Saints Host Titans: Memorable Game Four
Billy Joe Tolliver
This Friday evening, the New Orleans Saints will play host to the Tennessee Titans at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana, in their second preseason game of the 2014 season.
You can hear all the action on ESPN 1420, beginning with the pregame show at 5 o’clock, with kickoff set for 7 pm.
Prior to becoming the Tennessee Titans in 1999, the Titans were originally the Houston Oilers, when they called Houston, Texas their home, from 1960-1996, and then the Tennessee Oilers, after they moved from Houston to Nashville, Tennessee, from 1997-1998.
The Titans lead the all-time series against the Saints, 7-5-1, including 279-255 advantage in all-time points scored.
This week, in preparation for Friday night’s game, we’ll look at some of the more memorable games between the two franchises.
On Monday, we went back to 1971, for the first-ever meeting the two franchises, which ended in a 13-13 tie.
On Tuesday, we went back to December of 1978, a 17-12 Oilers win, which ended any hopes the Saints had at a .500 season.
On Wednesday, we went back to November 22 of 1981, when we remember the first-ever Saints’ victory over the Oilers, a 27-24 victory at the Astrodome in Houston, Texas.
Today, we go back to Sunday, September 17, 1999, a 24-21 win by the Titans, in the first game between the two since the Titans changed their name from the Oilers, and their home city to Nashville.
This was the third, and final year of the Mike Ditka era for New Orleans, and things didn’t start out well. After a 19-10 win over the Carolina Panthers, the Saints dropped three-consecutive games, falling to 1-3, while Tennessee came into the Louisiana Superdome with a nice 4-1 record.
The Saints drew first-blood, when Doug Brien was successful on a short 24-yard field goal attempt, giving them a 3-0 lead after one quarter of play.
New Orleans extended their lead to 10-0 at the 4:27 mark of the second quarter, when quarterback Billy Joe Tolliver threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Scott Slutzker, giving them a 10-point halftime advantage.
Tennessee scored their first points of the game at the 7:58 mark of the third quarter, when quarterback Neil O’Donnell teamed-up with fullback Lorenzo Neal on a 4-yard touchdown toss, trimming the New Orleans lead to 10-7, before Brien nailed hit second field goal of the game, this one from 42 yards away, at the 1:56 mark, to give the Saints a 13-7 lead heading into the final period.
The Titans then scored 17-unanswered points to begin the fourth quarter, with six of them coming on a 42-yard interception return by Donald Mitchell, one that helped changed the momentum, and complexion of the game, and helped give Tennessee a 24-13 lead.
Tolliver threw his second touchdown pass of the game, this one to running back Lamar Smith from just 4 yards away, and followed that with a two-point conversion toss to Brett Bech, to cut the Tennessee lead to 24-21 with under 1:00 to play. The Saints failed to cover the ensuing onside kick however, and came up three points short.
It was an extremely frustrating loss for the Saints, who outgained the Titans, a team who went on to play in the Super Bowl that year, in terms of total offense, 409-278, but also suffered four turnovers, including two interceptions and two fumbles lost.
For New Orleans, Tolliver completed 28-of-45 passes for 354 yards, along with two touchdowns, but was also intercepted twice, while Eddie Kennison caught seven passes for 94.
The Saints were held to 55 rushing yards on 21 carries, with Ricky Williams accumulating only 35 yards on 17 tries.
For Tennessee, Eddie George picked up 155 rushing yards on 28 carries, while O’Donnell was 12-of-25 for 124 yards, along with two touchdowns and two interceptions through the air.
The Saints finished 1999 at 3-13, and made a coaching change at the end of the season, replacing Ditka with Jim Haslett, while the Titans went 13-3, and went on to play in Super Bowl XXXIV, where they fell to the St. Louis Rams, 23-16.
Below, view a list of Saints’ quarterbacks since the start of the franchise in 1967. The video was made five years ago, so you would have to add guys like Luke McCown, Chase Daniel, and Ryan Griffin to the list.