Notebook: Halftime deficit matched Saints’ largest under Sean Payton

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton roams the field before the start of an NFL football game against the St. Louis Rams Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast) Show caption
New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton roams the field before the start of an NFL football game against the St. Louis Rams Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

ST. LOUIS — The New Orleans Saints’ 21-point halftime deficit in Sunday’s game with the St. Louis Rams matched the largest through two quarters of a regular-season game in the Sean Payton era.

The Saints, who trailed 24-3 at halftime, went on to drop a 27-16 decision in the Edwards Jones Dome.

The other 21-point halftime deficits since Payton arrived in 2006 were in a 35-22 loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Oct. 29, 2006, and a 31-14 setback to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sept. 16, 2007.

Pick city

Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who came into the game with just one interception in his past five games and eight for the season, was picked off twice on their first two possessions.

Both were turned into touchdowns by the Rams offense, giving them a 14-0 lead with 2:45 to play in the opening quarter.

Brees had thrown two picks in the first quarter only once in his 13-year career. With the San Diego Chargers in 2003, he had back-to-back interceptions on the first two series and threw three that night in a 26-10 loss to the Miami Dolphins.

Empty feeling

The Saints defense, which was ranked sixth in the NFL, did not have a sack or takeaway in a game for the first time this season.

Rob Ryan’s defense, which was tied for second in the league with 43 sacks going into the game, did not get to Kellen Clemens even though he had been sacked 18 times in six-plus games since taking over for an injured Sam Bradford.

The Saints had no takeaways for the fifth time in the past seven games. They have a total of two in that seven-game span after getting 15 in the first seven games.

Welcome back

Saints rookie defensive end Glenn Foster was active Sunday after missing two games with a knee injury that he suffered Nov. 21 at the Atlanta Falcons.

Foster, an undrafted free agent, had three sacks and eight total tackles in nine games before being injured.

Inactives

The Saints’ inactives were S Rafael Bush (ankle), LB Keyunta Dawson (calf), TE Josh Hill (hamstring), WR Nick Toon, DE Tyrunn Walker, CB Trevin Wade and QB Ryan Griffin.

Dawson was inactive for the third consecutive game, and Bush missed his second game in a row. Hill was injured early in last week’s game with the Carolina Panthers.

Inactives of note for the Rams were WR Tavon Austin (ankle), G Harvey Dahl (knee) and RB Daryl Richardson (thigh).

Familiar faces

With Dahl out, right tackle Rodger Saffold moved inside to take his place, and former LSU player Joe Barksdale got the start at tackle.

Barksdale was one of three players with Louisiana connections to start for the Rams. Former Catholic High star Chris Williams was at left guard, and former LSU standout Michael Brockers opened at defensive tackle.

A Brockers block

Brockers partially blocked a 36-yard field-goal attempt by Saints kicker Garrett Hartley with 2 seconds to play in the first half, allowing his team to take a 21-point lead to the locker room.

“I felt the ball graze my hand, but I (thought) I got a lot of the ball,” Brockers said. “I got great penetration. ...

“It felt good,” he said of beating the Saints. “I’ve been getting texts all week about how the Saints were going to run through us. But I had trust in our team and what we can do.”

Lagniappe

The Saints were minus-3 on turnovers and are minus-5 in seven road games this season. They’re plus-5 at home. … The Rams’ second interception by cornerback Trumaine Johnson, which came on a play that started at the Rams’ 10, was the first pick against Brees in 167 red-zone pass attempts. … Clemens had two touchdown passes in the first quarter, marking the first time he has had two scoring passes in one period in his eight-year career.