Game Balls: Panthers vs. Saints (Week 12)

BtBoylan

Following a 34-31 victory against the Panthers in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome these are the Saints that won Saints News Network's Game Balls.

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New Orleans Saints tight end Jared Cook (87) makes a catch with Carolina Panthers cornerback Javien Elliott (23) defending. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

JARED COOK

The expectations for Jared Cook in New Orleans were and still are very high. Cook joined the Saints on a 2-year deal worth $15-million-dollar deal over the summer following a Pro Bowl season with the Oakland Raiders.  The first 4 games of his career in the Big Easy was anything but collecting only eight receptions and not reaching forty receiving yards in any of the contests.   However, Cook has turned the corner in the last 5 games in which he has played in, Cook has caught four touchdowns and has finished with over 35 receiving yards in four of the last five games.

Against Carolina, Cook had his best game yet as a member of the Black and Gold.  The former finished with 6 receptions for 99 yards and a touchdown grab on the opening drive of the second half.  With big catches over the middle over the field the 6’5 tight end is looking like the true number two option the Saints were looking for in free agency.

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New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) celebrates after a touchdown run by running back Latavius Murray. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA

DREW BREES

Following the win against Carolina, there are now 50 game winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime in the Hall of Fame career of Drew Brees.  Versus Carolina Brees completed 30 of 39 passes for 311 yards and three touchdowns.  With the three touchdown tosses, Brees is now eight touchdown passes away from tying Louisiana native Peyton Manning for the most touchdown passes in an NFL career (539).

Since his return from thumb surgery Brees has led the Saints to a 3-1 record, completing 76.7% of his passes for an average of 300 yards and 2.25 touchdowns per game in that span. While the Saints offense looked out of sorts against Carolina in the second and fourth quarter, when the offense clicked on all cylinders and scored points… it looked like a classic Drew Brees & Sean Payton top offense in the league type of offense.

           “I’m waiting to see our best game, still haven’t seen it. Not even close.”

               Drew Brees said post game following a victory against Carolina.

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New Orleans Saints outside linebacker Demario Davis (56) celebrates after a defensive stop at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

DEMARIO DAVIS

“Prowl, Kill, Eat” it has been the rally cry of the Saints in 2019, and it made its debut in week 3 when Demario Davis lead the pre-game huddle in place of the injured Drew Brees. Davis’ play has matched the intensity he shows within the pre-game huddle with 80 tackles and 8 pass break ups on the season. Davis lead the Saints Sunday with 11 tackles and collected his second sack of the season, sacking Kyle Allen in the second quarter.

Analysts often revere Davis as possibly one of the best linebackers in all of football, along with the of last year’s agent class. In his second year has the leader of the Saints defense, Davis is on pace for over 115 tackles this season and continues to show his versatility within the defense. Whether it be stopping the run, applying pressure to the quarterback or dropping into coverage, #56 is in on the play and a “Kamehameha” celebration will follow.

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New Orleans Saints kicker Wil Lutz, watches his game-winning field goal with New Orleans Saints holder Thomas Morstead at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Saints won, 34-31. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

WIL LUTZ

The former Georgia State product has a knack for defeating the Carolina Panthers on a late kick inside the confines of the Superdome. In 2016, the undrafted rookie fought for a roster spot with the Baltimore Ravens before being cut at the end of camp and signing with the Saints.  After converting at only 63% his senior year of college, Lutz won the Saints kicking job and immediately became a fan favorite earning NFC Special Teams player of the week honors twice as a rookie and knocking through a 52-yard game-winning field goal against Carolina on October 16, 2016.

Against the Panthers in the teams’ first meeting of 2019 Lutz converted from 41 yards in the second quarter and then hit again from 33 yards as time expired. The game winner was Lutz’s second made field-goal as time expired this season, the other came back in week 1 in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome against Houston from 58 yards.

Follow Brendan "The Butler" Boylan on Twitter: @btboylan

And continue to follow Saints Coverage on SI.com: @SaintsNews

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