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Reliving the New Orleans Saints' emotional 2005 NFL season

9 PHOTOS
Katrina 10 year: New Orleans Saints 2005 season, Superdome
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Reliving the New Orleans Saints' emotional 2005 NFL season
IN FLIGHT- AUGUST 30: The damaged roof from Hurricane Katrina of the Louisiana Superdome is seen August 30, 2005 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Approximately 100 people are feared dead and estimates put the property loss at nearly $30 billion as Hurricane Katrina could become the costliest storm in US history. It is estimated that 80 percent of New Orleans is under flood waters as levees begin to break and leak around Lake Ponchartrain. (Photo by Dave Einsel/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - CIRCA 2005: Light streaming down through the ceiling of the Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana illuminates a ragged crowd of refugees taking shelter at the arena in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which hit the Gulf Coast states on August 29th, 2005. (Photo by Michael Appleton/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS - AUGUST 30: The Super Dome is seen in flooded downtown New Orleans, Louisiana on August 30, 2005, a day after Hurricane Katrina devastated the region. Hurricane Katrina slammed Louisiana as a category 4 storm, forcing levies to brake and flooding much of New Orleans. (Photo by Marko Georgiev/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - CIRCA 2005: Lawrence and Vanessa Arnollie take shelter in the Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, which hit the Gulf Coast states on August 29th, 2005. After three days with no running water and intense heat and humidity the shelter has become unsanitary and unsafe. Officials prepare evacuation despite the flood water surrounding the building. (Photo by Michael Appleton/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
A giant American flag in the shape of the United States is carried onto the field at Giants Stadium as the national anthem is played before the start of a game between the New Orleans Saints and the New York Giants. The Saints are playing their home opener at Giants Stadium because their Superdome was damaged by Hurricane Katrina. (Photo by Ron Antonelli/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
The New Orleans Saints run onto the field before the start of their game against the New York Giants. The Saints are playing their home opener at Giants Stadium because their Superdome was damaged by Hurricane Katrina. (Photo by Ron Antonelli/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 19: Quarterback Aaron Brooks #2 of the New Orleans Saints walks under a sign referencing the Hurricane Relief fund after losing 27-10 to the New York Giants on September 19, 2005 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Saints are playing their home opener, with proceeds going to the Hurricane Katrina relief fund, in New Jersey after being forced from the Superdome which was damaged by Hurricane Katrina. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 2005: New Orleans Saints helmet on field in 2005 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/Getty Images)
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As we look back at the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina 10 years ago, it's almost impossible not to think about the influential roles coach Sean Payton and the Saints had in helping New Orleans rebuild.

The mayor of city, Ray Nagin, told Sports Illustrated's Peter King at that time, "the Saints mean everything to this community right now. We need them now more than ever, at least until we get back on our feet."

SEE MORE: How Tulane's student-athletes came together during the storm


The Saints played through a miserable 3-13 campaign in 2005, but even though they didn't post many wins on the field, they represented victory off it.

In addition to helping the community in a variation of ways, Payton's club played its entire season splitting the home games between the Alamodome, Tiger Stadium and Giants Stadium and four college football games were forced to find new hosts as the dome underwent fixes.

SEE MORE: Special coverage on the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina

But those fixes were finished in time for the 2006 football season, and when the Superdome finally returned, it was as if the city itself had been rebuilt. Fans flocked to the venue for its first Monday Night Football game on Sept. 25, 2006 to watch their Saints take on the Atlanta Falcons. What they saw was nothing short of magical.

New life was pumped into the desperate city.

Early in the first quarter, with the crowd already buzzing, Steve Gleason broke free to block a Falcons punt and return it for a crowd-energizing touchdown. It was the first score of a 23-3 route for the Saints and a first-place finish that took them all the way to that year's NFC Championship Game.

The healing process, especially for football fans, began with cheers. Take a look through the gallery above to relive the entire inspirational season.

A CITY AND ITS TEAMS, LINKED FOREVER

Katrina 10 Years Later: A City and Its Teams Forever Linked


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