Ground game, second half propel Saints past 49ers.
By Ty Anania
A dominant run game and strong defensive second half propelled the New Orleans Saints to an easy victory in San Francisco.
The Saints are 4-4!
The first half wasn’t pretty, and even in the second half there were traces of that old Saints team, but we got the win. We did let Colin Kaepernick and a suspect 49ers offense march up and down the field. But, in the end, the team pulled it together. An interception and a number of timely fumbles led the way for the defense, who can look past the yards they hemorrhaged (489 yards…) because of the turnovers they forced (4!).
The story of the game, though, was certainly the Saints offense. Specifically the running game. Specifically Mark Ingram. Tim Hightower had himself a night as well. And Michael Thomas? That kid can ball.
It was the running back by committee combination of Ingram and Hightower that really carried this team. After Hightower was the first Saints RB to eclipse the 100-yard game last game, Ingram followed suit, rushing for 158 yards on just 15 carries, including a career-best 75-yard touchdown in the second quarter. If Sean Payton was trying to send a message by benching him, it looks like it paid off.
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To temper my joy at the New Orleans finally walking away with a blowout win, I remind myself that the 49ers really shot themselves in the foot throughout the day.
Yes, for stretches of the game, sloppy play and blown coverages made Kaepernick look like his old, dangerous self.
But once the defense pulled together any semblance of tight coverage, Kaep and this Niners offense fell apart. He’s simply not able to make accurate throws, nor is he able to take the time in the pocket to really read the defense. His legs pose a unique threat, but any competent QB would have had a field day with this defense.
Safe to say, there’s work to be done. But the Saints needed to leave here with a win, and they did just that. The defense wasn’t pretty, but it was just good enough. And the offense was great enough to carry us home.
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If New Orleans can ride this momentum going forward, we may just have a season left to salvage.