The New Orleans Defense paved the way.

The offense overcame big mistakes, and Garrett Harley's FG as time expired gave the New Orleans Saints a 23-20 win over the San Francisco 49ers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome Sunday afternoon.

The Saints (8-2), rode the defense to the win, as Rob Ryan's unit held the 49ers to just  196 yards in total offense to make up for the mistakes on offense and special teams.  Hartley, who was much maligned as the Saints tried out a couple of kickers during the week, was 3-3 in field goal attempts.

The Saints defense held 'niners running back Frank Gore to just 47 yards and the Saints got the football at the two minute warning with the score tied at 20.  Saints quarterback Drew Brees hit two crucial completions to get the football into Hartley's range for the win.

The Saints now lead the Carolina Panthers by 1 1/2 games heading into Carolina's Monday night game against New England.  San Francisco is now 6-4 on the season.