A minute and 19 seconds might as well be a lifetime for Drew Brees

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees looks to pass in the first quarter against the San Francisco 49ers during their Monday night NFL football game in San Francisco, California September 20, 2010. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith  (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

If Alex Smith goes on to have a solid year in San Francisco, people are going to point back to this night as the moment everything turned for the 26-year-old former first round pick.

The 49ers turned the ball over four times in their 25-22 loss to the Saints on Monday night, yet there they were with just over two minutes remaining in the fourth and a chance to tie the game with a touchdown and a 2-point conversation.

What Smith did next was exactly what quarterbacks have to do in that situation: he orchestrated a flawless two-minute drive and tied the game. He completed four of five passes for 51 yards and managed to scramble for 24 yards on two carries after New Orleans defenders crashed the pocket. Frank Gore capped the drive off with a 7-yard touchdown run and then Smith found Vernon Davis on a successful 2-point conversation attempt, although the play had to be reviewed because the original ruling was that Davis was stopped short of the goal line.

Unfortunately for Smith and the 49ers, Drew Brees still had 1:19 left on the clock and three timeouts. With his team only needing a field goal to win, Brees led the Saints on a seven-play, 54-yard drive that ended with a Garrett Hartley 37-yard field goal (which was partially blocked, yet still had enough mustard on it to get through the uprights).

Smith did what he had to do to give his team a chance to win, but too bad for him Brees has long mastered the art of the game-winning drive.

It was a significant win for the Saints because in all honesty, it was a game they couldn’t afford to lose. Obviously there’s an entire season yet to be played, but the 49ers handed this game over on a silver platter and had San Fran completed the comeback, we would be looking at a reeling New Orleans team heading into a huge divisional matchup with the Falcons this Sunday. (A game in which they may not have Reggie Bush, who injured his leg on a muffed punt midway through the fourth quarter.)

But at 2-0, the Saints remain perfect on the young season.

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