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Saints pulverize, blank Rams in preseason finale

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The Saints closed out their preseason with an impressive win over the Rams in front of the Superdome crowd.

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at New Orleans Saints Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

NEW ORLEANS — The New Orleans Saints closed out their 2018 preseason campaign hosting the Los Angeles Rams on Thursday night. Both sides of the ball looked fairly impressive on the evening, as the Saints pitched a shutout and won 28-0.

Of course, it goes without saying that the recently acquired Teddy Bridgewater did not play on the evening. However, he was present on the sidelines and had plenty of pre-game attention on him from NFL Network cameras.

The Saints won the toss and elected to receive, but weren’t able to do much with the ball. Both Andrus Peat and Cameron Meredith saw time on the opening drive. The first Saints defensive drive saw them get gashed on the ground, but they were able to recover and swing the momentum after Alex Anzalone made a great athletic play to intercept a Brandon Allen pass in the red zone.

Taysom Hill would lead the Saints down the field on an 8-play, 91-yard drive to help get the game’s first score, after Boston Scott would take it in from 4 yards out. Jonathan Williams looked good on the drive carrying the ball, but the big 56-yard pass hookup between Hill and Cameron Meredith set the Saints up in the red zone. The offense would go for two, but the attempt failed to put things at 6-0 with 3:33 left in the first quarter.

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at New Orleans Saints Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

After holding the Rams offense to a minimal drive, the Saints offense would once again find pay dirt after Hill helped lead the Saints on a 13-play, 77-yard drive. Hill scrambled several times on the drive to help extend the drive, including a 4th down conversion. The drive was capped off by a 16-yard touchdown pass to Cameron Meredith. The Saints went for two again, but couldn’t convert. It moved to 12-0 with 4:05 left in the second quarter.

The ensuing Rams drive looked to be done relatively quickly, but an offsides penalty by Nathan Stupar on the punt put the Saints defense back on the field. Several plays later, Stupar would come on a well-timed blitz to sack Brandon Allen and force the punt.

Hill would once again impress, leading the Saints on a 9-play, 57-yard drive in the two-minute offense that ended in a Wil Lutz 34-yard field goal to extend the New Orleans lead to 15-0 before halftime. The highlight of the drive came when Hill connected with Dan Arnold for a 29-yard pass play. He stood in the pocket and got drilled, and Arnold rewarded him by making a spectacular catch in traffic.

For their first drive of the second half, the Saints looked impressive to start. It looked as though the team would turn in a touchdown off a strip-sack from Marcus Davenport, which Taylor Stallworth took into the end zone, but an illegal hands to the face call on Devaroe Lawrence wiped it out. Stupar would pick up another big sack on Allen, and Lawrence would stuff the Rams rushing attempt on 3rd and long to setup a punt. Colton Jumper would block the punt attempt, which Jayrone Elliott scooped up and scored. It became 22-0 after the Wil Lutz extra point.

J.T. Barrett entered the game midway through the third quarter, and it didn’t take him long to throw an interception on a pass intended for Dan Arnold. Even with the Rams threatening late in the quarter to score after the turnover, the Saints defense was able respond after rookie Kamrin Moore stripped Fred Brown after a pass hookup from Luis Perez that was recovered by Nathan Stupar. Stupar had himself a crazy night,

Fast forward to the fourth quarter, as nothing much happened in between. The defense would add another turnover after Jayrone Elliott forced it and Alex Jenkins recovered it. It only took New Orleans four plays to get back into the end zone, as Jonathan Williams rushed it in from 3 yards out. The Saints went for two for a third time on the night, and it appeared to be a good try after Barrett hooked up with Williams. However, the ruling on the field was that he bobbled it, and the challenge saw the call stand. It was 28-0 Saints, regardless — and that’s how it’d end.

Sean Payton and the Saints now have some big decisions to make in regards to their final 53-man roster, and will also look forward to Week 1’s season opener at home against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.