Brutal day in L.A.: Brees injured, Saints lose to Rams, 27-9

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So much for the theory of how good teams make their own breaks and get the calls.

The New Orleans Saints, thought by everyone not named Colln Cowherd to be a good team, suffered a terrible break and another terrible call Sunday in Los Angeles.

Everyone involved with the Saints wanted the talk about the non-call in January’s NFC Championship Game to end, to go away. So much for that!

The day started with Sean Payton signing a five-year contract extension through 2024.

Losing Drew Brees early and losing a touchdown shortly after that was too much for the Saints to overcome against a more talented, favored team playing at home.

To watch the utter incompetence of NFL officials continue to screw the Saints is beyond getting old. It is utterly disgusting. There is no excuse. Cam Jordan scored a touchdown, thanks to Trey Hendrickson. As Jordan said on the sideline, “I ran 80 yards for nothing?”

Saints fans got a good look at what life beyond Brees will look like in New Orleans. Anyone who thought the Saints would simply replace him and keep ticking wonderfully is beyond kidding himself or herself.

That is no affront to Teddy Bridgewater.

He is a very likable young man and may be a solid player but he is an average guy who has basically not played in a meaningful game in years.

The outcome was predictable after the two events mentioned, and before another unexplainable non-call, when Marcus Peters ripped off the helmet of Tre’Quan Smith late in the third quarter. It was clear as day. There was no call made. What else would you expect?

The Rams simply pulled away for an easy win.

The Saints defense played well for a half before breaking.

Then, it gave up consecutive 75-yard touchdown drives to the Rams.

The mental and physical toll of losing a Hall of Fame quarterback and losing a touchdown was massive.

Here are my Quick Takes on the 27-9 loss to the Rams:

**It felt a bit like a southern day at 84 degrees but that is cold by New Orleans standards.

**The Saints got the ball first after the Rams won the toss and deferred.

**Keith Kirkwood hurt his hamstring in the pre-game warmup and did not play, leaving the Saints a wide receiver short. New Orleans opened with two tight ends and ran it twice before Brees hit Smith for 13 yards.

**On the next play, Brees hit Jared Cook with a perfect strike. Cook had it, was hit hard by Eric Weddle, the ball popped in the air and John Johnson III picked it off while laying on the ground.

**On third-and-16, Jared Goff had no pressure, uncorked a deep ball to former Saint Brandin Cooks and Cooks caught it over Marshon Lattimore for 57 yards to the New Orleans 11-yard line. You cannot make a better throw and Cooks made a great catch as well.

**The Saints defense stiffened and forced a 24-yard field goal by Greg Zuerlein to give the Rams a 3-0 lead with 8:42 to play in the opening quarter. The drive went 56 yards in seven plays, taking 3:43 off the clock.

**Aaron Donald wrecked the second possession of the Saints by hitting Latavius Murray for a three-yard loss and then getting in Brees’ face to force an incomplete pass and a punt.

**On the play, Brees hit his right hand on Donald and clearly was in pain. He had his wrist and right thumb taped but he simply could not throw the ball and had to leave the game, giving way to Bridgewater.

**Cam Jordan then wrecked the second possession of the Rams. He drew a hold by Rob Havenstein to pin Los Angeles back to its 10-yard line then he beat Havenstein for a sack to force a punt.

**Erik McCoy negated a nice screen pass completion from Bridgewater to Josh Hill with a hold. There should never be a hold on a screen pass. The idea is to let the defensive linemen penetrate.

**Then, Cook made another huge mistake with an obvious block in the back to negate a 17-yard completion to Alvin Kamara.

**Donald left early in the second quarter with a back injury but returned before halftime.

**Bridgewater completed an 18-yard pass to Cook, a very good throw, but then missed an open Michael Thomas on a third-down throw that would have kept the drive alive. Wil Lutz came on to kick a 34-yard field goal to tie the game 3-3 with 11:06 to play in the half. The drive covered seven plays and 41 yards.

**Rams right guard Austin Blythe then went down injured on the next possession. Jamil Benby replaced him.

**Then came the complete blown call as Trey Hendrickson sacked Goff, knocking the ball out before he threw it for a fumble. Jordan picked it up and returned it 80 yards for a touchdown. Why did they blow the whistle? Why? Let the play continue. You can always determine what happened after it is over. Walt Anderson and his crew blew it.

