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Saints Win 34-31 Thriller Against the Panthers

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The Saints tried to give this one away, but prevailed in the end.

NFL: Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

After getting off the mat against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last Sunday, the New Orleans Saints (9-2) came home to face a desperate Carolina Panthers (5-6) squad coming off two straight losses. The Saints were eager to keep their momentum going and win yet another crucial division game.

IN THE FIRST HALF, the Saints would take the ball after the Panthers had deferred and for the first time this entire season, they would march down the field and score a touchdown on their opening possession. After Brees had found Ted Ginn Jr. for a 30-yard reception into Panthers territory on third-and-12, Latavius Murray would run 26-yard untouched into the end zone to give the Saints a 7-0 lead.

On their opening drive, the Panthers would run Christian McCaffrey twice but fail on third-and-9 after an incomplete pass by Kyle Allen under heavy pressure.

On their second possession of the game, the Saints would stall after an offensive pass interference call on Jared Cook., unsuccessfully challenged by Sean Payton. More importantly, Saints left tackle Terron Armstead would be carted off the field after the drive with what appeared to be a left ankle injury.

Punting for the first time of the game, the ball appears to hit a Carolina player, however the call-on-the-field gives the ball back to the Panthers. The play would prompt Sean Payton to use his second challenge on the game, all in the first quarter. The Saints would win that challenge and take over at the Panthers’ 27-yard line. Brees would then find his wide receiver Tre’Quan Smith for a 13-yard touchdown to increase the Saints lead to 14-0.

On their second possession of the game, the Panthers would go 75 yards for a touchdown, on a 51-yard throw from Kyle Allen to D.J. Moore, when cornerback P.J. Williams would be caught looking in the backfield. After a missed extra point, the Saints led 14-6.

On their third possession of the game, the Saints would take over at their 25-yard line and drive deep into Panthers territory. The Saints would eventually stall after Brees was sacked at the Panthers 24-yard line, forcing the Saints to settle for a Wil Lutz’s 41-yard field goal. The Saints led 17-6 at that point.

On their ensuing possession, the Panthers would drive all the way down to the Saints’ 24-yard line with Kyle Allen making good pass plays and using his legs as well in the process. Carolina would however stall at the Saints’ 24-yard line, and kicker Joey Slye would convert on a 41-yard field goal, making the score 17-9 Saints.

On their ensuing possession, the Saints would go four-and-out, with a 4th-and-1 attempt from their own 29-yard line thwarted by a holding penalty on Terron Armstead’s replacement at left tackle, Patrick Omameh.

On the Panthers ensuing drive, Carolina would drive near midfield and back-to-back sacks by the Saints would push them back. The drive would unfortunately by sustained after a bonehead play by the usually-disciplined Cam Jordan, trying to punch the ball out of Kyle Allen’s hands and whiffing and hitting the quarterback instead. The Panthers would keep their drive going and burn the remaining six-plus minutes on the clock and punctuate a terrible drive for the Saints’ defense with a touchdown pass to Christian McCaffray from the Saints’ half-yard line with three seconds left on the clock. The Panthers would go for two and fail, but they trailed only 17-15 at halftime.

———

IN THE SECOND HALF, the Saints would kickoff to the Panthers and the defense would force a quick three-and-out by putting a lot of pressure on Kyle Allen, forcing incompletions on second and third down.

On their first possession of the half, the Saints would pick up where they left off in the first quarter, driving 75 yards and finishing the drive with a touchdown pass from Drew Brees to Jared Cook to increase their lead to nine points at 24-15.

On their second drive of the half, the Panthers would once again find success using Christian McCaffrey in the passing game, using the versatile running back to get into Saints’ territory. Carolina would stall at the Saints’ 34-yard line however, settling for a Joey Slye 52-yard field goal. The Saints lead was cut to six points at 24-18.

On their next drive, the Saints once again would move the ball, something they’ve seemingly been able to do at will in this game. The drive would be highlighted by an incredible leaping catch by the ever-improving Jared Cook to take the ball into Carolina’s side of the field. The Saints would cap the drive with a touchdown from Drew Brees to Michael Thomas, his seventh catch of the game and first at that point since the first quarter. The Saints would go for two but Thomas would be called for a pass interference on the play. Wil Lutz would eventually kick a 43-yard extra point to give New Orleans a 31-18 lead.

The Panthers would be undeterred, as Kyle Allen again would rely on the big play with a 52-yard pass to D.J. Moore, and some shoddy coverage and tackling again by P.J. Williams. The Panthers would eventually get a touchdown run from Christian McCaffrey, but the Panthers would miss their second PAT of the game, trailing the Saints 31-24 at that point.

On the Saints’ ensuing drive, New Orleans would drive up to their 45-yard line but stall after Ted Ginn Jr. dropped a beautiful long pass from Drew Brees. The Saints’ defense however would return the favor, holding the Panthers to a three-and-out and punt.

