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JOESAM2002 12-30-2003 09:34 AM

Five defining moments........


Tuesday December 30, 2003

A look back at key plays in the Saints' 8-8 season:


Jacksonville 20, Saints 19 (Dec. 21, ALLTEL Stadium in Jacksonville, Fla.)

With time expired, the usually sure-footed John Carney stepped up to kick a routine extra point and send the game into overtime. Carney's kick would put the exclamation point on one of the NFL's most bizarre scoring plays of the season. With six seconds remaining, the Saints needed to go 75 yards for a potential tying touchdown and extra-point attempt. Quarterback Aaron Brooks connected with wide receiver Donté Stallworth around midfield, and, three laterals later, wide receiver Jerome Pathon romped the final 21 yards for an improbable touchdown. After replay official Bobby Skelton gave the play a stamp of approval, Carney came on and promptly pushed the ball wide right.


Tampa Bay 14, Saints 7 (Dec. 7, Superdome)

Leading 7-0 inside the final two minutes of the first half, the Saints faced second-and-eight from the Buccaneers' 28. Wide receiver Joe Horn ran a post route and Brooks hit him in stride for an apparent touchdown. But Horn dropped the ball. On the next play, Brooks lost the ball at the top of his release point and Buccaneers safety Jermaine Phillips returned the fumble to the Saints' 37. The suddenly rejuvenated Buccaneers scored two touchdowns before halftime and made the 14-7 lead stand.


Philadelphia 33, Saints 20 (Nov. 23, Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia)

Trailing 3-0 midway through the first quarter, the Saints faced a second-and-goal from the Eagles' 1-yard line. Brooks took the snap from center Jerry Fontenot and turned to hand the ball to running back Deuce McAllister. As fullback Terrelle Smith went to make his block, he accidentally brushed Brooks and the ball popped loose. Eagles cornerback Troy Vincent recovered in the end zone for a touchback. Philadelphia then drove 80 yards in six plays to score a touchdown and extend its lead to 10-0. The Saints never recovered.


Carolina 23, Saints 20 OT (Oct. 26, Superdome)

The Saints won the coin toss and elected to receive. Special teams standout Michael Lewis gave the Saints excellent field position with a 53-yard kick return to the Panthers' 46. Saints coach Jim Haslett elected to go for it on fourth-and-one from the Panthers' 37. Panthers left defensive end Julius Peppers slanted inside the block of Saints tight end Ernie Conwell and forced McAllister to fumble in the backfield. Kris Jenkins recovered at the 38. Following a 34-yard run by Panthers running back Stephen Davis to the Saints' 11, John Kasay kicked a 31-yard field goal for the win.


Tennessee 27, Saints 12 (Sept. 21, The Coliseum in Nashville, Tenn.)

The Saints grabbed a 2-0 lead midway through the first quarter on a safety, momentarily stunning the Titans and their sellout crowd. The Saints hoped to build on that lead when Craig Hentrich kicked off to them from his 20-yard line. The short kick came down to rookie defensive lineman Melvin Williams, who fumbled it away at the Saints' 36. The Titans took advantage of the short field, scoring seven plays later for a 7-2 lead. Afterward, Williams said he did not hear Fred McAfee screaming to leave the ball alone.

-- Compiled by Brian Allee-Walsh

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