Joe Montana got the San Francisco 49ers' offense going just in time to keep the team's NFL playoff hopes alive with a 31-19 victory over the New Orleans Saints today.

The Saints led at halftime, 9-7. But then Montana completed 12 of 14 passes for 204 yards and two touchdowns to finish the game 25-38-1 for 354 yards and three touchdowns.

"I didn't really throw the ball like I had wanted to throw it," he said while icing his sore right shoulder after the game. I just don't think we did what we could have in the first half.

"I got hit right before halftime while I was in the air and fell on my shoulder." He said he would be fine in a few days.

His coach, Bill Walsh, told reporters: "We don't stand before you with a lot of bravado. We're just battling to stay in this thing. Everybody is shooting everything they have at us early."

Roger Craig, who rushed for 90 yards on 17 carries, scored the clinching touchdown on a 15-yard run with 6:41 left in the game.

The 49ers (9-6) must win at home against Dallas in the season-ending game this week to clinch a playoff berth and continue their championship defense. They have made the playoffs three of the last four years.

The game was piped in by a special closed-circuit television to the federal courthouse where the jury in Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards' trail was sequestered. Edwards is on trial for conspiracy and fraud in connection with the issuing of hospital building permits.

Jurors have deliberated four days. Sunday was a day off, so arrangements were made for them to watch the game.