Most people predicted that the Saints would win, and I thought they had the edge although the 49ers playing at home helped their odds. It was strength against strength, top 5 offense vs. top 5 defense. I knew that the 49ers could win the game, but all I really wanted was a close, good game, and I gotta say that this game completely exceeded my expectations.
The defense was monstrous today. Holy crap, 5 turnovers. Relentless in every respect. I thought that they might tire out at the end of the game, especially with the offense unable to get first downs for some stretches, but they seemed to get stronger. I know they gave up 32, but this is the Saints.
For whatever reason, the 49ers offense seems to operate so much better when they're trying to mount a 4th quarter comeback. :P Not in the way Tebow calls down miracles, but they just seem to execute better, and execute they did. I can't explain how incredibly rewarding it was to watch Alex Smith and Vernon Davis take over in the last five minutes of the game. I cried last year thinking that I had watched Alex Smith play his last game as a 49er, and I cried today watching him make some of the biggest plays of his life.
A lot of criticism would have fallen on Alex if the team had lost today (BTW he got $1 million for playing in today's game. Cool bonus, huh?). People were already talking about getting a different QB and the 49ers had a 10-3 season! But that's what I was thinking about when the Saints scored that TD with under 2 minutes left in the game. That I didn't want the blame to fall on Alex if they lost.
But then the offense just went back to work and it was amazing to see because they'd just had an incredibly deflating TD scored on them with so little left but it didn't faze them. They just went down the field and Vernon made that catch and he cried as he ran back into the sideline and of course I cried too and Patrick Willis almost cried because he should have made that tackle on Jimmy Graham and instead he ran down the field for a TD and he talked about how he was devastated and heartbroken and Vernon Davis lifted him up.
And then the whole team all talked about how they believed in Alex and they had confidence in him and they were proud that he could show everyone that he can do it, and it made me cry again, that he has all this support from his teammates.
I was way too emotional after that to watch the Sharks game, but Patty scored with late in that game to win it. There seems to be a lot of that going around. :)