By Terrance Turner
In a wild slugfest that had injuries galore, the New Orleans Saints beat the San Francisco 49ers today. In the New Orleans Superdome, the Saints took advantage of 49ers’ mistakes to earn their sixth consecutive win. The Saints triumphed, 27-13.
The 49ers jumped out to an early 10-0 lead in the first half. They surprised both their opponents and observers with their strong play, led by backup quarterback Nick Mullins. (He’s replacing QB Jimmy Garoppolo, who’s on injured reserve. So is tight end George Kittle.) But just when it looked like the 49ers might pull off an upset, the Saints scored 27 unanswered points.
The scoring started with a Saints field goal and touchdown run by running back Alvin Kamara. That tied the game, 10-10. Late in the second quarter, Saints wide receiver Tre’Quan Smith made a crucial catch, but had the ball knocked out by a San Francisco defender. On the way down, Smith got sandwiched by two 49ers, with each hitting him on opposite sides of his head. Smith lay motionaless on the ground for several minutes. He eventually walked to the locker room; he would not return. Smith was ruled out with a concussion.
But the Saints scored again. With 1:19 left in the half, they had reached first and goal. Saints QB Drew Brees dropped the ball but picked it up and tossed it Kamara. Left open, Kamara practically jogged into the end zone for another touchdown. That left the score 17-10 at halftime. But Brees left the game at halftime with a rib injury. He would remain on the sideline for the second half.
And what a second half it was. The 49ers managed to stall the Saints and hold them to a field goal. But Wil Lutz’s field goal still put the Saints ahead 20-10. The third quarter was scoreless. But in the fourth quarter, a series of miscues and injuries made for a wild ride.
A punt by the Saints landed in the hands of 49ers wide receiver Richie James. But the ball fell right through his hands, and Saints receiver Marquez Callaway pounced on it. The Saints took over and powered down the field. Kamara waltzed into the end zone once again for his third touchdown of the day.
But on a subsequent series, Saints safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson was injured on a tackle. That was just one among a series of injuries. Smith had been ruled out with a concussion; Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore was also out with an oblique injury, according to CBS. (Saints coach Sean Payton said Drew Brees will get an MRI on his ribs. His status for next week’s game is in question, according to Adam Schefter.) Despite the injuries, the Saints kept on ticking.
As the fourth quarter wound down, the 49ers threatened a comeback. Kicker Robbie Gould drilled a 40-yard field goal to make the score 27-13. The Saints took over, with backup QB (and Swiss Army knife) Taysom Hill. Hill moved down the field with some strong runs…until he fumbled the ball. San Francisco began a surprisingly effective drive. With a solid run game and Mullins’ hurling passes, the 49ers made it all the way to the 20-yard line. But with 2:25 left, Mullins threw an intreception! Saints cornerback Patrick Robinson caught the ball, sealing the win for the Saints.
The Saints improve to 7-2. This is the sixth consecutive win for the Saints. They play the Falcons next week.