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Saints vs. Giants: The history


The New York Giants take on the New Orleans Saints this Sunday, and we have to look long and hard to find any real history between these two teams. The Saints were born in 1967, mainly as a quid pro quo to get Congress' approval for the NFL-AFL merger. The expansion team started with a bang, when John Gilliam returned the opening kickoff on the very first play in team history for a touchdown. Things didn't go well for the Saints from that point on, though (they lost that first game to the Los Angeles Rams, 27-13), until about, oh, when Drew Brees came along. The Giants have an all-time record of 14-12 vs. New Orleans, and the two teams have never met in the playoffs, which doesn't come as much of a shock since it took until 1987 for the Saints to have their first winning season (they finished at .500 twice before then). There is some history between the Giants and Saints, though, and here it is.

The teams first met at Yankee Stadium, on Oct. 6, 1967, which was the fourth game of the season, with New Orleans previously losing to the Rams, Redskins and Browns as they looked for their first-ever win. They wouldn't get it against the Giants either, losing 27-21 (that first victory would come in Week 8 vs. the Eagles). The game was quarterbacked by two future (and one former) Minnesota Vikings, Fran Tarkenton for the Giants (18-for-28, 348 yards, two touchdowns, one interception) and Gary Cuozzo for the Saints (14-for-28, 156 yards, two touchdowns and a Spider Lockhart interception), and four-time Pro Bowler Gilliam would also play for Minnesota. The Giants jumped out to a 7-0 lead on an Ernie Koy one-yard rushing touchdown, but the Saints came back with a pair of touchdowns, the first on a 13-yard Cuozzo to Danny Abramowicz connection and the second when Cuozzo made it into the end zone himself. The lead changed hands again, when Tucker Frederickson crossed the goal line on a two-yard run and Pro Bowler Homer Jones hauled in a 34-yard touchdown pass from Tarkenton, one of the receiver's league-leading 14 touchdowns that season. Gilliam caught a 19-yard touchdown pass from Cuozzo to tie it again, but in the fourth quarter Tarkenton hit Bobby Crespino with an 11-yard pass for the winning points. Hall of Famer and former Green Bay Packer Jim Taylor rushed for 37 yards for New Orleans in the game. The Saints finished their debut season with a 3-11 record, while the Giants went 7-7 that year.

There have been no shutouts in the series but plenty of blowouts. The biggest Giants win was a 31-3 shellacking at the Meadowlands, on Oct. 24, 1999. Kent Graham threw two touchdown passes and ran for another, while going 19-for-29, for 239 yards. Amani Toomer, Joe Jurevicius and Joe Montgomery scored touchdowns for the Giants and Cary Blanchard kicked a 41-yard field goal, while Billy Joe Tolliver threw three picks for the Saints, though Ricky Williams piled up 111 rushing yards. The largest Saints win occurred on Dec. 14, 2003, at the Louisiana Superdome, when they destroyed New York, 45-7. Aaron Brooks (26-for-35, 296 yards) tossed five touchdown passes without a pick, with Joe Horn catching four of them. Visanthe Shiancoe grabbed a Jesse Palmer pass for the only Giants score.

The two closest games were both slim one-point victories, with each team winning once. The Saints defeated the Giants, 25-24, at Yankee Stadium, on Nov. 16, 1969. New Orleans quarterback Billy Kilmer, who would lead the Redskins to a Super Bowl appearance three years later, threw one touchdown pass and Tarkenton tossed two but the star of the game was New Orleans rookie kicker Tom Dempsey, who booted four field goals, including a 19-yarder to win it after Tucker Frederickson scored his second touchdown of the day. Dempsey, born without toes on his right foot (or fingers on his right hand) and kicking with a special, almost-square shoe, made his only Pro Bowl that season, and made into the record books the following year, when he kicked a 63-yard field goal to beat the Lions, 19-17. That record-setting field goal has been equaled three times but never surpassed. The Giants had the first soccer-style kicker on their team, Pete Gogolak, who nailed a 19-yard field goal in the game. On Nov. 27, 1988, the Giants returned the favor, with a 13-12 victory at the Superdome. Kickers played a big role in that game as well, with Morten Andersen kicking four field goals for the Saints and Paul McFadden two for the Giants, but the only touchdown in the game was the difference -- a Stephen Baker-Jeff Hostetler 85-yard touchdown connection. Lawrence Taylor and Pat Swilling each had three sacks in the defensive battle.

The Saints, of course, have a Manning connection, as patriarch Archie played the first 11-plus years of his 14-year career in New Orleans (and having the ignominious distinction of getting sacked 340 times while playing for the Saints), before finishing out his career with the Oilers and Vikings. He faced the Giants four times as a member of the Saints, and won two and lost two.

The Giants came out on top in the first two matchups, winning, 45-21, at Yankee Stadium, on Oct. 8, 1972, and 28-14, on Dec. 14, 1975, at the Giants' temporary home, Shea Stadium. In the '72 meeting, Manning tossed three touchdowns (including a 66-yarder to Dave Parks) but also threw four interceptions, while throwing for 276 yards. Norm Snead of the Giants also threw three touchdown passes, but didn't throw any picks. Running back Charlie Evans scored three touchdowns for the Giants. In the '75 game, Manning threw for a touchdown and ran for a score, but tossed two more interceptions. His one touchdown pass was thrown to former Giant Don Herrmann, who was in his first year with the Saints, and it was his only career non-Giant touchdown. Doug Kotar ran for two touchdowns, Craig Morton hit Ray Rhodes with a touchdown pass and Rondy Colbert scored his only career touchdown on a 65-yard punt return for the Giants' points.

Manning finally defeated the Giants on Oct. 29, 1978, 28-17, at the Superdome. Archie went an efficient 13-for-21, for 166 yards, and threw a pair of touchdown passes to Henry Childs, with no interceptions. Chuck Muncie and Tony Galbreath scored the other two Saints touchdowns. Larry Csonka rushed for seven points, Joe Danelo kicked a 50-yard field goal and Maurice Tyler returned a fumble for a touchdown for the Giants' points. Joe Pisarcik threw three interceptions in the game. The next year, on Sept. 30, at the Superdome, the Saints won again, 24-14. Manning threw for 202 yards, on 17-for-33 passing, with one touchdown and two interceptions. Chuck Muncie rushed for two scores while Garo Yepremian, in his only year with the Saints, kicked a 38-yard field goal. Rookie Phil Simms threw a touchdown pass and two interceptions in that game in relief of Pisarcik (Simms would get his first-ever start the following week, a win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers). Manning made his only Pro Bowls in those two seasons.

The Last three times the two teams have met, the Saints won them all and none of the games were close. In 2006, the Saints won, 30-7. The Giants scored first, on an Eli Manning to Plaxico Burress touchdown pass, but New Orleans scored 30 unanswered points. In 2009, the Saints defeated the Giants, 48-27, when Drew Brees (23-for-30, 369 yards) threw four touchdown passes without an interception. Things went so poorly for the Giants that David Carr made it into the game (going 4-for-5, for 72 yards and a touchdown). And last season, of course, the Saints played a hand in the Giants' midseason swoon with a November 49-24 romp at the Superdome. Brees had a duplicate game as the one in '09, with four more touchdown passes, no interceptions and throwing for 363 yards, while rushing for a score as well. Manning threw for 406 yards and tossed two touchdown passes to Victor Cruz (one for 72 yards), who had the good sense to keep his salsa moves to a minimum in the blowout loss.

The Giants' record vs. the Saints by the decade: 1960s: 2-1; 1970s: 2-3; 1980s: 4-2; 1990s: 4-2; 2000s: 2-3; 2010s: 0-1