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Pro Football Week 11 | NEW ORLEANS 24, ST. LOUIS 3

A Cheery Situation for Collins

November 16, 1998|From Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS — It was a sound Kerry Collins had not heard in a while--cheers, real cheers--from football fans before, during and after a game.

"I was standing on the sideline and I said, 'Life can be really weird,' " Collins said Sunday after the New Orleans defeated the St. Louis Rams, 24-3, in his first start for the Saints. "Two weeks ago, four weeks ago, they were screaming at me, booing me. Strange things can happen."

Collins, who had not thrown a pass since Oct. 4, completed five passes for 62 yards in the Saints' first possession, including one to Cam Cleeland for a 10-yard touchdown.

It was the first time the Saints (5-5) had scored in the first quarter since the second game of the season. The Rams (3-7) have given up 90 points in the first quarter--worst in the NFL.

"The ball looks just the same no matter who throws it," Cleeland said. "It just looks better if you see it coming to you in the end zone. So his pass looked better."

Collins, claimed off waivers by the Saints after a bitter parting with the Carolina Panthers, is New Orleans' fourth starting quarterback this season, the seventh since Mike Ditka took over as coach last year.

Collins, who led the Panthers to the NFC championship game in 1996, left Carolina amid charges he had lost his desire to play the game and had a drinking problem. Collins was arrested on drunken driving charges after the Saints played the Panthers Nov. 1.

"I think to get it done on the first drive was important for me and important for the team too," Collins said. "To see that I could go out and make it happen. I'm sure they were wondering. They read the papers and know what's happened. I wanted to show them that my heart was in the game."

Collins finished 13 for 26 for 150 yards.

Meanwhile, Ram quarterback Tony Banks appeared rattled by the constant Saint pressure that sacked him seven times. He completed 24 of 37 passes for 246 yards but threw two interceptions and failed to pick up yardage in critical situations. The Rams converted only two of 12 third downs.

Both quarterbacks were hampered by the lack of running games.

The Saints, who had averaged only 49.8 yards a game rushing for the last six games, gained 102--38 by Collins. St. Louis, averaging 98 yards a game, had 55 yards in 19 carries.

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