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From the Archives
Streak Buster - Lone 1980 Win

Saints Coach Dick Nolan
Dick Nolan

Saints QB Archie Manning
Archie Manning

Saints RB Tony Galbreath

Saints PK Benny Ricardo
Benny Ricardo

Jets QB Richard Todd
Richard Todd

The Saints entered their second-to-last contest of the 1980 season against the New York Jets in the Meadowlands with a record of 0-14.

Coming off a promising 8-8 season in '79, the team had been beset by off-the-field problems that carried over to on-field performance.

  • A June 1982 article in Sports Illustrated by DL Don Reese detailed his own problems with drugs while with the Saints (1978-80) as well as usage by a number of other players.
  • Star RB Chuck Muncie had been addicted to drugs for some time. As a result, to quote Jeff Duncan:

Muncie ... had developed into a one-man disciplinary nightmare. He regularly missed practices and meetings and was habitually late to other appointments. To cover his actions, he routinely made up wild tales: car accidents, mysterious ailments, deaths in the family.

  • Coach Dick Nolan had suspended DE Joe Campbell "for repeated altercations with officials and opposing players."
  • Nolan also benched four offensive starters, including Muncie and fellow RB Tony Galbreath.
  • After the fourth game, the Saints traded Muncie to San Diego for a second-round draft pick. A few weeks later, Campbell also exited, traded to the Los Angeles Rams. RB Mike Strachan was released.

The team became laughingstocks.

  • Responding to an idea of radio sports talk host Buddy Diliberto, the fans began wearing bags on their heads and calling themselves "Ain'ts" fans.
  • Only 45,388 showed up at the Dome for the fifth game, a 40-7 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.
  • A mere 30,936 attended Game 13, a 23-20 loss to Minnesota November 30.
  • When the record reached 0-12, owner John Mecom mercifully fired Nolan and replaced him on an interim basis with O-line coach Dick Stanfel.

After two more losses, Stanfel's 0-14 team visited Shea Stadium on December 14 to play the 3-11 Jets.

  • With the 9-6 Patriots looming in the final game of the season, the Saints' best hope of avoiding a winless season came against the Jets.
  • Only 38,077 showed up on a frigid, windy day with swirling snow flurries.

Trying to avoid the ignominy of becoming the first NFL team to go 0-15, the Saints got on the board first.

  • QB Archie Manning passed to FB Jack Holmes for a 14y TD in Q1 to take a 7-0 lead.
  • The advantage lasted into Q2 when Kevin Long scored from the 1, and Pat Leahy booted FGs of 27 and 47y to give the home team a 13-7 lead at the half.

After a scoreless Q3, the Saints took the lead.

  • Just 46 seconds into the final period, Tony Galbreath bulled over through the left side of the line to give New Orleans a 1-point advantage after Benny Ricardo's PAT.
  • On the next play from scrimmage after the kickoff, Jets QB Richard Todd fired a 66y TD pass only to have it wiped out by an illegal motion penalty.
  • Despite the setback, Todd led a march that he capped with a 31y scramble on a busted play to put New York up 20-14 with 9:39 remaining.

The Saints responded.

  • Manning led a 73y march in 10 plays, the last one Galbreath's dive over the middle from the 1.
  • Almost as Ricardo's PAT put the Saints back in the lead, it began to snow fiercely in Shea Stadium.
  • The crowd cheered wildly for the weather - a wind of 46 mph and a wind-chill factor of 5° - and booed the home team.
  • The Saints kept the Jets out of FG range the rest of the way and finished the season 1-15.

Dean Kleinschmidt, the Saints trainer from 1971-2000, told Times Picayune sportswriter Peter Finney in October 2011 what he remembered about the Saints' 1980 season and their one victory.

All the cigarettes Coach Dick Nolan smoked before he was let go, when we were 0-12. Dick Stanfel took over. We lose two more. We go to New York to play the Jets in a snowstorm. I never dreamed we had a chance. Archie Manning takes us the length of the field, and we take a one-point lead. In the last couple of minutes, we're backed up, and we have to punt. And who do you think is punting? Russell Erxleben. I was scared to death that he might shank one. But he got off a beautiful punt. I guess it was in the cards for us to win one. That's how we went 1-15.

P.S. Kleinschmidt was the trainer for the Lions during their 0-16 season in 2008.

Reference: Tales from the Saints Sideline, Jeff Duncan
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Saints Saga Archives - I

First Draft
Dazzling Debut: Archie Manning
Dazzling Debut: John Fourcade
The Sad Tale of Russell Erxleben
Could've, would've, should've
Profile: Billy Kilmer
"Shut that music off!"
Record Setter: Seven INTs
Profile: Morten Andersen
Memorable Game: Aints No More
Mascots to Fit the Team
Saints Get Moore from Lance

Saints Saga Archives - II

Bobby Hebert's Terrible Year
Memorable Game: Rams 10/23/94
Bum Takes Over
Dazzling Debut: Aaron Brooks
The Longest Boo
Profile: Tom Dempsey
The Love Affair Started Early
Record Breaker: 12 TD Passes
Firsts: Andersen Points, OT Victory
The Great Pizza Revolt

Saints Saga Archives - III

Profile: Ironhead Heyward
"One of the Oddest Two-Play Sequences in Saints History
"The Man Belongs in the Hall of Fame"
Profile: Michael Haynes
Ditka's Regime
First Victory
Memorable Game: Raiders 1979

Saints Saga Archives - IV

Streak Buster:Tampa Bay 1977
Dazzling Debut: Deuce McAllister
First 2-0 Start
"The Case of the Purloined Playbook"
Profile: Danny Abramowicz
"Black Sunday"
Dixon's Quest
Record-Setting Punt Returner
Profile: Bum Phillips
Memorable Game: Bears 1977

Saints Saga Archives - V

First 1,000y Rusher
Dazzling Debut: Marcus Dowdell
River City Relay
Emeril Helps the Saints I & II
Profile: Boy Owner I & II
We Sucked!
Profile: Bobby Hebert I, II, & III

Saints Saga Archives - VI

Hank Returns to KC
Streak Buster: Lone 1980 Win
Say Two Hail Marys and Beat the Saints
That Penalty Hurt!
Record Setter: Sam Mills 1992
Unlikely Victory
Big Plays Win It
First NFL Game in Mexico
Payton-Brees Regime Begins

Saints Saga Archives - VII

Take Me Out to the Brawl Game
Profile: Don Reese I and II
Memorable Games: Vince's Redskins I, II, III
Dobler Returns to the Dome I and II
Saints in Blue and Gold?
Walter Payton Gets the Record
Saints-49ers Shootout

Saints Saga Archives - VIII

Record-Setting Performance: Joe Horn 2003
Not So Dazzling Debut - Jerry Jones and Jimmy Johnson
Memorable Game: Pearl Harbor Day Disaster 1980
Memorable Game: Saints-Eagles 2007 Playoffs
Record-Setter: George Rogers
He looks funny in white pants
Profile: Monty Stickles

Saints Saga Archives - IX

Season in Time: 1987

Saints Saga Archives - X

Biggest Margins in Saints History
Firsts: Seven Wins, NFC Player of Year - 1978
Streak Buster: 1980 Opener

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