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49ers vs. Saints recap, highlights: NFC’s top teams combine for 94 points in thriller

saints and 49ers battle in week 14 thriller
The Saints and 49ers put on a show as two 10-2 teams battled in Week 14. Pic credit: NFL on FOX

The NFL Playoffs are still over three weeks away, but the San Francisco 49ers and New Orleans Saints played as if their seasons were on the line.

The two teams with 10-2 records met up at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday for a shootout with one of the squads leaving 11-3 and the other adding another loss to their record.

Here is the latest 49ers vs. Saints game recap, along with key highlights from this entertaining matchup.

Saints, 49ers put up plenty of points in Week 14 battle

In what many fans and analysts are calling the NFL’s game of the year, the 49ers and Saints put on a show in the Bayou State.

Right out of the gate, Drew Brees and the Saints came out ready to score. The 12-time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl champion led his team on a nine-play 73-yard scoring drive, which ended with a Jared Cook TD to take the 7-0 lead.

In an early “anything you can do, I can do better” series, Garoppolo saw Brees’ 73-yard drive and raised it two yards. He took his team down the field 75 yards and ultimately found Kendrick Bourne to tie the game early at 7-7.

New Orleans would come right back, this time with a 54-yard drive ending in another Jared Cook TD pass. A failed two-point conversion made it 13-7 in their favor. The 49ers were unable to match them and had to punt after going three and out.

That allowed the Saints to get breathing room, or so they thought. They’d go up 20-7 after a short punt from the 49ers gave them a short field to work. This time it was Brees finding Josh Hill for a three-yard TD strike early in the second quarter.

Despite the continued Saints scoring, San Francisco would continue to answer. Emmanuel Sanders caught a 75-yard touchdown pass from Garoppolo next.

A few series later, Sanders played some quarterback and threw a 35-yard TD pass to Raheem Mostert. After two unanswered touchdowns, the Niners took a 28-27 lead into halftime.

Second-half scoring continues with a thrilling finish

For those thinking halftime may have settled things down in terms of offensive output, that was far from the case. A Saints interception early in the third quarter set up a field goal to give them the lead back, 30-28.

They’d turn it over themselves later on as Alvin Kamara fumbled. Garoppolo found George Kittle for a touchdown to give the Niners the lead, 35-30.

The Saints tacked on a field goal to chip away, but San Francisco came up with another touchdown drive. After Garoppolo’s six-yard throw to Kendrick Bourne for a TD, it was 42-33.

Brees and the Saints would go on another key drive of 75 yards on just five plays with under three minutes to go. A Michael Thomas touchdown reception cut the lead to 42-40 in favor of San Francisco.

The 49ers’ would add a field goal to boost their lead by five, but New Orleans wasn’t finished yet.

It was time for a seven-play 76-yard drive, which ended with Tre’Quan Smith’s spin move as he ran it in with an 18-yard touchdown catch. That put the Saints ahead 46-45 with under a minute to go and a failed two-point conversion set the stage for an exciting finish.

The two starting quarterbacks each threw for 349 yards in the game. Garoppolo went 26-for-35 with four touchdowns while Brees finished 29-of-40 with five TDs.

However, the 49ers had the ball last, and there was enough time for one last score as kicker Robbie Gould connected for the 30-yard game-winning field goal.

That was thanks to Jimmy G’s composure. With under a minute left to play, Garoppolo showed that his 49ers may still be the best of the NFC and a team ready for a Super Bowl run.

The former Patriots backup QB found tight end George Kittle for a huge play down the field, which also saw the Saints penalized for a face mask. That would set up Gould’s game-winner as the clock ran out on the Saints.

Brees was brilliant, but so was Garoppolo. The two teams played as if their seasons might end based on the outcome. Emmanuel Sanders finished with 157 yards and a TD on seven catches. He also threw that 35-yard TD pass in the game.

On the opposing side, Michael Thomas had 134 yards and a touchdown on 11 catches. Both team’s top running backs, Mostert for the 49ers and Murray for the Saints, compiled 69 yards on the ground.

When all was said and done, the 49ers came away with a 48-46 win in New Orleans and an 11-2 record with just three games left on the schedule. Did the playoffs start already? It sure feels like it.

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