The Saints won a shootout against the Rams the first time out, and now the stakes are much higher in the NFC Championship game. We have a live blog of the action, including highlights and analysis.
Saints 13, Rams 10, 14:05, 3Q: It’s a quick 3-and-out for the Rams, as they lose 4 yards on a Woods reverse, followed by two incomplete passes to Woods. Hekker punts it 50 yards to the New Orleans 29-yard line and the Saints have the ball back.
Saints 13, Rams 10, END 2Q: Brees hits Ginn for 6 yards, and he fumbles, but the bal goes out of bounds. They convert a 3rd-and-2 with a 5-yard run from Kamara, but then Brees is sacked by Ndamukong Suh on two consecutive plays. That brings us to the two-minute warning, and the Saints have to punt it away. The Rams take over and they quickly start moving down the field, with Reynolds catching passes for 9 and 13 yards. Then Cooks for 17 yards after a couple incomplete passes to convert a 3rd-and-10. On 1st-and-10, Goff goes back to Cooks for a 36-yard pass which puts them inside the 10-yard line. Gurley gets the carry, and he gets the 6-yard touchdown! The extra point is good and it’s a 3-point game!
If Todd Gurley is on your team, let him run for TDs
— SB Nation (@SBNation) January 20, 2019
Saints 13, Rams 3, 5:20 2Q: The Saints get the ball back and it’s a very quick drive — Kamara loses 2 yards, Griffin picks up 7 yards and then Brees is incomplete throwing to Kamara. Thomas Morstead punts to the Los Angeles 22-yard line. Los Angeles doesn’t do much better, as Anderson picks up 3 yards, Woods gets 6 yards and Anderson gets another 3 for a first down. But two incomplete passes and a short run leads to a Hekker punt — and this one isn’t faked. New Orleans takes over from their own 17-yard line.
Saints 13, Rams 3, 9:45 2Q: After the fake punt, Goff scrambles for 7 yards, throws incomplete and then hits Everett for 11 yards. Anderson picks up 8 yards, then 2 yards, but is stopped for no gain and a Goff pass goes incomplete to Gurley. That makes it another fourth down, and Greg Zuerlein comes out for a 36-yard field goal, which he makes. The Rams are on the board!
Saints 13, Rams 0, 12:09, 2Q: Oof, penalties are really hurting the Rams. That encroachment penalty was huge, and they immediately lose 5 yards due to a false start, just after C.J. Anderson had rushed for 5 yards. Anderson picks up 5 yards again on third down and they are going to punt. Or are they? As Johnny Hekker tends to do, they fake it and Hekker tosses it to Sam Shields for 12 yards and a first down!
Wow, can’t believe Johnny Hekker faked it. That NEVER happens
: @thecheckdown pic.twitter.com/VEvGa5tZcc
— SB Nation NFL (@SBNationNFL) January 20, 2019
Saints 13, Rams 0, 1:35, 1Q: Tight end Josh Hill immediately puts the Saints into Rams territory with a 24-yard reception on first down. He leaves the game by order of the officials to get checked out for a concussion after a helmet-to-helmet hit. After two short gains, Brees hits Thomas again for 19 yards and a first down. Then they face another third down, and they don’t get it as Kamara can’t pick up the 4 yards needed (Taysom Hill was in at quarterback). On fourth down, the Saints line up like they’re going for another rush, but Michael Brockers is called for encroachment. So instead of a fourth down, the Saints have a 1st-and-5 from the 5-yard line. Brees throws to … Garrett Griffin? That was his second NFL target, and it’s a touchdown!
Just as we all expected, Garrett Griffin scores the Saints’ first TD
— SB Nation NFL (@SBNationNFL) January 20, 2019
Michael Brockers, you big dummy. One play later, the Saints turned this free first down into a five-yard TD pass pic.twitter.com/gM4PWuZPfD
— Christian D’Andrea (@TrainIsland) January 20, 2019
Saints 6, Rams 0, 5:26, 1Q: And we have our first punt of the game as the Rams go 3-and-out. Goff went to Robert Woods twice, once for no gain and once incomplete, and they only picked up 2 yards on a Gurley run. So possession shifts back to the Saints, who take over from their own 34-yard line.
Saints 6, Rams 0, 7:06, 1Q: Rams have to start their first drive from their own 10-yard line after an illegal block in the back penalty on the kickoff. They pick up 7 yards, and then lose 4 on a Todd Gurley run. On third down, Jared Goff throws to Gurley, and the pass bounces right out of Gurley’s hands and into the waiting arms of Demario Davis! It’s an interception and the Saints are right back in the red zone! Davis was also the one to make the tackle for loss on Gurley. The Saints can’t do much with the field position, but Lutz boots a 29-yard field goal for the 6-point lead.
