Well, we can now call Alex by his new name, "Joe."
The sizzle of the 49ers’ victory hangs in the air like so much cordite after an extraordinary fireworks display. The Niners covered 80 and 86 yards in successive drives as the last four minutes of the game turned into a rollercoaster of emotion, strength, focus and execution to rescue victory from a bone-jarring defeat. Needless to say, this ranks as one of the most amazing victories in franchise history.
Looking back, it was an overall accomplishment, one that special teams and defense and, finally, offense in the end all contributed. It marks the Harbaugh Era as something special and rejuvenating.
In his post-game comments, Saints coach Sean Payton said the Niners made one more play than the Saints. Actually, the Niners made lots and lots of plays. Most of them on defense, and we’ll run down some of them. But it’s a game that the stats box does not give any idea as to how the Niners won.
Drew Brees had 458 yards passing and three Saints receivers had more than 100 receiving yards. But sift through the stats and you’ll notice that the Niners had an 106-yard rushing advantage (143-37). More to the point the Saints threw the ball 63 times and ran only 14 times. They were a one-dimensional football team.
But then, they had to be. They had five turnovers to one for the 49ers, who in turn scored 13 points off the Saints’ miscues but gave up none on their lone fumble. That was a contributing factor, but in the end it was a one-score game, with the NFL’s best defense going against the NFL’s best offense.
And like that, lightning struck for both teams, and from that we learn five things about the Niners and their 36-32 victory.