New Orleans Saints end season at 7-9 after 44-38 loss to Carolina Panthers | NOLA.com
Nakia Hogan - Saints blow lead with ugly second-half performance.
Saints come up short against Panthers, 44-38 | wwltv.com
Bradley Handwerger - Throughout the week, the Saints declared their desire to reach .500 by season’s end as reason enough to play finale with fire.
Same ol’ story | The Advocate
Sheldon Mickles - Pardon the New Orleans Saints and their fans if they saw Sunday what they’ve seen so many times this frustrating season.
Carolina Panthers Defeat the New Orleans Saints, 44-38, in the Season Finale | neworleanssaints.com
QB Drew Brees cracks 5,000-yard mark for the third time in his career.
New Orleans Saints 'got what we deserved' in 44-38 loss to Carolina Panthers | NOLA.com
Nakia Hogan - Saints finish the season 7-9.
Carolina Panthers 44, New Orleans Saints 38 | ESPN.com
NFL GAMEHQ: Recap, final statistics, drive charts, play-by-play, highlights, and photos from the Carolina vs. New Orleans game played on December 30, 2012.
Carolina Panthers 44 @ New Orleans Saints 38 | NFL.com
NFL Game Center - Watch video of the game, buy tickets, get stats & depth charts, game highlights, analysis, recap, and discuss with other NFL fans!
New Orleans Saints Postgame Notes | neworleanssaints.com
QB Drew Brees became the first player in NFL history to reach 5,000 passing yards in three seasons.
Panthers vs Saints coverage
Panthers vs Saints box score
Saints vs Panthers photo gallery | neworleanssaints.com
Michael C. Hebert
Saints-Panthers Photo Gallery | NOLA.com
From the Saints Sideline
New Orleans Saints respond poorly after bad break - the story of their season: First take | NOLA.com
Mike Triplett - Saints collapse after bad call changes momentum of 44-38 loss to Carolina Panthers.
Drew Brees promises 'It's on' when New Orleans Saints return to work in 2013: 10 more observations | NOLA.com
Mike Triplett - Ten more observations from Saints' season-ending 44-38 loss to Carolina Panthers.
New Orleans Saints vs. Carolina Panthers: How the game was lost | NOLA.com
New Orleans Saints vs. Carolina Panthers: Did you see? | NOLA.com
Larry Holder - Lance Moore records his first 1,000-yard season.
Grading the offense | NOLA.com
One fleur de lis out of four.
Grading the defense | NOLA.com
Zero fleur de lis out of four.
Grading the special teams | NOLA.com
1.5 fleur de lis out of four.
Grading the coaching | NOLA.com
One fleur de lis out of four.
Quick Take: Panthers remind Saints of deficiencies in finale | sportsnola.com
DeAngelo Williams rushes for career-high 210 yards against Saints | NOLA.com
Katherine Terrell - Williams breaks franchise single-game rushing record.
Jonathan Vilma ends turbulent season with his best game | NOLA.com
Larry Holder - Vilma isn't sure if he will be back with the Saints.
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton left Sunday's game twice with rib, ankle injuries | NOLA.com
Katherine Terrell - Newton said ankle was pinned under Turk McBride and bent in unnatural way.
Carolina Panthers Greg Olsen sets franchise record for receiving yards by tight end | NOLA.com
Katherine Terrell - Olsen fumbled in third quarter, but Panthers kept the ball after controversial ruling.
Drew Brees makes NFL history despite New Orleans Saints ending season with Carolina loss | NOLA.com
Larry Holder - He's the only the second QB to have two seasons with more than 40 TD passes.
Colston ties Martin’s receptions record | The Advocate
Sheldon Mickles - After setting the club record for career touchdowns earlier this season, New Orleans Saints wide receiver Marques Colston tied another receiving mark in Sunday's loss to the Carolina Panthers.
