49ers End Saints’ Season, Win 36-32 In NFC Playoffs
The New Orleans Saints' season came to an end on Saturday, after falling to the San Francisco 49ers, 36-32, in an NFC Divisional playoff game, in San Francisco, California.
San Francisco took advantage of five New Orleans turnovers, and put up 16 points in a wild fourth quarter, to capture a dramatic victory.
In a wild fourth quarter, the Saints took their first lead of the game when quarterback Drew Brees connected with Darren Sproles on a 44-yard touchdown pass, giving them a 24-23 lead at the 4:02 mark of the last period.
The 49ers came right back however, going on a 6-play, 81-yard touchdown drive, that took only 1:51, and re-took the lead when quarterback Alex Smith ran in a 28-yard keeper, giving them a 29-24 advantage with only 2:11 remaining.
The Saints answered, taking only four plays, and :34, to go 88 yards, and regained the lead, 30-29, when Brees hit tight end Jimmy Graham with a 66-yard touchdown pass.
Brees then connected with Sproles on a two-point conversion pass, and New Orleans led it, 32-29, with only 1:37 left.
San Francisco wrapped-up the crazy final quarter by going 71 yards on six plays, to get to the New Orleans 14-yard line, with under :30 remaining.
One play later, on a third down play, with four yards to go, Smith zipped a pass to tight end Vernon Davis with only :09 left, to give the 49ers a 36-32 lead, and the eventual victory.
The Saints out-gained the 49ers in total offense, 472-407 yards, but turned over the football four times, compared to only one for San Francisco.
New Orleans was unable to get the running game going however, accumulating only 37 rush yards on 14 carries.
Smith led the San Francisco offense, completing 24-of-42 passes, for 299 yards, along with three touchdowns, and no interceptions.
In a losing cause for the Saints, Brees was 40-of-63 through the air, for 462 yards, with four touchdowns, and two interceptions.
For the Saints, they remain winless on the road, as they fall to 0-5 in franchise history.
For the 49ers, they win in their first playoff appearance in nine years, and move onto the NFC Championship game next weekend.
Vernon Davis #85 of the San Francisco 49ers celebrate a touchdown with teammates in the fourth quarter against the New Orleans Saints during the NFC Divisional playoff game at Candlestick Park on January 14, 2012 in San Francisco, California.
ESPN.com has a box score of the game.