Sunday, November 11, 2007
By Nick Wagoner
Senior Writer

NEW ORLEANS – The wait is over. On the most unlikely of days, the Rams came away with a victory.

St. Louis dominated the Saints for most of Sunday’s game at the Superdome on its way to a 37-29 win.

Coming off a bye against a team with four consecutive wins, not many expected the Rams to find a win in the Big Easy, but that’s how the Rams made it look against the Saints.

The offense was sharp, the defense was stout and the Rams started their second season the way they had hoped.

The Rams are now 1-8 on the season and the Saints drop to 4-5 with the loss.

First Quarter

After winning the opening toss, the Saints wasted no time driving to take a lead, driving 73 yards on four plays in just over two minutes. The help of a questionable 37-yard pass interference call against cornerback Fakhir Brown set up a 7-yard touchdown run by running back Reggie Bush.

Olindo Mare’s extra point made it 7-0 Saints with 12:45 to go in the first quarter.

The Rams got off to a rough start, going three and out on their first drive, but safety Oshiomogho Atogwe gave them a spark by coming up with an interception on the second play of the ensuing possessions.

The offense used that to put together its best drive on the road this season, marching down the field to set up a 1-yard touchdown plunge by running back Steven Jackson. Quarterback Marc Bulger was sharp on the drive, connecting on all five pass attempts for 49 yards. The extra point from kicker Jeff Wilkins tied it at 7 with 2:58 to go in the quarter.

The Saints got right back into scoring position as Pierre Thomas returned the kickoff 64 yards to the St. Louis 33. The entire left side of the Rams’ coverage unit collapsed and Thomas’ cutback would have led to a touchdown were it not for the containment by Wilkins.

With its back against the wall, the defense stepped up again. This time, an intentional grounding call on Drew Brees and a sack for a forced fumble by linebacker Will Witherspoon killed any chance at a score and the Saints had to punt.

The Rams took over on their 20 with 1:24 to go in the quarter. Rob Petitti replaced Brandon Gorin at right tackle to open the drive. Petitti got repetitions with the first team at that spot.

The Rams got a first down and have the ball at the New Orleans 30 to end the quarter.

Second Quarter

The Rams picked up where they left off in the first quarter, piecing together one of their finest drives of the season. St. Louis marched 80 yards on 14 plays in seven minutes, 47 seconds and capped the drive with a toss from Jackson to tight end Randy McMichael for a 2-yard touchdown.

Wilkins’ extra point gave the Rams their first lead on the road this season at 14-7 with 8:37 to go in the half. Bulger continues to sizzle, completing 11 of 13 for 116 yards.

Momentum continued to swing in the Rams’ favor as they came up with yet another turnover. On second down, Brees was pressured into forcing a pass down the field. This time, linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa was in the right place and came away with an interception. His return gave the Rams the ball at the Saints’ 40.

The offense couldn’t take full advantage, but did come away with points when Wilkins hit from 49 yards out to give the Rams a 17-7 lead with 5:37 to go in the half.

The defense came up with another stop with the help of a 9-yard aborted play and a 6-yard tackle for loss by linebacker Brandon Chillar. The Rams took over at their 16 with 1:52 to go in the half.

St. Louis ran out the clock and will get the ball first to open the second half holding a 17-7 lead.

Third Quarter

The Rams opened the third quarter with another impressive drive, but couldn’t finish the deal again as they came up with just a 21-yard field goal to make it 20-7 Rams with 8:55 left in the third quarter.

The key play of the drive was a 41-yard connection from Bulger to Holt to set up the field goal.

Momentum soon became domination for the Rams as the defense came up with another stop, this time drilling Bush for a 1-yard loss when New Orleans inexplicably went for it on fourth down. Clifton Ryan held the point of attack and Pisa Tinoisamoa dropped Bush for a loss at the New Orleans 47.

The Rams wasted no time taking advantage this time. An 18-yard strike to Isaac Bruce, a 17-yard bullet to McMichael and a 9-yard strike to Bruce in the corner of the end zone gave the Rams another touchdown. Wilkins hit the extra point for a 27-7 lead with 4:43 to go in the quarter.

The defense continued its domination, coming up with a three and out and setting up the Rams with the ball again. Bulger continued to fire on the money and Antonio Pittman broke a 43-yard run, the longest of the season for a Ram, to give St. Louis the ball at the New Orleans’ 1.

The defense has held the Saints to 95 total yards through three quarters and the Rams lead it 27-7 at the end of the third.

Fourth Quarter

The Rams’ second play in the fourth quarter resulted in another touchdown, this time a 3-yard strike from Bulger to Drew Bennett. The extra point gave the Rams a commanding 34-7 lead with 14:18 to play.

New Orleans put together its first scoring drive since the opening possession as Brees found tight end Billy Miller for a 1-yard touchdown. Bush ran it in for the 2-point conversion to cut the Rams’ lead to 34-15 with 11:36 to play.

The Rams moved into New Orleans territory but were stopped and had to punt. Donnie Jones dropped an excellent punt inside the 10 and Eric Bassey downed it at the 4, giving the Saints a big field to work with.

New Orleans scored again after a crazy, 11-play, 96-yard drive that ended when Aaron Stecker scored from 2 yards out. The conversion attempt failed, though, and the Rams lead 34-21 with 4:42 to go.

The Saints attempted an onsides kick on the next kickoff. The ball went out of bounds, though and the Rams got it back.

The offense opted to keep the ball on the ground and run the clock as the Saints had long since spent their final timeout.

The Rams drove to the New Orleans 26 and settled for a 44-yard field goal from Wilkins to make it 37-21 with 1:55 to go. New Orleans got the ball back and drove immediately into St. Louis territory as Marques Colston made fantasy owners happy with plenty of garbage time yards and catches.

Brees hit Eric Johnson for a 7-yard touchdown and Bush scored the two-point conversion to cut it to 37-29 with 32 seconds to go.

The Saints attempted another onsides kick, this time Dane Looker recovered to ice the victory.