Saints Pivotal Moments
Rams 1977: Fake Field Goal
With Archie Manning healthy again after missing the entire 1976 season with a shoul­der injury that required surgery, second-year coach Hank Stram had reason to believe the '77 campaign would bring significant improvement from the disappointing 4-10 record in his first year.
However, the new season didn't start well–five losses in the first six games. The victory came against the Bears in Chicago 42-24. Manning's offense gained 314y, but the defense added to the rout with two defensive touchdowns–DE Bob Pollard's 52y fumble return and LB Jim Merlo's 57y interception return.
One of the losses came at the hands of West Division rival Los Angeles in Week 5, 14-7 in California. Saints fans had reason to believe their heroes could upend the 4-2 Rams in Week 7's return engagement in Tulane Stadium.
Ram fans weren't happy with Coach Chuck Knox's offense, which was characterized as "Ground Chuck." Team publicist Jerry Wilcox said before the second Saints game, "I guess we are a bit defensive about how we look (offensively) because we have been criti­cized as being a dull team" Still, that "dull" LA offense torched the Saints for 408y two weeks earlier. Also, the Rams were coming off a 35-3 trouncing of the Vikings on Monday Night Football.
Ram S Dave Elmendorf, who was in on 13 tackles in the first meeting with the Saints, wasn't taking the second meeting lightly. "They have two good, big backs in Chuck Muncie and Tony Galbreath, and both of them catch the ball well. They'll give you multiple sets and different looks throughout the game. Sometimes they'll have a tight end set in the backfield or have one of their wide receivers set back there. For a game against the Saints, it means we have to increase our preparations before we play them. You have to spend a lot of time watching film."

L-R: Chuck Muncie, Tony Galbreath, Bobby Scott
Stram Develops a New Game Plan
Stram said, "Los Angeles doesn't show you very many fancy plays. You know what they're going to do. It's our job to stop them if we expect to win."
Unfortunately for Stram and the Saints, Manning would not play in the rematch. His badly sprained ankle kept him out of practice the whole week. Five-year veteran Bobby Scott started in Archie's place.
Rather than dictate every play for the backup quarterback, Stram decided to let Scott call most of the plays at the line of scrimmage. "We wanted to give the Rams a little some­thing new," said Hank after the game. "They are so well prepared for your tendencies that we wanted to show something different, cause them to hesitate for a second."
The contrast in talent between the two teams could be summarized like this: The Saints started five free agents on offense and three on defense. The Rams boasted 16 first-round draft choices on their roster.
Any fears of a dull, defensive struggle were eliminated in the first half, when each side scored more points than they did in the entire game two weeks earlier.

L-R: Joe Federspiel, Derland Moore, Rich Szaro
Federspiel Causes Fumble
The Saints got the first break in the opening two minutes when MLB Joe Federspiel smashed RB Lawrence McCutcheon, causing a fumble that DT Derland Moore recovered on the 11. That led to Rich Szaro's 23y field goal. 3-0 Saints
The Rams took the lead later in the period on a six-minute drive that ended with QB Pat Haden's 18y touchdown pass to WR Harold Jackson. 7-3 Rams (3:20)
Stram Gambles on Fourth Down
The second quarter was packed with scoring literally to the last second.
After an 85y 14-play drive, all on the ground except for a 10y pass from Scott to Mun­cie's replacement, Michael Strachan, the Saints faced fourth-and-one at the LA 12. Stram kept the field goal unit on the sideline. Strachan drove over right tackle to the three to make it first-and-goal. Following Muncie's run to the one, Tony Galbreath leaped over right guard into the end zone. 10-7 Saints (10:25)
The Rams responded with a time-consuming drive into Saints territory. On third-and-nine, SS Chuck Crist moved up to the line of scrimmage and timed the snap count per­fectly, roaring between the center and left guard to sack Haden for a 5y loss. So the Rams settled for Rafael Septien's 36y field goal. 10-10 (5:49)
A few minutes later, the Saints got another break. Billy Waddy fumbled Tom Blan­chard's punt, and CB Clarence Chapman recovered on the 10. But a personal foul penalty on reckless Joe Campbell moved the ball back to the 25.

