Saints Pivotal Moments
Rams 1972: Feller Makes Everyone Happy
The Saints and their fans were suffering through a dismal season in J. D. Roberts' sec­ond full year as head coach. Entering their November 26 home game against the Los An­geles Rams, the Saints were 1-8-1. Attendance averaged 11,000 less than in 1971.
Everyone expected J. D. to get the ax at the end of the season–everyone, that is, except the coach himself. The day before the Rams game, Roberts told the press, "I intend to be around for the 1973 season." He said that owner John Mecom Jr. had given him "a commitment through next season." Mecom had no recollection of making such a commit­ment and said during the game that "J.D. has two more years on a three-year contract. He has been given a vote of confidence for this year. Other than that, I have nothing more to say about the situation." Not exactly a ringing endorsement.
The ineptness of the Saints' rushing attack was best illustrated by the fact that QB Archie Manning would end the season as the team's second leading rushing with 351y. The leader, RB Bob Gresham, had only 381. The team would finish 25th in the league in yards rushing ahead of only the St. Louis Cardinals. Forced to pass more than he wanted, Archie would lead the NFL in attempts (448) and completions (230).

L-R: J. D. Roberts, John Mecom Jr., Archie Manning
The Rams were a mediocre 5-4-1 heading into their game at Tulane Stadium. They had beaten the Saints at home in Week 1 34-14. So you couldn't blame the visitors if they expected to sweep the season's home-and-home series.
The Saints led 7-6 at the half and 16-13 at the end of the third quarter. Neither team scored in the final period until David Ray booted a 24y field goal to tie the score with 2:06 left. A blocked extra point after the Saints' third-quarter touchdown loomed large. So did the Rams' successful fourth-and-three fake punt at their 47 that kept the tying field goal drive alive.
After a touchback, the Saints had the ball on their 20 with plenty of time for anything, good or bad, to happen. After an incompletion, Archie lost seven when he stumbled while going back to pass. He called time and went to the sideline for instructions. "Throw the bomb" was the order. So he sent WR Bob Newland winging down the sideline and reared back and threw the ball 50y. Just when it looked like the ball would land in the receiver's hands, DB Gene Howard, a former Saint, knocked the ball away.
One of the Saints' strong points was P Julian Fagan, who would average 40.8ypp for the season. With a vision of getting the ball near midfield in the minds of the Rams, Fagan rocketed a punt from the end zone that bounced and bounced before rolling dead on the LA 16. 71 yards. Suddenly the Saints' hopes improved from holding onto the tie to winning the game with a stop, a weak punt, and a short drive into field goal range.

L-R: Bob Newland, Bob Pollard (82) sacks Ram QB Roman Gabriel, Julian Fagan
Starting with 1:29 on the clock, the Rams fell one yard short of a first down after three plays. LA punter Dave Chapple didn't come close to matching Fagan's effort, and the Saints took over at the LA 47 with 46 seconds left.
The Rams immediately donated 5y on an offside penalty. Manning then hit RB Jim Strong with passes for 13 and 5y to the 25. K James Patrick "Happy" Feller, in his first year with Saints, trotted onto the field and calmly booted a 33y field goal to send the vast majority of the crowd of 64,325 home happy.

L-R: Jim Strong, Happy Feller, John North
Neither head coach would return for 1973. The Rams parted ways with Tommy Prothro after just two years during which he compiled a 14-12-2 record.
Roberts remained the Saints' head man at the start of training camp but a pathetic 31-6 loss to New England in the fourth exhibition game caused Mecom to "regretfully, very regretfully" replace him with assistant John North for the upcoming season.