New Orleans Saints
1967: On September 17th the Saints took the field for their first regular season game in front of 80,879 fans at ancient Tulane Stadium. The Saints got things started with a bang as rookie Running Back John Gilliam returned the opening kickoff 94 yards for a Touchdown. However the Saints would lose the inaugural game to the Los Angeles Rams 27-13. The Saints would not win their first game until November 5th when they beat the Philadelphia Eagles, 31-24, as Walt Roberts scored three Touchdowns. The Saints would wind up their first season with a 3-11 record.
1968: In their second season the Saints would play surprisingly strong football as the start of the season splitting their first six games. However, they would win just one more game the rest of the way as they finished in third place with a 4-9-1 record.
1969: Establishing himself as one of pro-football rising stars Danny Abramowicz wins NFL receiving honors with 73 catches for 1,015 yards and seven Touchdowns. The Saints would go on to finish with best record yet at 5-9.
1970: The Saints struggle out of the gate and original head coach Tom Fears is replaced by JD Roberts. In Roberts’ first game at the helm on November 8th the Saints were trailing in the final seconds 17-16 to the Detroit Lions. Stuck at midfield, the Saints new coach decides to roll the dice and have Kicker Tom Dempsey attempt a 63-yard field goal. Dempsey, who was born without toes on his right foot, wore a heavy square-toed kicking shoe. The home crowd at Tulane Stadium roared to life as Dempsey nailed what would be a NFL record long Field Goal to give the Saints a 19-17 victory as time expired. However the Saints would still on to finish with a disappointing 2-11-1 record.
1971: Hoping to build a solid foundation behind with a Quarterback, the Saints draft Ole’ Miss star Archie Manning with second overall draft pick. In Manning’s first game on September 19th the Saints upset the Los Angeles Rams 24-20 at Tulane Stadium. Manning ran for one yard Touchdown on the final play after he completed 16-of-29 passes for 218 yards and one Touchdown. On October 17th Archie Manning would again star for the Saints rushing for two Touchdowns as the Saints stun the eventual Super Bowl champion Dallas Cowboys, 24-20 before 83,088 at Tulane Stadium. The Saints would go on to finish with a 4-8-2 record.
1972: The Saints would stumble out of the gate losing their first five games on the way to a miserable 2-11-1 season. Along the way Quarterback Archie Manning would struggle under constant pressure as he was sacked 43 times.
1973: After a disappointing setback in 1972, the Saints bounce back to finish 5-9 their best record to date. The season is highlighted the first shutout in franchise history 13-0 over the Buffalo Bills on November 4th. In the game the Saints would hold Bills Running Back O.J. Simpson to just 79 yards his lowest output of the season as he became the first to rush for 2,000 yards.
1974: On December 8th the Saints shut out the St. Louis Cardinals, 14-0 in the franchise’s final game in Tulane Stadium. The Saints ended their eight season stay in Tulane Stadium with a 23-32-1 home record. The Saints would again finish with a 5-9 record matching their best ever record.
1975: On September 28th in the first regular season NFL game in the Louisiana Superdome, the Saints lost to the Cincinnati Bengals, 21-0, before 52,531 spectators. The Saints would not win much their first year at the Superdome finishing with an awful 2-12 record.
1976: Hoping past success could influence a struggling franchise; the Saints hire Hank Stram as the new Head Coach. Stram led the Chiefs to three AFL Championships and a victory in Super Bowl IV at Tulane Stadium. However, in Stram’s first season at the helm the Saints continued to struggle finishing with a 4-10 record.
1977: The Saints would continue to struggle, finishing in last place with a miserable 3-11 record, as Coach Hank Stram is fired following the season. In his two years as Coach the Saints only managed to win seven games. The failure of Stram as Coach of the Saints would keep the legendary former Kansas City Chiefs Coach out of the Hall of Fame for 25 years.
1978: Quarterback Archie Manning puts together one of his finest seasons earning The Sporting News NFC Player of the Year as the Saints flirt all year with .500, before finishing with a franchise best 7-9 mark.
1979: On October 28th the Saints moved into undisputed first place lead in NFC West for the first time with a 14-10 win at the Washington Redskins. The Saints stopped Washington a total of 18 times with goal to go and seven times within the two yard line in defensive masterpiece. The Saints would challenge the Los Angeles Rams for the NFC west lead all season long before finishing with an 8-8 record, (their first ever non-losing season). However, one game would haunt the Saints all off-season and that was on December 3rd in a Monday Night match up with the Oakland Raiders at the Superdome. Running Back Chuck Muncie became first Saint to surpass 1,000-yard milestone on the way to a 1,198-yard season as the Saints rushed out to a 35-14 lead. However, the lead and hopes for a playoff spot would disappear as Raiders stormed back to win 42-35.
1980: After two season in which they played competitive football, the Saints return to their bumbling ways of the past. The Saints would not win their first game until the next to last game of the season finishing with a franchise worst record of 1-15. During the Season Saints fans would show up at the Superdome wearing paper bags over the heads, while carrying signs suggesting the team should be called the “Aints”.
1981: Hoping past success would bring a bright future to New Orleans the Saints hire Bum Phillips to be their new Head Coach. Phillips had rebuilt the Houston Oilers into a perennial AFC Title contender losing back-to-back heartbreakers to the Steelers in AFC Championship. With the first pick overall the Saints draft Heisman Trophy winner George Rogers out of South Carolina. Rogers would go on to win the Offensive Rookie of the Year, as he rushed all-time rookie record of 1,674 yards. However the Saints would continue to struggle finishing with a 4-12 record.
1982: After a strike cancelled seven games of the regular season the Saints finish with a 4-5 record, and narrowly missed the playoffs in a complicated labyrinth of tie-breakers.
1983: With an 8-7 record going into the final game of the season at the Superdome against the Los Angeles Rams, the Saints have a chance to finish with their first winning season, while earning a playoff berth. However, Rams kicker Mike Lansford kicked a 42-yard Field Goal with :06 left to defeat the Saints 26-24, and advance to the playoffs.
1984: A year after barely missing the playoffs the Saints come flying out of the gates winning four of their first five games. However, the Saints would struggle as newly acquired Quarterback Richard Todd threw 19 interceptions to just one Touchdown as the Saints again finished the season with a losing record at 7-9.
1985: In the middle of his fifth season with Saints off to a rough start Head Coach Bum Phillips retires with five games left in the season. His son Wade, who had been serving as Defensive Coordinator takes over for the remainder of the season. The Saints would go on to finish with a disappointing 5-11 record.
1986: After a 1-4 start under new coach Jim Mora the Saints put together a solid season finishing 7-8-1. Rookie Running Back Rueben Mayes rushes for 1,353 yards and is named Offensive Rookie of the Year.
1987: On October 25th in the first game with regular players (after the strike replacements complete a 2-1 record) the Saints fall to the San Francisco 49ers 24-22 in a Superdome thriller. Following the game, Coach Jim Mora made his highly publicized “coulda, woulda, shoulda” proclamation to the media after the loss dropped the Saints to 3-3 on the season. One week later on November 1st the Saints posted the largest margin of victory in team history, shutting out the Atlanta Falcons 38-0. The win was the first in team record nine consecutive triumphs to close out the season, to give the Saints their 1st winning record in their 21st season at 12-3, along with their first playoff berth. However the 49ers would win their final game of the season to hold off the Saints for the NFC West Title. The city of New Orleans that hosted six of the first 21 Super Bowls finally hosts a home playoff game for their Saints. A packed house at The Superdome watched the Saints jump out to a 7-0 lead over the Minnesota Vikings early in the 1st Quarter. However, the Vikings would take a 31-10 lead into halftime on their way to a 44-10 victory in the NFC Wild Card Game. Making matters worse Saints Running Back Ruben Mayes sustains torn knee ligaments requiring surgery.
1988: The Saints continued to play strong football as they finished in a three way to tie for first place in the NFC West with a solid 10-6 record. However, two costly losses to the San Francisco 49ers would cost the Saints a playoff spot as they held no tiebreakers in their favor.
1989: The Saints put together their third consecutive winning season finishing with a 9-7 record. However, once again it was not good enough to qualify for one of the five playoff spots in the NFC.
