Rams @ Saints
Final Score: Saints 27, Rams 20
Writer: Justin Havelock (@HavelockJustin on Twitter)
The Los Angeles Rams have now lost four consecutive games for the first time in head coach Sean McVay’s tenure. The reigning Super Bowl champions lost their quarterback Matthew Stafford to yet another concussion, only a week after losing wide receiver Cooper Kupp.
Meanwhile, head coach Dennis Allen’s New Orleans Saints were able to move the sticks with ease against a formidable Rams defense in an attempt to claw their way back into the race for the NFC South division title. This turducken-style Saints offense lived up to its origins with Thanksgiving around the corner, as the Louisiana delicacy was first popularized by the legendary John Madden during a 1996 New Orleans Saints home game against the then-St. Louis Rams.
Los Angeles Rams
Matthew Stafford: 11/18, 159 Yards, 2 TD | 1 Carry, 4 Yards
Bryce Perkins: 5/10, 64 Yards | 5 Carries, 39 Yards
Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford threw an absolute bomb on a deep pass to wide receiver Tutu Atwell in the first quarter.
Matthew Stafford. Tutu Atwell. 62 yards! #RamsHouse
— NFL (@NFL) November 20, 2022
Stafford was able to move the ball well early versus the New Orleans Saints defense with wide receivers Allen Robinson and Van Jefferson while leaning heavily on the Rams’ run game. However, after a sack by linebacker Demario Davis, Stafford left in the third quarter with a concussion and did not return.
Bryce Perkins only completed five of his ten pass attempts after taking over for Stafford in the third quarter. He struggled to move through his progressions at first, as he missed spotting Robinson open for a first down or at least a second and short. Not long after he had both Ben Skowronek and tight end Brycen Hopkins open inside the red zone, but appeared to hesitate to get the ball out of his hands. Late in the fourth quarter, Perkins may have found his confidence as he delivered two of his best passes of the game on consecutive throws to Tyler Higbee and Robinson.
The 25-year-old quarterback actually managed to out-carry Darrell Henderson Jr. this week and after Perkins put up 7.8 Yards Per Carry (YPC) against the Saints, it will be interesting to see if he continues to siphon work away from the backfield in a conservative Sean McVay offense.
Cam Akers: 14 Carries, 61 Yards
Kyren Williams: 7 Carries, 36 Yards | 2 Targets, 1 Reception, 8 Yards
Darrell Henderson Jr.: 2 Carries, 9 Yards
Cam Akers had a solid but unspectacular day as the lead back, rushing for 4.3 YPC against a Saints’ run defense that has allowed an average of 132.1 rushing yards per game (22nd in the NFL). The highlight of his day came on a 13-yard run in the second quarter. After Matthew Stafford ran the ball himself to set up 4th & inches, Akers broke a tackle from Demario Davis to pick up the first down and then some. There was likely still some mistrust here from head coach Sean McVay, as Akers only saw the one play on third and fourth down situations, and eight of his carries came with a fresh set of downs.
Kyren Williams immediately set the tone on his first play, rushing for a first down on 3rd & 1. This would be the first of three consecutive carries for Williams on this drive, and in the second half, he picked up a more even share of the workload with four implied touches to Akers’ five. Williams collected four out of the five backfield carries that came on third and fourth downs, as well as all three carries on second or third and long.
His explosiveness was on full display throughout the game as he ran for 5.1 YPC, including this 17-yard rush on 3rd & 10.
Since returning from the Injured Reserve in Week 10, the 22-year-old fifth-round pick has had four receptions on five targets and 38 receiving yards. Over the past two weeks, Akers and Darrell Henderson Jr. have combined for one reception on two targets and 11 receiving yards. Williams also earned the only red zone touch by the Rams’ backfield all-day. We may be seeing a shift soon to a new lead back in Los Angeles.
