Most memorable games in New Orleans Saints-Los Angeles Rams series

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Mike Lansford

It will be a tough ticket, a full house, a loud crowd and a special atmosphere Sunday when the Saints host the Los Angeles Rams in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in what will be the game of the year in the NFL thus far this season.

When assessing the all-time series between the Saints and Rams, it is a bit skewed as the Rams were in St. Louis between 1995-2015.

While in St. Louis, the Rams won a Super Bowl in the 1999 season. The year after the Rams won it all, the Saints won their first playoff game ever, knocking the Rams out 31-28 in the Wild Card playoff round in the infamous “Hakim dropped the ball” game where obscure Brian Milne became an instant legend and hero in Saints history. That was certainly the most memorable game for many New Orleans fans between the Saints and the Rams franchise.

The Saints dealt with the Los Angeles Rams between 1967-1994 and the two renewed their rivalry a year ago at the venerable Los Angeles Coliseum with the Rams winning, 26-20, to snap an eight-game win streak for New Orleans.

In last year’s matchup, Jared Goff completed 28-of-43 passes for 354 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Connor Kupp, the grandson of Saints Hall of Fame inductee Jake Kupp, had eight catches for 116 yards. Greg Zuerlein kicked four field goals. The Rams sacked Drew Brees three times. Alvin Kamara had a 74-yard touchdown run and had six catches for 101 yards but the Rams contained the Saints most of the way with a stout defense coached by an excellent defensive coordinator in former Saints head coach Wade Phillips. The Rams were in control throughout before the Saints scored late to make it closer but New Orleans never really threatened to win it.

With the stakes high and the expectations even higher for a memorable game this Sunday, that game could make this list and displace one of the others mentioned.

Here are the top five Saints games with the Los Angeles Rams, with some of the memories being special while some are among those you would love to forget as Saints fans:

1. Rams 26, Saints 24—Dec. 18, 1983
This was the one that still lives in infamy for Saints fans. It earned the moniker “Black Sunday.” The whole “never had a winning season and never been to the playoffs” mantra would have and, in the words of Jim Mora, should have ended on this afternoon the Louisiana Superdome. The Saints were dominant on defense throughout. New Orleans held the Los Angeles to 11 total first downs. Rams quarterback Vince Ferragamo did not complete a pass in the second half until 1:51 remained in the game. The only reason the Rams were in it is that both Ken Stabler and Dave Wilson through pick-sixes and Henry Ellard returned a punt 72 yards for a score. Los Angeles did nothing on offense, scoring just six points, but the final three were decisive. With a 24-23 lead and under two minutes left, Bum Phillips passed on a 49-yard field goal attempt by a guy named Morten Andersen and had reserve punter Guido Merkens punt, instead. The Rams got the ball, drove 55 yards with Ferragamo completing four straight passes, along with a key personal foul call on the Saints and Mike Lansford kicked a 42-yard field goal as time expired to keep the Saints from that elusive winning season and first playoff appearance. The loss effectively ended Bum’s career, though he hung around for another year-and-a-half before quitting in the midst of the 1985 season.

2. Saints 20, Rams 17—Dec. 31, 1990
It was New Year’s Eve and time for a celebration. The Saints had struggled through a season of turmoil without Bobby Hebert, who was emboldened to holdout over a contract dispute with Jim Finks. It cost the Saints a chance to contend for a championship when its best players were in their prime. John Fourcade and Steve Walsh struggled, the offense often sputtered, and the Saints went through a mediocre campaign but were still in the playoff hunt on the final night of the season. In a back-and-forth game, the Saints were positioned to win the game on the final play of the game but Andersen’s field goal was blocked by defensive tackle Alvin Wright. Of course, it was blocked because the Rams were offside. Given a second chance, Andersen delivered the game-winning 24-yard field goal to win 20-17 and send the Saints to the playoffs for the first time since 1987. Walsh was just 11-for-26 passing but threw a touchdown pass to Floyd Turner. Future Saint Jim Everett threw two touchdown passes for the Rams. New Orleans would lose at Chicago in the opening round of the playoffs the following week.

3. Saints 24, Rams 20—Sept. 19, 1971
Archie Who? Manning, that’s who! In his highly anticipated debut as a Saint, Manning did not disappoint. He guided the Saints on a game-winning drive and scored on a sweep left to give the Saints a thrilling, upset victory over a team favored by two touchdowns. The play was controversial. When Manning reached the goal line, the ball came out. The Rams thought he had fumbled but the official on the spot immediately signaled touchdown, that Manning had crossed the goal line before the ball came out. There was no replay in those days. Watching it over and over again in the Saints Hall of Fame museum, it would have been very hard for replay to overturn the call on the field. Manning passed for 218 yards and a touchdown and ran for the game-winner. The Rams hurt themselves with 14 penalties for 124 yards. The win snapped a 12-game losing streak for New Orleans. It was the first-ever win for the Saints over the Rams after four losses. Everyone anointed him as a savior for the franchise. Unfortunately, there was a woeful lack of talent around him for him to ever succeed. The Saints would lose for years and Archie would take a beating.

4. Rams 20, Saints 17 (OT)—Nov. 26, 1989
If you are old enough to remember the television series “Flipper,” you remember a smiling, effusive, talking Dolphin. It was not a dolphin who did the Saints in on this night but a guy known as Flipper. Willie Anderson was a menace. No one on the Saints could cover him. He caught 15 passes for 336 yards and a touchdown from Everett, who passed for a dizzying 454 yards. Rams coach John Robinson called it the greatest performance he had ever seen by a wide receiver. Once again, it was Saint-killer Lansford who settled the issue with a 31-yard field goal in overtime after he earlier had a field goal blocked and narrowly missed one from 52 yards. A 35-yard pass interference penalty on Robert Massey was the key play which set up the game-winner. It was a memorable night as I missed my first Saints home game in many, many years due to the birth of our daughter. I later thanked her for allowing me to miss the debacle.

5. Rams 27, Saints 13—Sept. 17, 1967
It was the first game in franchise history. As a precocious 10-year-old, I was sitting in the South end zone with my father and brother. Bruce Gossett kicked off, John Gilliam received the kickoff just in front of us and ran the other way like a bolt of lightning. Everyone else seemed to be running in slow motion. Gilliam raced 94 yards for a touchdown. It was an incredible beginning for the franchise. I thought they would win the Super Bowl. Instead, it took 21 years to have a winning season. Gilliam is now a friend, a great guy. He flipped the ball into the north end zone stands. Joe Lasalle caught the ball and kept it for years before putting it in the Saints Hall of Fame Museum. The Saints fought hard. They still led 10-6 late in the first half and tied the game 13-13 in the third quarter as Charlie Durkee kicked his second field goal but Roman Gabriel passed for 302 yards and a touchdown, Dick Bass ran for 98 yards and a score and the Rams picked off Billy Kilmer twice to pull away late. It was still a memorable afternoon at Tulane Stadium, one I will never forget, God-willing.

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Ken Trahan

Ken Trahan

Owner/CEO

Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE Owner and CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Football Foundation, College…

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