Saints Overcome Penalties to Defeat Panthers 34-31
New Orleans, LA–Wil Lutz drills a 33-yard field goal as time expires to carry the Saints (9-2) to a 34-31 victory over the Carolina Panthers (5-6) and take a four-game lead in the race for the NFC South Crown.
“Proud of our team, things didn’t always go the way we planned but we will take them however we can get them” said Quarterback Drew Brees.
Drew Brees threw for 311 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception in the win. This was his 50th game winning drive of his NFL career. The drive set up Wil Lutz’s second game-winning field goal of the season.
On the final drive of the game wide receiver Michael Thomas capped off another impressive day with a 24-yard catch and run on third down to set the Saints up inside of the Panthers’ 40-yard line. The clutch reception was Thomas’ final of the afternoon as he finished with 10 receptions for 101 yards and a touchdown. He is now at 104 receptions for the 2019 season.
Alongside Thomas, top dollar free agent signee TE Jared Cook finished a yard shy of 100 yards on the day on 6 receptions, and his fourth touchdown grab for the black and gold. Tre’quan Smith grabbed the other Brees’ touchdown, the first of the day, on a 13-yard reception in the first quarter.
The undrafted free agent Kyle Allen continues to impress in place of the injured 2015 NFL MVP Cam Newton, completing 23 of 26 passes for 256 yards and 3 touchdowns. Allen had help offensively with the efforts of halfback Christian McCaffrey and wide out D. J. Moore who both accounted for over 130 yards of offense and all four touchdowns, two apiece.
After a hot start to the game for the Saints, including their first touchdown on an opening drive of a game in 2019, the Saints offense did not pick up a first down in the second quarter, and the Panthers cut the halftime lead to two after a McCafferty touchdown as time expired in the first half.
While the Saints never trailed within the divisional matchup, the Panthers never folded either. They scored 13 unanswered and kept answering New Orleans Scoring drives with one of their own. Back to back big defensive stops by the Panthers, including a 4th and inches stuff of Alvin Kamara, set up the team with a chance to tie the game 31-31.
Panthers’ Kicker Joey Slye kept the Saints’ hopes alive with 2 minutes left in a tied fourth quarter, missing a 28-yard field goal. Slye’s miss capped off a rough day inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome for the opposing kicker. He also missed two PAT attempts in the contest.
Following the missed field goal, Drew Brees and the offense set up at their own 20-yard line with one timeout and a chance to win a pivotal division matchup at home. Brees led the team on a 7 play 65-yard drive with big plays from Michael Thomas, 24 yards, and Alvin Kamara, 16 yards. The plays set up Wil Lutz for a 33-yard game-winning field goal and the Saints 9th victory of the season.
“I’m waiting to see our best game, still haven't seen it. Not even close.” Drew Brees said post game.
HE WENT TO JARED
Saints Tight End Jared Cook had his best day as a New Orleans Saints with 6 receptions and 99 yards receiving. His touchdown came on an out and up route beating safety Eric Reid and giving the Saints their opening touchdown of the second half.
Wil Lutz’s game-winning field goal vs. Carolina was his second of the season. The first was a 58-yard field goal on Monday Night Football to defeat the Houston Texans back in week one by the score of 30-28. Lutz has now only missed a field goal attempt in the fourth quarter in his NFL career.
PLUG AND CHUG
The Saints lost starting Left Tackle Terron Armstead to an ankle injury in the first quarter and played without the usual starters on the left side of the offensive line for 3 quarters this afternoon. Sean Payton plugged Nick Easton and Patrick Omameh in and played the left guard and left tackle positions as the offensive line only allowed two sacks of Brees against Carolina.
New Orleans (9-2) travels to Atlanta (3-7) to play on Thanksgiving Day. With a win, the Saints would clinch its third straight NFC South title and become the first team in the NFL to secure a playoff spot.