clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The top 10 games in Saints history - #4

Saints eliminate defending champion Rams for first ever playoff win.

2000 NFC Divisional Playoff Game - St. Louis Rams v New Orleans Saints Photo by Joseph Patronite/Getty Images

#4 - 2000 Wild Card: New Orleans Saints - 31 vs. Rams - 28

For 33 years, the New Orleans Saints had tried and failed to win their first playoff game in franchise history. In 2000, coming off their second ever division championship and returning to the playoffs after a seven-year drought, they faced the division rival St. Louis Rams in the first round. The Rams of course featured the Greatest Show on Turf, a record setting offense that featured four eventual Hall of Famers and were the defending Super Bowl champions.

2000 NFC Divisional Playoff Game - St. Louis Rams v New Orleans Saints
MVP Marshall Faulk had just gashed the Saints for 220 rushing yards the week before
Photo by Joseph Patronite/Getty Images

Prior to kickoff, in true New Orleans fashion, the Saints held a Voodoo ritual at midfield featuring priestess Ava Kay Jones, a live Boa Constrictor, and a multitude of drummers and dancers. The ceremony was meant to cleanse the Superdome of negative spirits that may have lingered from the cemetery that once occupied the land now taken up by the Superdome.

Initially, it seemed the ritual had worked. The Saints held a 10-7 lead at halftime and would hold a 31-7 lead with 12:02 left in the fourth quarter. The defense had hounded Kurt Warner all day, sacking last year's Super Bowl MVP twice and forcing him to commit four turnovers. Marshall Faulk, the current MVP, was held to just 24 yards rushing, his lowest total of the season. However, as soon as the Saints cashed in on the Rams latest turnover to go up by 24 points, it seemed the negative spirits had returned to the Superdome.

The Rams would wind up scoring 21 unanswered points in just under 10 minutes of game time. The Greatest Show on Turf was not going to be held down for the entire game, as Warner and Faulk would connect for 80 yards, a touchdown, and a two-point conversion over the Rams final four drives. The Saints offense led by first year starter Aaron Brooks stalled out and was unable to put more points on the board.

However, as the Saints punted the ball back to Warner and the Rams with now only a three-point lead and under two minutes to play, the negative spirits proved to finally be expelled. Punt returner Az-Zahir Hakim, who was the best punt returner in the NFL that season, muffed fair catch, which was recovered by the Saints fullback Brian Milne, clinching the first playoff win in franchise history.

Aaron Brooks would wind up outdueling Warner, throwing for four touchdowns and 266 yards with only one interception to Warner’s three. Wide receiver Willie Jackson would prove to be the player of the game, as in a game that featured All-Pros Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt, Jackson would wind up with 142 yards and three touchdowns on six receptions.

I think it is safe to say the ritual conducted prior to the game worked out, as the Saints had failed to win a single playoff game in the 33 years prior and have won 10 in the 23 years since. The first playoff win in franchise history took a bit of luck, but as the Saints have found out in recent years, sometimes it is better to be lucky than good.

Watch highlights of the game here

Make sure you follow Canal Street Chronicles on Twitter at @SaintsCSC, “Like” us on Facebook at Canal Street Chronicles, follow us on Instagram at @SaintsCSC, and make sure you’re subscribed to our new YouTube channel. As always, you can follow me on Twitter at @HaydenReel.