Carolina Panthers: Get Good Team Comeback Win at Saints


The Carolina Panthers defeated the New Orleans Saints in a long challenging game that should remind the Panthers how tough the NFC South is.

The Carolina Panthers won the NFC South division today. In fact they won it before kickoff as Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons fell to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to bring both of those teams to 6-6. All the Panthers had to gain against the New Orleans Saints was defending their undefeated record and taking a step closer to a first round bye.

Perhaps the Panthers took it too easy at first. Saints quarterback Drew Brees looked just as effective as Panthers fans have come to expect. He marched down the field to score the opening touchdown. Then the Panthers fumbled the ball back to the Saints for another score and the Panthers were suddenly down fourteen.

This was the point where they could have packed it in. We just don’t have it today, boys, let’s just try again next week.

That is not what happened. Despite three turnovers, the Panthers were not having problems with the Saints so much as themselves in the first half. The team battled back behind Cam Newton and Jonathan Stewart. Greg Olsen worked some magic and the Panthers had gotten the margin to 13-14 by the half. Then there was a brief reminder that they still had work to do when the Saints blocked the extra point and returned it for two.

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The Panthers had help throughout the game from the Saints defense. Brandon Browner was repeatedly flagged for holding and unsportsmanlike conduct. Panthers drives were a given at least one free first down somewhere.

The Saints defense was also rough. They hit Newton continuously. Newton showed his pain too. He was checked for head injury and he had trouble with his ankle at one point. Newton continued to play though, which was necessary considering the fourth quarter dissolved into a shoot out.

Brees kept finding his guys and Mark Ingram. They answered Panthers scores and seized the lead several times. The Panthers were left with a final drive. After finding Ted Ginn and Devin Funchess for scores, Newton and the Panthers had to work the magic one more time.

The Panthers opted to go for it on fourth down and Newton threw a desperation heave at Olsen. Olsen barely got his fingers around it to keep the game going. After that Newton found Jerricho Cotchery twice in a row to score the touchdown.

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At this point the Panthers had done about all they could do with the mistakes they had made earlier. They had given their defense the game to win with about a minute to go. They had scored more points than Drew Brees in his favored home turf of the Superdome. They fought the crowd noise. They found Panthers kids in the stands to give balls to.

Now it was all on the defense to prevent Brees from getting a tying field goal or worse a winning touchdown. The Panthers kept the Saints in-bounds and finally drove them into a fourth down situation. Josh Norman kept good coverage and the ball never got to its target.

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It was a game the Panthers needed, a win that had plenty of flaws. There will be plenty to work on for the 12-0 Panthers. At least they should have a better feeling about Cortland Finnegan, who was picked on at times, but also made some good plays.

The Panthers play the Falcons next week at home.