NEW ORLEANS (Ticker) -- The New Orleans Saints could have prevented the St. Louis Rams from joining the postseason party here last week. Today, they get another crack at the defending Super Bowl champions in the NFC wild card round.
In order to reach Super Bowl XXXV, the Rams will need to win three straight road games. But they're happy just to have a chance to repeat.
The Saints have never won a playoff game, losing four games between the 1987 and 1992 seasons with Jim Mora as coach.
Last week, St. Louis needed to beat the Saints and the lowly Chicago Bears to upset the Detroit Lions to make the playoffs. With Marshall Faulk trampling the Saints for a career-high 220 rushing yards and three touchdowns, the Rams took care of their business with a 26-21 victory.
The three touchdowns gave Faulk a league record 26, surpassing the previous mark of 25 by Dallas' Emmitt Smith in 1995.
Despite Faulk's heroics, the Rams were still at the mercy of the Bears. But their prayers were answered when rookie Paul Edinger kicked a 54-yard field goal with two seconds left, lifting the Bears to a 23-20 victory.
"A lot of teams don't want to see us (in the playoffs)," Rams cornerback Todd Lyght said. "They (the Saints) might say they want to play us, but deep down they don't want to see us."
The Rams and New Orleans shared the NFC West title, but the Saints won the tiebreaker on the basis of a better division record (7-1 to 5-3).
But last week, the Rams were clearly the superior team. They outgained New Orleans, 474-269, more than doubled New Orleans in first downs, 26-12, and controlled the ball for nearly 38 minutes.
The Saints had no offensive touchdowns through three quarters before Aaron Brooks threw for a pair of fourth-quarter scores.
Despite being soundly outplayed, Saints receiver Joe Horn relishes the chance to play the Rams again.
"That is good (to play the Rams again)," Horn said. "So all you Ram bandwagoners hop on with them. I'm glad they're coming back here."
How could the Saints want to see Faulk again? Last week, he carried the ball 32 times and scored on runs of nine and one yard. He also caught seven passes for 41 yards, including a 13-yard touchdown.
Saints defensive tackle Norman Hand knows the Saints will have to a better job containing Faulk.
"They ran the ball on us, something I didn't think they were going to do," Hand said. "We just didn't tackle well. That obviously has to change."
Despite missing two games and undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery, Faulk finished with 1,359 yards rushing and 18 touchdowns and 81 receptions for 830 yards and eight scores.
Rams Pro Bowl quarterback Kurt Warner, the 1999 MVP, suffered a mild concussion in last week's game, but returned to practice this week and will start today.
He was 12-of-17 for 133 yards and a touchdown and had an interception returned 41 yards for a score by linebacker Darrin Smith before he left the game in the third quarter. Trent Green replaced Warner and completed 6-of-10 for 115 yards.
Brooks struggled through three quarters before hitting Willie Jackson and Horn with touchdown passes in the fourth quarter. He was 16-of-31 for 208 yards with an interception.
Brooks' first career start was a stunning 31-24 victory at St. Louis on November 26. He accounted for three touchdowns, including a one-yard TD run with 3:50 remaining to break a 24-24 tie. The key to the winning drive was a 47-yard pass interference call against Rams cornerback Todd Lyght.
But Warner did not play in that game due to a broken pinky and Faulk was limited to eight carries for 27 yards and two catches less than three weeks after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery.
Green started for Warner and passed for 289 yards and two touchdowns, but fumbled twice inside the New Orleans 10 and was intercepted with two minutes left.
If the Rams win, they will visit the New York Giants (12-4) in the divisional playoffs.
If the Saints win, they will visit the Minnesota Vikings (11-5) in the divisional playoffs.
The Rams lead the series, 35-27.