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June 19, 2024

Rams Get Crucial Win Over Saints to Keep Playoff Hopes Alive

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Dec 21, 2023

The Los Angeles Rams hosted the New Orleans Saints on Thursday Night Football in a pivotal week 16 matchup with major playoff implications. Both teams entered the contest with slim hopes of reaching the postseason, making this a must-win game to keep those dreams alive.

Rams Build Early Lead Behind Defense, Rushing Attack

The Rams set the tone early, forcing a Saints three-and-out on the opening drive thanks to a sack by All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald. They then efficiently marched down the field on a 10-play, 75-yard scoring drive capped by a Cam Akers rushing touchdown to take a 7-0 first quarter lead.

Los Angeles continued to gash New Orleans on the ground with their trio of running backs Akers, Kyren Williams, and Malcolm Brown. They rode the hot hand of Williams in the second quarter as he ripped off big run after big run, ultimately finishing the first half with 86 rushing yards and another Rams touchdown to make it 17-7 at halftime.

First Half Key Stats

| Team | Total Yards | Rushing Yards | Turnovers |
|--|--|--|--|  
| Rams | 241 | 143 | 0 |
| Saints | 89 | 22 | 1 |

The Rams defense also did its part, forcing Saints quarterback Andy Dalton into an ugly interception and holding New Orleans to under 100 total first half yards.

Back-and-Forth Second Half Sees Multiple Lead Changes

The Saints came charging back in the second half, opening with a long touchdown drive to trim the lead to 3. The Rams responded with a field goal, only to see New Orleans tie the game early in the fourth quarter on a 30-yard rushing score by versatile offensive weapon Taysom Hill.

Ultimately, the Rams put the game away thanks to a 65-yard bomb from Matthew Stafford to newly acquired wide receiver Demarcus Robinson with just over two minutes remaining. The defense then came up with a final stop, stoning the Saints on 4th and goal to seal the 27-20 victory.

Second Half Key Stats 

| Team | Total Yards | Rushing Yards | Turnovers |  
|--|--|--|--|
| Rams | 385 | 188 | 1 |  
| Saints | 341 | 138 | 1 |

What This Means Moving Forward

The win keeps the Rams in the thick of a crowded NFC playoff race at 7-8. They still likely need to win out and get some help to qualify for the postseason, but they at least control their own destiny at this point.

As for the 6-9 Saints, this loss essentially ends any far-fetched playoff hopes they may have still clung to. They will finish below .500 for the second straight season after four straight playoff appearances from 2017-2020.

Both teams still have plenty of issues to sort out in what have been overall disappointing seasons. But on this Thursday night, the Rams came away with a character win when they absolutely needed it to stay relevant into January. Their uphill battle continues in week 17 versus the Chargers.

Game Balls

Kyren Williams – 145 total yards, 1 TD
Aaron Donald – 1.5 sacks, 4 QB hits
Matthew Stafford – 284 passing yards, 2 total TD

Williams gashed the Saints defense all night long both as a runner and receiver. Donald set the tone from the opening snap, dominating up front and disrupting drives. And Stafford overcame a slow start to make winning plays when it mattered most.

Quarter-by-Quarter Breakdown

First Quarter

The Rams set the tone early on defense by quickly forcing a Saints three-and-out, including a sack by Aaron Donald on the opening drive. They then efficiently marched 75 yards on 10 plays, capping it with a physical 15-yard Cam Akers touchdown run. Rams strike first to lead 7-0.

Rams 7 – Saints 0

Second Quarter

Rams rookie RB Kyren Williams took over in the second, ripping off several big runs and catches. His 30-yard reception helped set up a short Malcolm Brown TD plunge. Rams defense later forced an Andy Dalton INT leading to a last-second field goal.

Rams 17 – Saints 7

Third Quarter

Saints answer coming out of half with 75-yard TD drive finished by Mark Ingram II’s spinning TD catch. Rams respond with a field goal set up by more Kyren Williams chunk runs. Saints later tie it on ingenious Taysom Hill 30-yard TD run off trick formation.

Rams 20 – Saints 20

Fourth Quarter

Early fourth quarter field goals by both teams keeps it tied. Matthew Stafford then hits newly acquired WR Demarcus Robinson for 65-yard TD to give Rams late 27-23 lead. Saints have goal-to-go opportunity at end but Rams stuff Alvin Kamara on final play to secure emotional victory.

Final: Rams 27 – Saints 23

Players to Watch

  • QB Matthew Stafford – Playing through several injuries, Stafford overcame a shaky start to make some huge late throws. Still has the gunslinger mentality to rip off big plays when needed.
  • RB Kyren Williams – The rookie was electric all night with his cutting ability and burst, gashing the Saints for chunk play after chunk play both running and receiving. Has taken over as Rams lead back.
  • WR Allen Robinson – Injured early with a foot issue. Status moving forward is uncertain. New WR Demarcus Robinson – Stepped up huge in Allen’s absence including hauling in the late 65-yard game winning TD. Already paying dividends as a waiver claim addition.
  • DT Aaron Donald – Set tone from the start with early TFL and sack. Consistently won one-on-one matchups against Saints’ OL enabling Rams to get pressure with four rushers. Showing he’s still an unblockable superstar late in year.
  • CB Jalen Ramsey – Left game on two occasions with apparent injuries. Gritted it out but health is worrying for Rams secondary moving forward.

What the Coaches Had to Say

Sean McVay on big divisional win:
“This was one of the gutsiest wins I’ve been a part of. So proud of the fight from our guys. We made winning plays when it mattered most in a game we absolutely had to have. It’s on to the next one but tonight deserves to be enjoyed.”

Dennis Allen on struggling down stretch:
“We just haven’t been able to consistently execute in these close games during the second half of the year. The effort is there but we aren’t doing enough of the little things it takes to finish teams off.”

What the Players Had to Say

Matthew Stafford on late heroics from Demarcus Robinson:
“I just gave Demo a chance…he made a heck of a play out there showing the speed to blow by his guy and make a huge catch. So proud of that dude – he stepped up for us tonight.”

Aaron Donald on stuffing Saints on final play:
“That’s just the mentality we have as a defense – they get down there to win the game and there’s no way we’re letting them in. Had to close it out for the squad.”

Alvin Kamara on goal-line stop on final play:
“I just didn’t make enough of a second effort or third effort there. Have to find a way to get in…I put that on me.”

So in summary, the Rams kept their slim playoff hopes alive with a thrilling 27-23 win over the Saints on Thursday Night Football. Kyren Williams and Aaron Donald led the way in a gritty team victory that showed Los Angeles still has plenty of fight left despite a rocky season. They live on to battle for that final Wild Card spot next week against the rival Chargers.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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