1990: Despite struggling all season and entering the final game of the season with a 7-8 record the Saints had a shot to make the playoffs with a win in the final game of the season on a Monday Night game on New Years Eve at the Superdome against the Rams. With the score tied at 17 Morten Andersen kicked a game winning Field Goal with two seconds left to even the Saints record at 8-8, and earn the Saints the newly established sixth Playoff spot in the NFC. The Saints would go on to lose 16-6 to the Chicago Bears in the Wild Card round at Solider Field.
1991: In a year in which the Saints celebrated their 25th Anniversary, the franchise associated mostly with failure gets off to an incredible 7-0 start. Prior to this the Saints had never started better then 1-0 before their first loss. However, the Saints would begin to struggle and over their next seven games the Saints only manage a 2-5 record including a three game losing streak in December. Just when it looked like the Saints would fail again they bounced back to win the final two games of the season to finish with an 11-5 record, and won their first ever Division Title. The Saints poor stretch would end up hurting them when it came to playoff seeding, as the team lost its bid for a 1st Round Bye. In the Wild Card round the Saints were matched up against their heated division rival Atlanta Falcons. The Saints would jump to an early lead, but the pesky Falcons would comeback and stun the Saints for a 27-20 victory in the Superdome.
1992: The Saints who lead the NFL in fewest points allowed with 202, and Sacks with 57 finish with a 12-4 record earning their third consecutive trip to the playoffs. The Saints would even earn another home playoff game with a 20-0 victory over the New York Jets in their final game of the season. In the playoff game against the Philadelphia Eagles the Saints held a 20-7 lead and looked well on their way to their first playoff victory. However, the Eagles stormed back by scoring 29 unanswered points over the final quarter and half to beat the Saints 36-20.
1993: The Saints string of three consecutive Playoff berths ends in disappointment as the Saints win just two of their final eight games to finish with a mediocre 8-8 record, after winning their first five games.
1994: On October 23rd Tyrone Hughes returned two kickoffs for Touchdowns on his way to setting or tying seven team, and four NFL records in the midst of a 37-34 victory over the Los Angeles Rams at the Superdome. However, the Saints would suffer their first losing record in eight years as they finished with a 7-9 record.
1995: Despite a solid season from Quarterback Jim Everett who passes for 3,970 yards the Saints would continue to struggle finishing in last place with a record of 7-9 that was the same as the expansion Carolina Panthers who finished ahead in the NFC West standings via tiebreaker.
1996: On October 20 after a 19-7 loss to the Carolina Panthers Head Coach Jim Mora rips into his team at a press conference declaring, “We Suck”. One day later Mora, who had coached the Saints for ten and half seasons, and brought them to the playoffs resigned. Linebacker Coack Rick Venturi would take over for the rest of the season. The Saints would end up with an awful 3-13 record, giving some credence to Mora’s statements.
1997: Hoping past success would have a positive impact on a struggling franchise the Saints decide to hire Mike Ditka, as their new Head Coach. Dikta led the Bears to a victory in Super Bowl XX played at the Superdome. However, despite Dikta the Saints could only muster up a 6-10 season.
1998: The Saints would get off to a strong start winning their first three games. However, the inability to find a consistent Quarterback would catch up with them as they endured their second straight 6-10 season using four different staring Quarterbacks.
1999: Prior to the NFL Draft Mike Ditka proclaimed he would be willing to trade all of the Saints draft picks for one player Heisman Trophy Winning Running Back Ricky Williams. The Washington Redskins found that offer too good to refuse, and made the deal. Unfortunately for Ditka, and the Saints, Williams would struggle adjusting to life in the NFL, and with injuries and the Saints would finish with a woeful 3-13 record. After the season Saints owner Tom Benson proclaimed “I will take whatever steps necessary at the end of the regular season to make the New Orleans Saints a winning franchise.” His first step was to fire Mike Ditka.
2000: Since they traded their first Round pick in the Ricky Williams trade, the Saints had to rebuild through other means. The Saints would sign eight Free Agents off other rosters, and trade for the Green Bay Packers third string Quarterback Aaron Brooks to back up the newly signed Jeff Blake. To lead the new look Saints the club hired former Saints assistant coach & defensive coordinator Jim Haslett as the new head coach. Under Haslett the Saints would get off to a slow 1-3 start, but on October 8th The Saints began to march to a new tune as they won 6 straight. However, injuries threatened the Saints when Quarterback Jeff Blake, and Running Back Ricky Williams were both lost for the season. However, thanks to back up Aaron Brooks the Saints did not miss a beat. On November 26th the Saints would stun the St. Louis Rams with a 31-24 win in St. Louis. In fact the win was the key victory of the season as the Saints finished 10-6 (thanks to a 7-1 record on the road), and won their second division title in franchise history, as Coach Jim Haslett earned NFL Coach of the Year honors. Even though the Saints had won the NFC West, and were the host team for the playoffs not many experts gave them a shot of beating the defending Super Bowl Champion St. Louis Rams despite struggling to make the playoffs as the sixth seed. In fact many experts saw the Rams as prime Super Bowl contenders, and the Saints as pretenders. Not helping the Saints was the fact that they were 0-4 in their four previous trips to the postseason. However, these Saints were different and in a spectacular shoot out the Saints would grab a lead at halftime, and every time the Rams got with in a Field the Saints would surge out to a ten point lead again. However, in the 4th Quarter the Rams looked on the verge of taking a lead after Az-Zhair Hakim returned a punt deep into Saints territory. However, a penalty on the play wiped out the return and the Saints were able to hold on for a 31-28 victory. Even though the Saints would go on to lose in the next round 34-16 to the Vikings in Minnesota. The Saints were finally a postseason winner, and had hope for the future.
2001: Coming off their first playoff victory the Saints were expected to contend for the postseason again. However, Quarterback Aaron Brooks struggled early and the Saints hovered at 5-5 through the first ten games. The Saints would look to get healthy by winning their next 2 and entered the final quarter of the season in strong playoff position at 7-5. However after a close loss to the St. Louis Rams, the Saints entered a key game in Tampa Bay with Buccaneers with the postseason on the line. The playoffs showdown was over quickly as the Saints were shelled 48-10, and all hopes of the postseason were lost. Things would only get worse form there in fighting in the locker room, and the reports that Wide Receiver Albert Connell stole money from team mates made a lost season even worse as the Saints seemed to just quit losing their final two games by a combined 78-10 score to finish with a record of 7-9. Following the season the Saints would deal away stars William Roaf, and Ricky Williams, and would watch helplessly as a La’Roi Glover was lost to free agency.
2002: Deuce McAllister established himself as one of the top rushers in the NFC as the Saints got off to a strong start winning six of their first seven games. However, as Aaron Brooks sustained several injuries the Saints would begin to struggle as they dropped out of first place in the newly formed NFC South by losing three of their next four games. The Saints seemed to have rebounded on December 1st as they completed the season sweep over the eventual Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers with an impressive 23-20 win in primetime at the Superdome. After beating the Baltimore Ravens a week later the Saints at 9-4 were a win away from the playoffs. However, the Saints would not win another game dropping three straight games to last place teams as they missed the playoffs with a 9-7 record.
2003: The Saints end of the season collapse carried over into the new season as the Saints lost four of their first five games. Needing to turn themselves around fast the Saints would start to play better football as they won four of their next five games to get back into the playoff picture, as Deuce McAllister ran off nine straight 100 yard rushing games on the way to a stellar 1,641 yard season. However, the Saints could not continue the momentum as they alternated wins and loses the rest of the season on the way to an 8-8 season, good enough for second place in the NFC South, but not good enough for a playoff berth.
2004: Through most of the season the Saints frustrated their fans by underachieving as they got off to a terrible 4-8 start. Making matters worse, rumors of a move to Los Angeles began to swirl as Owner Tom Benson demanded the city of New Orleans build his team a new stadium. With the season all but appearing loss and the axe about to fall on Coach Jim Haslet the Saints suddenly began to play well winning their final four games to close the season with an 8-8 record, actually getting on the cusp of the playoffs, but losing out by a tiebreaker.
