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(Sunday, November 15th)
Final Score: New Orleans 28, St. Louis 23
St. Louis, MO (Sports Network) - Drew Brees threw for 223 yards and two touchdowns, and the New Orleans Saints remained perfect by holding off the feisty St. Louis Rams with a 28-23 win at the Edward Jones Dome.
Brees completed 18-of-26 passes and was also intercepted twice for the Saints (9-0), who have now surpassed last season's win total and extended the best start in franchise history. Reggie Bush ran for 83 yards and a score on six carries and added a receiving touchdown in the win.
"I think today was just a great team win for us," Bush said. "We fought through a little adversity with the turnovers today. The defense won the game for us at the end, and it was just a great team win today."
Devery Henderson led the receiving corps with 72 yards on four catches, and Courtney Roby returned a kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown.
The Saints now hold a commanding four-game lead in the NFC South after the Falcons fell to the Panthers on Sunday.
Steven Jackson ran for 131 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries for the Rams (1-8), who were coming off their lone win of the season against Detroit two weeks ago. Jackson also caught nine passes for 45 yards in defeat, St. Louis' ninth straight at home.
"Coming into this game, not a lot of people gave us a chance to hang around in this game," Jackson said. "Last night in the hotel, we just talked as a unit about putting up points. We knew that they were going to make their plays. We as a team just knew we were going to have to match their intensity. I think we did that. We came up short at the end, but I'm really proud of the effort that we put out there."
Marc Bulger threw for 298 yards with two touchdowns and one interception on 26-of-40 passing, while rookie Brandon Gibson had 93 receiving yards on seven receptions. Donnie Avery had two touchdown catches in defeat.
The game was tied, 14-14, at halftime, but Roby quickly changed that for the Saints, running back the opening kickoff of the second half 97 yards for a touchdown and a 21-14 lead.
Josh Brown brought the Rams to within four with a 32-yard field goal, and St. Louis caught a break when Saints receiver Marques Colston fumbled the ball out of the Rams' end zone for a touchback.
St. Louis was forced to punt on its next drive, and New Orleans finally increased its lead with a seven-play, 77-yard series over the third and fourth quarters that ended with a Robert Meachem 27-yard touchdown grab for a 28-17 lead with 12:15 to play.
The Rams stopped the Saints on 4th-and-2 from the St. Louis 31 with just over seven minutes remaining, giving the hosts some momentum; however, Danny Amendola dropped a Bulger pass on third down on the ensuing series, and New Orleans halted Jackson on 4th-and-1 from the St. Louis 41 to get the ball back with 6 1/2 minutes left.
After a New Orleans punt, St. Louis struck quickly, driving 80 yards in six plays. Avery scored his second touchdown of the game on a 19-yard pass from Bulger with 2:44 left, and the two-point conversion was unsuccessful, keeping it 28-23.
The Rams couldn't recover the onside kick, but they forced a punt anyway and got the ball back on their 20 with 2:21 left.
After gaining one first down, St. Louis faced 4th-and-4 from its own 39, and Bulger's pass to Gibson was underthrown, but the receiver managed to scoop it up just before it touched the turf for a nine-yard gain and a first down with 1:06 left.
After an 11-yard completion to Randy McMichael and a four-yard pass to Jackson, an incompletion brought the clock to 19 seconds with the ball on the Saints' 37. Another short pass to Jackson left time for one more play, and Bulger heaved it to the end zone, where the ball fell incomplete to end the game.
Both offenses took some time to get going, as each team recorded an interception early in the first quarter. The Saints' Usama Young, replacing the injured Darren Sharper, picked off a Bulger pass in the end zone and ran it out to the New Orleans 22-yard line midway through the opening period.
The Saints proceeded to march down the field in 13 plays, finishing off the drive with a Bush three-yard run up the middle on the second play of the second quarter for a 7-0 lead.
St. Louis responded with a scoring drive of its own, though, and, on 3rd- and-15 from the Saints' 29, Bulger lofted a pass to the front left corner of the end zone that Avery hauled in for a touchdown and a tie game with 9 1/2 minutes left in the half.
New Orleans' offense began to get into a rhythm and scored again on its next drive. The series went 72 yards in just six plays and ended with a 15-yard touchdown pass from Brees to Bush, who caught the ball at the 10, outran several defenders and dove just inside the left pylon to put the Saints back in front.
The Rams tied the game again with a minute before halftime, using Jackson nine times for 36 yards on a 13-play drive. The set went a total of 73 yards, and Jackson ran into the end zone from two yards away for a 14-14 game at the break.
The Rams outgained the Saints, 434-420...New Orleans has committed 13 turnovers in its last four games...Bush had a 55-yard run during the game, the longest of his career...Saints defensive end Will Smith had one sack, giving him three in the last two weeks...The Rams acquired Gibson before the trade deadline from Philadelphia in exchange for linebacker Will Witherspoon...Avery had four catches for 67 yards.
11/15 18:39:48 ET