Los Angeles Rams running back Kyren Williams (23) rushed for 104 yards and a touchdown during a 30-22 win over the New Orleans Saints on Thursday, December 21. 2023 (E. Mesiyah McGinnis/L.A. Sentinel)

The Los Angeles Rams started the season 3-6 going into their bye week but have looked like an entirely new unit heading into the end of December.

The Rams are clicking at the right time, going 5-1 in their last six games, including capturing a vital win over an NFC contender vying for one of the final Wild Card spots.

First-year receiver Puka Nacua continued his phenomenal rookie campaign recording nine catches for a career-high 164 yards and a touchdown, lifting the Rams to a 30-22 win over the New Orleans Saints on Thursday night at SoFi stadium.

“He’s outstanding. I couldn’t be more grateful for the contributions… He worries about just being a great teammate, continuing to improve his game, and sure loves this team. And he’s one of those guys that you really love,” said Rams coach Sean McVay on Nacua.

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Los Angeles (8-7) currently sits as the sixth seed in the NFC playoff picture with only two games remaining in the regular season. New Orleans fell to 7-8 with the loss after winning their last two games.

“We earned the opportunity to be at this point, in my opinion,” Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford said. “We’ve had stakes since the bye, so I’m just proud of the way these guys have put their head down, gone to work and shown up.”

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Demarcus Robinson (15) had six catches for 82 yards and a touchdown during a 30-22 win over the New Orleans Saints on Thursday, December 21. 2023 (E. Mesiyah McGinnis/L.A. Sentinel)

Stafford passed for 328 yards and two touchdowns and Kyren Williams rushed for 104 yards and a score, becoming first Rams running back since Todd Gurley to rush for over 1,000 yards in a season.

Williams has missed four games this season after an ankle injury and still managed to reach the 1K milestone as 49ers Christian McCaffrey is the only other player to do so this year.

“We’re different when he plays,” said McVay on Williams, who rushed for over 100 yards for the fourth time in five games.

“You look at the amount of work that we’re giving him. For him to be able to get his body turned over on a Thursday night, to have the production that he had, to play with the toughness, it’s been outstanding and there’s a lot of guys that are in that mold,” added McVay. “But Kyren Williams, I’m so happy for him. It’s just awesome to see him get his flowers that he deserves.”

Stafford led a 14-play 95-yard drive that resulted in a two-yard score to Nacua to give the Rams a 7-0 lead in the first quarter.

Los Angeles finished with 458 total yards and held the Saints to only 35 rushing yards, compared to 133 for the Rams. Demarcus Robinson had six catches for 82 yards and a touchdown while Cooper Kupp added six receptions for 52 yards.

“He’s doing a great job of getting open. I’m trying to put the ball in good spots and he’s making plays. That’s what it boils down to and he’s done a heck of a job,” said Stafford on Robinson.

Saints play-caller Derek Carr threw for 319 yards, three touchdowns, and an interception, including a 45-yard score to Rashid Shaheed to make it 10-7 in the second quarter. Chris Olave led New Orleans with nine receptions for 123 yards while Alvin Kamara was held in check by tallying only 35 total yards.

New Orleans Saints tight end Juwan Johnson (83) had four catches for 48 yards and a touchdown during a 30-22 loss against the Los Angeles Rams on Thursday, December 21. 2023 (E. Mesiyah McGinnis/L.A. Sentinel)

Stafford connected with Robinson on a four-yard score in the second quarter to give the Rams a 17-7 lead halftime lead.

“We certainly would have liked to start the game and play better, but we didn’t,” Saints coach Dennis Allen said. “We’re not into the percentages. We let an opportunity go by, and now we have to get ready for the things we can control. We’ll regroup. We’re still in this thing.”

Williams found the end zone on a 10-yard rushing score in the third to extend the Rams advantage to 27-7 with 5:42 left in the period.

The Saints scored on back-to-back possessions in the fourth once Carr connected with Juwan Johnson and A.T. Perry for touchdowns, also converting a 2-point conversion to Olave, cutting their deficit to eight with 3:53 remaining.

Nacua, who was the most explosive weapon for the Rams all night, recovered an onside kick, then got the game-sealing first down on a nine-yard jet sweep, which allowed Los Angeles to run out the clock for their fourth consecutive home win.

“We sure make it interesting, don’t we?” McVay asked following the game. “But I love the resilience of this group. They just continue to show up. I thought there was a lot of really good stuff throughout the course of this game.”

Los Angeles will next travel to New York to face the Giants (5-9) on New Year’s Eve at 10:00 a.m.