Rams 27, Saints 16

Rob Rains, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

ST. LOUIS -- The New Orleans Saints needed a win Sunday to clinch a playoff spot. The only thing the St. Louis Rams had to play for was pride.
It turned out that was all they needed.
Kellen Clemens passed for two touchdowns, Zac Stacy rushed for 133 yards and a touchdown and the St. Louis defense harassed quarterback Drew Brees all day as the Rams upset the Saints 27-16.
Brees threw two interceptions in the first quarter for only the second time in his career, was sacked four times, lost a fumble and did not pass for a touchdown until there was only 3:07 left in the game.
The loss dropped the Saints to 10-4 while the Rams are now 6-8. The Saints can still clinch the NFC South and the No. 2 seed in the playoffs with a win next Sunday at Carolina.
One of the pre-game story lines was how Brees should be able to take advantage of a young and injury-depleted Rams secondary, but it didn't turn out that way.
On the Saints' first offensive play, Brees' pass intended for Jimmy Graham was intercepted by safety T.J. McDonald, the first interception of his career. On the next play Clemens hit tight end Cory Harkey, who broke two tackles as he tight-roped down the right sideline for a 31-yard touchdown.
As Brees and the Saints were headed for a game-tying touchdown, with the ball on the St. Louis 10, he forced another pass toward Graham and this time it was intercepted at the goal line by Trumaine Johnson and returned to the 7-yard line.
Brees had only thrown one interception in his previous five games and just eight total this season.
Starting the drive from the 7, Clemens directed the Rams on a 93-yard, nine-play scoring drive, aided by two personal fouls on the Saints for unnecessary roughness. Clemens capped the drive with a 4-yard scoring pass to tight end Lance Kendricks.
It was the first time in Clemens' career that he has passed for two touchdowns in the same quarter.
Stacy's 40-yard touchdown run increased the St. Louis lead to 24-3 with 4:10 left in the first half, and gave him 106 yards in the first half -- his third game of more than 100 yards during his rookie season.
An apparent 8-yard touchdown pass from Brees to Lance Moore in the closing seconds of the half was wiped out by another penalty against the Saints, and the Rams then blocked a 36-yard field goal attempt by Garrett Hartley.
Greg Zuerlein's second field goal of the game, from 35 yards, increased the lead to 27-3 with 2:42 left in the third quarter.
Brees scored New Orleans' first touchdown on a 1-yard quarterback sneak with 11:25 to play in the game, but the attempt for a two-point conversion was stopped by the Rams. He finally passed for a 5-yard touchdown to Marquis Colston with 3:07 remaining
NOTES: The only other time QB Drew Brees threw two interceptions in the first quarter of a game was Oct. 27, 2003 when he was with San Diego, against Miami. ... WR Tavon Austin did not dress for the Rams after injuring his ankle in last Sunday's loss at Arizona. Austin had not practiced all week. ... Taking Austin's place returning punts for the Rams was rookie WR Justin Veltung, who was activated off the practice squad for his first career game in the NFL. DE Gerald Rivers was released to make room for Veltung.

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