NEW ORLEANS – The Saints entered the 9th week with a full understanding that the Los Angeles Rams were attacked in the skill positions.
One player, however, had all the attention of the Saints' defense – running back Todd Gurley. It's not a bad strategy not to allow him to hurt the team by considering that Gurley came into the game with an average of 143.8 yards total of scrimmage.
And when the dust sets in the savage victory of the saints by 45 to 35, consider the mission accomplished. Gurley's final numbers reflected 79 total yards (68 running yards), scoring only the third time this season that he failed to score 100 yards or more in a game total, with the previous two times occurring in the 2nd and 7th week victories .
So what did the saints do to limit the explosive running back? It turns out that the defense, which came first in the race, assumed a simple mentality to get to football whenever Gurley played.
"Eleven guys for the ball," Sheldon Rankins told NFL.com. "We were able to bring many faces to the ball.
"Do not get me wrong, as I said earlier in the week, he's an MVP caliber player and made his moves when he had his chances.But overall, being able to hold him and not let him really destroy it. " game was great for us. "
Defender Alex Okafor emphatically agreed, adding that the Saints entered the game knowing that they had to be solid in the responsibilities of the gaps, which provided positive results.
"Out of four or five races, I think we did a great job," he told NFL.com. "The hardest challenge is that he is a great player and he is such a good team, especially offensively that they will get theirs. The key is not to let that affect you."
Gurley started warm in the first quarter, scoring 33 yards, which included an 8-yard sprint in five shipments.
But Santos did not allow the races to affect how they played the defense the rest of the game against Gurley.
Rankins said that he and his teammates knew that the Rams made many stretching plays and areas to take advantage of Gurley's power and speed in the open, both of which occurred at the opening of the Rams.
"At this point, just identify what the race was," Rankins explained. "They were attacking us, they were knocking us down in the field. But once we were able to talk about it and fit things right with the [line]supporters and up front, we were good and we were able to contain most. He dropped it a few times, but most of the time we managed to corner him. "
The attack approach at Gurley also extended to the passing game, where the running back got only 11 yards in six sacks, averaging only 1.9 yards per catch. But as was often the case throughout the game, whenever Gurley played in football, he was almost immediately received by a defensive player from Santos.
Meanwhile, the Rams had to look elsewhere with their main weapon in check. Quarterback Jared Goff completed 28 of 40 40-yard passes and three touchdowns with an interception, and wide receiver Brandin Cooks led the airstrike with six footsteps for 114 yards and a touchdown.
But the Saints were apparently fine with Goff and the receiving party receiving their numbers as long as a certain player was not hurting them.
In the defense mindset, holding Gurley meant a realistic chance to leave Sunday with a win knowing the Saints offense totaled 141 yards on the ground while the Rams ran 92 yards running like a team.
"You can not take everyone, they have so many weapons," Okafor said. "If you try to take everyone out, you will not take anyone out. We enter saying that we had to limit the race, and without even watching the game, if you look at the statistics tokens, whoever has had more hurry yards was going to win the game and we knew it.And that was true. "