2005: As the Saints were getting read to begin the season, they like the rest of New Orleans were forced to scramble as a major hurricane was coming down the gulf, as many of New Orleans residents gathered in the Louisiana Superdome to ride out the storm. For many years people have worried that a storm could hit New Orleans, a city that sits below sea level so hard that it would destroy the levies and leave in its wake a flood of biblical proportion. On August 29, 2005 those worse fears were realized, as Hurricane Katrina slammed the city and led to the breaking of the levies, flooding throughout the city, and a complete loss of power. The deviation made rescuing those left behind including those in the Superdome difficult, and over several days the Superdome became cesspool as the storm damaged the roof, while panicked people tore apart the stadium from the inside, with disease and filth making conditions unbearable. The damage to the Superdome and the city’s infrastructure made playing in New Orleans an impossibility for the Saints in 2005 as they forced to scramble to find a place to play. Despite the devastation an inspired Saints team started the season well as Deuce McAllister scored two Touchdowns in a dramatic 23-20 over the Carolina Panthers as John Carney hit a 47-yard Field Goal with three seconds left. However, the following week the NFL dealt the Saints an unfair blow, despite working out deals to play games in San Antonio’s Alamodome, and Tiger Stadium on the campus of LSU in Baton Rouge, the league decided to have the Saints play their home opener in a Monday Night Charity Game, with the league raising money through out the telecast for victims of the storm. However, they would have to play a “home game” against the New York Giants in the New Jersey Meadowlands. Saints players were not happy and blew off a meeting with Commissioner Paul Tagliabue as they lost 27-10. The following week the Saints dropped another game on the road to the Minnesota Vikings 33-16. Finally getting a real home game in the Alamodome the Saints improved to 2-2 with a 19-7 win over the Buffalo Bills, as McAllister rushed for 130 yards. The following week the Saints would lose McAllister to a season ending knee injury, as they were humiliated by the Green Bay Packers 51-3. The loss to the Packers would signal troubled times ahead for the Saints, as things began to snowball the rest of the way, as they would win just one more game finishing with an awful 3-13 record, along the way Quarterback Aaron Brooks was benched, while Todd Bauman did not manage to do much better. October 30th would see the Saints return to Louisiana as they faced the Miami Dolphins in Baton Rouge, as 61, 643 fans turned out mostly to see former LSU Coach Nick Saban lead the Dolphins to a 21-6 win. Sadly for the Saints in their remaining games in Baton Rouge brought disappointing crowds, as Owner Tom Benson’s talk about moving the team seemed to alienate their loyal fan base, who had bigger concerns with their own homes. Following the season the Saints would clean house firing Coach Jim Haslett, while releasing Quarterback Aaron Brooks. Haslett would be replaced by Sean Payton, while they broke open the bank to sign free agent Quarterback Drew Brees away from the San Diego Chargers. Then the Saints got a little luck in the NFL Draft as the Houston Texans passed up on Heisman Winner Reggie Bush, allowing the Saints to select the Running Back who has talent that has been labeled can’t miss.
2006: With a new Coach Sean Payton, a new Quarterback Drew Brees, and Rookie Running Back Reggie Bush, who was labeled can’t miss the Saints looked forward to their return to New Orleans, as the Louisiana Superdome underwent a $185 Million renovation to fix the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina. Before coming home the Saints started the season on the road with two wins, as Drew Brees showed no ill effects from the shoulder injury he suffered at the end of the previous season with the San Diego Chargers. The home coming on September 25th would become more then just a football game as a pre-game concert featuring U2, Green Day, and the Goo Goo Dolls became New Orleans way of announcing to the world that it was back in business despite many parts of the city still far from recovered from the worst natural disaster in the history of the USA. With a sold out crowd in the Superdome and over 10 million watching at home, the second highest cable telecast in television history began with a bang for the fired up Saints as they scored a Toucdown on a blocked punt just 90 seconds into the game as they cruised to a 23-3 win over the Atlanta Falcons, in a loud dome that’s only moment of silence came during a memorial for Katrina’s Victims. After such an emotional win the Saints had to have a letdown and that would come in the form of a 21-18 loss to the Carolina Panthers on the road. A week later back at the Superdome the Saints found themselves trailing again with less then five minutes to play, when Reggie Bush showed fans just what the hype was all about as he returned a punt 65 yards for a Touchdown to give the Saints a 24-21 win. The following week there were more dramatics at the Superdome, as the Saints improved to 5-1 with a 31-yard Field Goal by John Carney as time expired in a 27-24 win over the Philadelphia Eagles. The Saints would hit a rough stretch losing three of their next four games. However, the team that became the symbol for renewed hope in a devastated city recovered with three impressive wins in a row to put themselves in the driver’s seat for a division title, which they would win with a 10-6 record, earning a first round bye in the process. The Saints incredible season would earn Coach of the Year honors for Sean Payton, as Quarterback Drew finished second in NFL MVP voting with 4,418 yards passing and 26 Touchdowns while only throwing 11 interceptions. Helping Brees lead the Saints offense were two rookies picked on opposite ends of the draft as Reggie Bush, the second overall pick who shared the backfield with Deuce McAllister, had a solid rookie season with 1,297 APY and eight Touchdowns from scrimmage while also returning two punts for Touchdown was joined by Wide Receiver Marques Colston who was selected 252nd out of 255 led the team with 1,038 receiving yards with eight Touchdowns. The playoffs brought a rematch with the Eagles, which for the first 30 minutes was not going the Saints way as the Eagles held a 14-13 lead at halftime, as Reggie Bush had his bell rung early, before scoring a Touchdown in the second quarter. Things would not get much better at the start of the 3rd Quarter as Brian Westbrook extended the lead to 21-13 with a 62-yard Touchdown run. However, the Saints would respond with a Deuce McCallister Touchdown run less then five minutes later. McCallister would strike end at the end of the 3rd Quarter giving the Saints a lead on an 11-yard screen pass from Drew Brees. The Eagles would cut the lead to 27-24 on a David Akers field goal in the 4th Quarter, but the Saints defense would hold the lead the rest of the way as the Saints reached the NFC Championship Game for the first time in franchise history. Facing the Chicago Bears on a snowy day at Solider Field, the Saints dug a deep hole early as mistakes early led the Bears to a 16-0 lead. However, just before halftime the Saints got some momentum as Brees found Colston in the endzone for a 13-yard Touchdown pass. The momentum would carry over into the second half as Brees found Reggie Bush open on a screen pass that the Running Back to down the field for an 88-yard Touchdown catch and run doing a tumble salt into the endzone. After stopping the Bears on a three and out the Saints had a shot to take the lead as Billy Cundiff lined up for a 47-yard Field Goal attempt that feel short. From there the game would be all down hill as the Saints defense stopped the Bears again, but found themselves backed up to their own endzone when the got the ball back, as Brees was called for intentional grounding in the endzone giving the Bears a safety. The Bears would close the game with three unanswered Tocudhwons in the 4th Quarter to advance to Super Bowl XLI with a 39-14 win.
2007: Coming off their trip to the NFC Championship Game, the Saints began the season with Super expectations. However, early on there were signs the Saints had many holes to fill before they could meet those expectations as their season began with a 41-10 loss to the Indianapolis Colts in a primetime special kickoff on Thursday Night. Early on the Saints played well against the defending Super Bowl Champions, as they were tied at the half 10-10. However, after halftime the Colts high powered offense exposed the Saints secondary for 31 unanswered points. A week later things were not much better as the Saints were torched by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31-14. Finally returning home, the Saints continued to struggle losing 31-14 again this time to the Tennessee Titans. After the bye week the 0-3 Saints hoped they could get back on track as they faced the Carolina Panthers. However, the Panthers scored ten points in the final four minutes, including a 52-yard Field Goal by John Kasay as time expired to beat the Saints 16-13. Going to Seattle 0-4 things looked bleak for the Saints, as few road teams ever beat the Seahawks at Qwest Field. However, the Saints were simply due, as Drew Brees passed for 246 yards with two touchdowns to stun the Seahawks 28-17 for their first win of the season. That win would be a springboard for the Saints as they would win four in a row to reach .500. However, just as quickly as the Saints got things turnaround, they fell apart again as they were stunned by the St. Louis Rams at the Superdome 37-29. Following another bad loss to the Houston Texans the Saints avenged an earlier loss by beating the Panthers in Carolina 31-6, as they entered a match up with the Buccaneers at home, still having an outside shot at a division title. However, a Luke McNown four yard Touchdown pass to Jerramy Stevens with 14 seconds left sealed the Saints fait as the Bucs beat the Saints again 27-23. The Saints would end the year by splitting their final four games as they finished with a disappointing record of 7-9.
