Vernon Davis' heroics helped lead the San Francisco 49ers past the New Orleans Saints, 36-32, in the NFC divisional round of the 2012 NFL Playoffs on Saturday afternoon at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, CA.
Davis racked up 180 yards and two touchdowns -- including the game-winning 14-yard touchdown reception with 14 seconds left in the fourth quarter -- on seven catches. As a result, the 49ers are going to the NFC Championship Game.
Alex Smith completed 24-of-42 passes for 299 yards and three touchdowns for San Francisco, which racked up 407 total yards (264 passing, 143 rushing). Frank Gore rushed for 89 yards on 13 carries and also had seven catches for 28 yards while Michael Crabtree reeled in four footballs for 25 yards and one touchdown.
Drew Brees had a terrific performance for New Orleans, throwing for 458 yards and four touchdowns -- but he tossed two interceptions in the process. Marques Colston (136 receiving yards, TD), Darren Sproles (116 receiving yards TD) and Jimmy Graham (103 receiving yards, 2 TD) all topped 100-yards receiving and Chris Ivory was the Saints' leading rusher, totaling just 23 yards on nine carries.
San Francisco opened the game with 14 straight points, a lead which it took into the second quarter. New Orleans answered with two touchdowns of its own and 49ers' kicker David Akers tacked on a field goal, giving the Niners a 17-14 advantage at the break. Akers made another field goal in the third quarter, putting the 49ers up 20-14 entering the fourth.
Then, madness ensued. New Orleans put up 18 points in the quarter while San Francisco countered with 16 points. Brees found Darren Sproles for a 44-yard touchdown pass to put the Saints up by one, 24-23, with 4:11 remaining. Smith countered with a 28-yard run down the left sideline -- the longest rush by a 49ers quarterback in franchise postseason history - to put the 49ers back up, 29-24, with 2:18 to go.
Not to be outdone, Brees again found his man down field, connecting with Jimmy Graham for a 66-yard score that once again gave the Saints a lead -- 32-29 -- with 1:48 to play. Smith and company once again answered the call, marching down the field -- and using a big pass to Davis in the process -- before he found Davis for the game-winning score.
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