Remember, remember the fourth of November? Back when the top teams of the NFC battled in New Orleans, and a back-and-forth slugfest led to the New Orleans Saints handing the Los Angeles Rams their first loss of the season?
The stakes seemed so high then. Playoff-level high.
And after the Saints' 20-14 win over the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC divisional playoffs Sunday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, a Super Bowl berth will be at stake in the rematch between New Orleans and L.A. next week for the NFC championship.
Said Drew Brees: "I had a feeling we'd be seeing those guys again."
When the MVP candidate quarterback was leading the Saints to a victory over the Eagles after trailing 14-0, the Rams were able to kick back and watch, having beaten the Dallas Cowboys 30-22 on Saturday night.
Saints coach Sean Payton said the Rams game was on in the training room, although the coaching staff had its regular meeting the night before game day.
Quarterback Taysom Hill said he watched some of it, and nose tackle Tyeler Davison "saw the way (the Rams) dominated that run game."
The Rams, which ranked third in the NFL with 139.4 yards rushing per game, pounded the Cowboys with their tandem backs, C.J. Anderson (123 yards, two touchdowns) and Todd Gurley (115 yards, one touchdown).
"A team like the Rams, they're going to run," Davison said. "On first and second down, they're gonna run that stretch play. They're going to throw play action off it. They're going to take their shots on second-and-long. They will have a few wrinkles in there for us. But I don't think they're going to change an extreme amount."
Shutting down L.A.'s rushing attack was one of the main reasons the Saints were able to win 45-35 last time; the 92 yards rushing the Rams mustered in that game was one of only five times the team was held under 100 yards all season.
The Rams are 2-3 when they're held under 100 yards rushing.
But it's not all just offensive talk, defensive end Cam Jordan said.
"They have the Defensive Player of the Year candidate (in defensive tackle Aaron Donald)," said Jordan, who had three tackles Sunday. "They've got two experienced sharks at corner (in Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib). They've got a linebacker corps that's playing well, that's not talked about enough."
The Rams defense will be talked about enough after holding the Cowboys to a season-low 50 yards rushing.
"(It's) another great front," left tackle Terron Armstead said. "Another great defensive team that's put themselves in position, earned the right to play in this game coming up. It'll be another fight to the finish. We're looking forward to it. I'm sure they are too."
Linebacker Demario Davis remembers feeling the importance of the first game.
"We know what kind of fight it was the last time we played, and we're going to be even more intense," Davis said. "Both teams are desperate ... If you're not playing desperate, you're going to be going home. And we've got a coach that's going to lay it on the line, and that just heightens the mentality of everybody."
Payton motivated his team earlier this week by entering the team locker room with more than $201,000 in cash — the amount each player would earn as a bonus if the team won the Super Bowl — and the Vince Lombardi Trophy from the 2009 Super Bowl.
Payton demurred Sunday when asked whether New Orleans' high-profile regular-season win over the Rams would help the Saints at all in the game next week.
"They're all big right now, I mean, right?" said Payton. "In other words, it's a game to advance."