Frustration boils over in defeat

ST. LOUIS — An afternoon of frustration reached a climax in the final minutes of Sunday’s game between the New Orleans Saints and St. Louis Rams for Saints Pro Bowl guard Carl Nicks.

Nicks and offensive line coach Aaron Kromer exchanged words on the sideline in the closing stages of the Saints’ 31-21 loss to the previously winless Rams in the Edwards Jones Dome.

“Basically, it was just a misunderstanding,” Nicks said after the game. “At the end of the day, if I did have a problem, it’s going to stay in-house no matter what.”

When asked if it was just frustration that was building throughout the game, Nicks said, “Absolutely. When you lose a game like that, it hurts. I let my emotions get the best of me, that’s all I can really say about that.”

A rarity

The Saints had a punt blocked for the first time in eight seasons on Sunday when Rams defensive end Robert Quinn barged in and smothered a kick by Thomas Morstead with 1:36 to play in the first half.

The 265-pound Quinn overpowered Saints safety Jonathon Amaya to get to Morstead’s punt, and the Rams took over on the New Orleans 15.

Two plays later, the Rams scored on a 3-yard run by Steve Jackson for a 10-0 lead. The Rams got another touchdown after a Drew Brees interception to turn a 3-0 lead into a 17-0 cushion at halftime.

The last punt blocked against the Saints was on Dec. 7, 2003, when Tampa Bay’s David Gibson got one against Mitch Berger.

Streaks extended

It didn’t mean much afterward, but Brees continued two streaks when he threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Lance Moore with six seconds to play in the game.

Brees has thrown at least one scoring pass in 35 straight games and is now just one game behind Brett Favre (36) and record holder Johnny Unitas (47).

Brees also completed 30 of 44 attempts and extended his NFL record with 20 completions or more to 28 games in a row.

Inactives

The Saints inactives were running back Mark Ingram (heel), tackle Zach Strief (knee), tight end David Thomas (concussion), linebacker Will Herring (hamstring), defensive end Turk McBride (shoulder), wide receiver Adrian Arrington and cornerback Johnny Patrick.

Inactives of note for the Rams were quarterback Sam Bradford (ankle), linebacker Brady Poppinga (calf), tackle Jason Smith (neck/concussion) and wide receiver Danario Alexander (hamstring).

Injuries

Saints right tackle Charles Brown left the game with 11:25 to play in the game with a right knee injury and did not return. He was replaced by Pat McQuistan.

Hail the champions

While the Rams won for the first time in 2011, some of the loudest cheers early Sunday were saved for the St. Louis Cardinals, who Friday night won the World Series in nearby Busch Stadium.

Many of the Cardinals, including former Broadmoor High and LSU star Ryan Theriot, stood on the Rams sideline for pregame warmups. They were introduced during the first timeout of the first quarter before leaving to prepare for a downtown victory parade that began at 4 p.m.

Louisiana connections

Theriot spent time before the game visiting with Rams punter Donnie Jones, a former Catholic High and LSU standout.

Jones, one of the game captains Sunday, punted seven times for a 42.6 average with a long of 59.

Also on the Rams’ active roster is defensive end James Hall, a New Orleans native who is in his 12th NFL season.

Lagniappe

Saints fullback Jed Collins had the longest play of his NFL career in the second quarter, a 14-yard reception from Brees. His previous long was a 3-yard catch. … Brees set a Saints record for career pass attempts and now has 3,356, surpassing Archie Manning’s old mark of 3,335. … The Saints lost the coin toss and are now 0-for-8 this season. … Morstead’s 62-yard punt in the second quarter was his longest this season. … The Rams wore throwback uniforms, replicas of the ones the 1999 team wore when it won Super Bowl XXXIV after the 1999 season.