March Madness: New Orleans Saints Style

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October 7, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA; Joe Unitas son of former NFL quarterback Johnny Unitas greets former New Orleans Saints defensive back Steve Gleason prior to kickoff of a game against the San Diego Chargers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Gleason Division

#1 – Gleason Punt Block vs. #16 – Archie’s Debut

GLEASON STATUE archie_manning_1971_11_01

Forever known as ‘Rebirth’ for the city of New Orleans, after opening the 2006 campaign on the road with wings against the Cincinnati Bengals and Green Bay Packers, the New Orleans Saints returned home for the first game in the Superdome following Hurricane Katrina on September 26, 2006. After the game’s opening possession, a three and out by a Michael Vick led offense, Steve Gleason made his way through to block Michael Koenen’s punt. Curtis DeLoatch would recover the ball in the end zone for the Saints first score in the game. The Saints would go on to win 23-3, and that moment remains the point where everything turned around for the team.

Archie Manning was the second overall draft pick by the New Orleans Saints in 1971. On September 19, 1971, which was the league’s opening day for the ’71 season, Archie would lead the Saints to their first ever franchise victory on opening day over the Los Angeles Rams 24-20. He would do so in impressive fashion, scoring as time expired on a quarterback rollout from a yard out.

Who's Your Winner?

  • #1 - Gleason Punt Block (96%, 69 Votes)
  • #16 - Archie's Debut (4%, 3 Votes)

Total Voters: 72

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#8 – Goal Line .500 vs. #9 – Eagles Get Sharpered

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The 1987 season ended a 21-year drought for the New Orleans Saints. It was the first time in franchise history that the team finished about .500. Back then, the league had fifteen games, and on November 30, 1987, the team won their eighth game of the season, which assured the team a winning season. The reason we nominate this is due to the Dome Patrol, which had two crucial late goal-line stands.

September 20, 2009 helped solidify the tone for the New Orleans Saints defense. Darren Sharper would take an interception late in the fourth quarter 97 yards en route to a 48-22 thrashing of the Philadelphia Eagles. Sharper evaded defenders, and had his first of many defensive touchdowns of the season.

Who's Your Winner?

  • #8 - Goal Line .500 (55%, 36 Votes)
  • #9 - Eagles Get Sharpered (45%, 29 Votes)

Total Voters: 65

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#5 – Jenkins Double Vision vs. #12 – PT Cruisin’

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Okay, so technically I am cheating on this play selection for Malcolm Jenkins, however, it goes hand in hand with the incredible hustle and never giving up on a play. The first play involves Turkey Day 2010. In the 4th quarter, it looked as though the Cowboys were going to put away the Saints to earn a Thanksgiving victory. Instead, Malcolm Jenkins ran down wide receiver Roy Williams, forced a fumble, and the Saints would take over trailing, and Drew Brees would find Lance Moore with 1:55 remaining to put the Saints up for good 30-27.

The second occurrence for Jenkins was in 2012 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. On October 21, 2012, it looked as though Vincent Jackson would be able to walk into the end zone after Josh Freeman connected with him. Jenkins would run down Jackson short of the goal-line, and the ensuing events would result in a Saints goal-line stand.

Since I technically cheated with the Jenkins nomination, I’m doing the same with Pierre Thomas. I love when I can see an effective ‘PT Screen’ fully executed. Let’s just cite these memorable scores from the 2009 season: Jets, Falcons, Patriots, Vikings, Colts. You also can’t ignore the wonderful score against the Bears in 2013.

Who's Your Winner?

  • #5 - Jenkins Double Vision (52%, 34 Votes)
  • #12 - PT Cruisin' (48%, 32 Votes)

Total Voters: 66

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#4 – Meachem’s Miracle vs. #13 – Charlie Brown

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Who in the hell would ever see this coming? On December 6, 2009, the Saints would have their hands full with a heavily favored underdog Washington Redskins team. Late in the 2nd quarter, Drew Brees would throw an interception, and cornerback Kareem Moore would start taking it the other way. Robert Meachem would catch Moore, and as he was going to the ground, Meachem would strip the ball, recover it, and take it the other way for a 44-yard Saints touchdown. It was beyond ridiculous, and will forever remain etched in our brains. The Saints would win in overtime 33-30 to help preserve their undefeated record (12-0).

For Charlie Brown, we’re not talking about Peanuts. Yes, there was a Saints player named Charlie Brown. On December 15, 1968, Brown would become the first New Orleans Saints player to return a punt for a touchdown. What was impressive about this punt return was that nine Pittsburgh Steelers touched Brown, and never brought him down. The Saints would win 24-14, and as we look at it now, we can say he was the ‘Reggie Bush’ back then.

Who's Your Winner?

  • #4 - Meachem's Miracle (98%, 62 Votes)
  • #13 - Charlie Brown (2%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 63

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#6 – Onside Surprise! vs. #11 – Dial’em Horn!

Super Bowl XLIV 2010 - New Orleans SAINTS over Indianapolis COLTS 31-17 joehorn

Look, we aren’t biased with the 2009 season, but one knows that so many historic plays happened during that season. No one in the history of the NFL will ever forget this Super Bowl play. Sean Payton reached into his bag of voodoo to call an onside kick attempt to open the second half. ‘Ambush’ was perfectly executed, and the Saints would recover to put points on the board with the ensuing drive.

