Rams give Saints painful dose of payback

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 24, 2002

NEW ORLEANS – The St. Louis Rams showed the nation they were tired of hearing about how the New Orleans Saints had their number.

The Saints, who had beaten the Rams in three of their last four meetings, gave back some of that pain, falling 34-21.

In the process, the Rams showed why they have the best record in football, the Saints showed why they are on the playoff bubble and Saints fans show their disgust, mirroring those in Cleveland.

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The Saints now travel to Tampa Bay next Sunday for a showdown that has critical playoff implications. Both teams are sitting at 7-6, tied for the sixth and final NFC playoff spot.

The Saints’ last gasp at a comeback ended when Rams cornerback Dr Bly intercepted an Aaron Brooks pass in the end zone with the Saints trailing 34-21 with 5:54 to go in the game.

It culminated an ugly half that saw Saints fans pelt the field with debris in protest to numerous pass interference calls.

The Saints and their supporters started the game off loud and proud, as the New Orleans defense, coupled with a continuous ear-splitting roar from the 70,332 on hand, nearly forced the Rams into a safety.

After the ensuing St.Louis punt, the Saints opened the night’s scoring after marching 44 yards in nine plays and getting a 4-yard TD pass from Brooks to fullback Terrelle Smith.

The high-octane Rams’ offense answered right back, however, when quarterback Kurt Warner made it look easy with a short field after the Saints botched an onside kick attempt.

Issac Bruce snared a 6-yard pass on the eighth play of the drive to even the score. Bruce grabbed his second score of the night with 9:31 to go in the first half before Az-Zahir-Hakim fumbled a punt, setting up the Saints second score, a Joe Horn catch just after the two-minute warning.