Saints Pivotal Moments
1967 Eagles: First Victory
The Saints chose Walter "Flea" Roberts, a speedy wide receiver from San Jose State, off the Cleveland roster in the expansion draft on February 9, 1967. He had special­ized in punt and kick returns with the Browns for three seasons but also caught 19 passes for 357y and five touchdowns.
Roberts, just 5'9" and 165lb, had played sparingly in the Saints' first six games, all losses. He caught nine passes for 149y and two TDs. He returned six kickoffs for 121y and eight punts for 25y. He missed the seventh game, another loss, because of National Guard duty. So no one could have predicted the game he had against the 4-3 Philadelphia Eagles before 59,596 in Tulane Stadium on the sunny, 50° November 5 afternoon.
Flea took the opening kickoff on the nine and started up the West sideline behind a host of blockers. He veered to daylight up the middle to the Eagle 30 where CB Nate Ramsey lurked as the last defender with a chance to stop him. Roberts faked to the left, getting Ramsey to cross his feet, then cut to his right and sprinted untouched to the end zone.
Roberts said afterward: "I got all sorts of help on that kickoff return. You never run one of those back without a heck of a lot of blocks. Man, I don't know who threw 'em, but you can bet I'll be looking at the pictures so I can thank them all. I know Roy Schmidt took out #61."
"I was almost stopped once. I was lucky to get away ... Ron Medved got his arms around me. He's a good tackler, but he was coming at me full speed. ... Actually, I sur­prised my­self on the run. I'm usually real tight on the opening kickoff. I'm not like Gilliam who real­ly jetted on his run."

L: Flea Roberts runs back the opening kickoff; R: Jim Taylor rambles, carrying the ball loosely.
Late in the first period, the Saints started a drive from their 21. On the first play of the second quarter from the 45, QB Gary Cuozzo flipped to FB Jimmy Taylor, who chugged 27y before fumbling the ball, which bounced forward. Roberts, without breaking stride, scooped up the pigskin and raced the final 27y to the end zone for a 14-0 lead.
With the Saints leading 24-10 going into the final period, Philly QB Norm Snead hit Gary Ballman for a 14y touchdown to pull within seven points. When the Saints were forced to punt on their next possession, many home team fans must have been thinking, "Here we go again." But the Black and Gold defense, led by DE Doug Atkins, stuffed the Eagles, and the Saints soon had the ball back at their 33. On the sixth play of the pos­session from the Philly 49, Cuozzo sent Roberts straight ahead, and the electrifying Saint blew past CB Taft Reed at the 20 and caught Gary's bomb for a touchdown with 6:03 left.

L-R: Gary Cuozzo, Doug Atkins, John Gilliam
Just when fans started feeling confident of victory with a 31-17 cushion, Snead marched the Eagles 69y in just six plays, the final one being a 33y pass to WR Tim Brown to pull back within seven with 4:56 still left.
John Gilliam, who ran back the opening kickoff for a touchdown in the Saints' first regular season game, took the ensuing kick 53y to the Philly 32. But after three plays gained only 6y, Charley Durkee missed a field goal attempt.
The Eagles took over at their 20 with 2:00 left. Snead threw to TE Jim Kelly, but CB George Rose broke up the pass. Then Atkins crashed through to deck Snead for a 10y loss. But Norm hit Hawkins for 16y to the 26 to bring up 4th-and-4. Snead looked for Kelly a second time, but Rose was Johnny-on-the-spot again, batting the ball away to preserve the first victory in Saints franchise history.
As the clock ticked down to 0:00, the Saints and their shivering fans went wild, jumping and shouting and counting off the seconds.
Saints coach Tom Fears said, "For weeks now, I've been going home with this real bad headache. It was the tension. You know little things going wrong - things that kept us from winning a football game. The headache is gone, just like that" as he snapped his fingers.