Brees, Moore notch milestones in loss | The Advocate
Sheldon Mickles - After four years, New Orleans Saints wide receiver Lance Moore finally got his 1,000-yard receiving season Sunday.
N.O. defense allows most yards in NFL history | The Advocate
Brian Allee-Walsh - On the last Sunday of 2012, the New Orleans Saints defense went from bad to worst in the history of the National Football League.
New Orleans Saints players looking forward to future with Sean Payton | NOLA.com
Nakia Hogan - 'He's our coach,' Brees says.
Brees says ‘it’s on’ when Payton returns | wwltv.com
Bradley Handwerger - Drew Brees said Sunday the timing of Sean Payton coming to agreement with the Saints on a contract extension was important.
Saints have a lot of work to get done | The Advocate
Ted Lewis - Welcome back, Sean Payton. Did you take the boys out to celebrate last night or what?
Every part of porous New Orleans Saints defense needs serious offseason makeover | NOLA.com
Jeff Duncan - It should be the top priority this offseason.
Saints focus turns to 2013 with lessons learned in 2012 | wwltv.com
Bradley Handwerger - Moments after the Saints’ season finished with a disappointing 44-38 loss to Carolina, interim head coach Joe Vitt promised that what needed to be fixed would be.
Wrap-up: Panthers 44, Saints 38 - NFC South Blog | ESPN.com
Pat Y. - Thoughts on the Carolina Panthers' 44-38 victory over the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday.
Saints Nation: Saints Lose to Panthers 38-44, Finish Season 7-9 | thesaintsnation.com
Andrew Juge - It's hard to walk away from that game and try to come up with much that's objective or even positive as a Saints fan.
Saints fans upbeat after disappointing season | wwltv.com
Scott Satchfield - It was a laid back, yet still celebratory atmosphere outside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday. Includes video.
Kamrolina Kibbles 'n Bits
Carolina Panthers rack up yards in season finale, top New Orleans Saints 44-38 | CharlotteObserver.com
Jonathan Jones - The Carolina Panthers saved the best for last.
Panthers’ DeAngelo Williams runs into record book, if not end zone | CharlotteObserver.com
Jonathan Jones - Sunday, DeAngelo Williams set a franchise record for rushing yards in a game, with 210 on 21 carries. He has four of the top 10 rushing performances in team history.
Panthers-Saints: Five plays that mattered | CharlotteObserver.com
Tom Talks: Panthers QB Cam Newton’s toughness wipes away concerns | CharlotteObserver.com
Tom Sorensen - If you need to, you can question Newton's first down celebrations and his trademark Superman pose. But you can't question his courage.
This should be enough for Rivera to keep job | charlotteobserver.com blogs
Scott Fowler - That should be enough.
What comes next for Carolina Panthers? Only Jerry Richardson knows for sure | CharlotteObserver.com
Tom Sorensen - Last season, Ron Rivera's first, the Panthers won four more games than they did in 2010. After a compelling 44-38 victory against New Orleans Sunday, the Panthers have won one more game than they did in 2011. Will he get a chance in 2013?
Assistant Head Coach/Linebackers Joe Vitt
"It was totally unacceptable what happened today. We talk about keys to victory and what we have to do to win. We are outrushed by almost 200 yards and they converted almost twice as much as we did on third down, and as catastrophic as that is, you still have a chance, potentially, to get back in the game with two onside kicks, even though they recovered them. But you have two penalties at the end that put them in field goal range, it's not acceptable and we are going to get it fixed. It's not what this team is about. Very disappointing, very disappointing. There is no way to sugarcoat this. Very disappointing."
(worse because it's the last game?) "A loss is a loss. I don't care when you play one. You play sixteen of these and to lose this the way we lost this, I don't care if this is the opener, it's not good."
(what explanation did you get on the review?) "Yeah, the referee didn't get the same angle as we did on the Jumbotron in his review and couldn't see it so it is what it is. Every call is not going to go your way. When it comes to third-and-17, you can't get beat over the top of your head on third-and-17. It's unacceptable, but it is what it is."
