Shock. Astonishment. Disbelief. Those are the feelings one has after looking at the playoff picture a day after Week 17 and today. Three teams that looked to be serious contenders (New Orleans, Pittsburgh, and Green Bay) are out, and the Super Bowl is up for grabs once again. Here’s a recap of the Saints vs 49ers game:
The Saints entered this game heavily favored. Although the 49ers were the No.2 seed and had a ferocious defense, the Saints had a lethal aerial assault led by the record holder for most yards in a season, Drew Brees. Add to the fact that the Saints had a defense that many believed could shutdown a run oriented offense the 49ers ran, and looked like a warmup for the Saints before they played in the NFC championship. Yet on any given sunday, anything can happen as the Saints learned.
Too be fair, it wasn’t like the Saints played terrible. After the 49ers jumped to a 17-0 lead, the Saints finally looked like themselves, going on a nine play, 4:40 drive. Moments later, the Saints scored again, this time on a 7 play, 3:40 drive. After a few minutes, the Saints went into half time down 17-14.
The third quarter was pretty uneventful, and the only score was a 41 yard David Akers field goal. After exchanging field goals, Drew Brees finally kick started a spluttering Saints offense, and led a nine play, 3:40 drive that ended on a 44 yard Darren Sproles TD. After the extra point, the Saints took the lead, 24-23.
The 49ers answered right back with a six play, 1:51 drive that resulted in this play. Let’s be honest: Alex Smith will never be able to do that again. Yet he did it when the moment was right, and the 49ers were quite fortunate. Seismic waves around the Bay area indeed. A failed two point conversion, the score was 29-24, in San Francisco favor.
The cardiac Saints took up where they left last time and scored a TD within 4 plays. After a successful 2 point conversion, the Saints led 32-29. What followed was the drive of the game.
1st and 10, 1:32 left. Shotgun formation. Alex Smith passes to Gore on the Screen. Gore takes it to the 49ers 22 for a 7 yard gain.
* Not bad. Saints playing it safe though. If they want to win, they have to shutdown the other team’s best player. That could cause lapses in coverage, but a double team wouldn’t do much harm.
2nd and 3, 1:07 left. No huddle, shotgun formation. Alex Smith passes short up the middle to Gore to the 33 for an 11 yard gain.
*No huddle makes magic when executed properly. 49ers need to stop the clock somehow.
1st and 10, :44 left. Shotgun formation. Alex Smith incomplete pass. Intended for Swain.
2nd and 10, :40 left. Shotgun formation. Alex Smith passes deep right to Vernon Davis who takes it to the NO 20. Gain of 47 yards.
*Dang. #27, Jenkins tried bump in run coverage. The bump and run coverage can be effective. When run properly, the receiver will be shutdown. If it fails, the corner’s gonna be torched. That’s what happened here.
1st and 10, :31 left. Singleback formation. Alex Smith passes short to Frank Gore to the NO 14. Gain of six yards.
* Get out of bounds, get out bounds, get out of bounds. You get the idea of what I was thinking.
2nd and 4, :20 left. Alex Smith spikes ball
3rd and 4, :14 left. Alex Smith passes to Vernon Davis for 14 yards. TOUCHDOWN!
*I’ll let the guys in the booth do this one. I was shocked, surprised, and felt every emotion known to man.
With nine seconds left on the clock after that one, the Saints did not have enough time to match the score. The game ended 36-32, in the 49ers favor. Great game by the 49ers. The Saints did not play well by their standards until the end. Too little, too late.
That’s it. Be sure to stay tune for two other posts I will put up sometime today or tomorrow, NFC Divisional Round Upset Recap: Green Bay Packers and Will the Giants Make it and Win the Super Bowl.