Saints Pivotal Moments
@New York Jets 1980: Only Win of "Bagheads" Season
After the 8-8 finish in 1979, Saints fans had good reason to hope that third-year head coach Dick Nolan would finally bring the 14-year-old franchise its first winning season in 1980.
The main reason for the Saints' success in 1979 was the offense, which finished second in the National Conference with 370 points, just one point less than the Cowboys. The defense ranked 11th out of 14 NFC teams in points allowed. Nolan, the defensive coordinator under Tom Landry with the Cowboys, worked to improve the defense for 1980.
But the season quickly turned into a disaster. After having his best year as a pro in his first year with the Saints in 1979, DT Don Reese fell back into his cocaine habit from his days as a Miami Dolphin. Other Saints, including star RB Chuck Muncie, DBs Lloyd Mumphord and Clarence Chapman, and RB Mike Strachan, began using drugs starting in the off-season and continuing into training camp and the regular season. Read more about the Saints drug prob­lem ...
The Saints lost their first four games. Reese recalled, "I realized we needed help. The play­ers were in the streets at night, going from house to house, getting stuff."
Birth of the "Aints"
After the Falcons clobbered the Saints 41-14 for their seventh straight defeat, a member of the Saints Marching Club named Jerry Gogreve began wearing a shopping bag pulled over his head. His friend Robert LeCompte, who tended bar at a local lounge owned by popular radio personality Buddy Diliberto, painted a paper bag gold and black and wrote the word "AINTS" across the bottom. LeCompte called Diliberto who wore the bag during his telecast that night. LeCompte ordered 5,000 of his AINTS bags and sold 3,000 of them at one dollar each within a week. Diehard fans continued to attend the Saints home games but with the bags over their heads. Some also wore them for the road game at Atlanta.
L-R: Don Reese, Chuck Muncie, Clarence Chapman, 'Aints Baghead
When the losing streak reached 12, Saints owner John Mecom fired Nolan and replaced him with Offensive Coordinator Dick Stanfel for the rest of the season.
The Saints were more competitive in the next two games, losing to the Minnesota Vikings 23-20 and the San Francisco 49ers 38-35 in a game in which the Saints blew a 35-7 lead.
When the 0-14 Saints met the 3-11 New York Jets at Shea Stadium, all the pressure was on the home team. "I just wish they had won last week," said Jets CB Bobby Jackson. "At least then they wouldn't be looking for their first victory against us."
QB Archie Manning passed for 377y and three touchdowns against the 49ers and might have a similar day against the Jets, who had the worst pass defense in the AFC.
The Saints relied on their passing game because they had a woeful rushing offense. That allowed defenses to tee off on poor Archie, who suffered 44 sacks for a loss of 347y. Jets DE Mark Gastineau, second in the AFC with 11 1/2 sacks, was licking his chops
The Jets, four years after QB Joe Namath's departure, were favored by seven points. As one writer put it to explain why he took the Saints with the points, "You have to assume the Jets will win, but off their season so far, they're going to make it unnecessarily difficult."

The sun was out early in the game, but it ended under gray skies with wind-whipped snow.
Saints Score First
Only 38,077 came out in damp, chilly weather (31°, relative humidity 59%, 21mph wind for a wind chill of 18°) to see the Saints try to avoid the ignominy of becoming the first team in NFL history to lose 15 games in a season.
The Associated Press reporter covering the game described the scene like this: "The setting was something you'd expect in an Edgar Allan Poe short story. There were leaden black skies hanging low over the stadium, winds swirling wildly, blowing sudden snow squalls madly around the park. It had started as a brisk, late-autumn afternoon with bright sun­shine. But by midafternoon, it looked like the end of the world was approaching Shea Stadium."
The Saints scored the first time they got the ball. Manning hit five of seven in the nine-play, 74y drive. The biggest play was a 25y completion to WR Wes Chandler. The touchdown came from the 14 when RB Jack Holmes tipped a pass at the nine, caught it at the five, and ran untouched into the end zone. Benny Ricardo's kick made it 7-0 Saints with 4:46 remain­ing in the period.
The second quarter belonged to the Jets, who benefitted from having the wind at their backs. They tied the game on Kevin Long's 1y run that capped a 14-play, 62y drive.
Saints 7 Jets 7 (12:20)
The Jets got the ball back in good field position when Russell Erxleben's punt into the wind traveled only 32y, and Bruce Harper returned it 16y to the NO 31. But the Saints defense held the Jets to three points on Pat Leahy's 26y field goal. Jets 10 Saints 7 (3:31)
After stopping the Saints, the Jets got the ball near midfield. But they again had to settle for a field goal, this one a 47-yarder. Jets 13 Saints 7 (1:00)
Jets Fail to Convert Deep in Saints Territory
In the third period, the Jets moved to the Saints 16 where they faced fourth-and-one. Coach Walt Michaels, who had seen his team repeatedly make third-down plays and even two fourth-down conversions (with one coming on a fake punt), told Todd to go for the first down.
But the backup center, playing because the starter had been injured, botched the snap, and Todd bobbled the ball as he turned to hand off to RB Scott Dierking. Saints LB Dave Wash­ington recovered the fumble to end the threat.
That was the closest either team came to scoring in the third quarter as the Saints failed to capitalize with the wind at their backs.

