How bad are the San Francisco 49ers?
So bad that the Saints, a team that had not won since the season opener, beat them 24-6 yesterday in New Orleans, the biggest margin of victory for the Saints in the series.
"We're searching for answers and I'm beating myself up trying to find a way to get more out of our players on both sides of the ball," San Francisco Coach Steve Mariucci said. "You've got a frustrated team right now."
The victory snapped the longest losing streak of Coach Mike Ditka's career and ended a decade of futility for the Saints against San Francisco (3-6), which had won the last seven games, 11 of the last 12 and 14 of the last 16.
Billy Joe Tolliver, the goat so often during the Saints' seven-game losing streak, turned hero. The second-string quarterback, who had thrown four touchdown passes and 10 interceptions going into the game, did not turn over the ball against the 49ers, electing to scramble rather than force passes. He completed 12 of 15 for 242 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 36 yards.
"Well, I think that it was one we had to have, and they were sitting there at 3-5," Tolliver said. "They had to have it as well. It was a big win for us."
VIKINGS 27, BEARS 24: Gary Anderson made up for his botched kick in the final seconds of regulation by hitting a 38-yarder with 9 minutes 2 seconds left in overtime in Chicago.
The Bears blew their own chance to win it when Chris Boniol's 41-yard attempt sailed just wide with 13:14 left in overtime. It was Chicago's 12th missed field goal this season.
Near the end of regulation, Randy Moss brought the Vikings to the Chicago 2 with receptions of 44 and 42 yards, giving Anderson what should have been a game-winning 20-yard chip shot.
But Anderson shanked the ball as time expired, sending it so far left it wasn't even close to the post.
"It's awful difficult to make a kick when the ball is half-lying on its side," said Anderson, who was unhappy with the hold by punter Mitch Berger.
CARDINALS 23, LIONS 19: Next time, maybe Lions Coach Bobby Ross should go for the sure one, not the risky two.
After a decision to go for a two-point conversion came back to haunt Detroit, host Arizona held on, snapping the Lions' four-game winning streak.
Detroit trailed most of the game, but Terry Fair returned a fumble 35 yards for a touchdown to cut the lead to 23-19 with 5:26 to play. Ross decided not to kick the extra point, but Gus Frerotte was intercepted on the conversion attempt.
The Lions drove to the Arizona 11 in the final minutes, and would have had a chance to tie the game with a short field goal, but were forced to go for the touchdown.
Frerotte threw three consecutive incompletions, and the Cardinals ran out the clock to end their three-game losing streak.
SEAHAWKS 20, BRONCOS 17: In Seattle, Jon Kitna passed 20 yards to Sean Dawkins for a touchdown with 7:10 left, making Joey Galloway's return a winning one. Galloway, who reported this week to end a 100-day contract stalemate, caught four passes for 88 yards in his first game since last Dec. 27. Under new coach Mike Holmgren, Seattle won its fourth straight game for the first time since 1986.
BUCS 17, CHIEFS 10: Embattled quarterback Trent Dilfer delivered his second solid performance since returning to the lineup after a one-week absence, throwing for 270 yards and two touchdowns in a victory over visiting Kansas City. Dilfer was benched three games ago, ending a streak of 72 consecutive starts after the Bucs stumbled to a 3-3 start. He regained the job because Eric Zeier is injured.
TITANS 24, BENGALS 14: With its defense piling up seven sacks and one turnover after another in Cincinnati, Tennessee came back from its first shutout in 10 years. Eddie George rushed for 123 yards and a pair of touchdowns for the Titans, who had fallen 17-0 in Miami last week.
RAMS 35, PANTHERS 10: Kurt Warner threw two touchdown passes, increasing his NFL-leading total to 26, and St. Louis got defensive touchdowns from Todd Lyght and Mike Jones in a victory over Carolina.
RAIDERS 28, CHARGERS 9: In Oakland, Calif., cornerback Charles Woodson finally got his wish to be a two-way player, making a 19-yard catch for the Raiders. But quarterback Rich Gannon provided Oakland's offensive spark, throwing four touchdown passes--two each to Tyrone Wheatley and Rickey Dudley.