Ken Stabler passed for 271 yards and Wayne Wilson ran for three touchdowns today to lead the New Orleans Saints to a 35-6 victory over the Atlanta Falcons, but the Saints still were shut out of the NFL playoffs that they never have participated in during their 16-year history.
Detroit's 27-24 victory over Green Bay later in the day ended the Saints' playoff hopes.
Stabler, out of action for the past six quarters of NFL play with a damaged left elbow, hit 24 of 35 passes, including a touchdown to rookie Kenny Duckett. Wilson scored on runs of one, 17 and four yards, the latter with 1:55 left. Punter Russell Erxleben hit safety Bill Hurley with a 39-yard touchdown pass from punt formation two minutes into the fourth quarter.
Atlanta, assured of a playoff berth and using a lot of reserves throughout, finished 5-4; the Saints ended 4-5, thus keeping intact a history of never having had a winning season.
The Saints played without star running back George Rogers, who suffered a hamstring pull two weeks ago. The Falcons were without the services of linebacker Buddy Curry for most of the game. Curry strained ligaments in his knee; it was not known whether he would be back in uniform for the playoffs.