Remmel: Dickey Was No Saint To New Orleans On Football Field


The Packers' series with the New Orleans Saints, now nearing the end of its fourth decade, has been relatively routine in terms of on-field pyrotechnics.

There has been an occasional shootout, such as their 35-34 duel at Lambeau Field in 1989, the Packers emerging with thedecision, and the Green and Gold's 52-3 runaway on the same turf last year, but they have been the exception rather than the "rule."

With their 20th meeting upcoming Sunday, what a trek through history does reveal is that for at least one Packer...quarterback Lynn Dickey... the sight of the Saints was an invitation to shine.

In fact, the record shows that the strong-armed Kansan never lost to the New Orleanians, presiding over five victories at Saints expense during his nine-year Green Bay tenure (1976-77 and 1979-85) The Packers lead the all-time rivalry, launched in 1968, 14-5.

The record also also shows Dickey underscored his signature of success by posting what remains the highest single-game completion percentage in Packers history - an imposing 90.48 mark he compiled in completing 19 of 21 attempts while leading them to a 35-7 triumph in the Louisiana Superdome on Dec. 13, 1981.

In so doing, he also became only the third player in the team's then 60-year annals to throw five touchdown passes in a single game, joining Cecil Isbell (1942) and Don Horn (1969). In the interim, for the record, Dickey equaled that five-TD mark against the Houston Oilers on opening day in 1983 and Brett Favre since has turned the trick three times during his 15-year Packers career.

On that historic afternoon in New Orleans, Dickey struck twice in the first quarter - initially on a 9-yard scoring pass to running back Gerry Ellis and later on a 24-yard strike to John Jefferson in the final minute of the period.

He had staked the Packers to a 21-0 lead by the intermission, having collaborated with wideout James Lofton on a 25-yard score in the second quarter.

The Saints managed to interrupt with a 1-yard touchdown run by George Rogers early in the third quarter, closing to 21-7, but Dickey had not yet finished his highly productive afternoon.

Accordingly, he responded with the 2-yard touchdown pass to tight end Paul Coffman late in the third period, and subsequently "wrapped" his record-breaking performance with a 30-yard strike to Jefferson, who found himself alone in the left end zone early in the fourth period.

Legendary placekicker Jan Stenerud then concluded the day's scoring with his fifth conversion - and the Packers' 35th point. Although it was a prolific offensive day for the Packers, one member of the defense played a major role in the proceedings. Safety Maurice Harvey set up the Packers' second and fourth touchdowns with a pair of opportune

interceptions and long runbacks, amassing 99 yards in returns.

Having waylaid an Archie Manning pass at the Green Bay 28-yard line late in the second quarter, he returned it 46 yards to the New Orleans 26. Two plays later, Dickey found Jefferson in the end zone with a 24-yard strike.

Harvey then struck again in the third quarter. A Manning pass was tipped, whereupon Harvey intercepted at his own 23-yard-line and returned 53 yards to the New Orleans 24 where Manning himself made the tackle to avert a touchdown - temporarily.

In four plays, the Packers again were thewere in the end zone, Coffman pulling in a 2-yard toss from Dickey.

Yes, for those who may not made the connection, the Archie Manning alluded to above is indeed the father of Peyton and Eli of current fame. On that '81 occasion, incidentally, Archie completed 10 of 15 passes for 121 yards, with three interceptions.

Dickey's performance that day was the most artistic of his five outings against the Saints but he had other memorable moments en route to his spotless career record against New Orleans.

One came on 1977's opening day (September 18) in New Orleans - the day the late Hank Stram made his debut as the Saints' head coach. Dickey led the Green and Gold to a 24-0 halftime lead, completing 8 of 14 passes for 122 yards and a touchdown - but then had to weather a New Orleans comeback and a scoreless second half for the Packers - to emerge with a 24-20 victory.

Dickey first faced the Saints in 1976 (November 3), the year that he was acquired by the Packers in a trade which sent fellow quarterback John Hadl, defensive back Kenny Ellis and a fourth round draft choice to the Houston Oilers.

Lynn originally had been a third-round selection in the 1971 draft, a selection meeting acclaimed by some as "the year of the quarterback" because such luminaries as Jim Plunkett (the very first pick, by New England), Dan Pastorini of Santa Clara (Houston Oilers) and Archie Manning of Ole Miss were taken in the first round before the heralded Dickey went to the Oilers in the third and Notre Dame's Joe Theismann in the fourth.

The residents of Dickey's hometown, Osawatoamie, Kan., were so pleased and proud over the notoriety that Dickey's lofty draft status had brought them that they named the town's high school stadium in his honor....Lynn Dickey Field....on the very day he was drafted.

In his first start against the Saints (in '76), Dickey was workmanlike but emerged with modest numbers, completing 10 of 25 passes for 138 yards and one touchdown, a 20-yard bullseye to tight end Rich McGeorge, and one interception, as the Packers came away from Milwaukee County Stadium with a 32-27 victory.

Dickey presided over his fourth straight conquest of New Orleans in 1984 (November 4), hitting on 15 of 28 passes for 173 yards without an interception in escorting Green Bay to a 23-13 victory in the Louisiana Superdome.

A year later, in his final NFL season, Dickey left the Saints something to remember him by. Hitting on 22 of 35 passes, he threw for 302 yards and two touchdowns - again without an interception - in leading Green Bay to a comfortable 38-14 triumph under Forrest Gregg at Milwawukee.

Dickey's operations against the Saints were essentially bisected by injury - a broken leg suffered in a game against the Los Angeles Rams in November of 1977, a misadventure which found him subsequently missing 34 games over three-year period - including the entire 1978 season.

Felled in the ninth game of the '77 season at County Stadium, he did not return to starting status until the 13th game of the 1979 season, taking over at that juncture from David Whitehurst.

Dickey was to remain the Packers' nominal starting quarterback for the next five seasons (1980-85), starting 75 of a possible 89 games. And, in 1982, he punctuated his stretch run by leading the Packers to their first playoff berth in 11 years, qualifying for the Super Bowl Tournament.

He climaxed his career in the latter, throwing four touchdown passes in leading the Packers to a 41-16 victory over the then-St. Louis Cardinals in Lambeau Field. The 41 points set a Packers postseason record which still stands.

*Continuing an association with the team that is more than 55 years old, Lee Remmel was named the first official Team Historian of the Green Bay Packers in February 2004. The former Green Bay Press-Gazette reporter and Packers public relations director, Remmel will write regular columns for as part of his new assignment.

In addition to those articles, Remmel will answer fan questions in a monthly Q&A column. To submit a question to Remmel, click here.*


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