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Playoff Game: Sunday, January 6, 1990 - New Orleans @ Chicago
The 1990 Saints won their last two games - over NFC West Division rivals San Fran­cisco (with QB Joe Montana sitting out the game) and Los Angeles by a combined six points - to finish 8-8 and claim the conference's last wild card spot in the playoffs.
  • Coach Jim Mora said, "It's a little ironic. The last two years we've been 10-6 and 9-7 and haven't gone to the playoffs. This year we finally make .500 on the last day, and we go."
  • The season was disrupted before it began because of the holdout by QB Bobby He­bert. With his contract expiring, he demanded $2 million to re-sign with the Saints and also asked that GM Jim Finks not protect him under the league's "Plan B," which allowed each team to preserve limited rights to 37 players each season. But Finks did protect Hebert in hopes of forcing Bobby to negotiate a new contract. However, the ploy backfired, and Bobby sat out the entire season.
  • Gretna LA native John Fourcade started the first five games at quarterback, al­though he was pulled early in the fifth game in favor of Steve Walsh, whom the Saints acquired in a trade with Dallas. Walsh started the remaining games, com­piling a record of 6-5.
As in the Saints' previous playoff season, 1987, the defense outdid the offense.
  • New Orleans ranked third in the NFC in points allowed (275) but were tenth in points scored (274). Their .500 record was almost perfectly aligned with their points for/ against ratio: 274-275.
  • The defense was led, as usual, by the four linebackers who were collectively known as "The Dome Patrol" - Sam Mills, Vaughan Johnson, Rickey Jackson, and Pat Swilling. The two inside backers, Mills and Johnson, led the team with 112 and 103 tackles respectively.
  • The Saints snared only eight interceptions - dead last among the 28 NFL teams.
  • On the other side of the ball, Eric Martin led the receivers with 63 catches for 912y and five TDs. Another "possession receiver" like Martin, Brett Perriman, had 36 receptions. Floyd Turner was the long ball threat with an 18.9y average per catch.
  • Every Jim Mora team prided itself on running the ball. The leading rushers were FB Craig "Iron Head" Heyward with 599y and Rueben Mayes with 510. Mainstay Dalton Hilliard injured his knee in Game 6 and appeared in only six games.
  • Morten Andersen attempted 27 field goals, making 21, including three from over 50y.

