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Sunday, November 15, 2009
Wrap-up: Saints 28, Rams 23

By Mike Sando

The Rams have improved to a point where losing in this fashion should anger them even though the Saints brought an 8-0 record into the game.

They fared better than expected on both sides of the ball, only to squander first-half momentum by allowing a kickoff return for a touchdown to open the second half. That was an inexcusable lapse following an excellent first half. The Rams had been the ones making plays on special teams lately, notably with Josh Brown's touchdown pass to Daniel Fells on a fake field goal against the Lions in Week 9.

Giving the Saints a seven-point jump on the second half proved too much for the Rams to overcome, but they fought admirably and made the Saints sweat out the final minutes.

Receivers Donnie Avery and Brandon Gibson gave the Rams badly needed life in the passing game. Steven Jackson reached 100 yards rushing by halftime. Safeties Oshiomogho Atogwe and James Butler picked off passes.

The bye week allowed Avery to fight through nagging injuries. Marc Bulger entered the game with three touchdown passes all season. Avery caught two from Bulger against the Saints, showing he has overcome an early-season slump. Receiver Keenan Burton has made strides in recent weeks. Gibson looked good.

The Rams are making it clear through their play that they believe in first-year coach Steve Spagnuolo. They looked like a team that could win one of its next two games. Both are at home (against the Cardinals and Seahawks).