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Fourcade to the Rescue
Jim Mora's 1989 squad, his fourth as Saints head coach, was in big trouble with three games remaining in the regular season. After losing two in a row, the Saints stood at 6-7. The first of the two losses had been a real heartbreaker that was immediately dubbed "The Flipper Anderson Game."
  • The Saints led the Los Angeles Rams 17-3 as the clock ticked under three minutes to go in the Sunday night game in the Superdome. But the visitors rallied to win in OT 20-17.
  • New Orleans failed to gain a first down in the final period. QB Bobby Hebert completed only 12 of 26 attempts for 155y against the league's worst pass defense.
  • On the other side of the ball, Rams WR Flipper Anderson caught 15 passes and broke the NFL's single-game record with 336y.

The following week, the offense failed to score in the second half against the 3-9 Lions in Detroit.

  • The result was a 21-14 setback that left the Saints' hopes of obtaining a wild card playoff berth on life support.
  • With 7:04 left in the game, Mora pulled Hebert in favor of former replacement player John Fourcade. "I thought about it at halftime," said Jim. "Then we came out and I wanted to see what happened in the second half. We struggled a bit in the first two series. It wasn't all (Hebert's) fault. At a point, I just felt like, hey, we had to try something different."
  • The defense also shouldered some of the blame. For the second week in a row, an unknown receiver torched the Saints. This time it was Richard Johnson, all 5'6" of him. He gained 248y on his eight receptions, including a 75y TD when he caught a pass just beyond the line of scrimmage and raced down the left sideline to pay dirt for the go-ahead TD in Q3.
  • The final score could have been worse but Detroit coach Wayne Fontes, under fire himself, instructed his QB to take a knee at the Saints' 1 in the last seconds.
  • LB Pat Swilling was asked what the defeat did for the Saints' playoff picture. The playoff picture, really ... There is no playoff picture.

The big question in the week leading up to the game at Buffalo was, Whom would Mora start at QB?

  • John Fourcade was the answer. The hometown product of Archbishop Shaw High School had played in the CFL, the USFL, and Arena Football in addition to QBing the Saints as a replacement player during the 1987 strike.
  • Earlier in the '89 season, John had sustained leg and ankle injuries against Tampa Bay while replacing Hebert, who was being treated for a concussion.
  • G Jim Dombrowski explained the difference from Hebert to Fourcade. The pocket's going to move a lot more. ... from what I heard, when Bobby first got here, he had a little bit of antsy feet. He learned to stay in the pocket more. John, he definitely runs out of there, which creates a lot of problems for us. We can only really protect him as long as he's in the pocket. When he goes outside the pocket, he's basically taking his life into his own hands.
  • The change did create a problem for the 8-5 Bills, as coach Marv Levy explained. We don't know enough about Fourcade, really, to say this is exactly what we do. You can't tell this guy to stay home, and the outside guys to keep contain. ... If you do that, pretty soon you're playing look-out football ...

The weather in upstate New York made the game even more challenging for the young QB from the Deep South.

  • Snow showers fell during the first half with a temperature around 30° and 15-20 mph wind.
  • But Fourcade was poised and confident and jump-started the Saints' offense with 13 first-quarter points as the Bills adjusted to his tendencies.
  • The first TD came on a 12y pass to TE John Tice. A dumpoff screen that RB Dalton Hilliard took 54y on the icy field produced the second.
  • The Bills fought back in the second quarter. James Lofton took a Jim Kelly pass 42y to make it 13-6 when the second PAT of the day was missed. After a Morten Andersen 31y FG, Buffalo scored the last six points of the half on 43 and 48y FGs by Scott Norwood.

Bobby Hebert

Flipper Anderson

Richard Johnson

Pat Swilling

L: Buford Jordan (23) tackles Don Beebe; R: John Fourcade upended for a sack.
The game would not be decided until the closing minutes.
  • The home team took a 19-16 lead on a 2y Kelly-to-Pete Metzelaars pass 47 seconds into Q3. The quick score was set up when a gust of wind took the kickoff, causing Gene Atkins to slide down as he tried to field it. Mickey Sutton recovered for Buffalo at the 2.
  • With their defense seemingly in control, the Bills looked like a good bet for victory. But Fourcade guided a drive that culminated in a tying 26y FG by Old Reliable Andersen.
  • The tie remained intact until the Bills drove into FG range in the waning minutes. But Kelly's pass bounced off the hands of RB Thurman Thomas into the mitts of CB Toi Cook at the 15.
  • After making one first down, Fourcade & Company faced 3rd-and-12 at their 24. John mishandled the shotgun snap, then rolled right and lofted the ball with the wind toward WR Eric Martin near midfield. The former LSU star caught the ball amid three defenders at the 50.
    I just kept backing up and backing up, said Eric afterward. Fourcade: When we got that pass, I knew there was no way they could beat us. The guys in the huddle, all the offensive linemen like Stan Brock, were real leaders. They were all behind me.
  • Three runs by FB Buford Jordan for 32y mixed with three by Hilliard of 15 moved the pigskin to the 4, where Andersen kicked a not-so-automatic FG to make it 22-19 with 1:53 on the clock.
    Andersen: As soon as I ran out there, I felt a big gust of wind - a real confidence builder. What scared me was that the wind wasn't consistent. The wind was left-to-right, so I started it off left of center, and the wind brought it back right of center. 10-20y longer, and that kick doesn't make it.
  • Kelly tried to rally his troops, but Brett Maxie's INT with 1:17 left sealed an improbable victory for the visitors.
  • Asked if Fourcade would start again the next week, Mora replied, Barring the unforeseen ... sure. Under the circumstances, considering this was John's first start, coming against a fine team, he played very well. But, too, I thought it was a team win. John played a super game. He was calm, and the team rallied around him.
  • Swilling followed up on his remark the previous week about playoff hopes - or lack thereof. We were eliminated after we lost last week. We only wanted to win these last three games. One down, two to go.

To be continued...

John Fourcade

John Tice

Morten Andersen

Toi Cook

Eric Martin

Buford Jordan

Brett Maxie

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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
Profile: Jim Finks I

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