L-R: Jack Holmes, Benny Ricardo, Tony Galbreath
Galbreath Puts Saints in Front Again
46 seconds into the final period, Tony Galbreath bulled through the left side of the line to tie the game. Ricardo's PAT made it 14-13 Saints.
On the first play after the kickoff, Todd connected on a 66y touchdown pass to WR Wesley Walker. However, the play was negated by an illegal motion penalty. Could this be the day the Saints finally win?
Not so fast, my friend. The Jets regained the lead when Todd scrambled 31y into the end zone on a busted play. The longest run by a Jet all season put them ahead 20-14 with 9:39 left in the game.
Manning Leads Winning Drive
The Saints would have to come back against a whipping wind that plunged the wind chill to near zero. Manning said afterward, "The conditions were probably as bad as any I've ever played in. We don't play too much in bad weather, and it was brutal. I think even if you didn't have a defense out there in front of you, you'd still have trouble completing passes and moving the ball upfield.
"When Richard scored, I knew it was going to be tough. Our offense got together, and we knew we were going to have to work hard. I knew we weren't going to be able to go long, and our offensive line did just a tremendous job."
The Saints drove 73y in 10 plays, the last one being Galbreath's dive over the middle into the end zone. Ricardo booted the all-important extra point. 21-20 Saints with 4:49 to play. It began to snow fiercely at that instant in Shea Stadium.
Todd tried to move the Jets into field-goal range. They drove from their 25 into Saints ter­ritory. The game ended when Bruce Harper took a Todd pass with no timeouts left and 12 seconds on the clock. Instead of picking up yardage and running out of bounds to stop the clock, he began darting in and out of holes, sidestepping defenders and, incredibly, heading backward. His teammates screamed at him to go the other way, but he either didn't hear them or ignored them. He gained 23y on the play, but only 11 seconds remained by the time he was stopped at the NO 37. The Jets didn't have enough time to get a play off.

Saints congratulate each other in the howling wind.
The Saints were whooping and slapping backs in the locker room.
Coach Stanfill: "I saw a comment in the papers that some of the Jets said it would be an embarrassment to lose to this team. I told our guys it would be an embarrassment to lose to the Jets. We had a lot of adversity, but our guys fought it all the way through, and I'm proud of them."
Manning hit on 20 of 30 passes for 198y in brutal conditions. "It's going to be nice to go home with a win. My kids have been asking me, 'Daddy, when are you going to win a game?' and it's nice to finally get one."
Galbreath: "We knew we were a better team than our record. Dick Stanfel believes in us, and he's been trying to get us to believe in ourselves. I'm glad he showed the confidence in me to keep me in at the end when it was important."
Saints chief executive officer Steve Rosenbloom: "Week after week, I'd come in this lock­er room, and you could hear a pin drop. Listen to it now."
Jets WR Wesley Walker: "It's demoralizing when you lose, but this makes it a lot worse. Embarrassed? This has got to be the all-time."

"They weren't exactly storming Bourbon Street Sunday night, but at least New Orleans' fans could smile for the first time this season." That was how the UPI reporter started his article on the Saints' 21-20 victory over the 3-11 Jets.

The Associated Press reporter wrote: "Protesting New Orleans fans can throw away those paper bags they used to cover their faces, order up some barbecued shrimps, sit back with a praline or two and face the world once more. They ain't the Ain'ts no more."

The New Orleans Saints: 25 Years of Heroic Effort Book 1, Christian Serpas (1991)