2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Saints overcome mistakes to beat 49ers 23-20

By BRETT MARTEL - AP Sports Writer
    2013-11-18 03:19

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Disappointed as Drew Brees was with the Saints' costly mistakes, he could not help but be impressed by the way his team found a way to pull out a last-second triumph over a playoff-contending team.

Despite three turnovers and a failed fourth-down attempt, New Orleans rallied from a 20-14 fourth-quarter deficit for a 23-20 triumph over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.

''You're going to have games like this,'' Brees said. ''We had two critical, or really, three (turnovers) ... That's 21 points that did not swing our way and yet you still find way to win against a playoff-caliber opponent with a lot at stake at this point in the season.''

''This game means more the way that we won it, versus had those 21 points gone our way and then all of a sudden you win by three touchdowns,'' Brees said. ''These are the ones that just sharpen you, build confidence moving forward.''

The 49ers (6-4) played the tough, opportunistic defense people have come to expect in recent years.

Still, the Saints (8-2) were able to move the ball. Brees completed 70 percent of his passes for 305 yards, leading two touchdown drives in the first half and three field goal drives in the fourth quarter.

The Niners sacked Brees once, intercepted him once and, while leading 20-17 late with only 3:12 left in the game, appeared to have a game-sealing sack.

Ahmad Brooks leveled Brees, jarring the ball loose, and teammate Patrick Willis recovered. But Brooks was called for a personal foul for the way his shoulder pad slammed into the side of Brees' helmet, and for dragging the Saints QB down by his neck.

That gave Brees another chance, and he took advantage.

''You only get so many breaks against a great quarterback like Drew Brees,'' Niners linebacker NaVorro Bowman said. ''The penalty gave him another chance and they converted it.''

Here are five things we learned during the Saints' comeback against the Niners:

OLD HANDS: Two of the Saints older receivers, Marques Colston and Robert Meachem, remain capable of coming up big. Colston caught five passes for 80 yards, including two catches of 20 yards or more in the fourth quarter to set up two of New Orleans' final three scores. In the process, Colston, a seventh-round draft choice in 2006, became New Orleans all-time receiver with 7,923 yards, surpassing Eric Martin's record of 7,854 which had stood since 1993.

Meachem, meanwhile, has been quiet much of the season, but came through with a pair of catches for 78 yards.

OFFENSIVE DULDROMS: Colin Kaepernick is coming off a second-straight game in which he failed to connect on a lot of throws.

The Niners, who scored only nine points a week earlier, gained only 196 yards in New Orleans, compared to the Saints' 387.

Kaepernick was missing one of his top targets in Michael Crabtree, who has remained sidelined so far this season while he comes back from an Achilles tendon injury. Kaepernick finished with 127 yards passing and was sacked three times, one week after throwing for 91 yards with one interception and six sacks in a 10-9 loss to Carolina.

''We just didn't make the plays when we had a chance,'' Kaepernick said.

RUN STUFFING: If there was one area where New Orleans' much-improved defense appeared weak, it was against the run, where they ranked 23rd in the league through Week 10. Against the 49ers, however, the Saints' defense proved it could stop a strong running game when it schemes for it. Niners top rusher Frank Gore had only 48 yards on 13 carries, and the Niners finished with only 81 yards on the ground.

''The linebackers made great plays,'' Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan said. ''Our defensive line held their own.''

STILL FORMIDABLE: The Niners have dropped two straight to fall 3 1/2 games behind Seattle for the NFC West lead, and likely will have to aim for a wild-card spot now. That doesn't mean the defending NFC champs are that far off from where they were a year ago. Their past two losses came by three points or fewer to the top two teams in the NFC South, and the 49ers had late leads in both games.

''I am proud of our guys the way they fight,'' 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. ''If we continue to fight like that, we'll win a lot of games.''

CONFIDENT KICKER: Garrett Hartley had missed four of six field goal tries in his previous three games, but didn't let that slump affect him in the clutch against San Francisco. Inside the last eight minutes of the game, Hartley hit from 21, 42 and 31 yards, the last kick coming as time expired to win the game.

''I loved the way he responded,'' Saints coach Sean Payton said.

---

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Pierre ThomasOct 30 07:22p

New Orleans Saints RBs Khiry Robinson (forearm) and Pierre Thomas (shoulder) are both inactive in Week 9 against the Carolina Panthers Thursday, Oct. 30.

David HawthorneOct 30 07:12p

The New Orleans Saints have declared LB Austin Johnson, LB David Hawthorne, C Jonathan Goodwin, RB Khiry Robinson, WR Nick Toon, RB Pierre Thomas, CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste inactive for Week 9.

Amini SilatoluOct 30 07:12p

The Carolina Panthers have declared OG Amini Silatolu, CB Bene Benwikere, OT Byron Bell, RB Fozzy Whittaker, WR Philly Brown, FS Thomas DeCoud, OG Trai Turner inactive for Week 9.

