The New Orleans Saints turned what was looking like a possible shootout with the Carolina Panthers into a blowout of them with a barrage of 21 unanswered points that allowed them to pull away in the second half and go on to win, 45-17.
It was a record-setting day for the Saints as they piled up numerous NFL and franchise marks while also hoping for the Rams to upset the 49ers to give the Saints the #2 seed in the NFC and a first-round bye, but it was not to be. The Rams were fired up late, but just couldn't overcome a 24-point lead and eventually fell 34-27.
Drew Brees added 389 passing yards and 5 more TDs to his sterling season's stat line, and Marques Colston had a great game: 7 catches for 145 and 2 TDs, while Chris Ivory (TUSK!!!) became the first Saint to go over 100 yards rushing in a game this year (127 on 19 carries with a TD). Jimmy Graham almost came away with the TE receiving yards record with a 97-yard, 1 TD performance (but Rob Gronkowski bettered him late in his game).
Defensively, many yards and points were surrendered in the first half, but they really tightened the screws in the second half, holding the Panthers scoreless and setting a whole new tone by forcing a three-and-out on their first second-half drive and ending it with a big sack on 3rd down by Martez Wilson. Patrick Robinson nabbed an end zone INT in the first half, and Tracey Porter recovered a fumble forced by Isa Abdul-Quddus in the second half, putting the Saints at a +1 turnover ratio for the game. Jo-Lonn Dunbar led the team with 6 tackles while rookie Cameron Jordan notched his first sack of the year (and a horse-collar tackle penalty).
Early word is that the Saints will be playing at home next Saturday in the Wild Card round. With Detroit losing and Atlanta currently kicking Tampa Bay's ass, it looks like it will be the Lions coming to town next week to face the Saints.
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