(NEW ORLEANS) — Garrett Hartley connected on three fourth quarter field goals, the last one giving the New Orleans Saints the lead as time expired and the Saints thwarted the San Francisco 49ers 23-20 Sunday.
Hartley had missed four of his previous six attempts coming into the game, but quarterback Drew Brees gave him a pep talk before the game.
“I told him that we believe in you and that you are our guy,” Brees said. “We all did. I saw a lot of guys here and there giving him a pat on the back. It doesn’t always go the way that you planned. Sometimes you have to fight through the adversity. It molds you and strengthens you and allows you to become the player that you are meant to be. Garrett has had his ups and downs throughout his career, but he has made a lot of big kicks for us. I think that is just the life of a kicker.”
Just like getting sacked is the life of a quarterback. In fact, a late sack almost stopped the Saints from winning. With the Saints’ down 20-17 with 3:12 left in the game, Brees fumbled the ball and San Francisco recovered it when Niners linebacker Ahmad Brooks sacked the former Super Bowl MVP. But Brooks was called for a blow to the head and neck area of a quarterback, negating the fumble.
“All I remember is just getting clothes-lined in the chin and as I’m on the ground, I’m saying, ‘That’s got to be a flag,’ ” Brees said. “One of my teammates kind of picked me up and said, ‘Are you all right?’ and he said, ‘Don’t worry, there’s a flag.’
“I said, ‘All right, good.’ Just took a moment, and you’ve got to get ready to go,” he added.
Which is exactly what Brees did as he got the Saints in field goal range, setting up Hartley’s game-tying kick. On the Saints next drive, Brees drove the 46 yards to set up Hartley’s 31-yard game-winner.
The Saints (8-2) next take the field Thursday night in Atlanta when they take on the Falcons.
Meanwhile the 49ers (6-4) wait until next Monday when they play in Washington against the Redskins.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Jill Martin, CNN