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Saints write off Niner comeback

©Associated Press
October 21, 2002

NEW ORLEANS -- He hated to do it, but 49ers coach Steve Mariucci spotted the Saints a touchdown.

Aaron Brooks scored on a 1-yard run with 1:56 left to seal New Orleans' 35-27 victory Sunday, but the Saints drew a penalty for having 12 men on the field. With just one timeout left and not wanting to waste any more of the clock, Mariucci declined the penalty and turned to his high-powered offense.

"I've never done that before; has anyone even seen one?" Mariucci said. "But it seemed to make sense. It was hard to do, but otherwise we're not getting the ball back."

Capping a fourth quarter in which they scored 22 points, the Saints let San Francisco get to their 39-yard line before shutting down the 49ers.

Terrell Owens had four catches for 61 yards a week after stirring things up Monday against Seattle when he pulled a pen from his sock, autographed the ball and presented it to his financial adviser sitting nearby.

This time, after his lone score, a 4-yarder from Jeff Garcia, Owens showed his sense of humor when he lifted his feet to let his teammates inspect for pens. He then tossed the ball to a 49ers fan, who dropped it.

There was another autograph episode involving the 49ers. In the fourth quarter a man ran on the field and briefly joined the team's huddle.

"He had a ballpoint pen and was trying to sign my shirt," 49ers center Jeremy Newberry said. "He could have stabbed me or something. How did he get out there untouched?"

Saints running back Deuce McAllister, who leads the NFC in rushing, had 139 yards on 21 carries.

The 49ers scored on three of their four possessions in the first half, including a 12-play opening drive capped by Owens' score to take a 7-0 lead. The Saints answered with an 11-play drive that ended with a 4-yard score from Brooks to McAllister.

San Francisco opened the second quarter with a 2-yard touchdown run by Garrison Hearst to retake the lead at 14-7. Hearst, who gained 87 yards on 14 carries, put the 49ers up 24-13 on an 8-yard touchdown run as the third quarter ended.

The Saints drove 63 yards to open the fourth quarter with a 10-yard touchdown reception by Joe Horn to get New Orleans within 24-19 with 12:39 left (a two-point conversion attempt failed).

Saints defensive end Darren Howard then stripped Kevan Barlow of the football, and Sammy Knight recovered it on the San Francisco 22. Two plays later, Brooks hit Horn for a 20-yard touchdown to give New Orleans its first lead at 25-24 after another failed two-point try.

A 41-yard field goal by Jose Cortez put San Francisco ahead again 27-25. But New Orleans came back with a 22-yard field goal, giving it a 28-27 lead with 3:17 left.

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