Saints Pivotal Moments
1983 @Falcons: Andersen Strikes Again
The Saints took their annual jaunt to Atlanta to meet the Falcons, their NFC South rival. To say that the Fulton County Stadium had not been kind to the Saints over the years would be an understatement–two victories against 12 defeats. Not only was Coach Bum Phillips 0-3 in the home of the Falcons, his Saints had failed to score a point in their last two games there.
Defenses Dominate First Half
Neither offense set the world on fire in the opening 30 minutes. The Saints sputtered and failed to put anything together except a 13-play, 67y drive on their second possession that ended with a 23y field goal by Morten Andersen. Saints 3 Falcons 0
Saints TB George Rogers returned to action after missing three weeks with an injury. But running tentatively, he gained only 41y on 10 carries in the first half. "I really stunk, didn't I?" he asked after the game. "That happens when you're not getting hit in a while. I had no tim­ing. But everything loosened up in the second half."
Atlanta tied the score in the second quarter on Mick Luckhurst's 49y field goal.
Halftime score: Saints 3 Falcons 3

Saints swarm Falcons RB William Andrews. 56 is "Dirt" Winston.
Falcons Take Lead
Atlanta started the second half with an 11-play, 66y touchdown drive that ended when QB Steve Bartkowski threw a 20y pass to WR Stacey Bailey. Falcons 10 Saints 3
After that, the Saints defense, led by LB Dennis "Dirt" Winston, stifled the Falcon run­ning game. Atlanta gained only 89y on the ground, their second-lowest total of the year. After three straight 100y games, Andrews gained 77 on 25 carries for a 3.1 per-carry average, his lowest of the year.
On the other side of the ball, the Saints scored on three straight possessions to take a 16-10 lead. A big factor in that success was Rogers' improvement.
"In the second half, I was coming off the ball real well and reading my holes better. I just had to get in the groove."

L-R: Wayne Wilson, Kenny Stabler, Hoby Brenner
Wilson Has Great Day
Fortunately, RB Wayne Wilson had a 100y rushing day for the third straight week. He car­ried 18 times for 103y and caught five passes for 53y. Coupled with 98y in kickoff returns–including a 52-yarder–Wilson contributed 254 all-purpose yards to the Saint attack.
With QB Kenny Stabler passing on every play, the Saints' first possession of the second half ended with Andersen's 27y field goal. Falcons 10 Saints 6
The next NO possession culminated with Wilson snagging a 23y touchdown pass from Sta­bler. Saints 13 Falcons 10
Midway through the fourth quarter, the Saints had a chance to take a two-score lead when they drove to the two. But Stabler missed on a pass to TE Hoby Brenner in the end zone, and the Saints settled for Andersen's 19y field goal. Saints 16 Falcons 10
Stabler took the blame for the errant aerial. "We did not capitalize when we got down there in the fourth quarter. Championship teams make touchdowns in situations like that. If I hit Hoby Brenner for six points, we've got 'em. We've got a 10-point lead. The way our defense was playing, that would have done it. I threw a bad pass, and we had to settle for three, and that kept 'em in the game." Referring to last-minute losses to the Rams and Cowboys earlier in the season, he said, "It left us six up, and seven can beat you. I knew we could be in a little trouble."
Sure enough, the Falcons started on a 12-play, 80y march capped by RB William An­drews' 2y touchdown run. Circus catches by a diving Bailey and a sliding Alfred Jenkins kept the drive alive. Falcons 17 Saints 16 with 1:16 left.

L-R: Kenny Duckett, Jeff Groth, Hokie Gajan, Dave Lafary, Brad Edelman
Duckett Returns Squib Kick
The Falcons had kicked away from Saints WR Kenny Duckett all day. But when K Mick Luckhurst was ordered to squib the kickoff following the go-ahead touchdown, he had no control over who'd pick it up.
The ball took a Sunday hop right to Duckett, who ran it back 41y to the Atlanta 47. That put the Saints within 10y of Andersen's range.
Duckett said, "It was the only one I got close to. I was blocking all day. Harold (Richard­son, special teams coach) just said pick it up and head up field because of the time. We didn't have time to do anything fancy. We had to get as much as we could."
Stabler Engineers Winning Drive
Seeing the zone coverage he expected, Stabler started with a swing pass to RB Wayne Wilson for 9y. Then he threw a quick out to WR Jeff Groth, who stepped out of bounds at the 32 to stop the clock. Kenny crossed up the pass-conscious Falcons with a draw to RB Hokie Gajan for 9y. "At that point, we were playing for the field goal," said Stabler. "We spread 'em out again and ran a draw."
"Kenny gave 'em a passing formation," explained Gajan. "I saw daylight as soon as we broke the huddle. There was a big gap between the end and the tackle."
LT Dave Lafary took a crashing end to the outside, and LG Brad Edelman took his man to the inside to create the "big gap."
Stabler stood next to the official and watched the clock dwindle to 0:03 before calling time­out to give Andersen another date with destiny.
The Great Dane booted the 35y field goal to secure the 19-17 victory.
"I heard a lot of bleeps from the Falcons," said the second-year place-kicker. "I told myself there was no way I was going to miss."
The victory moved the Saints' record to 4-2 for the first time in club history and earned them a share of the NFC West lead with San Francisco and Los Angeles.
"I wasn't surprised we pulled it out," Phillips said. "But I wasn't happy over the opportu­nities we let slip away."