Saints hoping for more magic against Vikings
Updated: Friday January 05, 2001 12:29 AM
The near collapse in which the Rams came within three points of tying, a touchdown of winning the game, did not dim Haslett's optimism after the unlikeliest of playoff teams won their first postseason game ever.
"One down and three to go," said Haslett. "I said before I think the Rams are the best team in the NFL. We beat them. I don't know why we can't win it."
The Saints' 31-28 victory against the defending Super Bowl champions ended a 34-year run without a postseason win.
It started out looking as if the Saints would run away with it, and ended up with New Orleans barely hanging on.
"We had some lucky breaks, but that's OK," Saints safety Darren Perry said. "The way our team works and plays, we deserve them."
After three quarters of flawless football both defensively and offensively, the Saints watched a 31-7 lead dwindle with less than 12 minutes left.
St. Louis quarterback Kurt Warner led the Rams to three touchdowns in seven minutes to chop the Saints' lead to just three points.
"I was a raving maniac," Haslett said. "Everything that could conceivably go wrong did -- onside kicks, we didn't play well on defense, we weren't covering and we weren't converting third down on offense. A good football team won't let that get away from us, when you're up by that much. We've got to make sure we adjust."
After scoring in the first quarter, the Rams had not crossed midfield until the closing minutes of the game.
"It got a little scary down there toward the end," Saints defensive lineman La'Roi Glover said. "But that may help us next week. We have another team that can move the football and now we know for sure we can't let up anywhere in the game."
The Saints will play at Minnesota (11-5) on Saturday.
The Vikings, despite coming off three consecutive losses, will show the Saints the same high-powered offense the Rams brought to the game.
Randy Moss and Cris Carter will challenge the Saints' secondary; Robert Smith may not be another Marshall Faulk, but he is a 1,000-yard rusher; and Daunte Culpepper is having a big year passing the ball.
In 10 of their 16 games this season, the Vikings scored 27 or more points.
"We can celebrate beating the Rams for about 10 minutes and then we have to go to work and concentrate on the Vikings and what we need to improve when we play them," Saints safety Sammy Knight said. "We have to be able to go into a hostile stadium and not only play well, but keep our focus for the entire game."