Hartley field goal lifts Saints past 49ers

San Francisco, Calif. – Garrett Hartley nailed a 37-yard field goal with one second left to the give the Saints a 25-22 victory over the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park on Monday night.

“I thought I made good contact with (the final kick) but when I heard the ball get tipped I just kept saying Go! Go! Go!,” said Hartley. “It wasn’t the prettiest field goal but three points is three points.”

Hartley’s game winner was one of three field goals for the third-year kicker. The Saints registered two fumble recoveries and picked off QB Alex Smith twice – by S Roman Harper and DB Tracy Porter.

QB Drew Brees finished 28 of 38 for 254 yards and two touchdowns for a 108.9 quarterback rating. No. 9 connected with seven different receivers led by RB Pierre Thomas who totaled eight catches for 57 yards. WR Marques Colston contributed five receptions for 67 yards. Thomas also led New Orleans with 46 rushing yards on 18 carries.

Jonathan Vilma led the Saints in tackles with 10 total (seven solo).

“We are proud of the way we finished the game but we certainly have some things to look at,” said head coach Sean Payton. “It was a geat win. We emphasized the turnover battle and we won that decisively.”

On the game’s first drive, the 49ers had the ball on their 15-yard line on third and five when the ball flew over Smith head and fell out the back of the endzone for a safety.

The Saints capitalized on the possession from the safety as the black and gold drove 46 yards on seven plays and capped it off with a six-yard touchdown pass from Brees to RB Reggie Bush to take a 9-0 lead with 9:33 left in first quarter.

On the 49ers next drive, DB Jabari Greer blitzed Smith and No. 11 tossed it to the left but was intercepted by Harper who brought the ball to the NO 36-yard line. With 3:30 left in the first quarter. Saints weren’t able to score off the turnover and were forced to punt.

The 49ers opened the second quarter by driving 82 yards on 12 plays and finished the drive with a 12-yard TD pass from Smith to RB Frank Gore down the right sideline. Gore’s score tripped New Orleans’ lead to 9-7 with 9:52 left in the first half.

San Francisco was threatening to take the lead when they had the ball on New Orleans’ 12-yard line on 1st-and-10 with 1:09 left in the first half. Smith connected with TE Delaine Walker but Vilma stripped him and S Malcolm Jenkins recovered it at the three-yard line.

The Saints held on to their 9-7 advantage heading into haflitme.

With 6:51 left in the third quarter, RB Anthony Dixon ran for a two-yard touchdown to give the 49ers a 14-9 edge.

The Saints responded when Brees fired his second score of the game on a three-yard pass to TE David Thomas. Thomas’ score gave New Orleans a 16-14 lead with 1:43 remaining in the third quarter.

Hartley extended the Saints’ advantage with a 46-yard field goal, his first of the season, at the 13:31 mark in the fourth quarter. Hartley’s boot was benefited by 43-yard punt return by Bush.

The Saints defense continued to halt the 49ers in the redzone as DB Tracy Porter picked off a Smith pass that was tipped by LB Jo-Lonn Dunbar and returned it to the Saints 15-yard line.

Saints couldn’t score off of Porter’s pick and punted but DB Phillip Adams muffed the return and WR Courtney Roby recovered it at the 49ers 15-yard line with 5:27 left in game.

Hartley booted his second field goal of the night on a 19-yard kick with 2:12 left in the game putting the Saints ahead 22-14.

Gore ran for a seven-yard touchdown with 1:19 remaining and Smith connected with Davis on a two-point conversion to the tie the score at 22.

Brees drove the Saints down the field highlighted by a 30-yard pass to Colston to setup for Hartley for the game winner.

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