2008: Coming off a disappoint season the Saints hoped to rebound reclaim the NFC South Division Title. Although reality sent NOLA residents a chilling reminder as Hurricane Gustav forced another mass evacuation. This time however, the residents of New Orleans were largely spared as the Hurricane went south and made land fall in Texas. When the season began, it was Quarterback Drew Brees who was leading the Saints to a 24-20 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Superdome, passing for 343 yards with three Touchdown passes in the opener. Brees would be the story for the Saints all year as he passed for 5,069 yards with 34 Touchdowns, winning Offensive Player of the Year honors. However, the Saints often porous defense would be an Achilles heel, as the Saints could never find the consistency needed to make a serious push for the playoffs. On October 26th they would make history, by beating the San Diego Chargers 37-32, with Brees passing for 339 yards with Three Touchdowns in a game played in London. However, the win at the season’s midway point only improved the Saints to 4-4. That would be the theme all year as the Saints never were more than one game over or one game under .500, as they finished in last place in the strong NFC South with an 8-8 record.
2009: After two seasons in which the Saints failed to reach the playoffs, changes were made to improve the defense, as Gregg Williams was named Defensive Coordinator, while Darren Sharper and Anthony Hargrove were signed in the off-season. While the defense showed improvement, it was the offense and the play of Drew Brees that had the headlines as the Saints topped 45 points, while winning their first two games. The Saints would continue to play well as they won their next two games to enter the bye week with a 4-0 record. Coming out of the bye, the Saints faced the New York Giants in a battle of unbeaten teams. The Giants who won the Super Bowl and were the top seed in the NFC were seen as huge measuring stick for the Saints, as to their legitimacy. When it was all said and done, there was no questioning how good the Saints were, as they dominated the Giants from the start of the game, winning 48-27, as Drew Brees passed for 369 yards, with four Touchdown passes. A week later on the road the Saints showed their resiliency, as they trailed the Miami Dolphins 24-3 late in the first half, when Drew Brees talked Coach Sean Payton into going for the TD with the ball on the Miami 1-yard line. Brees plunged the ball forward themselves and the Saints comeback was on. In the 3rd Quarter it was Darren Sharper who continued the Saints charge as he returned an interception 42 yards for a Touchdown. However, as the 4th Quarter began the Saints were still down 34-24. However, a thrilling endzone dive from Reggie Bush continued the Saints comeback as they scored 22 unanswered points in the 4th Quarter, capped by a 54 yard interception return for Tracy Porter to give the Saints a 46-34 win. Following their win in Miami the Saints began getting national attention as they were one of two unbeaten teams along with the Indianapolis Colts at Thanksgiving, as they won their next four games to improve to 10-0. Facing the New England Patriots on Monday Night Football, the Saints continued to make a statement with a dominating 38-17 win that saw Brees pass for 371 yards. Six days later the Saints would come out flat as they faced the last place Washington Redskins on the road. Trailing just before halftime, the Saints would tie the game 17-17 as Robert Meachum stripped Kareem Moore who intercepted a pass from Drew Brees and returned it 44 yards for a TD. The Saints continued to struggle in the second half and trailed 30-20 midway in the 4th Quarter. After Garrett Hartley cut the deficit to 30-23, it was Drew Brees who sent the game to overtime, with a 53 yard Touchdown bomb to Robert Meachum. In overtime it would be all Saints as Garrett Hartley hit a chip shot for a 33-30 win to send the Saints to 12-0 setting a new franchise high in wins. The Saints would secure homefield with a 26-23 win over the Atlanta Falcons. The dreams of a perfect season would end a week later as the Saints were beaten by the Dallas Cowboys 24-17. The Saints choosing to rest their starters would also lose the final two games to finish the season with a 13-3 record.
2009 Playoffs: After losing their last three games, there was some who questioned whether the Saints could turn it back on as they faced the Arizona Cardinals in the Division Round of the playoffs. The Cardinals would land the first punch as Tim Hightower scored on a 70 yard run just 19 seconds into the game. However, the Saints answered back in a big way scoring three touchdowns in the 1st Quarter. After the Cardinals answered back with a Touchdown early in the 2nd Quarter it was Drew Brees who led the way with two more TD passes, as the Saints took a 35-14 lead into halftime. Up three scores at halftime the Saints defense clamped down on the defending NFC Champions and did not allow any more points, while Reggie Bush put a cap on a 45-14 win, with an 83 yard punt return for a Touchdown. With Superdome hosting its first NFC Championship Game, the Saints faced the Minnesota Vikings led by Quarterback Brett Favre with a trip to Super Bowl XLIV on the line. The game once again became a test of the Saints resiliency, as the Vikings dominated the game between the goalines putting up 475 yards on the Saints defense, while Brees and the Saints were limited to 257 yards. However, the Saints ball hawking defense, which all season led the NFL in forced turnovers kept them in the game creating five turnovers. The biggest would come at the end of regulation as the game was tied 21-21 and the Vikings appeared to be on the verge of entering field goal range, when Tracy Porter picked off Brett Favre and preserved the tie. In overtime the Saints would win the coin toss, and would drive up the field on the first possession to set up Garrett Hartley who kicked the Saints to the Super Bowl with a 40 yard field goal.
Super Bowl XLIV: Four years after the City of New Orleans was devastated by Hurricane Katrina, the Saints who became the symbol of the hope of the rebuilding city were playing in the Super Bowl in Miami. Their opponents were the Indianapolis Colts, led by NFL Peyton Manning, the son of legendary Saints QB Archie Manning, who entered the game as a the considerable favorite. Early on it was all Colts, as they jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the 1st Quarter. The Saints would claw their way back with two Garrett Hartley field goals in the 2nd Quarter. Trailing 10-6 at halftime, Coach Sean Payton decided to roll the dice. With the Colts getting the ball with the second half kickoff he decided to try an on-side kick hoping to change the game’s momentum. The ball was kicked to perfection by Thomas Morstead, bouncing off Hank Baskett’s hands and recovered by Chris Reis. The Saints would capitalize on the opportunity, as Pierre Thomas gave them their first lead of the day with a 16 yard TD catch from Drew Brees. However, the Colts would quickly answer back with a Touchdown by Joseph Addai. After a Garrett Hartley nailed a 47 yard Field Goal the Saints entered the 4th Quarter trailing 17-16. With Drew Brees leading a perfect drive down the field, the Saints again took the lead as Brees connected with Jeremy Shockey on a two yard pass in the endzone. Brees would extend the lead to 24-17 as he hit Lance Moore on a two point conversion. The Colts would have one more chance to tie the game as Peyton Manning was driving them down the field. However, it was Tracy Porter who sealed the victory for the Saints, picking off the NFL MVP and returning the ball 74 yards for Touchdown to send New Orleans into its biggest party ever, as the Saints who spent decades as the NFL’s laughing stock were now Super Bowl Champions. Drew Brees would claim MVP honors with 288 passing yards, two touchdowns and a 114.5 QB rating. As the Saints returned to New Orleans with the Lombardi Trophy, the city was already in the middle of Mardi Gras, kicking off a week of celebration that saw the Saints being celebrated at every turn.
