Saints Shock Reeling Rams

Largo, Florida, Mayor Pat Gerard, left, and city manager Steve Stanton during a moment of prayer at the beginning of a City Commission meeting, Feb. 27, 2007, at which a resolution was approved to begin the process of firing Stanton, who days earlier revealed plans to undergo a sex change operation. AP Photo

The St. Louis Rams' aura of invincibility is long gone. They can't even win at home anymore.

The defending Super Bowl champions have lost four of six games after a 6-0 start, dropping their third straight at the Trans World Dome to the nameless, faceless New Orleans Saints 31-24 Sunday.

The Rams had won 14 straight at home, most of them blowouts, before the current skid, which includes setbacks to the Panthers and Redskins.

"Once again, it was just another frustrating home game," said quarterback Trent Green, a St. Louis native who has been at the controls for all three losses.

St. Louis couldn't overcome numerous mistakes, including two fumbles lost by Green inside the Saints 20.

"Whether it be missed passes on my part, or drops or protection problems, I think everybody took a turn today," Green said. "There were enough mistakes in all three phases that I don't think anybody can warrant pointing fingers."

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Game Summary

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  • First-year coach Mike Martz remained optimistic.

    "We can regroup," Martz said. "We have to. Darn right we can."

    The Saints (8-4) were 13 1/2-point underdogs without injured stars Jeff Blake and Ricky Williams. But they silenced a sellout crowd and took control of the NFC West, pulling into a tie with the Rams (8-4).

    The teams meet again in the regular-season finale Dec. 24 in New Orleans.

    "Just looking at us on paper, it might not look like we have a lot of talent," said Jerald Moore, a Rams castoff who scored a second-quarter touchdown. "But we really do."

    Aaron Brooks, making his first career start, scored his second touchdown on a quarterback sneak.

    "Aaron is a great talent," coach Jim Haslett said. "I've said all week hat people always worry about putting the backup quarterback in. The guy's really calm and cool."

    St. Louis was also without its starting quarterback, Kurt Warner.

    The Rams, who trailed 24-10, rallied to tie it on a 19-yard pass from Trent Green to Ricky Proehl with 11:06 to go. That was the first fourth-quarter score in four games for the NFL's top-ranked offense.

    Brooks answered with an 11-play, 85-yard drive that lasted more than seven minutes.

    The big play was a 47-yard pass interference call on Todd Lyght that gave the Saints a first down at the Rams 11.

    "It definitely killed us," said Lyght, a Pro Bowl cornerback last year who rejoined the starting lineup this week after being benched. "It was the only play we gave up in the fourth quarter."

    New Orleans won despite a team-record 17 penalties, for 116 yards. The previous high was 14, on three occasions. The Rams had 14 penalties for 132 yards.

    Brooks, who was 19-for-27 for 190 yards, threw a 4-yard pass to Brian Milne in the first quarter for the Saints' first score, and also scored on a 2-yard run in the second quarter to put the Saints ahead 21-7.

    The Saints were 10-for-18 on third-down conversions.

    Green, in probably his final start for the Rams, was 20-for-41 for 289 yards. Warner, who broke the little finger of his throwing hand at Kansas City on Oct. 22, is expected back for next week's game at Carolina.

    "I definitely want to be back in there," Warner said. "I'm tired of losing, just like everybody else."

    The Saints opened the door for a possible comeback when Doug Brien was wide right on a 44-yard field goal with 2:21 to play. The Rams got possession at their own 34, but two plays later Chris Oldham intercepted Green.

    Marshall Faulk was not much of a factor for the Rams, totaling 43 yards rushing and receiving. He had 27 yards on eight carries and two catches for 16 yards.

    The Saints had the Rams off-balance from the start, when Rob Kelly recovered Doug Brien's onside kick. The Rams also were victimized by an onside kick in the second half of last week's loss to the Redskins and have had three recovered by their opponents this season.

    Notes

    Fred Weary and linebackers Phil Clarke and Corey Terry with injuries in the first quarter. Weary sprained his right knee, Terry ruptured his right patella tendon and Clarke came out with a pulled right quadriceps muscle.
  • Saints tackle Norman Hand sprained his left foot in the second quarter.
  • Az-zahir Hakim returned four punts for a 20-yard average for the Rams.


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    • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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