SAN FRANCISCO - Last season, the New Orleans Saints won their games with a high-flying offense. So far this year it's been all about defense.
Garrett Hartley kicked a 37-yard field goal that barely fluttered through as time expired after Drew Brees set it up with a 30-yard completion to Marques Colston, and the Saints spoiled the San Francisco 49ers’ home opener with a 25-22 win Monday.
San Francisco’s Frank Gore ran for a 7-yard touchdown with 1 minute, 19 seconds to play and Vernon Davis made a close-call catch at the goal line for the tying two-point conversion. The play was initially called no good, but the 49ers (0-2) challenged the ruling and won.
The defending Super Bowl champion Saints (2-0), who relied on their defense most of the game, got the ball back at the 30 with 1:14 to play and the wind at their back. Brees hit Colston with a pass that put the Saints on the 18 with 18 seconds remaining. The 49ers watched anxiously as Hartley’s kick just made it.
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“We’ve stayed with the mind-set we are the hunter, not the hunted,” Brees said moments after the thrilling finish.
Reggie Bush caught a 6-yard TD pass in his first game since giving back his 2005 Heisman Trophy won while with Southern California. Bush was helped off the field with an apparent leg injury with 6:58 remaining and then was taken to the locker room on a cart.
Brees hit David Thomas for a 3-yard score that put New Orleans ahead late in the third quarter and Tracy Porter’s interception at the 10-yard line preserved the lead until Gore’s late run.
“They played really well,” Brees said. “You’ve got take your hat off to them, they played hard.”
San Francisco outgained the Saints, 417-287, but beat itself with turnovers.
Roman Harper intercepted a pass by Alex Smith at the 26 in the first quarter. Malcolm Jenkins recovered Delanie Walker’s fumble at the 3 just before halftime as the Niners failed to capitalize on opportunities.
It was a festive evening at Candlestick Park as the 49ers retired Hall of Famer Jerry Rice’s No. 80 jersey at halftime.