The rivalry between the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons isn't one of the most storied feuds in NFL history and there's a reason for that.
The New Orleans franchise only entered the league in 1967 and more importantly, the two teams only started playing in the same division in the 1970 season. Another move to a new division, a lockout and a total of 102 games later and this rivalry is probably one of the most underrated and passionate ones in the entire NFL.
Though not one of the flashier or more blockbuster rivalries, New Orleans and Atlanta have had their fair share of interesting run-ins throughout their shared history. Especially in the past two decades, this pair of franchises have emerged from the NFL's cellar and continued to put competitive teams on the field, which has resulted in numerous memorable moments on and off the turf. And although a lot come to mind, we're here to talk about some of the most savage moments in Saint-Falcons rivalry history.
Honorable mention: “Leave the keys in the lockbox”
Social media has really taken over the world and one of the most enjoyable parts of it is being able to take subtle jabs at your friends, celebrities, coworkers and even bitter rivals. And of course, NFL athletes are not exempt from taking shots at their on-field opposition.
A few weeks after Super Bowl LII concluded, then-Falcons running back Devonta Freeman sent out a tweet saying, “Super Bowl 53 we coming for that,” and was immediately met with jabs from fellow players including Jameis Winston and Jalen Ramsey.
Almost a year later in January, ex-Saints linebacker Scott Shanle retweeted Freeman's post as an attempt to riled up the Falcons and their fanbase. In his tweet, Shanle implied that the Saints would be using Atlanta's stadium for practice, jokingly asking Freeman to “leave the keys in the lock box.” Atlanta's home field was the setting for that year's Super Bowl.
Ironically, Shanle and the Saints would not make it to Super Bowl LIII, falling to the Rams in the NFC title game.
3. 1991 Wild Card Game
Having been the two franchises' only postseason clash, the 1991 Wild Card game tops the list when it comes to games that had the most at stake.
Led by quarterback Bobby Hebert, New Orleans had home field advantage against a Falcons team that had Chris Miller, Michael Haynes and Deion Sander in tow. A close contest throughout, the game was tied with 7:43 left in the game. The Saints had just scored a field goal to keep the game even. But on the very next play, Atlanta quarterback Chris Miller completed a pass to Michael Haynes, who would go 61 yards to score the game-winning touchdown. The Saints would almost come back, but Hebert was picked off in their finals drive.
A 61-yard touchdown pass into a game-ending interception is nice on any regular Sunday, but to do it against your division rivals in a Wild Card game? Pretty savage.
2. Ending Brees' Streak
In 2012, Drew Brees was on a record-setting run of 54 consecutive games with a touchdown pass. Not only that, but New Orleans had won four straight against their rivals. The Falcons and their defense had seen enough. The Falcons would not only go on to win, 23-13, the Atlanta defense would end Brees' streak in humiliating fashion. The Falcons would pick him off a total of five times in the game, the most in his career at the time. They would also hand him his lowest quarterback rating since joining the team in 2006.
This game not only stood out because of their performance against one of the NFL's best quarterbacks, the Falcons win here led to the team NFC South division title as well as setting the rival Saints back another game. This ultimately led to New Orleans missing the postseason.
1. Gleason's Punt Block
Not a savage moment in the traditional sense, but Steve Gleason's punt block is one moment etched in the rivalry and New Orleans' history.
In September of 2006, the Saints hosted their first game back at the Superdome since Hurricane Katrina devastated the city in 2005. After overcoming such a tragic period in the city's history, this moment and the ensuing play was one that everyone needed and will never forget.
After a failed Michael Vick scramble, the Falcons were about to punt away the football when Gleason made a diving block that sent the stadium and the whole state of Louisiana into a frenzy. Defensive back Curtis Deloatch corralled the ball in the end zone for a touchdown and would then celebrate by taking the ball and dunking it on the post. The Saints would go on to win, 23-3, in their first game at home after Katrina tore off their roof a mere 13 months earlier.
This moment was rightfully immortalized with a statue outside of the Superdome.