Rams (and refs) beat the Saints in OT

The good, bad and ugly of the NFC Championship game

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These teams combined for 80 points in their week nine matchup. They combined to score a bit more than half of that amount this time as the Rams are onto Atlanta courtesy of a 26-23 overtime shocker. Here's how I saw it:

The Good

-Both Seans showed their penchant for gambling in the first quarter. Saints' Payton drew the Rams offsides on 4th & 2; Rams' McVey faked a punt for a passing first down. This was a matchup of two highly innovative offensive play callers: one the proven vet, the other a prodigy. The defensive coordinator matchup (Dennis Allen of the Saints and Wade Phillips of the Rams) was fun to watch as well.

-Saints running back Alvin Kamara was a matchup nightmare. Drew Brees found him 11 times for 96 yards. He routinely made the Rams defense look bad no matter how they tried to defend him. Prime example was the wheel route he caught for a 21-yard gain.

-Rams quarterback Goff outdueled Brees when it counted most. He was able to make several plays in the fourth quarter and overtime. His throw on 2nd down when he was in the grasp of Cam Jordan to gain yards was clutch. It put them within field goal range and ultimately won the game for them.

The Bad

-Saints tight end Dan Arnold dropped a touchdown pass in the first quarter. Brees put it on the money with two defenders nearby. Arnold caught it and dropped it as he was falling to the ground. It forced a field goal try. Four points can make a huge difference in games like these.

-Rams didn't force a Saints punt until midway through the second quarter. The Saints couldn't convert a couple possessions into touchdowns, but were able to maintain a two score lead. The Rams put themselves behind the eightball early again.

-The Saints offensive line couldn't keep Brees clean enough all game. He was sacked twice and was forced into throwing a crushing interception in overtime. Left guard Andrus Peat played through a broken hand that he just had surgery to correct two weeks ago. The Rams pass rush exposed this line's deficiencies.

The Ugly

-Rams linebacker Cory Litteton gave Saints tight end Josh Hill a forearm shiver to the head in the first quarter. Hill went out under concussion protocol, but there was no flag on Littleton. Saints were already without Benjamin Watson at tight end.

-Rams running back Todd Gurley must still be injured. His play has been limited the last few weeks. When he has played, he hasn't made an impact. He dropped a pass that Saints linebacker Demario Davis intercepted and led to a field goal. Another dropped pass would've been a for sure first down, if not a touchdown, and forced the Rams to kick a field goal.

-The refs missed several calls, but what's new. Saints defensive end Cam Jordan appeared to have horse collared Rams Quarterback Jared Goff. Rams corner Nickell Robey-Coleman clearly held Saints wideout Tedd Ginn Jr on a third down incompletion. But the missed pass interference call against Robey-Coleman on Tommylee Lewis was blatant!

Another NFC Championship game in New Orleans and another overtime thriller. The Saints had the game in their hands, only to have it taken away from them. A lot will be made of the non-call on the third down that caused them to kick a field goal with 1:45 left and not ice the game on that field goal with no time left. The Rams are now on to Atlanta and Sean McVey is on his way to becoming the youngest head coach to possibly win a Super Bowl.

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This is a tasty burger. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

If a person isn't a real Houstonian until they have favorite places for staple foods like burgers and Tex-Mex, then Astros pitcher Justin Verlander has officially embraced his new home.

In an interview that occurred during the Thursday, August 11 broadcast of the Astros game against the Texas Rangers, YouTube announcer Scott Braun asked Verlander if he found any food in Houston that he couldn't get in Detroit.

"I like Nancy's Hustle's burger," the pitching ace replied.

Indeed, what's not to like? The Nancy's burger — a double patty cheeseburger with chopped onions, pickles, and aioli on a housemade brioche English muffin — has been a staple since the restaurant opened in late 2017. Here it is, as captured by Houston food influencer Abbas Dhanani.

Beyond its deliciousness, Verlander's affection for the burger makes a certain amount of logistical sense. The EaDo restaurant is only about a mile from Minute Maid Park, and it stays open until 11 pm, making it a perfect post-game treat.

Nancy's co-owner Sean Jensen tells CultureMap that he and chef-owner Jason Vaughan consider Verlander and his wife, supermodel Kate Upton, to be regulars. "They have always been supporters and super nice when they visit," he writes in an email.

Continue on CultureMap to learn more.

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