16 years ago the New Orleans Saints and St. Louis Rams Met in the 2000 NFC Wild Card Playoffs.
When the Saints took the NFC Western Division title in 2000 it was only the second time in the franchise’s history they had secured a divisional title and the 5th time they made post season play. Their opponent was the previous years NFL Champion St. Louis Rams, who made the playoff as a Wildcard team. Both the Saints and Rams finished with 10-6 records and had split both of the regular season games played.
Both teams touted high-powered offenses and capable defenses. On the Rams side, future Hall of Famer Kurt Warner led the NFL’s #1 ranked offense of the year. The “Greatest Show on Turf” was every bit as efficient as they were the year before when they won a Super Bowl Title. But for the Saints, newcomer Aaron Brooks led a high-flying and exciting attack in it’s own right. Ranked #10 in the league, New Orleans could certainly give the Rams a run for their money.
Those expecting a shootout were not disappointed. The Rams scored first but the Saints jumped out to an early lead and by the 4th quarter Brooks had passed 4 touchdowns (3 to wide receiver Willie Jackson) and the Saints looked as if they would run away with it.
That’s when Warner and the Rams showed just how dangerous they were. They put up 21 unanswered 4th-quarter points and with 2-and-a-half minutes left in the game trailed the upstart Saints by just a fieldgoal. And when the Rams defense came up with a stop with under 2 minutes left to play, it looked as if the Rams would get one last shop at a tremendous come from behind victory. As the Toby Gowin punted away for the Saints punt returner/receiver Az-Zahir Hakim signaled for a fair catch at the Rams 8-yard line he bobbled the catch and ended up fumbling the ball. Special teams player and back-up fullback Brian Milne alertly covered up the muffed catch. Recovered at the Rams 10-yard line, the Saints first ever post season victory was virtually secured.
The following week New Orleans would advance to the NFC Divisional round and the impending loss to the Minnesota Viking would finally end the Saints magical season. Even so, after over 30 years, the Who Dat Nation finally realized a playoff victory.