LOS ANGELES — The New Orleans Saints will have to wait to avenge last season’s NFC Championship Game loss.
The highly touted rematch against the Los Angeles Rams ended in disappointing fashion for the Saints on Sunday. Not only did New Orleans lose the game 27-9 but more importantly franchise quarterback Drew Brees suffered a thumb injury early in the first quarter and was sidelined for the rest of the game as reports were that he was unable to grip a football.
No official word if the thumb is broken or sprained and how much time Brees could ultimately miss.
How It Happened
Even before the injury to Brees, the game had already started off on the wrong foot for New Orleans. The first drive of the game went 22 yards before a Brees’ pass intended for tight end Jared Cook was intercepted.
The Saints defense held strong as they held the Rams to a Greg Zuerlein 24-yard field goal. Things went bad to worse on the Saints next drive.
On 3rd and 8, Brees stood back in the shotgun and threw a ball across the middle but it was incomplete. Even worse was that Los Angeles defensive tackle Aaron Donald, while trying to pressure Brees, swatted at his Brees’ right hand causing the apparent game-ending injury.
Both teams continued to struggle on offense in the first half as both teams had to settle for field goals. Will Lutz kicked a 34-yard field goal for the Saints while Zuerlein added a 22-yard field goal.
Of course a Saints-Rams game could not be played without an officiating controversy.
In the second quarter with the Rams in the red zone, Saints defensive lineman David Onyemata forced a fumble and All-Pro defensive end Cameron Jordan returned it al the way back for a touchdown. Officials though blew the whistle and ruled it an incomplete pass.
The officials reviewed the call and awarded the fumble to the Saints but wiped the touchdown off the scoreboard.
The second half was a different story for the Los Angeles offense as the Rams put together three touchdown drives. Todd Gurley scored on a 4-yard run, wide receiver Brandin Cooks (the former Saint) caught a a 2-yard pass from Jared Goff and Goff added a 1-yard run in the fourth.
The Saints, led by backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, managed only two more Lutz field goals (52, 42).
Big Number: 201
That was the number of total yards that the Saints’ high-powered offense managed to produce after Brees left the game in the first quarter with the apparent thumb injury. Bridgewater completed 17-of-30 passes for 165 with no touchdowns and no interceptions. Bridgewater was also sacked twice. The Saints running game could never get going either as the team only mustered 57 yards on the ground with Alvin Kamara getting 45 yards on 13 carries.
Players of the Game: Cooper Kupp and Brandin Cooks
The Saints defense had no answer for the Rams slot wide receivers. Kupp led all wide receivers with 5 receptions for 120 yards, including a long of 66 yards. Cooks meanwhile once again performed well against his old team as he hauled in 3 receptions for 74 yards, including a long of 57 yards, and one touchdown.