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A Wild, Wild Game

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  • A Wild, Wild Game

    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 Az-Zahir Hakim fumbled away a punt and a shot at completing one of the most remarkable comebacks in playoff history with slightly less than 2 minutes to play.

    New Orleans’ Brian Milne recovered at the 11 and the hopes of defending the championship were instantly gone. Those hopes, though, were almost dashed by the Saints’ improbable start. After the Rams scored a touchdown on their opening possession of the game, New Orleans scored the next 31 points and raced to an astounding 31-7 lead with just over 12 minutes to play in the game.

    The Rams, as they had done many times in the previous two years, stormed back. Quarterback Kurt Warner, who had a slight concussion in the teams’ previous meeting, led the charge. He hit Ricky Proehl for a 17-yard touchdown pass to begin the comeback. Two possessions later, Warner threw a 25-yard TD pass to Faulk to cut the score to 31-20. Warner took matters into his hands on the next series, scoring from 5 yards out, then passed to Faulk for the two-point conversion to cut the deficit to three.

    New Orleans recovered the Rams’ onside kick on the ensuing possession, but were held to three plays and done before the punt. The Saints sat on the ball after the fumble recovery, securing the win.

    The Saints made good on Turley’s statement, but lost to Minnesota a week later. The rivalry was hitting its peak and Turley was certain to be heard from again. This time, though, his talking wasn’t done to a reporter.

Related Topics


  • RamWraith
    True Birth of a Rivalry
    by RamWraith
    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’...
    -09-23-2004, 10:08 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
  • RamWraith
    Saints carry confidence into meeting with Rams
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Something is strangely amiss. A Saints-Rams game week has come and gone without New Orleans wide receiver Joe "Hollywood" Horn saying anything inflammatory before kickoff.

    Horn has leveled many a zinger at the Rams in the past. But he did nothing but make nice this past week in New Orleans.

    When asked by New Orleans reporters if this was still a big rivalry game for the Saints, he replied: "No. You want to know why? They've got a Super Bowl ring. They've been to multiple Super Bowls. ... I can't say nothing negative about them and try to spark a rivalry."


    And there's more.

    "Coach (Mike) Martz has done a hell of a job," Horn said.

    Take that!

    What about former Saints tight end Cam Cleeland, now with the Rams, and his anti-Saints and anti-Jim Haslett remarks on Wednesday from Rams Park?

    "That's just Cam getting off some frustrations that he felt," Horn said. "He and Kyle (Turley) had some issues that they didn't like (with the organization). But they're very good friends of mine, and I love them to death."

    In your face!

    In a conference call with St. Louis reporters, Haslett, the New Orleans coach, made it sound like he and Martz were bosom buddies. Strange, since in 2000 and 2001 - when the Saints and Rams played each other five times over a 12 1/2- month period - they looked very much like mortal enemies.

    So perhaps this is some sort of a setup. Now a couple of years older and wiser, maybe Horn and Haslett are trying to kill the Rams with kindness.

    Make no mistake, the Saints aren't going to be the least bit intimidated by the Rams' 15-game regular-season winning streak at the Edward Jones Dome. New Orleans has won its last two contests here, including one of only two regular-season losses by the NFC-champion Rams in 2001.

    No Deuce McAllister (ankle) at running back? No problem. The Saints won here in 2000 with Jerald Moore and Chad Morton as their feature backs.

    Besides, the Rams have more on their minds these days than whether the Saints remain a rival. They left the Georgia Dome on the short end of a 34-17 score to Atlanta last Sunday, bewildered by the scrambling sorties of Michael Vick and befuddled by a Falcons front four that played like the Fearsome Foursome.


    "We don't need to look any further than the fact that we need a win," defensive lineman Tyoka Jackson said. "Coming off a loss you need a win even more. It's just the way it feels. So we want to get back in the winner's column, get that good feeling again, and build off of it."

    It's as simple as that. The last thing the Rams want to do is stub their toe at home against...
    -09-26-2004, 05:47 AM
  • FirebirdRamsam
    The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.
    by FirebirdRamsam
    The good.......there was very little in the saints game.
    The bad.........there was alot!!!
    The Ugly........ditto!!!

    I was kind of afraid that the saints were going to pull off a victory. If anyone read my last post which read: Will the saints go marching on. It talks about a possibility of them having our number. For some reason the team plays with added intense due to their coach and team mates being fired up since we have been ex-superbowl winners who have won with bull **** flee flickers and screens and fancy plays. The saints coach seems to think that we are a bunch of crap players with crappy non-football plays.

    Truth is, the Rams beat the Rams fair and square!!! We lost the game due to silly penaltys, fumbles, interceptions, costly errors, un-special teams, blown plays and a missed field goal. If we played error free football or at least hanged on to the ball without giving it away with our fumbles and interceptions, we would have won yet as murphy's law plays out so many sundays, it was a game of 'what can go wrong will go wrong' and to think that the Rams are exempt from murphys law is wrong! It was bound to happen and I say good, why?

    Well, lets just say that the next time we play the saints on their turf, it will be a different game. We should learn from our mistakes and hopefully on the next meeting, we will be playing with a healthy Faulk, and fumbleless game, a zero interception, a game plan that will have many flee flickers, trick plays so that it will inferiate the saints coach and perhaps a few on side kicks to boot ;-). I think that the Rams have learned a valuable experience of this loss and that if they can bounce back and play with added aggression due to this loss, perhaps this will propel them into the nfc playoffs.

    This game against the saints truely was a horror film for the players as well as the fans and we didn't even get to see georgia for her halloween yearly appearance :mask: , darn!!! I believe that we see the saints mid december again. I will hope that we will bring with us a more intense game plan and an error free game in the georgia dome so that it can erase this bad taste that this last game left. And I hope that Martz will remember what the saint's coach said about the Rams and their so called plays so that he can fire up the team to seek revenge. I honestly don't think that the saints coach should be talking smack until he takes his team to the big dance and wins the big one! Rememeber, we walked the walk and can talk the talk since we are a past victorious superbowl team.

    We now have a 'bye' week to rest, gather our thoughts and hopefully allow Faulk to return with 100% healed on his knee.
    I predict a victory againt Carolina after the return from the bye week yet I will go out on a limb and
    I guarantee a victory (IE: Joe Namath/broadway Joe) against the...
    -10-29-2001, 06:45 PM
  • 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