ST. LOUIS (AP) — Just like two years ago, a St. Louis Rams team going nowhere jumped on the playoff-bound New Orleans Saints early and never let them up.
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.
"When you looked at their sideline, they realized, 'Oh gosh, like, here we go again,'" Rams defensive end Chris Long said. "We hit 'em early, and they were reeling."
The Rams were 0-6 and double-digit underdogs before upsetting the Saints in 2011. St. Louis was 2-14 that year and New Orleans went 13-3.
Everything went sour fast for the 10-win Saints. Brees was intercepted on the first snap, and again in the second series, and the Saints played catch-up all day.
"You want to talk about waking the whole place up," Brees said. "That did it."
Quinn had two sacks, giving him an NFC-leading 15, for a pass rush that took the heat off a young secondary. His quarterback hit on the Saints' first snap of the game altered the flight of the ball on T.J. McDonald's interception, and he had a sack, strip and fumble recovery to keep the Saints down in the third quarter.
Coach Sean Payton benched left tackle Charlie Brown after that play and shifted left tackle Zack Strief to the right side in an attempt to neutralize Quinn.
"I saw enough. Period. I mean, enough," Payton said.
The Saints (10-4) missed their first chance to clinch a playoff berth, trailing 24-3 at the half, but 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.
The Saints are averaging 32.9 points at home, with five of the wins by double-digits including playoff hopefuls Dallas and Arizona. They're averaging just 18.4 points on the road with the three wins by eight, four and two points.
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, and threw two interceptions in the first quarter for the first time in a decade.