The first 55 minutes of today’s playoff game in San Francisco were good, with both defenses holding their own. The last five minutes were as great as offensive football gets.
In the end, the 49ers had won, 36-32.
So how did that final five minutes unfold? First we had Drew Brees hitting Darren Sproles for a 44-yard catch-and-run to the end zone that gave the Saints a 24-23 lead, their first lead of the game — with 4:11 remaining.
Then the 49ers marched down the field, with Alex Smith eventually taking a shotgun snap on a third-and-7, bolting around the left end of the line, getting a couple of great blocks and sprinting into the end zone for a 28-yard touchdown, giving the 49ers a 29-24 lead.
But that wasn’t enough. On the ensuing drive, Drew Brees threw deep to tight end Jimmy Graham, who was well covered but leapt into the air to make the catch anyway, then raced to the end zone for a spectacular 66-yard touchdown that gave the Saints a 32-29 lead.
Think it was done there? Think again. Smith drove the Saints right down the field going 85 yards in seven plays, culminating with a 14-yard touchdown pass to Vernon Davis to make it 36-32, 49ers.
And that did it. An absolutely sensational football game — one of the all-time classics — has the San Francisco 49ers one win away from the Super Bowl.