Saints dominate S.F. 49ers

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 6, 2000

NEW ORLEANS&160;- The Saints finally found a way to stop teams from returning punts for long yardage — don’t punt.

New Orleans scored touchdowns on all four of its first half possessions and converted three fourth-down conversions for a 28-0 halftime lead Sunday en route to a dominating 31-15 win over division opponent San Francisco.

&uot;A lot of people didn’t believe in us,&uot; Saints coach Jim Haslett said. &uot;Today we showed those people who didn’t believe in us what we can do.&uot;

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Quarterback Jeff Blake threw three touchdowns and wide out Joe Horn caught nine passes for 167 yards for the Saints’ fifth consecutive win of the season.

The Saints’ first score came after safety Sammy Knight picked off a Jeff Garcia pass intended for Jerry Rice on the 49ers’ opening possession. New Orleans (6-3) took over on its own 32 and moved into 49ers territory on a 21-yard strike from Blake to tight end Andrew Glover.

San Francisco’s defense came into the game ranked No. 30 against the pass and the Saints took advantage of the 49ers’ inexperienced corners all day. New Orleans’ third possession ended with a 43-yard touchdown catch by Joe Horn.

Running back Ricky Williams, who finished the game with 81 yards on 27 attempts, added a 1-yard TD before the half was over.

The 49ers usually explosive offense was held to four first downs and 107 yards in the first half.

&uot;Any time you get a lead like that, playing defense is so much fun,&uot; said Saints defensive end Joe Johnson. &uot;You can pin your ears back and play defense the way you want to.&uot;

The Saints added a 44-yard Doug Brien field goal on their first possession of the second half.

San Francisco did not score until Charlie Garner’s 1-yard run with 7:52 remaining in the third quarter. Terry Jackson added an 11-yard TD reception late in the fourth.

Saints cornerback Fred Weary stopped another fourth quarter drive when he intercepted another Garcia pass intended for Rice in the endzone.

The Saints travel to Carolina Sunday for a re-match with the Panthers.