    The four linebackers and Morten Andersen
Mike Ditka's Chicago Bears won the NFC Central Division with an 11-5 record to make the playoffs for the sixth time in seven years.
  • Jim Harbaugh started 14 of the 16 games, completing 57.5% of his passes for 2,178y and 10 TDs vs six picks. His leading receivers were running backs Brad Muster (47 catches for 452y) and Neal Anderson (42/484). The top wide receiver was former LSU star Wendell Davis (39/572).
  • Safeties Shaun Gayle and Mark Carrier led the defense in tackles, and Carrier topped the interception list with 10. One of only three members of the famed 1985 Super Bowl defense still on the roster, DE Richard Dent, led with 12 sacks, closely followed by the other DE Trace Armstrong, who had 10.
The Saints had some momentum going into the playoffs, having won six of their last nine games.
  • Jim Mora compared the state of his team heading into the franchise's second playoff appearance to the first one in 1987. "I feel that we were tired in '87 at the end of the season. I don't feel that way now. ... I feel like we're a less tired football team, and it's because of what we've done all year long."
  • "They have a good defense; we have a good defense," said Jim. "They have a good kicking game; we have a good kicking game. They run the ball well, better than we do. Neither team is throwing the ball well or a lot."
  • Mike Ditka agreed with Mora's assessment that the teams were similar. "That's the way they try to win, and that's the way we try to win. Defense is the key, and you try to do something with a running game and fit your passing game in as you need it and as you can use it."
  • Harbaugh would not play against the Saints because of a shoulder injury. Six-year veteran Mike Tomczak would take his place."I've been there before," said Tomczak, who started the Bears' 20-12 playoff victory over the Eagles two years earlier. "There should be no question that I should be able to get the job done." However, Mike had not given Bears fans much confidence when he completed only 5 of 23 passes in the 21-10 home loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Game 16. They booed him unmercifully throughout the second half.
    The game would include a battle of brothers - Saints C Joel Hilgenberg and Bears C Jay Hilgenberg, both of whom played for Iowa, as did their father. "It's kind of tough on our family," said Joel. "They want us both to win. That's impossible, so our folks just hope that each of us has a good offensive day."
The Saints' defensive game plan was to rush Tomczak and keep the ball away from Anderson.
  • "We're going to put pressure on Tomczak and see if he can handle it," said Rickey Jackson. "We'll be on him all day."
  • Pat Swilling: "We should be able to hold those guys. I think if our offense can score some points and get up seven, 10, 14 points. We have to hold them defensively."
  • Stopping Anderson was easier said than done. He ranked third in the NFC in rushing with 1,078y and 10 touchdowns.
60,767 endured the frigid conditions for the late afternoon kickoff. The temperature was 30° at Soldier Field on the shore of Lake Michigan with a wind chill factor of 4° - tough conditions for a dome team.
Bears fans in the North end zone pelted the Saints' defense with snowballs during player introductions.
First Quarter
From the beginning, the Saints O-line had difficulty blocking the Bears' 4-3 front. The Saints received the kickoff. After two runs gained 8y, the first score of the game was set up when QB Steve Walsh thew too high for WR Lonzell Hill and the ball deflected into the hands of rookie nickel back John Mangum. He returned it to the NO 33.
It was the first pick of the season for Mangum, who was a cousin of Saints assis­tant trainer Kevin Mangum. "We were in zone coverage," said Mangum. "The guy ran a short route. It was tipped right to me. All I had to do was catch it." It was also the Bears' NFL-leading 32nd interception of the season.
To no one's surprise, the Chicago offense started by handing the ball to workhorse HB Neal Anderson, who gained 3y. Surprisingly, the Bears decided to pass on second down. But it wasn't "beleagured" QB Mike Thomczak who threw it but Anderson. A southpaw, Neal took a handoff and ran left. He got rid of the ball downfield just before LB Rickey Jackson smashed him. What TV commentator John Madden called "one of the ugliest passes ever in the NFL" landed in the hands of WR Ron Morris at the 10 to make it first-and-goal. FB Brad Muster ran twice to put the ball on the three. Anderson then swept left end and headed for the pylon. But LB Pat Swilling grabbed him just before CB Vince Buck blasted him out of bounds at the one. In a preview of what would happen often for both offenses, the Bears settled for a 19y Kevin Butler field goal. Bears 3 Saints 0 (10:06)
Tomczak tried to ignore a sign he saw hanging from a railing behind the Saints bench. "Tomczak: If you were a Saint, we wouldn't be sinners." He said, "It just made me more focused. I was emotional today. I need to play that way."