(did the life get drained after that call?) "It's not an excuse. Well, if it did, it's our fault. If it did, it's our fault. You have to play the game out. Every call is not going to go your way. It's not a perfect game played by perfect people. It's not a perfect game officiated by perfect officials. It didn't go our way, either you rebound or you don't, and we didn't."
(did you think that Johnny Patrick's foot was in bounds?) "It doesn't matter what I think. It matters what the call was made. It doesn't matter what I think. The fact of the matter is the call didn't go our way and the game is going to go on. We either overcome that or you don't and we didn't. It is what it is."
(can inconsistency be corrected pretty easily in the offseason?) "I don't think anything is easy in the offseason. I think what happens and what you do in the offseason is going to dictate what you do during the season. So you can do as hard as you can to work as hard as you can to get the right group of players that are going to work hard and play together and be accountable to one another, put them in a position to make plays, then you go from there. That is what we are going to start doing tomorrow."
(on allowing more than 7,000 yards) "Listen, I haven't digested that yet. I don't have a comment on it. It is what it is and we have to get it fixed."
#9 QB Drew Brees
(On the momentum in today's game) "I would say there were momentum shifts in this game. Early on, they had the momentum. I thought the touchdown to Marques (Colston) down 10-0 after we went for it on fourth down and got it was a huge momentum swing for us. We basically went on a 24-3 run. We got the interception for a touchdown from (Jonathan) Vilma on the very next series. We had the opportunity to kick a long field goal in the two-minute drive. Then, we scored on the first possession of the second half. There we were down 10-0 and all of a sudden its 24-13 and we are rolling. Then, we get them backed up on third and long. They hit the big pass play after the fumble that wasn't given to us. From that point (on), they took the momentum. They get that touchdown, then a turnover and another touchdown. They get the big kick return in the fourth quarter. It just seemed like something over and over again. They just kept a drive alive or were getting great field position. For us offensively, we felt like we needed something to take us back. We weren't able to complete some third down conversions late in the third quarter, which allowed things to get out of hand. I look at that as we have to do our part to sustain drives to keep their defense on the field for a while and score some points and to continue to narrow the gap a bit."
(On what it will mean to get Sean Payton back) "He's our head coach. I will say this. I think our coaches this year did a phenomenal job. I think Sean would have been so proud of the role that a lot of guys took on that might have been a little bit different than they would have otherwise had to in his absence. They had us ready to play every week. Offensively, the game plan had us extremely confident going into every game. Down the stretch we put together some solid performances. At times, they were not good enough to win, but our coaches did a phenomenal job."
#51 LB Jonathan Vilma
"It was very disappointing to lose the way we lost today. I'm disappointed in my team, the way we lost composure in the end. That's uncharacteristic of us. That starts with the leadership, that starts with the captains. I should have found a way to get my team under control. Unfortunately, that cost us. That cost us big."
(on inconsistency on defense) "Exactly how you said it - (we played) inconsistent. Some games we play lights out. Other games, we'll give up 44 points, (and) who knows how many yards. You can't win like in that in the league and it shows."
(on allowing most yards in NFL history) "You get what you deserve. You don't play good defense, that's what's going to happen. Be a man and suck it up."
(on if defense impacted by off-field issues?) "Personally, of course. It's draining, but it's not an excuse. You've got a job to do on Sundays and we have to prepare during the week. Speaking for myself, that's not an excuse. It was draining, having to fly right after a game just to go up to (Washington) D.C. and sit in for hours on hearings and things like that. As far as the rest of the defense, I would hope that it didn't affect the rest of the guys. I really tried to make it a point not to make it their issue. It was my issue, mine and Will (Smith)'s, so I really hope it didn't affect them on Sundays."
(on Sean Payton's return and starting the offseason fresh) "I think it's great. I'm not a part of the management side, but I think it's great that we have a foundation now to start with the offseason. We don't know where everyone else is going to end up, but we know that Sean's going to be here. I assume the rest of the (coaching) staff will be here; that depends on what Sean does when he gets back. We have some continuity now going into the offseason."
