The may have 9-0 next to their name in the standings, but the New Orleans Saints didn't look like a 9-0 team Sunday.
They struggled to put away to put away the 1-8 St. Louis Rams in a 28-23 road victory.
Drew Brees threw two more interceptions, his sixth and seventh in the past four games, and Marques Colston lost a fumble at the goal line.
The voids left by absences of Jabari Greer and Darren Sharper, both inactive, and Tracy Porter, who left the game with a knee injury, were felt strongly.
Rams' quarterback Mark Bulger, drafted by New Orleans in the sixth round in 2000, passed for nearly 300 yards and tossed two touchdowns to Donnie Avery. Both touchdown passes were defended by nickel corner Randall Gay.
Luckily, Reggie Bush and Courtney Roby were there to save the day.
Bush had two touchdowns, one rushing and one receiving, and had another run for a career-long 55 yards.
Roby broke a 14-14 halftime tie by returning the opening kick of the second-half 97 yards for a touchdown.
Robert Meachem and David Thomas also had big games for the black and gold.
Meachem took an end-around for 41 yards and also caught a 27-yard touchdown pass.
Thomas caught a season-high five passes for 45 yards and threw several key blocks that helped the Saints to over 200 yards rushing.
The Rams' offense, which scored a season-high 23 points, showed its potential against the Saints.
Bulger, a two-time Pro Bowl quarterback, passed for 298 yards and two touchdowns. Donnie Avery caught four passes, including both of Bulger's touchdown passes.
Rookie Brandon Gibson had seven catches for 93 yards.
The Rams' best weapon, running back Steven Jackson, was the focal point of the offensive and was used perhaps too much.
Jackson had 131 rushing yards and a touchdown on 26 carries and 45 receiving yards on nine catches. However, he only had 31 yards in the second half on 10 carries and was stuffed on a 4th-and-short.
New Orleans allowed St. Louis to gain more than 100 yards above their season average. The Saints can only hope that Greer and Sharper return quickly and that Porter's injury isn't season-ending.
The good news for the Saints is Atlanta's loss to Carolina puts New Orleans four games up in the NFC South with seven games left in the season. They would have to suffer a Denver-like meltdown in order to not win the division at this point.
New Orleans tied a franchise mark with their ninth-straight regular season win and are 9-0 for the first time ever.
The Saints won their final nine games of 1987 on their way to a 12-3 record. They also won the final two games of the 1990 season before winning their first seven games in 1991.
The Saints face the 1-8 Tampa Bay Buccaneers next week as they go for their first-ever 10-game winning streak.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!