For the first half of the 2013 season, Austin Pettis was one of the Rams’ busiest receivers. Through eight games, Pettis was thrown to 45 times. Only tight end Jared Cook (50) and wide receiver Tavon Austin (49) were targeted more times at that point of the season.
At the halfway point of the season, Pettis already had established a career high for reception yards (284), matched his career high for touchdowns (four), and was just three catches shy of his career high in receptions.

But since that midway point of the season, Pettis’ role in the offense has diminished greatly. Over the next five games — from the Tennessee contest Nov. 3 through the second Arizona game Dec. 8 — he was thrown to only 10 times with just three receptions.

Last Sunday against New Orleans, Pettis fell off the milk carton and back onto the field. He caught four passes from quarterback Kellen Clemens for 41 yards — all in the first quarter.

“It was real nice to kind of get put back into the offense a little bit more,” said Pettis, a third-year pro from Boise State. “Unfortunately, it’s because we had an injury with Tavon. But I’m just glad that I was able to come in and make some plays to help the team.”

Pettis helped start and finish the Rams’ 93-yard touchdown drive in the first quarter against the Saints. On third-and-5 from the St. Louis 12, Pettis caught a nine-yard pass for a first down.

Five plays and two New Orleans penalties later, he caught a nine-yard pass to move the chains on third-and-9 from the Saints’ 13. Tight end Lance Kendricks scored on the next play to give the Rams a 14-0 lead.

“I really enjoy those roles,” Pettis said. “I know third downs are a big stat in this league and they translate a lot to wins and losses. So being able to come in in those scenarios and the coaches putting me back in the game to convert those is nice.”

After a successful onside kick by Greg Zuerlein, Pettis helped get the Rams into scoring position with a 14-yard reception that became a 29-yard play when Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins was flagged for unnecessary roughness for his hit on Pettis. Three plays later, Zuerlein’s 31-yard field goal gave the Rams a 17-0 lead and they never looked back in a 27-16 upset victory.