Print and Go Back ESPN.com: St. Louis Rams [Print without images]

Monday, December 16, 2013
Three things revisited: Rams-Saints

By Nick Wagoner

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- Looking back at three things to watch from the St. Louis Rams' 27-16 win against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.

Running back receivers

The Rams took plenty of precaution to slow down the Saints' downfield passing attack, a move that was evident right from the beginning of the game. Although throwing to the running backs is a staple of the offense, Saints quarterback Drew Brees found himself checking down to his backs more than he would have liked. More often than not, the Rams were ready for it.

Of Brees' 56 passes, he targeted a running back on 21 of them. He completed 17, but managed just 139 yards on those completions. Darren Sproles, the most dangerous receiving threat among the Saints' running backs, finished with 38 yards on eight catches.

Piling up the pressure

Against Brees and the Saints' passing attack, there's nothing more vital than getting pressure. The Rams did it right from the moment end Robert Quinn hit Brees and forced an interception on the Saints' first play from scrimmage.

According to the coaches review of the game film, the Rams racked up four sacks, 14 pressures and 10 hits on Brees in what was a long day at the office for the Saints' signal caller. Things got so bad for New Orleans that coach Sean Payton benched left tackle Charles Brown in the third quarter.

Back to the run

Put another checkmark in the positive column for the Rams as they got the previously dormant run game back on track with a dominant performance led by rookie runner Zac Stacy. He finished with 133 yards on 28 carries, highlighted by a 40-yard touchdown run. The offensive line cleared holes on a regular basis, and Stacy enjoyed new-found success bouncing runs to the outside after gaining most of his yards to this point in the season between the tackles.

Every button the Rams pushed in the run game seemed to work. Quarterback Kellen Clemens gained 7 yards on a read-option call that took everybody, Clemens included, by surprise. As a team, the Rams averaged 4.2 yards per carry on 34 attempts.