(on looking forward to a normal season) "Yes, very much so. I can't wait to finally take my mind off everything and get back to our winning ways."
(on the issues that required him to be in court and at hearings) "The major issue was getting back on the field. I'm on the field, that's over and done with. The rest of that stuff, I'm not going to worry myself over it. I have a day job to do. I'm not going to worry about what happens with that. Whatever the judge decides, she decides. If we move forward, we move forward. Outside of that, I have no control, so it doesn't bother me at all."
(on his future with the Saints) "It's going to be whatever Mickey (Loomis) and Sean (Payton) decide. That's management stuff. I don't get into that. I never look at it. My job is football on Sundays. Hopefully I did a good enough job. Hopefully I'll be here next year. If not, hopefully I'll be somewhere. I don't know how it's going to work out. I never work about the management business side of it. For me, I just worry about Sundays."
#91 DE Will Smith
(on today's performance after playing well in previous weeks) "It's tough. We played well. We were able not to shoot ourselves in the foot the past few weeks. Today, we started out well. We knew they had a big play offense and had to go the distance down the field to have a chance at winning. We gave them too many big plays. They had two or three big runs and two or three good pass plays."
(on if the non-fumble call took a lot out of the defense) "No, not really. Guys were still fighting. We tried to make a run late, but we had some penalties. We just keep making the same mistakes week after week."
#32 CB Johnny Patrick
(on how deflating the failed coaches challenge play he was involved in to the team) "It was devastating. Even on the field, some of the players didn't know what the referee said. We didn't know until we came to the sidelines. They have great players over there. They made some great plays. We should have stepped up and stopped them."
Head Coach Ron Rivera
(opening statement) "Very emotional. It was a great win for our team. Our players played hard and that's all you can ask for. Offensively we did so many good things and gave ourselves the opportunity to win the football game. We stayed steady; we did things the way we're supposed to. Hat's off to Cam (Newton) and how courageous he was. Hat's off to the offensive line, patchwork as they were. The job that John Matsko and Ray Brown has done is tremendous. It was outstanding. I thought our running backs ran their butts off; kudos to them. It shows just what we can become as we go forward, and I was very proud of that. Very proud of what we did defensively. We held a very good offense in check early. They're going to make their plays. Drew Brees is one of the all-time greats in this league and you know he was going to get his, it was just a matter of time. The thing we had to do is make sure that we controlled it, which I thought our guys did a heck of a job doing. That last screen pass to Darren Sproles, that's who Darren Sproles is. But again, we stayed with it, we were resilient, and good things happened."
(on the bond shared with his team) "I'm proud of the fact that those guys showed up every day to work and do the things that we asked, and did them very well. It's a good group of men; it really is. They deserve this. They deserve the opportunity to win four in a row like they did. They came to work every day, they did what we asked of them, they practiced hard, and they played hard. It's who they are. It's a good group of men. I'm very proud of them."
(on what happens next) "I will sit down eventually with Mr. Richardson and we will evaluate this season. The process is going to begin when we get back to Charlotte. Like I said, Mr. Richardson has been fair and I appreciate the opportunity that he's given me and we'll see how things unfold."
(on why this win was so emotional) "Because they showed up and played. They've done that all year, and that's all I've asked."
(on whether or not he believes he will be back next season) "Well, I want to be back. We'll see."
(on the momentum shift following the Greg Olsen play) "You need something good to happen once in a while, and something good did happen at that point. We took advantage of it and we made a play, and then we made another play, and we kept going and that was the best thing. It could've gone the other way, but it didn't. As I said, our guys were resilient, they kept fighting and fighting and fighting. It's a good tribute to those guys in the locker room: that they played for themselves and they played for each other.
