Reliving The Saints/Falcons Rivalry: Saints Return In 2006
The New Orleans Saints return to action next Monday night, when they play host to the Atlanta Falcons at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, La.
Kickoff time is scheduled for 7:30 pm, and you can hear all the play-by-play action on EPSN 1420, as well as 97.3 The Dawg.
The Saints are still winless, at 0-2, while the Falcons will enter the match-up at 1-1.
The rivalry between New Orleans and Atlanta has been one of the best in the NFL since the Saints joined the league back in 1967, with the Falcons being born just two years prior.
The two franchises have been division rivals, as part of either the NFC West or the NFC South, since 1970.
The Saints began in the Capitol Division in 1967, before playing one year in the Century Division in 1968, back to the Capitol Division in 1969, and then the NFC West in 1970, while the Falcons were members of the Coastal Division prior to joing the NFC West in 1970.
The Falcons lead the all-time series, 49-45, but the Saints won both meetings last season, and have also won 8 of the last 11 match-ups, as well as 11 of the last 15.
All week long, in anticipation of the big Monday night affair, we’ll be taking a look back at some of the more memorable games between the two franchises.
On Tuesday, we went back to the first ever meeting between the two franchises, back in 1967.
On Wednesday, we went back to 1973 for the most lopsided loss in Saints’ history, a 62-7 win by the Falcons at Tulane Stadium.
On Thursday, we remembered the infamous “Big Ben Right” play by the Falcons in 1978.
On Friday, we went back to 1991, to remember the NFC Wild Card game.
Today, we go back to Monday, September 25, 2006 for the first game following Hurricane Katrina, a convincing 23-3 win for the Saints, which snapped their 7-game Monday Night Football losing streak.
New Orleans, under first-year head coach Sean Payton, was 2-0 heading into the contest, while Atlanta also came in with a 2-0 mark.
The Louisiana Superdome’s had it’s official reopening after Hurricane Katrina, and the game was marked as a major milestone in New Orleans’ and the Gulf Coast’s recovery from the effects of Katrina, as well as the Saints’ return to the city after spending 2005 away, after the storm.
It took the Saints only :90 to get on the scorebaord, when safety Steve Gleason blocked a punt by Falcons kicker Michael Koenen, which was recovered in the Falcons’ end zone by Curtis Deloatch for a touchdown.
The Saints dominated the game and went on to have the most successful season in their history up to that time.
New Orleans went on to lead, 14-3, at the end of the first quarter, and Atlanta never recovered. Devery Henderson scored New Orleans’ second TD on an 11-yard double-reverse, taking a handoff from Bush and cutting inside the pylon with help from a block by quarterback Drew Brees.
John Carney kicked two field goals in the second period, including a 51-yarder that cleared the crossbar as time ran out, as the Saints trotted to the locker room with a 20-3 lead as a sellout crowd gave them a rousing ovation.
Carney was responsible for the only point of the second half, courtesy of 20-yard field goal in the third quarter, as New Orleans went on to the 20-point win.
The Saints outgained the Falcons, in terms of total yards, 326-229, including a 180-112 advantage in the passing department, as well as a 146-117 edge on the ground.
Brees completed 20-of-28 passes for 191 yards, while Deuce McAllister rushed for 81 yards on 19 carries.
The Falcons were held to just 117 yards rushing, and Michael completed only 12-of-31 passes for 137 yards.
New Orleans finished 10-6 in 2006, and went on the their first-ever appearance in the NFC Championship Game, where they lost to the Chicago Bears, while Atlanta finished with a 7-9 record.
The organization later erected a statue outside the Superdome to commemorate the win.
The $185 renovation of the Superdome, which included new scoreboards, video screens and a new paint job, was part of what kept the Saints from the Crescent City.
Former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue and his successor, Roger Goodell, were both at the Superdome at the game, as was former President George Bush, along with performers Bono, U2, and Green Day, the latter two who you see performing “The Saints Are Coming”, below:
Below, enjoy some highlights of the game, as well as a look back at the 2006 season: