The Saints Lose at Home in Game of the Year

The Saints lost a heartbreaker at home to the 49ers in an offensive shootout. The game has been deemed as a game-of-the-year candidate by many fans. Many expected the game to be low scoring. However, that was not the case. The 49ers were able to kick a field goal as time expired to win the game 48-46. The Saints drop to 10-3 on the year, while the 49ers move into the top spot in the NFC at 11-2.

First Quarter

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Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

This game saw both teams start strong. Drew Brees moved the ball downfield fast on the Saints’ opening possession. After some quick strikes, he hit Jared Cook for a 38-yard touchdown. New Orleans quickly jumped out to a 7-0 lead.

The 49ers came out just as hot on offense, with Jimmy Garoppolo completing big chunk passes to Emmanuel Sanders and Deebo Samuel. Garoppolo then threw a six-yard touchdown pass to Kendrick Bourne to make it 7-7.

On the ensuing kickoff, Deonte Harris returned the kick 50 yards, giving his team excellent field position. The Saints were able to capitalize on their excellent field position when Drew Brees threw his second touchdown of the day to Jared Cook. It was also Cook’s second touchdown of the evening, this time from 26 yards out. The Saints went for the two-point conversion and failed, taking a 13-7 lead.

The Saints were able to force the 49ers to punt the ball. Once again, Deonte Harris had a huge return. Harris returned the punt 25 yards to the 29-yard line of San Francisco. With excellent field position, it didn’t take long for New Orleans to score again.

Second Quarter

On the first play of the second quarter, Drew Brees threw his third touchdown of the evening. This time, it was to the other tight end, Josh Hill, for three yards. That score gave the Saints a 20-7 advantage.

On the next offensive play, Garoppolo threw a 75-yard touchdown to Emmanuel Sanders, bringing his team within six points. This game had now seen five first-half touchdowns, a number that was expected to be the final game total.

The Saints were able to march down the field once again. After some big plays, Brees jumped over the pile, breaking the plane for a one-yard score. That was Brees’ fourth score of the game, and it extended his team’s lead to 27-14.

The 49ers answered on a trick play when Emmanual Sanders threw a pass to running back, Raheem Mostert, for a 35-yard touchdown. Sanders was the first non-quarterback to have a passing and receiving touchdown in the first half of a game since he did so himself several years ago with the Broncos. The Saints were still leading 27-21.

Raheem Mostert found the end zone on a 10-yard run before the end of the first half. That score would put the 49ers up 28-27, giving them their first lead of the game.

Third Quarter

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AP Photo/Butch Dill

On the opening drive of the third quarter, Garoppolo threw a pass that was intercepted by linebacker Craig Robertson. The turnover gave the Saints possession at the San Francisco 40-yard line. New Orleans was unable to put a successful drive together and settled for a 55-yard field goal by Will Lutz. The kick gave the Saints the lead again, now 30-28.

After a 49ers punt, New Orleans had possession with hopes of extending their lead. However, on the very next play, Alvin Kamara fumbled the ball. The fumble afforded San Francisco a great opportunity, starting their next possession in the red zone.

Kyle Juszczyk caught a 15-yard pass, which led to tight end, George Kittle, receiving a five-yard touchdown pass from Garoppolo. The 49ers were in control once again, now up 35-30.

Will Lutz made a 48-yard field goal on the next possession to dwindle the deficit to two points. The home crowd saw their team get the ball back, but they were unable to maintain momentum. After failing to convert a first down, Sean Payton decided to call a fake punt on fourth-and-18. Taysom Hill attempted a pass to Tre’Quan Smith, who was clearly held. No flags were called, as there cannot be pass interference on a fake punt.

Fourth Quarter

The 49ers were able to make it a two-score game on their next drive when Kendrick Bourne caught a six-yard touchdown pass from Garoppolo. They were now leading 42-33 with just under nine minutes to go in the game.

Drew Brees connected twice with his star receiver, Michael Thomas, on their next drive. A 39-yard gain followed by a 21-yard touchdown brought the Saints within two. With 6:06 remaining in the game, New Orleans was now behind 42-40.

San Francisco drove back down the field, and Will Lutz made a 41-yard field goal. The 49ers extended their lead to 45-40, however, the game was far from over. Drew Brees would have a little more than two minutes to win the game.

Brees drove the ball downfield with the help of a third-down pass interference call. After the penalty, Brees threw a short pass to Tre’Quan Smith who ran it in for an 18-yard touchdown. The two-point conversion was unsuccessful and Garoppolo had 53 seconds and three timeouts to make a comeback.

Down 46-45, the 49ers would have one final shot to win the game. On 4th-and-2, with 39 seconds left, Garoppolo found Kittle, who ran for a 39-yard gain with a defender grabbing and pulling his facemask. Refusing to go down, Kittle carried Marcus Williams and a host of defenders down to the 28-yard line. The facemask penalty gave the 49ers a chance to win the game with a 30-yard field goal. Robbie Gould would make the kick as time expired, giving his team the win. In a high scoring affair, San Francisco had the last chance and was able to pull off the comeback.

Stats and Players of the Game

In an offensive shootout, you can expect big numbers, and that was what happened. Drew Brees completed 29 of 40 passes for 349 yards, five touchdowns, and no interceptions while also rushing for a touchdown.

Latavius Murray had seven carries for 69 yards to go along with two catches for 25 yards.

Michael Thomas caught 11 passes for 134 yards and a touchdown while teammate Jared Cook caught both of his passes for 64 yards and a pair of touchdowns before leaving the game with a concussion. Deonte Harris had 213 all-purpose yards, most coming via the return game.

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On the other side, Jimmy Garoppolo finished with 349 yards, four touchdowns, and an interception on 26 of 35 passing.

Raheem Mostert rushed for 69 yards and a touchdown on ten carries while also hauling in two receptions for 40 yards and another score.

Emmanual Sanders caught seven passes for 157 yards and a touchdown, also completing his only pass of the day for a 35-yard touchdown. George Kittle saved his best play for the end of the game en route to six catches for 67 yards and a touchdown.

Surprisingly the San Francisco pass-rush failed to record a single sack all game. The only turnover they forced was a fumble on Alvin Kamara in the third quarter.

Michael Thomas Record Watch

Saints

With 11 receptions on Sunday, Thomas now has 121 catches on the season. That is the most through a team’s first 13 games in a season in NFL history. Thomas also has six games this year with ten catches and 100 receiving yards. He is trailing only Andre Johnson, who had seven such games in 2008, for the most in a single-season in the Super Bowl era. Michael Thomas is now on pace to finish the year with 149 catches. The single-season receptions record is 143, held by Marvin Harrison.

What’s Next?

The Saints (10-3) will stay home to face the Indianapolis Colts (6-7) next Monday. New Orleans has already clinched a playoff berth. However, they will be looking to bounce back and work their way back into position for a first-round bye and possibly home-field advantage.


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