Saints D protecting the DOME @demario__davis pic.twitter.com/qXR8BD67xS
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) January 20, 2019
Saints 3, Rams 0, 10:04, 1Q: The Saints receive the opening kickoff, and Drew Brees takes the field. The Saints faced an early 3rd-and-long situation, but Brees hit Ted Ginn for a 9-yard gain to convert. They then faced another third down, and Brees hit Alvin Kamara deep for a 21-yard gain. Kamara then had a 14-yard gain, but the drive stalled there after Arnold couldn’t secure a catch in the end zone. They settle for 3 points with a 37-yard Will Lutz field goal.
.@DrewBrees floats it perfectly to @a_kamara6 for 21 yards! #HomeInTheDome
: #LARvsNO on FOX pic.twitter.com/mpENX9xtHN
— NFL (@NFL) January 20, 2019
3:00 p.m.: Hello! We’re here for Rams vs. Saints in the NFC Championship, and we’ll have a running live blog of the action, including highlights, top plays and more. Below, you can find all the viewing information and everything else you need to watch the game. Kickoff is set for shortly after 3:05 p.m.!
The top two seeds in either conference will meet in the AFC and NFC Championship games on Sunday, beginning with the latter, a showdown between the top-seeded New Orleans Saints and second-seeded Los Angeles Rams at the Superdome. The game is set to begin at 3:05 p.m. ET on FOX (live streaming via FuboTV, FOX Sports GO).
The Rams finished the regular season at 13-3, with one of their few losses coming to the Saints in an offensive showdown in New Orleans. The Saints won that meeting, 45-35, handing the Rams their first loss of the season. Jared Goff threw for three touchdowns and nearly 400 yards, but also had an interception, while Todd Gurley was limited to 68 yards rushing.
New Orleans managed 141 yards of rushing as a team, while Drew Brees threw for 346 yards and four touchdowns. Neither quarterback was sacked in the outing. Saints receiver Michael Thomas dominated the game, with 12 receptions for 211 yards and a touchdown.
Both teams had a bye in the wild card round, and handled their opponents in the divisional round, though both games were close in their own way. The Saints only put up 20 points against the Eagles, and had to come from behind to get the victory as the Eagles fell apart in the second half.
The Cowboys kept it close with a late rally against the Rams, but Los Angeles managed a touchdown in the fourth quarter to keep the game out of reach as Dallas scored late and tried to make something happen. But the Rams got out of there with a 30-22 win.
Both games were quite a bit closer than most predicted, and the week of rest from the wild card round shouldn’t play too much of a factor here after such a hard-fought divisional round.
Below, you can find all you need to know to watch the action on Sunday.
Time, TV, and streaming info
- Time: 3:05 p.m. ET
- Location: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, La.
- TV: FOX
- Streaming: FuboTV, FOX Sports GO
- Odds: The Saints opened as 3-point favorites, making the Rams the underdog, but just barely, according to OddsShark.
Rams vs. Saints news
- The Rams are as healthy as can be going into the NFC Championship, as they listed no players on their final injury report for Sunday’s game.
- The Saints, on the other hand, will be without Benjamin Watson and Keith Kirkwood, and listed three others on their injury report, all of whom are offensive linemen.
- For Los Angeles, it won’t be about riding one or two players to the Super Bowl. They’re fully into the “we, not me” attitude.
- Michael Thomas is, more than anything, in the zone. He’s playing the best football of his career by far and will be extremely difficult to stop for the Rams.
- Be sure to peep the Turf Show Times Q&A with the folks at Canal Street Chronicles, and of course, the reverse post on the latter blog.
- Speaking of Turf Show Times, they have five Saints players to watch, win-loss predictions by their staff and bold predictions by their staff.
- And speaking of Canal Street Chronicles, be sure to peep their latest preview podcast, a preview of the Saints offense vs. the Rams defense, some conference championship picks and their own bold predictions.
- Saints fans should be worried about the offensive struggles they faced in the divisional round. Rams fans are the only ones who should be worried about the Saints offense.
- Drew Brees will make you pay. This is just a fact of life.
Rams vs. Saints prediction
Of the six SB Nation NFL experts picking the conference championships, only two think the Rams can come out on top. That leaves four picking New Orleans, and they’re joined by the OddsShark computer. The coin flip landed on Los Angeles.