Saints picked off by Niners, 31-21

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The Saints late season momentum came to a screeching half.

Drew Brees was intercepted twice, both returned for touchdowns, as San Francisco beat New Orleans 31-21 Sunday night. With a win, the Saints would have claimed the 6th and final playoff spot in the NFC with five to play.

But, the wheels began to come off with :31 to play in the second quarter. Brees’ pass, intended for Jimmy Graham, was intercepted by 49ers linebacker Ahmad Brooks, who returned the ball 50 yards for a touchdown to tie the score at 14.

Said Brees, “From what I saw, he (Brooks) did a great job. He caught that thing on his fingertips. He dropped into coverage and we were really trying to fit it in to Jimmy (Graham, Saints tight end). He just made an extremely athletic play.”

The 49ers then drove 80 yards to score on the opening drive of the second half. Colin Kaepernick, making his first NFL road start, completed a 45 yard pass on third two to tight end Delanie Walker. Kaepernick capped the drive with a 6 yard  touchdown flip to Frank Gore.

Two plays later, a Brees pass was tipped and intercepted by safety Donte Whitner, who returned it 42 yards for a touchdown.

The 49er defense held the Saints to 290 total yards, and only 3 for 11 on third down conversions.

The loss spoiled a record setting night for wide receiver Marques Colston. Colston’s 10 yard second quarter touchdown catch gave his 56 career touchdowns as a Saint, tops in franchise history. Colston was tied with former Saints running back Deuce McAllister.

“I am extremely happy for him,” said Brees. “Because I have been lucky enough to throw him every one of  those.”

The 5-6 Saints play at 10-1 Atlanta Thursday night. The Falcons only loss? To the Saints at the Superdome November 11th.