New Orleans, La.
Date: Sunday, December 12, 2010
3:05 p.m. Central Time
Type Of Turf: Artificial
Meeting Of The Year: Only
St. Louis 6-6-0
New Orleans 9-3-0
Season Record Vs. Spread:
St. Louis 9-3-0
New Orleans 5-7-0
St. Louis (R) 2-4-0
New Orleans (H) 4-2-0
Home/Road Record Vs. Spread:
St. Louis (R) 5-1-0
New Orleans (H) 3-3-0
Record On Artificial Turf:
St. Louis 4-3-0
New Orleans 6-2-0
Record On Artificial Turf Vs. Spread:
St. Louis 4-3-0
New Orleans 3-5-0
2010-12-08 16:11:58 -
The New Orleans Saints' ground attack and Drew Brees' big plays late in games have allowed the defending champions to extend their winning streak to five.
The team's defense, though, may need to step it up if the Saints hope to extend their longest run of the season Sunday against the visiting St. Louis Rams.
After leading New Orleans to a 30-27 victory over Dallas with just under two minutes left Nov. 25, Brees again rallied his club last week as he recorded the 14th regular-season comeback of his career.
The Saints (9-3) blew a 20-6 third-quarter lead at Cincinnati and trailed by three with 4:25 remaining, but Brees responded by leading a 68-yard drive that ended with a 3-yard scoring pass to Marques Colston. Brees was able to get the Bengals to jump offsides on the previous play, converting a fourth-and-2 situation, before lifting his team to a 34-30 victory.
The comeback was needed because New Orleans struggled on defense for the second straight week. The Saints couldn't hold down the lowly Bengals one week after allowing 457 yards to the Cowboys.
New Orleans also committed 11 penalties for 100 yards.
"We have to figure it out and get it fixed because the schedule only gets tougher,'' cornerback Tracy Porter said. ``We're pulling it out (lately), but if we continue to make these mistakes and teams continue to capitalize on them more and more, they're going to make us pay in the end.''
One area that doesn't seem to need much work is the running game, as rookie Chris Ivory had 117 yards on 15 carries with two touchdowns against Cincinnati. He also rushed for two scores the previous week and has run for 636 yards on the season, averaging 5.2 yards per carry.
With Reggie Bush having returned last week and Pierre Thomas poised to come back after missing nine straight games with a sprained ankle, New Orleans should have plenty of depth in the backfield.
"Chris has done a number of good things and I don't want to affect his snap count at all in regards to his carries," said coach Sean Payton, whose team is averaging 30.4 points during the win streak. "We'll be smart about who's up and then having the plan that we think is best for our team, but certainly has earned the reps that he's getting now."
Payton's team may need all the help it can get against the improving Rams (6-6), who have won two straight to move atop the NFC West. They defeated Arizona 19-6 on Sunday with an outstanding defensive effort, shutting out the Cardinals the last three quarters and finishing with four sacks and two interceptions.
"If you have the right guys, and they jell together, and they support each other, usually all that kind of stuff comes out," coach Steve Spagnuolo said. "I think that's what our team is doing. Most of all, I think these guys like playing with each other."
The victory was the second in a row on the road for St. Louis, which hasn't won three consecutive road games since Nov. 16-Dec. 8, 2003. The Rams have won four in a row and six of seven at the Superdome, though they haven't played there since 2007.
"I think we're starting to understand the sense of urgency that the month of December has," defensive end James Hall said. "Every game is going to be a big game, and every game is going to be a hard-fought game."
St. Louis (6-6) is tied for ninth in scoring defense with 19.8 points allowed per game after finishing 31st last season. The Rams are allowing opponents to convert 31.8 percent on third downs - second best in the NFL - and will take on a Saints team that has the second-highest third-down conversion rate at 47.7 percent.
Steven Jackson, who ran for 102 yards and a touchdown against the Cardinals, will face a New Orleans team that has allowed 240 yards and five touchdowns on the ground over the last two weeks.
Jackson is 15 yards shy of his sixth consecutive 1,000-yard rushing season.
New Orleans held on to win the most recent meeting with St. Louis 28-23 last Nov. 15. Brees threw two interceptions in addition to 223 yards and two touchdowns, but the Saints rushed for 203 yards and won despite being outgained 434-420.
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