By: Terrill J. Weil
Da Boot Sports!
Wil Lutz kicked a 33 yard field goal with no time left to lift the Saints to an exciting 34-31 win over the Carolina Panthers. The Saints defense deserve the game ball for this victory. Carolina drove the ball deep into New Orleans territory after the Saints failed on a 4th and inches from their own 45 yard line. With the score tied at 31-31, the Panthers had it 3rd and 3 at the 5 yard line. Kyle Allen threw an incomplete pass. However, Head Coach Ron Rivera tossed out his challenge flag and the officials found that there was pass interference on the play, setting up Carolina 1st and goal at the three. On 1st down the Saints defense stuffed Christian McCaffrey for a one yard loss. Allen then rolled right and threw the ball away on 2nd down as the Saints had solid coverage on the play. On 3rd down, Marcus Davenport sacked Allen at the ten, taking the game to the 2 minute warning. Carolina kicker Joey Slye pushed his 28 yard field goal attempt to the right. The goal line stand probably saved the game for New Orleans. Now Drew Brees and the offense would set up the Saints to win it. Starting the drive at their own 20 yard line with 1:56 left in the contest, Brees lead the Saints 65 yds in 11 plays to the Carolina 15 yard line, where he spiked the ball with 3 seconds on the clock. Lutz hit his kick for the victory. This was the 50th meeting between New Orleans & Carolina, (the series now tied 25-25).
The Saints jumped out to an early 14-0 lead, scoring touchdowns on two of their first three possessions. Latavius Murray finished off the first drive with a 26 yard scoring run, as New Orleans went 75 yards in 7 plays after taking the opening kick off. The Saints then got a turnover as a Thomas Morstead punt hit a Carolina player's leg. J.T. Gray recovered the live ball. From there, Brees ended up hitting Tre'Quan Smith from 13 yards out to extend the lead to 14-0. Carolina responded on a 4 play, 75 yard drive with Kyle Allen throwing a 51 yard touchdown pass to DJ Moore. The PAT was missed and the 1st quarter ended with the Saints holding a 14-6 advantage.
New Orleans extended their lead to 17-6 with a Wil Lutz field goal early in the 2nd quarter. Carolina responded by going 52 yards in 10 plays, kicking a field goal with 8:09 to go in the 1st half. 17-9 New Orleans. The Saints went three and out surrendering possession back to the Panthers. On the last play of the half, Carolina scored with Allen tossing a one yard touchdown pass to Christian McCaffrey. The two point conversion failed as the game went to the half with the Saints on top, 17-15.
Carolina went three and out to start the 3rd quarter. New Orleans then increased their lead, driving 62 yards in 6 plays with as Jared Cook hauled in a 20 yard scoring pass from Brees. Brees finished the game, 30/39, 311 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT. Both teams played well on offense in the 3rd quarter as they traded scores on the next three possessions. Joey Slye added 3 points for the Panthers as he made a field goal from 52 yards out. The Saints then responded with a nice 75 yard touchdown drive with Brees hitting Michael Thomas for the score. The 3rd quarter track meet ended with a 4 yard touchdown plunge by McCaffrey with 1:28 left on the clock, as the Saints took a 31-24 lead into the final period.
The Panthers controlled most of the 4th quarter. After each team traded punts, Drew Brees made his first mistake of the game as he threw into double coverage and was picked off by Tre Boston at mid-field. Carolina took advantage of the turnover, as they tied the game at 31-31. On 4th and goal from the two, Kyle Allen hit DJ Moore for the score.
Michael Thomas had a great day, as he had 101 yards receiving on 10 catches and a touchdown. Jared Cook caught 6 ball for 99 yards and 1 score. The duo of Latavius Murray and Alvin Kamara combined for 118 yards on 18 carries. (Murray, 64 on 7 rushes/ Kamara, 54 on 11 touches)... Drew Brees pulled even with Tom Brady for 2nd in all-time touchdown passes in a career with 531. Both are chasing Peyton Manning who is sitting at the top spot with 539. The Saints are now 9-2 and can clinch the NFC South Division with a win in Atlanta this Thursday on Thanksgiving night.