The Top Ten Moments in New Orleans Saints History
You know what's funny about being a New Orleans Saints fan?
How many of our franchise's greatest moments have occurred in the past 12 months.
Think about it: the Saints won three playoff games this season; they'd never won three playoffs games before in the entire history of the franchise. The greatest safety in team history just might be Darren Sharper, and he is entering his second season as a Saint. Every successful screen pass the Saints have ever run happened this past season.
(Okay, not really, but they have definitely all come during the Sean Payton Era).
Indeed, looking back at the top ten moments in New Orleans Saints history, it is shocking how many of these moments came just this past season.
Let's have a look.
10. Bobby McCray Lights Up Kurt Warner
Because Saints fans have always had a special hatred for Kurt Warner, and if we were going to have the best team in the NFC and the best season in franchise history and go to the Super Bowl, seeing Kurt Warner go "I'm Batman" was just the cherry on top.
9. John Gilliam Runs Back First Kickoff in Saints History For a Touchdown
The first ever play for the New Orleans Saints and John Gilliam returns a kick for a touchdown.
This would be the biggest moment in Saints history for the next twenty years.
8. The Onside Kick
Ballsiest call in the Super Bowl history?
7. The Dome Patrol
The only acknowledged claims to true NFL greatness the Saints ever enjoyed before the 2009 season came in behalf of the Dome Patrol, what has been considered by many the greatest linebacker corps of all time.
The combination of Pat Swilling, Sam Mills, Vaughan Johnson, and Rickey Jackson went to repeated Pro Bowls, including once when they all went together, and came away with numerous accolades, including an NFL Defensive Player of the Year for Swilling in 1991 and induction into the NFL Hall of Fame for Jackson in 2010.
This isn't even really a "moment" as much as it is a collection of moments.
6. Tom Dempsey Kicks a 63 Yard Field Goal
For generations every kid in New Orleans knew who Tom Dempsey was.
He was the one armed kicker who kicked with half of a foot, and once kicked a field goal from the other side of mid-field.
Until the mid-1980's, it was Gilliam's kick return and Dempsey's field goal that Saints fans had to hang their hats on as great moments.
5. Hakim Drops The Ball!
This baby was number one of the list for quite a while before the Sean Payton-Drew Brees Era.
Seeking to their first ever playoff victory, the Saints had taken a 31-7 lead, but the Greatest Show on Turf had stormed all the way back to make it 31-28 with under two minutes to go in the Saints' building.
After the Rams had stopped the Saints on third down, the Saints lined up to give the ball back to the Rams offense. With Az Hakim back to receive the punt, the eternal pessimism of Saints fans had overcome the Superdome, and perhaps even the entire city.
Then, the impossible happened.
4. Garrett Hartley Kicks The Saints Into The Super Bowl
It is important to remember, and may one day be lost to history, that until this moment Garrett Hartley was known in New Orleans for missing a potentially game-winning 37 yard field goal against the lowly Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Superdome in the 15th game of the season.
Seeing Hartley march out onto the field to square up for a . . . potentially game winning 40 yard field goal against the mighty Minnesota Vikings in the Superdome did little to inspire the confidence of the Saints fan base.
As has been noted a million times by a million New Orleanians, that kick would have been good if the uprights had been merely the width of a football itself. He split it down the middle, and kicked the Saints into the Superbowl.
Before the kick, Sean Payton told Hartley "You deserve to be here."
3. The Blocked Punt
It was the Saints' first game back in the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina, on Monday Night Football. NFL Commentators were either picking the Saints as trendy picks to beat the Falcons on emotion alone, or spinning what they felt was sure to be a Falcons victory as a victory for City of New Orleans just to be back in the Superdome.
The Saints killed the Falcons, starting with this play.
2. Tracy Porter Intercepts Brett Favre
Perhaps the most emotionally wrenching game that any Saints or Vikings fan, or Saint or Viking for that matter, has ever had to endure.
It is the only football game I've ever watched where, at the end of it, I felt as though I myself had been getting tackled for three hours.
The Saints were one medium range field goal away from the end of the 2009 season when Brett Favre did the very thing that Brett Favre has been criticized for during entire career.
The Saints going to the Super Bowl was not the only upside to this play.
Had Brett Favre pulled this game out and brought the Minnesota Vikings to the Super Bowl, we quite simply would have never heard the end of it.
1. Tracy Porter Intercepts Peyton Manning: Watch It Again
As great as the game film of the Porter interception is, this is the video which, to me, captures the spirit of every New Orleanian at that moment.
1. Tracy Porter Intercepts Peyton Manning
No explanation necessary here.
Tracy Porter, from Port Allen, Louisiana, playing in the Saints' first Super Bowl ever, guarding Reggie Wayne, from New Orleans, whose quarterback was Peyton Manning, from New Orleans, recognizes the Colts' formation, remembers his film study, and infamously "jumps the route," all but sealing the victory in Super Bowl XLIV.