Saints Pivotal Moments
1981 Rams: Rogers Rebounds for First Sweep of LA
First-year coach Bum Phillips' 2-7 Saints visited the Los Angeles Rams hoping to win both games against their NFC West rival in a season for the first time after the 23-17 home victory over them in Week 2.
The Saints were coming off a dreadful 41-10 shellacking by the Falcons in the Superdome. To make matters worse, QB Archie Manning and C John Hill would miss the Rams game because of stomach and knee injuries, respectively. Rookie Dave Wilson, who grew up five blocks from the Los Angeles Coliseum, would start in Manning's place. He had two previous starts in Weeks 2 and 3, both losses to San Francisco and Pittsburgh.
The Rams needed a victory to stay in the running in the NFC West and prove that the Saints early season win was a fluke. But Phillips said his young Saints "have beaten the Rams before. They know they can do it. That's a plus for us." Nevertheless, the Rams were favored by 10 1/2 points.
One Saint who vowed to have a good day against the Rams was RB George Rogers. "20y, can you believe that? 20y," he said about his production in the 31-point loss to Atlanta. "I've got to do better than that."
They also had a quarterback controversy. Pat Haydn started the first nine games, winning five, but Coach Ray Malavasi wasn't satisfied with his offense. So he announced that strong-armed veteran Dan Pastorini would start against the Saints. "We're looking for more perfect execution than we've been getting," said Malavasi. "If not, Pat can get his job back easy."
Pastorini would have to work with a shuffled offensive line problems. Because of injuries, three linemen were shifted to new positions and free agent T Phil McKinnely was signed to add depth. Also RB Wendell Tyler would miss the game because of injury.
The game had an interesting connection between a player and a coach. Pastorini hadn't played in 14 months after being released by the Raiders. Previously he had been the Houston Oilers' quarterback for nine years, the last four of which were with Bum Phillips as his head coach.

L-R: QB Dave Wilson; Johnnie Poe; Jimmy Rogers
Rams Jump in Front
The Rams scored first thanks to their defense. On the Saints' third offensive series, SS Johnnie Johnson blitzed and slapped the ball from Wilson's hands. Johnson completed the play by recovering the fumble on the NO 21.
The Saints defense pushed the Rams back 6y on three snaps. So Frank Corral booted a 44y field goal. Rams 3 Saints 0
When the Saints got the ball back, they launched a six-play drive that carried to the Rams' 8. But rookie FB Toussaint Tyler fumbled the ball, and FS Nolan Cromwell recovered at the 9.
The Rams moved 91y from there to widen their lead to 10-0. The touchdown came on a 23y strike from Pasterini to WR Preston Dennard, who got beind CB Johnnie Poe. You couldn't blame Saints fans for thinking that another rout was in progress.

George Rogers runs against the Rams.
Rogers' First TD
But that's when George Rogers took the game into his own hands. Jimmy Rogers (no relation) returned the kickoff 31y to the 41, where he fumbled. Fortunately he recovered his own fumble in the wild scramble that ensued.
The Saints then ran a new play with great success. Rogers, after taking a pitchout from QB Wilson, faked a reverse to WR Jeff Groth, who had raced 28y for a first down on a similar play the week before against the Falcons. That sent most of the Rams chasing Groth. Mean­while, Rogers scampered 59y down the sideline for a confidence-boosting touchdown. "Oh man," said Rogers afterward, "one defensive back turned all the way around. All I saw was open sidelines and a great big ole hole." Rams 10 Saints 7
Saints Goal-line Stand
But it looked for sure like the Rams would answer right back when they used seven plays to move to a first-and-goal at the Saints 1. But that final yard proved to be elusive. "They went backwards every play once they got to the one," said FS Tommy Myers. "That stand was the turning point of the game."
So the Rams settled for Frank Corral's 24y field goal. Rams 13 Saints 7 (0:56)

Rookie LB Ricky Jackson tangles with Rams T Jackie Slater.
Spivey Interception
The Saints dominated the second half, holding the Rams scoreless while adding two more Rogers touchdowns. The Saints defense, burned by Atlanta to the tune of 41 points the week before, "came to play today," as DE Derland Moore said afterward.
The Rams took the second half kickoff and drove into Saints territory until DB Mike Spivey intercepted a Pastorini bomb on the 11. The Rams would snap the ball only 15 times after that.
Rogers' Second TD
Midway through the third quarter, the Saints mounted a drive that ended with Rogers' scoring from the five. He bruised his back on the play and limped to the sideline. Benny Ricardo's kick gave the Saints their first lead of the day, 14-13, with 3:55 left in the period.
Rogers took a helmet to the back while scoring the go-ahead touchdown and was held out most of the final period. The Saints offensive line, with only one starter, James Taylor, playing in position, continued to control the line of scrimmage. During Rogers' absence, backup RB Wayne Wilson had two touchdown runs called back, one for 39y and another for 16, for holding penalties. Also, Benny Ricardo missed a 32y field goal. So the Saints' lead stayed at a precarious one point.
But the defense kept stifling the Rams, holding them to 304y and 16 first downs compared to the Saints' 462y and 26 first downs. The 307y rushing was a Saints franchise record.
Rogers' Clinching TD
When the Saints got the ball back early in the final quarter, they finally put the game away with a time-consuming. Rogers returned in time to score the clinching touchdown, bulling his way in from the two. Saints 21 Rams 13 (3:42)
Rogers' 161y catapulted him into the lead among NFC rushers. "What happened this time was particularly good after the horrible game I had last week," he said. "It was the worst game of my career. It really bothered me."
Wilson, a native of Anaheim CA, was especially pleased. "That was the sweetest victory I've ever been involved in."
LB Jim Kovach gloated, "What we'd like is a steady diet of the Rams."
The New Orleans Saints: 25 Years of Heroic Effort Book I, Christian Serpas (1991)