Saints Pivotal Moments
Bills 1973: Saints' First Shutout – against OJ No Less
John North's first year as Saints' head coach couldn't have started more disastrously. Game 1: A 62-7 pounding by the Atlanta Falcons at home. Game 2: A 40-3 beatdown against the Cowboys on Monday Night Football.
A third straight loss, to the Baltimore Colts, preceded home victories over the Bears and Lions. Then came another lopsided loss, 40-0 to the 49ers. But Bud Whitehead's defense rose up the next week and held the visiting Redskins to three points as the Saints won by 16. Washington's star RB Larry Brown gained only 6y and the entire team got just 18.
Next came the Buffalo Bills and their sensational TB O. J. Simpson. In seven games, he had failed to gain 100y in only one. Miami's Killer B's defense held him to just 55y. His best game was the opener against the Patriots when he exploded for 250y. After seven weeks, he had already topped the 1,000y mark by 25 and was on schedule to erase Jim Brown's rushing record. Could the Saints squeeze the "Juice" out of the Bills' ground attack?

Joe Ferguson calls signals in front of O.J. Simpson.
The largest home crowd of the season, 74,770, watched in disbelief as the Saints held Simpson to just 79y on 20 carries to record the first shutout in team history, 13-0. It was the second, and last, time that OJ would be held under the century mark that year.

Saints defense surrounds O. J. Simpson.
All the Saints' points came in the first half. Bill McClard, who had missed a 50y field goal try on their first possession, booted a 42y field goal midway through the opening period. Early in the second quarter, McClard's 47y attempt clanged off the right upright.

Archie Manning passes.
One play epitomized the dominance of the Saints' defense. Early in the fourth quarter, the Bills finally launched a sustained drive, marching from their 13 to the NO 11, where they faced 4th-and-one. Needing a touchdown, not a field goal, QB Joe Ferguson handed to Simpson over right tackle. But LB Jim Merlo smashed into him, driving him backward with the help of DT Derland Moore and DE Joe Owens to hold O.J. to no gain. "I think everyone on the defense felt it would be O. J. off tackle," said S Jerry Moore. "The thing you got to watch is not let him bounce outside. He has a way of taking a step inside, planting the foot and going wide. We were in a goal line defense, and I was the contain man."
The Saints rolled up 19 first downs to 10 for the Bills. The Saints gained 281y to 190 for the visitors. The victory evened the Saints' record at 4-4 for the best start in the team's seven-year history.

L-R: Jim Merlo, Derland Moore, Joe Owens
"Yes, you can say we invited their quarterback to pass, "explained DE Billy Newsome. "Actually, the front four didn't do anything differently than it did against the Redskins. We've been using the interchange–bringing the outside linebackers into the line inside the ends–ever since the Chicago game. It worked, and we've stuck with it. We went into the game feeling we'd rather have Joe Ferguson throwing the football than O. J. running with it."