Three unforgettable moments from the Falcons and Saints’ long history

The Atlanta Falcons and the New Orleans Saints will hood their annual rival at Mercedes Benz Stadium on November 22nd, 2020. Photo by Matt Siciliano-Salazar | The Signal

The rivalry between the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints is one of the most intriguing rivalries in the book. 

Current Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan describes every meeting with his rival as feeling very much like a “college [football] type atmosphere.”

The two teams have been at war for the past 53 years since their first meeting in 1967.

The rivalry got even more intense when the two were originally placed in the NFC West division, officially making them division rivals in 1970. This new placement also allowed them to begin playing twice every season.

In the 102 meetings between the teams, the Falcons lead the all-time series 53-49.

Every time these two teams play, whether it is in New Orleans or Atlanta, it is almost guaranteed that both teams will play their hearts out and fight to go home with an exceptional win.

But we are just going to dive into three of the most memorable moments in the Falcons-Saints rivalry.

 1. Sept. 16, 1973: Tulane Stadium home opener

The Falcons came into the game ready to make a clean sweep, leading the game at 24-0 at halftime. The Saints scored their first, and only, touchdown of the game in the third quarter, and the Falcons continued to dominate throughout the game.

Saints quarterback Archie Manning threw five interceptions as New Orleans turned over the ball eight times as a team.

Atlanta gained 38 more points by the end of the game, shutting down the Saints defense.

The Falcons walked out of New Orleans with a 62-7 victory, making this win one of the biggest blowouts in NFL history. 

2. 1991 NFC Wild Card game

The Saints had a home-field advantage, and late in the fourth quarter, the two teams were tied at 20 points.

With a little under three minutes left in the game, Falcons quarterback Chris Miller threw an unbelievable 61-yard pass to wide receiver Michael Haynes, resulting in a touchdown.

With under two minutes left, Saints quarterback Bobby Hebert attempted to put the game into overtime but was unsuccessful.

The Falcons left with a 27-20 victory over their division rival in the playoffs. What better feeling?

3. Sept. 25, 2006: The first game in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina

Last, but certainly not least, we look at the first game in the Superdome following  Katrina. Many fans from each side consider it one of the most iconic events in not only Saints history, but New Orleans history. 

Saints safety Steve Gleason blocked a punt that resulted in the first touchdown since Katrina in the Superdome, which later became known as the “rebirth of New Orleans.” 

As simple as this three-second play must have been, it meant so much to the fans in New Orleans, and it will never be forgotten.

Each game builds up a tremendous amount of anticipation and excitement in the players, coaches and fans. It is what makes the game of football so captivating and why this rivalry brings back the loyal fans of these two franchises.