Saints Pivotal Moments
1969 Steelers: Hargett Helps Send Atkins Out a Winner
After the final game of the '69 season against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Tulane Stadi­um, the Saints honored DE Doug Atkins, who was retiring after a 19-year NFL career that would land him in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The Saints, and the "Atkins' Army" defense most of all, wanted to send him off with a victory and finish the season a franchise-best 5-9 instead of 4-10.
The game didn't start well as rookie coach Chuck Noll's 1-12 Steelers led 14-0 after one quarter with both touchdowns scored by former LSU FB Earl Gros. After the game, Atkins said, "I was awfully sick after that first quarter. I thought they were going to blow us out of the stadium."
The fans started chanting, "We want Hargett!" They had become increasingly frustrated with Billy Kilmer, who had been playing with a severely separated shoulder suffered in the San Francisco game a month earlier. They wanted rookie Edd Hargett, who had done well in several relief appearances in recent weeks. But Coach Tom Fears stuck with Kilmer, who suddenly got hot, completing seven straight passes.
The Saints scored the next 17 points on a 3y pass to Ray Poage, a 38y Tom Dempsey field goal, and another Kilmer-Poage connection for 13y in the third period.
But the seesaw game continued with the Steelers scoring 10 straight points on another Gros touchdown and a Gene Mingo field goal to lead 24-17 with 13:05 left in the the game.
Fears finally sent in Hargett to the delight of most of the 72,256 in attendance. He started with a 25y strike to Dave Parks. After throwing an incompletion when rookie DT Joe Greene had a handful of his shirt, Edd rolled left and found Danny Abramowicz to midfield. Edd then scrambled out of the pocket for 11y. But the drive bogged down, and Dempsey booted a 40y field goal to cut the margin to 24-20 with 6:47 left.

L: Billy Kilmer calls signals against Steelers; R: Edd Hargett
The Atkins Army did its job, forcing the Steelers to punt from the end zone to give NO excellent field position at the Pitt 39. Hargett let his buffalo backs, 230lb Tony Baker and 235lb Andy Livingston, pound the tiring defense for another first down. Then Edd fired to Al Dodd for 13y to the 12. On the next snap, the former Texas Aggie rolled right and threw to Abramowicz on the three. It was Danny's eighth catch of the day and an NFL leading 73rd reception for the season. The fans booed loudly when Hargett suddenly left the field, and Kilmer came back. They didn't realize that Edd had been hit hard during the drive and took himself out of the game. He admitted afterward that he didn't even remem­ber part of the drive and realized he couldn't call the plays and do the ball-handling. Billy kept it simple, handing to Livingston, who dove into the end zone with 0:59 left. Dempsey's PAT made it 27-24 Saints.
The defense wasn't about to let the Steelers spoil their leader's retirement party with a miracle play. It seemed fitting on Doug Atkins Day that the game ended in an old-fash­ioned brawl.

L: Johnny Brewer jumps on Warren Bankston as Marv Woodson comes up. R: Doug Atkins
In the post-game ceremonies, 39-year-old Atkins reflected on his career, which included 12 years with the Bears. "These have been the happiest three years of my career." Then he asked a favor of the fans. "Until you understand a game a little better, promise me you'll let Coach Fears and his assistants make all the decisions." In the dressing room, Doug told the press he "was glad to get it over with. I ended up in good shape and can say I was lucky to last 17 years."