LOS ANGELES (AP) – With Drew Brees watching from the sideline with an injured hand, the Los Angeles Rams didn’t need a no-call to beat the New Orleans Saints again.
Jared Goff passed for 283 yards and a touchdown and rushed for another score, and the Rams stopped New Orleans from scoring an offensive touchdown for the first time since 2016 during Los Angeles’ 27-9 victory Sunday in a rematch of last season’s NFC championship game.
The much-anticipated matchup changed dramatically when Brees was injured late in the first quarter. His throwing hand collided with Aaron Donald’s outstretched hand while he threw an incompletion on the Saints’ second drive, and the NFL’s career leader in yards passing spent the afternoon on the Coliseum sideline with his thumb heavily wrapped.
Teddy Bridgewater went 17 of 30 for 165 yards and Alvin Kamara rushed for just 45 yards for the Saints (1-1), who seemed discombobulated without their longtime quarterback. New Orleans didn’t score an offensive touchdown for only the fourth time in 13-plus seasons under coach Sean Payton, who got a lengthy contract extension before the game.
Todd Gurley rushed for 63 yards and scored his first touchdown of the season late in the third quarter of this rematch of the Rams’ 26-23 overtime win in New Orleans last January. That game turned on the infamous uncalled pass interference late in regulation by Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman, who had six tackles in the rematch.
This one also had refereeing drama that left the Saints steamed: New Orleans’ Cameron Jordan had a long fumble return for a touchdown wiped out in the second quarter. The play initially was ruled an incomplete pass before video review determined Goff had fumbled, but Jordan’s long return didn’t count because officials had blown the play dead.
But the Saints were crushed by 11 penalties for 87 yards, while the Rams’ offense recovered from a slow start to make three straight touchdown drives in the second half.
Shortly after Brandin Cooks caught a TD pass, Cooper Kupp made the play of the game with a spectacular 67-yard catch-and-run in the fourth quarter. Goff scored after Kupp was ruled down at the 1 by video review. Kupp finished with five catches for 120 yards, while Goff surpassed 10,000 career yards passing.
This matchup between two of the most prolific offenses in NFL history was definitely not a fireworks show, between Brees’ absence and the inconsistent performance of Los Angeles coach Sean McVay’s offense. The Rams failed to score a touchdown in the first half for only the third time in McVay’s tenure.
Donald also missed part of the first half with a back injury, but the two-time Defensive Player of the Year returned to lead the Rams’ impressive defensive effort.
Both teams had far too many. Along with Brees, the Saints lost left guard Andrus Peat to an ankle injury in the second half. Linebacker A.J. Klein also went to the locker room in the second half. Backup receiver Keith Kirkwood was ruled out with a hamstring injury in pregame warmups.
Beyond Donald’s temporary absence, the Rams lost two offensive starters: right guard Austin Blythe injured his ankle in the first half, and tight end Tyler Higbee incurred a chest injury early in the second half.
The game was the Rams’ final home opener at the 96-year-old Coliseum: They’ll move into SoFi Stadium in Inglewood next season. The Rams and Chargers unveiled the name of their multibillion-dollar complex before the game.
Saints: At the Seattle Seahawks next Sunday.
Rams: At the Cleveland Browns next Sunday.