Monday, 23 April, 2018

Former Buckeyes propel Saints to Wild Card victory over Panthers

Panthers must contain dangerous Saints after the catch Cam Newton's supporting cast must step up for Panthers to overcome Saints
Rita Gibson | 13 January, 2018, 01:26

New Orleans Saints held off a late comeback bid by the Carolina Panthers to prevail 31-26 victory in their NFC wildcard encounter.

"It hurts", said veteran cornerback Captain Munnerlyn after the game. And obviously, you don't just look at the games you played them.

Newton echoed his coach's description of what happened during the game. The Saints put the game out of reach after Brees completed a 46-yard pass to Michael Thomas to get the ball to the Panthers 5-yard line.

Drew Brees, Michael Thomas, and Mark Ingram were unsafe enough, but Alvin Kamara has added a new layer to the offense, making the Saints as deadly as anyone on the offensive side of the ball. It was intercepted by safety Mike Adams, which turned out better for New Orleans than an incompletion because it meant the Panthers had to start from their own 31 instead of mid-field.

"I was showing pressure, me and the safety were showing pressure", he said. "I thought there was a receiver (Devin Funchess) in the vicinity".

Newton quickly cleared protocol with the Panthers saying he injured his eye, not his brain, on a second-down sack by Saints defensive lineman David Onyemata with the Panthers trailing New Orleans, 24-19. The New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers will test that alleged truism when they meet in a NFC Wild Card playoff game on Sunday (1:40 p.m. PT/4:40 p.m. ET, KPTV-12, FOX). "I made a play on the last one, the one that counts".

Brees' touchdowns went for 80-yards to Ted Ginn and 9 yards to tight end Josh Hill. Despite these less-than-stellar receivers, Newton threw for 349 yards and two touchdowns, of which tight end Greg Olsen and running back Christian McCaffrey accounted for 208 yards and two touchdowns. "The ball was spread around quite a bit and guys were making plays when they had the chances".

Jacksonville quarterback Blake Bortles was more effective as a runner than passer, finishing with 89 yards on nine carries as the Jags won their first playoff game since 2007.

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"It's hard to beat a team three times, especially a team that is as prideful as the Panthers", Saints quarterback Drew Brees said.

"(The Panthers) were going to be a tough out...and we knew it was going to be a challenge", Saints coach Sean Payton said.

"I believe that we are different". Newton was very good during his 335-yard, two-touchdown performance in the 49-15 rout of the Arizona Cardinals in the 2016 NFC Championship game, but he has completed just 59.7 percent of his passes for eight touchdowns and seven interceptions in six playoff games.

Offensively, the Saints have evolved as well, particularly with the emergence of versatile running back Alvin Kamara, who put up regular-season numbers (728 yards and eight TDs rushing, 826 yards and five TDs receiving and a kickoff return TD) worthy of rookie-of-the-year consideration.

Ron Rivera was visibly upset at the call, understandably so.

Did Jerry Richardson sell the Carolina Panthers during the National Football League playoffs?

And then, with the season on the line, the defense rose up to keep the Panthers from scoring the touchdown they had to have in the end.

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