Rickey Jackson meets Neal Anderson.
The Saints ran New Orleans native Gill Fenerty twice for 3y. Then Walsh hit WR Brett Perriman, who was tackled a yard short of the first down. Tommy Barnhardt punted, but the Saints were able to retain possession when the ball bounded into the rear end of Bears blocker Vestee Jackson in the rear end, and C Joel Hilgenberg fell on the ball at the Chicago 44.
But the Saints were unable to take advantage of the turnover. Walsh threw incomplete into triple coverage to Turner before hitting Perriman on a slant-in for a first down at the 34. After two Fenerty carries gained only 2y, Walsh threw over the middle to Turner, who dropped the ball. Eschewing a field goal try into the strong wind, the Saints went for it on fourth down, but Walsh overthrew WR Eric Martin just before DE Richard Dent smashed into the quarterback.
The Bears tried a double reverse, but WR Ron Morris fumbled the second handoff and was tackled for a 16y loss to the 17. Anderson got 12 on a draw play before Tomczak finally threw a pass - a quick square out to the left to Anderson. Buck hit the receiver almost simultaneously with the reception to force an incompletion. The crowd booed, and Madden in the TV booth wondered whether they were protesting the lack of an interference call or another Tomczak incompletion. So Maury Buford got off a low, short punt. Buck ran up and fielded it on a bounce and was clobbered immediately by two Bears, causing a fumble. Somehow Saints LB Brian Forde got the ball away from a half dozen Bears on the NO 37.
11-year veteran DT Dan Hampton, who had announced that he would retire after the season, wreaked havoc on the Saints offense on the next series. First, he stuffed Hayward after a 1y gain. After an incompletion to TE Greg Scales, Hampton flattened Walsh right after Steve threw another incompletion. The result was a separated shoulder that would keep the starting quarterback on the sidelines the rest of the game. Barnhardt got off a weak 25y punt into the strong wind to give the Bears good field position at their 37.
After a 5y flat pass to Anderson, Tomczak sent Neal straight up the left seam and hit him in stride at the NO 40 for a gain of 31y to the 28 to end the quarter.
The Saints finished the period with only 8y rushing in six attempts.
End Q1: Bears 3 Saints 0
Second Quarter
The Chicago drive continued to the end zone. Anderson zoomed up the gut for 12y to the 16. Muster gained three before an illegal motion penalty put the ball back to the 18. WR Wendell Davis lined up wide to the right and cut toward the middle of the field. As three Saints defenders followed him, TE James Thornton ran into the area vacated by Davis. He caught the short pass and continued down the sideline untouched to the end zone. Bears 10 Saints 0 (13:08)
Hayward returned the squib kick 14y to the 34. Walsh followed an incompletion with a pass similar to the one Tomczak had thrown at the end of the first period. WR Eric Martin caught the ball on the run and zoomed 36y to the 31. After Fenerty's 1y gain, Walsh's flare pass was batted down by the rush. He then hit Gill who was stopped 2y short of the line to gain. So Morten Andersen came in for a 40y field goal try with the wind. But a high snap threw off the timing, and the ball sailed wide left.
On 2nd-and-7, Tomczak threw a short pass to Thornton who zipped 21y to the NO 48. Anderson gained 9 1/2 on two runs. Mills slammed Muster in the right tackle hole for a gain of inches, but that was enough for the first down. Following an incompletion, Renaldo Turnbull smashed through two blockers for a 7y sack. But an offside call on the next play gave back five of those yards. Under heavy pressure, Tomczak tossed a lateral to Anderson to the 35. On 4th-and-7, Mike threw to Morris who was hit immediately a yard short at the 29.
When the Saints went three and out again, Johnny Bailey returned the punt 14y to the 39. The Bears couldn't overcame a false start penalty. So Buford grabbed a high snap and got off the punt, but CB Robert Massey got a hand on the ball. So the Saints took possession 3y across midfield.
It took them eight plays and a change at quarterback, but they finally got on the board. On 2nd-and-8, Martin took a slant pass to the 35 for a first down. On the next snap, DTs William "Refrigerator" Perry (315lb) and Steve McMichael (270) stormed into the backfield. Walsh tried to get away and succeeding in throwing a left-handed pass to avoid the sack just before both Bears buried him under their combined bulk on the frozen tundra. Steve left the game with a shoulder injury, never to return. He was 6-for-16 for 74y and one interception.
During the two-minute warning timeout, John Fourcade doffed his baseball cap, put on his helmet, and took over at quarterback.
"I felt going into the ballgame I was going to play this weekend," said Fourcade. "I prepared myself, and I felt that if I could just sustain, not doing something stupid out there, that we could move the football."
John had started for the Saints the last time they played the Bears, which came in a strike game in 1987.
After an incomplete shovel pass, the Archbishop Shaw grad showed his ability to run by escaping the collapsing pocket to avoid a loss and gain a yard. Mora left the offense on the field, but S Mark Carrier broke up the pass to Turner. However, an offside penalty negated the play and gave the Saints five precious yards. So Mora sent out Andersen to boom a 47y field goal. Bears 10 Saints 3 (1:38)
A 38y kickoff return and 10y draw play gave the hometown fans hope that their heroes could at least give back the three points they just gave up. But two incompletions and a short run sabotaged that plan.
End Q2: Bears 10 Saints 3
Saints fans holding "Who Dat?" signs in the South end zone were bombarded with snowballs throughout the last three minutes of the half. One Saints fan commented afterward, "They're pretty good at shouting obscenities and throwing snowballs."
