NEW ORLEANS -- The 49ers trailed by seven points late in the first half, and the New Orleans Saints were looking for more.The Saints had already cashed in a Ted Ginn muffed punt into a touchdown. And Colin Kaepernick gave New Orleans another scoring opportunity with an interception.But 49ers linebacker Ahmad Brooks provided a huge turn in momentum in the closing seconds of the half when he intercepted Drew Brees and returned it 50 yards for a touchdown.After the 49ers reclaimed the lead at the beginning of the second half, Donte Whitner returned another Brees interception for a 42-yard touchdown. And the 49ers were well on their way to a 31-21 victory at the Superdome."A lot of things were going the way they have to go to win a big game like this, and then all of a sudden you give them two free ones," Brees said. "All of a sudden, they rattle off 21 points in a short period of time when we really felt like we had the game under control."Brees completed 26 of 41 passes for 267 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. The 49ers also sacked Brees five times with Aldon Smith, Justin Smith and Ahmad Brooks receiving credit for 1.5 sacks apiece. Brees was sacked just 16 times in the Saints' first 10 games.
"With us having those interceptions for scores, that shows you what kind of defense we have," Brooks said. "With the guys we have you never really know which player is going to make the plays to make the difference in the games. This week, it was me and Donte Whitner who made the big plays for our defense."Safety Dashon Goldson also deserves a lot of credit for a hit on receiver Marques Colston that prevented him from making the reception. Instead, the ball was deflected toward Whitner, who made his third interception in two seasons with the 49ers."You have to give credit to Dashon," Whitner said. "He made a very physical play on Colston. When you are physical on guys, they tend not to focus as much. So there it was -- the ball tipped up and the only thing I told myself was to catch it. I just caught it and it was easy for there.""That was just a football play," Goldson said. "He jumped up before I did, and I made a play. I hit him in the hip and got him down."The 49ers followed up a strong performance against the Chicago Bears with another fine showing against the high-powered Saints offense."We know how good our defense is, especially coming off of last week's win against Chicago," linebacker Patrick Willis said. "It wouldn't have done us any good to come out here and not repeat the performance because we knew the Saints have a good offense. We know we gave up some yards, but when it counted, our defense held together and won the game for us."