Henderson opened the game with back-to-back carries before spending the rest of his day on the sidelines as a benchwarmer. No fumble. No tackle-for-loss that was called back on a penalty. No injury (or at least none reported at the time of publishing). Williams simply appeared to overtake him as the backup to Akers this week.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Tutu Atwell: 1 Target, 1 Reception, 62 Yards, TD
Allen Robinson II: 5 Targets, 4 Receptions, 47 Yards, TD
Tyler Higbee: 8 Targets, 4 Receptions, 45 Yards
Van Jefferson: 5 Targets, 3 Receptions, 41 Yards
Brandon Powell: 1 Carry, -1 Yard | 2 Targets, 2 Receptions, 16 Yards
Ben Skowronek: 4 Targets, 1 Reception, 4 Yards
Tutu Atwell led the entire Los Angeles Rams offense in scrimmage yards with just one target. This may not bode well for the Rams after superstar Cooper Kupp suffered a high ankle sprain last week and is likely done for the season. Atwell showcased his speed on the 62-yard touchdown though, bursting out of the gate on the opening play of the drive, he outran a pair of defenders on the catch-and-run into the endzone.
Allen Robinson looked sharp early in the game with quarterback Matthew Stafford. He caught a 9-yard pass for a first down on 3rd & 1 to keep the drive alive going into halftime. He would later score on the same drive as Stafford threw a short pass on his first read for the touchdown to give the Rams the lead at the end of the first half. His sole incompletion was on a deep pass in press coverage. Robinson wound up off-balance and dove for the ball but was unable to bring it in.
Stafford finds @AllenRobinson for the second TD of the game!
— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) November 20, 2022
Tyler Higbee struggled to get open against the Saints’ secondary all day as they were intent on shutting him down and taking a key weapon away from Stafford. His longest catch of the day actually came from Perkins late in the fourth quarter. On 3rd & 11, Higbee ran a slant with his quarterback under pressure and caught a nice 20-yard strike from Perkins.
Van Jefferson had a much better day than his box score indicates. His only two incompletions of the day came on a would-be first-down catch that was knocked out by cornerback Alontae Taylor and a tight pass along the sidelines that went out of bounds. He pulled off a smooth double move on a Post Sit route in the second quarter for a 16-yard gain. Two plays later, Stafford went back to Jefferson who got inside on Chris Harris to make a 20-yard catch. Jefferson was not targeted once by Perkins after Stafford left with an injury in the third quarter.
Brandon Powell saw almost as many carries as Darrell Henderson Jr. this week. He also had a catch in the red zone from Stafford that would have been a first down but was instead called back due to an offensive holding penalty. Powell later caught a checkdown pass from Perkins that was good for 12 Yards After Catch (YAC).
In the second quarter, Ben Skowronek caught a short pass from Stafford on 3rd & 6, but he was quickly tackled by Demario Davis to prevent the first down. Stafford later overthrew Skowronek as he tried to throw on the run, however, the wide receiver could barely get a hand on the ball. The switch in quarterbacks to Perkins hurt Skowronek even more as Kaden Elliss nearly intercepted one target and another was wildly overthrown on a high pass.
New Orleans Saints
Andy Dalton: 21/25, 260 Yards, 3 TD | 2 Carries, -2 Yards
Taysom Hill: 1/3, 14 Yards | 9 Carries, 52 Yards | 1 Target, 1 Reception, 8 Yards
Quarterback Andy Dalton had a career day against the Los Angeles Rams. Dalton finished the game with four incomplete passes and three touchdown passes. An absurd stat in any game but especially with Aaron Donald and the Rams’ defense on the other side of the ball.
Andy Dalton today: 84% of passes completed (career high), 149.6 passer rating (career high), 3 TDs, 0 INTs
— Katherine Terrell (@Kat_Terrell) November 20, 2022
The Red Rifle took three sacks this week, including a play from linebacker Leonard Floyd that bordered on unfair as the ball had barely been snapped when the Saints’ quarterback was tackled (a perfectly legal play, but this speed was downright unfair).
.@Leonard90Flo with the timely sack! 😤
— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) November 20, 2022
Teammate Taysom Hill was in peak-Inspector Gadget mode in Week 11, with a pass attempt to Juwan Johnson, a near-touchdown to Jarvis Landry, and a 14-yard completion for a first down on his first read to Chris Olave. Hill also rushed for 5.7 YPC, with all of his running plays coming under centre, as the Saints continually confused the Rams’ defense by alternating between their quarterbacks and getting Hill involved in the passing and receiving games as well. Even his one reception managed to convert a first down. The multi-talented football player was like the turducken of the NFL in this game.
