Saints vs. Panthers: Week 2 Recap and Highlights

Panthers-Saints, Nathan Shepherd, Bryce Young

The Saints faced the Panthers on Sept. 18 in Week 2 of the 2023 NFL season. Here are takeaways and highlights from the game.

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Final Score: Saints 20, Panthers 17

The Saints and the Panthers entered an early divisional matchup looking to assert themselves in a wide-open NFC South. New Orleans sought its second win after beating Tennessee, 16-15, in their home opener, led by Derek Carr’s 305 yards passing and a stout secondary that intercepted Ryan Tannehill three times. Carolina was looking to bounce back after a 24-10 loss to the Falcons in Bryce Young’s debut.

This one started out slow with the Saints leading 6-3 at the half. The New Orleans offense struggled to get anything going through the first two-and-a-half quarters, and the Panthers’ defense capitalized on the Saints’ shaky offensive line. Carolina finished the contest with four sacks, including two from fan-favorite linebacker Frankie Luvu.

Likewise, the Panthers’ offense could not string anything together behind their rookie quarterback. Carolina had protection problems of their own and also surrendered four sacks against the Saints’ big defensive front. The Panthers were not able to reach the end zone until the game had already been decided when Bryce Young found Adam Thielen for a three-yard touchdown with just 1:16 remaining.

The Saints found a rhythm midway through the third quarter, highlighted by an incredible, 42-yard juggling catch by Chris Olave. The drive was capped off by a Tony Jones Jr. rushing touchdown, which gave the Saints a 13-6 lead with 2:56 left in the third.

New Orleans marched down the field again in the fourth quarter, with Derek Carr connecting with wide receiver Rashid Shaheed on a 45-yard strike. The Saints put the nail in the coffin with another Jones score to put them ahead 20-9 with just over three minutes remaining.

The aforementioned Carolina touchdown would prove too little too late for the Panthers. The Saints emerged victorious in this NFC matchup to advance to 2-0 on the season while the Panthers fell to 0-2.


Looking Forward

Despite being written off by many pundits before the season, the Saints appear to be strong contenders for the NFC South through two games. The Derek Carr to Chris Olave connection will only get stronger, and the return of Alvin Kamara in Week 4 will be a major boon for their running game. Not only that, the Saints’ defense is also a force to be reckoned with. Their secondary continued to disrupt the passing game against the Panthers, only allowing 153 yards through the air.

The Saints will travel to Green Bay in Week 3 to square off against a Packers team that just suffered a nail-biting loss to the Falcons with a final score of 25-24.

While the Panthers hoped that No. 1 overall pick Bryce Young would instantly resurrect their franchise, the Panthers have some glaring issues they must address. To Young’s credit, he has shown flashes of brilliance, but he will need more help from his offensive line, who surrendered four sacks, and from a receiving corps that has struggled to get open thus far. The Panthers’ defense has looked mostly solid, but they will look to shore up their run defense after giving up 134 yards on the ground against the Saints.

The Panthers will travel to Seattle next week to battle a Seahawks squad that just pulled out an impressive 37-31 win against the Lions.

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