What a nutty exercise, trying to keep up with that one. Though I was aware that it was a great game, I never had a chance to do what the rest of the world watching it was doing–going crazy or simply staring slackjawed at that last eight minutes. I never had a chance to recap some of the stats as the game went on. For instance, the utter ineffectiveness of the 49ers offense from the end of the first quarter through the last five or six minutes of the game. (Then suddenly, Alex Smith and his squad were slugging it out toe-to-toe with Drew Brees and company, trading one big play after another. Wow.) And while it was apparent New Orleans never tried to establish a running game, I never had a chance to sit back and look at the statistical wonder of what Brees was doing — 40 completions in 63 attempts (did I hear those numbers are records?) for 431 yards. He did all that with a very aggressive and effective pass rush coming after him. Most of those 23 incompletions happened because the defense was all over him.
At the end of the day, though, the most amazing developments were the series of clutch plays pulled off by the Niners’ offense, particularly Smith and his tight end, Vernon Davis. Smith showed why he was drafted Number One with his 28-yard bootleg dash to the end zone, then coming back to hit Davis with two long strikes on the final drive, including the winning score with the clock running out. This is a guy who until this year never looked truly comfortable in the NFL.
Before the game, I was thinking back to the day I watched the 49ers historic 28-27 NFC championship win against the Dallas Cowboys, back in January 1982. What a game–the victory that launched the great Bill Walsh-Joe Montana dynasty. To refresh your memory: That was the day that featured The Catch, the Montana-to-Dwight Clark touchdown strike that won the game late in the fourth quarter. Even in the moment, even watching on a little black-and-white TV in Berkeley, it was apparent you were watching something you’d remember for a long time. I’ve got a feeling that in years to come, folks will look back at this game, too, as a milestone for the franchise. And hell, I’m a Chicago Bears fan (Ditka!) saying that.
Finally: If you dropped in on our account of the game today–thanks! See you next week.