Saints/Falcons Memorable Game: November 12, 1978 – VIDEO
The New Orleans Saints will open their 2014 regular season schedule this Sunday, when they travel to Atlanta, Georgia to take on the Atlanta Falcons in an NFC South showdown. Kickoff at the Georgia Dome is scheduled for noon, and you can hear all the play-byplay action on EPSN 1420, as well as 97.3 The Dawg.The rivalry between New Orleans and Atlanta has been one of the best in the NFL since the Saints joined the league back in 1967, with the Falcons being born just two years prior.
The two franchises have been division rivals, as part of either the NFC West or the NFC South, since 1970.
The Saints began in the Capitol Division in 1967, before playing one year in the Century Division in 1968, back to the Capitol Division in 1969, and then the NFC West in 1970, while the Falcons were members of the Coastal Division prior to joing the NFC West in 1970.
The Falcons lead the all-time series, 47-43, but the Saints won both meeting last season, and have also won six of the last seven match-ups, as well as nine of the last 11.
All week long, in anticipation of the 2014 season opener, we’ll be taking a look back at some of the more memorable games between the two franchises.
On Monday, we went back to November 26, 1967 for the very first game ever played between the two teams, a 27-24 Saints victory.
On Tuesday, we went back to September 16, 1973, for the most lopsided loss in Saints’ history, a 62-7 win by the Falcons at Tulane Stadium.
On Wednesday, we went back to Saturday, December 28, 1991, when the Falcons defeated the Saints, 27-20, in an NFC Wildcard game.
Today, we go back to Sunday, November 12, 1978, for the "Big Ben" game, where the Falcons defeated the Saints, 20-17, on an incredible final play of the game.
The Saints went into the game with a 5-5 record, while the Falcons, who had won four-straight, was 6-4.
Leading, 17-13, late in the fourth quarter, the Saints couldn't put the game away, and were forced to punt, giving the Falcons only :19 to go 57 yards.
Atlanta was down 17 -13 with only seconds left in the game. The Falcons lined up with receivers Wallace Francis, Alfred Jenkins and Alfred Jackson off to the right, and then quarterback Steve Bartkowski threw it up for grabs. Francis tipped the ball to Jackson, who proceeded to run into the end zone for the game-winning score, giving them an eventual 20-17 win, and leaving the 72,000 fans at the Superdome in total shock.
The play became known as "Big Ben".
New Orleans finished 1978 with an overall record of 7-9, including to excruciating losses to Atlanta, who went 9-7, and advanced to the NFC Divisional Playoffs.
Because the 2014 season opener is now only days away, let's go back to last year, and take a look at the New Orleans Saints' 2013 yearbook: