NEW ORLEANS LA - DECEMBER 12: Lance Moore #16 of the New Orleans Saints avoids a tackle by James Butler #37 of the St. Louis Rams at the Louisiana Superdome on December 12 2010 in New Orleans Louisiana. The Saints defeated the Rams 31-13. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
The St. Louis Rams were expected to get throttled in New Orleans. And they did just that. But now the real football begins and two divisions could be decided in St. Louis within days.
Let's hope the St. Louis Rams' charter flight home from New Orleans had hand-straps, because I can't imagine that anyone would dare to sit down after getting spanked for three-plus hours, right?
We knew the deal before the opening kick-off. The Rams were the spunky upstarts and the Saints were the defending Super Bowl champion upstarts, starting to finally hit their stride going into the playoffs. The Rams got their road wins at Denver and Arizona, who I assume dueled to some sort of draw that ended up shattering the TVs of those who dared to tune in. The Saints don't lose at the Superdome.
And two possessions and 14 points later? Everything was pretty much going to script. Go in, get embarrassed, provide fodder for talking heads about losing teams making it to the playoffs... go home and get ready for KC.
More disturbing, though, was the Rams' new found proclivity for crippling turnovers. The Saints let the Rams stick around in the first half and, courtesy of a turnover, the Rams were in a position to head into halftime down just one.
An interception that was run back for a touchdown made the score 21-6 New Orleans, and that was that.
Here's what I don't get about this game, though.
1. The Rams weren't expected to win. Turns out these expectations were accurate. So when you go into halftime and you see the 49ers working the Seahawks and realize you're playing with house money, why not go for broke? No punting.
Just go for it, take the wildest risks possible. Play like your ass is on fire. Have fun with it and if you lose, you lose. But Spags played it safe with 3rd down draws and directional kicks, and it was clear the Rams had pretty much accepted their fate and moved on. It just seems like this should have been an option, and it obviously never was.
2. Drew Brees is absolutely deadly if you let the guy set up shop without much pressure. But oftentimes the Rams were giving him so much time in the backfield that Brees was so tired of waiting around he began trying crazy throws.
Where was the blitz? Where was the D-Line? Did anyone realize that after third down, if a team doesn't acquire a first down, many times they punt and you get the ball back? Unofficial stats from last week's game have the Saints converting 110% of third downs.
When you really start to get worked up about this loss, the bottom line is that it's about as meaningless as a Week 14 loss in a playoff hunt can be. The Rams were double-digit road dogs who lost to a good team. Seattle got throttled by San Francisco, leaving the Rams in first place in the NFC West. And about the only bad thing that happened was letting the Niners kind-of, sort-of back in the hunt for the title.
New Orleans was kind of like Christmas at the in-laws'. Something you do, act like it's important, and then hurry up to get over with before heading home to play with your new stuff.
The Kansas City Chiefs are coming off a hatchet-job from the Chargers, and their season will be on the line Sunday in St. Louis. The Rams must win two of their next three to win the NFC West. We got through whatever Week 14 was and the Rams didn't lose Bradford or Jackson or Saffold to injury, and now they're good to go for the first real, live NFL atmosphere in the EJD since the middle of last decade.
Time to stop pretending like we cared about the Saint game. Bring on the Chiefs with the season in the balance. Bring on 15K red-clad hoosiers spending every last dime of their kids' college fund on a football road trip to St. Louis. Bring on a game that could decide two division races in the matter of three hours.
Playtime is over.
The real deal is less than a week away.