NEW ORLEANS (WAFB) - The Saints dropped a heartbreaker in a back and forth shootout with the 49ers in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday.
New Orleans (10-3) came out on the short end of a 48-46 final.
Drew Brees was 29-of-40 for 349 yards and five touchdowns. Michael Thomas had 11 catches for 134 yards and a touchdown. Jared Cook caught two touchdown passes before leaving the game with a head injury. Latavius Murray had seven carries for 69 yards.
Jimmy Garoppolo was 26-of-35 for 349 yards and four touchdowns. He also threw an interception. The Saints defense sacked him three times. Emmanuel Sanders caught seven passes for 157 yards and a touchdown. He also tossed a touchdown pass.
The Saints took the opening kickoff and went 73 yards in nine plays on a drive capped off with a 38-yard touchdown pass from Brees to Cook to go up 7-0. The drive took 3:26. Brees was 4-of-7 for 64 yards. The 49ers answered quickly with a six-play, 75-yard drive that resulted in a 6-yard touchdown pass from Garoppolo to Kendrick Bourne to tie it at 7-7 with 8:26 left in the first quarter. Deonte Harris had a nice return of 46 yards on the next kickoff. Brees and the offense went right to work and put together a six-play, 54-yard drive that ended in another touchdown hook up between Brees and Cook. This one was from 26 yards out. San Francisco was penalized for unnecessary roughness due to Cook getting hit in the head by the defender. The Saints went for two from the 1-yard line due to the penalty but the attempt failed. They led 13-7 with 4:51 left in the first. Cook left the game with a head injury. It was later reported he suffered a concussion and would not return.
The Saints defense did a great job of keeping the 49ers in check on the next possession. On third-and-12, the Saints got a great rush off the edge, which forced Garoppolo to step up in the pocket ... right into the arms of Demario Davis for a big sack. Harris had another good return on the punt that followed. He went 25 yards to set the Saints up on the 49ers 29-yard line. The Saints then proceeded to march right back to the endzone. On the first play of the second quarter, Brees found Josh Hill from three yards out to make it 20-7. On the first play of San Francisco’s next possession, Garropolo heaved a bomb down the middle of the field to Sanders for a 75-yard touchdown to make it 20-14 with 14:43 left in the half. On their next possession, the Saints were able to pick up yardage in chunks. Kamara took a handoff and went 17 yards up the sideline. Then, on the next play, Brees dumped it off to Murray and he was able to turn it into a 30-yard gain to set New Orleans up in the red zone. The Saints went 84 yards in 12 plays and the drive was topped off with a patented Brees “leap and extend the ball over the goal line” touchdown. It put New Orleans up 27-14 with 7:29 left in the half.
The 49ers then went into their bag of tricks. Garoppolo handed off to Deebo Samuel, who lateralled to Sanders, who then threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to Raheem Mostert to make it 27-21 with 6:08 left in the half. The Saints then went three-and-out, forcing them to give the ball back to the 49ers. They took full advantage of the possession and scored another touchdown to take their first lead of the game. Mostert knifed through the Saints defense for a 10-yard touchdown run to put San Francisco up 28-27 with less than 1:00 left in the half. It was a nine-play, 80-yard drive.
San Francisco received the opening kick of the second half but on the third play of the drive suffered its first turnover of the game. Garoppolo’s pass was behind Sanders, who tipped the ball, and it was picked off by Craig Robertson. The Saints turned it into points with a 55-yard field goal from Wil Lutz to retake the lead, going up 30-28. The defense stepped up again and made a huge play to force a three-and-out. On third-and-one, big Shy Tuttle and Vonn Bell stuffed Tevin Coleman and dropped him for a 3-yard loss. However, on the Saints’ first play of the drive, Kamara fumbled and the 49ers recovered. It was his third fumble of the season. San Francisco needed only two plays to find pay dirt again and regain the lead. A 5-yard pitch and catch between Garoppolo and George Kittle made it 35-30 with 9:40 left in the third. The Saints were able to cut into that lead a little with another field goal from Lutz. He was true from 48 yards out to make it 35-33 with 4:51 remaining in the third.
In the fourth quarter, the Saints turned the ball over on downs but there was controversy. On fourth-and-18, Tre’Quan Smith was held while trying to catch a pass from Taysom Hill. Officials ruled there was no pass interference because the Saints had lined up in punt formation. The 49ers then put together a 14-play, 55-yard drive that ended in a 6-yard touchdown pass from Garoppolo to Bourne to make it 42-33 with 8:59 left in the game.
The Saints came right back with a nice drive that was capped off by a 21-yard touchdown pass from Brees to Thomas. New Orleans still trailed 42-40 with just over 6:00 left in the game. The 49ers then went down the field and scored on a 41-yard field goal to make it 45-40 with 2:28 left in the game. Brees then led another touchdown drive. He and the offense went 76 yards in seven plays. Brees found Smith, who broke a couple of tackles, one involving a beautiful spin move, on an 18-yard touchdown. The Saints went for two but it failed, giving them a 46-45 lead with 1:00 left in the game. The 49ers responded by driving down the field and making a 30-yard field goal as time expired to make it 48-46.
The big play of the final drive was on fourth-and-2 to go. Garoppolo threw a short pass to Kittle and he went for 39 yards. A face mask penalty on Marcus Williams set the 49ers up at the Saints’ 14-yard line.
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