New Orleans Saints fans have been treated to some serious nostalgia this offseason. When ESPN re-aired the emotional 2006 ‘rebirth’ game against the Atlanta Falcons back in April, the world momentarily paused – all eyes were on that magical game. It appears the overwhelming reaction did not go unnoticed. FOX 8 announced today that the debut of their “Epic Encores and Premier Predictions” series will feature rebroadcasts of four of the most classic Saints games in franchise history.
The series, bolstered by commentary from iconic Saints figures, is set to kick off on Saturday, Aug. 22nd with perhaps the most memorable game of all time – Super Bowl XLIV. Fans can tune in on WVUE FOX 8 (be sure to check local listings for regional affiliates for air time and date), NewOrleansSaints.com, and the Saints mobile app to watch Tracy Porter bring the Lombardi Trophy home.
Each rebroadcast will feature pregame and postgame shows hosted by FOX 8 Sports Director Juan Kincaid and FOX 8 Anchor/Reporter Sean Fazende; in addition, fans will get the latest news and information out of New Orleans’ training camp and interviews with current and former Saints legends.
In anticipation of this trip down memory lane, lets take a look back at each of these franchise-defining classics.
Feb. 7, 2010: Super Bowl XLIV – the day ‘pigs flew’
Saturday, Aug. 22nd at 7 p.m. CT
Perhaps no Super Bowl win meant more to a city than Super Bowl XLIV to New Orleans. After the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, the 2006 Saints symbolized the ‘rebirth’ of the city and restored a sense of hope that was almost unfathomable. Headlined by head coach Sean Payton and quarterback Drew Brees, the Saints took on a new identity, and three years later marched to the Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history – thanks to a 40-yard kick by Garrett Hartley.
Super Bowl XLIV was an absolute Saints classic. Expected to be an epic aerial showdown, the first half instead transpired as a prosaic defensive struggle – rampant with demoralizing woes. The Saints went into halftime trailing 10-6, and fans mentally prepared for the “just happy to be there” assured defeat.
Enter Sean Payton. “Ambush,” Payton perfunctorily remarked to rookie punter Thomas Morstead in the locker room. A play devised only 12 days prior, ‘Ambush’ was one of the gutsiest calls in Super Bowl history – an onside kick had never been attempted prior to the fourth quarter. Which is exactly what Payton was banking on.
Fans will likely remember a sense of utter bewilderment as the resulting chaos ensued; most of us didn’t even know what on earth just happened. After 90 seconds that lasted approximately 20 minutes in our brains, the Saints came out of the pile victorious. With momentum on their side, the Saints never took their foot off the pedal for the remainder of the Super Bowl.
I’ll save the magic of the Tracy Porter interception for the rebroadcast.
Featured commentators: Sean Payton, Drew Brees, WR Marques Colston, S Roman Harper, P Thomas Morstead, CB Tracy Porter, LB Scott Shanle, RT Jon Stinchcomb and RB Pierre Thomas
Oct. 25, 2009: Saints vs. Dolphins, 46-34 – the epic comeback
Saturday, Aug. 29th at 7 p.m. CT
I will never forget this game. Living in the Bay Area at the time, it was a rarity to catch a Saints game not on primetime. I will also never forget the scars from my cat running up my body to escape the screams emanating from my mom in the living room when the local broadcast randomly switched to the fourth quarter of this game.
The 6-0 Saints were set to have an enormous upset at the hands of Miami. A pitiful first half nearly devoid of first downs put New Orleans in a 24-3 deficit; a touchdown in the last five seconds of the first half breathed what was likely necessary life back into a stunned team.
The Saints, as highlighted in the premiere game above, are known for NFL firsts. No unbeaten team this late in the season recovered from a deficit of more than 20 points to preserve that record. That last-second touchdown proved to be a crucial wake-up call, should the Saints plan to retain that record. And indeed they did – in a comeback of epic fashion.
Featured commentators: T Jermon Bushrod, Colston, G Jahri Evans, Tracy Porter and Scott Shanle
December 10, 2006: Saints vs. Cowboys, 42-17 - a sign of something special
Saturday, Sept. 5th at 7 p.m. CT
Though the Saints have edged out Dallas in most of their recent matchups, the decorated history of the two teams dates back to 1967. Constantly passing the torch back and forth in the 28 games played, the evenly-matched teams had nine of those contests decided by a touchdown or less.
Not this game. On the primetime stage, the 2006 Saints were one game from guaranteeing their first winning season since 2002. Newly acquainted tandem Payton and Brees made sure to do just that. In an overwhelmingly dominating victory, New Orleans annihilated the Cowboys and outgained Dallas 536-347 by halftime.
Brees had perhaps his first absolutely magical game in black and gold, passing for 384 yards, five touchdowns and zero interceptions. The game emphatically served as a sign that the team was something special; it was the antithesis of a meager cry that the Saints should be seen as a serious title contender for years to come.
Despite an ultimate heartbreak in the 2006 Championship game, the Saints declared their seat at the table that night and solidified their identity as an NFC team to be feared. The win came with a side of lagniappe for Payton, as he pulled one over on his former mentor, Dallas head coach Bill Parcells.
Featured commentators: Drew Brees, FB Mike Karney, RB Deuce McCallister, Scott Shanle
Monday, Nov. 30th, 2009: Saints vs. Patriots, 38-17 - a ‘2020’ preview
Sunday, Sept. 6 at 6 p.m. CT
This game will serve as an excellent prerequisite to the 2020 Brees-Brady NFC South showdown. Tom Brady and the Patriots came to the Superdome for the first time since 1998, and all eyes were on the future Hall of Fame quarterbacks. New England decidedly had the edge; Brady already had three Super Bowl rings under his belt and the team held a three-game winning streak over New Orleans.
Instead, Drew Brees decided to have one of the most stellar passing performances in NFL history. Brees demolished Belichick and Brady with a 78% completion percentage, five touchdown passes thrown to different receivers, and capped the game off with a perfect 158.3 passer rating – the only one in his career (yet).
“I remember him hitting Devery on a seam route with nobody close to him. He was just one of those performances you won’t forget considering the circumstances,” former Saints receiver Marques Colston remarked on Brees’ unbelievable performance. On the opposing end of the ball, former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams held a stranglehold on New England’s passing game; Brady threw not one touchdown pass and was intercepted twice that night.
The game was so one-sided that Belichick hilariously subbed out Tom Brady at quarterback and put Brian Hoyer out on the field for the last five minutes of the game. Ultimately, humorous benching aside, this game is dedicated to the magic that is Drew Brees. We should cherish every moment of that while we still can.
Featured commentators: Drew Brees, WR Marques Colston, Roman Harper, Scott Shanle, John Stinchcomb, Pierre Thomas
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