Smith outduels Brees as 49ers oust Saints

SAN FRANCISCO -- Alex Smith completed a 14-yard touchdown pass to Vernon Davis with 9 seconds left, just after Drew Brees had put high-powered New Orleans ahead, and the resurgent 49ers capitalized on five Saints turnovers for a thrilling 36-32 playoff victory Saturday.

On NFL Network
Watch the 49ers' 36-32 win over the Saints in its entirety on Tuesday,

Jan. 17 at 8 p.m. ET.

Smith ran for a 28-yard touchdown with 2:11 left and threw another scoring pass to Davis. Coach Jim Harbaugh's NFC West champion 49ers proved that a hard-hitting, stingy defense still can win in the modern, wide-open NFL by holding off one of league's most dynamic offenses.

San Francisco triumphed in its first playoff game in nine years, moving within one win of returning to the Super Bowl for the first time since capturing the proud franchise's fifth championship after the 1994 season.

Next up for the 49ers is the NFC title game at Candlestick Park against the New York Giants, who upset the defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers 37-20 in their divisional playoff game.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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