Saints Pivotal Moments
Lions 1973: North Takes Points off the Board
John North's first Saints team started the season disastrously with a 62-7 shellacking at the hands of the Falcons and a 40-3 thumping by the Cowboys. The team was widely regarded as the worst in the league. But after losing a close one at Baltimore 14-10, the Saints gave North his first victory, 21-16 over the Bears.
Detroit came to town the next week for their first visit to Tulane Stadium since losing on Tom Dempsey's stupefying 63y field goal in 1970. Ironically, North was on the receiving end of the boot as the Lions' receivers coach. The Lions also had a rookie coach. Don McCafferty's 1-2-1 record was slightly better than North's 1-3 mark.
North went with the same lineup that proved successful against the Bears. Archie Man­ning, "looking sharper in each performance after starting the year sluggishly," at quarterback with Jess Phillips and Bill Butler the running backs.
The game was a dull battle of field goals until the final quarter. The Saints led 6-3 early in the third period on an 18y field goal by Happy Feller, who also opened the scoring with a 10-yarder in the second quarter. Feller muffed four field goals against the Chicago and felt "under more pressure today than I ever was before. After last week, I knew I had to prove myself again."
The Lions took a 10-6 lead on a 33y pass from Greg Landry to Earl McCullough. The Saints answered with a 1y plunge by Howard Stevens to culminate a 50y drive set up by a fumble recovery. 13-10 Saints.
The visitors moved deep into Saints territory to set up Errol Mann's 29y field goal to tie the score with just 6:48 left in the game.

Archie Manning calls signals against the Lions.
The Lions had been kicking away from Howard Stevens all game long, but he got his hands on the ensuing kickoff and returned it 48y to the Detroit 44. The Saints converted two key third downs, one on run by Stevens and the other by Manning. As the clock tick­ed under two minutes, they faced fourth down on the 11. So North sent in Feller, who kicked a field goal from the 11. However, the Lions were flagged for roughing the kicker. Feller: "I got a good snap and kicked it through when their guy (Levi Johnson) came through and hit me on the leg. My foot was still in the air when he hit me. I got spun around and fell. Sometimes they call it; sometimes they don't. This time they did." The ball was put on the four with 1:04 left.
Manning vigorously protested his coach's decision. He wanted the field goal to stand. "Shut up, Archie," said North. "Go out there and get the touchdown." Manning confessed, "When they called the penalty, I didn't know what we would do. I was on the sidelines yell­ing in coach's ear about taking the points because I had heard somewhere never take the points off the board. He was trying to think, and I was yelling, and finally he just told me to shut up."

Bob Pollard (82) takes a bead on the ball carrier.
Manning returned to the huddle and handed to Butler who gained three up the middle to the one. Then Archie faked to Stevens and gave the ball to Butler, who knifed off the left side into the end zone to take his coach off the hook. "It was slant 37-zone," explained Butler. "It's zone blocking by the line, and the other back takes on the cornerback. I bounced it outside, and I really shouldn't have because Howard had cleared out the cor­nerback. But I was lucky enough to get in." Saints 20 Lions 13 with 0:39 on the clock.
"I know you should never take points off the board," said North, "but I felt we could ram it in there. If we had taken the three, they could have beat us with a touchdown or tied us if they got close."
The Saints held on to complete back-to-back wins for the first time since 1969.