2010: After winning the Super Bowl, the City of New Orleans celebrated Mardi Gras long into the offseason, as the Saints opened the season with a Thursday Night Kickoff special against the Minnesota Vikings. The Saints would score off the opening possession as Drew Brees hooked up with Devery Henderson on a 29 yard Touchdown pass. The Vikings however, would take a 9-7 lead into halftime. In the second half the Saints got the lead back on a Touchdown by Pierre Thomas, the rest of the way it was all defense as the Saints won their opener 14-9. A week later it was the kicking of Garrett Hartley as he kicked three Field Goals, including a 37 yarder as time expired to help the Saints edge the San Francisco 49ers on the road 25-22. A week later the Saints winning streak would come to an end in overtime as they were beaten by the Atlanta Falcons 27-24 at the Superdome. Injuries to the running game would become a concern for the Saints as Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas were lost for long stretches. The Saints would rebound from their loss, with a 16-14 win over the Carolina Panthers, as John Carney’s 25 yard Field Goal with 3:55 proved to be the difference. However, the injuries would begin to catch up to the Saints, as they dropped two of their next three games, including a home loss to the Cleveland Browns. On Halloween night the Saints would get back on track with a 20-10 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, as Drew Brees connected with Marques Colston and Lance Moore for 4th Quarter Touchdowns. With the win over the Steelers the Saints started to look like a championship caliber team again, as they won six straight. The streak would come to an end in Baltimore, as the Saints lost a 30-24 thriller to the Ravens, as they could not stop RB Ray Rice who ran for 233 yards with two Touchdowns. A week later in what could have been a showdown for the NFC South; the Saints earned a hard fought 17-14 Monday Night road win against the Atlanta Falcons, as Drew Brees connected with Tight End Jimmy Graham on a six yard Touchdown pass with 3:24 left in the game. The win clinched a playoff spot for the Saints, who would end the regular season with a 23-13 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Saints would post a record of 11-5 and would start the playoffs on the road against the Seattle Seahawks who won the NFC West despite a 7-9 record. The Saints who had never won a road playoff game were heavy favorites as they jumped out to a quick 10-0 lead. However, the Seahawks came back and took a 24-20 lead into the half. The Seahawks lead would expand to the 34-20 at the end of the 3rd Quarter, as the Saints defense had no answer for the Seahawks offense, with Matt Hasselbeck passing for 272 yards with four touchdowns. In the 4th Quarter the Saints offense, which seemed to go into hibernation awoke, ten points to cut the deficit to 34-30. However, just as the Saints seemed to get back in the game, Marshawn Lynch broke their backs with a 67 yard earth shattering run, with several Saints missing tackles up and down the field. The TD gave the Seahawks a 41-30 lead. The Saints would answer with a Drew Brees pass to Devery Henderson, but the Saints missed the two point attempt and were unable to recover the On-Side Kick, as the Seahawks won the game 41-36.
2011: For the second straight season the Saints started the season by playing in the traditional Thursday Night kickoff, facing the Green Bay Packers on the road in a matchup of the last two Super Bowl Champions. The Saints found themselves in an early hole as the Packers scored 21 points in the first quarter. However, a thrilling 72 yard punt return by Darren Sproles got the Saints back in the game in the second quarter. From there it became a shootout as the Packers seemed to answer every Saints score to maintain their lead. Trailing 42-34 the Saints did have a chance to even the score, but Mark Ingram was stopped at the 1 yard line as time expired. In their home opener the Saints would get on track as Drew Brees had three touchdowns in a 30-13 win over the Chicago Bears. Brees was rock solid again the following week as he passed for 370 yards, with three touchdown passes in a 40-33 win over the Houston Texans. In each of the next two games played on the road, Drew Brees topped 350 yards as the Saints won close games against the Jacksonville Jaguars and Carolina Panthers, to improve to 4-1. However, their streak would come to an end with a 26-20 road loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, as Drew Brees had three costly interceptions. During the loss to the Buccaneers the Saints lost Coach Sean Payton who suffered a severe knee injury and a broken leg, when TE Jimmy Graham was tackled at the sideline. Returning home in a Sunday Night rematch of Super Bowl XLIV, the Saints hosted the Indianapolis Colts, who came into the game winless without QB Peyton Manning. With Sean Payton calling the plays from the booth, Drew Brees and the Saints would light up the scoreboard hammering the Colts 62-7 as he again topped 300 yards with five touchdowns. Facing another winless team the following week, the Saints were not as sharp as the St. Louis Rams jumped out to a 17-0 halftime lead. The Rams would go on to win the game 31-21, as the Saints dropped to 5-3. The Saints would rebound to beat the Buccaneers 27-16 at the Superdome, as they prepared for a showdown with the Atlanta Falcons with the top spot in the NFC South on the line. The game was close throughout as the two rivals battled back and forth with the game at the Georgia Dome going into overtime tied 23-23. In overtime the Falcons made a curious decision to go for it on fourth and short in their own territory. After the Saints defense held firm, John Kassay was set up perfectly to kick the game winning 27 yard field goal. Two weeks later on Monday Night Football, after their bye week the Saints offense again exploded, as Drew Brees passed 363 yards with four touchdowns as the Saints beat the New York Giants 49-24 at the Superdome. The Saints would again play in primetime six days later, as Brees continued to tally up big passing numbers in a 31-17 win over the Detroit Lions. The following week the Saints survived a scare in Nashville, as they held off the Tennessee Titans 22-17. Over the final three games, the Saints offense continued to operate at a high level as topping 40 points in each game as they went on to finish the season on an eight game winning streak, while posting a record of 13-3. Quarterback Drew Brees would be named Offensive Player of the Year, as he set a new single season record with 5.476 passing yards. The leading target for Drew Brees, was Tight End Jimmy Graham who had 99 catches, with a team high 1,310 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns, while Marques Colston also had a strong season with 1,143 yards and eight TDs.
2011 Playoffs: Despite finishing 13-3, the Saints were forced to play in the Wild Card game, as they lost a tiebreaker to the San Francisco 49ers, due mainly to that bizarre loss to the St. Louis Rams, who went on to finish with a terrible 2-14 record. Facing the Detroit Lions, in the Wild Card Game the Saints offense continued their late season charge as they pulled away from a close game, with three touchdowns in the fourth quarter to win the game 45-28 as Drew Brees continued to put up astonishing passing numbers, with 466 yards and three touchdowns. This would set up a Divisional Playoff Showdown with the San Francisco 49ers. The Saints would fall behind early as the 49ers took advantage of two turnovers to take an early 14-0 lead. The Saints would also lose a key player as Pierre Thomas who fumbled deep in 49ers territory on a bone jarring hit by Patrick Willis was lost due to a concussion. After the 49ers made the score 17-0 on a David Akers Field Goal, the Saints began to get on track as Drew Brees had touchdown passes to Jimmy Graham and Marques Colston to get the game within three points at the half. With the 49ers holding a 23-17 lead, the Saints would finally take the lead late in the fourth quarter on a 44 yard screen pass from Drew Brees to Darren Sproles. However, the lead would not last long as the 49ers answered right back on a 28 yard bootleg by QB Alex Smith. With just two minutes left in the Saints season, the big play was dialed up again as Drew Brees connected with Jimmy Graham on a 66 yard touchdown pass. The Saints would add the two point conversion to take a 32-29 lead with 1:37 left. However, the Saints would leave too much time on the clock as the 49ers drove up the field and won the game 36-32 on a Alex Smith 14 yard touchdown pass to Vernon Davis with nine seconds left in the game.
Bountygate: After the heartbreaking loss in San Francisco, the Saints found themselves embroiled in one of the biggest scandals in the history of the NFL as it was learned that several players and coaches were giving bonuses to players for injuring key players on the opposing team. The league had begun investigating the Saints after their Super Bowl win, as allegations of deliberate attempts to injure players during the 2009-10 playoffs surfaced. The investigation was stalled, for more than a year when the league finally got evidence against Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams. Williams had been accused by the league before for running a bounty system when he was with the Washington Redskins. Even though he had just left the Saints to take over as Defensive Coordinator of the St. Louis Rams, he was the focus of the investigation surrounding the Saints, as allegedly between 22 and 27 Saints players were involved. Things would get worse as the league felt the Saints were not properly cooperating with Commissioner Roger Goodell’s investigation. Bounties had been a part of the NFL’s past, most notably the Philadelphia Eagles Thanksgiving Game against the Dallas Cowboys in 1989. However, with the league facing a class action lawsuit from former players over player safety it was clear the league was going to make an example out of the Saints. Just before the NFL Draft the hammer would fall on the Saints as General Manager Mickey Loomis was suspended for the first eight games of the 2012 season, while the Saints organization was fined $500,000, and forced to forfeit their second-round draft selections in 2012 and 2013. However, perhaps the biggest shock came when Coach Sean Payton was suspended for the entire 2012 season, including the preseason. Assistant Coach Joe Vitt who was to be named interim coach was also suspended for six games, as the recently departed Gregg Williams received an indefinite and likely lifetime suspension. Several players would also get hammered by the league, as Jonathan Vilma was suspended for the entire 2012 season, while Anthony Hargrove who had just signed with the Green Bay Packers received an eight game suspension, Will Smith got four games, and former Saint Scott Fujita received a three game ban. However, just for the season started all the player suspension would be overturned by an arbitration panel.
