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True Birth of a Rivalry

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  • True Birth of a Rivalry

    Wednesday, September 22, 2004

    By Nick Wagoner
    Staff Writer

    By most accounts, the rivalry between the Rams and Saints doesn’t date too far. Sure, the teams first met on Sept. 17, 1967 in New Orleans’ first game, a game the Rams won 27-13. They also squared off in the Rams’ first home game in St. Louis, with the Rams winning 17-13 at Busch Stadium.

    Historical firsts and perspectives aside, though, this rivalry never quite had the heat of a Raiders-Chiefs or Packers-Bears matchup. Never, that is, until about 33 years after the teams first met.

    It was Nov. 26, 2000, to be exact. That day, the potential for a major rivalry emerged. Little did any of the fans passing through the gates of the now Edward Jones Dome know that they were witnessing the beginning of one of the league’s most heated rivalries. There was little doubt after the first meeting that the blood was about to boil.

    New Orleans drew first blood, winning a 31-24 decision in St. Louis. Beating the high-powered Rams on their home turf, a year after they won the Super Bowl was a big blow. This was only the beginning, though, of a five-game series that could be one of the most intense in the history of the league.

    The Saints wasted no time in making their presence felt. Coach Jim Haslett called for an onside kick to open the game. The play could have given the Rams excellent field position to start, but the call worked and New Orleans recovered.

    Aaron Brooks, New Orleans’ quarterback seeing his first significant playing time as a pro, engineered the victory in his first career start. He threw for 190 yards and a touchdown and ran for 34 yards and a pair of touchdowns. His performance served as a statement that the Saints were ready to emerge as a legitimate contender in the NFC.

    New Orleans appeared ready to blowout the Rams, holding a 24-10 third quarter lead. Any person who remembers that St. Louis team remembers that no lead was safe against the Rams’ offense. Trent Green, starting in place of Kurt Warner, who broke a finger against Kansas City in game seven, led a pair of late drives to tie it at 24 with 11:06 to play.

    Green hit Az-Zahir Hakim for a 35-yard touchdown and later Ricky Proehl for a 19-yard score. Those two scores set up Brooks’ heroics. He took the Saints on an 85-yard, game-winning drive, aided by a 47-yard pass interference call against Rams’ cornerback Todd Lyght. Brooks capped the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run. Doug Brien’s extra point gave New Orleans the final margin.

    The loss was the Rams’ third straight at home and put their playoff hopes in serious trouble, dropping them to 8-4. The Saints improved to 8-4, good for a tie with St. Louis atop the division.

    New Orleans’ win propelled it toward the playoffs, but after the game, the first verbal shots of the burgeoning rivalry were fired. Rams’ linebacker London Fletcher had two interceptions in the game, one of which he celebrated by kicking the ball at midfield. The Saints took umbrage with Fletcher’s antics, complaining after the game that he wasn’t called for a celebration penalty.

    Saints’ players also wasted no time in claiming the victory as one of their biggest. After the game receiver, Willie Jackson made it a point to tell the world what he thought of the victory.

    “We shocked the world,” Jackson told the Associated Press. “We shocked everyone but ourselves.”

    The world wasn’t shocked much about a month later, when the rivalry went from a small fire to a blazing inferno, with a playoff spot on the line.

    This is the first in a five-part review of the games that made the Rams-Saints into one of the NFL’s most heated rivalries.

  • #2
    Re: True Birth of a Rivalry

    Its funny, the Saints, who have had so few days of glory, really look to games like that as being a big deal.

    I barely remember the game.


    • #3
      True Birth of a Rivalry

      Originally posted by RamWraith
      Wednesday, September 22, 2004

      By Nick Wagoner
      Staff Writer

      This is the first in a five-part review of the games that made the Rams-Saints into one of the NFL’s most heated rivalries.
      I'd prefer he fast-forward to the playoff game where a valiant comeback had been thwarted by an ill-timed mistake. That was the defining game.


      • #4
        Re: True Birth of a Rivalry

        I'd prefer he fast-forward to the playoff game where a valiant comeback had been thwarted by an ill-timed mistake. That was the defining game.
        The wrath of AZ! :disappoin

        Adm. William "Bull" Halsey


        Related Topics


        • RamWraith
          A Wild, Wild Game
          by RamWraith
          Friday, September 24, 2004

          By Nick Wagoner
          Staff Writer

          This is the third in a five-part review of the games that made the Rams-Saints into one of the NFL’s most heated rivalries.