L-R: Michael Strachan, Chuck Crist, Clarence Chapman
Another Gamble
Scott hit WR Don Herrmann to make it first-and-goal at the three at the two-minute warning. However, the next three plays went nowhere. So Stram sent in Szaro and his holder, Blanchard. The Saints rushed out of the huddle into a strange formation. Five linemen went wide left on the line of scrimmage with the center over the ball and DE Elois Grooms next to him on the right, which made him an eligible receiver. Blanchard knelt behind the center in front of Szaro as if to hold for the kick. Calling for the snap quickly before the Rams could figure out what was happening, Blanchard popped up and rolled to his right. Meanwhile, Grooms, a tight end in high school, went into the end zone and cut to the right. Blanchard, a quarterback at Oregon, tossed him the ball for the touchdown. The Rams vented their wrath on the officials to no avail. Stram had explained the play to the referee during the two-minute warning timeout. Saints 17-10 (1:52)
After playing sharply almost the entire half, the Saints reverted to their old selves in the remaining time. Would you believe the Rams scored 10 points to take the lead into the locker room?
Making one outstanding throw after another, Haden piloted his unit 69y to pay dirt with ease. The drive ended with Pat's 9y pass to Jackson in the end zone. 17-17 (0:20)
Instead of taking a knee and running out the clock, the Saints ran their regular offense. That led to disaster when Strachan, carrying the ball loosely, was hit by LB Jim Young­blood and fumbled. SS Dave Elmendorf recovered on the eight with just two seconds left. That was just enough time for Septien to kick a 27y field goal. Boos rang out as the Saints left the field. 20-17 Rams

L-R: Don Herrmann, Tom Blanchard, Elois Grooms, Henry Childs
Crist Strikes Again
The only score in the third quarter came on a Saints drive that began after Crist again burst between center and left guard to flatten Haden as he dropped back to pass, causing a fumble that was recovered on the LA 32 by Grooms, who was having a stellar game including the touchdown reception in the first half.
Stram Gamble #3
Four plays later, the Saints faced fourth-and-one at the 23. Stram kept the offense on the field again. Galbreath crashed through the right side to the 18 to move the chains. Two plays later, Muncie broke multiple tackles for an 11y gain to the two. The defense stuffed Chuck on the next snap, but Galbreath repeated his first half leap over the right side into the end zone. 24-20 Saints (4:40)
Chapman Prevents Touchdown
The Rams responded with a drive that reached the NO 34. On third down, Haden launched a pass down the middle to Jackson. Chapman raced over and knocked the ball away on the five to prevent a sure touchdown. The play loomed even bigger when Sep­tien's 52y field goal try fell short.
Bad Snap on Extra Point
The fourth quarter started with a boom. Haden threw long to Jackson for a 59y gain to the 23. McCutcheon took it from there, ending with a 1y scoring plunge. Then another miscue cost the Rams. The extra point snap sailed over the holder's head past Septien to keep the lead at just two. Rams 26-24 (12:55)
The Saints missed a good chance to take the lead on their next possession. Scott connected with TE Henry Childs to the LA 43. Then an interference penalty on a long pass to Herrmann put the ball on the 12. After Muncie gained three, the Rams sacked Scott for the first time all day for a disastrous 16y loss to the 25. A third down incompletion brought out Szaro for a 42y field goal instead of a much shorter one. He missed it with 8:59 left.
Now it was the visitors' turn to shoot themselves in the foot. The Rams lost 10y on a backward lateral combined with a penalty. So the Saints got better field position on the ensuing punt at their 47.
The do-or-die drive started with a screen pass to Muncie to the LA 37. Galbreath gained eight before Muncie added 12 more to the 17. But the momentum was interrupted when Scott had to eat the ball on a busted play for a loss of one. Following Muncie's gain of five, MLB Jack Reynolds stuffed Chuck for a loss of one. So Szaro got a second chance, this time from the 21. He almost blew it again as his kick hit the right upright. Fortunately, it ricocheted left between the uprights. Saints 26 Rams 25 (3:34)
The Rams had plenty of time to get into field goal range. On their first play from scrim­mage after the kickoff, McCutcheon ran across midfield. However, a holding penalty put the ball back on the 31. After the two-minute warning, the Rams faced third and 11 at their 35. That's when Grooms's spectacular performance got even better as he sacked Haden at the 25. With several timeouts left, Coach Knox decided to punt.
The move backfired when the Saints made several first downs to run out the clock.
The Saints gained 253y on the ground against what had been the NFL's best rushing defense.
Coach Knox was straightforward in his comments. "What it comes down to is hitting and not making mistakes. We have no excuses. We have no alibis. We just got our butts kicked. That's the plain, honest-to-god truth."
Watch the game on YouTube:    1st half       2nd half