New Orleans Coach Bum Phillips’ football wisdom has come under heavy fire early this season.
In fact, there were rumors circulating that his 62nd birthday Sunday would be his last day as the Saints’ coach.
Phillips, however, answered those rumors with a bright smile and a 20-17 upset of the San Francisco 49ers.
“Today’s game helped show the wisdom of drafting veteran players,” he said. “Their experience helped us today.”
On the surface, Phillips should have not had a chance against San Francisco.
The Saints’ offensive line was decimated by injuries in last week’s victory over Tampa Bay. New Orleans faced the 49ers’ fearsome pass rush with new players at center and both guards.
However, quarterback Dave Wilson completed 15 of 30 passes for 189 yards and was sacked just once, while the 49ers Joe Montana had perhaps the roughest day of his pro career.
“I can’t give them enough credit for the job they did,” Wilson said.
Montana, on the other hand, went down six times and was intercepted twice under the New Orleans’ onslaught.
The Super Bowl star completed only 12 of 26 passes for 120 yards, and his longest completion was for 18 yards. His completion average was under .500 for the first time in his seven-year career.
“Nothing seemed to be working,” Montana said. “It seemed like every defense they were in was just the right one.”
The Saints finished with a 354-231 edge in offensive yardage.
“We played poorly, that is evident,” San Francisco Coach Bill Walsh said. “We are not excited about what we saw out there. We might have been thinking we would just come back and routinely win this game.”
Wilson fired a 43-yard touchdown strike to Eugene Goodlow with 9:22 remaining for the victory after a 79-yard San Francisco drive, ending with Roger Craig’s two-yard touchdown run, gave the 49ers a 17-13 lead two minutes into the fourth period.
The Saints retaliated as Wayne Wilson, who replaced Earl Campbell in the second half and rushed for 108 yards, busted over right tackle for a 38-yard run to the 49ers’ 43. On the next play, Dave Wilson hooked up with Goodlow for the winning touchdown.
The Saints threatened again late in the game, but Morten Andersen slipped on the Candlestick Park infield dirt and missed a 39-yard field-goal try.