Saints overcome letdown, Brees injury to down 49ers

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Alvin Kamara
(Photo: Parker Waters)

The San Francisco 49ers came into the Mercedes-Benz Superdome as a MASH unit, missing most of their best players.

The New Orleans Saints came in healthy, roaring in on a 5-game win streak off of an awesome performance in a victory at Tampa Bay.

You knew how this was going to go.

Then again, upon second thought, maybe not.

This is the NFL. It is different every week.

For quite some time, it did not go according to form as the Saints were clearly not in good form.

Then, the turnover machine started and the Saints took full advantage.

New Orleans came up with four turnovers. Anytime you do that, you win. It really is that simple.

The Saints won despite not having their Hall of Fame quarterback complete the game. They won with just 238 total yards of offense.

As we have stated all season long, good teams find ways to win games, different ways to win games. They adapt. They adjust. They ascend.

Alvin Kamara was limited in the run game but he still managed to score three touchdowns.

The dark cloud hanging over the victory is the injury or injuries to Drew Brees. When Brees takes himself out, which he did, after saying he “felt terrible” on the final drive of the first half, you know it is not good. Brees will undergo X-rays and an MRI and the fate of the 2020 New Orleans Saints will hang in the balance on the results.

Here are my Quick Takes of the 27-13 New Orleans victory over San Francisco:

**Inactives for the Saints included Ken Crawley, Carl Granderson, Chase Hansen, Derrick Kelly and Dwayne Washington.

**New Orleans won the toss and deferred, giving San Francisco the ball first.

**Kwon Alexander was on the field immediately for the Saints, playing in his first game and he played most of the game with Alex Anzalone sitting, playing special teams.

**The 49ers went to quick throws on crossing routes and quick outs on the first possession.

**San Francisco drove 75 yards in 13 plays, taking 7:17 off the clock with Nick Mullens hitting an uncovered Brandon Aiyuk in the right flat for a touchdown to make it 7-0 with 7:43 to play in the opening quarter.

**On the drive, Mullens completed 6-of-7 passes for 47 yards and a touchdown. C.J. Gardner-Johnson committed a personal foul penalty which helped the drive as well.

**The Saints went 3-and-out but the New Orleans defense then forced a punt but Deonte Harris fumbled it. Marcell Harris recovered for the Niners at the New Orleans 49-yard line.

**New Orleans had three offensive snaps in the opening quarter while San Francisco had 22. San Francisco had the ball for 13:39 to just 1:21 for the Saints. San Francisco had 156 yards to eight for the Saints.

**Taking advantage of the fumble, the 49ers drove 35 yards in eight plays, taking 4:44 off the clock with Robbie Gould adding to the lead with a 32-yard field goal to make it 10-0 on the first play of the second quarter.

**Harris redeemed himself with a 75-yard kickoff return to the San Francisco 30-yard line.

**The offense did nothing, losing six yards on three plays and Wil Lutz salvaged something with a 49-yard field goal to make it 10-3 with 13:38 to play in the half.

**The Saints then got a huge break as after getting stopped again, Thomas Morstead had to punt and he hit a poor, short effort which hit Ken Webster, who simply did not know where the ball was. Marquez Callaway recovered for New Orleans at the San Francisco 21-yard line.

**The Saints then got another break. Kentavius Street sacked Drew Brees but he was called for roughing the passer, a questionable call, which sustained the possession. Brees suffered an apparent rib injury on the play and did not play in the second half.

**New Orleans took advantage as Kamara scored on a 2-yard touchdown run via a misdirection pitch to tie the game 10-10 with 6:48 to play in the first half. The drive covered 21 yards in four plays, taking 2:33 off the clock.

**San Francisco then had another 10 play drive, reaching the New Orleans 41-yard line but threw an incomplete pass on third down and went for it on fourth-and-one but David Onyemata stuffed Jerick McKinnon for a 2-yard loss with 1:50 to play in the half.

**Jimmie Ward laid out Treโ€™Quan Smith on a shoulder to the head on a pass attempt from Drew Brees. Originally, the officials ruled it a fumble, though it was overturned as an incomplete pass.

