In the Rams’ final home opener in the Coliseum before heading into their new Inglewood stadium in 2020, Los Angeles jumped at the opportunity of picking up a statement win in its NFC championship game rematch against the New Orleans Saints.
A controversial no-call by Los Angeles cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman resulted in New Orleans falling short of a Super Bowl birth last year — Los Angeles wanted to prove their win was no fluke and did just that — this time routing the shorthanded Saints 27-9 on Sunday.
“Every win is a big win, but today was a very important win,” Robey-Coleman said. “It was a win that basically just closed all the chatter and the naysaying.”
Los Angeles (2-0) totaled 380 yards from scrimmage while New Orleans (1-1) was held to 244, as they fell short of scoring a touchdown for the first time since 2016.
Rams Quarterback Jared Goff passed for 283 yards and a touchdown and rushed for another score, while Saints leader and play caller Drew Brees left the game and did not return after injuring his right thumb in the first quarter.
Los Angeles Running back Todd Gurley rushed for 63 yards and scored his first touchdown of the season, Cooper Kupp had five receptions for 120 yards, and Brandin Cooks had three catches for 74 yards and a touchdown to round out the receivers.
“I told him I’m hoping for the best,” Goff said after speaking with Brees postgame. “He’s a great player for this league, a face of the league, and somebody we need in the league.”
“There is only so much you can do here as far as a doctor seeing it on the sideline,” Brees said. “Hoping it is not too significant.”
Brees replacement, Teddy Bridgewater went 17 of 30 for 165 yards. Saints tailback Alvin Kamara rushed for only 45 yards and was held in check from start to finish.
New Orleans hurt themselves throughout the game and ultimately saw 11 penalties turn away 87 total yards, nonetheless, Los Angeles ‘defense proved to be the aggressors.
Rams Safety John Johnson III set the tone early in the first period, as he picked off Brees for an interception after Saints Tight end Jared Cook took a vicious hit from defensive veteran Eric Weddle.
“It is going to be a hard film to watch for guys,” Saints head coach Sean Payton said. “We got whipped up front.”
Just as the last time these two teams met back in January, drama spilled onto the field once more, with questions being directed at decision making by some of the officials.
Midway through the second quarter, a play originally ruled an incomplete pass by Goff was determined to be a fumble on replay, recovered by the New Orleans, but Cameron Jordan’s 87-yard scoop and score for a touchdown was negated because the play had been blown dead.
“Normally you let the play happen. Any Foot Locker — I mean, referee — usually tells you, you let the play happen, then you go back and review the play,” Jordan said frustratingly post game.
After both teams combined to score only nine points in the first half and the Rams holding a slight (6-3) halftime lead, Los Angeles quickly caught a groove offensively and never looked back.
Gurley capped off a nine-play, 75-yard drive with a four-yard rushing score with five minutes remaining in the third. Four minutes later, Cooks caught a two-yard touchdown pass to give Los Angeles a commanding 20-6 lead.
In the fourth quarter, Kupp made the play of the game with a stellar 67-yard catch-and-run that helped Goff reach 10,000 career passing yards. Kupp fell just shy of the endzone, which then allowed Goff to finish the drive with a one-yard score, resulting in a Rams 27-9 victory.
“I loved the way that our group responded in the second half,” said Rams Head coach Sean McVay. “Made a lot of big plays and ultimately, it’s about getting the win as a team and we did that.”
The Rams travel to Cleveland (1-1) next Sunday for a prime-time matchup against the Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium. Kick-off is scheduled for 5:20 P.M.