Saints Pivotal Moments
1984 Buccaneers: Gajan Scores Go-Ahead TD
Expectations were high for the Saints entering the 1984 season, the fourth year of Coach Bum Phillips' rebuilding project. They had a new quarterback, Richard Todd, obtained in an "inexpensive" trade with the New York Jets. They made a concerted effort to upgrade their special teams with a new punter, Brian Hansen, a new punt returner, Jitter Fields, and seve­ral new players who added speed to those teams. And most important of all, the majority of the Saints defense that ranked second in the NFL in total defense in 1983 returned.
Phillips said, "Last year we acted confident and said we could win. This year there's a change in attitude. The players are confident. They believe they can win."
Even the schedule prompted optimism, with two home games against division foes Atlanta and Tampa Bay to start the season.
But like Lucy pretending to hold the football for Charlie Brown to kick before pulling it away just before he made contact, the favored Saints lost to the Falcons 36-28.
You can't start a season losing two games at home and hope to make the playoffs. So even though it was just the second game of the season, the Tampa Bay contest became a must win.
The Buccaneers started strong, driving 80y in 19 plays to run 10:31 off the first quarter clock and take a 7-0 lead on QB Jack Thompson's 2y pass to RB Adger Armstrong. Along the way, Tampa converted two fourth downs. RB James Wilder gained four on 4th-and-1 from the NO 30, and RB James Owens gained just enough on fourth-and-1 from the three to set up the touchdown. Coach Phillips had the entire defense huddle around him on the side­line when they came off the field. Whatever he told them wouldn't have much effect until the second half.
The Saints ran just eight offensive plays in the first 15 minutes.

L-R: Richard Todd, Lindsay Scott, Tyrone Young, Tyrone Anthony
Saints Tie Score
The home team finally got moving midway through the second quarter. QB Richard Todd directed a 75y, 11-play march. The biggest gain was a 35y pass from Todd to WR Lindsay Scott to the Bucs 28. Three plays later, Todd connected with WR Tyrone Young for 12y to convert third-and-8 from the Tampa 26. Then a roughing the passer call made it first-and-goal on the one. After a loss of a yard, rookie RB Tyrone Anthony scored from the two. Buccaneers 7 Saints 7
The Bucs retook the lead just before halftime on rookie Obed Ariri's 48y field goal with 16 seconds left.
Tampa stretched the lead to 13-7 on a 40y Ariri field goal early in the third quarter before the Saints defense, led by LB Rickey Jackson, began to toughen up.
Jackson, who had 13 tackles against Atlanta the week before and would get 12 more against the Bucs, had promised before the game that "you'll see the real Saints defense from here on out." But he admitted after the Tampa game that he was "a little disappointed that we didn't start playing until the second half."
Saints Cut Lead in Half
Morten Andersen closed the gap to 13-10 near the end of the third period with a 23y field goal.
The Bucs ventured into Saints territory twice in the fourth quarter, but the defense rose to the task each time.
Leading 13-10 and seemingly in control of a physical but unimaginative, penalty-plagued defensive game, the Bucs had the Saints backed up at their 12 with 2:35 to play with no timeouts left. "No way I thought we'd do anything but win at that point," said Bucs SS Beas­ley Reece.
L-R: Rickey Jackson, Morten Andersen, Hokie Gajan, James Geathers
Gajan Scores Winner
"We were just thinking field goal," said Todd. "We wanted to get it somewhere in Morten's range."
Todd completed a 24y pass to Young on the first play. Then the next play drastically changed the Saints' expectations.
A few minutes earlier, the usually sure-handed FB Hokie Gajan, a fan favorite back to his years at LSU, helped derail an offensive possession when he dropped a screen pass from Todd. Now Todd gave him another chance, hitting him with a swing pass that Hokie turned into a 51y gain to the Tampa 13. He sped down the sideline trying to get as much yardage as possible before getting out of bounds to stop the clock. But he swerved inside to elude LB Cecil Johnson, who thought he had Gajan pinned against the sidelines just across midfield. But somehow he missed the Saints fullback, making an effort resembling a two-hand tag attempt in flag football. Gajan then received an excellent block from WR Tyrone Young that sprung him the rest of the way. Young drove CB Jeremiah Castille out of bounds right in front of Gajan.
Young redeemed himself after he was caught holding on a 19y run by Anthony earlier in the game. "When you make a mistake, you have to make up for it," said Young. "It was the same type of block – exactly. The first one I extended my arms a bit and got called for it. On the second one, I was concentrating on not holding, but I was also concentrating on making a great block."
Bucs' coach John McKay was blunt after the game about the missed tackle on his sideline. "They throw a pass to a back who is trying to get out of bounds, and we go over and kiss him. You're supposed to knock him into the bleachers."
Reece was kicking himself after the game. "It was right there in front of me. We thought he was going out of bounds. ... But he stayed in." He added, "You have to be aware that our line­backers are taught to keep backs in the playing field in a situation like that. They're supposed to be outside conscious and keep the back in bounds. That back (Gajan) was smart enough to know that and broke it back inside. He gambled, and it worked."
On the next snap, Gajan gained five over right guard. Then he went up the gut from the eight into the end zone with 1:57 on the clock.
Gajan: "I'm glad Richard had the confidence in me to keep getting me the ball after I had dropped that easy pass earlier. He came back and got the ball to me three times in a row. I'm just glad he showed that kind of confidence in me."
Saints fans couldn't relax because Thompson led a march from the Tampa 20 into Saints territory. Down by four points, the visitors needed a touchdown. On second down at the 38, Thompson dropped back to pass and spotted WR Kevin House being covered man-on-man by DB Johnnie Poe. With a blitzer breaking through, Thompson threw the ball too high. "We score if the ball is a foot or so lower," lamented the Bucs quarterback.
Rookie DE James Geathers sealed the victory with a fourth-down sack of Thompson – the seventh sack of the game for the Saints.
McKay called out another group of his players. "We're supposed to move the ball with that big offensive line I've got. We're supposed to do it, but we didn't. ... We get down to the 30y line, and some idiot's holding. We got some guys on the offensive line who are supposed to be All-Pro. But you couldn't tell it by me."
The Bucs coach did hand out one compliment to is place-kicker. "The best thing I saw out there today was Obed Ariri." And McKay hated kickers.
Gajan had 117 of the Saints' 333 net yards. He was the leading receiver with four catches for 75y with 42 more on six carries.
When presented with the game ball, Hokie said, "I don't deserve it. I just had one or two good plays." He added, "I don't ever remember getting the game-winning touchdown."
But without those two good plays, the Saints might have been 0-2.