The San Francisco 49ers managed to pull off a 48-46 win in wild back-and-forth fashion over the New Orleans Saints, improving to 11-2 after this epic showdown between top teams.
The San Francisco 49ers improved to 11-2 after a wild, crazy Week 14 road bout against the New Orleans Saints, which saw insane trick plays, massive returns and plenty of back-and-forth action between these two powerhouse teams.
The 48-46 final score only tells a part of the story, albeit a big part, although it showcases just how much offense was a factor in the game.
Quarterbacks Drew Brees and Jimmy Garoppolo went back and forth in the contest, and Jimmy G finished with an 26-of-35 mark for 349 yards, four touchdowns against one interception and a 131.7 passer rating.
Yes, trick plays can be effective.
Early on, however, it was the Saints offense taking full advantage of the Niners defense. New Orleans scored touchdowns on its first four possessions, which included Brees hitting tight end Jared Cook for back-to-back scores. One of the particular weaknesses San Francisco had was at safety, where Jaquiski Tartt was absent with a ribs injury. Tartt’s replacement, Marcell Harris, was particularly vulnerable defending against the pass, giving up both of Cook’s touchdowns.
Injuries hurt San Francisco during the game, too, as EDGE Dee Ford re-aggravated his hamstring injury, and center Weston Richburg also exited with a knee injury, which required the cart to take him off the field.
In total, New Orleans managed 465 total yards of offense with 349 of those coming through the air, all against what was the 49ers’ No. 1-ranked pass defense.
Yet the Niners were able to manage 516 net yards of their own in this offensive showcase, averaging over 13 yards per play in the first half alone. And some of those big plays were essential in allowing San Francisco to hold a 28-27 first-half lead.
Mostert proved to be a major factor in the game, following his career-best numbers in Week 13 against Baltimore. The one-time special teams ace finished with 69 rush yards, 40 receiving yards and two combined touchdowns.
New Orleans retook the lead in the third quarter, following a pass from Garoppolo bouncing off Sanders’ hands and into the Saints defense. But that only led to a field goal to make it 30-28 in favor of New Orleans, as it appeared the Niners defense clamped down after its numerous first-half woes.
The Saints added another field goal their following drive, then their defense forced a Niners 3-and-out. Yet San Francisco’s defense held, too, even though New Orleans tried a pass on a fake punt the following possession.
And that led to a 14-play, 6:57 drive culminating in a 6-yard touchdown reception by wide receiver Kendrick Bourne, his second of the day.
With a 42-33 lead, the onus then fell on the 49ers defense to hold with just under nine minutes remaining in regulation. Doing this against Brees and Co. wasn’t going to be easy, however, as wide receiver Michael Thomas got his and closed the gap with three key catches en route to a Saints touchdown.
But San Francisco was able to get into field-goal range, milking the clock down under three minutes. The 49ers increased their lead to 45-40 with a field goal, yet the game sure felt far from over.
It wasn’t. The Saints managed to drive the length of the field, culminating in a touchdown from Brees to wide receiver Tre’Quan Smith to give New Orleans a one-point lead after the two-point attempt failed.
Then Kittle happened:
Kittle’s 39-yard catch-and-run grab put the Niners into field-goal range with a chance to win the game. Kicker Robbie Gould then delivered the game winner to give San Francisco the 48-46 win.
You can relax now, 49ers fans. The Niners improve to 11-2 after one of the most exhilarating games in recent memory.