Former Saints, Bulger and Haslett lead the Rams over New Orleans
With the Saints sporting a 4-4 record and winners of the past four games, it seemed as though the 0-8 St. Louis Rams would be easy pickings for a team that seemingly had hit its football groove. The Saints could have set an NFL record with a win over the Rams because no team in league history had ever won five straight games after losing their first four games.
Well, that is why they play the games on Sunday.
The Rams for three quarters totally dominated play on both sides of the football in route to a 37-29 victory over New Orleans.
Marc Bulger, who Jim Haslett and the Saints selected in the sixth round of the 2000 draft and was cut loose during the training camp period of that same year, shredded the Saints defense Sunday completing 27 of his 33 throws for 302 yards and 2 touchdown passes. More importantly, the Rams had no offensive turnovers and the Rams intercepted 2 of Drew Brees’ throws.
Bulger accomplished this feat with an offensive line that was starting only one player that was in the starting five when the 2007 season opened and he looked a lot like what Drew Brees did against the Jacksonville Jaguars the week earlier.
“We felt real good that with Steven Jackson (the Rams All-Pro halfback) back in the lineup, that we could run the ball and loosen up their defense in the early downs and then kind of nickel and dime them with short and intermediate passes on third down,” Bulger said. “The gameplan was terrific and I give my line and receivers all the credit. Our defense played great also and kept Drew Brees and the Saints offense off the field. We have been through a lot of adversity and we never gave up on one another.”
Rams All-Pro wide-out Torry Holt also terrorized the Saints secondary catching 8 passes for 124 yards and he demoralized the Saints coverage unit by making one key third down reception after another.
But the real story was that the Rams inept defense for half a season really came to play against the Saints. For three quarters the St. Louis defense held the high-powered Saints attack to just 7 points, before New Orleans came to life in the fourth quarter to score 22 points.
“In my opinion Drew Brees is the guy that makes things happen for the Saints,” said Rams defensive coordinator Jim Haslett. “We figured that we’re not going to let the quarterback sit back there and pick us apart. We were unconventional, but we were going to take chances, come after Drew hard and try to disrupt their attack.”
Haslett guessed that he called blitzes on about 16 of the first 18 plays the Saints ran.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees finished the game with 272 yards passing and two touchdowns, but most of it came while the team ran a hurry-up offense in the fourth quarter in a belated comeback attempt that ended with less than 30 seconds left in the contest when the Saints failed to recover an onside kick.
This game showed again that if the Saints are to make a playoff run, they will have to do so with an offense that scores early and often, and then let the defense play aggressive in attempts to get to the quarterback.
With no Deuce McAllister to grind out games via the run, the Saints offense is fueled by their short, precise passing attack and when this is shut down, they are in trouble.
Defensively, the Saints did give an opponent over 100 yards rushing for the first time in eight weeks (133) to the Rams, but it was their pass coverage units that were victimized time and time again, and in particular starting cornerback Jason David.
This game looked to be a “comfort” game for the Saints and a surefire “W” in the win column, but in the NFL nothing should be taken for granted.
The loss to the Rams Sunday gives the New Orleans Saints very little room for error with 7 weeks left in the season.
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