ST. LOUIS — Something about the New Orleans Saints brings out the best in the St. Louis Rams.
Zac Stacy rushed for 132 yards and one touchdown as the Rams knocked off the Saints 27-16 Sunday before 58,442 fans at the Edward Jones Dome.
The Rams (6-8) upset the Saints (10-3) for the second time in three years. They shocked the Saints 31-21 at the Edward Jones Dome during the 2011 season.
"When you look at their sideline, they realized, 'Oh gosh, here we go again,"' Rams defensive end Chris Long said of the Rams jumping out to a 17-0 lead. "We hit they early and they were reeling."
The Rams have been eliminated from the playoffs, but they kept the Saints from clinching a playoff berth for at least another week.
"We have something special in this room and the biggest thing I love about this team is that we don't quit," Rams rookie safety T.J. McDonald said. "There is no stopping us. We were playing spoiler today, and that was our role."
There is plenty of evidence of the young Rams having a split personality disorder.
They've soundly beaten such premier teams as Indianapolis, Chicago and now the Saints, but they're also struggled in many games like last week during a 30-10 road loss to Arizona.
"One thing we have to be is more consistent," said Rams defensive end Robert Quinn, who had two sacks. "I don't want to give the excuse that we are a young. We have to grow up eventually. This win definitely shows the potential we have."
Stacy suffered a hip injury on the Rams' opening drive. He went to the locker room for treatment, but he quickly returned and ended up running for 106 yards in the first half, the most ever by a Rams rookie in the first half.
"That man is a horse," McDonald said. "We're going to just jump on his back and ride him. It's fun to watch. Another rookie, too. It's fun for us to go out and play together."
Rams quarterback Kellen Clemens didn't throw a lot of passes, but he displayed great accuracy in completing 70 percent (14 of 20) of them for 158 yards and two touchdowns. His quarterback rating for the game was 126.7.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees completed 39 of 55 passes for 393 yard and one touchdown, but he also was intercepted twice and sacked four times.
"Our defensive line rushed the passer 55 times today," Rams coach Jeff Fisher said. "That's a tough thing to do, and the Saints did a lot from a protection standpoint to prevent them from getting on the edge. They were blocking with their backs and their tight ends.
"It's their choice to protect the quarterback. Everybody needs to protect the quarterback, but it was my understanding that we got to him a few times today."
Brees' first pass attempt for the Saints was intercepted by Rams rookie safety T. J. McDonald. Defensive end Robert Quinn hit Brees as he was throwing.
"We knew we couldn't turn the ball over," Brees said. "That's recipe for disaster, and sure enough it was."
The Rams took over at the New Orleans 31 after McDonald's interception.
On the next play, Clemens threw a short pass to tight end Corey Harkey, who ran 31 yards down the sideline, managing to stay in bounds as three Saints defenders tried unsuccessfully to push him out of bounds.
"The thing about Corey that gets overlooked sometimes is how strong he is," Clemens said. "There were a couple of guys looking at the replay who had a chance to try to get him out bounds, but he's solid. He works his tail off in the weight room."
The Saints marched deep into Rams territory, but Brees was intercepted by Trumaine Johnson in the end zone and he returned it to the St. Louis 7.
The Rams moved the ball 93 yards on nine plays and two penalties after the turnover, scoring on a 4-yard pass from Clemens to tight end Lance Kendricks.
The touchdown put the Rams ahead 14-0 with 2:45 left in the first quarter.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Rams executed an onside kick with Stedman Bailey recovering the ball at the New Orleans 47.
The play led to a 31-yard field goal by Greg Zuerlein on the first play of the second quarter.
The Saints got on the scoreboard via a 45-yard field goal by Garrett Hartley with 10:17 left in the second quarter.
Stacy ran 40 yards for a touchdown with 4:20 remaining in the second quarter as the Rams went up 24-3.
The Saints had an 8-yard touchdown pass from Brees to Lance Moore negated by an illegal hands to the face by left tackle Charles Brown deep in St. Louis territory late in the first half.
The Saints then attempted a 36-yard field goal, but Hartley's kick was partially blocked by Michael Brockers.
Quinn continued his harassment of Brees by forcing a fumble and then recovering it to kill the Saints' opening drive of the second half.
The Rams were unable to convert that turnover into points, but they later got a 35-yard field goal from Zuerlein to pad their lead to 27-3 with 2:42 left in the third quarter.
The Saints trimmed the Rams' advantage to 27-9 on a 1-yard quarterback sneak by Brees.
Pierre Thomas was tackled short of the end zone by Kendall Langford on the 2-point conversion attempt.
Brees threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Marques Colston as the Saints closed the gap to 27-16 with 3:07 to go.
The Saints recovered an onside kick, but their comeback ended when Hartley was wide left on a 26-yard field-goal attempt.
Contact reporter Steve Korte at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2522.