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1968 Saints Defense against the St. Louis Cardinals

Doug Atkins and the rest of the 1968 defense in action against Jim Hart and the St Louis Cardinals defense.
Cardinals runner John Roland carries into the New Orleans Saints Defense in 1968.

The New Orleans Saints Defense in 1968

 New Orleans Saints History from 1968 – This image comes from the October 27 meeting between the Saints and Cardinals at Busch Memorial Stadium in St. Louis. Both team were in the NFL Century Division and it was the second meeting between these teams that year. In the earlier meeting at Tulane Stadium, St. Louis rallied in the 4th quarter to win 21-20. 

 After the 16-12 win over the Steelers the week before, Saints Quarterback Billy Kilmer had the second-year Saints marching to a record of 3-3 going into week 7.  Meanwhile St Louis, behind the passing of Jim Hart, had chalked-up 4 wins mid-way through the 1968 NFL season..  

 But like the previous encounter the New Orleans Saints would blow a late game lead, giving up 21 points in the 4th to go down 31-17. It was loss #4 and the Saints took a nose dive managing only 1 tie (against the Lions) before posting another win over Pittsburgh in the last game of the season to finish 4-9-1.  The Cardinals would end there season at 2nd place in the Century Division at 9-4-1. Despite the winning record though, St. Louis missed the playoffs. At that time there were no wildcard playoff teams. Only division champs advanced to post season play. 

 The picture above has lots of names from both Saints and Cardinals History as well as from  the Old School NFL. Going from top to bottom we see #35 – former Colt linebacker Ted Davis,  anchoring the interior line is second-year man Dave Rowe, #76 and future Hall of Famer, #81 Doug Atkins. Rookie Gene Howard, #29 is at the lower end of the picture. Not sure who the Saint defender beneath Cardinal Jackie Smith (#81) is – it could be #30 Les Kelly. 

 For the Cardinals on the other side of the ball we have really big names from NFL History as well. Probably the biggest has got to be the guy I already mentioned – #81 Hall of Fame Tight End Jackie Smith shown here at the bottom covering up our mystery Saints player. Smith retired in 1978 as the NFL’s All Time Leading Receiver among Tight Ends and is still #6 among All Time Cardinals. In the St. Louis backfield we have #17, quarterback Jim Hart. Hart, who was named NFC Offensive Player of the Year in 1974, played 18 seasons and was named to 4 Pro Bowls.  Carrying the ball is #23 Johnny Roland. Roland is still ranks #4 on the Cardinals Franchise All Time Rushing Yards list. Blocking for Roland is fullback Willis Crenshaw, #33. Along the Cardinals legendary offensive line we have #73 – Ernie McMillan, #61 Bob DeMarco, #64 Ken Gray, #55 Irv Goode & #71 Bob Reynolds. Between the members of this line we can tally 54 seasons worth of careers, 662 games and 18 Pro Bowls – and that’s just with St. Louis.    

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