Kenny Stabler's passes, Wayne Wilson's runs and Morten Andersen's tie-breaking kick in overtime trumped remarkable performances by Chicago's Walter Payton and Willie Gault as the New Orleans Saints beat the Bears today, 34-31, after 70 minutes 57 seconds of play.
Payton carried 28 times for 161 yards, including a 49-yard touchdown burst, and twice threw option passes for touchdowns to Gault, the rookie sprinter who passed up a shot at the Olympics to pay pro football. Gault took an eight-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jim McMahon, a 56-yarder from Payton, and finally a 21-yarder from Payton for a regulation tie.
But the Saints emerged with their first overtime victory ever.
After a Chicago punt, Stabler guided the winning march from the New Orleans two-yard line. He gained 36 yards on four-for-four passing and Wilson advanced 38 yards on six rushes to set up Andersen's first NFL game-winning field goal, a 41-yard try with 4:03 left of the 15-minute sudden-death period.
McMahon went out late in the third quarter with a strained neck muscle. Vince Evans, in relief, yielded an interception by Johnny Poe that gave the Saints a 31-24 lead. Both McMahon and Evans were tormented as New Orleans got a team-record eight sacks.