Don’t Write Off the 49ers Just Yet
Steve Young appeared dazed, battered from a ferocious pass rush. San Francisco’s offense spiraled downward, and New Orleans was poised to deliver a damaging blow to the 49ers’ tottering dynasty.
It wasn’t to be, and the closing chapter on San Francisco’s two-decade-long run of success was put on hold, at least for one week.
Young pulled himself together to throw his second touchdown pass to Terrell Owens, tying the score in the late going, and Lance Schulters won it with a 64-yard interception return for a touchdown with 1:31 left as the 49ers beat the Saints, 28-21, Sunday.
“There was a sense of urgency out there,” said the 49ers’ Jerry Rice, who made a critical catch on the tying drive that at first was ruled incomplete, then reversed to a completion after an instant-replay review.
“The way we started was frustrating, there’s a lot of tradition here and we didn’t want to go to 0-2. Everything didn’t go right, but we found a way to win.”
It was San Francisco’s seventh consecutive victory over New Orleans (1-1) and marked their 12th regular-season win in a row following a loss. The 49ers were coming off a 41-3 loss at Jacksonville, their worst defeat in the regular season since 1980, prompting predictions of doom and gloom for the 49ers (1-1).
“You watch a game like that and you go through all the emotions--frustration, anger and big plays,” Coach Steve Mariucci said. “But what I was most impressed with is we just kept playing. It would have been very easy for us to come unglued, but we didn’t.”
Again it was the Saints who broke down in the end.
“We’re tired of getting beat by the Niners,” said Saint defender Chris Hewitt, whose roughing-the-passer penalty was a late turning point.
Added Saint Coach Mike Ditka: “They don’t put any fear into us now, that’s for sure. We still ended up losing, so I don’t know what I can say about that. We don’t quake when they walk past. It will be interesting to see from here on out, for them and us, to see where we go.”
The game had some bizarre turns, with two botched snaps on punts, a dropped pitch-out, a trick play that saw Saint holder Tommy Barnhardt line up at quarterback, and Young complete a handoff while he was flat on his back.
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