2012: The bountygate scandal left the Saints season in ruins, as Aaron Kromer was the interim interim coach, after Joe Vitt was also suspended the first six games. Meanwhile, Jonathan Vilma who was among four players suspended was appealing his suspension but began the season on the sideline with an injury. The other three players Scott Fujita, Will Smith and Anthinony Hargrove were no longer with the Saints. Vilma who had the most server suspension at 16 games, would later win his appeal as former commissioner Paul Tagliabue vacated the players’ suspensions. With Vitt the Saints Linenackers Coach suspended a new defense coordinator and the loss of Smith the Saints defense struggled from the start of the season as they were embarrassed by the Washington Redskins 40-32, as Robert Griffin III had a record debut. It was more of the same the following week as the Saints defense could not stop Cam Newton who led the Carolina Panthers to a 35-27 win. Returning home for Week 3, the Saints would see a 24-6 lead evaporate in the 3rd Quarter as they fell to 0-3, with a 27-24 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in overtime. The Saints offense continued to play well as Drew Brees tied Johnny Unitas’ record for 48 consecutive games with a Touchdown pass, but the losses mounted as the Saints defense and lack of a head coach continued to hamper them in a 28-27 heartbreaker against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. On Sunday Night Football Sean Payton was allowed to watch the game, from a luxury box though he was still not allowed contact with the team, as Brees set a record with Touchdowns in 48 straight games. The presence of Payton may have helped as the Saints with 17 unanswered points rallied to beat the San Diego Chargers 31-24 for their first win of the year. Coming out of the bye, Drew Brees added to the record passing for 377 yards with four scores as the Saints sank the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 35-28. After sitting the first six games, Joe Vitt took over as the interim coach in Week 8, as the Saints suffered a 34-14 loss to the Denver Broncos. Despite the loss Bress extended the streak to 50 games. The streak would continue as the Saints comeback continued with a solid 28-13 Monday Night win over the Philadelphia Eagles, which preceded the most satisfying win of the season, a 31-27 win over the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons had entered the game 8-0, but had no answer for Drew Brees who passed for 298, with three touchdowns. A week later the Saints would get back to .500, with a dominating 38-17 road win over the hapless Oakland Raiders. However, it would not last as the Saints suffered a 31-21 loss to the team on the other side of the bay a week later, losing 31-21 to the San Francisco 49ers. Four days later in a rematch against the Falcons, Drew Brees streak would end after 54 games, as the Saints quarterback threw a career high five interceptions as the Falcons won the game 31-21. The loss dropped the Saints to 5-7, and all but put their playoff hopes on ice. The New York Giants would finish off the Saints a week later with a 52-27 win at the Meadowlands, as David Wilson had a field day with over 200 return yards and 100 rushing yards. The Saints though would not finish the season quietly as they swept the Buccaneers for the first time in six years and got their first shutout since 1995, winning the game 41-0 at the Superdome. A week later they would stun the Dallas Cowboys on the road with a 34-31 overtime win. However, with a chance to finish the season with an 8-8 record, the Saints lost a shootout to the Panthers 44-38, as they finished with a record of 7-9. Though considering how poorly their defense played all season, a 7-9 record was an accomplishment as they set an NFL record for most yards given up by a defense, 7,042 yards, surpassing the 1981 Baltimore Colts record of 6,793 yards.
2013: After a lost season following the bountygate scandal, the Saints were chomping at the bid to start the season as the hosted the Atlanta Falcons in the opener. Despite falling behind 10-0 in the 1st Quarter, the Saints with Sean Payton back on the sideline were sharp as they stormed back to take a 13-10 lead at the half thanks in part to Roman Harper forcing a turnover with a hit on WR Julio Jones. The teams would trade scores in the 3rd Quarter, as the Saints won the game 23-17, with Harper sealing the victory with an interception in the endzone. On the road against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers the Saints offense struggle as Mason Foster picked off Brees and returned the ball 85 yards for a touchdown to give Tampa a 14-13 lead in the 4th Quarter. However, Brees would overcome the mistake and setup Garrett Hartley for the game winning Field Goal as the Saints escaped with a 16-14 win. Returning home the Saints got another big game from Drew Brees as he passed for 342 yards with three touchdowns in a 31-7 win over the Arizona Cardinals. Two of the scores would go to Tight End Jimmy Graham, who had 134 receiving yards. In a Monday Night Game at the Superdome, Jimmy Graham would get two more TD catches and another 100 yard game, as Brees passed for 413 yards with four scores in a 38-17 blowout win over the Miami Dolphins. The Saints would eventually reach 5-0 by beating the Chicago Bears 26-18 as Garrett Hartley had four Field Goals. Looking for a perfect start before their bye week, the Saints faced their biggest test to date, against the New England Patriots in Foxboro. After trailing at the half 17-7, the Saints would come marching back in the 3rd Quarter as the game went back and forth. The Saints appeared to have victory in their hands as Keenan Lewis picked off Tom Brady with 2:24 left and a 27-23 lead. However, the Saints failed to run enough time off the clock, giving Brady a second chance as he connected with Kenbrell Thomas in the endzone with ten seconds left to give the Pats a 30-27 win. Following the bye, the Saints maid the Buffalo Bills pay, winning 35-17 at the Superdome, as Drew Brees passed for 332 yards with five touchdowns. Brees and the Saints would stumble again the following week, losing to the New York Jets 26-20 at the Meadowlands. However, at home the Saints began to take on an invincible look at home crushing the Dallas Cowboys 49-17 in a Sunday Night Game, as Brees had another big game passing for 392 yards with four touchdowns. A week later the Saints would have a much tougher time at home against the San Francisco 49ers, trailing 20-17 late in the 4th Quarter the Saints took advantage of a controversial roughing the passer call to even the game with a 42 yard Field Goal by Garett Hartley. The Saints would than quickly stop the Niners get the ball back and win the game as time expired with Hartley kicking the game winner from 31 yards. The Saints in a Thursday Night match up with the Falcons completed a sweep of their arch nemesis with a 17-13 win at the Georgia Dome as Jimmy Graham had another r100 yard game with a Touchdown and a goal post dunk which left the uprights bent. Leading the NFL to later outlaw the celebration Graham helped make famous. However, December would bring hard times for the Saints as they lost three of their next four games, starting with an agonizing 34-7 loss in a Monday Night rain against the Seattle Seahawks, while a loss to the St. Louis Rams led to the release of struggling kicker Garrett Hartley who missed two Field Goals during the 27-16 loss in Week 15. The Saints would win the first of two matchups against the Carolina Panthers at home, but a Week 16 heartbreaker in Carolina dropped them out of first place. The Saints offense all game was thwarted by Luke Kuchekly who set a record with 26 tackles and added an interception as the Panthers won the game 17-14 on a TD pass from Cam Newton to Domenik Hixon with 23 seconds left in the game. The Saints would go on to beat the Buccaneers 42-17 to finish the season with a record of 11-5, which was good enough to grab a Wild Card spot in the NFC. However the loss to the Panthers would keep them away from the Superdome, where they were a perfect 8-0, during the postseason. Drew Brees had another spectacular season with 5,162 yards and 39 touchdowns, while TE Jimmy Graham had number any top flight receiver would be jealous of with 1,215 yards with 16 touchdowns.
