Saints vs. 49ers: A Rivalry That Ain’t Dead Yet

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Sept 22, 1991; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints linebacker Rickey Jackson (57) and Pat Swilling (56) stop Minnesota Vikings running back Herschel Walker (34) for a loss during the second half of a game at the Louisiana Superdome. The Saints defeated the Vikings, 26-0. Mandatory Credit:


Roger Craig was one of the NFL’s best all-around running backs for the 49ers in the 80’s, and was nearly unstoppable at times. The job of containing him and his bruising running style, fell to one of the best linebacking groups in NFL history: the Saints linebacker corps of Rickey Jackson, Pat Swilling, Sam Mills, and Vaughan Johnson — who collectively became known as “The Dome Patrol”.

Arguably, 4 of those 5 players could be in the Hall of Fame.One of them (Jackson), already is; and then if you factored in both Craig’s quarterback (Hall of Famer Joe Montana) and all-world wide receiver (Jerry Rice, also in the Hall of Fame) and the sheer appreciation for what these games were like speak for itself.

On one particular Monday night tilt against each other in a game in 1986, it was Vaughan Johnson, who had recently signed with the Saints from the defunct USFL, that hit Craig so hard that the running back supposedly turned to one of his offensive linemen and said:

“I don’t know who that guy is, but don’t let him hit me like that again. That guy HURTS”.