Saints Pivotal Moments
1974 Falcons: Fumble Leads to Winning TD
The Saints and Falcons, both 0-2, met in Tulane Stadium–their eleventh meeting in a series that began in 1967. Atlanta won nine of the previous ten games, including the last six.
Neither team boasted an explosive offense. Atlanta had scored only 10 points in their first two games while the Saints had tallied 13. Both had been shutout once.
The Saints scored first on Archie Manning's 13y pass to rookie WR Joel Parker in the second quarter. Archie faked beautifully to his fullback, looked up, and hit Parker on a quick post pattern shot. "We stole that play from Denver," Manning said. "(QB) Charlie Johnson hit on it a couple of times (in a preseason game), and we saw it on film. Joel and I worked on it extra in practice ... a quick slant in, and it just worked real well."
But the Falcons defense throttled the Saints' offense. That allowed the visitors to forge a 13-7 lead on Gerald Tinker's 72y punt return in the second quarter and field goals by Nick Mike-Mayer in the third and fourth quarters.

Archie Manning calls signals behind C John Didion against the Falcons. 47 is RB Jack DeGrenier.
With Manning hitting on only six of 14 passes for 24 puny yards, it looked as if the Saints' conservative offense was never going to get in gear. Fortunately, the running game led by Jess Phillips and Jack DeGrenier amassed 276y. So the Black and Gold finally mounted a drive deep into Atlanta territory. But when Manning's pass was picked off by Clarence Ellis at the Falcon two with six minutes left, many frustrated fans in the crowd of 62,273 started heading for home.
But when DE Joe Owens stripped RB Haskel Stanback of the ball, which was recovered by DT Elex Price at the eight, the departing crowd froze in their tracks.
The Saints took advantage of the gift to score on the next play. Phillips, a six-year veteran from Michigan State in his second season with the Saints, took a handoff and started left. A chop block by FB Bill Butler on DE John Zook sprung Phillips around the left side where he juked past DB Ray Brown and knifed into the end zone for his first touchdown as a Saint. Bill McClard's PAT put the Saints in front 14-13.
Clutching the game ball afterward, Phillips said, "It was a Flat 47. You go where nobody is. I ran where I didn't see anybody. The play was blocked well."
Still, 5:11 was plenty enough time for the Falcons to move into field goal range. Former Heisman Trophy winner Pat Sullivan, a third-year pro starting his first game for the Fal­cons, had to take to the air. Under a heavy rush, he managed to connect on several short passes and even ran for a first down on fourth-and-long.
At the two minute warning, all the Falcons needed was eight or so yards to get into range of the crossbar. But Sullivan threw once too often, and LB Wayne Colman picked it off at his 30 and returned it 16y.

L-R: Jess Phillips, Joe Owens, Elex Price, Bill Butler
The Saints ran out the clock from there. R.I.P. Atlanta's six-game winning streak against the Saints.
The Falcons disgusted coach, Norm Van Brocklin, whose seventh year with the club would end five games later, told the press, "Well, men, we just gave another one away. When we stop giving 'em away, then we'll start winning."
Saints' head man John North who, like Van Brocklin, was on the hot seat, said, "It's a real fine win for us. Any way we can get 'em, we'll take 'em. We're not giving 'em back."