Saints Pivotal Moments
1967 Falcons: Second Victory
The Atlanta Falcons joined the National Football League in 1966, a year before the Saints. They went 3-11 under Coach Norb Hecker.
The Saints entering the league in 1967 caused the NFL to reorganize into three divisions. New Orleans was placed in the Capital Division with the Cowboys, Eagles, and Red­skins. The Falcons shifted to the Coastal Division with the Los Angeles Rams, Baltimore Colts, and the 49ers.
Despite being in different divisions, Saints-Falcons was a natural rivalry since they were the new kids on the block and the first two NFL franchises in the Southeast. The Saints wanted to finish with a better record than Atlanta, and they especially wanted to defeat the Falcons when they came to the Crescent City on November 26. One writer referred to the game as the first "Cellar Bowl."
The teams took the field with a combined two wins and one tie. The Saints had defeated the Eagles three weeks earlier while the Falcons had tied the Redskins and edged the Vikings 21-20.
The highly anticipated game – it attracted a capacity crowd of 83,437 to Tulane Stadium for the final home game of the Saints' maiden season – was contentious (152y in penalties) and physical. Bob Hertzel, who covered the game for the Atlanta Journal, summed it up this way: "A traditional rivalry, perhaps the most spirited in all of professional football, was born Sunday afternoon in the Sugar Bowl following one of the most nerve-wracking, contro­versial and surprising hours in the 1967 National Football League season."

L-R: Tom Fears, Bill Kilmer, Gary Cuozzo
The Falcons led 21-10 at the half, causing Saints Coach Tom Fears to make a quar­terback change. Bill Kilmer replaced Gary Cuozzo, who had completed 11-of-21 for 118y.
"I remembered the job Billy did against the Falcons in the exhibition game," explained Fears, "and I knew we needed a couple of quick scores. Billy's a great inspirational player, and I figured he could get the job done on short order."
The move paid off as Kilmer moved the Saints to a touchdown the first time they had the ball in the second half. The drive covered 53y in only five plays after the Falcons' foolish onside kickoff attempt failed. The drive culminated in FB Randy Schultz's 22y run to cut the lead to four. Neither team scored the rest of the period.
Beaming with pride, Schultz, chosen from the Browns roster, described his run after the game. "The play was supposed to go off tackle inside the end, but this big 'ol hole opened up over the middle, and I went. Somebody hit me near the line, but I managed to spin free. That was my first score as a pro."
Charlie Durkee kicked a 32y field goal to pull the Saints within one point, 21-20, early in the final quarter. But the Falcons came back with a field goal of their own, a 26-yarder by Wade Traynham six minutes later.

L-R: Charlie Durkee, Don McCall, Ernie Wheelwright, John Gilliam
The Saints had trouble corraling the subsequent kickoff, which bounced crazily before RB Don McCall fell on it at the two. The offense's task was made easier when a 15y face mask penalty on Ernie Wheelwright's short gain moved the ball out to the 20. Attacking the middle of the defense, Kilmer then completed a 35y pass to John Gilliam who made a leaping grab at the Falcon 45. WR Ray Poage took another aerial to the 28. Then Kilmer handed to FB Tom Barrington up the middle on a draw play for 15y and another first down. The Saints then dodged bullets on the next two plays. First, CB Lee Calland almost intercepted Kilmer's pass to Danny Abramowicz at the goal line. Then the other CB Ken Reaves intercepted a throw in the end zone intended for WR Flea Roberts. But a flag at the seven for interference returned the ball to the Saints. Given new life, Billy hit TE Kent Kramer for the go-ahead touchdown with only 54 seconds left.
The Saints were helped on the winning drive by the fact that the Falcons terrific MLB Tommy Nobis was hobbled by a bum ankle suffered early in the game. Kilmer explained his strategy. "They were double covering Dan and Flea on the wings, and Nobis had lost a little of his speed. So we started working on their middle. We caught 'em in a weakside rotation a couple of times and got some big yardage."

Kent Kramer scores winning touchdown against Falcons.
The Falcons went to the shotgun and gave Saints fans some anxious moments. QB Randy Johnson completed a 15y pass to RB Junior Coffey between several long incom­pletions. On the game's last play, Johnson lofted a 60y aerial over CB Dave Whitsell to SE Jerry Simmons, an ex-Saint, who dropped the ball on the 15.
Simmons: "It was all my fault. The others did their part. I didn't. It was a good pass, right in my hands, and I had a clear shot for the goal line."