Saints Pivotal Moments
1984 @Falcons: Brenner to the Post
The 4-6 Saints made their annual trip to Atlanta to take on the 3-7 Falcons. The Saints had lost four of their last five games, the only victory coming on the road at Cleveland 16-14.
In what was expected to be a playoff season in New Orleans after an 8-8 finish in '83, the Saints found themselves five games behind division-leading San Francisco. They would have to win four of the remaining six games to equal the '83 finish.
Coach Bum Phillips met with the team at midweek. He asked the Saints to forget their 4-6 start and work for a 6-0 finish.
The Saints boasted two Heisman Trophy winners in their backfield – Earl Campbell from Texas and George Rogers from South Carolina. What made the running game so important was the fact that the receivers lacked big-time speed. But that was only part of the reason that QB Richard Todd was the NFC's bottom-rated passer among starting quarterbacks.
The Falcons, who beat the Saints in the opening game of the regular season in New Or­leans 36-28, were in the midst of a four-game losing streak and were looking to find some semblance of an offensive attack.
The saying in Atlanta was that it's time to go to the concession stands when the Falcons have the ball. QB Steve Bartkowski had thrown just one touchdown pass in six games. Since he suffered a knee injury in the previous game, the Falcons would start backup Mike Moros­ki, who had started only two games in his six-year NFL career.
The game day headline in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution proclaimed, "'Patchwork' Falcons play ailing Saints." The first line of the story read, "Merge the two franchises now, and the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints wouldn't form one good, well-rounded National Football League team."
For what it was worth, the Falcons were favored by a point, probably because of the home field advantage. For the first time in over a year, a Falcons home game would be televised locally thanks largely to at least 10,000 ticket buyers from the Louisiana-Mississippi area.

L-R: Richard Todd, Hoby Brenner, Rickey Jackson
Todd to Brenner Touchdown
TE Hoby Brenner was one Saint who needed to put the past behind. He had been in a receiving slump. "All through high school, college, and the pros, I might have had a total of three or four drops," he said. But during the season, he dropped two catchable passes against Chicago, two more against Dallas, and one against Green Bay the week before the Atlanta game.
But Brenner scored the game's first touchdown with 11:38 left in the first quarter. The Saints' drive started when Moroski fumbled the Falcons' fifth snap, and LB Rickey Jackson recovered for the Saints.
Four plays later, the Saints faced fourth and one at the Atlanta 37. Todd called timeout to get the short-yardage team onto the field and confer with the coaching staff. With everyone expecting a handoff to Campbell or Rogers, Todd lofted a long pass to Brenner, who ran a corner route. CB Bobby Butler missed a read and let him slip right by him. Hoby's "hands of stone became vise-like grips," and he snagged the ball and ran into the end zone. Morten Andersen booted the PAT. Saints 7 Falcons 0 with 11:38 left in the first quarter.
Todd said afterwards that "the primary receiver on that play was Junior Miller. But Hoby got so open so quickly that there was no choice to make." He added that, "We had a running play on, but we didn't have enough people out there. We had to call timeout. It was good that we did. King (Hill, the offensive coordinator) wanted to call the play, and he asked me what I thought about it. I smiled and said, 'Great.' We've been working on it a long time."
Moroski Handicapped by Bruise
The Atlanta offense was affected when Moroski suffered a bruise under his right rib case in the first quarter during one of the Saints' five sacks for the afternoon. That took the quarter­back draw, which the Falcons had worked on all week, out of their repertoire and cut down on their rollout plays.

