NEW ORLEANS (WAFB) - After a slow start, the New Orleans Saints rallied to beat the San Francisco 49ers but lost quarterback Drew Brees for the second half with an injury to his ribs. He is scheduled for an MRI and X-Rays.
The Saints (7-2) claimed their sixth straight win the 27-13 victory over the 49ers (4-6) behind three touchdowns from Alvin Kamara (2 rushing, 1 receiving). It was his ninth career game with a rushing and receiving touchdown, the most ever for an NFL player in his first four seasons.
Brees was 8-of-13 for 76 yards and one touchdown in the first half. He now has 565 career touchdown passes and leads Tom Brady by one.
Kamara was the leading receiver for the Saints. He had seven catches for 83 yards and a touchdown. He carried the ball eight times for 15 yards and scored two touchdowns. Latavius Murray led the ground attack for New Orleans. He had nine carries for 57 yards. As a team, the Saints rushed for 114 yards. The Saints' offense finished with 237 total yards, which is the fewest gained in a win by New Orleans during the Sean Payton-Drew Brees era.
There were seven fumbles in the game, each team lost two of those. San Francisco’s two fumbles were both recovered by the Saints and resulted in points.
The Saints’ defense intercepted two passes. It only recorded two sacks but had nine tackles for loss. Linebacker Demario Davis led the defense with 12 tackles (8 solo), one sack, and three tackles for loss. Safety CJ Gardner-Johnson had eight tackles (6 solo), one sack, and two tackles for loss. Former LSU linebacker Kwon Alexander, who was just traded by the 49ers, started for the Saints. He registered four tackles (2 solo) in his first game with New Orleans.
A total of 6,000 fans were allowed in the game. The official attendance was 5,979, meaning 21 didn’t show up.
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The 49ers started out hot. They received the opening kickoff and quarterback Nick Mullens led them on a 13-play, 75-yard drive that was capped off with a four-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Aiyuk for the early 7-0 lead. The drive chewed up 7:17 of the clock.
Later, All-Pro returner Deonte Harris muffed a punt when the ball hit him on the facemask and San Francisco recovered. In the first quarter, San Francisco ran 22 offensive plays to only three by New Orleans and the 49ers had 86 yards to the Saints' eight, their fewest in the first quarter of any game in the last 15 seasons.
San Francisco kicker Robbie Gould hit a 32-yard field goal to put the 49ers up 10-0 to start the second quarter.
The Saints seemed to come alive after that. Harris, perhaps feeling extra motivation to make a big play after muffing the punt, returned the kickoff 75 yards for Saints. However, the Saints' offense went three-and-out again, settling for a 49-yard field goal by Wil Lutz to trail 10-3 with 13:48 left in the second quarter. The Saints actually lost six yards on the drive.
After the Saints' defense forced another three-and-out, Brees hooked up with Michael Thomas for a 15-yard gain, resulting in a first down, the first one gained by the Saints on just their seventh offensive play of the game with 11:29 left in the first half.
After the Saints were forced to punt again, Marquez Callaway recovered a muffed punt by the 49ers. On the drive, Brees was sacked by Kentavius Street but Street was flagged for roughing the passer. Brees went to the sideline briefly after taking the huge hit. Upon his return, he pitched the ball to Kamara, who leaped into the end zone for a 2-yard touchdown to tie it, 10-10, with 6:48 left in the first half.
The Saints' defense, namely David Onyemata, came up with big stops on both third-and-one and fourth-and-one to give the ball back to the offense. Later, Brees fumbled the snap, recovered it, and threw a 3-yard touchdown to Kamara to put the Saints up 17-10 with 1:15 before halftime.
Jameis Winston started the second half at quarterback for the Saints. Taysom Hill also took snaps under center. Winston got off to a good start, completing his first five passes for 60 yards, but was erratic throwing the ball for the remainder of the game and had two passes that could have been intercepted. He finished 6-of-10 for 63 yards. Hill had eight carries for 45 yards. However, with less than 4:00 remaining in the game and the Saints driving, he fumbled and the 49ers recovered.
The Saints had the ball first in the second half but had to punt after four plays. On San Francisco’s first possession of the second half, Malcolm Jenkins intercepted a Mullens pass to give the ball back to the Saints. It was his second interception of the season but the offense couldn’t capitalize. Later, the Saints settled for a 23-yard chip shot field goal by Lutz to extend their lead to 20-10 with 12:15 left in the game.
Then, the 49ers muffed another punt and Callaway recovered it again. It set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Kamara to put the Saints up 27-10 with 7:29 remaining. The 49ers added a 40-yard field goal to make it 27-13 with 5:54 remaining in the game for the final points scored.
San Francisco was driving late in the game and made it to the New Orleans 18-yard line, but Patrick Robinson, who was filling in for an injured Marshon Lattimore, intercepted Mullens' pass in the end zone. It was Robinson’s second pick of the season. The Saints were able to run out the clock to get the win.
The Saints will host the Falcons next Sunday.
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