This Day In New Orleans Saints History – September 6
On this date, September 6, 1981, the New Orleans Saints played their first game under head coach Bum Phillips.
The Saints opened their 1981 regular season schedule, 37 years ago, against the Atlanta Falcons, at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, under the direction of Phillips, who guided the Houston Oilers to back-to-back AFC Championship Game appearances against the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1978 and 1979.
It was also the first NFL game for 1980 Heisman Trophy winner George Rogers, who the Saints selected with the top pick in the 1981 NFL Draft.
Things didn't go the Saints' way, as the Falcons cruised to a 27-0 shutout win.
New Orleans turned the ball over four times, and Rogers was held to 61 yards on 13 carries.
Still, this was the beginning of a new era. After all, the Saints were the Aints just a year prior, finishing 1-15.
The Phillips hiring breathed life in to the franchise, and the team got better fairly quickly.
Just one week later, the Saints would record their first win under Phillips, a 23-17 triumph over the Los Angeles Rams. And while they would only finish 4-12 in 1981, they made strides, losing three games by less than a touchdown.
The upward trend would continue too, at least for a couple of years.
In 1983, under Phillips, the Saints were one win away from securing their first winning season, and playoff appearance, before losing to the Los Angeles Rams, 26-24, on the last week of the season. In that game, the Rams scored three non-offensive touchdowns, and Mike Lansford kicked a game-winning 42-yard field goal as time expired.
It was in that 1983 season, under Phillips, when the “Who Dat?!?” support chant was first used by fans of the Saints.
Phillips resigned as Saints coach on November 25, 1985, one day after a 30-24 victory over the Minnesota Vikings. He was replaced, on an interim basis, by his son, Wade Phillips, who later became head coach of the Denver Broncos, Buffalo Bills, and Dallas Cowboys.
Phillips compiled an overall career coaching record of 85-80, including the playoffs, while going 27-42 as the head man with the Saints.