          With the third game of the 2000 season set to be played on the NFL’s biggest stage, the pot of the Rams-Saints burgeoning rivalry finally boiled over.

          One week after a 26-21 win in New Orleans to put St. Louis in the playoffs, the Rams traveled back to the Big Easy for a playoff game. The added pressure of defending their world championship and eliminating their biggest rivals had the Rams’ emotions mounting.

          The Saints, on the other hand, seemed to dismiss the loss one week earlier as an aberration, running their mouths as well as Marshall Faulk did against them in the Rams’ win.

          Saints’ offensive tackle Kyle Turley fired the first shot, holding back nothing. He told the New Orleans Times Picayune that there was no doubt about his confidence.

          “They’re going to come down here and we’re going to beat them…and we’ll move on in the playoffs,” Turley said at the time. “I’m confident we’re not going to settle for losing to anybody in the playoffs. Especially these guys.”

          Receiver Joe Horn echoed Turley’s sentiments saying the Saints have nothing to fear by playing St. Louis again.

          “I don’t see the same Rams team. I can’t wait to play them,” Horn said. "We're going to be ready for them when they come to New Orleans. I don't mind running my tongue, if they want to put quotes up in their locker room. Put this quote in their locker room: 'We'll see you when you get to New Orleans.' "

          Rams’ defensive tackle D’Marco Farr countered with a strong statement of his own.

          “We’re not going to take any stuff from any team, especially these guys,” Farr said. “We were coming in to win. Now, we’re coming in here to beat you up.”

          Horn stoked the fire more, calling out St. Louis’ defense, which had struggled most of the season.

          “I mean, their defense ain’t that good man,” Horn told the Post-Dispatch. “To beat the Rams, you put points on the board. If the defense plays subpar and the offense plays the same game as the Rams, you beat the Rams.”

          The war of words wasn’t the only battle going on. New Orleans’ coach Jim Haslett apparently made overtures to some Rams’ coaches who were in danger of losing their job. Haslett mentioned it directly to the coaches. In addition, in the second meeting, one Rams fan was mugged by three Saints’ fans in the stands. That fan was later invited by Georgia Frontiere to attend the playoff game.

          St. Louis entered the game on Dec. 30, 2000 with all the motivation it needed, but in the end, turnovers kept the Rams from advancing. New Orleans won a playoff game for the first time in its history 31-28.

          Rams’ punt returner...
          -09-25-2004, 08:43 AM
        • Saint Nick
          Ram, Saints feud
          by Saint Nick
          A great article that expresses my sentiments about the greatest divisional rivalry of the last two season this side of Raiders/Broncos.

          Rams, Saints have developed nasty feud fast


          By John DeShazier
          Staff writer/The Times-Picayune

          After the bell rang to signal the end of the third and final showdown, one contender lamented that the decision would've been different if time hadn't run out, while the other suggested that two knockdowns equals a knockout.

          That's about what you'd expect when it's clear each team would rather swim naked with piranha than face up to a loss.

          It's a kind of spirited, deep-down dislike that rears its head only on occasion in the NFL. Sunday, when the Saints and Rams mix it up in St. Louis, will be one of those times.

          "(Saints coach) Jim (Haslett) and I are very competitive people," Rams coach Mike Martz said. "Whenever you play another good team within the division like that, it's gonna be hot."

          Not just hot. Lava hot.

          The kind of bitterness that usually takes years to develop blossomed in one for the Saints and Rams. Last year the Saints won two of three games between the teams en route to ending St. Louis' reign as division and Super Bowl champs. The clincher came in the Superdome, a 31-28 thrilling Saints victory in a wild-card game.

          Amid the three scrums (the Saints won the first 31-24 in St. Louis; the Rams the second 26-21 in New Orleans) there was enough trash talk, big hits and cheap shots to give each a healthy respect for the other.

          But, certainly, there is no love.

          From the Rams' view, a snot-nosed upstart had the audacity to challenge and prance without possessing any bona fide claim to supremacy. From New Orleans' corner, each Saints victory was downplayed by the Rams, attributed to internal breakdowns rather than a superior opponent.

          For the rest of us . . . hey, sit back and enjoy it. These kinds of passionate bouts don't appear every week.

          These are the games worth watching, even though the Saints (3-2) are sputtering, the Rams (6-0) are surging and a St. Louis victory could do irreparable damage to the Saints' hopes of defending their NFC West crown.

          Circumstances don't figure to mean much once heads start cracking Sunday.

          "Look at the games last year," said linebacker Charlie Clemons, who helped the Rams win Super Bowl XXXIV, before a Saints-Rams rivalry existed, and moved to the Saints as a free-agent pickup last year.

          "I think they felt we were one of the teams they could just beat up," Clemons said. "We went in there, and I think we just took their hearts. With that, I think you develop a bitterness."...
          -10-25-2001, 08:16 AM
          The Field Goal: Saints Edge Rams in OT 28-25
          by THEFIELDGOAL
          After finishing a dismal 8-8 in 2003 and John Haslett's team in some form of disarray. The Saints are at a crossroads in 2004. With every other NFC South team having reached the playoffs or Super Bowl for that matter, these Saints are on a mission to prove they too can reach the playoffs and beyond. The word around Cajun country is this team lacks maturity and professionalism. 2004 is not easier for the Saints with Michael Vick and the Atlanta Falcons also rising and the Panthers looking to get back to the big dance.
          With a 1-1 record so far in 2004 the Saints arrived at The Edward's Jones Dome with a mission. The Rams with a similar record are still asking questions from their previous game versus the Atlanta Falcons and Michael Vick. With the Falcons rising, the Saints were here to prove a point with their former NFC West rivals.
          Six year veteran quarterback Aaron Brooks and Joe Horn led the Saints attack. With Deuce McAllister out with an ankle sprain, the Saints called upon a guy named Aaron Stecker to carry the load. Stecker's first start was huge, 19 carries for 106 yards and a 42yard touchdown to boot.
          Aaron Brooks looked impressive from the start. With a good defensive front by the Rams in the first quarter with Polley,Little and Coady leading the way, the Saints were forced to settle for a 52yard field goal by John Carney. The Rams and Marc Bulger looked determined to amend the previous weeks loss to the Falcons and came out shooting. By mixing the plays Bulger devised a six play sixty-six yard drive using Kevin Curtis, Isaac Bruce and ending with a 32 yard touchdown pass to Torry Holt . This is the style of play that the fans are accustomed to at the Dome. This put the Rams ahead 7-3.
          The second quarter was a rude awakening, the Saints and Aaron Brooks went to work on the Rams secondary. Brooks finished 24 of 41 for 316 yards and a touchdown. Early in the second, Brooks hit Horn for a 24 yard strike on a 3rd and 6 from the New Orleans 34 to setup the Stecker 42 yard touchdown. Saints went seven plays and 80 yards in a flash and tied the contest. Joe Horn and Donte Stallworth combined for 12 catches for 156 yards and a touchdown.
          Then the Charles Grant and John Carney show began to unfold. The Saints combined for 5 sacks on the day with Grant having totaled 3 of the 5. The Saints defense led by C.Grant,A. Ambrose, D. Rodgers,and Courtney Watson led the Saints rush that forced the 33 yards total loss in sacks and a forced fumble. Combined with John Carney's 5 for 6 field goal day, the Saints win in overtime 28-25. With the victory, the Saints end the Rams dome streak of 15 straight games.
          For the Rams and Marc Bulger another tough loss and lots of concerns. Bulger played solid football minus the fumble early. Bulger was 32 of 49 for 358 yards. He spread the ball in a passing offensive scheme with Isaac Bruce getting most of the catches. Bruce finished 8 for 134 and his third straight 100...
          -09-27-2004, 12:43 AM
        • MauiRam
          Rams will face a rejuvenated Saints team ..
          by MauiRam
          BY JIM THOMAS Thursday, December 9, 2010 12:10 am

          Your offseason's a month shorter than most since you've been playing all the way into early February. And once the new season begins, there's a bull's-eye on your chest, because 31 other teams want to get where you've been.

          "We talked so much about that coming into the season," Saints quarterback Drew Brees said. "Everybody wants to accomplish what you accomplished less than a year ago. I think we knew coming into the season that we were going to get everybody's best performance, and that everybody would mark us on the calendar as kind of the team to beat until you prove otherwise."

          For the first couple of months of this season the Saints sure looked a little groggy. In 2009, the Saints started 13-0 en route to a 31-17 victory over Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV.

