In one of the most thrilling playoff encounters in recent memory, the San Francisco 49ers drove the length of the field in just over a minute to rally for the 36-32 victory over the New Orleans Saints. With the victory, the 49ers advanced to the NFC Championship game where they will face the winner of the matchup between the Green Bay Packers and New York Giants. Should San Francisco and Denver manage to find a way into the Super Bowl, it would setup a rematch of Super Bowl XXIV.
This back-and-forth encounter had four lead changes in the final five minutes of the fourth quarter. Alex Smith delivered the finest performance of his career, engineering two TD drives in the final minutes to earn the wins. Smith ended the game with 299 yards passing and 3 TD’s. The most important throw came with just nine seconds remaining, when he hooked up with Vernon Davis for the game-winning TD. Smith also scored on a 28-yard TD run that put San Francisco in the lead with just 2:11 remaining.
In defeat, Drew Brees delivered a valiant performance. Despite being under pressure nearly the entire game, Brees managed to throw for 458 yards and 4 TD’s in the loss. Brees connected with Jimmy Graham for 2 TD’s, including a 66-yard strike with just 1:37 remaining. However, Smith and the 49ers found a way to move the ball down the field and get the winning touchdown.
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