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 RB John Gilliam returned the opening kickoff 94 yards for a TD. However the Saints would lose the inaugural game to the Los Angeles Rams 27-13. The Saints would not win their 1st game until November 5th when they beat the Philadelphia Eagles, 31-24, as Walt Roberts scored 3 TDs. 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 6 games. However, they would win just 1 more game the rest of the way as they finished in 3rd 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 7 TDs. 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 PK 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 FG 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 QB, the Saints draft Ole Miss star Archie Manning with 2nd overall draft pick. In Manning's first game on September 19th the Saints upset the L.A. Rams 24-20 at Tulane Stadium. Manning ran for 1-yard TD on the final play after he completed 16-of-29 passes for 218 yards & 1 TD. On October 17th Archie Manning would again star for the Saints rushing for 2 TDs 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 5 games on the way to a miserable 2-11-1 season. Along the way QB 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 RB to 79 yards his lowest output of the season.
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 8-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 1st 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 2 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 7 games. The failure of Stram as Head Coach of the Saints would keep the legendary former Kansas City Chiefs Coach out of the Hall of Fame for 25 years.
1978: QB 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 1st place lead in NFC West for the 1st time with a 14-10 win at the Washington Redskins. The Saints stopped Washington a total of 18 times with goal to go and 7 times within the 2-yard line in defensive masterpiece. The Saints would challenge the 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. RB 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 2 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 1st 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 7 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 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 FG 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 4 of their first 5 games. However, the Saints would struggle as newly acquired QB Richard Todd threw 19 interceptions to just 1 TD as the Saints again finished the season with a losing record at 7-9.
1985: In the middle of his 5th season with Saints off to a rough start Head Coach Bum Phillips retires with 5 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 RB 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, head 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 1st in team-record 9 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 6 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 a31-10 lead into halftime on their way to a 44-10 victory in the NFC Wild Card Game. Making matters worse Saints RB Ruben Mayes sustains torn knee ligaments requiring surgery.
1988: The Saints continued to play strong football as they finished in a 3-way to tie for first place in the NFC West with a solid 10-6 record. However 2 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 3rd consecutive winning season finishing with a 9-7 record. However, once again it was not good enough to qualify for one of the 5 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 FG with 2 seconds left to even the Saints record at 8-8, and earn the Saints the newly established 6th 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 7 games the Saints only manage a 2-5 record including a 3 game losing streak in December. Just when it looked like the Saints would fail again they bounced back to win the final 2 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 3rd 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 3 consecutive Playoff berths ends in disappointment as the Saints win just 2 of their final 8 games to finish with a mediocre 8-8 record, after winning their first 5 games.
1994: On October 23rd Tyrone Hughes returned 2 kickoffs for TDs on his way to setting or tying 7 teams, and 4 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 8 years as they finished with a 7-9 record.
1995: Despite a solid season from QB 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 10 and half seasons, and brought them to the playoffs resigned. LB 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 Dikta, 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 3 games. However, the inability to find a consistent QB would catch up with them as they endured their second straight 6-10 season using 4 different staring Quarterbacks.
1999: Prior to the NFL Draft Mike Dikta proclaimed he would be willing to trade all of the Saints draft picks for one player Heisman Trophy Winning RB Ricky Williams. The Washington Redskins found that offer too good to refuse, and made the deal. Unfortunately for Dikta, 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 Dikta.
2000: Since they traded their 1st Round pick in the Ricky Williams trade, the Saints had to rebuild through other means. The Saints would sign 8 Free Agents off other rosters, and trade for the Packers 3rd string QB 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 QB Jeff Blake, and RB 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 6th 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 4 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 goat with in a FG the Saints would surge out to a 10 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 QB Aaron Brooks struggled early and the Saints hovered at 5-5 through the first 10 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 WR Albert Connell stole money from team mates made a lost season even worse as the Saints seemed to just quit losing their final 2 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 6 of their first 7 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 3 of their next 4 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 3 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 4 of their first 5 games. Needing to turn themselves around fast the Saints would start to play better football as they won 4 of their next 5 games to get back into the playoff picture, as Deuce McAllister ran off 9 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 2nd 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 4 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 2 Touchdowns in a dramatic 23-20 over the Carolina Panthers as John Carney hit a 47-yard Field Goal with 3 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 QB 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 QB Aaron Brooks. Haslett would be replaced by Sean Payton, while they broke open the bank to sign free agent QB 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 RB 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 TD 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 TD 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 QB 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 8 Touchdowns from scrimmage while also returning two punts for TD was joined by WR Marques Colston who was selected 252nd out of 255 led the team with 1,038 receiving yards with 8 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 TD 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 TD run. However, the Saints would respond with a Deuce McCallister TD 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 TD 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 TDs in the 4th Quarter to advance to Super Bowl XLI with a 39-14 win.
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