If it had been a war, the New Orleans Saints would have been justified in asking the Los Angeles Rams for their conditions of surrender.

The Rams came with as many as eight players on pass plays, quarterback Archie Manning disclosed after he was sacked seven times in the 27-7 thrashing in the Superdome.

"I stopped off in the ice whirlpool," he said. "I am pretty sore."

So were the Saint fans, although they made light of their team's plight by covering their heads with paper bags that said "New Orleans Aints."

Manning called the fan reaction and the speculation that Coach Dick Nolan's job is in jeopardy "a kind of heavy atmosphere to wade through as you try to prepare for a game."

Nolan was disconsolate.

"I've never been through anything like this in my life," he said.

Will he resign?

"No, I will not resign. (Owner) John Mecom and I spoke briefly after the game but I will not comment on the conversation."

Tex Schramm, general manager of the Dallas Cowboys, was the guest of Steve Rosenbloom, Saint general manager, in the press box, stirring talk that Rosenbloom might have been inquiring about the availability of Dan Reeves after the season as the next coach of the Saints. Reeves is the Cowboys' offensive coordinator.

Schramm and Rosenbloom laughed off pertinent questions and when it was suggested the Cowboys might lose Reeves, Schramm replied, "Is that so?"

Among the signs displayed among the crowd of 53,448 was one inscribed, "We Want Kilmer."

The area around the playing field was littered with paper airplanes near the finish as the fans displayed their disgust. One demonstrator appeared in a turkey costume and it was not because Thanksgiving was two days away.

Yet, there were only 5,677 no-shows.

The Rams were not impressive, but did raise their record to 8-4, a game behind the first-place Atlanta Falcons in the Western Division of the NFC.

The defeat was especially galling for Rosenbloom, who was fired by Georgia Rosenbloom Frontiere, owner of the Rams, founded by his late father.

Don Klosterman, general manager of the Rams, and a pivotal figure in the discharge of Steve, sat five feet away from him in the press box, watching his Los Angeles team expose the inadequacies of the Saints.

Quarterback Manning was so battered that on the seventh sack, defensive end Jack Youngblood felt sorry for him and helped him stay on his feet.

Nolan did not remove Manning until the Rams led, 27-0. Bobby Scott replaced him with 8:01 remaining and averted a shutout with 15-yard touchdown pass to tight end Henry Childs after Jimmy Rogers returned a kickoff 88 yards to the Ram 15-yard line.

There were cheers for the Saint defense when it held the Rams scoreless in the first quarter, particularly when the Rams taunted New Orleans by gambling on fourth and four on the Saint 17 and Vince Ferragamo was forced into throwing out of bounds.

But in the second quarter Ferragamo got the Rams percolating, building a 14-0 lead with touchdown passes to running back Mike Guman and wide receiver Preston Dennard.

By then, Manning was being overrun.

"They came with four linemen, two linebackers and sometimes two defensive backs on pass plays," he said.