Third Quarter
Using a simple offense of Anderson left, Anderson right, Anderson up the middle with a pass or two thrown in for variety, the Bears took the kickoff and used up exactly half the period on a drive that led to a field goal. Along the way, a play that could have turned the game around for the Saints was negated by a penalty. Two Anderson runs for 11y got a first down at the 46. After throwing his fifth straight incompletion, Tomczak ran out of the pocket to move the chains to the NO 43. Then he handed to Neal twice for another first down. But two runs and an incompletions made 4th-and-4 and brought out K Kevin Butler.
Outstanding rookie DE Renaldo Turnbull came in from the left side and blocked the kick. The ball ricocheted to another rookie, DB Vince Buck, who ran 61y for a touchdown with 9:18 left. Kick the point and tie the game. But not so fast, my friend. The head linesman had thrown his flag because CB Robert Massey, lined up on the right side of the line, was in the neutral zone.
"I looked around and I saw everybody standing around," Buck said. The penalty "is the first thing that went through my mind because I've seen many flags when I've tried to return (blocked kicks). I didn't know what it was. When I walked up there, they said somebody was offsides. I don't think anybody on our defense was offsides. I think it was really a bad call."
"I don't think it was offsides," Massey said, "but he called me for it."
Rickey Jackson was upset that the flag was thrown late. "As soon as the ball is snapped, you're supposed to throw the flag. I don't know what was going through those guys' minds. He waited until he saw the block before he threw the flag."
A television replay showed that Massey's hand and part of his helmet were over the line of scrimmage at least a few inches.
The penalty gave the Bears a first down at the 23. Three plays later, Tomczak hit Muster over the middle for a first down at the 11. But a 3rd-and- 6 flare pass to Anderson gained only 2y to the 5. So Butler kicked a 22y field goal. Bears 13 Saints 3 (7:29)
Dalton Hilliard made his first appearance since Game 6 and sparked the offense. After he returned the kickoff to the 29 and Fourcade threw an incompletion, Dalton zipped around the left side for 9y. On 3rd-and-1, Fourcade rolled right and, just before being hit head on, threw the ball up for grabs down the right sideline. TE Greg Scales's head swiveled from side to side as he looked up and back for the wounded duck throw descending over his left shoulder and into his arms right next to a defender for a first down at the Bear 31. It was the Saints' first third-down conversion of the game. Hilliard ran twice for 7y, but on 3rd-and-3 Fourcade threw incomplete. So Andersen tried a 42y field goal into the 15 mph wind that was blocked by DE Trace Armstrong to give Chicago possession at the 25.
With the temperature descending to 20°, the Bears moved into Saints territory again. Muster took another pass over the middle for 10y. On 3rd-and-11, Tomzcak fumbled the low snap but picked up the ball and threw to WR Wendell Davis for 13y to midfield. Two plays later, the gun sounded with the ball on the NO 39.
With 99y, Anderson had personally gained more yardage than the 97.4 per game the Saints had given up on the ground for the season.
End Q3: Bears 13 Saints 3
Fourth Quarter
With snow falling, two more Anderson runs made it 4th-and-1 on the 30. That wasn't close enough for a field goal against the wind. So Tomczak faked to Anderson going right, turned, and flipped a pass to Muster wide open on the left to the 19. But the Saints dug in and stuffed two runs and tackled WR Dennis Gentry short of the first down after he caught a short pass. So Butler came in and missed the field goal attempt with 10:31 on the clock. The Bears had run 30 plays in the second half to seven for the Saints.
Despite the defense knowing he had to pass, Fourcade led a drive that reached the three. From the 20, he started with a play fake throw over the middle to TE John Tice to the 38. On 3rd-and-4, Fourcade fled the pocket to the 49. Then he dodged the rush and hit TE Hoby Brenner to the 35. After three incompletions, John threw to WR Eric Martin, but FS Carrier knocked the ball away. As the Bears offense began to take the field, a flag appeared, and the interference call gave the Saints a first down on the 11. After the Refrigerator buried Ironhead for no gain and then another incompletion, Carrier was called for interference again to make it first-and-goal at the 3. Hilliard lost a yard attempting to sweep LE on the frozen turf. Then Fourcade rolled right and, just before going out of bounds, tossed to Heyward open in the end zone. But the ball bounced off Ironhead's hand. On 3rd down, John rolled left, then turned and tried to go back to the right only to run into Armstrong, who sacked Fourcade for a 16y loss. So the Saints settled for Andersen's 38y field goal. Bears 13 Saints 6 (5:52)
The Bears soon faced a third-and-11 at their 19 with 4:30 remaining. Hold here, and the Saints defense can force a punt into the 15mph wind to give the offense good field position for a tying touchdown march. Instead, WR Dennie Gentry beat man-to-man coverage by FS Gene Atkins for a 38y gain.
Tomczak said of his 38y completion, "It might be the best pass I've thrown."
Bears offensive coordinator Greg Landry agreed. "I don't know if he's ever thrown one any better. That was one we had to have, and he laid it in there right on the money."
"It was the biggest play of the game," said Coach Ditka. "It was an outstanding throw. Mike put it right in there."
Not only did the Bears get to eat up more time, but they marched close enough for Kevin Butler to boot a clinching 21y field goal. Bears 16 Saints 6 (2:47)
On the first play after the kickoff, SS Shaun Gayle snagged Fourcade's pass and ran it back 27y to the NO 31. The Bears ran out the clock from there.
FINAL SCORE: Bears 16 Saints 6

