NEW ORLEANS, LA (WLOX) - The New Orleans Saints did it again, pulling out a close game in the final two minutes. The Saints upended the San Francisco 49ers 23-20 on a last second field goal off the foot of Garrett Hartley.
Despite losing two fumbles and tossing an interception, the New Orleans Saints did just enough to defeat the defending NFC Champion San Francisco 49ers in the Mercedes-Bentz Superdome.
Quarterback Drew Brees completed 30 of 43 attempts for 305 yards and tossed one touchdown, a three yard strike to tight end Josh Hill in the first quarter that gave New Orleans the lead in the first quarter.
Wide receiver Marques Colston snagged five passes for 80 yards and established two Saints career records, becoming the all-time franchise leader with 7,923 receiving yards and the all-time Saints leader in yards from scrimmage with 7,930.
Tight end Jimmy Graham led the Saints with 6 catches for 41 yards, giving Graham a team leading 60 receptions on the season.
The Saints generated 92 yards rushing against a solid 49ers defense with Pierre Thomas leading the way with 49 yards on 11 attempts.
A big play in the game was a sack late in the 4th quarter by Ahmad Brooks. He hit Brees with a violent talent, that resulted in a fumble that was recovered by San Francisco and would have secured a 49ers victory. Brooks was flagged for a personal foul, a penalty that 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh disagreed with. "I talked to Ahmad." Ahmad didn't think that he hit Drew Brews in the head."
Brees thought differently. "All I remember is just getting close lined in the chin and as I'm on the ground I'm saying that's got to be a flag and somebody came up to me, I can't remember, one of my teammates and kind of picked me and said you're alright? He said don't worry there's a flag. Good."
Brees would lead the Saints down field setting up Garrett Hartley's game tying 42 year goal with 2:11 remaining. The Saints would get the ball back a Brees would lead the Saints down field with Garrett Hartley's game wining 31 yard field goal as time expired.
Saints head coach Sean Payton was glad to see Hartley rebound after missing a couple of field goals. "Absolutely, it's good to see," stated Payton. "Like I said during the week, there is a lot of noise that we don't pay attention to and just keep focusing. I love the way he responded. Last week it was the offensive line and Ingram and this week it's Hartley. I loved to see that."
Defensively the Saints put the clamps on 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. He connected on 17 of 31 passes for 127 yards two touchdowns and one interception. The Saints defense halted the San Francisco ground game, giving up only 81 yards rushing on 22 attempts.
It was a total team effort.
New Orleans improves to 8 wins and 2 losses and are assured of remaining atop the NFC South Division. The 6 and 3 Carolina Panthers play New England on Monday Night Football.
The Saints travel to Atlanta, facing a slumping Falcons team Thursday night at 7:25 in the Georgia Dome. Atlanta has managed only two wins on the season.
In two weeks an NFC showdown with the Seahawks in Seattle.