The half-century-old rivalry between the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints has produced some memorable moments — one even worthy of a statue.
The Falcons lead the regular-season series 51-48 and won the only playoff game between the two teams.
A look at some memorable games in the rivalry:
• 1978: Atlanta overcame a 17-6 deficit in the final three minutes, completing the comeback on a last-second, 57-yard desperation play called “Big Ben Right.” QB Steve Bartkowski heaved the ball down the right sideline but short of the end zone — as designed. Receiver Wallace Francis leaped to tip the ball into the air and trailing receiver Alfred Jackson came down with it at the 10 before scampering into the end zone.
• 1983: Andersen was in just his second NFL season when he kicked a 35-yard field goal in the final seconds of a 19-17 Saints’ victory. “I was so nervous,” Andersen said, recalling how QB Kenny Stabler encouraged him with a hand on his shoulder right before the kick. “I remember him saying, ‘Hey, Morten, let’s go home.’ It calmed me right down.”
• 1991: The season ended with the only playoff meeting between Atlanta and New Orleans in the Superdome. Chris Miller’s 61-yard touchdown pass to Michael Haynes with 2:41 left lifted the Falcons to a 27-20 victory.
• 1995: Hall of Fame kicker Morten Andersen spent much of his 25-year NFL career with the Saints (1982-94) and Falcons (1995-2000, 2006-07). In Andersen’s first career game against the Saints, he kicked four field goals, the last in overtime, to give Atlanta a 27-24 victory.
• 2006: The Saints’ first game in the Superdome since Hurricane Katrina had torn open the stadium’s roof — with thousands sheltered inside — about 13 months earlier produced a moment so poignant that a statue was placed outside the Superdome to commemorate it. New Orleans special teams standout Steve Gleason dove to block Michael Koenen’s punt in the opening minutes and reserve defensive back Curtis Deloatch recovered the bounding ball in the end zone as the sellout crowd erupted and New Orleans was on its way to a 23-3 victory.
• 2011: Brees broke what was then Dan Marino’s single-season passing record of 5,084 yards with a 9-yard touchdown pass to Darren Sproles. The Saints went on to win 45-16 and clinch the NFC South. Brees finished that season with 5,476 yards, a record that stood until Peyton Manning broke it by one yard with Denver in 2013.
• 2012: The Falcons stopped Brees’ NFL record of consecutive games with a touchdown pass at 54. It was a dominant defensive performance for Atlanta, which intercepted Brees five times in a 23-13 victory.
• 2018: Brees became the NFL’s all-time completions leader and rushed for a pair of touchdowns, the second one in overtime, to lift New Orleans to a wild 43-37 victory.
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