2013 Playoffs: Heading into a Wild Card showdown with the Philadelphia Eagles, the Saints had never won a playoff game on the road, and struggled playing outdoors during the regular season. Add sub-freezing temperatures and the odds looked to be stacked against the Saints. Brees struggled early as the Saints failed the get the ball past midfield in the 1st Quarter. Despite the struggles, they trailed by just one point 7-6 as Shayne Graham hit two Field Goals. The Saints offense would get on track in the 3rd Quarter as Drew Brees connected with Lance Moore on a 24 yard TD pass. Mark Ingram added a four yard touchdown run to build a 20-7 lead, before the Eagles answered back on a LaSean McCoy Touchdown run. After the two sides traded Field Goals early in the 4th Quarter, the Eagles once against slipped in front as Zach Ertz caught a four yard pass from Nick Foles. However, Drew Brees and the Saints would hold the ball the final 4:54 and win the game 26-24 as Shayne Graham booted a 32 yard Field Goal as time expired. Following their first playoff win on the road, the Saints faced an even tough test in the Divisional Round against the Seattle Seahawks. Early on the game took on a familiar tone as the Saints offense was completely shut down in the first half; with the Seahawks taking a 16-0 lead. After a scoreless 3rd Quarter, the Saints showed signs of life as Khiry Robinson completed a nine play 74 yard drive with a one yard TD plunge. The Saints would then cut the lead in half as Mark Ingram scored a successful two point try. However, the Seahawks would answer back as Marshawn Lynch scored his second touchdown of the game with a 31 yard run with 2:40 left to give the Seahawks a 23-8 lead. The Saints would go down fighting as Marquis Colston caught 26 yard TD pass with 26 seconds left. Needing a miracle the Saints seemed to get it as Closton recovered an on-side kick at the 41 yardline. Looking for a miracle comeback Brees and Jimmy Graham got the ball to midfield with an eight yard pass. However, on the next play Marquis Colston made a critical mistake trrying to lateral the ball instead of running out of bounds to preserve more time. The play would be ruled an illegal forward lateral and the game would end with the Seahawks holding on to a 23-15 win on the way to winning their first Super Bowl Championship.
2014: Coming off a postseason that saw them win their first playoff road game, the New Orleans Saints began the season looking for another road win against the New Orleans Saints at the Georgia Dome. The Saints had a strong first half and led 20-7 before Matt Bryant hit a 40 yard Field Goal as time expired. The Falcons would take the lead with two third quarter touchdowns, the fourth quarter would see the two rivals battled back and forth before Mark Ingram gave the Saints a 34-31 lead with a Mark Ingram run with 1:20 left in the game. However, Bryant again hit a Field Goal to end regulation and even the score. In overtime the Matt Bryant would drill another long Field Goal to win the game 37-34, following a costly fumble by Marques Colston. A week later it would be more late game frustration for the Saints, as Billy Cundiff hit a 29 yard Field Goal as time expired top give the Cleveland Browns a 26-24 win. The Saints came home for the first time, facing a must win at 0-2 and got a complete effort to beat the Minnesota Vikings 20-9. However, the Saints defense continued to struggle away from the Superdome, as they suffered a 38-17 Sunday Night loss to the Dallas Cowboys. Returning home the Saints defense continued to struggle as they trailed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31-20 entering the fourth quarter. The Saints would rally with a Pierre Thomas Touchdown run. After the two point try failed the Saints comeback continued with Junior Galette sacking Mike Glennon for a safety. The Saints would eventually tie the game on a Shayne Graham Field Goal. In overtime the Saints took the kickoff and marched down the field 80 yards, with Khiry Robinson scoring to give the Saints a 37-31 win. Following their bye week the Saints suffered another fourth quarter collapse on the road, as the Detroit Lions scored twice in the final five minutes to win the game 24-23, taking advantage of a costly Drew Brees interception to overcome a 23-10 deficit. However, at the Superdome the Saints continued to dominate crushing the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football 44-23, in the third game in NFL history played without a punt. Four nights later on Thursday Night the Saints would finally break through on the road to reach .500 and take over first place in the NFC South, beating the Carolina Panthers 28-10, with Mark Ingram leading the way with two touchdowns. Returning home, the Saints put their 11 game winning streak at the Superdome on the line as they fell behind early 14-0 against the San Francisco 49ers. With Jimmy Graham catching two touchdown passes the Saints would take the lead 24-21 with 1:52 left. The Niners would answer and even the score with a Phil Dawson Field Goal with 44 seconds left. The Saints quickly moved the ball down the field and appeared to have the game won when Graham reeled in a 47 yard pass for his third touchdown. However, the star Tight End was flagged for pass interference sending the game to overtime. In OT Drew Brees would fumble, committing his third turnover of the game, setting up Phil Dawson to give the 49ers a 27-24 win. A week later the Saints would drop a second straight home game, losing to the Cincinnati Bengals 27-10. With the their season on the brink at 4-6, Drew Brees had his best game of the year passing for 257 yards with five touchdowns, highlighted by a 69 yard catch and run by Kenny Stills to lead the Saints to a 35-32 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field. The score was not indicative of the game, as the Steelers had two late scores making the two point conversion to make the game appear close, including one as time expired. Just as the Saints learned to win on the road, they forgot how to win at the Superdome, suffering a 41-10 loss to the Panthers when they had a chance to get back to .500 and close in on another division title in a season in which no NFC South teams had a winning record. Following a 31-15 win over the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field, the Saints would suffer a fourth straight home loss to the Falcons, losing 30-14. The loss eliminated the Saints from playoff contention and set the Falcons and Panthers up for a final week showdown with the winner taking the division title. Had the Saints won either game against the Panthers or Falcons they would have won the division. The Saints would close the year would with a 23-20 win over the Buccaneers finishing with a record of 7-9.
2015: After a disappointing season, the New Orleans Saints looked to bounce back as they opened the season on the road against the Arizona Cardinals. Drew Brees had a solid game passing for 355 yards. However, the Saints often settled for Field Goals, with Zack Hocker hitting four. Meanwhile the Cardinals found the endzone and won the game 31-19. Things would not go any better in the Superdome opener, as the Saints were stunned by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 26-19 as Drew Brees was knocked from the game with an injured shoulder. Brees would miss his first start since joining the Saints in Week 3. Luke McCown got the start in Drew Brees’ absence and played well passing for 310 yards. However, a costly interception in the final minute allowed the Carolina Panthers to hold on for a 27-22 win. Drew Brees returned in Week 4 for a Sunday Night game against the Dallas Cowboys that went to overtime at the Superdome. The Saints won the coin toss and on the first play Brees connected with C.J. Spiller who took it 80 yards to win the game 26-20. It was the 400th career touchdown for Drew Brees. Following an ugly 39-17 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, the Saints hosted the Atlanta Falcons in a Thursday Night division rivals battle. Entering the game, the Falcons were 5-0 while the Saints were struggling at 1-4. The Saints got off to a fast start thanks to a blocked from Michael Mauti to take a 14-0 lead. The Saints defense would force three fumbles as Mark Ingram scored twice to win the game 31-21. Ingram was the spark a week later, rushing for 143 yards as the Saints beat the Indianapolis Colts 27-21. Returning home, the Saints earned their third straight win in thrilling fashion as they beat the New York Giants 52-49 in an old fashioned Supderome shootout. Drew Brees had a career day, passing for 511 yards with a NFL record tying seven touchdowns. After tying the game with 36 seconds left on a nine-yard pass to C.J. Spiller, the Saints quickly got the ball back as the Giants used just 15 seconds and returned the ball passed midfield. This allowed Kai Forbath to win the game with a 50-yard Field Goal as time expired. However, the Saints trying to get back to climb over .500 suffered a letdown as they lost to the Tennessee Titans in overtime 34-28. For the streaky Saints this would be the start of a four game losing streak sandwiched around the bye week to all erase any hope of the postseason. The streak would cost Defensive Coordinator Rex Ryan his job as he was replaced by Dennis Allen. The Saints would win three of their last four games, and finished at 7-9 for the second straight season. In each of those final four games, Drew Brees passed for more than 300 yards. This allowed Brees to once again lead the NFL in passing yards with 4,870 yards. Drew Brees also had 32 touchdowns, passing Dan Marino to go into fourth on the All-Time career list.
