They played an NFC Championship Game less than a year ago that ended without a consensus winner -- or so it seemed -- and just two weeks into the current season, the rematch has arrived. Sure the Los Angeles Rams advanced to Super Bowl LIII with a victory on Jan. 20 at New Orleans, but that game was marred by a no-call on a late pass interference that left the Saints crying foul. History will remember the contest by what did not unfold as much as what did.
When the Rams made a mess of the Super Bowl with just three points and 260 yards on offense (62 rushing), it only added to the heartbreak for Saints fans. So when the Saints visit the Rams on Sunday at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, it will be a matchup of two teams looking for some sort of redemption. The Saints will be out to avenge a game that was taken from them, while the Rams look to defeat a team many think should have been the winner eight months ago.
"We all know what it looked like; nobody is going to sit here and say it wasn't pass interference," Rams coach Sean McVay said at his press conference Wednesday. "And that's why it led to some rules being changed. Even though that play benefited our team, nobody wants anything but a fair game." Both teams enter off Week 1 victories.
The Rams held off the Carolina Panthers 30-27 on the road despite a bevy of late mistakes that included a blocked punt, an interception and a missed field goal, all in the fourth quarter. Rams running back Todd Gurley gained 97 yards on 14 carries, including 64 on eight carries in the fourth quarter, after knee injury concerns dogged him into the offseason.
The Saints put together a thrilling victory at home Monday night over the Houston Texans, when they scored twice in the final minute, including a game-winning 58-yard field goal from Wil Lutz as time expired after the Texans took the lead with 37 seconds remaining. New Orleans showed some cause for concern trailing 21-10 halfway through the third quarter, but quarterback Drew Brees cranked up the intensity yet again, hitting 32 of 43 passes for 370 yards and two scores.
A year after giving up 80.2 yards per game and 3.6 per carry on the ground, both second-best in the NFL, the Saints gave up 180 yards rushing to the Texans. Defensive tackles Sheldon Rankins, still recovering from a torn Achilles sustained in January, and David Onyemata (one-game suspension) did not play. The Rams rushed for 166 yards and two touchdowns Sunday.
"They are a real good football team, obviously," Saints head coach Sean Payton said of the Rams. "They are a team that requires a lot of preparation to handle (with) the movements and some of the motions offensively. And, then defensively they present a lot of problems with their front and their ability to cover and turn the ball over." Both teams are 27-10 (including playoffs) since the start of the 2017 season, McVay's first with the Rams, while Los Angeles has scored 29.9 points per game and the Saints have scored 29.2. The two teams have met twice in the regular season over that span -- the Rams won 26-20 at home in 2017, and the Saints won 45-35 in New Orleans in 2018.
The Rams are expecting that safety Eric Weddle (head laceration) will play this week after going through concussion protocol. Limited at practice Wednesday were defensive lineman Michael Brockers (shoulder) and linebacker Clay Matthews (back). The Saints were missing wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. at practice because of an illness, while the list of limited participants included: defensive tackle Mario Edwards Jr. (hamstring), linebacker Craig Robertson (hamstring), Rankins (Achilles) and safety Marcus Williams (groin).
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