NFC wild-card notes: Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints

  • NFC wild-card notes: Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints

NFC wild-card notes: Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints

The Saints scored a wire-to-wire 31-26 victory over the Panthers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, setting up a divisional round showdown at 3:40 p.m. Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank of America Stadium in downtown Minneapolis. The Saints rebounded with a 31-21 win at home over - surprise! - the Carolina Panthers.

With eight receptions for 107 yards and two touchdowns, Olsen recorded his third career playoff game with over 100 yards receiving. "I think it broke the seal for us offensively, and obviously, got the crowd rolling". The Saints had only 41 rushing yards. However, Panthers lineman Trai Turner was also flagged for holding, offsetting that penalty. After two consecutive weeks of terrible offensive production and key injuries to the wide receivers corps, it seems Panthers fans are ready to throw in the towel.

After swapping scoreless possessions, Carolina's chances seemed all-but-doomed after a savage sack by defensive tackles Tyler Davison and David Onyemata knocked Newton loopy and out of the game. Newton got up and tried to reach the Panthers' sideline but fell to his knees on the way there. Panthers coach Ron Rivera offered a similar explanation and added that Newton only sat down to give backup Derek Anderson more time to warm up.

On an evening where the Carolina Panthers completely shut down star running backs Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram (45 yards combined), Brees took control. Newton found running back Chris McCaffrey on a relatively shallow crossing route and the speedy rookie did the rest, racing 56 yards for a touchdown that pulled the Panthers back within five points with 4:09 to play. Brees threw a fourth-down interception on a gamble by the Saints.

After driving to the Saints 21-yard line inside the final minute, the Panthers suffered a costly intentional grounding call against quarterback Cam Newton that resulted in loss of down and devastating 10-second runoff at the Saints 34.

I like the sound of that - go Panthers! "It'd be nice to have an explanation".

It was a day that belonged to the Saints, who never trailed.

Saints: Starting left guard Andrus Peat was carted off the field with a left shin injury. But they gave a spirited, cohesive effort. The combination helped New Orleans win the NFC South at 11-5 and host a playoff game for the first time in six years.

Newton was spectacular. The coaches and management, allowing him to go into this game with these receivers, were the ones who failed. "We knew what we had to do and it was on the receivers". "We knew coming in this would be completely different". The miss punctuated a 15-play, 63-yard drive that took 7:37 yet yielded zero points. You can effectively take the first two games and toss them into the trash receptacle.

In the Saints dressing room, the atmosphere was festive, and it was special.