NFL Playoffs 2012: Why the New Orleans Saints Lost to the San Francisco 49ers

Zayne GranthamContributor IIIJanuary 14, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JANUARY 14:  Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints reacts after they lost their game against the the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Divisional playoff game at Candlestick Park on January 14, 2012 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

One of the best games in NFL postseason history was played today.

The NFC Divisional Round matchup between the San Francisco 49ers and New Orleans Saints was one for the ages. These two teams battled it out in one of the best, most brutal games in recent memory.

The 49ers ended up with a 36-32 victory and are now getting ready for a trip to the NFC Championship game against either the New York Giants or Green Bay Packers.

The Saints had their chances to win the game, but failed to show up when it mattered most. The 49ers deserved the win on Saturday, and the Saints did not.

The Saints turned the ball over five times against the 49ers, and it is almost impossible to win after doing that. However, the Saints were still in the game all the way until the last second.

New Orleans played very well defensively and got a ton of pressure on 49ers quarterback Alex Smith throughout the game. They consistently stopped the 49ers' offense after allowing 17 points early in the game.

The Saints' defense had to stop the 49ers on a short field multiple times, and they did a good job the rest of the game, until about four minutes in the fourth quarter.

The Saints brought pressure, as usual, for most of the game, but decided to go into a prevent style defense during the 49ers' last two drives. This was a horrible mistake and the Saints paid dearly for it.

The 49ers were able to go up and down the field on a defense that had previously shut them down since the first quarter. Smith was able to run the ball from 28 yards out for a touchdown and he connected with tight end Vernon Davis numerous times to win the game.

The Saints simply did not play well enough to win this game. They turned the ball over five times and could not stop the 49ers when it mattered most. It is obvious that the 49ers were the better team on Saturday.

We could discuss what–ifs all day, but the fact of the matter is that the Saints were not ready for the 49ers in the Divisional Round. The Saints broke the NFL's most basic rule: do not turn the ball over. 

The Saints could have won on Saturday, but they didn't. Cheers to the 49ers for a game well-played, and now the Saints and Who Dat faithful around the country will have to wait until next year.