Nov 17, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham (80) is tackled by San Francisco 49ers inside linebacker Patrick Willis (52) during the fourth quarter of a game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Saints defeated the 49ers 23-20. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
When I think about the San Francisco 49ers and New Orleans Saints matchup, I automatically think rivalry. Most seasoned members of Who Dat Nation can recall that these two played each other twice a year for thirty-two years (1970-2002) back in the day. Since the divisions realigned, these two have seen their fair share of each other, playing eight times since 2004.
You probably wouldn’t automatically think that the Saints are 5-2 against the 49ers in the Sean Payton Era. Technically speaking, Sean Payton has never lost to the 49ers in the regular season since joining the Saints in 2006.
Many would look at the 2011 playoff game as the ‘one that reignited the rivalry’ between these two franchises, as New Orleans suffered a heartbreaking 36-32 loss in the game’s final seconds. It’s a sequence that many Saints fans can replay to a ‘T’ in their head, although they wish to forget. Fans can also recall the poor treatment in San Francisco, which further fumed the hatred towards the 49ers.
This is the third year in a row that the 49ers come to town, and it’s been quite interesting as to how these games have played out since that 2011 playoff game, and I don’t have to tell you how highly anticipated this matchup is if you’re a New Orleans Saints fan. After all, it was voted as the 2014 home contest fans were most excited about in the offseason.
Let’s revisit the past two games.
November 25, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA; San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks (55) and inside linebacker Patrick Willis (52) combine to sack New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) during the second half of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The 49ers defeated the Saints 31-21. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
The Saints (5-5) were able to fend off a horrid 0-4 start without the services of Sean Payton, and won four of their next five games to set up a date with the San Francisco 49ers (7-2-1) on November 25, 2012. In my opinion, this was the game that ended the Saints run at making the playoffs, and it all happened from one play.
The two teams would trade early touchdowns, and it looked like the Saints were poised to extend their 14-7 lead over the 49ers before the half. That’s when disaster struck, as Drew Brees would be intercepted by Ahmad Brooks, who’d take it to the house to tie the ballgame. The 49ers would score 21 unanswered points, as Brees would be picked off again by Donte Whitner in the third quarter, who took it back for a second pick six. The Saints would lose 31-21, and would lose their next two games to the Atlanta Falcons and New York Giants, eventually finishing the season at 7-9.
Nov 17, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks (55) clotheslines New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) behind the line of scrimmage during the fourth quarter at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks (55) was called for unnecessary roughness penalty. The New Orleans Saints defeated the San Francisco 49ers 23-20. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
The teams entered with similar records entering November 17, 2013. The Saints (7-2) hosted the 49ers (6-3), and were hoping for a little revenge from last year’s matchup that ended as a home loss. The game started very similar to the previous contest, with both teams trading touchdowns.
The Saints would go up 14-10 at the half, and preserve their lead. The 49ers struck in the third quarter, and added a Phil Dawson field goal to have a 20-14 lead early in the fourth quarter. The Saints would call on Garrett Hartley not one, not two, but three times (including the game winner) to defeat the 49ers 23-20. Many people talked after the game about the ‘controversial’ unneccessary roughness penalty called on Ahmad Brooks, when he clotheslined Drew Brees. For this reason, many Niner fans remain sour.
At this current point and time, we have a tale of two teams with identical records of 4-4. The 49ers have lost two in a row, while the Saints have won two in a row. The Saints enter with a +29 point differential on their side, while the 49ers enter with a -10 point differential. However, the 49ers come to town boasting a +4 turnover ratio, while the Saints sport a -5 turnover ratio. You might say that it’s a perfect matchup at the perfect time for both of these teams.
The winner of this game will not only have some major bragging rights at the end of this game, but also will have earned a type of victory that could really slingshot them for rest of the season. Either way, this game has a subtle feeling of ‘settling the score’ for these two ball clubs.
One thing’s for sure, it will be a game you won’t want to miss.