On the ensuing Saints possession, Brees would throw and ill-advised interception to Tre Boston right at midfield, on a ball intended for Tre’Quan Smith.

The Panthers would then drive 50 yards and on fourth-and-goal from the Saints’ 2-yard line, Kyle Allen would once again make a play, finding D.J. Moore for a touchdown, with Carolina tying the game at 31.

On their ensuing drive, the Saints would move the ball up to their 45-yard line and go for it on 4th and-inches. The Saints would be stopped while trying a short run by Alvin Kamara who was met in the backfield by the Panthers’ penetration.

Taking over at the Saints’ 43-yard line, the Panthers drive to the Saints’ five-yard line and stall on third-and-goal. The Panthers challenge the play and the call would be overturned. Carolina would then have the ball and a first-and-goal play at the Saints’ three-yard line. The Panthers would still stall with three more attempts and Joey Slye missed a 28-yard field goal, keeping the game tied at 31 and the ball with the Saints.

The Saints would take the ball over at their 11-yard line and move the ball up to the Panthers’ red zone, with Brees masterfully finding his top targets to put the team in field goal range. Wil Lutz would then convert a 33-yard field goal to give the Saints a much-needed 34-31 win.

———

Here is how the game unfolded drive-by-drive

FIRST HALF

First Quarter

  • Panthers win the toss and defer, Saints start at their own 25-yard line after a touchback. Saints find Michael Thomas for their first “first down” of the game. On third-and-12, Brees finds Ted Ginn Jr. for a 30-yard gain into Panthers territory. On the next play, Latavius Murray runs for a 26-yard touchdown.
  • NO: 7 - CAR: 0
  • Panthers start at their 25-yard line after a touchback on the kickoff. Panthers go three-and-out after the Saints apply huge pressure on Kyle Allen. Panthers punt.
  • Saints take over at their own 23-yard line after a short return by Alvin Kamara. On third-and-4, Brees finds tight end Jared Cook for a long reception into Panthers’ territory but Cook is called for pass interference. Payton challenges the play and is denied. On third-and-14, the Saints stall and have to punt. Terron Armstead is carted off after the play.
  • On the punt, the ball appears to hit a Carolina player, and the Saints recover. However, the ball is given back to Carolina on the call on the field. Payton uses his second challenge of the game on the play. The Saints win the challenge as the ball had indeed hit a Panthers player.
  • Saints take over at the Panthers’ 27-yard line and get into the red zone on a run by Latavius Murray. Brees finds Tre’Quan Smith on play-action for a wide-open touchdown.
  • NO: 14 - CAR: 0
  • Panthers take over at their 25-yard line. Kyle Allen finds Greg Olsen for Carolina’s first “first down” of the game. Kyle Allen finds D.J. Moore behind the secondary for a 51-yard touchdown on a play where P.J. Williams got caught looking in the backfield. Kicker Joey Slye misses the extra point.
  • NO: 14 - CAR: 6
  • Saints take over at their 25-yard line. Michael Thomas gets his 100th catch of the year late in the first quarter as Saints get into Carolina territory. Saints get deeper into Panthers territory as the quarter ends.

Second Quarter

  • Saints begin the quarter at the Panthers’ 19-yard line. On third-and-9 from the Panthers’ 24-yard line, Brees is sacked. Wil Lutz makes a 41-yard field goal.
  • NO: 17 - CAR: 6
  • Panthers take over at their 25-yard line. Carolina gets near midfield on misdirection plays. Allen finds McCaffrey on a short pass to get into Saints territory. Allen uses his legs to get the Panthers inside the Saints’ 30-yard line. Panthers eventually stall at the Saints’ 24-yard line and Joey Slye makes a 41-yard field goal.
  • NO: 17 - CAR: 9
  • Saints take over at their 25-yard line. On 4th-and-1 at their own 29-yard line, Saints go for it, but a hold on left tackle Patrick Omameh forces the Saints to punt. It’s a four-and-out for the Saints. Thomas Morstead punts and Panthers take over at their 32-yard line
  • Kyle Allen moves the Panthers near midfield on short passes to Christian McCaffrey. Mario Edwards sacks Kyle Allen on the fourth play of the drive, Demario Davis sacks Kyle Allen, but Cam Jordan commits a penalty that gives the Panthers another first down. Panthers get into Saints’ territory on runs by McCaffrey. Carolina is driving as the two-minute warning hits. Panthers get into the red zone on a pass to Christian McCaffrey. David Onyemata sacks Kyle Allen on first-and-goal, but on second down, he finds Christian McCaffrey to the Saints’ half-yard line with three seconds left on the clock. Panthers are going for it with three seconds left. Kyle Allen finds McCaffrey for a touchdown. Panthers go for two and fail to convert.
  • NO: 17 - CAR: 15