The Bears rushed for 189y, the most against the Saints defense all season. The Monsters of the Midway held the NO offense to nine first downs, 65y rushing, and 193 total yards.


Saints Locker Room
Coach Mora: "It was a real close ballgame like I thought it would be. The players gave a hell of an effort. We had the opportunity to make plays and win the football game. We didn't come up with them. They did more often than we did."
QB Steve Walsh: "We thought we could throw against them, but we just got into a little bit of a rut there where we couldn't get any first downs, and they were stuffing the run." Feeling weak because of a possible reaction to medication to ease the pain of his second-degree shoulder separation, he nearly passed out and had to sit down. His eyes watering, he held his right arm stiffly across his stomach. "I tried to go back in," he said, "but my arm just stiffened up. I couldn't lift it."
QB John Fourcade: "Field goals can't win playoff games. To be a good football team, you've got to make the big play. Just one big play. Overall, I think we stopped ourselves. We had some dropped balls, some passes I threw badly. But they're such a good defense. We shut ourselves down most of the time."
LB Sam Mills: "The way we play, play-action is going to happen sometime. They had the run going, so we had to respect that. Then he ran those little fakes and had receivers hitting the seams. That was our big downfall."
LB Rickey Jackson took a shot at the offense: "Six points ain't going to beat nobody. That sums up our whole season.
DB Gene Atkins: "Tomczak was a good quarterback today. If we play again, it might not be the same."
D-line coach John Pease: "They just knocked our butts off. That's all there was to it. They blocked us on the line of scrimmage."
TE Hoby Brenner: "No doubt, they shut us down. For some reason, we have trouble blocking teams that play the 4-3 like Chicago. We're just not fluid against a 4-3 team."
DB Vince Buck on his negated blocked kick touchdown. "That was the turning point of the game. We needed something like that to get us going. After that play was nullified, it took a lot out of us."
DB Toi Cook: "We let them run the ball down our throats. That's not Saints football. And even though we kept them out of the end zone, I think we should have done a better job against the run."
Bears Locker Room
Coach Ditka: "If you think back to how we got here, you've got to understand we got here with the ball in Neal's hands. We had to give it to him. I had a little dream last night .... it didn't matter to me if I gave it to him 40 times."
RB Neal Anderson carried the ball 27 times - equaling a Bears' playoff record held by the immortal Walter Payton - for 102y. "We talked about it all week," Neal said. "We wanted to try to go back and establish the run, keep the chain moving, and let our defense knock 'em dead."
DE Trace Armstrong: "Stopping the run was the first thing on the list in our game plan. From the looks of things, we accomplished the mission."
T Jimbo Covert: "We felt going in we had to make the Saints respect the run. We might not have opened a lot of gaping holes, but with the backs we have, all they need is a little crease." He added, "Those guys on the D-line stuffed the run. They had their way with the Saints' ground game. That kind of thing gets the O-line fired up. We know we don't score a lot of points, but we didn't want to let the D-line down."
Mike Tomczak was asked if he felt vindicated. "I don't know about that. These people will be on me the next time I throw a bad pass. That's the way it is around here."

