Instant Replay: Saints 26, Rams 24

Here are some highlights from the Saints' preseason opener at the St. Louis Rams from the Edward Jones Dome.

What did we learn? Saints coach Sean Payton may have won a Super Bowl with a daring call, but he played it safe on Friday. Payton held out 13 players inclouding Drew Brees, Champ Bailey, Jairus Byrd, Ben Grubbs, Jahri Evans. It was the right call. The last thing the Saints needed was to rush a player back for the first preseason game.

Chris Long must love playing the Saints: The noted Saints terror and son of hall of famer Howie didn't play much, but he still had an impact. Long intercepted the third pass of the game from Saints backup quarterback Luke McCown. Add this to Long's long reel of highlights of sacks against the Saints in past seasons.

Griffin has improved: The plan for former Tulane quarterback Ryan Griffin last year was the watch and learn from quarterbacks Drew Brees and Luke McCown during his rookie season. Griffin showed that the plan worked. He made good, quick decisions. He seemed comfortable in the pocket. This is not to say that there is a duel between Griffin and McCown for the backup quarterback job, because right now it belongs to McCown. But Griffin is improving and putting McCown on notice. Griffin was 16 of 23 for 179 yards and one touchdown.

Ingram shines: Saints running back Mark Ingram, the King of the Meaningless Good Performances, burst through the middle of the Rams defense for a 22-yard touchdown run to give the team a 16-14 lead with 2:37 left in the second quarter. He rushed for 83 yards and one touchdown on eight carries.

Play of the game: The Cooks touchdown. He caught a short pass over the middle and sped to the end zone untouched.

What's cooking? Saints first-round pick Brandin Cooks caught a 25-yard touchdown pass from Griffin in the third quarter. Cooks had five catches for 55 yards.

What gives? Chase Reynolds of the Rmas had a 38-yard run on a fake punt in the third quarter. Aren't fake punts and field goals unofficially illegal in the preseason?

Coming up: The Saints host the Tennessee Titans in their second preseason game on Friday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

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