The recent trend of blowouts on Thursday Night Football have been reinstated as the New Orleans Saints stormed into the friendly confines of Bank of America Stadium and walked up to the Carolina Panthers to beat up on them to the tune of 28 to 10. Both teams sported a 3-4 record entering tonight’s contest, with the Panthers having a tie against the Bengals three weeks ago. But after a blowout by the Green Bay Packers and an ugly 13-9 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, the Panthers came into the game leading the NFC South with a losing record. The fact that the division also contains the putrid Tampa Bay Buccaneers doesn’t say much about the Panthers or the NFC South. Though one might imagine that meant the New Orleans Saints stink of toilet water for having only eeked out a paltry 3-4 record of their own entering the game, one would be wrong.
The Saints came in fresh off a resounding 44-23 blowout victory over Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers, who eviscerated the Panthers 38-17. They were undefeated at home but never tasted the sweet flavor of victory on the road. The agony of defeat was far more familiar. So what would make anyone believe that things were going to be any different for them on the road tonight? Well, aside from the fact that the Carolina Panthers’ offense is only ranked in the bottom half of the NFL in passing yards (17th) and near the bottom in rushing yards (27th) while the giving up the 18th most yards in the air while giving up 135.3 rushing yards per game to opponents…nothing at all.
Most of the first half featured a struggle for field position by both teams until a sack on Cam Newton by Saints LB Junior Galette which resulted in a fumble recovery by LB C. Lofton deep in Panthers territory. The Saints would score almost immediately. Former first round draft pick RB Mark Ingram has been running hard this season. His scramble from the 3 yard line would be his third touchdown of the season.
Carolina would get the ball back but the Panthers offense would sputter, as has been the case most of the season, and New Orleans would score a second touchdown before halftime on a short pass to TE Jimmy Graham.
Carolina would get the ball to start the second half. They would eat up 4:46 minutes with a 10 play, 81 yard drive that culminated with a 10 yard touchdown scamper from Cam Newton. The Saints offense would respond immediately with a 14 play, 80 yard touchdown drive of their own, with Brees' dive in over the pile from a yard out for the touchdown. The following Panthers drive in the late 3rd/early 4th quarter was a summation of their entire season thus far. The two teams would exchange punts late in the 3rd quarter but Newton would hook up with J. Cotchery on a 47 yard pass play that put the Panthers in scoring position as the quarter ended. But an apparent touchdown pass to TE B. Williams at the start of the 4th quarter was called back. A run play by Newton off right tackle resulted in a nine yard loss. Subsequent pass attempts to rookie WR Kelvin Benjamin were incomplete, resulting in a field goal that brought the score to 21-10. But the theme of the night for the Carolina Panthers on defense was reciprocity and they would fold once again.
The Saints would march 80 yards and consume over 7 minutes before RB Mike Ingram would score off left tackle for his second touchdown of the night. Carolina wouldn’t respond this time as Newton was sacked yet again. This time for a loss of nine yards. Two New Orleans first downs would allow them to milk the clock until this game was over. QB Drew Brees would throw for 297 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT. RB Mark Ingram carried the ball 30 times for 100 yards and 2 touchdowns. TE Jimmy Graham would return and have a big day with 7 catches and 83 yards, 1 TD. WR Kenny Stills would catch 5 passes for 72 yards. The New Orleans Saints (4-4) look to continue their winning ways at home versus the San Francisco 49ers.
Meanwhile, the woes of the anemic Carolina Panthers offense seem to be weighing heavily on Cam Newton. On several occasions, the frustration on Newton’s face was flashed on the television screen via NFL Network. Looking at the stats of some of Carolina’s skill players made me do a little cringing of my own. Newton would lead the way as far as mediocrity was concerned with 151 yards passing and a raggedy QBR of 38.9. RB Jonathan Stewart would contribute 48 yards but would only get eight carries as would RB D’Angelo Williams. He would only squeeze 20 yards out of his attempts in his first game back after injury. Newton would get 43 yards on the ground himself. WR J. Cotchery would contribute two catches for 59 yards, but that was about it as far as offensive contributors for the Panthers was concerned. The Panthers (3-5-1) look to stem the tide of losses at three in a row, but they’ll be hard pressed to do so against the high-scoring Philadelphia Eagles on Monday Night Football the week after next (Nov. 10).