If you remember ESPN having Sunday Night Football games, give yourself a pat on the back. On December 14, 2003, the New York Giants were obliterated in the Superdome 45-7. Joe Horn would finish the night with 9 receptions, 133 yards, and 4 touchdowns. On his second touchdown, Horn would celebrate by reaching underneath the goalpost padding to pull out a flip phone (yeah, what’s that?) and pretended to make a call. It was beyond hilarious, and well worth a 15-yard penalty. Horn would be less $30,000, but forever remembered for his celebration.

Who's Your Winner?

  • #6 - Onside Surprise! (94%, 61 Votes)
  • #11 - Dial'em Horn! (6%, 4 Votes)

Total Voters: 65

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#3 – Hakim Drops the Ball! vs. #14 – McCray Pops Warner

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On December 30, 2000, the New Orleans Saints were tasked with trying to knock off the favored St. Louis Rams in a Wild Card Matchup. The Rams had previously beaten the Saints the week before in the Superdome. Early in the 4th quarter, it seemed the Saints had things on lockdown to cruise to their first ever playoff victory being up 31-7. Kurt Warner helped the Rams score 21 unanswered points to cut the deficit to 31-28. After a stalled drive by the Saints, the Rams were sure to get the ball back with less than two minutes remaining in the game. However, Az-Zahir Hakim muffed the punt which would be recovered by the most unlikely hero, Brian Milne. The Saints would hold on to win.

Coincidentally, we have Kurt Warner’s other team in the mix for this other play. Rewind to the Divisional Playoff game in 2009, which we previously referenced in ‘Reggie to the House’. Kurt Warner’s career would end at the hands of Saints defender Bobby McCray after an interception. Warner wouldn’t argue that the hit wasn’t clean, but try telling that to anyone that surfaced ‘Bounty Gate’. To understand why this makes our list, one must understand what Kurt Warner always did to the Saints, and that’s beat them. Let’s also not forget that everyone five minutes we had to hear ‘Did you know Kurt Warner bagged groceries?’. Warner is a respectful guy, but like a Joe Montana or Steve Young, Saints fans hated playing against them.

Who's Your Winner?

  • #3 - Hakim Drops the Ball! (51%, 34 Votes)
  • #14 - McCray Pops Warner (49%, 33 Votes)

Total Voters: 67

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#7 – Brees Passes Unitas vs. #10 – Bush: A Vikes Killer

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On October 7, 2012, the New Orleans Saints were in an unfamiliar position with an 0-4 record. The San Diego Chargers came to town for Sunday Night Football, and Drew Brees would connect with wide receiver Devery Henderson for a 40-yard touchdown. That touchdown would officially break a 50-year old record help by quarterback Johnny Unitas, as Brees had his 48th consecutive game throwing a touchdown pass. The Saints would beat the Chargers 31-24, and start to right the ship for the 2012 season.

October 8, 2008 ended terribly at the hands of terrible officiating the Minnesota Vikings. However, for Reggie Bush, it was a night to remember. Trailing 20-10, Reggie Bush would return a 71-yard punt return to cut the lead to only three points. Side note: Jo-Lonn Dunbar’s block could be watched over and over again. In the 4th quarter, the Saints would take the lead 27-20 courtesy of another Reggie Bush punt return. This time it went for 64 yards. Bush nearly broke another one for a touchdown, but tripped himself up. Bush finished the night with 176 return yards.

Who's Your Winner?

  • #7 - Brees Passes Unitas (81%, 50 Votes)
  • #10 - Bush: A Vikes Killer (19%, 12 Votes)

Total Voters: 62

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#2 – River City Relay vs. #15 – 4th and Doh!

New Orleans Saints vs Jacksonville Jaguars - December 21, 2003 2011 New Orleans Saints Regular Season

December 21, 2003 will go down as the ultimate high and ultimate low for the New Orleans Saints. The Jacksonville Jaguars were leading the Saints 20-13 faced with a 2nd and 10 at their own 25-yard line. The cliff notes version sequence of events: Aaron Brooks to Donte Stallworth, Stallworth pitches to Michael Lewis, Lewis pitches to Deuce McAllister, McAllister pitches to Jerome Pathon, and Pathon runs it in for a touchdown with no time remaining. The extra point that would have tied the game was missed by kicker John Carney, and you most certainly remember Jim Henderson saying, “NOOOO!!! He missed the extra point wide right! Oh my God, how could he do that?” The loss sent the Saints to 7-8, and ended their chances to return to the playoffs.

November 14, 2011 suggested that Mike Smith needed a lobotomy procedure. The Atlanta Falcons would rally from 10 points down to tie the Saints at 23, and with time dwindling down to overtime, head coach Mike Smith felt the need to go for it on 4th and inches from his own 29-yard line. You’d have to have been pronounced legally dead to not know that running back Michael Turner was getting the ball. Turner was stuffed by Shaun Rogers and Will Smith, and the Saints would take three plays to set up the 26-yard game winning field goal by John Kasay.

Who's Your Winner?

  • #2 - River City Relay (52%, 32 Votes)
  • #15 - 4th and Doh! (48%, 30 Votes)

Total Voters: 62

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