**Then, the Saints went for it on fourth-and-one from their own 48 and Kamara was stuffed for no gain. The Saints defense had played well. Why not punt the Rams deep late in the half, play defense, get a stop and get the ball back? In all likelihood, the worst you would have been is tied at the half.

**The Rams took advantage, driving 44 yards in seven plays but once again, the Saints came up big on defense, getting a stop. Zeurlein then kicked a 22-yard field goal to give the Rams a 6-3 lead at halftime.

**The Saints had just 106 yards in the first half, including just 19 on the ground.

**Cook had another drop to start the second half to go with his big one earlier and his obvious block-in-the-back. He later had a third pass go through his hands.

**Andrus Peat went down early in the second half. Will Clapp replaced him at left guard.

**Bridgewater guided the Saints on a 10-play, 37-yard drive with Lutz drilling a 52-yard field goal to tie the game at 6-6 with 9:49 to play in the third quarter. The big play of the drive was a 16-yard completion from Bridgewater to Murray. The drive covered 4:16.

**The Rams responded to take the lead, driving 75 yards in nine plays with Todd Gurley running four yards for a touchdown. The big play on the drive was a 27-yard completion from Goff to Cooper Kupp. Los Angeles overcame two false start penalty and benefited from an illegal contact penalty against Eli Apple.

**A.J. Klein went down late in the third quarter. Kiko Alonso replaced him.

**The Rams got a big punt return and took total advantage of it, driving just 26 yards in five plays to make it 20-6 with one minute to play in the third quarter.

**Smith made a nice catch and run for 28 yards early in the fourth quarter but was hurt on the play and left the game.

**The Saints drove 52 yards in nine plays but a holding call on Ryan Ramczyk killed the drive and Lutz connected on a 42-yard field goal to make it 20-9 with 10:58 to play in the game.

This was a team effort.

The offensive line failed miserably against the Los Angeles defensive front. To have any chance to contend moving forward without Brees, in all likelihood, that will have to change.

If indeed Brees’ injury is long-term, Bridgewater should be better with a week to prepare as the starter.

Ted Ginn Jr. was shutout and that cannot happen. He is the only receiver who can stretch the field.

The secondary remains a concern.

It is not time to panic. This team is 1-1.

The time to panic is when the diagnosis on Brees comes out. The future Hall of Famer said postgame that he will meet with a specialist later Sunday night in Los Angeles to determine his status. If he is out for a few weeks, the Saints can survive and be a playoff team. If the injury is season-ending, this could be a disappointing season.

The Rams have Kupp back. He makes a huge difference. They signed Weddle. He made a difference in this game. Clay Matthews is another addition who is a factor as well.

The Saints added Cook and he should make them better but he was a liability on this afternoon. They decided to go with the same cast of wide receivers. We will see how that works out.

The cries for Taysom Hill at quarterback will take over immediately. Do not hold your breath. The Saints made a huge investment to retain Bridgewater, for better or worse. It will be his team until Brees can return.

Bridgewater did not get much help. The offensive line struggled to block. There was no running game. Receivers dropped passes.

Still, the rust was obvious and the lack of time with starters was clear. Bridgewater completed 17-of-30 passes for 165 yards. He was fortunate that a couple of throws were not picked off. He was decent.

With a new contract in hand, Payton will need his very best coaching effort over the next few weeks against a very tough schedule at Seattle and a home game with Dallas.

I stated before the season started that if the Saints started 2-2, that would be acceptable, given the schedule. A 3-1 start would put them on course for another superb season. A 1-3 start would be tough to overcome.

Improvement is needed on both sides of the ball. Cook needs to rebound from a very poor game. The defense will be asked to carry a load.

It is just the third time in the Payton era that the Saints did not score a touchdown. Of course, they had a good excuse.

It is on to Seattle to play in one of the toughest stadiums in the league against a 2-0 team.

We were hoping the official shirts and jerseys would disappear from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome by the time the Saints return home against Dallas on Sept. 29. Any thought or hope of that happening just disappeared into thin air.

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Ken Trahan

Ken Trahan

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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE Owner and CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Football Foundation, College…

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