Brandon BrownerOct 30 04:32p

New England Patriots DT Alan Branch (non-injury related) and DE Chandler Jones (hip) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30. S Nate Ebner (finger), DL Dominique Easley (knee), OL Cameron [ More ]

Brandon ThompsonOct 30 04:22p

Cincinnati Bengals CB Darqueze Dennard (hamstring), LB Rey Maualuga (hamstring) and OG Kevin Zeitler (calf) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30. DT Domata Peko (toe) and OT Andre Smith [ More ]

Dwight FreeneyOct 30 04:22p

San Diego Chargers LB Manti Te'o (foot), CB Jason Verrett (shoulder) and S Jahleel Addae (concussion) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30. LB Jeremiah Attaochu (hamstring) was limited. CB [ More ]

Donald BrownOct 30 04:12p

San Diego Chargers RB Donald Brown (concussion) practiced fully Thursday, Oct. 30.

Terrell SuggsOct 30 04:02p

Baltimore Ravens WR Michael Campanaro (thigh), CB Jimmy Smith (foot) and LB Terrell Suggs (neck) all did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 30. OG Marshal Yanda (knee) [ More ]

Brett KeiselOct 30 03:52p

Pittsburgh Steelers DE Brett Keisel (non-injury), SS Troy Polamalu (non-injury) and SS Ross Ventrone (hamstring) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 30. CB Ike Taylor (forearm) and FS [ More ]

Bruce CarterOct 30 03:22p

Dallas Cowboys LB Bruce Carter (finger) suffered a broken ring finger during practice Thursday, Oct. 30, but expects to play in Week 9. He will wear a splint on his finger for protection.

Cullen JenkinsOct 30 03:12p

New York Giants DT Cullen Jenkins (calf) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 30. CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (back, hamstring) and P Steve Weatherford (ankle) were both limited in practice.

Brandon BoykinOct 30 03:12p

Philadelphia Eagles FS Nate Allen (hamstring) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 30. TE Brent Celek (back) and WR Brad Smith (groin) were both limited in practice. CB [ More ]

D'Qwell JacksonOct 30 03:12p

Indianapolis Colts LB D'Qwell Jackson (toe), DT Arthur Jones (ankle), LB Erik Walden (quadriceps) and LB Josh McNary (ankle) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 30. CB Vontae [ More ]

Rashad JenningsOct 30 02:42p

New York Giants RB Rashad Jennings (knee) said he is on track in terms of his rehab, but there is no timetable for his return. Jennings said he has [ More ]

Jordan CameronOct 30 02:32p

Cleveland Browns TE Jordan Cameron (concussion) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 30.

Anthony CollinsOct 30 02:32p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers OT Oniel Cousins is working at left tackle with the first-team offense during practice Thursday, Oct. 30, because OT Anthony Collins (foot) is sitting out practice.

Doug MartinOct 30 02:22p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Doug Martin (ankle) is not participating in practice Thursday, Oct. 30.

Jason VerrettOct 30 01:52p

San Diego Chargers CB Jason Verrett (shoulder) is expected to miss two to three weeks with a torn labrum, according to two sources.

DeAngelo WilliamsOct 30 01:52p

Carolina Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams (ankle) will start the team's Week 9 game against the New Orleans Saints Thursday, Oct. 30, according to head coach Ron Rivera.

R. Griffin IIIOct 30 01:42p

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III (ankle) received most of the work with the first-team offense during practice Thursday, Oct. 30, and will start in Week 9 if he [ More ]

Jaylen WatkinsOct 30 01:32p

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Giovani BernardOct 30 01:22p

Cincinnati Bengals RB Giovani Bernard (hip, shoulder) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 30.

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Trent RichardsonOct 30 12:42p

Indianapolis Colts RB Trent Richardson (hamstring) is participating in practice Thursday, Oct. 30.

Reggie WayneOct 30 12:42p

Indianapolis Colts WR Reggie Wayne (elbow) is not participating in practice Thursday, Oct. 30.

Tony RomoOct 30 12:22p

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Dallas ThomasOct 30 11:43a

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Rashad JenningsOct 30 11:12a

New York Giants RB Rashad Jennings (knee) has been ruled out for Week 9.

Phil BatesOct 30 10:52a

The Cleveland Browns signed free-agent WR Phil Bates (Seahawks) to the practice squad and released CB Marcus Cromartie Thursday, Oct. 30.

Charles SimsOct 30 10:13a

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Charles Sims could have 10 or more touches in Week 9, in the opinion of beat writer Greg Auman.

Ryan MathewsOct 30 09:52a

San Diego Chargers RB Ryan Mathews (knee) is likely to sit out of the Week 9 game and return after the Week 10 bye.

Dennis PittaOct 30 09:52a

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