Saints Pivotal Moments
@Rams 1978: First Win at the Coliseum
Larry McMillen wrote in the Times-Picayune the morning of the 3-4 Saints game at the 7-0 Rams: "Absolutely nobody in the National Football League is a bigger underdog [13 1/2 points] than the Saints this weekend as they face the Rams in the Coliseum ..." To make matters worse, the Saints had never beaten the Rams in Los Angeles, and Ray Malavasi's club had won their last 12 regular-season home games.
The oddsmakers installed the Rams as 13 1/2-point choice over the Saints. "That's a lot of points," said Saints coach Dick Nolan. "We're gonna have to take advantage of any breaks we get." But he added, "Our defense is coming along. They've played pretty well in the past three or four weeks, but we can't let them get a big jump like last time. That's a big hill to climb." "Last time" was the Rams 26-20 victory in the Superdome three weeks earlier when they led 20-0 before the Saints scored.
The Saints had good news about two of their key offensive players. QB Archie Manning was still wearing heavy padding around his ribs but had thrown well in practice during the week. Also, RB Chuck Muncie would get his first start in a month after suffering a knee injury.
The defenses dominated in what Saints DT Derland Moore would describe as "the big­gest street fight I've ever seen. I've never been in a game as physical as this one in my pro career."
Coach Nolan learned the Flex Defense while serving as secondary and defensive coach for the Dallas Cowboys under Tom Landry. "Flex" referred to the fact that Landry played one or both of his tackles off the line of scrimmage depending on which direction he thought the offense might run the ball. That allowed the flexed linemen to read and react better to the blocking.
Nolan's defense had excelled in the 14-7 victory at San Francisco the week before, but they would do even better against the Rams.

L: Dick Nolan; R: Lawrence McCutcheon on cover of game program
Saints Stop Fourth-and-Goal Try
The Rams used up more than eight minutes of the first period with a 15-play, 78y drive. But on fourth down just outside the one, QB Pat Haden handed off to FB John Cappel­letti, whose dive over the top appeared to have gotten inside the one for a first down. But he was bounced backwards, and the ball was spotted behind the original line of scrimmage. The play seemed innocuous at the time but, in retrospect, was a portent for the Rams.
Interception Leads to Saints Field Goal
The Saints got on the scoreboard first early in the second quarter after S Ray Brown intercepted a Haden pass that bounced off the outstretched hands of WR Dwight Scales. Archie Manning hit TE Henry Childs for a 23y gain with a face mask penalty tacked on put the ball inside the 20. When the drive bogged down, Steve Mike-Meyer, in his second stint with the '78 Saints, booted a 32y field goal.
The Rams' best scoring opportunity came late in the second quarter when Haden took them from the LA 20 to the NO 10. On second down, Haden ran a quarterback draw and seemed to have clear sailing into the end zone. But he stumbled at the five and fell at the three. When Haden's third-down pass was knocked down by DT Don Reese, the Rams settled for a 20y field goal by Frank Corral to tie the score 3-3 at halftime.

Chuck Muncie totes the leather.
Saints Repel Multiple Thrusts
After neither team scored in the third period, the Rams drove to the Saints 7 only to have Haden's 17y pass to Scales wiped out by a holding penalty. Then Reese smashed Haden, causing a fumble that LB Jim Merlo recovered at the NO 21.
The Rams were back in Saints territory at the 36 following a poor punt by Tom Blan­chard and an 18y return by New Orleanian Jackie Wallace. But two plays later, RB John Cappelletti fumbled, and LB Pat Hughes jumped on the ball at the 34.
After a Muncie bobble, the Rams were back in business in field goal range. But Elex Price stopped RB Lawrence McCutcheon on third down to force a 38y field goal attempt by Corral. Reese made another big play when he burst up the middle and blocked the kick.

L-R: Rich Mauti, Pat Hughes, Eric Felton
Another Pick Sets Up Winning Score
The Saints finally got the break that turned the tide a few minutes later. Rams P Glen Walker lined up in punt formation but instead tried to float a pass to Wallace just as Saints "special teams kamikaze" Rich Mauti roared in and buried Walker. The ball came down into the hands of Saints DB Eric Felton at the NO 31.
With less than three minutes left, Manning didn't want to settle for a field goal. "Their offense was due to get cranked up," he said. I didn't want to get down there, kick a field goal, and then see the Rams crank up their two-minute offense and come back and beat us with the touchdown. I wanted to go up 10-3. Nothing less."
The Saints covered the 69y in seven plays, including a 17y and 8y passes to Childs, the second of which had a 15y roughing-the-passer penalty tacked on. On first-and-10 from the 19, Manning faked to Muncie, then sprinted to his left with the ball tucked away beside his hip. "A safe play," he explained. "I didn't want to get us out of field goal range by getting sacked."
Ready to run or pass, Archie spotted FB Tony Galbreath alone at the left sideline. Gal­breath took the pass and sprinted into the end zone without a Ram laying a hand on him. Mike-Mayer's PAT made it 10-3 Saints with 2:12 left.
The Rams managed to make it to the NO 35 despite the fifth and sixth holding penalties of the game on RT John Williams. But the drive ended when Brown snagged his second interception with 10 seconds left.
"It was a milestone win," said Saints owner John Mecom Jr. "We don't have anything to compare it with really." For the first time in their 12-year history, the Saints were 4-4 after eight games.