreless in the first half. That’s the first time that’s happened to them since a 2007 game against Tampa Bay.
The streak lives on: It didn't come until the final seconds, but Brees extended his streak of games with at least one touchdown pass to 35. That's the third longest streak in NFL history. Brett Favre is No. 2 at 36 games and Jonny Unitas is No. 1 at 47 games.
Prediction time: I’ll just about guarantee you Zach Strief will be back in the starting lineup at right tackle the next time the Saints take to the field. Strief’s been out with a knee injury, but was back at practice last week. The Saints might have been playing it a little cautious on Strief and they continued to start Charles Brown in his place. Brown had been doing pretty well, but not against the Rams. I saw Brown give up at least two sacks.
Mystery of the day: Yeah, I know the Saints fell behind and it’s common to abandon the running game when that happens. But the Saints never really used the running game before things got out of hand. They barely ran the trio of Chris Ivory, Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas against a St. Louis defense that had been having lots of problems stopping the run. And the Saints can’t use Mark Ingram’s absence (due to a bruised heel) as an excuse. Ivory was their leading rusher last season and Sproles and Thomas had been running well this season.
What’s next: The Saints host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers next Sunday at the Mercedez-Benz Superdome. The Bucs beat the Saints in Tampa in early October and I’m sure there is some residual anger among the New Orleans players and coaches. Throw in the natural anger of the embarrassing loss to St. Louis and the Saints should be very motivated for the Bucs. If they’re not, they’ve got real problems.