Rams 27, Saints 9

Saints vs. Rams: The good, bad & ugly

New Orleans Saints Twitter

The 2019 NFC Championship game "rematch" played out to the tune of a 27-9 Saints loss. The games all mean something. This one means the Rams will have the tiebreaker should it come down to that in the playoff race...if the Saints make it. Here are my observations:

The Good

-Cam Jordan continues to show why he's one of the top defensive lineman in the game. Five tackles, a sack, a tackle for loss, a QB hit, and a fumble recovery. He shoudl've also had a touchdown, but more on that later. The Saints extended him this past June to reward him and keep him around because they know how valuable he is to this defense.

-Speaking of the defense, they managed to hold Todd Gurley and the Rams to only 115 yards rushing. Considering they gave up 180 yards last week to a team that doesn't have an All Pro running back, this was a win.

-Teddy Bridgewater came in for Drew Brees and played as well as one would expect of a guy who's only thrown a handful of passes in the past few years. While he didn't get the win, he did the best he could under the circumstances. No turnovers and only took two sacks.

The Bad

-On the fifth play of the game, Brees was intercepted when Jarret Cook bobbled a pass after a big hit and John Johnson was in the right spot at the right time. To compound the problem, Marshon Lattimore gave up a 57 yard bomb to Brandin Cooks on 3rd&16. Marcus Williams looked like he was supposed to help over the top. All this within the first five minutes.

-The third possession of the game was marred by penalties. Two accepted and one declined that ultimately resulted in a failed screen pass on 3rd&28. Drive started at the 50 yard line and ended with a punt from their own 48. Discipline kills penalties and the Saints need it after totaling 10 accepted penalties for 77 yards.

-Missed tackles plagued the defense. The score was 20-9 in the 4th quarter when Cooper Kupp took a slant 67 yards to the one yard line. Their perfromance against the run game would've been better had they wrapped up Rams runners. They played well, but it wasn't enough considering the circumstances on offense.

The Ugly

-Brees went down with a thumb injury to his passing hand in the 1st quarter. Bridgewater had to come in relief. Depending on how severe the injury is will determine the Saints' chances this season. Bridgewater is a capable guy, but he hasn't played much since his near career ending leg injury.

-Another Saints/Rams game, another terrible call by the refs. In the 2nd quarter, Trey Hendrickson caused Goff to fumble, Jordan recovered and returned it for a touchdown, but the ref blew the play dead when the ball was loose ruling it incomplete.That took points off the board. Mike Pereira, the former league vice president of officiating, said on the Fox broadcast that they should let the play go on when it's that close of a call.

-Players seemed to have lost their juice after the Brees injury. Penalties, missed tackles. Hell, even Michael Thomas dropped a key 3rd down catch. No matter what happens, you must remained focused. I'm not saying they gave up, but they didn't seem to play with the same. Maybe they were mind-bleeped by the fact that their Hall of Fame quarterback wasn't coming back. Something seemed a little off.

The Brees injury was a game changer, literally. The blown call by the refs was too, but Sean Payton compounded it by going for it on 4th down and not converting instead of punting. Watching this Saints team moving forward will be interesting to say the least. How much, if any, time will Brees miss? Will Bridgewater be able to lead them to the playoffs if Brees is out for an extended period of time? Or will this team be destined for a top draft pick? Maybe a new franchise quarterback is on the horizon? Too many questions. Not enough answers.

NFL PR has more than a Myles Garrett Problem

Gut reaction to Browns - Steelers: Ugly brawl, hits yet another bad look

Getty images

As I watched Myles Garrett being punched and kicked on the ground by Pittsburgh Steelers offensive linemen, I couldn't help but feel bad for the NFL public relations team. Last night's game was a PR nightmare. What will dominate sports headlines for the foreseeable future is Myles Garrett's inexcusable action where he tore the helmet off Mason Rudolph and then proceeded to use that helmet as a weapon to strike Rudolph on the head. However the unfortunate truth is that the game was a PR mess before that brawl even started.

For the past few years the NFL has had issues with its image on topics ranging from substance abuse problems to the game being regarded as "unsafe." Here is a recap of all the issues the Browns – Steelers match-up couldn't help but showcase last night.

Headlines prior to the game starting:

  • Cleveland RB Kareem Hunt – Headlines about Hunt returning back from suspension for "multiple physical altercations". Though his first game back was Nov 10th against Buffalo, we are still in the first week of his return and pre-game talk was focused on his history.
  • Cleveland WR Antonio Callaway – Was released by the team before the game for violating the substance-abuse policy. Though he will appeal the upcoming 10 game suspension, the team decided to waive the WR immediately.

Injuries:

  • Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster – Exited the game in the 2nd quarter after absorbing two simultaneous helmet-to-helmet hits. Smith-Schuster appeared to be motionless on the ground for some time.
  • Steelers WR Diontae Johnson – Exited the game in the 3rd quarter after taking a brutal helmet-to-helmet shot from Browns Safety Damarious Randall. Randall was ejected for the hit and we all got to watch Johnson be helped off the field while blood was gushing from his ear.
  • Steelers RB James Conner – Was playing in his first game back from injury, appears to have re-injured his shoulder in the 2nd quarter.

It is worth noting here that the Steelers were already missing QB Ben Roethlisberger who is out for the season with an elbow injury. As a result of these injuries the Steelers offense was unable to function for most of the game. Backup Quarterback Mason Rudolph finished with 4 interceptions and a 10.8 QBR.

The Brawl:

  • Cleveland DE Myles Garret – Will most likely be suspended for the rest of the year for his actions. The Brawl started when Garret threw Rudolph to the ground in what looked like a late hit to the QB. Rudolph's actions to escalate the situation cannot be overlooked, but for Garret to use a helmet as a weapon was completely inexcusable.
  • Pittsburgh QB Mason Rudolph – Rudolph came off as the victim but my gut tells me he will be punished as well. Rudolph took issue with Garret's late hit and is caught on tape trying to pull Garret's helmet off first. Also, as Garret is being pulled away it is Rudolph who runs at Garret to restart the fight. Rudolph called the helmet hit "cowardly" and "bush league" in the post-game press conference but his own actions may fall into that bush-league category.
  • Browns DE Larry Ogunjobi – Came in after he saw Rudolph get hit on the head with the helmet and than proceeded to push Rudolph to the ground from behind… That one left me scratching my head.
  • Pittsburgh Offensive Linemen Maurkice Pouncey & David DeCastro – After Garret struck Rudolph, Pouncey and DeCastro threw Garret to the ground where they repeatedly punched and kicked him. Of all the actions that took place, this one at least made sense as the line was defending their QB. However that probably won't stop suspensions and fines from heading their way. The whole "start a fight after your QB gets hit" thing may need to be re-examined if these guys miss significant time.

The trend we are seeing in the US is that more and more parents are refusing to let their children play football for fear of it being an unsafe and dangerous game. The NFL has been doing everything in its power to fight against that image, but Thursday's game was a failure on all fronts.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome