Saints Win Preseason Opener, Down Rams, 26-24
The New Orleans Saints began their 2014 preseason schedule on a winning note on Friday night, defeating the St. Louis Rams, 26-24, at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, Missouri.
The win was the fourth-straight opening-week preseason win for the Saints, dating back to 2011.
St. Louis got on the scoreboard first, on their first possession of the game, when quarterback Shaun Hill connected with tight end Cory Harkey on a 16-yard touchdown pass, capping off a 6-play, 47-yard drive, to give the Rams a 7-0 lead at the 8:10 mark of the initial period.
New Orleans scored their first points at the 3:28 mark of the first quarter, when Shayne Graham booted through a 37-yard field goal, finishing up an 11-play, 61-yard drive, to trim the St. Louis lead to 7-3.
The Saints took their first lead of the contest at the 8:32 mark of the second quarter, when Khiry Robinson capped off 9-play, 61-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run, making the score, 9-7, New Orleans.
The Rams came right back and scored a touchdown on the their very next possession, when Hill tossed his second touchdown of the half, this one to Stedman Bailey, from 24 yards out, to culminate 5-play, 71-yard drive, giving them a 14-9 advantage at the 5:59 mark of the second quarter.
New Orleans responded with a touchdown of their own of their next possession, when Mark Ingram scored a 22-yard run, capping off a 9-play, 80-yard drive, to give the Saints a 16-14 lead with 2:37 remaining in the half.
St. Louis scored on the last play of the quarter, and the half, when Greg Zuerlein nailed a 45-yard field goal as time expired, finishing off a 13=play, 64-yard drive, to give the Rams a 17-16 lead at halftime.
The Saints outgained the Rams, in terms of total first half yardage, 251-183, including 152-122 advantage in the passing department, as well as 99-61 edge on the ground.
For New Orleans, quarterback Ryan Griffin completed 11-of-16 first half passes for 103 yards, while Ingram carried the football 8 times for 83 yards, including a score.
For St. Louis, Hill completed 5-of-7 passes in the first half, for 84 yards, and two touchdowns.
The Saints regained the lead on their first possession of the second half, when Derek Dimke kicked through a 37-yard field goal, capping off a 6-play, 31-yard drive, giving them a 19-17 advantage at the 10:31 mark of the third period.
New Orleans extended their lead to nine points at the 3:43 mark of the third quarter, when Griffin hit rookie Brandin Cooks with a 25-yard scoring strike, finishing off an 8-play, 80-yard drive, to make the score 26-17.
That turned out to be the final points scored in the third quarter, as the Saints took that 26-17 lead into the final frame.
The Rams scored the first points of the fourth quarter, when Austin Davis hit Austin Franklin with a 15-yard scoring strike, capping off a 5-play, 54-yard drive, to trim the New Orleans lead to 26-24 with 11:07 remaining.
St. Louis had a chance to take the lead at the 5:07 mark, but Zuerlein was wide left on a 46-yard field goal attempt, as the Saints went on to the two-point victory.
St. Louis finished the game by outgaining New Orleans, in terms of total yards, 388-375, including a 150-123 advantage in rushing yards.
The Saints finished the game with a 252-238 edge in passing yards.
Griffin ended the game completing 16-of-23 passes for 179 yards and a touchdown, while Ingram had the 83 rushing yards, including a touchdown, on eight carries.
In a losing cause for the Rams, Davis finished 10-of-15 for 134 yards and one touchdown through the air, while Tre Mason accumulated 51 yards on 15 carries on the ground.
With the win, New Orleans is now 1-0 in the preseason, while St. Louis falls to 0-1.
The Saints return to preseason action next Friday, August 15, when they play host to the Tennessee Titans at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.