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Saints vs. Panthers Final Score: Saints Put Up Fight But Fall 41-38

The New Orleans Saints (4-8) were playing the NFC South champions Carolina Panthers (12-0) to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. The Saints put up a valiant effort, but still fell 41-38. The playoffs are gone, but the team showed enough heart.

Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Saints played what was probably their best game of the season and it still wasn't enough to defeat the now 12-0 Carolina Panthers. At 4-8, the playoffs are not even a remote possibility. But here's what I liked: this team didn't fold, they didn't pack it in. They'll probably do the same for the four remaining games and maybe Payton and Co. will find out who is worthy of staying on this team past this (lost) season.

Here's a quarter-by-quarter recap of the game:

First Quarter

  • Panthers win the toss and defer
  • The Saints quickly move near midfield
  • The drive stalls however and the Saints punt
  • -----
  • Panthers take over at their own 6-yard line
  • On third and 5, Saints pressure Newton into a bad throw
  • Panthers punt and Saints start at their own 49-yard line
  • -----
  • On third down, Brees finds Brandon Coleman for 31 yards
  • Two plays later, Brees finds Ben Watson for a 14 yards touchdown pass
  • Saints lead 7-0
  • -----
  • Panthers start at their 20-yard line
  • Carolina picks up a first down
  • On the next play, Breaux picks off a pass from Newton to Ted Ginn Jr.
  • -----
  • Saints take over at the Panthers' 20-yard line
  • After three plays, Saints line up for a 38-yard field goal
  • Forbath misses to the right
  • -----
  • Panthers take over at their 28-yard line
  • On second down, Carolina fumbles the ball
  • Stephone Anthony recovers the fumble and takes it into the endzone
  • Saints lead 14-0
  • -----
  • Panthers start at their own 20 and drive into Saints' territory
  • Panthers face a 4th and 1 at the Saints' 41-yard line
  • Cam Newton runs for 30 yards on a bootleg to get the 1st down
  • Panthers are in the Saints' redzone as the quarter ends.

Second Quarter

  • On third and 11 at the Saints 12-yard line, NEwton finds Tolbert for a TD pass
  • Saints lead 14-7
  • -----
  • Saints take over at their 20-yard line
  • On 3rd and 8 at their own 22, Brees finds Colston for 14 yards
  • The Saints get setback by a holding penalty and eventually punt
  • -----
  • In two plays, the Panthers get into the Saints' redzone
  • On a Newton pass, Greg Olsen fumbles and the Saints recover
  • -----
  • New Orleans can't take advantage of the turnover and punts the ball back to Carolina
  • -----
  • Panthers proceed to get into Saints' territory
  • Panthers run at will and get into the Saints' redzone
  • Carolina scores a touchdown
  • The extra point in blocked AND returned by Stephone Anthony for 2 points!
  • Saints lead 16-13
  • -----
  • Saints get the ball but can't score
  • After Morstead's punt, Panthers kneel to end the half.

Third Quarter

  • Panthers get the ball to start the second half
  • Carolina finds itself in the redzone in the blink of an eye
  • Carolina scores on a TD pass from Newton to Ginn Jr.
  • Panthers lead 20-16
  • -----
  • Saints throw three consecutive passes and go nowhere. Punt
  • -----
  • Panthers easily drive down the field
  • Newton finds Funchess for a touchdown pass
  • Panthers lead 27-16
  • -----
  • Saints get the ball at their 22-yard line
  • Brees finds Cooks for s 54-yard touchdown pass
  • The two-point conversion is good with a run by Ingram
  • Panthers lead 27-24
  • -----
  • Carolina starts at its own 20-yard line
  • The Panthers get several chances on deep balls but fail to convert
  • -----
  • Saints take over at their 28-yard line
  • After a gain of four yards on first down, the quarter comes to an end

Fourth Quarter

  • On the first play of the fourth quarter, Brees goes deep to Cooks
  • A 37-yard penalty on defensive pass interference puts the Saints at the Panthers' 31-yard line
  • Brees finds Coleman after a beautiful swing pass fake to Spiller for a touchdown
  • Saints lead 31-27
  • -----
  • Panthers take over at their 20-yard line and respond with two deep passes
  • Newton finds Ted Ginn Jr. for a 45 yards touchdown.
  • Panthers lead 34-31
  • -----
  • Saints start at their own 20-yard line
  • Brees throws a deep pick on 2nd and 19
  • Panthers take over near midfield but they go three-and-out too
  • -----
  • After Carolina's punt, the Saints take over at their 12-yard line.
  • Saints drive into Panthers' territory and inside the redzone
  • Ingram runs it in for a touchdown
  • Saints retake the lead 38-34
  • -----
  • Carolina takes the ball near their 20-yard line
  • Panthers get to the Saints' 47-yard line and face a 4th and 4
  • Newton finds Olsen for a clutch 16 yards catch
  • After the 2-minute warning, the Panthers have the ball at the Saints' 30-yard line
  • Panthers quickly get inside the redzone
  • Newton finds Jerricho Cotchery for a 15-yard touchdown
  • Panthers lead 41-38
  • -----
  • Saints start at their 20-yard line
  • New Orleans gets to midfield with 15 seconds left
  • On 4th and 10, the Saints throw an incomplete pass
  • Carolina wins the game 41-38