Carolina Panthers report card: Running game worked, but secondary got scorched

Carolina Panthers report card: Running game worked, but secondary got scorched

Ross Houston
January 13, 2018

The Saints have an improved running game with Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara and a much better defense than a year ago, which makes the Saints an extremely risky team going into the playoffs.

The Saints were able to bleed the Panthers of their timeouts on the drive, but after the two-minute warning, Brees' desperate pass was intercepted downfield at the 31-yard line by Carolina strong safety Mike Adams.

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) drops back to pass against the Carolina Panthers during the third quarter in the NFC Wild Card playoff football game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

The play Ginn ran? "I do believe I am the leader of this team and the team goes as I go". "You still have to have a level of patience and take advantage of them when they do come around". But, he delivered and found eight different receivers in the process. On the 14th play of a 63-yard Carolina drive, Newton rifled a pass into the end zone, into the hands of Kaelin Clay ... and right through the hands of Kaelin Clay. This brought on Gano yet again for a 29-yard field goal, and the Saints held on to a 21-12 lead with 10:58 left in the third quarter.

Newton threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to tight end Greg Olsen to get the Panthers within 24-19 early in the fourth quarter. That pulled the Panthers to within 24-19.

The next time Carolina got the ball, the Panthers faced second-and-7 from their 20, and Newton took a hard hit to the head from Saints defensive end David Onyemata.

The Panthers got the ball back with a chance to take the lead at their 31-yard line with 1:51 to play.

But Newton promptly returned on the next series, nearly immediately connecting with Christian McCaffrey on a 56-yard catch-and-run touchdown. Brees threw a fourth-down interception on a gamble by the Saints.

New Orleans will now deploy its multifaceted attack against Minnesota's vaunted D. Carolina, meanwhile, ends the season with a sense of what could have been. Newton was sacked on fourth down with five seconds left to seal the outcome. It appears Cam Newton was outside of the pocket before releasing the pass that was deemed intentional grounding. "My helmet had come down low enough over my eyelid and it got pressed by the player's stomach, I believe", Newton said. "It would be nice to have the explanation".

11-5 record, reached playoffs in '17 (6-10 in '16). "Who dat say dey gonna beat dem Saints?". He was off most of the day, misfiring short and long, but made up for it with 88 yards rushing - becoming the second starting quarterback in the past 25 years to win a playoff game with more rushing yards than passing (87). But they gave a spirited, cohesive effort.

Ron Rivera was visibly upset at the call, understandably so. Still, they did put themselves in a tough position to begin with.

Panthers: Making eighth overall playoff appearance (eighth since the merger), 9-7 in postseason play (9-7 since the merger).

We already know the San Francisco 49ers will be selecting with either the ninth or tenth pick in April's draft, depending on the result of a coin flip with the Oakland Raiders in February.

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