Lindsey Thiry, ESPN 33d

Rams move past botched PI call in win over Saints, but not without controversy

LOS ANGELES -- At this rate, the controversies between the Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans Saints might never die.

On Sunday at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, in a rematch of last season's NFC Championship Game, the Rams defeated the Saints 27-9. But it wasn't without another botched call from officials, this one costing the Saints a touchdown. In the second quarter, quarterback Jared Goff was sacked and fumbled, and the Saints scooped up the loose ball to score on an apparent 87-yard return. However, officials had whistled the play dead, signaling an incomplete pass. After review, it was determined Goff fumbled and the Saints took over at their own 13-yard line.

Nevertheless, the Rams -- who have been asked ad nauseum since last January about the botched pass-interference call from the NFC Championship Game -- can finally move on with their season and, as outside linebacker Dante Fowler Jr. hoped earlier this week, put the controversial no-call "to rest for a little bit."

Describe the game in two words: Major letdown. It was a highly anticipated Week 2 matchup, but it hardly lived up to the billing after quarterback Drew Brees was sidelined early in the first half because of a hand injury. Neither team appeared close to playoff form.

QB breakdown: For a second consecutive week, Goff had an uneven performance. He completed 19 of 28 passes for 283 yards and a touchdown, and he also rushed for a 1-yard score. In the first quarter, Goff aired out a 57-yard pass to Brandin Cooks on third-and-16. The throw was a perfect example of why the Rams gave Goff a four-year extension worth $134 million, with a record-breaking $110 million guaranteed. But throughout much of the first half, Goff appeared uneasy behind an offensive line that features two first-year starters and lost sturdy right guard Austin Blythe to an ankle injury. Goff had a sack fumble and dealt with pressure in his face. He also looked out of sync early with usual go-to playmakers Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods, as several passes were just out of their reach.

Troubling trend: The Rams were fortunate in 2018 as they suffered few serious injuries throughout the season, with the exception of Kupp's torn ACL. But it doesn't appear they will be as lucky in 2019. On Sunday, defensive tackle Aaron Donald left the game because of a back injury, though he later returned. However Blythe, their right guard, and tight end Tyler Higbee were not so lucky. Blythe suffered an ankle injury in the first half; he was carted into the locker room and did not return. Blythe was replaced by Jamil Demby, an inexperienced reserve. Higbee suffered a chest injury and did not play in the second half. The fourth-year tight end finished with two catches for 21 yards and the Rams finished with Gerald Everett as their only available tight end.

Promising trend: Ten months after Kupp underwent reconstructive knee surgery, the slot receiver caught five passes for 120 yards. In the fourth quarter, Kupp was out to break the ankles of Saints defenders as he caught a short pass, then bobbed and weaved his down the field for a 66-yard gain. He was tackled one yard short of the goal line. In two games, Kupp has appeared to suffer no adverse effects from last season's torn ACL.

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