L-R: Mike Moroski, Bobby Butler, Jeff Groth, Guido Merkens
Andersen Adds to Lead
Midway through the first quarter, the Saints started another scoring drive. They marched 42y from their 28 to the Atlanta 30 in 10 plays. The key play was Todd's 10y pass to WR Jeff Groth who beat Butler on third-and-three from the Falcon 39. On fourth down, holder Guido Merkens handled a high snap from center to enable Andersen to kick a 47y field goal. Saints 10 Falcons 0 (1:15)
Falcons Come back
The Atlanta defense got its act together and kept the Saints from adding more points through the third quarter.
Meanwhile, the Falcon offense that stung the Saints for 422y in the season opener got going. They drove 77y in 13 plays in the second quarter. The key plays were Moroski's 12y pass to WR Alfred Jackson on third-and-seven from the Saints' 40 and RB Gerald Riggs' 16y run on fourth-and-one from the 19. Riggs gained the final yard. Saints 10 Falcons 7 (10:22)
The Saints came right back , but Andersen missed a 49y field-goal attempt.
Before the halftime break, the Falcons tied the score thanks to a Saints' special teams blunder. P Brian Hansen mishandled the snap and was trapped for a 12y loss at the NO 26. The Falcons gained only 5y in six plays but that put them close enough for Mick Luckhurst to kick a 39y field goal. Saints 10 Falcons 10 (2:04)
The Saints had an opportunity to take the lead when they got the ball on the Atlanta 35 with 42 seconds left in the half. First, Todd was called for a false. Then G Kelvin Clark drew a holding penalty. On the final play of the half, WR Tyrone Young dropped a Big Ben pass in the end zone.
Falcons Forge Ahead
With the Saints offense still stagnant, Atlanta took the lead late in the third quarter. They drove methodically in 12 plays from the NO 49 to the seven, with the biggest gain being just 6y. When the drive bogged down, Luckhurst booted a 25y field goal to give the Falcons a lead in a game for the first time since October 7 – nearly 19 quarters. Falcons 13 Saints 10 (0:46)

L-R: Tyrone Young, George Rogers, Hokie Gajan, Wayne Wilson
Hill Calls Right Play
The Saints offense finally shook off its lethargy in the fourth quarter.
Facing a crucial third-and-10 from their 13 on the second play of the quarter, offensive coordinator Hill in the press box anticipated that the Falcons would stack 11 men on the line and blitz.
"They kept giving us that sticky situation all day, and we had problems with it," said Todd.
Hill sent in a pass route to be run from the Saints' "Bear" formation, a set they usually shifted to following an audible at the line of scrimmage. But this time they lined up in the for­mation right out of the huddle.
"We had to do something to offset that scheme," explained Hill.
Hit with a quick count, the Falcons blitzed, but Todd hit Groth for a catch and run of 21y to a first down at the 34. That provided the spark that led to the winning touchdown.
Rogers got 5, then Todd scrambled for 9 and a first down at the NO 48. Next, Todd went to Young for 19 before tossing a well-executed screen to FB Hokie Gajan for 11 more and a first down on the Atlanta 17.
That set up the winning touchdown.

Saints winning touchdown play "61 X-Post" (The Atlanta Journal, November 12, 1984)
Todd Throws Winning Touchdown
The Saints lined up strong left. Young, the receiver on Brenner's side, ran an out pattern. On the opposite side, Groth ran a post pattern. Wayne Wilson, the up back in the I forma­tion, circled out of the backfield and filled the spot where Brenner lined up as Rogers also stepped up for pass protection. Brenner released inside Falcons ROL Al Richardson, then gave S Tom Pridemore an inside fake and broke to the corner to stretch out and catch the touchdown pass on his fingertips. Saints 17 Falcons 13 (12:11)
Brenner said, "I knew we had 'em if Richard had the time. He (Pridemore) was playing me head up. I faked like I was going to the post, and he tried to clamp that."
The Saints stopped the Falcons on their final three possessions to wrap up the victory.
Coach Phillips: "We stopped them in the clutch."
Offensive coordinator Hill: "The thing I was pleased with is that we maintained our poise and confidence level. We thought we were going to win the game. Whatever it took, eventually we were going to get it done."
Saints LB Whitney Paul: "We simply had to win this game to have any hopes for a successful season."