Saints season-long dominance of Panthers continues in 31-26 wildcard win

The Carolina Panthers Season Got Lost in the Lights

The Carolina Panthers Season Got Lost in the Lights

Atlanta gave up 19.8 points per game this year (eighth-best in the NFL), but it impressively shut the Rams down in a 26-13 victory.

New Orleans Saints 2018 looks more Super Bowlish, than current crop, although rookie classes for Loomis, Payton, for past two years have been superb to make it this season-Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints. Newton has averaged 12.5 carries for 59.7 yards per game in Carolina's past four games.

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But the 80-yard bomb helped New Orleans to 229 yards on its next three drives, to a 21-9 halftime lead, while Clay's drop (followed by Graham Gano's first missed field goal since Week 5), kept the Panthers just out of reach even as they fought back to within five points in the fourth quarter.

Carolina was the last team to beat the Vikings, on a day where the Vikings matched their season high with three turnovers and allowed Jonathan Stewart to become the only running back to gain 100 yards in a game against them this season.

The 2017-18 regular season saw the Saints pick up a couple wins over the Panthers.

Payton pointed out that the Panthers not only defeated two of the top teams in the National Football League this season - New England and Minnesota - but beat the Patriots on the road.

Well, this season the New Orleans Saints have been running the ball much more than ever, terrorizing the league with the NFL's top running back tandem: Alvin Kamara and former Heisman Trophy victor Mark Ingram.

The Saints improved from 27th defensively overall to 15th this season. But Newton, Carolina's leading rusher this season, didn't run much in two losses to New Orleans, gaining 67 yards on nine carries. Slowing them down is a top priority for Luke Kuechly and the Panther defense.

"From the midpoint of the season, when (Carolina) got on a roll, you can see the confidence grow with that team". Former Panther A.J. Klein starts at outside linebacker. "If you're winning, it will get quiet really quick".

What's most memorable about that play was how loud the fans were in the moments following the punt, so much so that the game's announcers didn't talk for a minute so the home audience could take in the scene.

"We have to go a better job of capitalizing on turnovers", Kalil said.

Notes: LT Terron Armstead (thigh), DE Trey Hendrickson (ankle) and TE Michael Hoomanawanui (concussion) all practiced on a limited basis on Wednesday after not playing in Tampa Bay last Sunday. Rookie cornerback Marshon Lattimore has sparked the turnaround, earning Pro Bowl honors while making a case for defensive Rookie of the Year.

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