Panthers let playoff chance slip away in New Orleans


This game is the last chance of the season for the Panthers to hand New Orleans an L, and to also eliminate the Saints from the playoffs?

The defense, thanks to a big stop on third down by 37-year-old Julius Peppers and an ill-advised interception by Mike Adams the cost Carolina 16 yards of field position, gave Newton the ball back one last time, with 1:51 to play. He could have easily been the goat had the Panthers taken advantage of his questionable decision, but in the end his defense prevailed, and the Saints are going on. Kamara has averaged 8.8 yards on 19 touches in the two games vs. the Panthers, with a total of three touchdowns. Now in his seventh season with the Panthers, Rivera has proven to be a dependable leader whose three division titles and four playoff appearances would be the envy of many of his peers.

Perhaps someone should take that broom and whack Payton over the head with it after he almost cost his team the game.

The Panthers final possession reached the 21-yard line, but an intentional grounding penalty and a sack ended the game and the Panthers' season. "I think he's smart, he's tough, he blocks for the run, he enjoys competing and quite honestly, he does so many little things well in regards to zone or man that (on) third down or red zone".

Drew Brees found former Panther Ted Ginn deep down the middle for an 80-yard touchdown.

In the rematch, Brees was solid, while Newton was better than earlier in the season.

Not only does Olsen provide quarterback Cam Newton with a top-tier target, but he's enjoyed success against the Saints in the past.

"We wanted it more", Jordan said. Guard Richie Incognito left the game with a shoulder injury and is questionable to return.

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"He was my hero".

Conversely, for Carolina to prevail, Newton likely will have to put his team on his back as he did during his team's Super Bowl season in 2015 when he earned league-MVP honors. More than a decade into his career as Saints head coach, Sean Payton shockingly reimagined his pass-happy attack in 2017, turning his offense into a run-first juggernaut behind the dependable Mark Ingram and the spectacular rookie Alvin Kamara.

"[It's] being able to have extra time to get treatment, to get massages and take advantage of the resources you have at your house: rolling out, stretching, things like that", wide receiver Adam Thielen said. "This weekend should be a much better showing".

The Saints will be favourites to advance having comfortably beaten the Panthers twice already this season.

He has just 17 catches for 191 yards and one touchdown this season, and had only one reception in Carolina's loss to Atlanta last week. And obviously, you don't just look at the games you played them.

Saints: DE Trey Henderson (ankle), OL Terron Armstead (thigh) are QUESTIONABLE.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.