ST. LOUIS (AP) — The New Orleans Saints had a chance to clinch a playoff spot. After a disappointing loss to the St. Louis Rams, they're wondering just where they stand.
Drew Brees threw interceptions that led to touchdowns on the Saints' first two possessions and the Rams got big days from Zac Stacy, Robert Quinn and on special teams in a 27-16 victory Sunday.
"There are some things that have to be corrected," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "Obviously, a lot more than maybe we expected. I thought in all three areas we didn't play very well at all. We weren't ready to play. We looked flat coming out. I take responsibility for that."
The Saints (10-4) kept making mistakes that cost them throughout the first half, including Brees' interception on New Orleans' opening play from scrimmage.
"It didn't help that we had the turnover on the first play," Brees said. "You want to talk about waking the whole place up, that did it."
Brees was hit by Quinn as he tried to deliver the ball. That was the first of many meetings with Quinn, who had two sacks, giving him an NFC-leading 15, for a pass rush that took the heat off a young secondary.
The Saints, trailing 24-3 at the half, made it look respectable with two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. They're unbeaten at home, but just 3-4 on the road and play at Carolina with the NFC South lead on the line next week.
"As you get later, the games become more important," New Orleans center Brian de la Puenta said. "This game could have sealed things up, so to speak. Maybe not entirely, but it would have been a step in the right direction. It just makes next week that much bigger."
Kellen Clemens threw for two TDs in the first quarter, matching his best performance in seven games as the fill-in starter for Sam Bradford. The Rams (6-8) recovered an onside kick to set up a field goal in the first quarter, and Michael Brockers blocked a field-goal attempt at the end of the half.
Brees was 39 for 56 for 393 yards, but with just one touchdown.
"I looked at the stat sheet," Brees said. "We were in the red zone six times. Six times, and only came away with six points. That's not us. That can't be us if we want to play well. We have to find a way to improve that."