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Brees injures hand in loss

LOS ANGELES — When Drew Brees went to the sideline holding his injured throwing hand, this NFC championship game rematch — and maybe this season’s Super Bowl race — dramatically changed in an instant.

Jared Goff and the Los Angeles Rams didn’t waste the opportunity created by Brees’ absence to beat the Saints again. And with no help from a no-call this time.

Goff passed for 283 yards and a touchdown and rushed for another score, and the Rams stopped New Orleans from scoring an offensive touchdown for the first time since 2016 during Los Angeles’ 27-9 victory Sunday.

A strong performance by the Rams’ defense, an impressive second half from Goff’s offense, and another officiating decision that hurt the Saints were all overshadowed by Brees’ departure late in the first quarter.

“I told him I’m hoping for the best,” Goff said of his postgame chat with Brees. “He’s a great player for this league, a face of the league, and somebody we need in the league.”

Brees’ throwing hand collided with Aaron Donald’s outstretched hand while he threw an incompletion on the Saints’ second drive, and the NFL’s career leader in yards passing spent the afternoon on the Coliseum sideline with his thumb heavily wrapped. Brees will see a hand specialist Sunday night, he said.

“There is only so much you can do here as far as a doctor seeing it on the sideline,” Brees said. “Hoping it is not too significant.”

Teddy Bridgewater went 17 of 30 for 165 yards in solid relief, while Alvin Kamara rushed for just 45 yards for the Saints (1-1), who seemed understandably discombobulated without their longtime quarterback — although the Rams’ defense deserves plenty of credit as well.

Brees’ absence “really didn’t change anything at all for us,” Rams pass rusher Dante Fowler said.

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