Saints, Plagued by Penalties, Lose Nail-Biter to 49ers

San Francisco won 48-46 in the highest-scoring game between the two teams ever

George Kittle of the San Francisco 49ers scores a touchdown as Craig Robertson of the New Orleans Saints defends during the second half of a game at the Mercedes Benz Superdome on December 08, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
George Kittle of the San Francisco 49ers scores a touchdown as Craig Robertson of the New Orleans Saints defends during the second half of a game at the Mercedes Benz Superdome on December 08, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
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By Bonnie Stiernberg / December 8, 2019 5:11 pm

After a wild first half in which both teams combined for 55 points and 581 yards — the most since Week 8 of 2014 — the New Orleans Saints ultimately fell to the San Francisco 49ers 48-46 on Sunday (Dec. 8) in a game that will have major implications in the NFC playoff picture.

With the victory, the Niners advance to 11-2 and now hold a key tiebreaker in the race for the top seed, while the Saints — who have already clinched the NFC South — fall to 10-3. Kicker Robbie Gould completed the winning field goal in the final seconds of the game.

If the Seattle Seahawks lose their game against the Los Angeles Rams Sunday night, the 49ers will remain the top seed in the NFC, but if the Seahawks win, the 49ers will drop back to the No. 5 seed. Seattle owns a tie-breaking advantage over the Niners after beating them on Oct. 11.

It was an impressive win for Niners quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who finished 26-of-35 for 349 yards with four touchdowns and one interception. The four-touchdown performance made him just the third 49ers quarterback (along with Steve Young and Jeff Garcia) to have at least three games in a season with four or more touchdowns.

The Niners were also aided by some late penalties against the Saints, who were flagged three times on third down for defensive holding and unnecessary roughness, including once on a drive that ended with a six-yard touchdown by Kendrick Bourne.

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