(on DeAngelo Williams) "It was awesome. I know this much: we found some really good things in terms of what we did today. I thought (Rob Chudzinski) made great adjustments. We hit a couple of runs early and we stayed with it. We were able to pound it, and pound it, and pound it. Probably the best thing is that DeAngelo was able to use his abilities and he made some plays for us."
(on what team has done better in recent weeks) "Handling adversity. Like I said we got a couple of breaks, you go and look at a couple of the games we have played. The Atlanta game, we had a couple of breaks. We've made some plays, that's also the big thing too. When you get into these crunch times you've got to make plays and we did. That's probably the biggest thing is that we made plays. We are learning how to make plays. The big interception by (Charles) Godfrey, we went out and scored. We took advantage of those things, and that's probably the most important thing."
(on the Jonathan Vilma interception return for a touchdown) "Great call by Steve Spagnuolo. He played us for screens, so he played man coverage. Jonathan Vilma made a great read and when Cam came off of the fake, he turned and expected DeAngelo (Williams) to be there and Jonathan stepped in front of it for the interception and the touchdown. The biggest thing and the best thing is that we came back. We didn't let that crumble us."
(on his message to the team afterwards) "Thank you."
#58 LB Thomas Davis
"This was a hard fought divisional game that was really important to us because of what they (Saints) did to us last year. I mean they tried to run the score up on us both games last season, and as a player and as a team you look at that stuff and it's in the back of your mind. We didn't talk about this during the week leading up to the game today but it was something that definitely motivated us."
#30 S Charles Godfrey
"The bottom line was we came down here to win a football game. We owed them one and we got the victory."
(on the Interception in the third quarter against Drew Brees) "One of the things I pride myself on is watching film and knowing what's going on out there. By watching him (Brees) over and over again I knew it was coming. It was nothing spectacular as I just made a play on the ball and got the pick."
#34 RB DeAngelo Williams
"I have to give all the credit to the offensive line. They opening the holes and I ran through them. We had a lot of success against them (Saints) the first game this season on the ground and we committed to the run all day today."
"This was a very emotional win for us. Coach (Rivera) hugged all of us as we left the field after the game and told us here in the locker room how proud he was of all of us for fighting and finishing the season like we did. It's not how you start but how you finish. And with us winning the last four games against some really good teams shows the type of players and team we have."
#2 QB Cam Newton
"This victory was real big for us for a lot of reasons. There's a lot out there that's evident that shouldn't be said, but you have to tip your hat to everyone out there: the coach, us as players - everybody. It's been a real tough month for us, as a lot of people could say we aren't playing for anything. But there's a lot of things we can do; to get back on that winning rhythm and that's what we did today to end the season."
(on getting hit and getting hurt) "The first time I got hit - I don't know by who; and I injured my ribs. The second one I was in shock by the way my ankle bent. I was in shock and I didn't know what was happening. But thank God everything was functioning well and I was able to come back in the game."
"Looking back at the first game, we had a lot of success running the football against them. And we came out here today being balanced, by running the football when we had to. And we were running it even though people knew we were going to run it. And then we passed it well too. DeAngelo (Williams) did a great job running today by breaking tackles and so did Mike Tolbert. And it's because of those two guys that we got the big win today."
V-Roll Roll Call
Video: New Orleans Saints vs Carolina Panthers Highlights | neworleanssaints.com
Video: Joe Vitt Postgame Press Conference | neworleanssaints.com
Assistant Head Coach/Linebackers Joe Vitt holds a press conference after the New Orleans Saints vs Carolina Panthers game on Sunday, December 30, 2012.
Video: Drew Brees Postgame Press Conference | neworleanssaints.com
QB Drew Brees holds a press conference after the New Orleans Saints vs Carolina Panthers game on Sunday, December 30, 2012.
Video: Jonathan Vilma Postgame Press Conference | neworleanssaints.com
LB Jonathan Vilma holds a press conference after the New Orleans Saints vs Carolina Panthers game on Sunday, December 30, 2012.