Saints Pivotal Moments
1968: Atkins Army Preserves Victory at Pittsburgh
In the summer before their inaugural season, the Saints acquired 37-year-old DE Doug Atkins in a trade with the Bears. Ed Staton, who covered the Saints for The Times-Picayune, had this first impression of the eight-time Pro Bowler. "You said you to yourself, this man wasn't born. The Arctic ice cracked, an explosion following, and this awesome 6-8, 270-pounder came out."
Ray Rismiller, an offensive tackle on the first Saints team, said, "When Doug wanted to play, you couldn't block him. He had these huge forearms and he'd pop you with them and just really knock you around. I've seen him jump over tackles, and I've seen him go right through them."
Atkins quickly gained a following among Saints fans, who called themselves "Atkins Army." That name was soon transferred to the entire Saints defense.
Midway through the 1968 season, the Steelers trailed the Saints 16-12 with three minutes left in the game but had a first down at the Saints four. Most of the crowd of 32,303 at Pitt Stadium had every reason to believe that this would finally be the first victory for their 0-6 club.
When the Saints jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the second quarter, Steeler fans thought, "Here we go again."
Pitt started the game with an onside kick, but the strategy backfired when Saints G Del Williams recovered at the 48. QB Billy Kilmer broke three tackles before throwing a pass to TE Monty Stickles for a 33y gain. But the drive bogged down, and Charlie Durkee split the uprights from 22y out with less than four minutes elapsed.

L-R: Doug Atkins, Del Williams, Billy Kilmer
The Steelers stormed back with a drive that reached the NO six. But on the next play, former LSU fullback Earl Gros fumbled, and DE Brian Schweda recovered the bouncing ball on the 12.
The Saints then marched to their only touchdown of the game. Kilmer completed six passes - three to WR John Gilliam, two to FL Danny Abramowicz, and one to RB Randy Schultz. RB Ernie Wheelwright bulled over from the one for his first touchdown in two years in black and gold. 10-zip Saints.

L-R: Brian Schweda, Charlie Durkee, John Gilliam, Danny Abamowicz
The Steelers came right back, driving 90y in 14 plays. Gros plowed over from the two. Booth Lusteg's extra point attempt banged off the right upright. 10-6 Saints
The Steelers took a 12-10 lead on the opening possession of the second half on Dick Hoak's 77y run off right tackle. DB Elijah Nevett blocked the PAT kick. The two missed extra points would haunt the Steelers.

Dick Hoak takes off on his 77y touchdown run. #81 is Doug Atkins.
The Saints regained the lead later in the third quarter when Durkee booted a 37y field goal. 13-12 Saints
The visitors extended their advantage when they drove from their 20 to the Pitt 25 with the big gainers being passes from Kilmer to Gilliam. Durkee's 33y three-pointer extended the Saints' lead to 16-12, forcing the Steelers to score a touchdown to win.

L-R: Ernie Wheelwright, Elijah Nevett, Doug Atkins, Dave Rowe
Pittsburgh launched a sustained drive with Hoak and Gros gaining most of the yardage on the ground. A 21y pass from Hoak to Gros put the ball on the four where DE Johnny Brewer from Ole Miss knocked the former LSU Tiger out of bounds. That's when the Atkins Army, their backs to the wall, rose to the occasion.
First down: Gros plunged into the center of the line but was stopped for no gain by Atkins.
Second down: Gros bulled his way to the two where Schweda made the tackle.
Third down: Gros took another handoff but didn't gain an inch at right tackle when he was again met by Schweda.
Fourth down: QB Kent Nix decided to try a pass. Seeing all his receivers covered, he rolled left and raced for the pylon. But Schweda again with assistance from DT Dave Rowe tackled him at the two to end the threat with 2:37 on the clock.
The Saints ground out two first downs on runs by Tony Lorick and Don McCall to ice the victory.

Saints stage goal line stand to preserve victory.