Alvin Kamara: 12 Carries, 42 Yards | 5 Targets, 4 Receptions, 47 Yards
David Johnson: 1 Carry, -4 Yards | 1 Target, 1 Reception, 11 Yards
Alvin Kamara may have been quiet on the ground with only 3.5 YPC, but that happens sometimes when going up against the fourth-best run defense in the NFL, which has allowed an average of only 95.3 rushing yards per game this season and featured Aaron Donald in the front four. His longest play on the ground was an 11-yard carry, very uncharacteristic of the superstar running back, but *insert your choice of position here* Taysom Hill may have also capped Kamara’s performance as he vultured nine carries away from this backfield.
Two of Kamara’s receptions came with him lined up in the slot and he delivered on both catches for 15- & 13-yard gains. He also took a checkdown pass for 15-yards in the third quarter. Good things tend to happen more often without Aaron Donald staring you down.
It wasn’t until the third quarter that the newly signed David Johnson played his first snap with the New Orleans Saints. His only carry of the game was a hefty tackle for loss as Donald cleanly beat offensive tackle Ryan Ramczyk to stuff the veteran running back. Although Johnson would redeem himself in the fourth quarter by racking up 12 YAC on a checkdown from Dalton. After the Saints cut running backs Jordan Howard and Derrick Gore earlier in the week, Johnson may have earned the backup role here while Mark Ingram is out with an MCL sprain.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Chris Olave: 6 Targets, 5 Receptions, 102 Yards, TD
Juwan Johnson: 4 Targets, 3 Receptions, 47 Yards, TD
Jarvis Landry: 4 Targets, 3 Receptions, 33 Yards, TD
Adam Trautman: 3 Targets, 3 Receptions, 12 Yards
Rashid Shaheed: 2 Targets, 1 Reception, 8 Yards
Marquez Callaway: 1 Target, 1 Reception, 6 Yards
Rookie Chris Olave was the biggest beneficiary of a huge day from quarterback Andy Dalton. Four out of his five catches went for at least a 12-yard gain, including this 53-yard touchdown. Olave’s lone incompletion came late in the fourth quarter as he stumbled and fell, unable to get to the pass. The young wideout is already one of the league’s best wide receivers, what more can I say?
CHRIS OLAVE IS SPECIAL 🔥
— NFL (@NFL) November 20, 2022
Despite only putting up three receptions in this game Juwan Johnson repeatedly came up clutch for New Orleans. Johnson made a 26-yard catch-and-run after being left wide open on 3rd & 1 and may have scored a touchdown on the play if he had been able to stay in bounds. Shortly after an incompletion that was overthrown by Hill, Johnson stayed on the inside of Ramsey in the endzone for a touchdown. This would be his fifth receiving touchdown in his last five games. In the third quarter, on 2nd & 23, the hybrid tight end and wide receiver had another big play as Dalton threw into a tight window, under pressure, and Johnson created a 13-yard gain with three defenders bearing down on him.
Jarvis Landry had just one target in the first half and it came from Taysom Hill. Hill appeared to have Landry in the endzone but a pass defended by Rapp prevented the touchdown. In the second half, the 29-year-old wide receiver cut off a pass from Dalton early to avoid a contested catch situation on 2nd & 14 and delivered his team a key first down. On the very next play, he caught his first touchdown with the Saints. Landry kept Rapp behind him all the way into the endzone and finished with a strong body catch for the score. His final catch of the day also came inside the red zone to set up a 1st & Goal in the fourth quarter.
Jarvis Landry has a touchdown! @God_Son80
— NFL (@NFL) November 20, 2022
On New Orleans’ opening drive Adam Trautman made a well-contested catch on 3rd & 3 that would have been a first down if Jalen Ramsey hadn’t forced him to establish possession late, bringing the ball back a couple of yards. All three of Trautman’s receptions came in the first quarter, in fact, with another pair of short passes amounting to his receiving work for the day.
Rashid Shaheed came up short on a flat in the first quarter after he was tied up by linebacker Justin Hollins. His next target wouldn’t come until the fourth quarter. After Dalton took a sack inside the red zone, Shaheed caught a quick pass on 3rd & Goal and showed off some of the YAC dominance he has started to become known for this season.
The only target of the day for Marquez Callaway came late in the fourth quarter with the Saints backed up deep in their own end. The recent return of Landry to the lineup had Callaway battling fellow wide receivers Tre’Quan Smith and Kevin White at the bottom of the depth chart. Callaway was a healthy scratch just last week.