This Date In New Orleans Saints History – September 27
On this date, 19 years ago, the New Orleans Saints accomplished something that they haven't done since 2013.
Off to a losing record after the first three games of the regular season for the fourth-consecutive season, the last time the Saints had a winning record after three games was 2013, when they began the season a perfect 3-0.
Now, they've gotten off to 3-0 starts before, but they finished over .500 in most of those seasons, such as 2013, when they went 11-5, 2011, when they went 13-3, and 2009, the year they won the Super Bowl.
What made the 3-0 start in 1998 so rare is that despite their good start, they finished the season with a losing record.
On this date, Sunday, September 27, 1998, the Saints moved to 3-0, defeating the Indianapolis Colts, 19-13, at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Entering the game, Saints fans were excited, after wins over the St. Louis Rams (24-17) and Carolina Panthers (19-14).
New Orleans had missed the playoffs the previous season, finishing 6-10. Butit was the second season under head coach Mike Ditka, so fans were optimistic, especially after the good start.
The Colts jumped out to a 6-0 lead, courtesy of two Mike Vanderjagt field goals, one from 52 yards, and another from 19 yards, before the Saints cut the deficit to 6-3, with only :28 remaining in the first half, following a 22-yard field goal by Doug Brien.
Brien booted through his second field goal of the game, this one from 20 yards out, in the third quarter, to tie the game, 6-6, heading into the final frame.
Indianapolis regained the later in the fourth quarter, when rookie quarterback Peyton Manning connected with Marshall Faulk on a long 73-yard touchdown pass, giving them a 13-6 advantage.
New Orleans had a little late game magic in them however, as quarterback Danny Wuerffel hit Andre Hastings with a 15-yard scoring strike with only :45 left in regulation.
The touchdown drive, the only one in in regulation, capped-off an 11-play, 96-yard drive, which began at the 2:49 mark of the final period, to even the contest, 13-13.
The key play of the exciting drive was a 44-yard pass from Wuerffel to Sean Dawkins, which set up the touchdown pass to Hastings.
In the overtime period, it was the New Orleans defense that came up big, when Tyronne Drakeford intercepted an errant Manning pass, and returned it 23 yards, to the Indianapolis 36-yard line.
After a 3-yard run by Lamar Smith, the Saints won the game, on a 33-yard touchdown pass from Wuerffel to Cam Cleeland, giving them the triumph.
Smith had a big day on the ground for the Saints, rushing for 157 yards on 24 carries.
In a losing cause for the Colts, Manning threw for 309 yards, but was intercepted three times.
The win improved the Saints to 3-0, while the Colts fell to 0-4.
It was an exciting win for the Saints, but the celebration, unfortunately, was short-lived.
The Saints would lose their next three, and five of their next six, falling to 4-5, before finishing at 6-10 for the second-consecutive year.
Also that year, the Saints lost to the Carolina Panthers, who were 0-7 at the time, and followed that up the next year losing to he expansion Cleveland Browns, becoming the only team since the NFL/AFL merger to lose to the last winless team in successive seasons.
Ditka would coach the Saints for one more season, guiding the squad to a 3-13 season, before being replaced by Jim Haslett in 2000.
Well, September 27, 1998, was fun while it lasted.