New Orleans held the Panthers offense to zero second-half points, but still couldn't cover.
The Saints shut out the Panthers offense in the second half of their 12-9 victory on Monday night, yet New Orleans still wasn't able to cover the 4.5-point spread for the final two quarters. And Drew Brees and Co. didn't have a lack of opportunities, either.
New Orleans was set to cover early in the fourth quarter, seizing a five-point lead on an Alvin Kamara touchdown run to go up 12-7. But Brees threw an interception on the ensuing two-point try, which was returned to the end zone by Carolina defensive back Donte Jackson for a pick-two. The two-point return was just the second of its kind in the NFL history, and it swung the second-half spread back in the favor of Panthers' bettors. With 12 minutes to play, the Saints led 12-9.
The Saints had a second golden opportunity at covering the 4.5-point line in the final minutes. New Orleans marched down into Carolina territory, and faced a third-and-four inside the Panthers' five with 1:51 remaining. An end-around gave wideout Tommylee Lewis a corner to the end zone, but a dive toward the pylon popped the ball out of Lewis's arms and through the end zone.
A touchdown or field goal on the possession would have brought the Saints over the 4.5-point 2H spread. The fumble capped New Orleans's lead at three, though, providing one of the worst Monday night bad beats of the season.
The Saints advanced to an NFC-best 12–2 with the victory, placing them in pole position for the top seed in the conference. But that won't provide much solace to New Orleans bettors, who suffered a pair of bad breaks en route to a painful gambling loss.