          This season, the Saints lurched out to a 4-3 start that included losses to a couple of less-than-stellar foes in Arizona and Cleveland. By New Orleans standards, the league's most dynamic offense of a year ago had to huff-and-puff its way to points.

          But just in time for the Rams, Sunday's opponent in the Louisiana Superdome, the Saints have started humming on offense. The Saints (9-3) have won five consecutive games, and during the last four victories have averaged 33 points. (They averaged a modest 21 points in their first eight contests.)

          "We're running the ball a little bit more effectively than maybe earlier in the season and that's been a point of emphasis for us," coach Sean Payton said. "I think that's helped us."

          Actually, the Saints have run it a lot more effectively. Through eight games, New Orleans averaged 84.8 yards per game and 3.6 yards per carry on the ground. Over the last four contests? Try 126 yards per game and 4.8 yards a carry.

          This has happened even though Pierre Thomas has been sidelined since suffering an ankle injury in Game 3 against Atlanta. The University of Illinois product was full participation in Wednesday's practice and is expected to return against the Rams. Reggie Bush missed eight games with a fractured fibula. Since returning on Thanksgiving against Dallas, he has only 10 touches in two games.

          The player who has rescued the Saints' running game is unheralded Chris Ivory, an undrafted rookie from Tiffin (Ohio) University. When it was mentioned during a conference call that not many people had heard of Ivory, Brees quipped: "I hadn't heard of him either."

          Saints opponents are learning about him the hard way. Ivory has rushed for 636 yards and is averaging a robust 5.2 yards a carry. He is coming off a 117-yard, two-touchdown outing against Cincinnati.

          "He's doing great," Brees said. "Just a guy, and we have a lot of these guys, the undrafted...
          -12-09-2010, 12:42 AM
        • RamWraith
          Bulger, Holt, Lead Rams to Surprising Upset of Saints
          by RamWraith
          Nov 11, 4:29 PM (ET)

          By BRETT MARTEL

          NEW ORLEANS (AP) -It had been a long time since the St. Louis Rams looked anything like the "greatest show on turf."

          But Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce found the old magic, teaming with Marc Bulger on Sunday to give perviously winless St. Louis (1-8) a surprising 37-29 victory over a New Orleans Saints squad that hadn't lost in a month.

          Bulger finished with 302 yards and short touchdown passes to Bruce and Drew Bennett. Running back Steven Jackson, recovering from a back injury, rushed for a short touchdown and even threw a 2-yard halfback pass to Randy McMichael for a score.

          It was a demoralizing loss for New Orleans (4-5), which could have climbed into a first-place tie in the NFC South with a win. Instead, they gave up 34 straight points from midway through the first quarter until early in the fourth, falling behind 34-7 to a team that not only had yet to win this season, but hadn't even led on the road.

          The most crushing blows came on third-and-long situations, when Holt routinely found a seem in the defense and Bulger found Holt.

          The pair kept St. Louis' second touchdown drive of the game alive by hooking up for 21 yards on third-and-17. Early in the second half, Bulger found Holt for 40 yards on a third-and-15 play, leading to Jeff Wilkins' second of three field goals.

          The Rams converted eight of their first 11 third downs through the first three-plus quarters.

          Saints coach Sean Payton feared it was only a matter of time before the Rams' talented offense began to live up to its potential, especially after returning to relative health during an off week. Coaches placed rat traps around the Saints' training headquarters during the past week, a ploy to prevent their players from overlooking what they saw as a "trap game" against a winless but hungry and talented team.

          Early on, it seemed to have worked. New Orleans took the opening kickoff and drove easily down field, scoring on Reggie Bush's second-effort run from 7 yards out.

          What seemed like a promising start in fact marked the beginning of the end of the Saints four-game winning streak, which had gotten them back in playoff contention after an 0-4 start.

          Looking long for David Patten in single coverage, Brees threw his 10th interception of the season - this one to Oshiomogho Atogwe, on the Saints' next drive. That led to the Rams' first score on Jackson's 1-yard dive over the pile.

          New Orleans had more problems with the St. Louis defense, now led by assistant coach Jim Haslett, who was the Saints' head coach from 2000-2005.

          Haslett used to lash out at fans for booing when things got bad in the Louisiana Superdome during his tenure with New Orleans. But this time, his successful defensive calls were inducing...
          -11-11-2007, 06:17 PM