Saints vs. Rams bring back a flood of good and memories
By Dean Mullen
This kick happened over 30 years ago, yet after all this time the name still haunts me: Mike Lansford. Although I was a teenager at the time, this loss was the most gut wrenching loss that I’ve witnessed as a Saints fan. Ironically, it was this same team that would provide me everlasting joy.
My family invited all my cousins over to watch this game back in 1983. My aunt and uncle lived just across the acre of land that is now Power Blvd. in Kenner. It was all set up to be the most beloved time in Saints history.
The Saints were at 8-7 that year and was on the cusp of not only its first winning season but their first playoff berth. The Saints started off the scoring with a throw from Kenny “The Snake” Stabler to wide receiver Jeff Groth to go up 7-0. The Rams struck next with a sack by legendary player Jack Youngblood in the endzone to make it 7-2. The game was so bizarre that the Rams did not score any offensive points until there was two seconds left.
In fact, the only points were a punt return and two interceptions for a touchdowns for the Rams. The Saints did finally take the lead late when Steve Korte recovered a fumble in the endzone to put the Saints up 24-23. There was so much joy in the room that the mood was beyond euphoric. Presumably, after all these losing seasons the Saints were gonna go places, so we thought.
On the last drive the Rams drove down the field and got within field goal range for kicker Mike Lansford. The feelings were so tense in that living room at this point. For the rest of my life there will always be that memory permanently entrenched in my soul forever.
To this day it seemed like the kick was on a direct path to hit the goalpost, but it never did. The kick went through by inches so it seemed. My cousin Darin’s face said it all. Darin immediately left the house in disgust as everyone else just sat there in disbelief. As a teenager, the loss that went through my body was of complete and utter emptiness. That was the bad.
Yet again the Rams were on the other side, but this time the outcome would be different. The year was 2000, and it was one day before New Year’s Eve in New Orleans. Once again the history would happen in the dome. The Saints made it into the playoffs to host the Rams and came out swinging. The Black and Gold rolled out to a dominant 31-7 lead.
Quarterback Aaron Brooks was on fire tossing four touchdowns. Three of those went to Willie Jackson and everything pointed to a blowout so it seemed. Moreover, the Saints were up 31-7 with 11:57 left in the game. That’s when the St. Louis Rams woke up. The Super Bowl champions would not go lightly, as the Rams would get to within three points 31-28 with just under two minutes to play.
The Saints were forced to punt and for whatever reason God decided to end the curse. Az-Zahir Hakim fumbled the punt right into Brian Milne’s grasp and the rest was history literally. The Saints finally got their first playoff win 31-28.
Assistant head coach Rick Venturi said it all with this:
"“Take that curse and stick it”"
These two instances were so dramatic in their own way. Hopefully this Sunday will provide some boredom for Who Dat Nation as 2016 has been plenty enough drama for everyone.