Jim Mora

Mike Ditka

John Fourcade

Steve Walsh

Brett Perriman

Floyd Turner

Craig Heyward

Rueben Mayes

Jim Harbaugh

Brad Muster

Neal Anderson

Greg Scales

Wendell Davis rejoices with James Thornton after the latter's touchdown.

"Refrigerator" Perry

Mike Tomczak passes against the Saints.

Vince Buck

Dalton Hilliard

Shaun Gayle

Mark Carrier

Richard Dent

Trace Armstrong

Hoby Brenner

Mark Carrier and Dan Hampton leave the field with smiles.

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Saints Saga Archives - I

First Draft
Dazzling Debut: Archie Manning
Dazzling Debut: John Fourcade
The Sad Tale of Russell Erxleben
Could've, would've, should've
Profile: Billy Kilmer
"Shut that music off!"
Record Setter: Seven INTs
Profile: Morten Andersen
Memorable Game: Aints No More
Mascots to Fit the Team
Saints Get Moore from Lance

Saints Saga Archives - II

Bobby Hebert's Terrible Year
Memorable Game: Rams 10/23/94
Bum Takes Over
Dazzling Debut: Aaron Brooks
The Longest Boo
Profile: Tom Dempsey
The Love Affair Started Early
Record Breaker: 12 TD Passes
Firsts: Andersen Points, OT Victory
The Great Pizza Revolt

Saints Saga Archives - III

Profile: Ironhead Heyward
"One of the Oddest Two-Play Sequences in Saints History
"The Man Belongs in the Hall of Fame"
Profile: Michael Haynes
Ditka's Regime
First Victory
Memorable Game: Raiders 1979

Saints Saga Archives - IV

Streak Buster:Tampa Bay 1977
Dazzling Debut: Deuce McAllister
First 2-0 Start
"The Case of the Purloined Playbook"
Profile: Danny Abramowicz
"Black Sunday"
Dixon's Quest
Record-Setting Punt Returner
Profile: Bum Phillips
Memorable Game: Bears 1977

Saints Saga Archives - V

First 1,000y Rusher
Dazzling Debut: Marcus Dowdell
River City Relay
Emeril Helps the Saints I & II
Profile: Boy Owner I & II
We Sucked!
Profile: Bobby Hebert I, II, & III

Saints Saga Archives - VI

Hank Returns to KC
Streak Buster: Lone 1980 Win
Say Two Hail Marys and Beat the Saints
That Penalty Hurt!
Record Setter: Sam Mills 1992
Unlikely Victory
Big Plays Win It
First NFL Game in Mexico
Payton-Brees Regime Begins

Saints Saga Archives - VII

Take Me Out to the Brawl Game
Profile: Don Reese I and II
Memorable Games: Vince's Redskins I, II, III
Dobler Returns to the Dome I and II
Saints in Blue and Gold?
Walter Payton Gets the Record
Saints-49ers Shootout

Saints Saga Archives - VIII

Record-Setting Performance: Joe Horn 2003
Not So Dazzling Debut - Jerry Jones and Jimmy Johnson
Memorable Game: Pearl Harbor Day Disaster 1980
Memorable Game: Saints-Eagles 2007 Playoffs
Record-Setter: George Rogers
He looks funny in white pants
Profile: Monty Stickles

Saints Saga Archives - IX

Season in Time: 1987

Saints Saga Archives - X

Biggest Margins in Saints History
Firsts: Seven Wins, NFC Player of Year - 1978
Streak Buster: 1980 Opener
Profile: Jim Finks I

Saints Saga Archives - XI

Saints Vignettes
Profile: George Rogers

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