The 5-5 Carolina Panthers traveled to New Orleans, La., for a divisional game against the New Orleans Saints, who entered at 8-2. The Saints were favored to win against the Panthers but a three-point difference as the game expired isn’t what most were expecting, especially after Atlanta stunned Carolina last week in Charlotte.
New Orleans capitalized on the first possession with a 26-yard touchdown pass between Drew Brees and Latavius Murray before Wil Lutz kicked the extra point to give the Saints seven points in their opening drive. The Panthers didn’t answer with any points in their first possession of the game.
A few plays later, both teams put back-to-back touchdowns on the board when Brees connected with Tre’Quan Smith for a 13-yard touchdown and Kyle Allen hit D.J. Moore for a deep 51-yard score. Rookie kicker Joey Slye would miss his first extra point of the game, and the Saints were up 14-6.
The two teams then matched each other field goal for field goal in their next possessions. Lutz put a 41-yard kick through the uprights, and Slye connected from 41 yards to put the first points on the board in the second quarter to make the score 17-9.
New Orleans went three-and-out in their first drive of the second quarter, and they didn’t get the ball back until the second half of the game.
The Panthers finished out the first half of the game with a 17-play possession that ended with a touchdown pass between Allen and Christian McCaffrey as time expired. The Panthers attempted the two-point conversion following the touchdown, but the pass to Moore was incomplete, and the Saints stayed ahead by two points going into halftime.
Carolina wasn’t able to put any points up in their first possession of the second half, but the Saints did capitalize on their opening drive when Brees connected with Jared Cook for a 20-yard touchdown pass, extending the lead to nine.
The next points from Carolina came in the form of another field goal by Slye, this time from 52 yards out to make it 24-18 in favor of New Orleans.
Brees connected with Michael Thomas for the three-yard touchdown catch and the Saints attempted and made the two-point conversion, but it was reversed due to a penalty call, so Lutz came out and hit the extra point, making it 31-18.
Carolina then answered as McCaffrey rushed the ball for a four-yard touchdown, but Slye missed another extra point, putting the Panthers behind by just seven.
The score remained unchanged into the final quarter and neither team put any points up until the Panthers capitalized on a turnover as Tre Boston picked a pass from Drew Brees.
Carolina tied the game in their next drive after Moore took it to the end zone for a two-yard touchdown, and Slye kicked his only successful extra point of the game.
The Panthers had many opportunities to take the lead on their last possession of the game, including a red flag for a missed pass interference call with the officials reversing the incomplete pass on third and three.
The next three downs and goal were wasted as Allen was sacked and made incomplete passes, so the game was in the hands of Slye, who was two-for-two on field goal kicks at the time. However, Slye’s 28-yard kick went wide right, missing the tie-breaking points.
New Orleans returned in the final drive to end the game with 11 plays and a 33-yard field goal kick by Lutz as time expired. New Orleans finished with the three-point win, 34-31.
Allen came back from his mediocre play and multiple turnovers last week with quicker ball movement, remarkably fewer sacks and better pass control, but it wasn’t enough to get the Panthers the much-needed win. A defensive line that missed opportunities to stop New Orleans, mistakes from the special teams, and a missed extra point and field goal kick got in the way of a Carolina victory.
The Panthers will face the Washington Redskins in Week 13 while New Orleans will have a rematch with the Atlanta Falcons on Thanksgiving Day.
These guys gave it their all pic.twitter.com/08WccP0pr6
— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) November 25, 2019
NFC South standings heading into Week 13! #Saints pic.twitter.com/fg6somcR9D
— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) November 24, 2019