Saints Knock Niners Back Down

The New Orleans Saints exhibited Sunday just how far the 49ers have fallen with their most decisive victory ever against San Francisco.

Billy Joe Tolliver, the goat so often during the Saints' seven-game losing streak, turned hero. The second-string quarterback rushed for two touchdowns and passed for a third as New Orleans beat the slumping San Francisco 49ers 24-6.

The victory snapped the longest losing streak of coach Mike Ditka's career and ended a decade of futility for the Saints against San Francisco, which had won the last seven games, 11 of the last 12 and 14 of the last 16.

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Game Summary

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  • The 49ers have now lost five straight games. The last time that happened was in 1980, when they lost eight straight.

    Tolliver, who had thrown four touchdowns and 10 interceptions going into the game, did not turn the ball over against the 49ers, electing to scramble rather than try to force passes. He completed 12-of-15 for 242 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 36 yards.

    Tolliver rushed for two first-half touchdowns and hit Andre Hastings for an 11-yard score in the third quarter. Doug Brien kicked a 28-yard field goal in the fourth quarter to close out the scoring.

    Saints rookie Ricky Williams was one yard shy of his third 100-yard game, carrying 30 times for 99 yards.

    The Saints (2-7) had 365 yards in total offense, including 143 rushing. San Francisco's (3-5) once-feared offense was held to just 234 yards. The 49ers did not score a touchdown for the second straight game.

    The collision of two teams in the midst of dismal seasons produced a lackluster game before another minuscule crowd. The Saints announced 52,198 tickets distributed, but attendance was far less. Unlike the crowds at oher home games this season, Sunday's fans stayed to the end to cheer the rare victory over San Francisco.

    The Saints scored their most points this season and ran up their biggest lead, going ahead 14-3 in the second quarter as Tolliver rushed for his second touchdown. His 2-yard scramble capped an 89-yard drive.

    Tolliver's first-quarter score, another 2-yard run, put the Saints up 7-0. The scores were the second and third rushing touchdowns of the season for New Orleans, all by quarterbacks.

    San Francisco was held to 112 yards in the first half, and two 15-play drives resulted in only 52-yard and 22-yard field goals by Wade Richey to make it 14-6 at halftime.

    Steve Stenstrom, making his first start for the 49ers and his eighth overall in five seasons, was 18-of-32 for 157 yards. He was intercepted with 2:39 left in the game to end San Francisco's last threat. Willy Clay picked the pass off in the end zone and returned it 22 yards.

    San Francisco running back Charlie Garner had 60 yards on 12 carries.

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