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The top 10 games in Saints history - No. 6

Saints clinch first-ever winning season and playoff berth in near 20 years history.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v New Orleans Saints Photo by Sylvia Allen/Getty Images

#6 - 1987 Week 12: New Orleans Saints - 44 vs. Buccaneers - 34

For the first two decades of Saints football, they won an average of 4.5 games per season. That all changed in 1987 and culminated in a Week 12 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who at the time were not the division rival they are today. This win in the Superdome was the Saints ninth of the season, doubling their season average with three weeks left in the season.

New Orleans Saints v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

The New Orleans Saints entered this game on a five-game winning streak which put them well ahead in the wild card race and only one game behind the NFLs best team in the San Francisco 49ers for first place in the NFC West. They now had to win just one of their next four games to clinch their first playoff berth in team history and had a good chance to do so when the 4-7 Bucs came into the Superdome. Led by #1 overall pick and Heisman Trophy winner Vinny Testaverde, the Buccaneers were had lost their previous four games and would wind up not winning another game all year.

The Saints would jump out to a 28-10 lead at halftime and keep the Bucs at bay for the rest of the afternoon. The Saints defense would sack Testaverde three times and intercept him twice in the rookie QBs first career start, a rough test against a Saints defense that boasted two future Hall of Famers.

The Saints would have their best offensive game of the season as QB Bobby Hebert completed 16 of 24 passes for 255 yards and 2 TDs with no interceptions. Dalton Hilliard and Rueben Mayes would contribute a combined 117 yards and 3 touchdowns on the ground.

This game finds itself high on the list as it marked the first success the Saints had ever had since they were born. It ended the longest drought it took for a team to make their playoff debut in NFL history and began the most successful period of Saints football up until that point. The Saints went 20 years with no winning seasons and no playoff berths. Over the next six seasons including 1987, the Saints would have five winning seasons and make the playoffs four times.

The Saints would keep their winning streak going following this game, as they would finish the season 12-3 and on a nine-game winning streak, the longest in team history until 2009. The season would end with an upset loss to Minnesota, but following this Week 12 game, as team owner Tom Benson paraded around the sidelines celebrating the victory, the Saints and their fans had optimism and hope for the first time in team history, as the best period in Saints football up until that point was just beginning.

Watch the full game here.

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