How far back can we trace the history between the Cardinals and the Saints? To December 3rd, 1967 when the St. Louis Football Cardinals won by the score of 31-20 in very first season of the new expansion New Orleans Saints. This was the first of three consecutive victories for the Cardinals over the Saints in a series that now finds itself all tied up nearly 50 years later.
Not much notable from that first game other than the Cardinals' rushing yards exceeded their passing yards and they turned the ball over 5 times, while the Saints' Billy Kilmer passed 43 times for a whopping 201 yards (Larry Wilson may have played a part in that).
Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians and assistant head coach Tom Moore both served as assistant coaches in New Orleans in the late 90's and Saints running back Tim Hightower was a fan favorite during his time in the desert. On a side note, former Cardinal Senio Kelemete moves from one bench to the other.
The teams have never competed in the same division (although for some reason they played twice in 1968) so the term 'rivalry' has never come into play (wait til next week), but that doesn't mean there haven't been memorable games and great moments.
• Trailing 17-0 entering the 4th quarter at Tulane Stadium, the Cardinals break the hearts of Saints fans when Charley Johnson directs a come from behind 21-20 victory on September 29th, 1968. Future Hall of Fame tight end Jackie Smith accounts for 76 yards receiving and 37 yards rushing.
• In the first victory for the Saints over the Cardinals on November 2nd, 1969, a classic defensive battle results in New Orleans prevailing 51-42. The 93 points represents the the 2nd highest total for the Cardinals in their 116 year history as the teams combine for nearly 1000 total yards.
• Wayne Morris rushes for 4 touchdowns on 95 yards while Terry Metcalf (check the video) adds 78 more on October 23rd, 1977 in the Cardinals 49-31 victory at Busch Memorial Stadium in St. Louis. Mel Gray chips in with 3 receptions for 62 yards and 2 touchdowns from quarterback Jim Hart.
• The Big Red rack up a whopping 330 yards rushing in the team's 40-7 rout over the Saints on October 5th, 1980, with two Cardinal running backs accounting for over 100 yards (Ottis Anderson and Wayne Morris). The stingy Cardinals defense holds the Saints to a total of 3 first downs.
• Jake 'The Snake' Plummer completes 32 of 44 pass attempts for 394 yards, which remarkably results in zero touchdown passes. The Cardinals win the game 19-17 on December 20th, 1998 with a last second field goal from Chris Jacke to keep their playoff hopes alive.
• LeShon Johnson rushes for 214 yards (2nd all-time team single-game record) on Sept. 22nd, 1996 vs. the Saints, including consecutive touchdown dashes of 56 and 70 yards up the middle. Cards win on the road 28-14 in Vince Tobin's first season as Cardinals head coach.
A great video highlight from the series comes from 1998, just two weeks before the Cardinals shocked the world by going to Dallas and ' beating them Cowboys' in the playoffs. This game at Sun Devil Stadium helped them get there.
The teams have met once in the postseason (but we're not going to talk about that) and the last time they faced off was September 22nd, 2013, when the Saints defeated the Cardinals in New Orleans 31-7. This marked Bruce Arians' 3rd game as Cardinals head coach (about the time he came to realize that Levi Brown wasn't so 'elite' after all).
The home team has won the last 5 meetings between the teams and the Cardinals have won their last 5 home openers. So I reckon it's time to extend those streaks, and you know what that means — BAD NEWS FOR THE SAINTS!
Predict the final score below and you'll win a game-worn, highly grass-stained Kevin Kolb jersey.
And for those interested in a listing of how (and when) the 32 current NFL teams came to be, visit NFL Team History