Winning a Super Bowl makes a lot of things possible.
Here’s an example: Just last year, it probably would have been impossible to write a “Saints’ Top 10 Wins” column. The problem being, you’d have a very tough time trying to come up with 10 really quality wins.
But that’s no problem anymore.
Quick Saints history lesson:
It took the New Orleans franchise 20 years to finish a single season with a winning record.
It took 13 more years for the Saints to win a single playoff game.
And it took the Saints, one of professional sports’ longest-suffering franchises, 43 long seasons to secure a Super Bowl victory.
But ask anybody in New Orleans these days, and they’ll tell you it's all been worth the wait. I've compiled a list of the Saints' 10 greatest wins in franchise history. Today, I present to you Nos. 10 through 6. This upcoming Wednesday, I will reveal Nos. 5 through 1.
And please know, not all 10 of these victories occurred in this just-completed 2009 campaign. Enjoy this countdown, Saints fans. Your time has come.
Just like Confucius said:
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
Yes, and after beginning their inaugural NFL season 0-7, the Saints finally took a single step forward. And wouldn’t you know, it was Walter Roberts, the smallest man on the Saints’ roster, who single-handedly got New Orleans its first win.
Roberts, the 5’9’’ wide-receiver and return man, scored three touchdowns in three different ways to beat the Eagles.
He returned a kickoff for 91 yards. He returned a Saints’ offensive fumble for 27 yards. And finally, he caught a 49-yard touchdown pass to secure the win in the fourth quarter.
OK. Walter Roberts was a one-man-wrecking crew that day. But we’ll give the entire Saints team credit for the win—even though Roberts’ teammates didn’t really do much to help him.
For the first time ever, the Saints took advantage of playing in the national spotlight with their first victory on Monday Night Football.
Over the years, they had lost their first six games on MNF.
At the Superdome, the Saints quickly fell behind 14-3, but rallied behind quarterback Richie Todd’s two touchdowns and 223 yards passing.
New Orleans finished 7-9 in ’84. But this victory over Pittsburgh finally gave fans a reason to party on Monday night.
NFL Opening Day ’05 on the fourth anniversary of 9/11, carried special meaning for the entire country. But it carried an even more special meaning for the Saints and their fans.
Quarterback Aaron Brooks drove the Saints’ offense 50 yards downfield in the final minutes of the game. And kicker John Carney booted a game-winning, 47-yard field goal on the final play.
But what made this win so special was that it came just two weeks after Hurricane Katrina had devastated New Orleans. The Saints were essentially left without a home. The Superdome was in shambles. And the Saints wound up playing their ’05 home games in San Antonio, TX.
This win was so special because it finally gave the people of New Orleans something to cheer about.
The Saints would win just two more games the rest of the season.
For the first six weeks of the strike-marred ’87 campaign, the Saints appeared to be going nowhere fast. That was nothing new for them.
Entering Nov. 1, they were 3-3. Then—out of nowhere—the Saints did the unthinkable.
They put together a big-time winning streak. Uh, how big you ask? How about a nine-game winning streak to end the regular season.
It was the first time the Saints had ever finished with a winning record. Ever. And the signature win during that miraculous nine-game stretch came at Candlestick Park in San Francisco.
The Saints’ Johnny Poe returned a blocked field goal 61-yards that gave the underdogs a 23-14 lead at the end of the third quarter. But, to no one’s amazement, Joe Montana and the 49ers rallied to take a one-point lead in the fourth.
But, to everyone’s shock, the Saints actually responded. And Morten Andersen delivered a 40-yard field goal in the game’s final moments to secure the win.
New Orleans finished 12-3 in head coach Jim Mora’s second season. But the Niners still won the division with a 13-2 mark. The Saints settled for a wild card.
The Saints lost their first ever playoff game 44-10, at home, to Minnesota. No one was talking about the nine straight wins after that.
In 2006, the Saints won the division for the third time ever. They earned a first-round bye for the first time ever. On this night, they won a playoff game for just the second time ever. And most importantly, they proved that their magical ’06 regular season was no fluke.
This playoff game in the refurbished Superdome was an instant classic: a heavyweight fight that seesawed back and forth with both offenses in high gear.
But in the end, the young Saints prevailed over a veteran Eagles team that had won six straight games behind backup quarterback Jeff Garcia.
The game went right down to the wire.
The Eagles, down by three with just three minutes remaining in regulation, faced a crucial fourth down near midfield. Jeff Garcia completed a pass of roughly 25 yards that moved Philly near the Saints’ red zone. But not so fast…
The pass play was nullified by an Eagles’ penalty. It was a false start penalty committed by a backup lineman named Scott Young. Young was only playing because Philly’s All-Pro guard Shawn Andrews had left the game earlier with a neck injury.
It was the Eagles’ only false start misstep the whole game. And it helped the Saints pull out a franchise-changing victory.
This was the night when all of New Orleans realized that the Saints were in pretty good hands with a young coach in Sean Payton, a dynamic quarterback in Drew Brees, and an explosive core of young offensive weapons lead by Reggie Bush and Marques Colston.
But it would still take the Saints a few years to figure out the defense.
Hopefully you've enjoyed this Saints' history lesson, and learned a little bit along the way.
The Top Five wins in Saints' history will be released this Wednesday (Mar. 3). If you liked this article, then be sure to check out Part Two in a few days. Thanks everyone.