Bum Phillips


This Friday evening, the New Orleans Saints will play host to the Tennessee Titans at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana, in their second preseason game of the 2014 season.

You can hear all the action on ESPN 1420, beginning with the pregame show at 5 o’clock, with kickoff set for 7 pm.

Prior to becoming the Tennessee Titans in 1999, the Titans were originally the Houston Oilers, when they called Houston, Texas their home, from 1960-1996, and then the Tennessee Oilers, after they moved from Houston to Nashville, Tennessee, from 1997-1998.

The Titans lead the all-time series against the Saints, 7-5-1, including 279-255 advantage in all-time points scored.

This week, in preparation for Friday night’s game, we’ll look at some of the more memorable games between the two franchises.

On Monday, we went back to 1971, for the first-ever meeting the two franchises, which ended in a 13-13 tie.

On Tuesday, we went back to December of 1978, a 17-12 Oilers win, which ended any hopes the Saints had at a .500 season.

Today, we go back to November 22 of 1981, when we remember the first-ever Saints' victory over the Oilers, a 27-24 victory at the Astrodome in Houston, Texas.

This one meant a little bit more than an ordinary New Orleans/Houston would, as it marked the homecoming of Saints' head coach Bum Phillips, who was the head coach of the Oilers for six seasons, from 1975-180, guiding them to 55-35 record during his tenure, including back-to-back appearances in the AFC Championship Game in both 1978 and 1979.

Phillips was a very popular man in Houston, both with his former players and fans, and his current players approached the game almost like a playoff game, wanting to win the game for him.

New Orleans went into the contest at 3-8, which was already two wins more than they tallied all of the previous season, while Houston, under Ed Briles, the man who succeeded Phillips, went in at 5-6.

After a scoreless first quarter the Saints drew first-blood in the second quarter, thanks to 9-yard touchdown run by Jack Holmes, giving them a 7-0 lead.

The Oilers trimmed the New Orleans lead to 7-3 on their next possession, when Toni Fritsch nailed a a 49-yard field goal, before Benny Ricardo answered with a long field goal of his own, this one from 46 yards away, giving the Saints a 10-3 halftime advantage.

Houston tied things, 10-10, early in the third quarter when Earl Campbell scored on a 1-yard run, before New Orleans scored back-to-back touchdowns to end the quarter, the first on a 2-yard run by Holmes, his second rushing touchdown of the game, and the second on a 22-yard pass from Archie Manning to Wayne Wilson, giving the Saints a 24-10 going into the final period.

The Oilers drew to within seven points early the the fourth quarter, when Ken Stabler connected with Mike Holston on a 50-yard scoring strike, making it 24-17, but Ricardo later converted on his second field  goal of the game, this one from 42 yards, extending the New Orleans lead to 27-17.

Campbell later scored his second rushing touchdown of the game, on another 1-yard run, but it wasn't enough, as the Saints captured the emotional three-point win.

For New Orleans, Manning completed 10-of-14 passes for 147 yards, along with one touchdown, while rookie George Rogers ran the football 28 times for 142 yards, en route to 1,674 rushing yards on the year, a franchise single-season rushing record which still stands today.

For Houston, Campbell accumulated 96 rushing yards, along with two touchdowns, on 25 carries, while Stabler was 15-of-23 for 190 yards, along with one touchdown and one interception through the air.

The Saints finished 1983 at 4-12, but showed a lot of improvement, losing three games by seven points or less, while the Oilers finished at 7-9.

Below, let's fast forward three years, to 1984, and look at Phillips' second-to-last team in New Orleans, and the 1984 Saints: