Ahmad Brooks' strip-sack of Drew Brees harkens last season

NEW ORLEANS -- Seconds after his strip-sack of Drew Brees was confirmed via replay, Ahmad Brooks was approached on the sidelines by a teammate.

“Karma is real,” the San Francisco 49ers player told Brooks.

His retort?

“I don’t believe in karma,” Brooks said.

Niners defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, though, said “poetic justice” was served with the play.

“The referees got it right this time,” Fangio said.

A year ago, it was Brooks who hit Brees from the front and caused a fumble that was recovered by Patrick Willis to seal an apparent victory over the New Orleans Saints.

Until his clothesline tackle was deemed an unnecessary roughness penalty for a blow to the head and neck area of a quarterback and the Saints retained possession, kicked a game-tying field goal and then booted a game-winning field goal as time expired.

This time?

The call of fumble and recovery by rookie Chris Borland, who is playing in place of an injured Willis, was upheld and the Niners took over on the Saints’ 17-yard line.

And rather than run a play on offense, Phil Dawson was summoned, and he knuckled through a 35-yard game-winner with 5:14 remaining in overtime.

Last year’s score: Saints 23, 49ers 20.

This year’s final: 49ers 27, Saints 24.

“I was really surprised [Brees] held the ball as long as he did,” Brooks said. “I was rushing and turning the corner and thinking to myself, ‘Dang, is he going to throw the ball yet?’ But he didn’t, and I was able to make a play.”

Brees said he was targeting running back Travaris Cadet.

“But he was tripped up so he was on the ground and I couldn’t get it to him,” Brees said. “He was on the ground so I brought [the ball] back. Then I tried to throw it again as he started to get up. There was nobody around him; he could have run forever.

“I got hit as the ball was coming out.”

The Niners had been unable to get to Brees all day long.

But then Quinton Dial registered the 49ers’ first sack of Brees with about 6 minutes left in OT. One play later, Brooks rode to the Niners’ rescue, karmic comeuppance or not.

“It is ironic,” he admitted.

“That play was real similar to last year, in a sense.”

Just different outcomes.