NEW ORLEANS -- The New Orleans Saints lead the San Francisco 49ers 14-10 at halftime, thanks to a dominant defensive performance. But there have been a series of big moments that have kept the game close.
Here are a few thoughts on the action so far:
Greer injured: The Saints' defense got off to a great start but suffered a big blow when cornerback Jabari Greer was carted off with a left knee injury in the first quarter. The exact injury has not been reported, but it looked significant. He required an air cast on the field. … Greer has been a solid veteran presence for the Saints' resurgent defense this year, so he'll be missed quite a bit. Second-year pro Corey White is a solid backup, though, and he did intercept a pass in the second quarter (before fumbling it through the end zone).
Big mistakes: White's fumble took seven potential points off the board for the Saints. After a 43-yard interception return, he got greedy and tried to extend the ball over the goal line. Even more costly was Saints receiver Lance Moore's fumbled punt return in the second quarter that gave San Francisco the ball at New Orleans' 11-yard line and led to the 49ers' only touchdown. Moore also dropped a third-down pass in the first quarter -- uncharacteristic mistakes for the veteran.
Big makeup: The Saints' special teams evened things out with an 82-yard kickoff return by Travaris Cadet in the second quarter that led to a touchdown. That's an area where the Saints haven't generated much this year. But it came at the right time.
Saints creative ‘D': Other than the 11-yard TD drive, the Saints' defense was excellent in the first half. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan showed off his creativity more than ever before. He started the game in a 3-5 alignment with only three defensive backs on the field. Later, he had only two true defensive linemen on the field with end Keyunta Dawson and outside linebacker Parys Haralson lining up as defensive tackles. The Saints also had six DBs on the field at times.
Saints' balanced offense: The Saints haven't run the ball a ton, but they've been effective when they have run it (46 yards and a touchdown on nine carries). They aren't lighting up the scoreboard, but they're doing enough to win (and the margin would be greater if not for those miscues).