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1980 New Orleans Saints season

1980 New Orleans Saints season
Head coach Dick Nolan
Dick Stanfel
Home field Louisiana Superdome
Record 1–15
Division place 4th NFC West
Playoff finish did not qualify
Previous season      Next season
< 1979      1981 >

The 1980 New Orleans Saints season was the team's 14th as a member of the National Football League. They were unable to improve on their previous season’s output of 8–8, winning only one game.[1] The team failed to qualify for the playoffs for the fourteenth consecutive season and had the dubious distinction not only of winning only a single game, but winning it by a single point against the equally disappointing Jets, who like the Saints had widely been predicted before the season to advance to their first playoff appearance for over a decade.[2] The 1991 Colts and 2000 Chargers later matched this embarrassment.

Disgruntled fans called their team “the Aints”, going so far as to show up to games wearing brown paper bags over their heads after their team was 0-12[3] and playing the Los Angeles Rams, to whom they lost 27-7. In embarrassment they called themselves the Unknown Fan (a spinoff from The Unknown Comic) in a practice that would become the trademark of disgruntled fans across various sports in the United States. Coach Nolan was sacked after this game[3] and then a most notable loss occurred in Week 14. Playing the San Francisco 49ers in Candlestick Park, the Saints charged out to a 35–7 lead at halftime, led by three touchdown passes from Archie Manning and a pair of one-yard touchdown runs from Jack Holmes. However, the 49ers would rally behind quarterback Joe Montana, who would rush for a touchdown and pass for two more. The 49ers would tie the game 35–35 on a fourth-quarter touchdown run by Lenvil Elliott and go on to win in overtime, 38–35, on a Ray Wersching Field Goal. The 28-point comeback by the 49ers was, at the time, the greatest comeback in NFL history, and currently remains the greatest comeback in NFL regular season history (the 1992 AFC Wildcard game between the Buffalo Bills and Houston Oilers is currently #1, with the Bills overcoming a 32-point deficit to win).[4]

After equalling the 1976 Buccaneers’ single season losing streak and looking likely to become the first team to finish 0-16 when down 7–13 after three quarters on a day of 46 miles per hour (74 km/h) winds and a wind chill-adjusted temperature of 5 °F (−15 °C),[5] quarterback Archie Manning threw a touchdown pass into the gale to Tony Galbreath to go ahead 14–13 and then another to win 21–20.[6]

The 1980 Saints continue to hold the worst regular-season record by a team whose stadium hosted the Super Bowl that season (the Oakland Raiders went on to become the first wild card team to win the Super Bowl).


Week Date Opponent Result Attendance
1 September 7, 1980 San Francisco 49ers L 23–26
2 September 14, 1980 at Chicago Bears L 3–22
3 September 21, 1980 Buffalo Bills L 26–35
4 September 28, 1980 at Miami Dolphins L 16–21
5 October 5, 1980 St. Louis Cardinals L 7–40
6 October 12, 1980 at Detroit Lions L 13–24
7 October 19, 1980 Atlanta Falcons L 14–41
8 October 26, 1980 at Washington Redskins L 14–22
9 November 2, 1980 at Los Angeles Rams L 31–45
10 November 9, 1980 Philadelphia Eagles L 21–34
11 November 16, 1980 at Atlanta Falcons L 13–31
12 November 24, 1980 Los Angeles Rams L 7–27
13 November 30, 1980 Minnesota Vikings L 20–23
14 December 7, 1980 at San Francisco 49ers L 35–38
15 December 14, 1980 at New York Jets W 21–20
16 December 21, 1980 New England Patriots L 27–38

Game summaries

Week 15

1 234Total
• Saints 7 0014 21
Jets 0 1307 20




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