5 things to know after Saints paste Panthers 31-13
Drew Brees often makes the extraordinary look routine,
particularly during night games in the Superdome.
Sometimes even the best defenses don’t stand a chance.
Carolina’s didn’t on Sunday night, when the Saints rolled to a
31-13 triumph in which New Orleans took back sole possession of
first place in the NFC South.
The Panthers hadn’t given up more than two touchdowns in a game
all season and ranked first in scoring defense, but Brees passed
for three scores in the second quarter alone and finished with four
during a 30-completion, 313-yard outing.
In the process, Brees became only fifth quarterback in NFL
history to eclipse 50,000 career yards. The milestone was
acknowledged with an announcement over the Superdome sound system,
with Brees nodding and smiling after seeing his face on stadium
Saints coach Sean Payton was amused by how matter-of-fact it all
seemed, and ribbed Brees about it in the locker room during his
”We were kidding him in there that a lot of places, if the
quarterback hits 50,000 yards, they would have fireworks, stop the
game,” Payton said. ”To be in that class … really hits on his
consistency, his durability, his availability, along with his skill
set. We are happy for him, obviously proud of him.”
The Panthers, meanwhile, saw their eight-game winning streak
come to a humbling halt.
Not only was their defense carved up like never before this
season, but their offense struggled to move the ball.
Cam Newton was sacked five times and finished 22 of 34 for only
160 yards, his second-lowest passing total of the season.
Carolina (9-4) will have a chance to redeem itself when it hosts
New Orleans (10-3) on Dec. 22.
”We have to learn from it,” Carolina coach Ron Rivera said.
”We still have a lot of football left to play and a lot still left
on the line.”
Here are five things we learned from the Saints demolition of
MOVING ON: The Saints proved they could put a bad game to bed
quickly and regroup. Last Monday night, they were pounded 34-7 in
Seattle then had a flight delay, further compressing their
preparations for Carolina. By the time Sunday night arrived, the
Saints looked like the same dominant team they’ve been all year at
home, where they are 7-0.
TOUGH LOVE: The Panthers showed they are as vulnerable as any
team to a lopsided loss – at least in a tough road environment.
They were disappointed, but hardly devastated. They look at the way
the Saints bounced back from their loss to the Seahawks and expect
to do the same.
”Some tough love and us getting hit in the mouth might not be
the worst thing in the world, as moving forward these games for us
are going to get bigger and bigger,” Panthers left tackle Jordan
Gross said. ”The sky isn’t falling.”
CLUTCH COLSTON: Now in his eighth season, former seventh-round
draft choice Marques Colston continues to prove he can be a
difference maker against top defenses. He led all receivers with
nine catches for 125 yards and two TDs. Payton said the only reason
Colston doesn’t have such numbers more often is because how the
Saints spread the ball around to multiple targets.
”The way we utilize receivers doesn’t help in regards to
postseason accolades … but I’m glad we have him,” Payton
SETTLING: Carolina may need to sharpen its red zone execution.
The Panthers moved the ball well in the first quarter, twice
reaching the New Orleans 20, only to settle for field goals. A sack
stalled one drive and Newton threw an incompletion on
third-and-goal from the 6 on another.
”Playing a team like (the Saints), field goals just aren’t
going to cut it,” Newton said. ”We are just going to have to come
back (Monday) and watch the film and get a lot better at
PRESSURING PAIR: The Saints appear to have their best pass rush
off the edge in years thanks to third-year pro Cameron Jordan and
fourth-year player Junior Galette, who’ve combined for 20 sacks.
Jordan’s two sacks gave him 11 this season, making him the first
Saint with double-digit sacks since Will Smith in 2009. Galette
sacked Newton three times to bring his total to a career-high
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org