**No penalty was called but you can be assured that a fine is likely for Ward. How can the officiating crew even think it might be a fumble? How can the crew not throw a flag on Ward?

**Undaunted, the Saints finished another patented drive in the final two minutes of a half as Brees guided New Orleans 57 yards in six plays with Brees hitting Kamara with a 3-yard touchdown pass to make it 17-10 Saints. Brees was 5-of-6 for 57 yards and the score on the drive. The big play was as 34-yard screen pass to Kamara.

**The Saints carried the 17-10 lead into halftime, despite making just 91 yards in the half. New Orleans had the ball for just eight minutes to 22 minutes for the 49ers.

**The Saints now have scored six touchdowns and two field goals in the final two minutes of the first half this season. The only game they did not score in the final two minutes of the first half was at Las Vegas.

**Smith suffered a concussion while Malcom Brown suffered a calf injury in the first half.

**Then, Brees did not start the second half. Instead, Jameis Winston started the half. The injury was reported as a rib injury.

**Malcolm Jenkins picked off his second pass in as many weeks, reaching high to pluck an interception of Mullens with 6:50 to play in the third quarter.

**After the offense had bogged down, Winston engineered a nice drive which reached the San Francisco 5-yard line but he took consecutive sacks and Lutz had to come on and kicked a 23-yard field goal to make it 20-10 New Orleans with 12:15 to play in the game. The drive covered 59 yards in 12 plays and took 6:06 off the clock.

**Josh Hill suffered a concussion and did not return.

**C.J. Beathard replaced Mullens with 10:19 to play in the game.

**Terron Armstead was shaken up with 9:09 to play in the game. He was able to return on the next offensive series.

**The Saints punted and Richie James fumbled a fair catch attempt and Callaway recovered his second fumbled punt of the game, giving New Orleans the ball at the San Francisco 22-yard line.

**New Orleans capitalized, going 22 yards in three plays with Kamara scoring on a 1-yard touchdown run to make it 27-10 with 7:29 to play in the game.

**C.J. Gardner-Johnson went down injured with 6:47 to play as the injury barrage continued for New Orleans.

**San Francisco got on the board, driving 53 yards in six plays, taking 1:35 off the clock with Gould hitting a 40-yard field goal to make it 27-13 with 5:54 to play in the game.

**New Orleans had a chance to put the game on ice but Taysom Hill fumbled on a hit by Tarvarius Moore and Harris recovered at the San Francisco 34-yard line.

**The 49ers drove to the New Orleans 22-yard line, but Patrick Robinson sealed the deal with an excellent interception of Mullens in the end zone with 2:25 to play.

It was a predictable letdown, of sorts, after a huge game and huge effort a week ago. Still, the Saints were resourceful enough to overcome losing their quarterback, a tight end and a defensive lineman to injuries in the game against an injury-riddled San Francisco squad.

New Orleans has won six straight games for the fourth straight year.

In 2017, the Saints had an 8-game win streak.

In 2018, New Orleans fashioned 10 straight wins to start the season.

In 2019, the Saints won six straight.

Here we are again at 7-2 overall.

The question moving forward is how Brees is? It appeared that Brees wanted to return to the game but was not allowed to do so.

Perhaps Sean Payton is looking at the big picture and not the immediate with his decision to sit Brees. Let us hope that is all it is.

Clearly, the Saints need him to recognize their lofty aspirations, with all due respect to Winston and Hill.

New Orleans has forced seven turnovers in the last two games, a tremendous trend.

On the other hand, the Saints committed two turnovers of its own and while you can live with one and have a good chance to win games, multiple giveaways typically leave you in a bad way.

Next up comes the first of two games in three weeks with the Falcons, who look like a different team since Raheem Morris took over a few weeks ago.

One team is on a win streak and has played well for over a month now.

The other is playing much better, with confidence, nothing to lose, and would love nothing more than to ruin the season for its biggest rival.

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Ken Trahan

CEO/Owner

Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…

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