Did the New Orleans Saints have the worst defensive performance in franchise history, during opening week, in their 48-40 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday?

While you could certainly make a valid argument that they did, I vote no.

For the worst defensive performance on opening week by a Saints' defense, I think you have go back to September 16, 1973, in what is the most lopsided loss in franchise history, a 62-7 defeat to the Atlanta Falcons at Tulane Stadium.

After a scoreless first quarter, Atlanta just completely dominated New Orleans, leading 24-0 at halftime, and 45-7 at the end of three periods, before going on to win, 62-7.

The Falcons outgained the Saints, in terms of total offense, 496-187, including a 275-35 advantage through the air, and a 218-152 edge on the ground.

Dick Shiner threw three touchdown passes for Atlanta, while Archie Manning, who threw a touchdown, the only one for the Saints, was intercepted five times, as New Orleans turned over the football eight times on the afternoon.

Shiner finished the day completing 13-of-15 passes for 237 yards and three touchdowns for the Falcons, while Dave Hampton accumulated 104 rushing yards on 19 carries.

In a losing cause for the Saints, Manning finished 5-of-13 for 62 yards, along with one touchdown and five interceptions.

New Orleans got crushed the next week too, losing 40-3, to the Dallas Cowboys, as they were outscored, 102-10, over the first two weeks of the season.

In week three, they dropped to 0-3, after falling to the Baltimore Colts, 14-10.

Credit to the Saints though, as they rebounded to go 5-6 the rest of the way, and finished 1973 with a record of 5-9.

Sunday's defensive performance by the Saints was horrible. The Bucs tied franchise records for most points in a half (31) and a game (48), while Ryan Fitzpatrick set a career-high, passing for 417 yards, to go along with four touchdowns.

There's just no overstating how bad the New Orleans Saints defense was.

The 525 total yards that Tampa Bay gained, while only punting once, is 29 more than Atlanta gained back on that awful day back in 1973, but the 62 points are just too much to ignore.

Of course, not many people thought the Saints would be very good in 1973. This year, many people were, and still are, forecasting the Saints as Super Bowl contenders.

If you factor in the high expectations entering the season, along with how the Saints played on Sunday, one could make the argument that it was the worst defensive performance in the history of the franchise, regardless of the week.

Because of what I mentioned, in terms of expectations and performance, it certainly was the most disappointing.

Remember 2012; when the Giants scored 52 on the Saints? That was pretty bad too.

Remember when the Saints scored 62 on the Colts back in 2011? That was a lot more fun.

Still, the Saints had 62 points hung on them by the Falcons.

The Saints haven't given up that many points since then, and the Falcons haven't scored that much since then.

As a matter of fact, only four teams have scored 60 points in a game since then (1980 Chicago Bears, 1985 New York Jets, 1989 Cincinnati Bengals, and 2011 New Orleans Saints), and none scored more than the Saints allowed on that fateful day.

For the points allowed alone, I'm sticking with the 1973 opening week performance by the New Orleans defense, as the worst in franchise history.

More From 103.3 The GOAT