2016: The New Orleans Saints hoped to get back to the playoffs after a pair of 7-9 seasons. The Saints hosted the Oakland Raiders in the season opener. Early on things looked good for the Saints, as they took a 24-10 midway through the third quarter on a 98-yard touchdown play from Drew Brees to Brandin Cooks. However, the Raiders roared back and tied the game 27-27 in the fourth quarter. The Saints answered and held a 34-27 late in the second quarter when Oakland again scored a touchdown with under a minute left. The Raiders would go for two and make it, as Wil Lutz missed a 61-yard field goal as time expired allowing the Raiders to win 35-34, spoiling a 423-yard, four touchdown game from Drew Brees. The Saints defense would play better in Week 2, but the result was the same as they lost 16-13 to the New York Giants at the Meadowlands. Back home in a Monday Night Game, celebrating the tenth anniversary of their return after Hurricane Katrina the Saints defense had another letdown, as they lost to the rival Atlanta Falcons 45-32. In Week 4, Drew Brees played his first game at Qualcomm Stadium since signing with the Saints. Midway through the fourth quarter things looked bleak for New Orleans, as they trailed 34-21 with five minutes left. However, the Saints taking advantage of Chargers turnovers, scored twice in the final five minutes to earn their first win of the season 35-34. Following a bye week, the Saints earned a second straight win, beating the Carolina Panthers 41-38 as Brees passed for 465 yards, while Wil Lutz won the game with a 52-yard Field Goal. Wins would not be common for the Saints, as they lost to the Kansas City Chiefs 27-21 in Week 7. Though they bounced back a week later to stun the Seattle Seahawks 25-20 in the Superdome. The Saints would reach .500 a week later with a 41-23 win over the San Francisco 49ers, as Drew Brees passed for 323 yards with three touchdowns. The Saints though failed to get over .500, losing a Week 10 heartbreaker to the Denver Broncos 25-23 at the Superdome. After battling back to tie the game in the fourth quarter, Brees had a two-point attempt picked off and returned the other way by Will Parks who appeared to step out of bounds. Playing on Sunday Night the following week, the Saints trailed the Panthers by 20 points in the fourth quarter in Carolina, and made a late charge but fell short of a comeback, losing 23-20. The Saints remained competitive the rest of the season, as they beat the Los Angeles Rams 49-21 to improve to 5-6, as Brees passed for 310 yards with four touchdowns. The Saints though would lose their next two games to the Detroit Lions (28-13) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (16-11) as their playoff hopes faded away. The Saints would end their losing streak with a 48-41 shootout win on the road against the Arizona Cardinals as Drew Brees passed for 389 yards with four touchdowns. In their final home game, Mark Ingram Jr. led the way with a pair of touchdowns to sink the Buccaneers 31-24. However, they could not get back to .500 as they ended the season with a 38-32 loss to the Falcons, as they posted a 7-9 record for the third year in a row.
2017: The New Orleans Saints season was the franchise’s 51st season in the National Football League. This would be the 11th season for head coach Sean Payton. Coming off a 7-9 record in the 2016 season, the Saints were looking to improve and make a playoff push. The Saints would open up their season against the Minnesota Vikings on Monday Night on the road, losing 29-17. In Week 2 the Saints would have their home opener against the Super Bowl champions New England Patriots. Despite losing this game 36-20, the Saints had many positives in the game, as Drew Brees passed for 356 yards with a pair of touchdowns. With Alvin Kamara getting more carries, the Saints got their first win of the season in Week 3 on the road against the Carolina Panthers 34-13, as Brees passed for 220 yards with three touchdowns including a 25-yard connection, which resulted in Kamara’s first career touchdown. The following week in London, the Saints blanked the Miami Dolphins 20-0. After four games it was apparent that Adrian Peterson did not have a place on the team, as he was traded to the Arizona Cardinals for a conditional draft pick as Alvin Kamara became the team’s new weapon out of the backfield. While Kamara, was the pass-catching back, Mark Ingram Jr. remained strong in the backfield as he rushed for 114 yards with two scores in a 52-38 win over the Detroit Lions after the bye week. The Saints also got a 27-yard interception return from Marcus Latimore. The Saints remained hot in Week 7, beating the Green Bay Packers, sans Arron Rodgers 26-17 at Lambeau Field. The duo of Kamara and Ingram continued to drive the Saints forward as they beat the Chicago Bears 20-12 for their fifth straight win. Alvin Kamara continued to make the big plays in Week 9, with two touchdowns as the Saints beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 30-10 at the Superdome. On the road, in Week 10 it was Mark Ingram Jr. leading the way with 131 yards on 21 carries and three touchdowns. The Saints eight straight win was a real struggle, as they trailed the Washington Redskins 31-16 late in the fourth quarter. The Saints would drive late and cut the deficit to 31-23 as Drew Brees connected with Josh Hill with 2:53 left. After forcing a three-and-out the Saints got the ball back with no timeouts and drove 87 yards in five plays with Alvin Kamara catching an 18-yard pass to put the Saints in position to tie the game. Kamara would than run the ball for two points to even the score. In overtime, the Saints would win the game 34-31 on a 28-yard field goal by Will Lutz. The Saints eight-game winning streak would come to an end with a 26-20 loss to the Los Angeles Rams on the road. Despite the loss, Alvin Kamara continued to shine, with a pair of touchdowns, including a career-long 74-yard run. The Saints would bounce back the following week, completing a sweep of the Panthers with a 31-21 win at the Superdome, as Kamara added two more scores. Playing on Thursday Night, the Saints suffered a 20-17 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, giving up ten-unanswered points in the fourth quarter. The Saints would bounce back and beat the New York Jets 31-19 as Mark Ingram Jr. broke the game open with a 50-yard touchdown run, his second score of the game. The Saints would clinch their first playoff spot in four years as they beat the Falcons 23-13. The Saints would end the regular season with a 31-24 loss to Tampa Bay as they were focusing on resting players for the playoffs as they finished 11-5. Drew Brees continued to put up great numbers, passing for 4,334 yards with 23 touchdowns and eight interceptions. However, the big story was that both defensive and offensive rookie of the years were members of the Saints, as Alvin Kamara was Offensive Rookie of the Year with 1,554 total yards on offense and 13 touchdowns. Marshon Lattimore meanwhile was Defensive Rookie of the Year with five interceptions.
2017 NFL Playoffs: In the Wild Card Round the New Orleans Saints were up against the division rivals Carolina Panthers, whom they swept in the regular season for the first time in six years. The Saints used some fireworks to open the scoring, as Drew Brees hooked up with Ted Ginn on an 80-yard pass play. Brees added a second touchdown in the second quarter as New Orleans led 21-9 at halftime. Brees would go on to finish the game with 376 yards through the air, while Alvin Kamara added a touchdown in the fourth quarter to help the Saints advance with a 31-26 win. In the Divisional Playoffs, the Saints were back where the season began as they faced the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Saints got off to a slow start, as the Vikings jumped out to a 17-0 lead in the first half. The Saints finally got on the board, late in the third quarter when Michael Thomas caught a 14-yard pass from Drew Brees. Thomas scored again in the fourth quarter in a three-yard run. After a Minnesota field goal, the Saints took the lead for the first time with Brees connecting with Kamara on a 14-yard pass. From there, things got wild as the Vikings and Saints traded field goals, with the Saints taking a 24-23 lead with 25 seconds left on a 43-yard field goal by Will Lutz. With time running out on the Vikings, Marcus Williams made a critical error and whiffed on a tackle of Stefon Diggs, allowing the Vikings receiver to turn up the field and score as time expired, stunning the Saints with a 29-24 win, in what became known as the “Minneapolis Miracle.” Two months after the stunning loss in Minnesota, the Saints suffered more heartbreak as longtime owner Tom Benson died at the age of 90 after battling the flu.
©MMXIX Tank Productions. Stats researched by Frank Fleming, all information, and team names are property of the National Football League. This site is not affiliated with the New Orleans Saints or the NFL. This site is maintained for research purposes only. All logos used on this page were from Chris Creamer’s Sports January 26, 2019 at 3:50 am ET.