The San Francisco 49ers (8-2-1) snapped the New Orleans Saints (5-6) three-game winning streak and 15-game winning streak in November contests, with a 31-21 win at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday.
The Saints have a short recovery time as they travel to face their NFC South rival the Atlanta Falcons (10-1) this Thursday at the Georgia Dome.
“I share in our football team’s disappointment and it starts with me,” said Assistant Head Coach/Linebackers Joe Vitt. “I didn’t coach well enough to win today.”
The 49ers outgained the Saints in net yards with a 375-290 advantage, including a 144-59 lead in net rushing yards.
WR Marques Colston became the Saints career touchdown leader with his 56th career score on a 10-yard touchdown strike from QB Drew Brees in the second quarter. Colston’s score broke a tie with former Saints RB Deuce McAllister.
Brees completed 26 of 41 attempts for 267 yards including three touchdowns and two interceptions.
RB Chris Ivory led the Saints in rushing with 34 yards on eight carries.
RB Darren Sproles led the Saints in receptions (7) and receiving yards (65) in his first game back after missing three contests due to a hand injury.
LB Curtis Lofton led the Saints in tackles with nine (four solo). S Malcolm Jenkins added seven tackles (four solo) and a blocked field goal.
Both defenses started strong as neither team was able to pick up a first down until midway through the first quarter.
The 49ers were able to move into scoring position following two completions to WR Mario Manningham from QB Colin Kaepernick for 53 yards. Kaepernick then faked a handoff before and scrambled for seven yards and a San Francisco touchdown. K David Akers added the extra point to give the 49ers a 7-0 advantage with 7:28 left in the first quarter.
Brees and the Saints offense answered right back as Brees completed five consecutive passes on a 10-play, 79-yard drive scoring drive. Brees connected with WR Joe Morgan for a 33-yard gain on a play action pass and RB Mark Ingram carried four times to help move the Saints into scoring position.
Brees then found TE David Thomas for a six-yard touchdown pass, extending his NFL-record steak of games with a touchdown pass to 54. K Garrett Hartley made the PAT to tie the game, 7-7, at the end of the first quarter.
After the New Orleans defense forced a 49ers punt to start the second quarter, the Saints were able capitalize on the first turnover of the game.
After moving the ball past mid-field, the Saints were forced to punt following a penalty. WR Ted Ginn Jr. couldn’t hold on to the punt and fumbled the football. S Rafael Bush recovered the ball on the San Francisco 11-yard line to put the Saints offense in striking distance.
After a one-yard completion to RB Darren Sproles, Brees found Colston in the endzone for a 10-yard touchdown, giving the “Quiet Storm” the Saints career touchdown mark. Hartley added the PAT to give the black and gold a 14-7 edge halfway through the second quarter.
At the end of the quarter, inside the two-minute warning, Kaepernick was intercepted by CB Patrick Robinson. Two plays later, Brees was intercepted by LB Ahmad Brooks who returned the ball 50 yards for a touchdown. The play tied the score, 14-14, at halftime.
The 49ers were able to come up with a pair of big plays to open the second half that moved them down into New Orleans territory. Kaepernick completed a pass to TE Delanie Walker for a gain of 45 yards before RB Kendall Hunter was able to break away for a 21-yard gain on the ground.
Kaepernick then completed a six-yard TD pass to RB Frank Gore and Akers added the extra point to give San Francisco a 21-14 lead.
After Brees was sacked for a loss of eight yards on first down by DE Justin Smith, he looked deep over the middle for Colston on second down. The pass was intercepted by S Donte Whitner and returned 42 yards the other way for a 49ers touchdown. Akers made the PAT and increased the San Francisco lead to 14 points.
Following a touchback on the kickoff, the Saints offense went 80 yards on eight plays. Ivory rushed for 23 yards and Brees found WR Lance Moore for a 43-yard gain through the air. After a San Francisco penalty moved them closer to the endzone, Brees connected with FB Jed Collins on a two-yard touchdown pass. Hartley made the extra point to bring the score to 28-21 at mid-point of the third quarter.
San Francisco then put together a 16-play drive that went 85 yards down the field over 7:50. The Saints defense held strong in the red zone and the 49ers were forced to kick a field goal. Akers made a 27-yard field goal to give the 49ers a 31-21 lead.
On the next drive, on fourth-and-11 on the Saints 36-yard line, Brees tried to connect with Morgan on the left side but the pass fell incomplete, giving the 49ers the ball.
The 49ers were not able to capitalize on the turnover on downs as Akers missed on a 50-yard field goal attempt.
The Saints drove to the 45-yard line where they fell short on another fourth down attempt as a Brees’ pass to Moore fell incomplete on fourth-and-four.
The 49ers took over and drove all the way to the New Orleans 15-yard line where Jenkins blocked an Akers 33-yard field goal attempt.
The Saints were not able to add any more points on their final drive as they fell 31-21.
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