The Rams' Dale Hatcher continues to kick the ball high and long and his punting has become "a part of this team's personality," in the estimation of Coach John Robinson.
Hatcher had seven punts for an average of 38.9 yards Sunday, but that hardly tells the story. His first, for example, was 31 yards but it was downed at the Saints' 8-yard line. His third punt was just 22 yards, but New Orleans returner Carl Roaches made a fair catch at the Saints' 16.
When he did get the chance to air it out, Hatcher booted high spirals of 46, 51 and 60 yards.
"Dale Hatcher is a huge, huge weapon," Robinson said.
New Orleans Coach Bum Phillips is a simple man of simple pleasures and he doesn't get into fancy, complicated explanations of what transpired on the field.
San Francisco Coach Bill Walsh may choose to describe games in language only a psychology professor with a minor in computer technology could love, but Phillips speaks to the common man.
"The basic key to this game was simple," Phillips said of his team's 28-10 loss Sunday to the Rams at Anaheim Stadium. "The Rams overpowered us. They kept the ball away from us and controlled the game . . . they just beat us."
Dennis Harrah, who has missed six games with a torn muscle in his thigh, was back in the starting lineup and the 32-year-old, 11-year veteran admitted he was a bit, er, rusty.
"I felt like I dusted some cobwebs off me today," Harrah said. "I've been running quite a bit so I didn't really get tired, but, on a couple of plays, it felt like I did have some cobwebs.
"My legs felt really strong . . . at times, I wished I played as well as my legs felt."
Saints quarterback Dave Wilson, a Katella High alumnus, returned to Anaheim and spent a good part of the day watching the game from the stadium turf. He was sacked nine times and was forced to leave the game late in the fourth period after Ram nose guard Shawn Miller wrestled him to the ground.
Last season, Wilson played well against the Rams at Anaheim Stadium and led a near-comeback as a substitute. Sunday was different. He completed 19-of-35 passes for only 156 yards and threw one interception that led to a Los Angeles touchdown.
"It was frustrating for me," said Wilson. "If I had been sacked nine times at any stadium, not just Anaheim, it would have been embarrassing. It was even more so here today."
Though Eric Dickerson scored one touchdown and gained 108 yards -- his first 100-yard game since Sept. 23, against Seattle -- the New Orleans defense spent time patting itself on the back.
"I thought we played Eric Dickerson very well," said linebacker Scott Pelluer. "He didn't have a field day on us. And we shut him down a lot more than I think he would have liked."
More on Phillips: The New Orleans coach may last the remainder of the season, but there are indications that his leadership is being questioned. Following Sunday's loss to the Rams, which lowered the Saints' record to 3-6, New Orleans nose guard Tony Elliott told Dave Lagarde of The Times-Picayune/States-Item: "Fans know what's wrong," said Elliott. "It's up to those in power to do something to rectify it. I'm sure the people in control will be thinking about rectifying the situation."
Irv Pankey started at left tackle for the Rams. But after two series, he was replaced by Bill Bain. Reason: upset stomach.
Bain wasn't exactly fit, either. Last week against the 49ers, Bain broke the little finger on his right hand and also tore his right bicep. Bain finished the first half and Pankey, who was feeling better, alternated for the second half.
Said Bain: "I was good enough to go in for him when Pankey was hurting."
But Bain wasn't upset about Pankey starting the game. "The head coach made a smart move. The bottom line is to put the best team on the field. Pankey deserved to play."