SECOND HALF

Third Quarter

  • Panthers take over at their 25-yard line after the touchback. Panthers go three-and-out on a short run by McCaffrey and two incompletions by Kyle Allen. Panthers punt and Saints take over at their own 38-yard line.
  • Saints find their first “first down” since the first quarter and move near midfield. A penalty on Carolina moves the ball deep into Panthers’ territory. Saints get into the red zone on a run by Latavius Murray. Brees then finds Jared Cook for a touchdown.
  • NO: 24 - CAR: 15
  • Panthers take over at their 25-yard line and Christian McCaffrey catches a swing pass for 23 yards. Panthers get into Saints’ territory on a pass to Greg Olsen. Panthers get more help from Saints’ penalties, this time a P.J. Williams illegal use of hands. On 3rd-and-10 from the Saints’ 34-yard line, Vonn Bell bats a pass from Allen and the Panthers settled for a 52-yard field goal by Joey Slye.
  • NO: 24 - CAR: 18
  • Panthers kick off and Saints take over at their 25-yard line after the touchback. On the first play, Brees finds Alvin Kamara for a 10-yard pass. Brees again finds Kamara to move the chains. Brees finds Jared Cook in Panthers’ territory, Cook climbs the ladder to make an incredible catch. Alvin Kamara then takes the ball and runs for 29 yards to the Panthers’ 4-yard line. Brees finds Michael Thomas on the next play for a touchdown. Saints go for two and Michael Thomas catches the ball. However the wide receiver is called for pass interference. Wil Lutz makes a 43-yard extra point.
  • NO: 31 - CAR: 18
  • Panthers return the kickoff to the 29-yard line as the game becomes chippy. Kyle Allen Finds D.J. Moore for 52 yards right into the Saints’ red zone. Panthers get to the Saints’ four-yard line and Christian McCaffrey runs into the end zone for a touchdown. Joey Slye misses the PAT again.
  • NO: 31 - CAR: 24
  • Saints take over at their 25-yard line. On the first play, Brees finds Jared Cook all the way to the 44-yard line. New Orleans is facing a 2nd-and-9 at their 45-yard line as the quarter ends.

Fourth Quarter

  • Saints gain only a yard on the second down play and on 3rd-and-8, Ted Ginn Jr. drops a beautiful pass in the bread basket and Saints have to punt.
  • Panthers take over at their 20-yard line after Morstead’s punt goes into the end zone for a touchback. The Panthers go three-and-out after a run and two incompletions from Kyle Allen and punt.
  • Saints fair-catch the punt at their 34-yard line, and quickly face a 3rd-and-10. A penalty on the offensive line pushes the Saints to 3rd-and-15. Brees’ pass down the middle towards Tre’Quan Smith is intercepted by Tre Boston at midfield.
  • Panthers start at midfield and move into Saints’ territory on an end-around run play to Curtis Samuel. A pass interference on Marcus Williams inside the end zone gives Carolina the ball at the Saints’ one-yard line. On third-and-goal, Christian McCaffrey is stopped at the goal line. Panthers go for it on 4th down at the Saints’ 2-yard line. Kyle Allen finds D.J. Moore for a touchdown.
  • NO: 31 - CAR: 31
  • Saints take over at their 25-yard line. On the second play of the drive, Brees finds Michael Thomas for 11 yards and a first down. A penalty on Erik McCoy would set the Saints back, then another penalty on Larry Warford would push the Saints back 15 yards without a snap. On 1st-and-25 Brees finds Jared Cook for 21 yards. On 4th-and-1 from their own 45-yard line, the Saints are going for it. Saints fail to convert and turn the ball over on down at their own 45-yard line.
  • Panthers take over at the Saints’ 43-yard line. Panthers get near the Saints’ red zone on a pass to Greg Olsen. Panthers get into the red zone on another pass to Olsen. On third down from the Saints’ 5-yard line, Allen throws an incomplete pass towards Jarius Wright, as the Saints’ defense holds. Carolina however challenges the play and wins a pass interference call, keeping the ball. On third-and-goal from the Saints’ 3-yard line, Marcus Davenport sacks Kyle Allen as the two-minute warning hits. Joey Slye misses a 28-yard field goal.
  • Saints take over at their 11-yard line as Brees finds Thomas and Kamara for first downs. Brees then finds Michael Thomas on 3rd-and-6 for 24 yards into Panthers’ territory. Brees then finds KAmara for a screen pass to the Panthers’ 24-yard line. Saints move the ball to the Panthers’ 16-yard line and line up for a field goal. Wil Lutz makes a 33-yard field goal.
  • NO: 34 - CAR: 31
  • Saints Win! Saints Win!

Poll

Who gets your Saints game ball today?

This poll is closed

  • 37%
    Jared Cook who arrived as a Saint today!
    (91 votes)
  • 21%
    Drew Brees engineering that masterful 2-minute game-winning drive
    (53 votes)
  • 18%
    Marcus Davenport, sacking Allen and then influencing the field goal
    (45 votes)
  • 18%
    Wil "Ice Cold" Lutz who kicked the game-winning field goal
    (44 votes)
  • 3%
    All the burgers that kept me alive during this game
    (8 votes)
241 votes total Vote Now