The Los Angeles Rams took control in the NFL’s NFC playoff race on Thursday, fending off a late New Orleans rally for a 30-22 victory over the Saints.
Matthew Stafford passed for 328 yards and two touchdowns and rookie Puka Nacua had nine catches for 164 yards and a TD for the Rams, who now have a tiebreaker over the Saints in the battle for the NFC’s last two wild card spots.
Stafford became the first quarterback in Rams franchise history to have four straight games with two or more touchdown passes and no interceptions.
Kyren Williams rushed for 104 yards and a touchdown, and Demarcus Robinson added 82 receiving yards and a touchdown as the Rams improved to 8-7.
The Rams scored on each of their first two possessions, with Nacua catching a two-yard touchdown to cap a 95-yard drive before Lucas Havrisik hit a 20-yard field goal to put Los Angeles up 10-0.
They were up 30-7 early in the fourth quarter before New Orleans’ Derek Carr connected on touchdown passes to Juwan Johnson and A.T. Perry. A two-point conversion by the Saints saw them cut the deficit to eight points with less than four minutes to go.
The Rams held on, however, Nacua recovering an onside kick and then delivering a first down that kept Los Angeles’ closing drive alive.
“It’s fun to score,” said Stafford, who said the Rams could have piled up even more points.
“We could have had 40 tonight, in my opinion,” he said. “There were quite a few plays here and there just didn’t go our way or didn’t hit. But that’s part of it.
“A lot of room for improvement. But I’m proud of our guys, the way we came back and finished the game there at the end.”
Carr passed for 319 yards and hit Rashid Shaheed for a 45-yard touchdown.
The Saints are still in the thick of the playoff race and could yet capture the NFC South division title. They close the regular season with two games against division opponents Tampa Bay and Atlanta.