Saints Pivotal Moments
1971 Dallas: Upset of the Year
In their four-year history, the Saints were winless in five clashes with Dallas. So the odds were against J. D. Roberts' club as they hosted the Cowboys, the defending NFC champions. The Saints were 1-2-1. Tom Landry's team was 3-1.
How would rookie QB Archie Manning hold up against the veteran Cowboy defense, especially the pressure of the vaunted Front Four of ends Larry Cole and George Andrie and tackles Jethro Pugh and Bob Lilly? The #1 pick from Ole Miss was banged up with a slightly sprained ankle and badly bruised elbow. It was possible that backup Edd Hargett might start under center.
"New Orleans always plays well against us," said Landry. "We seem to motivate them that way. The Saints are a young club, and young clubs are usually inconsistent. They may play real well one week and not so one week or the next."
Dallas assistant coach Ermal Allen praised Archie. "For a rookie, he's coming along well. He makes some very excellent plays and also has some problems with blitzes and reading defenses." Cowboy LB Dave Edwards added, "It can hurt you when he rolls out if the defensive end doesn't contain him. A linebacker doesn't know whether to cover the man coming out or come up to make the tackle."
Bob Roesler wrote in the Times-Picayune the day after the game: "It was Mardi Gras, New Year's Eve, V-J Day and the Fourth of July, all wrapped up into a neat package. It was a Saints' first. It was a 24-14 victory over those mighty Dallas Cowboys."
You didn't have to read the rest of the article to know that Archie must have had a fine game for the Saints to win. But if you looked at the redhead's passing statistics in the box score, you wouldn't have been impressed: 6-for-15 passing for 83y. But his rushing num­bers looked better: seven carries for 52y. Included in his stats, though, were three touch­down plays.

L-R: Al Dodd, Danny Abramowicz, Tony Baker, Delles Howell
The first came in the opening quarter to culminate a drive that started at the NO 49 after Al Dodd was hit early as he got under a punt–the first of several miscues by the Dallas special teams. Shaking off two sacks from earlier in the period, Archie rifled a pass to WR Danny Abramowicz for 22y. On the next play, it looked like Manning would be sacked again, but he drilled a pass to RB Tony Baker, who caught it between DBs Herb Adderley and Cliff Harris at the one and crashed into the end zone. Saints 7 Cowboys 0
The home team added to their lead early in the second period when CB Delles Howell intercepted Craig Morton's pass and ran it back to the nine. The Dallas "Doomsday De­fense" sacked Archie for a 16y loss on third down to hold the Saints to a 36y Charlie Durkee field goal. Holles had been cut by the Cowboys, and he said afterward that, "when I got cut, Coach Landry told everyone I wasn't good enough to play in this league." Saints 10 Cowboys 0
The Cowboys' miserable first half got worse when Mike Clark lined up for a 50y field goal try. The ball fell short into the hands of Dodd, who hot-footed up the sideline into Dallas territory. He stumbled and fell at the 25, got back to his feet only to slip down at the 15, possibly from exhaustion, to end a 77y return.
Archie took it from there. After a gain of four on first down, he put on one of his patent­ed scrambles. Pugh got his hands on him at the 22, but he wiggled away and headed up the middle. He shook loose in turn from Cole, Lilly, and LB Lee Roy Jordan. Awaiting him at the one were Adderley and LB Dave Edwards. The 210lb quarterback chose to attack 225lb Edwards and smashed through him into the end zone. Saints 17 Cowboys 0

L-R: Charlie Durkee, Richard Neal, Julian Fagan, Dave Kopay
Everyone in the full house of 83,088 expected the Cowboys to come back with a ven­geance in the second half, and the visitors got a big break early in the third quarter only to have their hopes to end their shutout dashed. Mel Renfro intercepted Manning's pass at the 23. But two plays later, DT Richard Neal knocked the ball from FB Walt Garrison and pounced on it at the 19.
Roger Staubach took over at quarterback from Craig Morton, who had completed only 10 of 24 passes with no touchdowns and two interceptions. The move paid off when Roger hit WR Gloster Richardson with a 41y touchdown pass. Saints 17 Cowboys 7
With the Cowboys stifling Archie & Company, Saints fans got more nervous in the fourth quarter when Staubach struck again, this time with a 16y pass to WR Bob Hayes to cut the Saints' lead to three with 12:68 left in the game.
The defenses buckled down, and the teams exchanged punts until Julian Fagan got off a beauty right after the two-minute warning that was fielded by Harris on the Dallas six. Neal caused his second fumble of the day when he smashed into the returner at the 13. Dave Kopay pounced on the pigskin at the three.
After the Cowboys held FB Jim Ford to two yards on two runs, Archie faked to his full­back, then rolled to his right into the end zone for the clinching touchdown.
The Saints won 24-14 despite being outgained 300-157.

Archie Manning scores the clinching touchdown.
Coach Roberts was ecstatic. "We worked harder this week than before. We knew it would take a good, overall performance from our defense. That damn front of ours was really something, wasn't it? They were all over 'em."
Richard Neal: "Dallas came in here taking us mighty lightly ... They'll never take the New Orleans Saints lightly again, I guarantee you. I read in the paper today where Tom Landry said a young team like us has its ups and downs. Ha! Ha! I'm sure sorry he caught us on one of those ups."